Monthly Archives: August 2013

No. 438

The zoo’s director, his assistant, and a keeper walked past rows of empty, crumbling cages. They were conducting the annual inspection, and the news was not good. It was a time of cutbacks at the park. Falling attendance and rising costs had forced the director’s hand.

“We had to sell the lion,” The director told his staff, just before they arrived at the erstwhile home of the king of the jungle.

The assistant was concerned. “That was our main attraction. What are we going to do now?”

The keeper spoke up. “I have a shaggy dog. He looks sort of like a lion. We could put him in the enclosure.”

The director made a hard choice. “Do it,” he said. “But put some effort into it.”

“Well, we’ve already got a fox as a leopard and another dog as a wolf. I don’t think now is the time to be picky,” mumbled the keeper on his way to carry out the switch.

“What was that?” the director asked.

“Nothing,” said the keeper. “I think it’s a perfectly bulletproof plan.”

No. 437

The noise of the TV commercials was a low hum in the background. Alistair Yancey was only half-listening as he worked his way through the online job postings on his laptop. There wasn’t much out there, and what was seemed more than a little murdery.

“Must not have next of kin,” Alistair read aloud from one ad. “Nope.”

His show came back on and he set aside his computer. It floated to the desk and landed softly on a pile of newspaper classified sections from the past week.

After a few minutes, Alistair realized that the program was a repeat. He fumbled for his wand and waved it toward the TV to change the channel.

“’World’s Wildest Animal Maulings’,” he mumbled. “Sweet.”


Four hours later, the “Maulings” marathon ended. Alistair was no closer to finding employment, but he was hungry.

He flipped through a thin book and selected the appropriate word.

“Abracadabra,” he commanded, and a fried chicken dinner appeared on his coffee table.

It was the same thing he’d had the night before, but he liked fried chicken, so he was unconcerned about the lack of variety.

No. 436

I almost had it in 2004.

I came close, again, in 2010.

But since then, nothing.


In 2001, I had the best dream ever. I was saving the world, and flying, and I’d just found buried treasure, and Jennifer Love Hewitt was my girlfriend.

I should say that I was having the best dream ever. My phone rang before all of the intricately detailed plot points could come together.

It was a survey about what kind of gum I chewed.

I yelled at the man and went back to sleep. For the next half hour I was back at my high school, but without pants. And everyone was yelling at me in dream-German.


Since then, I’ve done what anybody would do. I’ve devoted my life to trying to recreate that day in January, and then going to sleep. Eventually, I’ll get it exactly right, and I’ll make it to the end.

No. 435 – No. 417 Continues

The story so far…


Suddenly, a large truck slammed into the back corner of the car.

The force of the impact threw Katy into the window.

Andrea struggled to control the vehicle as the truck rammed them again. “It’s Pierson,” she shouted at Katy.

Katy was still somewhat stunned. “That’s nice,” she mumbled.

Andrea spared a glance at the injured woman beside her. Blood ran down Katy’s face, staining her shirt and dripping onto the seat. Andrea could see a large bump forming on Katy’s forehead where she’d struck the glass.

“Hang on,” Andrea told her. “We’re going to lose him, and then we’re going to get you help.”


To be continued…

No. 434

My cousin said his friend told him there’s this European movie where, if you watch it, your eyes will melt.

Obviously, I don’t believe that. My cousin’s friend isn’t entirely credible. But I’ve also heard that European movies have boobs, so we’re going to try to rent it tonight.


I just got back from the video store. They didn’t have the one we wanted. The guy working there said he didn’t know it. He also said he had a friend who said the eye-melting thing about a Japanese movie.

Also, he wouldn’t let us get anything rated R. Said he’d get in trouble if anybody found out.

We had to rent “Sixteen Candles” for the eighteenth time.

No. 433

“So, in my story there’s a vampire, but it’s not a vampire. Well, it is a vampire, but it sucks souls instead of blood,” said Britney. “And it’s more like a ghost, really. It floats. You can’t really see it.”

“Could you kill it?” asked her friend, Trevor.

“I suppose, but that would be difficult.”

“I don’t know if that works,” said Trevor. “I’m not thrilled with the idea.”

“So what’s your suggestion, then?” Britney countered. She crossed her arms threateningly. “It can’t be better.”

“Sure, it could,” Trevor defended himself. “Maybe.”

“Go on.”

“There’s a mad scientist. And he fires his greatest weapon, the ‘frequency cannon’, but it doesn’t do what he expects it do. Then he has to fix the consequences, or something,” Trevor elaborated.

