War, in Summary

I haven’t posted much in a while, but I haven’t been slacking. Among being busy with other stuff, I’ve been putting a lot of work into my “Eastern” project. Not writing, exactly, but a lot of planning. Most of my stories aren’t really character-based, as I’m more of a “plot junkie”. But I plan to take a somewhat different approach in that story, hence the amount of character/dynamic/motivation planning. I hope it’ll be really good. I think it will be. I’m very excited to start writing it.

But before that happens, I’ll probably finish City Intersection. Not sure why I haven’t written that in a while, honestly, because we’re just getting to my favorite part.

Music this time might need a bit of an explanation. I’m a big fan of The Binding of Isaac, and Edmund McMillen, the creator of that series, based the name of one of the bosses off of this song. I listened to it, and loved it.

~

The soldiers on either side, in parallel, move toward the border in two straight lines.
They meet, each a foot apart from their side of the border. Not the border of a country – though it could be – but the border. The border that separates the two lines, the two models of soldiers, in an arbitrary fashion which none of them truly know.
Upon meeting, they each extend their hands toward their mirrored image – not perfectly mirrored, but close enough; maybe different skin or hair or uniform – and give each other a long, firm handshake. Once it is over, each side knows the other respects them, because they know them. They are them.
They take a few paces back each. Looking at their matches across the border, they prepare, load, and cock their guns. They swing the barrels up, up, to rest under their own chins. The captains of either side – each with their gun below their heads as well – simultaneously order their troops to fire. The two lines of soldiers fall, the last sight of their reflections over the border forever burned into their mind.

 

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The Carnival from Space!

I’ve actually been working on this story, off and on, since August (when I took a trip to Quebec City). I’ve always disliked amusement parks myself, mostly because of how many people there are and how loud they are, but on my last trip to one I got a little idea for a story involving them, which eventually turned into this story, with the addition of a bit of a fifties-style pulp scifi kind of style.

Music this time is Science Fiction, the final album by Brand New. I’m surprised that I hadn’t posted this before, actually.

