Monthly Archives: November 2013

No. 499

Alice held her crayon tightly and filled in a green patch of the turtle’s shell.

She sneezed, and the track of the crayon made a jagged turn, slashing down through the page, and off the edge of the paper.

Alice was horrified. Her picture was ruined. She sat completely still, waiting for the consequences.

 

A time passed.

 

She looked around, slowly.

The rest of the class was absorbed in their own work. The teacher was at his desk, writing in his book.

Nobody had noticed Alice’s violation of the One Rule.

It began to dawn on her that she’d colored outside of the lines, and nobody cared.

 

She made a careful test of her theory, drawing deliberately through the turtle’s neck.

She flinched slightly as she did so.

But again, there was silence in the room.

Alice concluded that she was free to do whatever she wanted!

She had never experienced this kind of power before.

Instead of finishing her picture, she started to think of other rules to break.

No. 498

Thirty seconds had passed, an eternity at the Temporal Department.

“Where’s Johnson?” the Chief demanded. “He went out on a two-second window.”

Technicians in the lab studied their computers, and pored over streams of data from the Chute.  “There’s nothing, Sir. The feed’s gone dark.”

“He should be back already. How long was his assignment?”

Agent Farmer consulted the mission briefing. “A month.”

The Chief shook his head. “Not long enough for the Chute to shift. Start collecting evidence, people. Johnson’s dead, and I want to know why.”

No. 497

The dead man washed ashore at high tide, in the middle of the night.

 

The body was discovered just after six in the morning, by a woman who’d decided to take a walk on the beach instead of stopping at the coffee shop before work, like usual.

 

Police could not identify the victim. There were no fingerprint or dental records of the man, and he carried no wallet or papers.

One of the officers found a coin in the corpse’s jacket pocket.

If he’d looked carefully, he would have noticed that the date on the quarter was from 31 years into the future.

No. 496

The ball sailed over the left-field fence and landed square in the middle of Mr. Hilroy’s windshield.

A hush fell over the crowd.

Mr. Hilroy was well-known as the town hothead. Most in attendance were sure that the accident would spell the end of little-league baseball in the park, after he sued the organizers for damages.

All eyes turned to face the curmudgeon.

He was standing at the top of the bleachers, waving his arms for the batter to head for home.

“Go on, boy! It’s the winning run!” he shouted at the child, a huge smile plastered across his face.

“Who knew,” Wendy Vance whispered to Larry Kepler. “The old bastard is a baseball fan.”

No. 495

I have to feed the monster that lives under my porch. Every day, or it will die. It’s a messy business.

When it was little, it was much easier. Grasshoppers, frogs, and the occasional mouse, were all easy to catch.

Then one day I saw it slinking out, looking to hunt on its own. It must have been hungry. It had gotten so large.

So I scaled up its dinners. Squirrels, a possum, one time, and then cats.

I’m not sure if the neighbors have caught on, but I won’t be getting Christmas cards when they find out.

For now, the monster seems content enough with the food that I give it. I’m not sure what I’d do next. There are probably one or two children on the block that wouldn’t be missed, but they’d only go so far.

Sometimes I wonder why I keep it around. As yet, it has done nothing for me.

There is a monster under my porch, though. How many people can say that?

No. 494

“It’s getting colder.”

“Still a wonderful day for a picnic in the park.”

“If I wear a scarf, I suppose.”

“You look good in a scarf.”

“It itches.”

“You said the same thing about your beard, and you kept that for three months.”

“Well, it’s a different kind of itch.”

“We’re going to have a good day, and you know it. Play along, for once.”

“Fine. I need to stop at the store first, then. You want sandwiches or a salad?”

“Chicken salad. With a slice of cake. Thank you.”

“They say it’ll be close to freezing.”

“You already tried that once. I’ll meet you in half an hour. At the table by statue.”

No. 493

Kelly discovered the sword in a field on the way to the swimming hole on a warm summer’s day.

She picked it up and fount that the weapon was heavy, and it glinted in the bright sunlight.

Kelly swished it back and forth. She felt powerful.

She did not hear her friends calling her from further down the path.

They were warning her about the dragon.

The monster pounced on her and tried to bite her head with its sharp teeth.

Kelly stabbed back with her newfound blade. The steel cut through the dragon’s scaly hide without slowing.

The dragon reared back to re-evaluate its foe. Black blood dripped from the wound on its belly.

