Monthly Archives: September 2016

No. 589

After Danny Campbell won his seventh grade class presidency on an ambitious campaign platform of double recess, he scheduled a meeting with the principal to enact his vision.


“No.” said Principal Branch.

“I’m the class president. You need to do what I say,” Danny explained.

Principal Branch leaned back in her chair. “I’m sorry. That’s not how class president works,” she told Danny.

“How come the grade nines get free snacks at the vending machines?” Danny asked. “Didn’t the president do that?”

“Danny, do you know what an urban legend is?” said Principal Branch.

Danny scratched his head. “I don’t think so.”

“It means a story that a lot of people tell, but it’s not true.”

“But the grade nines do get free snacks, though!” Danny argued.

“Who told you?”

“Jenny Chan. In my class.”

“And how does Jenny know?”

“Her brother’s friend told her.”

“Have you met her brother, or his friend?” Principal Branch asked.

Danny was tiring of the questions, and beginning to suspect that Principal Branch knew something that he didn’t. Still, he owed it to his classmates to try his hardest to get them what he’d promised. He tried a new tactic.

“What about an extra five minutes of recess?” he proposed.

Principal Branch sighed. “I appreciate your effort, but when you get back to class, ask Ms. Harper what a ‘figurehead’ is.”


Danny returned to his home room, unsuccessful in his attempts to gain any extra recreational time. The rest of the seventh graders soon forgot that he’d made any commitments, at all. However, his persistence served him well, and he was elected to his grade’s highest office twice more. In grade eight, he promised every student an unlimited hall pass, and in grade nine, he was swept to power on a pledge to distribute free candy from the vending machines.

He never met Jenny Chan’s brother’s friend.


No. 588

Sally and Jack always played in the stream that ran through their neighbourhood. During the summer, the water was low, making access into the culvert that ran underneath the street possible.

Jack stood on the bank and threw a rock toward the tunnel. It disappeared with a splash into the deepest part of the stream. “Don’t go in there,” he told Sally. “That’s where the big crayfish is. I saw him last week. He could take your hand off if he got you.”

Sally looked at her hand, flexing her fingers experimentally. “He must be huge,” she said.

“For sure,” Jack agreed. “Even the older kids won’t go after him.”

“Afraid?” asked Sally.

“Aren’t you?” Jack replied.

Sally searched through the bushes on the bank beside the stream and found a large stick. “I bet I can catch him,” she declared.

Jack stepped away from the water as Sally went in up to her ankles. “What’s the matter?” she asked him. “Scared?”

“No.” said Jack, unconvincingly. “I’m giving you space.”

“Ha!” said Sally, as she disappeared into the dark passageway.

Jack was scared, and watched nervously for his friend. He heard splashing from the tunnel. “He’s got her,” he whispered to himself, and considered running home.

Moments later, Sally emerged, without her stick, but carrying a medium-sized crayfish. “Is this what they were worried about?” she said as she held the crustacean toward Jack.

“I thought it would be bigger,” said Jack, who had not moved closer to the water. “Much bigger.”

“Maybe the older kids didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Sally. “I looked around. There weren’t any other crayfish in there. I’m pretty sure this is the ‘monster’ one.”

“Good for us. I mean, you,” said Jack.

Sally had reached the land. She waved the crayfish at Jack. “Look out,” she teased, “I bet he could take your hand off!”


No. 587

If you somehow find this, I need you to know what’s going to happen.

I built this time machine in secret. It was my life’s work and, before I announced it, I needed to make the first flight. On August 29, 2017, I chose to go forward by one week, to see how my invention would be received.

As it turned out, we humans did not have that much time left. The radiation from the first bombs shattered the time-field, and trapped me in a stasis from which there is no escape.

I was forced to watch the end of the world from inside a pocket dimension, completely unable to return to my own, or any other time.

I’ve lost count of the decades, now. They’re irrelevant, anyway. The only things left alive in the ruins are roaches. Sometimes, I tell myself that they can see me, and I don’t feel so alone.

No. 586

I took the pill just before her wedding.

The dealer called it “Geronimo”, and promised two hours with absolutely no fear.

As it turned out, I should have waited just a little while longer. Instead of telling her that I loved her and that she should marry me, instead, I ended up fighting her enormous cousin in the parking lot.

Evidently, he and I have very different political opinions.