~

A comet – comet? it seems to twinkle more than usual – strikes across the sky brilliantly. A small piece dislodges, a tiny spark flying off it down to earth.
There is no one around where it lands. But if there was, they would see the most perplexing thing. The comet fragment lands with a dull thud and a minor shake and all is silent and still, for a moment. Then the hole the fragment created deepens of its own accord. No comet – if that had truly been a comet – is visible at all any more.
All is silent and still again. But there is a tenseness in the air, a feeling that something is happening, something is charging up, something is straining to get free.
Then, with a loud slurping and slapping noise, ten slime-covered tentacles burst out of the hole and flop onto the surrounding ground. They writhe for a moment, finding the right place, then lay completely still. And the thing begins growing.
~
I was just driving through. That’s all I meant to be doing. Point a to point b. But it was never that simple, was it. How much, truly, must our childhoods affect the rest of our lives, for better or worse? I had never cared for fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, and the like. They didn’t scare me, but they had no attraction for me either. It just wasn’t my kind of thing.
But there, on the side of the road, a sign for “The Traveling Carnival of Glitzheimer-Kitch”. It was suitably ordained with expressive lettering, reflective paint, and so on. My legs were simultaneously tired and longing for use other than pressing a pedal, and I figured I may as well check it out. It had been years, decades, since I had last been to one and, despite my long-time disdain of them, I felt like it was worth giving them a second chance.
So I went in. No ticket charge, no charge on anything, which I found suspicious yet also nice. I wasn’t in the mood to spend money at a fair, and that made things easy. But it seemed strange nonetheless.
The fair seemed to have an overall theme. Like aliens and space travel and that kind of thing, but like fifties aliens and space travel. Those cheesy laser blasters, green skin paint and aluminum-foil clothing. I didn’t do much, didn’t play any games or get any food (even that was free) or anything like that, but I enjoyed my time strolling through the fair and watching the people who were doing so. Strangely enough, or perhaps not given the lack of monetary charge, there didn’t seem to be any people running the carnival. All game booths were open to whomever wanted to play them, and all food was “serve yourself”.
A popular treat seemed to be the “Cosmic Pop”, a popcorn drizzled in butter dyed green, with purple cheese sprinkles. Nearly everyone I passed seemed to be eating some. It smelled good, but not good enough for me to bother getting some.
The screams of those who were riding the more intense rides, like the ride that’s slowly hitched up a hundred-foot tower and let loose at the top, letting gravity take control – which appeared to be in the middle of the park, easily visible from most other places – echoed throughout the whole carnival. And when they did scream there was a slight shift in the air. It seemed more tense, the air heavy and dense around me. It was as though the park responded with a cold heat, electrifying the entire area. It unnerved me, solidifying my childhood dislike of amusement parks.
Before long, I was back on the road. But I had wasted too much time, it was late enough to start considering lodging for the night. And as it happened, I felt in the mood to give myself a bit of a break, which meant finding a hotel at the town nearby to the fair.
I found that without much trouble, fueled up my truck, stopped by at a diner for a quick dinner, then went up to my room and passed out in a matter of minutes. I had strange, vaporous dreams. Mist-filled and murky, I remembered the dreams with detail but it was difficult to make out anything that took place in them. It was as though they were taking place on a bog on some alien planet, toxic and stinking fog concealing everything – well, almost everything – that took place behind. I could just barely make out vague figures and movements, neither of which belonged on earth. Too large, too… I don’t know. Their movements were jerky, yet also smooth. Calculated, but also animalistic.
My sleep was restless. But upon waking – early, of course, as required by my job – I got dressed, ate a quick meal at the diner (which was staffed by only one or two people), and headed to my truck. But the area, which had been so lively the night before, even late into the night, was utterly dead. A morning fog hung over what seemed the entire town, which took on an eerie glow in the early light. Despite the heat being on in the truck, a shiver ran down my spine. The indistinct shadows of buildings and signs in the fog echoed back to my dream in a way that made me uncomfortable.
As it happened, I needed to drive back past the carnival to get back on the highway to continue my route. The closer I got, the thicker the fog – and the stronger the greenish tone that I had previously just imagined that I saw. When I passed the sign, I looked over at it, and nearly drove the truck off the road in the process. A tendril, a spiky plant appendage, had grown out along the ground toward the sign, and wrapped itself around it. But it didn’t just look like the tendril appeared there, it looked as though it had burst out of the ground, the soil around being disturbed and upturned.
I needed to get on my way, but my curiosity took control. I parked the truck by the side of the road, climbed out, and headed down the path to the carnival, next to the sign. I looked at the vegetative tentacle. It was bloated and fat, like a tick after it has had its fill of blood. It was gluttonous, done feasting.
The fog took on a stench the further I walked down the path, and the green hue deepened. I pulled my t-shirt up over my nose to try to block the smell, at the expense of smelling my own body odor. The denser the fog, the more I noticed a vague stinging on every part of my skin that it touched. A few minutes later, my skin was red and hot, like it had been covered in an acidic compound.
A few minutes later, it was beginning to blister. I pulled my arms back into my shirt, to shield them from the fog, and further covered my face, leaving only my eyes exposed.
I had originally thought the park deserted, but before long I began noticing figures, their details hidden by the fog, moving in the distance. I tried to get to one, but as fast as I ran I was unable to catch up with them, even though they didn’t seem to be running, or even walking at anything more than a crawl.
I noticed something laying on the ground before me. It seemed completely immobile, so I approached it. Before I was even close enough to discern its details, I could tell that it was a human form, but in a sort of twisted fetal position.
Once I stood above it, I could see everything. Its – I say “its”, not “his” or “hers” – skin was cracked, blistered, and torn, green as broccoli. Its eyes were swollen to the point of being unable to close, and its fingers were bending in ways that are, in normal situations, physically impossible.
I should have turned back then, but I needed to know more. I needed to know what had happened. I walked further down the path, towards the center of the carnival, and a looming shape emerged from the fog before me. The heart-in-your-throat tower. But what had previously been the metal structure supporting it was now twisted and wrecked, with some pieces completely dislodging and falling to the ground below. Bursting out from the tower, now, was a thick, hundred-foot trunk. But not a tree trunk, more like a trunk made of rose twigs, spiny and threatening. And at the top, a huge, disgusting flower had bloomed. The fog was thickest around this, so I could see it only vaguely, but I could tell that’s where the fog, and likewise the stench, had originated. Unlike other flowers, this flower was not turned to face the rising sun, it faced nearly the opposite direction, towards the now-setting moon.
As I stood looking at it, the ground beneath me groaned and another tendril pulled itself out of the ground, this one connected to the Cosmic Pop stand. In its movement, it lifted the stand and upturned it, spilling the remaining popcorn – if that’s what it was – onto the ground. Almost instantly, the kernels began sinking into the ground with a fizzling sound, like acid burning through metal.
I turned and ran. I ran the entire way out of that hellish carnival, got into my truck, and drove. I had always hated carnivals, and now I always would. I had given them one last chance, and I regretted it.

