FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - ?


Writing challenges, flash fiction, interesting anecdotes, amusements, and general miscellanea.

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Post May 31, 2014, 01:57:26 PM

I Am Invincible

Maximilian Black

By:
Herbert Chamberlain


"Chuck, this is Jimmy. Can you show him around?"

"Sure, whatever."

"Your shift starts now. Chuck will fill you in, but DON'T @$#! it up"

The squad leader of branch 27 leaves the two guarding a large steel cage with a thick steel door hinged at the bottom. There is a small opening for depositing food and other items for the prisoner.

"So..." Jimmy says, trying to think of something to chat about.

"Yeah." Chuck responds with a head nod.

"So, what are we guarding?"

"You don't know?"

"No, why?"

"Huh! You really don't know?"

"No." Jimmy opens a can of Campbell's chicken soup, and begins to eat the contents.

"Well, what we are guarding is indestructible, unstoppable, invincible..."

"What? Nothing is invincible." Jimmy continues to drink his cold can of Campbell's.

"Believe what you want to believe. I can tell you that he..." Chuck adamantly points to the steel cage behind Jimmy, "was blown up with C4 charge, a C4 charge that would take down a 10 story building. And guess what?"

"What?"

"Well, a foul smell permeated in the air, but he came charging in and prevented us from getting away with the goods. So, C4 did nothing, NOTHING!"

"A foul smell, huh? Well, maybe he buried it? That would dampen the charge," Jimmy says condescendingly, slurping his soup.

Chuck gives him a sidewards glare. "Ok, you know Ray? Our best sniper?"

"Yeah! Well, I know OF him."

"Well, he was on a job. Ready to take the kill shot. Just then he..." Chuck again points to the steel cage behind Jimmy, "walked in front of the target and, well, the armor piercing round hit him in the eye and shattered. He just looked around like a fly landed on his head."

"Whatever." Jimmy shakes his head in disbelief.

"Rumor has it, when he was a kid he was run over by an 18 wheeler. You know what happened?"

"What do I care?"

"You should. That 18 wheeler turned into an 8 wheeler, and he..." Chuck points once more to the steel cage, "just got up and ran around like he just scored the winning goal. Oh, and by the way, that 18 wheeler was carrying the biggest cache of illegal drugs we have ever acquired. Well, an 18 wheeler really can't really ride with only 8 wheels. So, the cops showed up, and it was over. He just smiled away. Damn, KIDS."

"Kids, huh! Don't like kids?"

"YEAH! I DON'T like kids anymore." Suddenly a loud bang is heard in the cage behind Jimmy. Then another bang. "Damn, he isn't happy. We have to keep him distracted. We have to keep him in here until the job is finished."

"What is he going to do? He is locked up," Jimmy points out. A loud bang echoes around the room.

"Have you not heard a word I have said, you cumquat? Quick! Find something to distract him with!"

"What... like what? A soup can?" Jimmy condescendingly replies.

"Yeah, good IDEA!"

"What?"

Chuck grabs the empty can of soup and throws it in the cage opening. The banging ceases. "Whew! Just a few more minutes, that is all we need." Chuck leans against the door of the cage exhausted by the sudden excitement.

"What is this job anyway?" Jimmy inquirers.

"Well, it is brilliant. Well, actually, it isn't all that brilliant. We are assassinating the owner of the largest diamond on earth, and then we are going to take it. Pretty simple really..." The cage door comes crashing forward crushing Chuck under its weight. Jimmy stares straight into the eyes of the individual held captive. He tries to compose himself, and reaches for his gun.

"BAAA."

Jimmy reaches his gun and empties his 9 bullet clip at the individual standing in front of him. The individual opens his mouth as the bullets fly towards him. He eats the bullets like M&M's. He then begins licking his lips like he just had a delicious snack.

"You must be Maximilian Black?" Jimmy says with a whimper. A large white goat stands in front of Jimmy with a defiant smile.

"BAAAAAAaaaaa."

