Monthly Archives: June 2014

No. 566

 

It was supposed to be a weekend camping trip. Short. Simple. Nothing more. I had planned to go by myself. Samantha came along at the last minute. She said that she didn’t have anything else to do, so “why not?”

I didn’t object. Sam was pretty, which didn’t hurt. We’d hung out before, but only with mutual friends. She seemed cool.

Of course, nothing that you plan to be short and simple ever turns out that way.

We hadn’t been at the site more than an hour before the rain started. Heavy, heavy rain. The kind that makes you rethink ever being outside again.

We decided to stick it out. It was just one night, and we’d have a funny story to tell. “That time we got drenched.” We were right about one of those two things. Not the “one night” bit.

Because of the downpour, the river flooded. Now we were trapped on a brand-new island. Any extra supplies were back in the truck, on the other side.

Sam and I subsisted on Kraft Dinner and squirrels for three days. There isn’t much meat on a squirrel, I can assure you. And they’re quick.

But that wasn’t the worst part.

After the water had gone down enough for us to brave a crossing, we packed up quickly and made a break for it.

As you may, or may not, know, mosquitoes love water. They breed in it. More water equals more mosquitoes. There had been a lot of water. There were more bugs.

“Run!” Sam screamed as a dense cloud of bloodsuckers rose up to engulf her.

We ran. A similar horde attacked me.

Brushing them off was useless. I was convinced our waving arms just made us more attractive targets. We stumbled into the truck as the dirty little vampires threw themselves against the windows.

“They’re on you!” Sam shouted, slapping my shoulder. Her hand came away bloody, leaving two mashed carcases on my shirt.

I returned the favor, murdering several more mosquitoes that were hovering over Sam’s arm.

Ten or fifteen frenzied minutes later, we’d stamped out the last of the inside-the-vehicle marauders.

Their vengeful friends outside continued their futile attempts to gain entry.

“I think it’s time to go,” said Sam.

“Agreed,” I agreed.

I reached into my pocket for the keys. There was nothing in it but a novelty bottle-opener.

“Do you have them?” I asked Sam in desperation.

She looked at the swarm outside. “I don’t.”

“They’re back at the campsite, aren’t they?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

She nodded. “Hung on the tree by the campfire.”

I could have sworn I heard the mosquitoes thumping as they threw their bodies into the glass. “We can’t go back out there,” I told her. “They’ll leave us bone-dry.”

She nodded. “We’ll have to stay in here, until they die down.”

 

I cleared my throat and looked at Sam. “First date. And that’s when we fell in love,” I said, finishing my speech.

Sam was beautiful in her white dress, with just a touch of wine that she’d already spilled on it.

“I only got sixty-four bites! And not all from Graham,” she added the punch line.

Our gathered friends and family roared with laughter, even though they’d all heard it before.

No. 565

Mittens, a cat in her eighth life, was falling from the tenth-floor patio of her owner’s apartment.

“I’ve got this,” she told herself, as the wind ruffled her ears and tail on the way down. “Done it a million times. Bend. Twist. Extend the legs.”

She landed heavily, and a brief evaluation confirmed that she was fine. She stretched casually before sauntering away, past a small crowd of horrified human witnesses.

“Like you’ve never seen a cat land on its feet before?” she asked them.

They heard only meowing, and continued to gawk and point.

“Fine,” said Mittens, muttering to herself. “Nobody gets a dead-bird present tonight.”

She went about her business as usual, prowling through the neighborhood, hassling dogs and children alike.

Right around midnight she came across a much larger cat. A lion, she recognized from the nature shows her owner watched. It was clearly lost, roaming around between back alleys, and trying to stay out of sight. She also saw the cheetah that was doing its best to hide in the shadows.

“Come here,” The lion ordered.

Mittens had nothing better to do, so she decided she would entertain the suggestion. But not all the way.

“What?” she said, as she slowly licked her paw.

She half-listened to their names, and some inane questions about where to find antelopes.

“Blah blah blah, hungry,” said the lion.

Mittens had an idea.

“I know a human who puts out food for strays,” she told them.

They agreed to go with her, and she led the pair of jungle cats back to her apartment building with every intention of having them eat the simpletons who had doubted her ability to fall properly.

No. 564

The ship plummeted to the ground, gouging a massive trench across the plateau of the alien world. A battered figure stepped out, on unsteady legs. She was followed by the co-pilot, the only other survivor.

“I’m sorry, my lady,” the co-pilot apologized. “After the drive failed, there was nothing we could do.”

“That’s alright, officer,” the survivor assured the pilot. “We may yet be able to complete our mission, despite this setback.”

The survivor paused for a moment, carefully scrutinizing the ruined craft. “But I don’t think we’ll be able make it home.”

The co-pilot nodded, accepting her fate.

The survivor put her arm on the co-pilot’s shoulder. “It would seem, then, that I am no longer your queen, but your partner, instead.”