Skin

I live in New England, it’s getting to be winter (we’ve already gotten some snow), and I have very dry skin. Hence, this story.

Music this time is Really Rosie by Carole King. I listened to this album countless times as a child, and recently recorded the cassette. I just uploaded it onto YouTube today, because until now it wasn’t particularly accessible. (A number of the songs were on YouTube, but I don’t think all of them were, and no videos had the full album.)

~

Dry skin. That was all. Everyone has a bout of dry skin every once in a while. Especially me, I lived in New England, where the winters were long and cold and dry. And it was getting to be about that time of year.
It started on my face. The corners of my eyes and mouth got slightly dry, cracked from the frequent opening and closing, and thus became irritated. My eyes had always watered a lot, but now the the salt water seeped into the cracked skin near my eyes and got inflamed. It was painful, for the few days it persisted. But for the rest of the week I put on a facial creme, and before long it went away.
But a few days later it came back, elsewhere. On my arms and chest and neck and back and especially hands, the skin became cracked and dry and flaky and constantly shed. When I looked at my forearms, in disgust, they resembled pale alligator skin.
One day I took an Epsom salts bath. It was nice enough, I played an Isaac Asimov audiobook as I soaked, but I couldn’t help noticing the constantly increasing amount of dead skin floating in the water. I rubbed my hands, and little flakes of skin scrubbed off into the tub. I rubbed them again and sent another layer of skin into the water. Another, and another. I became mesmerized by it, sending down layer after layer after layer of skin.
I got out partway through the bath, turning on the hot water to refresh it, and dropped in some scented oils. Maybe it would soothe my skin, but at least it might soothe my nerves. My hands felt noticeably lighter since I got out, and that concerned me.
I settled in, enjoying the new warmth and the soft lavender scent. I resumed my audiobook, closed my eyes, and tried to sink deeper.
But I seemed to have stretched out the skin on my back uncomfortably, it was burning how it feels when someone gives you an Indian rugburn. So I sat up, brought my back out of the water, and reassessed it.
It was still burning. I tried to bear it, ignore it, for the rest of the bath, but that hot sting was always there in the back of my mind. When I got out and turned around and looked in the mirror, a large swath of my back was bright-red, almost like I had been lashed.
Within an hour, though, it had gone away, and I didn’t bear it any more mind.
I had begun, almost unconsciously, just picking away at the skin on my hands when idle. Like others might click a pen, I tore off little sheets of skin. Occasionally, I’d bite away at it when I couldn’t get a good grip with my fingernails, or just for the salty sweat-taste.
My skin soon became outright painful. If I moved in the wrong way a sharp stinging would erupt from my skin, like being sliced by a very sharp knife, or a papercut. The way your nose gets sometimes in the dry winter. A “crack”, they call it. Because, normally, it’s just one specific little location.
But for me, it wasn’t. A week after the stinging started, my whole hand had it. Touch anything, even just move, and it would feel like my hand was being sliced up by uncountable razor blades. Then, before long, it spread. I was paralyzed by my skin. Any movement had instant punishment. I even made my speech as minimal as possible.
But despite the pain, my habit continued. Picking off little bits of skin whenever I was idle. But it was no longer just thin sheets of skin. They had thickened, deepened. It was like picking off plates of skin. The layer of skin beneath was young and supple. It was skin that should have had several months to go before reaching air. And when I looked at the area I had picked it from, there was an obvious depth change between the normal, scaly skin and the too-fresh skin. It was like a crevasse had been opened up.
Looking at the less-affected areas of my body, I realized that I resembled people with harlequin ichthyosis. Red, and with skin separating like continents from pangea.
Then the itching began. Perhaps it was because of the freshly exposed skin, perhaps it was just a side effect of the dry skin to begin with. Either way, it was intolerable. Itchiness to the point of pain. It hurt when I didn’t scratch it, it hurt when I did.