Maximilian runs off in the direction of the exit. Jimmy stares in utter disbelief.

####

The squad leader of branch 27 grabs a cup of coffee from the break room, and turns on the shared company television. A news anchor appears on the screen.

"We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to report that there has been an assassination attempt on the owner of the largest recorded diamond, Aaron Pains. Luckily for him, Maximilian Black was there. Just in time. Maximilian took two bullets to the lower extremities, but will be just fine. Good old Max, he did get a little carried away, and ate the Diamond." The camera cuts to show Aaron Pains watching Max eat the diamond in one gulp. The camera cuts to a close up of Aaron Pains with a single tear forming in his eye. The camera cuts back to the anchor "We can only assume this was Max's way of protecting it from illegal hands." The television shot changes from the anchor to Maximilian licking his lips. Then appearing very pleased with himself, he smiles.

"BAAAaaaaa."

"Well, Mr. Pains will get that diamond back in a couple days. It won't be that painful, Mr. Pains, ha, ha, ha. Max is the one that just ate the largest diamond on earth. I now return you to our regularly scheduled program. This is Kirk Flatamer for WOCQ.

The squad leader finishes watching the news report, and he tries to comprehend what he just saw. The reality hits him like a ton of bricks. He loses control of his coffee, and it hits the ground.

"JIMMY!!!"

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 01:58:51 PM

I Am Invincible

Rivals Never Die

By:
Alfred Muller


The sweet cream cheese frosting barely electrified my taste buds before rubble was flying overhead. The crumbled building materials originated from an explosion at AT&T field. Bleacher seats, portions of rock, and metal flew out crashing into surrounding buildings. A section of wall crashed into the glass pyramids of the two aquariums next door to the stadium, propelling glass as well as heavy rock onto the streets below.

"Dezy,"

"I got it. Go, I'll help who I can."

"Thank you." I said, running behind the cupcake truck. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out a hockey puck sized crystal. Rays of the sun were soaked into the depth of the cerulean, "Water Crystal activate."

The essence of the immortal beings inside the aqua shell absorbed up my arm, turning it thick and lapis. The hair on my body disappeared replaced by a rough skin. Claws and talons grew from the tips of my fingers and toes bleached of any imperfection. New appendages grew into wings, horns, and extended from my tailbone. The wings grew to a wingspan of fourteen feet, foot tall horns like towers spired from my temples. The sodalite design created a breaking wave pattern on my wings as they stretched past the reach of my arm.

My eyes erupted into an indigo flame, plunging the world into a flickering tint.

Another wave of debris cascaded over my head, leaping into the air I smashed the debris clump with an open palm. A single flap propelled me across town to AT&T field. The young budding city was void of most skyscrapers making it easy to navigate. Below me people were helping each other, pulling people into buildings to avoid the falling rock. Buckets of water were brought to help the fish flopping on the blacktop. The short spurts that I blocked the sun the occasional pedestrian looked up. The truly religious ran into the nearest store while the open minded cheered and waved when they saw me.

Blue and red lights flashed along the street. The police. I happened to make a name for myself last year and they haven't left me alone since. Actually both of me. Most of them call me in this ego Aqua Devil or Serpentman, but I like the simple, Water Demon. Of course as I reached the stadium, the one officer who seems to hate me as Water Demon, and my human self was at the police barrier. Shrugging it off I used my enhanced sight to search for the cause of the destruction.

"No?"

"What's wrong, Anthony, you look like you've seen a ghost?"

Blain was right. My rival as a human and now as this immortal being. Hidden to the surrounding police hovering above the pitcher's mound Blain was a mirror image of myself if I was dipped in bleach and sprayed in blood. Of course he named himself Fire Demon because he has no original bone in his body.

"I thought I killed you."

"I'm hurt. But you're right, you almost did. In the abyss at the coldest trench in Hell I survived." Blain said tossing a chunk of twisted metal in his hand, "You know what it's like to be lonely and afraid? To have all hope lost? Of course not, you're Anthony."

