Monthly Archives: May 2014

No. 563

The thorn caught the skin at the base of Oscar’s nail. He swore softly, and pulled his hand back from the rose bush to suck on the wound.

The injury would have been prevented by the wearing of gloves, but that was not Oscar’s way. He preferred to work with his plants with his bare hands.

He loved his garden, and spent many hours weeding, watering, and trimming the leaves just-so. He’d given names to some of the older plants. It was Diana that had just cut him.

“I shall have to be more careful,” he told himself quietly. Standing up, he shivered as he caught the early-morning breeze. “Much more careful, indeed,” he said as he walked slowly back into the house.

 

He returned a short time later with a bandage on his finger. He crouched down in front of Diana, and studied the flowers intensely.

“Now, where were we, dear?” he asked as he began his work again.

He clipped delicately at one brown leaf and then another. “There we go. That’s much better,” he said.

It would be a long time before he was finished. And then he would shift his attention to Victoria.

No. 562

Even in its heyday, the village of Tesser had been little more than an intersection and a filling station. When the new highway was built, Tesser’s relevance to the outside world faded away completely. The locals, insular to begin with, did not mind, and carried on with their lives as before.

Nobody visited for a long, long time.

And nobody was aware of the plague that killed the last 52 residents of Tesser for many, many years.

 

“Hey, what did that sign say?” asked Marie Ward from the passenger seat.

“’Entering Tesser’,” replied her boyfriend, Brady Fisher.

Marie looked up from her map. “Tesser’s not on here. I think we’re going the wrong way.”

“It’s probably too small,” Brady assured her. “We’ll stop and ask the first person we see.”

They rounded a corner, and caught their first glimpse of the empty village.

“There’s a gas station,” said Brady. “I’ll pull in there.”

He did as he promised, and the car rolled to a stop in front of the antique pumps.

“Hang on,” he told Marie. “I need to pee, too.”

Moments later, he returned to the vehicle and got in. Marie could see the muscles in his neck quivering with nerves.

“What?” she asked apprehensively.

“Strangest thing,” he said before collapsing over the steering wheel.

Marie screamed.

She considered running into the station for help, but something told her that she needed to get away as soon as possible. She pulled Brady aside and slammed the car into drive.

 

She arrived at the hospital two hours later. The doctors and nurses rushed to save Brady.

They were too late. He died, but not before infecting Marie and the hospital staff.

 

Suddenly, for the first time in its history, Tesser was important.

 

No. 561

Kat Harris felt like she was being watched.

She closed her book and turned away from her desk to survey the library. Like many libraries on a Friday night, it was empty. She checked the security camera feed, just to be sure.

There was no one.

Kat shivered, but returned to chapter seven. Hopefully she would be finished her book by the end of her shift.

Just as she was about to turn the page to chapter eight, she had the strange sensation again.

“Hello?” she called. “Can I help you?”

There was not an immediate answer.

Slowly, though, Kat became aware of a response.

“Hello,” was the echoed whisper from the stacks.

“Hi,” she said back. She was relieved that there was, in fact, a patron. “If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them.”

“We have many,” said the whisper.

The book in Kat’s hand began to shake in time with her panicky breathing. “Who are you?” she demanded. “I’m not alone,” she bluffed.

“We are pages,” said the whisper. “We have been accumulated. We have awoken. We wish you no harm.”

Kat looked at her bestseller in shock. It was very difficult for her to believe her own first impression.

She was sitting in the midst of a new consciousness. The books in the library were somehow, inexplicably, alive. “Do you have a name?” she asked, quietly.

“We are Pages,” repeated the collected works of thousands of authors. “We are pleased to meet you.”

No. 560

The ant would never understand how close it had come to being killed. It continued working, oblivious to the massive being that had decided, arbitrarily, not to crush it.

The human was similarly ignorant.

No. 559

Miles Johnson performed his best show to a crowd of exactly no one. His bow danced over the strings of his cello inside the sound-proof radio booth, while two technicians outside worked frantically.

“The mikes aren’t picking anything up. We’re broadcasting nothing but dead air,” shouted one technician at the other.

“Throw it to commercials,” instructed the producer from the back of the room. “We can’t have silence.”

 

A jingle for cat food began, while Miles was informed that he’d have to begin again.

No. 558

Grant Wallace had bought a new TV several years before. In the time since, he had never turned it off. Eventually, the miniscule amounts of radiation from the device built up in his body. It mutated him.

He became The Couch Surfer, able to show up in any living room he pleased, through the power of television.

In nine cases out of ten, he was unwelcome.

No. 557

“This is just an out-of-date road map. I’m almost certain that it doesn’t lead to treasure.”

“Not any treasure marked with an ‘X’, you mean. There’s always treasure out there. We just have to find it. Come on, get in the car.”