Wearing clothes, at this point, was out of the question. When you’re like that, clothes are like a coating of needles, all pricking down into your skin. Laying down to sleep was nearly impossible, as the sheets had a similar effect as clothes. I slowly became accustomed to sleeping while standing, usually leaning against the wall with the smallest amount of my shoulder as possible.
One day, upon waking up, I found a slippery, thick sheet of something on the floor below me, white on one side and red on the other. During the night, I soon found, a large section of my skin, from my legs and waist area, had completely sloughed off. The now-exposed flesh was bright red and continually painful, as you might expect of an area that had had its skin removed.
Oddly enough, though, there was very little bleeding. I could see that the surface was slick with blood, but none of it dripped down from it. I would have expected a practical fountain of blood gushing forth, but I was in no risk of dying from bleeding out. Initially, when I found that, I was relieved. Later, though, as my waking mind gradually came to grips with what had happened and the ensuing pain, I decided that was a curse. If I could have just bled out – if I had just bled out in my sleep – then this would be over. For the past month my life had gradually decreased in quality, and it was now at an all-time low. But no, my death would not be that simple, it would not come so easily.
I dared not move, dared not breathe, for the risk of infection was evident. Open flesh with no running blood to rinse out contaminants, just sitting there, body temperature, with access to oxygen. I was a human petri dish, and aware of that fact. I stared at the flesh, analyzing it with panic, watching for any change in color or unusual growth that might indicate an infection.
An hour later, I dared touch it. As I brought my hand towards it, the brittle skin around my wrist separated, and the skin on my hand slid off like a glove onto the pile of skin already at my feet. I saw bones, tendons, capillaries. I am not a weak-hearted man, but at that sight my head spun and my skin blanched further. I leaned against the wall, the pain that caused overridden by the pain around my legs and hand.
I focused on breathing, on coming up with a plan. But no plan came to me. Once my vision was no longer blurred and spinning, I stood up straight again. With that movement, however, came a wet tearing sound, like pulling the skin off of a raw chicken. Moments later, fire erupted from my shoulder. I turned to look at the wall behind me, my dry neck resisting the twisting, and saw a section of the skin from my back, what I had leaned with, clinging to and slowly slipping down the wall.
Instinctually, I moved. My feet shifted as I turned to look at the wall, and slipped on what used to be skin. It astounds me that something so dry could at the same time be so slimy and slippery. I tried to catch my balance, reaching out grasp for anything, but nothing was there to support me. I fell onto the ever-growing pile, all parts of me that were now touching something screamed with pain, and I writhed.
Oh, did I writhe. I couldn’t not. Unless you’ve been flayed alive before, you cannot imagine the feeling. You cannot say you would do any differently. And with every movement, strips and sheets and layers of skin – sometimes pulling off the connected flesh, sometimes not – tore off of my body onto the floor. Before long, I was one of those drawings you see in anatomy books, showing what humans look like underneath their skin. All exposed muscles and veins and arteries and bones and tendons. I was the Skinless Man.

A Perfect System of Equality

Some people seem to be unable of differentiating between legal equality and personal equality, which I find irritating. People’s (or races’, or countries’, or…) different skills, foibles, weaknesses, and strengths are what make humanity worth anything.

Music this time is the album North Shore by Wooly Mammoth. Only one song from the album is on YouTube (and I believe it’s a live version), so here’s their album on Bandcamp. I’m not even sure how I found it originally, but I noticed that it was on my Google Music account the other day and gave it a try. I’ve been listening to it over and over since then.