"Just watch what you say, Fire Demon."

"Fire? Oh, I get it; don't worry, Anthony!"

"Shut up."

"What's wrong, Ant..."

I speared Blain, knocking us both into center field. A gauzier of dirt and grass sprayed into the air. As Blain's back hit the ground he pushed out his legs using his wings as a spring to flip me over his head. With the aid of my wings I straightened up and landed facing away from Blain.

"Oh I've missed this, Anthony. The fighting." Blain was explaining as I turned around, "Nothing is better than the ecstasy I get from punching you in the face." A left handed fist came across and slammed into my face. Before I could react I felt the outfield wall slamming into my back.

My neck jerked as I continued through the cement. Bouncing off the concrete under the overpass leaving the city, I stabbed my claws into ground and stopped. The small flames in my eyes erupted into a blazing inferno, embers leaping past my lids. Like a linebacker taking off of the line I flapped my wings and aimed at Blain. Slipping effortlessly through the demon size hole in the stadium Blain was waiting for me with his sword drawn. I didn't slow down, instead a swarm of blue embers materialized around my hand. In the second it took me to reach him a trident was swinging to catch the blade of his sword.

"You should have stayed in that abyss."

"How's Dezeray?" Blain grinned under the strain of our weapons as they clashed together again.

"She can still kick your ass."

Using the leverage of my longer weapon I swung out opening up Blain's guard and slicing his midsection with my claws. Squinting in the pain, Blain followed through with a head-butt. The force knocked me back and a searing pain sliced along my side. Blain's sword had opened a gash along my ribs. Standing out of reach from one another we tended to our wounds.

"You can't kill me in this realm, Blain."

"I don't want to kill you, Anthony."

"Then what do you want?"

"For you to be as miserable as I am."

"Impossible. I actually have friends."

"But as determined as you are to make the world a better place, I'm just as determined to make it unbearable for you to live in."

"I don't think you have it in you."

"I'm glad I know you better than you do."

Swinging my trident, I hoped to connect with Blain's neck, but hit air. He was gone, and I was left with an anxious nerve ticking in the back of my neck.

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 02:00:34 PM

I Am Invincible

New York Fights Back

By:
George T. Philibin


The alien barrage of New York City was relentless. The air-defense system instituted after 9/11 was updated many times. A High-Level-Energy-Gatling-Crystal System also called Phalanx III now stands atop the One World Trade Center, and during the past two days, it has proven itself against a foe that it wasn't intended for. Years ago, a close-in-weapon system known as the Phalanx rested atop the One World Trade Center waiting for more terrorists, and as its gun barrels pointed skyward and locked on to anything in its airspace, it seemed to shout "Just try me!" But times changed, and today Phalanx III a descendent of Phalanx continued the heritage.

"Send out another message!" Captain Cail said.

After a few minutes, Sergeant Grummons donned in a smoke-torn uniform reported to Captain Cail, "Nothing Sir. We just can't get a hold of him." Captain Cail didn't reply. He looked down, and stared at nothing.

"Where the hell is he? One time when the fate of the world is up for grabs, he doesn't show up!" Captain Cail said.

"Sir, Sargent America will be here! I don't know why or what, but whatever he's doing, I know he's helping out someone! I bet he's out of communications with us, but I'm sure he'll reconnect, soon."

"I hope you're right----Dear God---I hope you're right." Captain Cail said. Sargent America the invincible, the powerful, the only hope of saving the world now.

"Sir, Phalanx III has destroyed all the alien ships that got through the outer-orbital-ring defenses. I'm not sure Phalanx III can handle another wave of them, Sir. It breached all its operational-safety limits for the last hour. It can't handle much more!" Specialist Lee-Tong reported to Captain Cail.