“Not better,” said Britney. “Anything else? I forgot to say that in mine, the soul-sucker lives in stairwells, and sometimes leaves underpants behind.”

Trevor slapped his hand to his forehead. “Underwear? Why? Why would it even do that? It’s a monster.”


The debate raged for some time.


The next week, when the project was due, Britney and Trevor stood to read their story to the class.

“Once upon a time,” said Britney. “There was a vampire scientist, who created the ultimate weapon. “

Trevor read the next paragraph. “’The frequency cannon would spell the end of the human race, if it worked as the vampire intended. He pointed it toward the town and pressed the button to arm the device.”

“Nothing happened,” said Britney breathlessly. “The vampire pushed the switch over, and over again. The energy from the device backfired, and vampire began a startling transformation. His body began to dissolve, inch by inch. His undead flesh withered away, leaving his evil spirit behind.”

“And that’s how he became a ghost. The end.” said Trevor.

Britney looked up from her page. “That’s not the end,” she said tersely.

“I’m not reading the rest,” said Trevor. “It’s stupid.”

“Do it,” Britney hissed.

“Fine. Blah blah blah, stairway. Blah blah blah, underpants,” Trevor mocked.

“I’m going to kill you,” said Britney.

No. 432

The snail wished for greater things.

“But you’re a snail,” his snail-companions told him. “Best-case scenario, you end up doused in garlic butter.”

But the snail did not believe them. He did all he could to stand out.


Eventually, he made his mark, becoming the world’s fastest snail.

He travelled at an astonishing .0034 miles-per-hour.


Which is still incredibly slow.

No. 431

Hal Cromley hadn’t been expecting any mail.

The elaborate envelope fell through the slot in his door and landed on the floor with a weighty noise that suggested that its size was not merely pretence.

The return address, written in a bold and decorative hand, was local, but Cromley didn’t recognise the street’s name.

He found a knife from the kitchen drawer and carefully pried open the flap. The contents slid out onto the table.

There was a single card, printed on heavy stock and, in a tightly bound bundle, ten hundred-dollar bills. Cromley was distracted by the money, and counted it before reading the text on the card.


“Congratulations,” it read. “You have been chosen to participate in a great event.

“Tomorrow, starting a precisely one o’clock in the afternoon, I will begin a hunt. Use the resources I have sent you well. I give you no boundaries. Should you survive until the stroke of one o’clock, seven days later, your reward will be many times greater than what you have already received.

“I trust that my instructions are clear.”


Cromley stood stone-still in the middle of his kitchen. Were the words true? Was the message a cruel hoax? He fumbled in his pocket for his phone, and reached the police.

“I need to report a threat,” he told the dispatcher. “I’ve got a letter that says I’ll be killed tomorrow.”

The person on the other end of the line laughed at him. “I’m sorry sir, this is an emergency line only. If you or your friends call back again about these letters, we’ll have to charge you with making a false report.”

Then they hung up.


Cromley was terrified. How many others had received the same dire package?

No. 430 – No. 417 Continues

Katy had just established that there was nothing on TV when somebody knocked on the door to her hotel room.

Thinking that it was the room service she’d ordered, she opened the door without hesitation.

After the shock had worn off, she managed to strangle out one word. “You.”

It was Marilyn Faber.

The erstwhile driver made no move to enter.

Katy didn’t shut the door. “Pretty gutsy move, to come back. I can have security here in less than a minute, you know.”

“That’s who you need to be worried about,” said Marilyn in a hushed voice. “Somebody very bad will be here very shortly. I need you to come with me.”

“Because that worked out so well for me, the last time,” Katy countered.

“You know that I already got what I needed from you.  I didn’t have to come back,” said Marilyn. “Please. Let me help you. We need to go.”


Katy realized that Faber had a good case. Katy had already lost the important documents and, since she wasn’t even the original courier, she had no other information that would be useful to Faber.

“Tell me your real name, and I’ll go with you.” she challenged her visitor, in an inexperienced test.

“Shultz,” said Marilyn. “Andrea Shultz.”

“I’ll get my things,” said Katy.

The pair hustled out of the parking garage of the hotel. Once again, Marilyn, now Andrea, was driving.

“You need to tell me what this is all about,” Katy demanded. “I don’t have any idea what’s going on.”

“That’s right,” Andrea replied. “And that might be why you’re useful to us.”

She merged onto the highway before saying anything else.

“It won’t be long now. There’s somebody you need to meet.”


To be continued…