~

Everyone has their baby teeth out by age five. They have their first crush at age eight. Puberty hits them around age thirteen, they have their first kiss at fifteen, and break their virginity at seventeen.
They get married at twenty-four, avoid having children for a few years but (accidentally) conceive their first child, a boy, at twenty-seven.
And the cycle continues.
Now that they’re a bit older, more experienced with the world, they feel the urge to paint their painting at thirty. No one cares, because everyone else is painting their paintings at the same time. Five years later, their novel. Three years after that, they finally pick up an instrument again (they had always meant to, when they were younger, but never got around to it) and, after a few years of practice, actually get pretty good at it.
From age eighteen on, they work at The Company. You know the one. The one where you work. They drive a car just like yours, and live in the same house.
“Equality for all” the state proclaims. This slogan – the only remnant of a “government” that exists, other than the network of supercomputers that still holds things together – is plastered everywhere, on everything.
Their favorite food is steak and potatoes, as is yours. Once in a while (on the days specified by the aforementioned computers) they have a treat of some ice cream after dinner. They gather around the circular dinner table with their two children (a boy and a girl, named William and Sally) and have their meal, talking quietly about the day’s scheduled topic, projected onto the wall.
There are no “races”, there are no “countries”. The earth has been terraformed into one homogeneous land mass. Every hundred square miles has every climate, every ecological system. Humans, a long time ago, had been extensively cross-bred over a few generations, and anyone who had an unbalanced racial background went extinct. Everyone now has an equal percentage of Asian, African, Caucasian, and so on.
Not many people know this but additional, more scientific, genetic engineering went on around the same time so that everyone resembles everyone else. Since all men are named William and all women are named Sally, and everyone looks the same, suffixes (not surnames, of course) were added. But they couldn’t be numbers, because numbers could me misconstrued as values. Instead, they were given thirty-two letter long codes. Your suffix, as you know, is OFPS-WIQN-BNOZ-DRLP-BVWN-EXNL-QONP-UVNC. But you are only referred to as William. The chips implanted in everyone, and monitored by the network, disallow anyone from referring to anyone by their suffix.
It is a perfect system of equality.

 

The Origin of Wisdom Teeth

Just a silly little thing I thought of today. I’ve always hated going to the dentist, far more than even going to a doctor or something, but had to do so today. Turns out my wisdom teeth are coming in (one of them coming in completely sideways) and I’ll need to get them taken out soon. Then I was thinking up some conspiracy theory behind them and came up with this. As I started writing it I decided to throw in a little Lovecraftian “I’m going to die soon and I need to write why” kind of thing for fun.

(Also, I’ve got a number of other smaller things in the work right now, that I’ll eventually get around to finishing and posting.)

~

I’ve learned something, something that I would not have originally thought of as vital, but I now fear it threatens my life, prompting me to write this.
Humans did not originally have wisdom teeth.
How can this be? you ask. Everyone has wisdom teeth.
But the scientist will understand. Wisdom teeth serve no purpose, biologically or evolutionarily. In fact, due to the problems wisdom teeth can cause, they may even have a preventative evolutionarily measure, humans mutated to have wisdom teeth would likely have a lower survivabilty rate due to their misgrowth, and thus have less time to procreate, and so on.
So how could this be? Why would humans gain wisdom teeth through their existence?
Selective breeding.
Dentists have been around forever. Since people have been eating sugary foods (even down to fruits and the like) and haven’t upkept their dental hygiene, dentists have been profiting from it. Sure, dentists may have shady deals with food distributors, incentivizing candy advertisements and things like that, but this goes beyond. Far beyond.
It all started when one unlucky chap was birthed with wisdom teeth. Some stray mutated gene gave him four extra molars. Of course he came to his local dentist once they had emerged, complaining of the pain of the tooth pushing up against the jawbone and the tooth tearing through the gum. The dentist was puzzled at the man’s teeth, and talked with other dentists he knew about it. None of them had ever heard of such a thing.
But in the midst of their talking, one dentist had an idea, an idea which would for the rest of humankind bring trouble to people and billions upon billions of dollars to the dental industry. He suggested that they create a “scarcity” of other males in the area. Turn that one (now lucky!) man into a pimp for all the women of the town, and pass his genes on to the next generation. Even if there were a couple other men in town, his offspring would be greater in number and would completely proliferate through the gene pool before long.
And it worked. Genetic engineering was obviously still a very primitive study, barely even a “study” at that point, but farmers had known for ages about how to breed the best sheep, cows, and other livestock, and they extrapolated it successfully to humans.
I dare not even say here how I came across this information. It has doomed me, and I wouldn’t wish this fate upon any others. But even now, as I feel the call of death coming to me, through all sorts of horrific dental equipment, I feel that I cannot in good conscience go out without writing why, even if no one ever stumbles upon this. And if you, reader, do, be careful. Be very careful. Stay away from dentists.

