Monthly Archives: June 2012

No. 132 – Fangy Part 1

Every day, Fangy had to suppress the urge to eat Nicholas. This was very difficult, because Fangy had a tiny brain and hunter’s instincts. But Fangy was Nicolas’ pet, and he was determined to do his job as best he could.
Fangy learned how to play fetch, which he enjoyed very much, and how to play dead, which he didn’t enjoy at all, and how to shake a claw, to which he was indifferent. His absolute favorite times were when Nicholas was away from home and Nicholas’ parents let him loose in the woods behind their house.  
The neighbors would always complain to Nicholas’ father that their cats and dogs went missing. But he would shrug his shoulders and blame badgers, which nobody believed.
Then one day Nicholas brought some of his school friends over. Fangy stood just inside the screen door and snuffled eagerly as they approached. He couldn’t imagine any other reason for guests other than that they must be here for dinner.
Nicholas arrived at the door first. He put out his hand and spoke directly to Fangy. “These are friends, boy. You mustn’t hurt them. Good boy.”
But Fangy couldn’t help himself. He jumped viciously on the first child and tore him to bits. The boy was delicious. Then Fangy caught a girl who’d tried to run. She was even better.
By this time Nicholas had run into the house and returned with a rolled-up magazine. He smacked Fangy on the snout and yelled. “Stop it! Bad Fangy! Go inside to your corner and wait for me.”
Fangy obeyed, sheepishly following orders to stand in the time-out spot. He did feel some shame, but the excitement of the hunt still pulsed through him.
Nicholas stood on the porch, surveying the macabre scene. He sighed. He probably should have seen this coming. There’s only so much self-control one can expect from a velociraptor.

No. 131

The sound of the rain pounding the awning of the patio was deafening. It was the fourth day, and cabin fever was starting to set in.
“Is this all the channels we get?” Mike Hartley asked his wife.
“Yes. It’s the same answer you got five minutes ago, and you’ve been through them all twice since then. Just choose one and leave it,” Aubrey told him.  She tossed her book in the general direction of their suitcases. “I’m going to the pool bar,” she announced.
“It’s raining,” said Mike facetiously.
“Really? Is that what that wet, rainy stuff is that’s falling from the sky?” she replied.
Aubrey laughed to herself, then picked up the room key, considered bringing her towel then abandoned the thought, and left the room. “Come join me anytime,” she called over her shoulder.
Mike sighed and changed the channel again.
Aubrey walked down the drab hotel hallway and idly considered the decor. She decided that she was ok with a boring corridor if the hotel spent their money in other, more important, ways. So far it had not let her down. And she’d had plenty of time to explore because of the rain.
She nodded to the girl at the front desk with whom she’d had a wonderful conversation yesterday, and stepped out onto the pool deck. There was a canopy covering the door, so she wasn’t drenched yet. She stood still and marvelled at how much water was pouring down. She extended her hand out past the roof and felt the force of the deluge hit her. It was like being in front of a hose.
Then she stepped out. She was soaked instantly. She’d never done this on purpose before, certainly not in conditions this bad. She raised her head up and felt the individual drops hit her face.
Then she smiled and walked to the edge of the pool. Without pausing she jumped in and glided purposefully to the swim-up bar. The bartender was huddled in a corner and he watched with a bemused grin as she drew closer.
“What’ll it be?” he asked when she arrived.
“Two margaritas,” she told him.
“Two?” he asked, and craned his head around to see if there was someone else nearby.  “For you?”
“Oh no,” Aubrey answered. “I arranged for the front desk to cut the TV to our room. I imagine my husband will be down shortly.”