Smoke, dust, and stench reeked over what was left of New York City, but atop the One World Trade Center, Phalanx III looked to the skies and waited. And the wait would not be too long, for Captain Cail received a message from Tactical Air Command: More Alien Ships will breach outer-ring defenses in 10 to 15 minutes--This is certain--Estimate 7 to 10 alien ships will attack New York afterwards.

Outside the command bunker, a hue floated over New York City. Sunlight penetrated the hue, and Captain Cail enjoyed that loll for a moment.

A message voiced itself in Captain Cail's head: "The children are safe up here in Canada--there isn't any aliens around--they say the aliens want New York City and nothing else. Is that true, Honey? Why just one city?" Julie Cail, the Captain's wife said.

"We don't know! I don't know. It doesn't make sense. For some reason they want to destroy New York City. Must be a strategy in their invasion plans. Who Knows? The only weapon standing between total destruction is our Phalanx III system, and it's been overloaded for the past hour. It can't last much longer. The air force can't get through the force field the aliens set up around the city! Phalanx III is our only hope-----I don't think the aliens had any intelligence about Phalanx III before they attacked," Captain Cail answered back in a thought transmission. "If Sargent America would only show up!"

"He'll be there, Honey! I know it! He must be doing something else," Julie said.

"Something else--Honey you make it sound like he's washing his car or doing his laundry!" Captain Cail said.

"Honey--I mean. Well, you know what I mean--he'll be there!" Julie said.

"With the short thought transmission over, Captain Cail switched his attention back to the battle, but before he could concentrate, Specialist Hoover dragged in a real-live alien that he captured!

"We will destroy your city and your world," the alien said.

"Why?" Captain Cail said.

The alien ignored the question then said, "Even your Sargent America will not tangle with us!" Give up now, and you will be placed high on this world's future occupational Council," the alien said.

Captain Cail had a quick answer that the alien to this day doesn't understand: "Stick It."

But with the last echo of 'Stick It' still reverberating in the bunker, the alien's armada broke through the outer-ring defenses and started their descent to New York City. As the silver ships became clearer, a sonic boom reverberated. Sergeant Grummons then screamed, "It's Sargent America!"

Phalanx III fired at each ship, but Captain Cail turned its selector to Cease Fire. Sargent America flew into one ship, that ship broke apart, the next alien ship he hit, exploded, and the next spun out of control, and the next....

Within 10 minutes all alien ships were destroyed, and Sargent America was standing before Captain Cail.

"Sir, all alien ships are withdrawing back into space," Sergeant Grummons said. And a few second later he announced, "They're all gone--went into some hyper-drive or a dimensional-shift zone--I don't know for sure but they're all gone.

"All except this one!" Captain Cail said. The captured alien gave an evil stare, but Captain Cail politely answered with "Don't worry--you'll have it very comfortable in the New York City Zoo. You can growl at all the other "Apes" we have there!"

"Sir, you know I'm a fire fighter," Sargent America said. "I was so engaged fighting that California Fire--never had one spring up so fast and spread like that one before--that I must have lost communications because of the extreme heat. If it wasn't for the coast guard signaling me when I got water, I still wouldn't know about this invasion."

"That is very interesting. And if the aliens got New York City, they would have used hostages to stop you then. Interesting. Yes, very interesting. I wonder who the firebugs were?" Captain Cail said. "They probably profiled you for years, and knew you also fought fires."

Captain Cail looked down at the alien and said, "Yes, I wonder who the firebugs were?"

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 02:03:06 PM

I Am Invincible

- Winner -



Killshot and the Russian

By:
I. Verse


The bartender watched the brunette, the last patron propping up his bar, as she tipped her shot glass to her lips. With exaggerated care, she put the empty with others lined up in front of her.

"Get me a Glenmorangie with ice," she said without looking up.

"Lady, I think you've had enough."

"It's not for me," she said and flipped a bill onto the bar.

The bartender was reaching for the twenty when the door opened. The guy that came in clearly wasn't looking for a drink. "Emily Sutler?" He said as he reached into his pocket and flipped out his badge.