Snippets, part (?)

You know the drill. Every once in a while I gather up all my little couple-paragraph-long “stories” and post them here together instead of separately.

The funny thing, though, is that I actually wrote all of these just today. I’m reading Ron Carlson Writes a Story, which is fantastic by the way, and did a couple of the exercises (and then wrote one other little thing that came to mind).

1: The purpose was to write a story about someone washing a car, make it enjoyable and give some implied history/plot about it, without really delving into the thoughts of the main character. (Which is rather difficult to me, since being embedded deep in the mind of the narrator is where I like to be.)

~

Troy walked across his yard towards the old blue-green Volvo 850. Paint was chipped and re-painted over with a mismatched color, the driver’s side visor had been removed and the shorted electronics resulted in a perpetual bing-bing-bing whenever the car was on, even the ceiling fabric itself was gone, but the least he could do was give it a wash.
He unlocked the car, got in, and started it up. He sat there for a moment, looking at the “For Sale” sign taped to the inside of the window, which had been there so long it was so faded that it was a miracle if anyone would be able to read it, before tearing it down and crumpling it up onto the seat beside him.
He pulled the car out onto the road and into the driveway, gingerly feeling out the car’s speed as it met the three-inch-curb dividing the street from his property.
Five minutes later he had two buckets of sudsy water, a sponge, and thirty minutes before the U-Haul was going to get there. Troy had never washed a car before, but he seemed to have the essentials down. A splash of water here, scrub it around with the sponge until it kinda looked like it might be cleaner, then another splash and another scrub.
He came to one of the headlights and paused. It was filthy, it was doubtful whether any light was able to make its way out from that opaque prison, but should he actually clean it? There was a crack in the plastic, or glass, or whatever it was, and some water would inevitably end up inside. Would that fuck with the electronic components of the car even more, or would it be okay?
Troy left the headlight alone.
He realized later that he had spaced out and had been rubbing away at some little spot on a window that hadn’t changed a mote since he had started. Was it a little chipped section where the unlucky window had caught some small pebble thrown up in traffic, or was it a new type of permanent bird shit? In either case, it didn’t seem likely that he’d get it off.
As he moved across to the back of the car, he caught a look at the heavily-worn and slightly stained backseat through the rear window. He froze, involuntarily, and stared. His mouth muscles formed a bubble out of the gum in his mouth and it popped, sticking to the top of his lip.
He tore himself away from the car and chanced a glance back at the house. A curtain in the window rustled, as being pulled forward suddenly. He turned back to the car.

~~~

2: The purpose was to write a ~200 word-long story about some mundane, quick task, like tying a tie, but sort of “slow down” time to lengthen out such a short action.

~

He flipped up his collar, standing in front of his closet, and slung the tie around his neck. Almost autonomously, he began tying the boring old Half Windsor knot, but quickly became disenchanted with it. He needed to make a statement by his very appearance, and a Half Windsor wouldn’t do it. By the time he had come to that decision, though, his hands had already performed the cross-around-up-and-over and had begun tugging up the knot to tighten it, holding the weird little useless tail, when he pulled it all out and started over.
The Van Wijk knot. Eccentric, relatively unknown, and suitably stylish for his own standards. It had been years since he had tied one, though, and it was complicated enough that he wasn’t sure if he could do it from memory. Or was that the Trinity knot?
Yeah, it was. What was the Van Wijk knot, then?
In the few moments this took place in, his hands had been fiddling around with the tie, as though thinking that they’d try their hand – please, ignore the pun – at creating a “brand new innovative knot that will revolutionize fashion!”. He told his hands to shut up, kindly, they weren’t that brilliant, and began trying to tie a Van Wijk.
It was just kind of like a Half Windsor that looped around two-too-many-times, he thought. Cross-around-around-around-up-and-over, then? He tried it, but couldn’t find the space to put the end of the tie through. There were just too many damn loops. He pulled it out and tried again, sticking his thumb in to keep open the place where he thought he was supposed to tuck the tie in at the end. By the time he got to that point, though, his thumb was stuck in there and the tie nearly came undone in his efforts to disentangle it.
One last time, no thumb, just keeping it loose until the end. The end of the tie slid through perfectly, he tightened it, turned to look in the mirror, and the tail was hanging far too low.