No. 130

Marion Lionel didn’t see the sign in her rear-view mirror that said “Welcome to Demeter’s Landing Pop. 1750”. She was concentrated intensely ahead on the dark and winding road out of town. Ahead of her was another sign that said “Next Service 83 Miles”. Lionel figured that she had about two hours before they sent someone after her. She inhaled deeply through clenched teeth and dropped her right toe slightly as she exited a corner.  
She was approaching the next one when she felt a brief drop in power. He eyes flashed to the tachometer just in time to see it plummet to zero. The sudden silence distracted her and if the car hadn’t already begun to slow on its own, she would have been in the ditch. Lionel guided it to the side of the highway and pounded the steering wheel as the vehicle coasted to a halt.
“No! No no no!” she screamed at the black rock wall at the side of the narrow road. She slammed the gearshift into park and tried to start the engine again. There was no indication of life. She popped the hood and tried to see if there was anything amiss, but as far as she could ascertain, there was nothing she could do.
She sat back down in the driver’s seat and closed the door. She couldn’t help but glance at the briefcase on the floor beside her. Although it was cold outside, Marion began to sweat. She threw open the door again and scrambled around the front of the car to the passenger side. She wretched open that door and snatched the briefcase. She looked furtively down the road in both directions, then crossed to the other side. She hopped the gully and made her way several lengths into the sandy scrub. She immediately began to dig with her hands until she had a hole just deep enough to throw the case in. But she didn’t have time to cover it.
She heard the faint sound of a motor. She jerked her head up and looked for the source. She saw a pair of headlights crest the top of a hill in the distance. They were coming towards her. Abandoning the case, she ran back to her car and took several slow breaths to calm herself down. She checked the mirror to see that she hadn’t gotten any telltale dirt on her face.
The other car drew closer. Lionel recognized it as Mrs. Perkin’s. Its headlights caught Lionel’s car and Mrs. Perkin slowed to a stop. Lionel tried to remember if Mrs. Perkin’s name was Linda, Lydia, or Laura. She cursed herself. She’d memorized all 1750 names for this very purpose.
Mrs. Perkin leaned out her window and called to Lionel. “Are you ok, Dearie? Do you need a ride back to town?”
Lionel didn’t have a choice. She managed to conjure a smile and accepted. She got into Mrs. Perkin’s care with one last look toward the briefcase. She hoped Mrs. Perkin wouldn’t recognize her.
“It’s a good thing I came along, isn’t it?” Mrs. Perkin asked Lionel.
“It is,” Lionel replied. “I’m glad someone else is out here tonight. I thought everyone would be back in town at the grand opening.”
“Oh, I don’t go in for any of that fancy new stuff. To be honest, I thought it was a big waste of money. But what do I know. I’m just a little old lady.”
Lionel adjusted her seatbelt nervously. “Thanks for the ride,” she said.
They drove on in silence for a few minutes. Lionel began to play out scenarios in her head. Here was another car, but she couldn’t bring herself to steal it and have to deal with Mrs. Perkin. She resolved to try to get dropped off somewhere on the outskirts of town and trust her grifter’s luck find another car there.
Mrs. Perkin broke the silence. “Where did do you live Miss. Hill? It’s the blue building, isn’t it?” she asked Lionel. Then she answered her own question. “Yes, that’s right. You moved in last March.”
Lionel swallowed hard. Perhaps her luck wasn’t as good as she needed it to be. Mrs. Perkin knew who she was.
Mrs. Perkin mistook Lionel’s unease for sadness. “Don’t worry, Trudy darling, your car will be okay. I’ll get my son take care of it in the morning.”
Lionel could do nothing but look out the window as she was carried back to town. She’d be taken care of, all right. They’d all take care of her.
Probably with stones.  

No. 129

Benjamin Thomas was the kind of person who got picked second-to-last at sports. Nobody remembers that guy. Nobody really cares about his skills or what he brings to the team. They just see the last-place shmuck and choose the least odious option. That’d be Benji.
It’s not necessarily a bad place to go. Folks don’t expect much from someone drafted that far down the order. Usually everyone is happy about not being saddled with whatever loser was left standing. It’s like the players on a team that ends up third in a tournament. You take third place with a win, second with a loss.
Thomas was happy with his life the way it was. Then one day he got tapped to be team captain.
If you thrust a man like Thomas into a role he’s not accustomed to, you’ll get one of two outcomes. He’ll either fail horribly, or surprise you.
I was the man who chose Thomas to lead. Unfortunately, he surprised me.
Because I am still alive.
You see, what I have neglected to tell you is that Mr. Benjamin Thomas and I look very much alike. It was my intention to have him double for me. For him to go about my business as if he were me. What I neglected to tell him is that there was to be an accident, and that he was to be pronounced dead in my place.
It seems that I underestimated the man. What I failed to take into account is that perhaps it takes a great talent to be the kind of man that he is. A talent for staying under the radar and managing expectations. I didn’t give Mr. Thomas the proper credit and respect that he deserves. Ben Thomas is very shrewd.
Within a week he had edged me out completely. I lost access to my bank accounts and my network of associates.  Then he discovered my plan and the resources I had put aside to build a new life after my “accident”. It’d be called “identity theft” if I hadn’t handed it to him.
And so I am like a ghost who can see my own body. And now I have to work doubly hard to kill “myself”.