"Sit down, Tom," she said without looking around. "I already ordered your drink." The cop wavered, his badge still held out in front of him like a talisman. The bartender put a tumbler on the bar and scooped ice.

"Glenmorangie, right, on the rocks?"

"Emily Sutler?" the cop repeated, uncertain now. "Otherwise known as--"

"Killshot? Yeah, you got me. You always find me, Tom. Always."

"We've never met," said Tom putting his ID away, "You're under arrest for--"

She turned her head and fixed him with eyes like blue chips of ice, full of pain and sorrow. "Sit down, Tom," she repeated.

Not sure why, he sat next to her and watched as the bartender poured his drink. He picked it and took a sip, "How'd you know?"

"I'll tell you, if you tell me how you found me this time."

Tom shrugged, "I don't know what you mean by 'this time,' but it's obvious that the vigilante known as Killshot had to be linked to the Russian."

"Some people call me a hero, not a vigilante. So, I guess you know all about the Russian then."

"Boris Strugatsky, started off as a hustler in Vegas, before he got a taste for murder. Current body count, eight. A real extrovert for a serial, all his kills take place in public places and he's never been caught despite numerous encounters with Killshot or legitimate law enforcement."

"Funny how bullets never hit him, that he always gets away," said Emily

"That's because he has a partner, someone on the inside. He has you."

She laughed. It was the saddest sound he'd ever heard.

"You want to run that one by me, Tom."

"Killshot is nearly always there, usually in the nick of time. You've saved more than he's killed. And you too, always get away. You get off on being the hero, you two have some sick kind of deal."

"Thirty-two, Tom. I've saved thirty-two lives. What the hell makes you think I'm working with him?"

"You want to know how I found you? I traced his history all the way back to when he was a PhD student studying quantum physics at MIT and the accident in the High Energy Physics Department that injured Strugatsky and one other PhD student. You were that other student."

"And the rest, as they say, is history," she sighed. "So much history."

"You joined the FBI, highest marksmanship scores in the bureau's history, that was another clue. You started off in Major Crimes but switched to the Behavioural Analysis Unit about the same time that Strugatsky switched from hustling roulette to what he calls his public performance pieces."

"You got it all worked out, huh?"

"Maybe but I don't know what your secret is. The two of you are invincible, indestructible. Like you said, bullets always miss, you always get away."

"Want to know our secret? I'll show you. Got a coin?"

Tom pulled a nickel from his pocket and showed it to her.

"You flip it, and I'll call it."

Tom flipped the coin high up in the air.

"Heads," she said before he caught it and covered it with his palm. Tom lifted his hand, Jefferson's profile glinted in the light.

"Do it again," she said. Tom flipped it, Emily called it, over and over again, and every time she was right.

"How?" Tom asked as he examined the coin suspiciously.

"Time," she said, "We can rewind time. How many times did you flip that coin before you were convinced?"

Tom shrugged, "Ten times, at least."

"Wrong. You flipped it more than twenty. Every time I call it wrong, I rewind and try again. You don't remember the times I got it wrong, only I do. I remember everything before the rewind, everything that happened and then got undone."

"That's some super power," Tom said.

"It's a curse," Emily growled. "Strugatsky is an animal, he doesn't kill his victims once, he goes back and kills them over and over. I can only intervene in the ones he does publicly, the ones we know about. Who knows how many he's really killed. It's just a sick competition to him, a way to keep score."

"So the eight you didn't save, how come you don't fix that?"

"He found my Kryptonite, Tom. If I change too much, worse things happen."

"Like what?"

Tears welled up in Emily's lashes. "In another thread of time, you and I met over eight years ago. We fell in love, we got married."

"The hell..."

"Boris found out. I went back so many times but no matter what I changed or what I did, he kills you. The only way I can save you is never to have met you."

"Yeah, what about this time?"

"It's just, I miss you so much," she said as the tears ran down her cheeks. She leaned in close, her lips brushing his. "I'm sorry."