~~~

3: The purpose was the same as #2, but after finishing that one I had an idea for a dialogue-based version of a woman helping a clueless man with his tie. This, somehow, evolved into a mother helping her foul-mouthed son with a tie. Didn’t really finish this one.

~

“No, not that one.”
“What one do you want, then?”
“The fancy one. Eldritch.”
“Eldredge, Tim.”
“Don’t fucking step to me, bitch.”
“Have we met? I think I’m your mom. “Eldritch” it is, then, though.”
A pause.
“Not so tight!”
“Ooooooops, sorry about that.”
“You just made it tighter!”
“Ooooooops.”
He squirmed.
“It’s too long.”
Another tie.
“It’s too short.”

~~~

4: This just came to mind when I saw something about Elon Musk’s plans for mars habitation.  Which I’m totally on board for, by the way, as a math/science major this is in my kind of interest, but wanted to twist it a little bit. Not sure if this is finished or not.

~

Bubble boy. Most notably, bubble boy from that episode of Seinfield. But bubble boy, an entire race. An entire nation of bubble boys.
Protected from the harsh red environment. But more importantly, the bubble protecting the rest of us from them. It had all been a simple little conspiracy, like the conspiracy on Golgafrincham to get rid of that third of the population. But there the motivation had been mere uselessness; here, it was genocide. Not genocide of the humans themselves, there would still be more than enough of them on earth, but genocide of the things living in those humans. Every disease, every mutation, every deviation from the perfect human image. They didn’t know it, of course. They thought they were just incredibly lucky to be chosen as those to go, and simultaneously unlucky to be stuck with “so many sick people”.

 

A Day on the Job

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. I’ve started a number of stories but hadn’t really finished any of them until I realized this one was about done and wrapped it up today. Maybe expect more stories coming along before too long? But also maybe don’t get your hopes up, you fucking optimist.

This is another story that kinda fits into the vignette thing. This might be the only time we meet Mr. R P-R, or maybe he’ll be featured in a future story. Only time will tell.

I also realized recently that I already have two or three more novels planned out for once I finish City Intersection. Jesus.

(It’s not really related to this story (other than being about crime), but I just saw Baby Driver last night and it’s an amazing movie, I’d highly recommend it, especially if you like the kind of stories I write.)

edit: Oh my god, it’s been so long since I posted that I forgot to provide music! Looks like I forgot it on a couple other recent(ish) posts as well, so I’ll be editing it into those.

This is the second track that I worked with for the final project of the Music Appreciation class. (See “Shattered Light” for the first one.) Worked out well, because I went to Hungary immediately after doing that. (Bartók is a Hungarian composer.)

~

“Yeah, the job started today. I’m doing it right now, actually.
“Oh, geez! Sorry, didn’t mean to distract you from your work.”
“No problem.
“Well, talk to you later.”
“Nah, I can stay on the line, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. Uh, just one second, okay?
I lowered the phone from my ear and pressed it up against my chest, ineffectively muting it – not that I really needed to. With my other hand, I retrieved a pistol – god, that beautiful Ruger SP101, model 5771, my love, my life – from my jacket and pointed it at the young man across the counter. Looked like it was his first day, poor kid. Had I known, I would’ve robbed this bank before he got here.
“Fill a bag or whatever with money, all right? Push the little ‘help me, I’m a little bitch who needs the cops to do everything for me’ button, I don’t care, just fill a bag with cash,” I said, gesturing with the gun, then bringing the phone back up to my ear.
“Sorry about that. Just had to clear something up with the job.”