No. 128

 Ladies and gentlemen of the court, we are here today to defend Dr. Igor Terror. He is accused of first degree murder.
We will show, in no uncertain terms, that Dr. Terror did not kill victim.  Indeed, it is our view that Dr. Terror is simply being judged on his previous crimes. He is an admitted super-villain, yes, but he has larger issues on his plate than the murder of a single man.
Dr. Terror, as some of you have noticed, is a distant, emotionless, calculating figure. Look at him now, silently contemplating his revenge on this court for bringing him to trial. This may be true. But, my friends and colleagues, this defense will prove using Exhibit A—Dr. Terror’s own twisted diary—that Dr. Terror went to the beach with the sole intention of researching his latest plan to take over the world, and that he shows absolutely no recorded knowledge, in entries either before or after, of the alleged attack.
The prosecution may attempt to use such explanations as “deeply malignant jealousy” or that the victim was Dr. Terror’s “sworn nemesis”. We will show with fact and substantiated evidence that these illusions of guilt are completely without merit and that Dr. Terror should not be held accountable for this baseless accusation.
Allow me to give you some background to this case.
Shortly before this horrible incident the defendant attended the funeral of his mother, a woman he admits to having wished dead on several occasions. Though the prosecution attests that this shows a cold disregard for human life, we argue that, based on these descriptions, Dr. Terror would have left the ceremony in a cheerful mood.
The defendant then came into contact with Johnny Omaha, a second-tier hero and witness that we will call to the stand later. A scuffle ensued between Mr. Omaha and the defendant, causing slight wounds to Mr. Omaha. Then Dr. Terror left the scene, seeking help for his injured opponent.
It is during this time he is alleged to have killed the victim with a neural transploder, pulling the trigger not once, not twice, but five times. Mr. Omaha will testify that this would have been an impossibility. Not only had Dr. Terror already fired two shots with the transploder at Mr. Omaha and therefore had only one shot remaining, but also that not enough time would have passed since Dr. Terror’s leaving to the time of the alleged murder for the neural transploder to reset to the victim’s mind-waves.
We will present the case to you, the jury, and we have no doubt that you will come to see that the events have occurred in the manner that we have presented them before you and you will find our client “not guilty” at the end of this trial.

No. 127

Patrick Peters had sent $7.49 plus shipping and handling, which equaled roughly three weeks’ allowance, and now, after waiting an eternity, there was a box on the kitchen table with his name on it.
He couldn’t contain himself and tore indiscriminately at the thin cardboard sides. He retrieved his prize from amidst a heap of shredded paper. The plastic glasses were hideously bright green and pink with “SURE-FIRE X-RAYS” printed in yellow down the arms.
Patrick held them in awe for a second before putting them on. He was going to see all kinds of girls’ underpants. He glanced surreptitiously around the room. There was no-one in sight to foil his plan. He slipped on the gaudy frames and left the house via the front door.
As luck would have it, the first person he saw was a girl. She was too far away for him to make out clearly, and the lenses were so dark as to be almost useless without bright light. He raised the glasses to balance on his forehead while he approached to within range of Emmy Burton.
Emmy was Patrick’s friend Ricky’s older sister. She was going into eleventh grade next year. Patrick drew nearer to her yard and casually nodded at her while he lowered the glasses and continued to walk past.
Right away, Patrick realized there was something wrong. He couldn’t see any underwear. He couldn’t even see any skin, which he realized in that instant would have been an even greater outcome. He shook his head and looked harder. The glasses were X-ray all right, or something. They weren’t working like Patrick had imagined. He saw almost clear through Emmy.
She coughed and startled him. Had she caught him staring? No. He relaxed, and concentrated again on his reconnaissance. He found he could make out her insides. He recognized them from his school textbook. There was the brain, throat, heart, and lungs.
Patrick noticed something about the lungs. One looked like the picture in his book, the other one seemed different. It was a darker color, and there looked like there was something else in it.
Emmy coughed again. This time Patrick took off the glasses and stopped walking. He was torn. Should he tell her what he saw, or would he be in trouble for trying to use the glasses? He bit his lip and drew in a breath. He thought about Ricky, and that if Ricky knew that someone in Patrick’s family was maybe sick, and Ricky didn’t tell Patrick, then Patrick wouldn’t like that.
Patrick slipped the glasses into his pocket. “Emmy?” he asked. “Are you OK?”

