Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Authors – for Joolie

Every day, the man went to the park.

Once he was there, he would set up a desk, take out his notebook, and begin to write.

He wrote stories about many different things.

When he finished each one, he would give the pages to his trusty assistant, a raccoon.

The raccoon would look over each story with his beady eyes, turn it over in his hands, and sniff it thoroughly.

If he approved of the work, he would hand it back to the man.

If he disapproved, he would eat it, and the man would have to start all over again.

Most days, the raccoon ate the story.

But the man was not dismayed. He kept writing, because he knew that someday he and the raccoon would create something great.

 

No. 576

Andrew died. It wasn’t fair. I’d still had questions that needed answering, and then he was gone.

It bothered me for a long time.

Over the years I picked up information, here and there. Spells. Various hexes. Incantations. I tried them all. I was almost certain that there wasn’t any magic left in the world.

But this time, this time I allowed myself to hope. Just a little bit.

I’d paid dearly for the old book with the ritual, and was careful to lay it out of the way of the candles and blood that I would need for later.

I cleared a space in my kitchen and carefully followed the instructions. Turns out that the hope and the darkness were enough.

Andrew appeared, whole, looking better than I remembered. He walked in like he hadn’t been in the ground the last 14 years.

Strangely, I felt nothing as he came around the counter and sat down at the table. I’d feared the worst. The whole “Monkey’s Paw” deal. But this was like he’d just woken up after hitting the snooze alarm too many times. He was groggy and his hair was tousled, and that was it.

And here I was. Older. Maybe wiser. All the questions that had seemed so important at the time were suddenly and unequivocally rendered moot.

I sat down beside him and he looked at me.

“Hey,” he said.

I took a deep breath, and asked him the most important thing that I could think of.

“So. Now that you’re back, what do you want for dinner?”

He grunted noncommittally, and we stared at each other quietly over a bowl of ornamental fruit.

No. 575

There are 38 leaves left on the tree in the yard. Fall is a decent gust of wind away from being over. I am not looking forward to winter.

In the lawn maintenance business, there’s not much business when the weather turns. In other places, some crews can turn to snow removal to pad the books, but around here winter means 6 months of cold rain.

This past season I had some setbacks, financially. Pay for new equipment. Pay for the damage one of my guys did to some kind of fancy fish pond. Pay for some other things. I did a lot of paying, is what happened.

Now I’m standing in the kitchen – not my own kitchen—drinking this awful store brand instant coffee, and wondering how I’ll make it through until there’s leaves on that damn tree again.

“How are you doing, honey?” she asks as she steps up behind me, wrapping her arms up over my robe.

“Good,” I lie. “Really good.”

She turns to get her own coffee. I finish mine and put it down on the window sill.

One way, or another, I won’t be around here to see that tree turn green.

No. 574

In 2014, dinosaur cloning is invented

In 2016, a number of dinosaurs escape the lab and establish colonies in a threatened rainforest area. Due to misguided animal-rights protests, hunting is not permitted on the grounds that the dinosaurs themselves are, by population size, endangered.

By 2020, the dinosaurs are proven to be an invasive species and are overrunning the ecosystem. Their already unstable DNA is allowing them to adapt much faster than the modern species. They are taken off the endangered species list. Hunting is allowed.

By 2030, they have spread. Dinosaurs are now one of the only classes of animal on the planet.

By 2037, humans are in decline.

 

 

“Open the gates. It’s time to go out.”

Christina Foster heard her father’s voice over the camp public address system. She reflexively tightened the strap of her Kevlar vest and double checked her rifle.

The giant rusted doors on the perimeter wall began to open. Foster watched the yellow warning lights flash as the final line of defence was relaxed just long enough for the team to leave.

She stepped out into the long-abandoned street, in the middle of what used to be Phoenix, Arizona.

Somewhere, off to the left, she heard the clatter of clawed feet on broken concrete.

The team was not going to get very far on this trip.

“Dinos, 10 o’clock!” one of her partners shouted. She couldn’t tell if it was Mandalay, or Stock.

Foster pointed her rifle and squeezed the trigger, sending bullets screaming through the empty windows of a former department store. A dinosaur staggered out, before collapsing to the ground within feet of the group.

It was a small one. Nothing like what would be attracted by the sound of the guns and the smell of fresh blood.

“We need to hurry,” Foster told her team. “Or we won’t make it back. Come on. Follow me.”

No. 573

The itch behind Commander Thompson’s right ear began to intensify. He couldn’t scratch it through the helmet and tried his best to concentrate on the empty red vistas of Mars in front of him. The rover bounced over a rock and Thompson shook his head to focus on the drive.

“Hey watch it,” said Simpkins over the radio. “I almost fell out.”

“I didn’t sign up for a demolition derby,” said Spears. “How come you didn’t drive like this on the way out?”

Thompson ignored them both. He had to get them back to base so he could scratch.

 

Dinner was the usual rehydrated mush. The trio of astronauts didn’t speak to each other as they ate. Thompson noticed Spears and Simpkins looking at him. When they saw him, they pretended to study their plates.

“What?” Thompson asked.

The itch throbbed. Thompson knew instinctively that if he scratched it, they would know.

 

Thompson blasted up into space in the escape rocket. He shivered, doing his best to align the guidance grid to the proper coordinates for a rescue. He had Spears’ blood on his hands. Or was it Simpkins’?

He told himself that he couldn’t have helped it. They came at him, didn’t they? He was only defending himself.

More words hissed into Thompson’s helmet. “Mars Rescue One, this is Deep Space Base, do you copy, over?”

He reached forward and increased thrust to maximum. He had to destroy Deep Space Base.

It was the only way to stop the itching.