The man looked horror-stricken, blood drained from his face and sweat already beginning to add a glisten to his skin, eyes bulging. He had one hand under the counter and I could tell that he was frantically pressing the alarm button.
“Uh, yeah, one moment again,” I said to the woman on the other end of the line, my dear Patricia. “You only need to press it once, dude. Like, pressing it again doesn’t make the alarm louder or something. It’s like the button you press for a crosswalk, you never think it worked the first time so you press it again, but it doesn’t actually do anything.”
“Well anyway, were you just calling to check in, or what?” I said, returning to the call. A woman had entered the bank, gone up to a teller next to me, and soon noticed the gun in my hand and the man who was poorly concealing his panic. She screamed, pointed at the gun, all of the normal things, but I just pressed the phone closer to my ear, trying to block it out, and whispered to her “Hey, could you shut up for a moment? I’m trying to have a conversation.”
“This rude fucking bitch here is just screaming at me, sure you can hear it.”
“Yup. Hit her for me, would you?”
I reached out and smacked the woman, her face blanched immediately then flared up redder than before. She was officially pissed.
“In regards to your question, partially just checking up with you, partially wanting to see if you had anything in mind for dinner.”
“Oh that’s right, Friday night, date night. I didn’t really have anything in mind, but if I had to make a suggestion… I could go for Chinese. Or maybe Japanese? Or Korean? I dunno. Just something Asian, I guess. Actually wait, no, Indian. The god of Asian food. It’s funny how a lot of people don’t consider it Asian food though, isn’t it? Anyway, does that sound good?”
“Sounds great. And yeah, it is kind of weird.”
“Alright, should I pick you up at like, five-thirty?”
“Sure.”
“Okay, see you then.” I hung up the phone and slipped it into my pocket. The woman was still screaming, but was clearly wearing herself out and still feeling the sting on her cheek, gingerly holding it with one hand.
“So, how’s it goin’ there, bud?” I said to the man behind the counter. He had, to his credit, partially filled the bag with money, but was clearly trying to stall for time until, as he thought, the police would come. He looked up at me, visibly shaking and still horrified, fingers fumbling bills as he tried to stuff them into the bag.
“Don’t sweat it, man, there’s no rush. Take a deep breath, steel yourself, and grow some balls so you can put money in a bag without looking like you have Tourette’s or Parkinson’s or some shit.”
“I do,” a thin voice snuck out of his constricted throat and clenched teeth.
“You do what?”
“I do have Parkinson’s.”
“Oh. Sorry about that, then. It’s just something I’d say in-character.”
“In-character?” His curiousity momentarily overcame his fear and he spoke normally.
“Yeah, you know. Like when you’re playing D&D and you talk to the DM, as an NPC, in-character. This character’s name is Romeo Parmigiano-Reggiano. His dad was Hamlet Parmigiano and his mom was Ophelia Reggiano, but they got divorced.”
“Sorry to hear that…? Wait, do you mean your character in D&D or you right now?”
“Right now.”
“Oh…”
While we had been talking, he had continued filling the bag with money unconsciously, and it was now about full. I put out my hand for it and he handed it to me, still trying to internalize what I had said.
“Well, it was good to meet you, man. Hey, want to come have dinner with me and my wife?”
“You mean, you want me to be a third wheel on your date?”
“It’s not really a date, we just always go out for dinner on Friday nights. We’ll often have friends come along. You like Indian food?”
“Yeah, but I have to work late tonight. And I’m sure there’s going to be tons of questioning and stuff. Thanks for the offer, though.”
“No problem. And hey, sorry for stressing you out and kind of insulting you and stuff. It was nice meeting you.” I turned around and began walking out of the building. Nearby, I saw the woman from earlier.
“You, however,” I said to her, “can go fuck yourself.”