No. 126

Shawn Hind woke up early and drove three and a half hours to spend his Saturday in Big Clouds Park. He’d been drawn to the intriguing combination of lakes, abandoned railway artefacts, and the surrounding trails.
Now, he was a respectable distance from his car and it was not yet eleven AM. He stopped hiking for his first sip of water and a handful of trail mix. He’d added the M&M’s to the store-bought kind himself. He was dusting off his hands when he noticed a flash of reflected light and an incongruous straight line in the underbrush, about twenty feet from the edge of the trail.
Hind struggled over a fallen log and some soggy ground to arrive at the strange object.
It was a sword.
Hind picked it up reflexively and drew the blade from its scabbard. He held it in front of him and admired the deadly weapon.
It had a long and thin blade, razor-sharp, with a simple bar for a guard and a leather-wrapped grip. The pommel reminded him of a spade from a deck of cards. Hind half-expected to find gold or jewels on it, but although it seemed expertly balanced and crafted, it was clearly intended for practical use and had no extraneous ornamentation.
There was no sign of decay or dirt on it. It must have been lost recently.
He looked around for more clues, but there was no hint of the sword’s origin.
It was strange to find such a thing out here in the woods. The park was usually busy during the summer, but at this time of year the only people willing to make the trip were committed outdoorsmen who had no use for a weapon like this.
Hind began to feel uneasy. He could not imagine any scenario in which the placement of the blade made sense. Finding a gun, he would have understood. A sword was another matter entirely.
Coming to no conclusion, he re-sheathed it, and tucked it between the straps on his backpack. Then he continued on down the trail at a slightly faster pace than before.
He made it perhaps a hundred yards before he had a terrifying thought. He tried to push it away because it was not rational, but he couldn’t clear his head.
The sword didn’t belong here. He shouldn’t have touched it.

No. 125 – War Games

David Clement felt a deep glow of satisfaction.
He’d cheated and struggled and endured, but he’d proven himself at the finish.
He wiped the thin sheen of sweat off of his brow and remembered that he’d been thirsty for hours but had forgotten to drink. He reached for his glass and grimaced as he was reminded of the injury that had been decisive to the win. His shoulder might smart tomorrow, but he’d triumphed.
“And that, my friends, is how you play monopoly,” he taunted, fully anticipating the rain of blows that fell upon him.
It would seem that his possibly former friends were taking defeat as graciously as he taken victory.
“Do you see this?” demanded Angela, waving a stack of colorful bills. “This is all money you stole from the bank.”
“Nonsense,” David defended himself. “I never steal from the bank. I stole that from Justin.”
“You can’t say you won if you stole my money,” Justin piped up.
“I can. If you didn’t notice it was missing, then it’s all fair game.”
This brought another round of tussling.
“Ow! Savannah! Did you just bite me?” exclaimed David.
“No. That was Ange.”
“You’re all just choked that you didn’t think of ‘creative accounting’ first,” David told them.
“Whatever,” huffed Angela. “We’re playing ‘Life’ next. And I’m watching you.”

No. 124

Kevin Wheeler knew all the answers.
Most of the time his teachers didn’t believe him and they were forever concocting ever more elaborate tests designed to catch him cheating.
He didn’t appreciate that.
Kevin was not particularly smart, or even that studious. It’s just that every time he was asked something, he knew, without doubt, what to respond with.
He hadn’t given it much thought until one of his classmates called him “psychic”, which he also knew was not true.
But it was a gift, he realized, once he understood that not everybody had the same skill. It had come so easily to him that he’d always just assumed that to be the case.
It was a gift that he would have to exploit to its fullest potential. He considered going on a game show, but he felt the stakes were too small. He might win a few thousand dollars, a few hundred thousand, even, but there had to be something bigger. More challenging.
More lucrative.
He didn’t know the answer, until a teacher asked him.
“Well, Kevin? What are you going to do?”

No. 123

Jasper Ebb put down his sandwich to reach for the remote control. It was almost seven, and he was torn between the game on channel six, or the movie on eighteen.
The choice was made for him, however, when the power went out.
Jasper shrugged and returned to his sandwich. These blips didn’t usually last long. The electric grid in this part of town was notoriously susceptible to windstorms. This time, though, he noticed a glow out of the corner of his eye.
Once again, the sandwich was abandoned as Ebb walked to the window. He pulled open the blinds and peered at his neighbor’s house. All of their lights were on! Somehow the knowledge that the problem was his alone made Ebb determined to see the rest of the shows he’d previously had no interest in. He marched to the fuse box to see if anything had tripped.
All the switches were in the proper position. He grunted and returned to the couch.
He could not think of anything else to try. He thought briefly about calling the power company to find out what was happening, but phone calls usually made him nervous and he avoided them if at all possible. He told himself that if the power was still out in the morning, he would call then.
He still had the urge to follow the game, and had an idea. He grabbed his keys off of the neatly organized shelf in the hallway and went out to his car.
Turning the radio dial to the correct station, he leaned back in the passenger seat and closed his eyes. Then he swore under his breath. His sandwich was still inside.
He marched back towards the house. Halfway up the walk he saw why his was the only house without power.
“Well, that can’t be right,” he told himself as he read the notice posted on the front door.
Now he supposed he would have to make that call.