Wheeling about, the beast took to the sky. It did not want to tangle with Kelly.

She carefully wiped the sword clean and tucked it into her belt.

She decided that she would keep it.

No. 492

In 1993, five billion people caught a virus that had a 21-year incubation period.

During that period, the disease went undiscovered, but caused the intelligence of the infected to rise. Society split into two classes without an understanding of what was causing such a leap in evolution.

Those without the virus, the ten-percent of the human race who were initially immune and everybody born since 1993 were shunned, and forced to live separately. Breakthroughs in technology came at such a rate that a person with normal intelligence was left behind, unable to grasp the new order.

 

Now, the true spectre of the plague has become clear, as the first of the carriers begin to show symptoms.

The full effects of the disease are yet unknown. It has, so far, been fatal in every case.

 

The outcasts, without hyper-intelligence, are left to treat the sick.

No. 491

The Phantom of the Cinema Six had a far more difficult time of it than his uncle from the opera.

Although he did once seduce one of the girls who made the popcorn, he was unable to develop her into a film star.

No. 490

The two mobsters had driven far out into the desert to whack the man who was currently securely tied in the trunk of their car.

They’d just about made it to their desired dumping ground when the engine coughed ominously. Moments later, the vehicle rolled to a smoking stop.

Trigger-finger Joe was the first to speak. “It would have to be on the hottest day of the year, too,” he said angrily, pounding on the steering-wheel for effect.

“Careful, Trig,” said his partner-in-crime, Frankie Cincinnati. “Don’t scuff up the boss’ car.”

Joe cast a murderous look at Cincinnati. “I’m not worried about the interior, you dummy.”

 

The two men got out to evaluate their situation, leaving their suit-jackets in the front seat. Trigger-finger popped the hood and looked with bewilderment at the assortment of unfamiliar engine parts. “Do you know anything about fixing these things?” he asked Cincinnati.

The other gangster shrugged. “I’m only good at cleaning up messes,” he said with a nod to the trunk.

Joe followed his gaze. “What about that guy?” he wondered aloud. “What can he do?”

Cincinnati cocked his head at Trigger-finger. “You’re thinking about letting him loose?”

“Where’s he gonna go?” Joe asked. “It’s a three-day walk outta here, and we don’t have any water.”

“We shoulda brought water,” Cincinnati observed.

“Let’s do it,” said Joe. He walked to the back of the car and leveled his pistol at the trunk. “Open it,” he instructed Frankie.

Frankie released the latch slowly, revealing their captive still bound tightly.

Joe reached down and pulled tape away from the prisoner’s eyes. “Can you fix a motor?” he demanded.

The man did not reply immediately. “Maybe,” he answered warily. “But I don’t have very much incentive right now, do I?” he observed, wriggling his roped-up arms dramatically.

“Let me do him,” said Cincinnati, angered at the disrespectful tone.

“Hold up,” said Joe.

He knelt down to look the hostage in the eyes. “Maybe we can make a deal,” he suggested.

“You were going to leave me as lizard-food,” said the man. “The only way I’m making a deal is if you untie me and throw all the guns to me, first. Then we’ll talk about my mechanic skills.”

 

The would-be killers stepped back to conference about their options.

“He’ll just shoot us, then fix the car and drive away,” Cincinnati protested.

“For once, you’re thinking ahead,” said Joe. “But he can’t shoot us if we keep the bullets.”

“That’s right!” Frankie exclaimed.

“I know,” said Trigger-finger. “Plus, he doesn’t know about this,” he continued, pulling a large knife from a sheath at the small of his back.

 

They returned to the trunk, now drenched in sweat from the mid-day sun. “We agree to your terms,” they told the man.

They hauled him out and cut the ropes. Then they threw their guns to the ground.

The man dusted himself off and straightened his shirt. “I’m not the first one you’ve brought out here, am I?” he asked.

The mobsters said nothing, confirming the man’s theory.

“Would you like to guess how I knew that?” the man continued, stooping to pick up Frankie’s gun.

Still, the mobsters said nothing. Joe began to feel very uncomfortable.

“It’s because you left some bullets rolling around back there,” he threw his chin toward his erstwhile cell.

“Two bullets, actually,” he said as he loaded the gun with them.

 

Several hours later, the man pulled in to the first gas station he saw.

“How’s your day going, sir?” the attendant asked him.

The man smiled. “It’s going a lot better, now.”