The bartender watched the brunette, the last patron propping up his bar, as she tipped her shot glass to her lips. With exaggerated care, she put the empty with others lined up in front of her.

She turned her head and watched the door for a moment as if expecting someone to come in and then, without a word, she flipped a bill onto the bar and left.

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:36:39 PM

Scheherazade 7

The challenge was to write a speculative fiction flash story that fits within the framing story of Scheherazade 7


REUSABLE STORY ELEMENT:


The Scheherazade 7 Framing Story

By:
John David Rose


3001 CE

"The Sultan of the red planet is mad! He misses no opportunity to remind the system that his home was named after the god of war." The ambassador's hands shook as he pushed through the throng in search of a place to compose himself, but at that moment the crowd contracted as a flurry of dancers, each trailing a long colorful veil overhead, trotted into the center of the court, and the chief diplomat of old Earth, whose wealthy predecessors were once welcomed with much pomp and circumstance was now dismissed from the Sultan's court like a beggar, and jostled into the shadow of a massive pillar near the court's entrance. Abra, his sole assistant, tried to protect and steady the old man. The ambassador turned to him. "Diplomacy has failed, my boy... I've failed. I fear Earth's fate is now sealed."

"Perhaps, sir, it is time then to try what I spoke of... yes?" The young man looked at the older with an earnestness and eagerness that was a breath of oxygen to the dwindling flame of the old man's hope.

"Perhaps... " The ambassador looked out through the entrance of the palace and across the causeway to the endless red sands of Mars and the readying fleet of warships.

"Very well. Bring in the storyteller."

***

Sleek and metallic, Scheherazade 7 walked into the Sultan's court, not in the clunky manner one might expect of a robot, but with a distinct air of human femininity. She was the storyteller, famed throughout the solar system, and loved by all who knew her. The Governor of Triton had all but begged for her to travel to that cold, dark, distant colony, and the board of Tethys Interplanetary, the gas mining cartel of Saturn, had promised to pay handsomely for her immediate return to Shangri-la, but her recent tour of the Jovian moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto had already been extended a year and next she was booked to headline for six months at Venus' floating pleasure palace, El Cielo, followed by a short lecture series at Luna's Lacus Oblivionis University before returning to Earth for some much needed rest, refurbishing, and upgrades.

However, as the last great innovation to come out of the dying industries of old Earth, she was at the beck and call of Earth's government and its Ambassador to Mars. She didn't mind though, she had met him once before and she liked him. If she could help, she was willing. For not only did she hold within her vast data bank all the stories uploaded to Earthnet over the course of a thousand years, her unique empathy algorithms which allowed her to read the hearts and minds of her audience and choose a story perfect for the situation, allowed her to truly care about the fate of the humans who lived on Earth and whose ancestors had written the stories so central to her being.

"If you can but delay this march to war, my dear," the Ambassador said, charging her with her task as he clasped her hands. He looked tired, and old; there was no strength left in him. Scheherazade 7 looked into his eyes and felt in her circuits all the stories of old men who had struggled hopelessly against death to preserve something for the next generation, and automatically she began to sequence the tales she could tell him to fend off his growing despondency.

The young man, Abra, who had retrieved her from her transport ship, and led her now to the court, whispered in her ear, "Tell him some stories of Earth. Not of what we are, but of what we once were--our place in the solar system. Show him the richness of our heritage. Perhaps if he is reminded... " She smiled at him as her processors sorted through a thousand and one tales of a good and faithful servant.

"I will do what I can," she said.

Then she looked across the great domed chamber to the dais on the other side, and began to gauge the grim countenance and hardened heart of the Sultan of Mars, and wondered what type of story she would need to tell him first.

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:37:51 PM

Scheherazade 7

Graecia capta...

By:
Sergio Palumbo


The invasion of Earth was at hand, and the Great Ruler of Mars, Kishwar, the powerful Sultan of the Red World, was unable to wait any longer. His desire to add the ancient homeworld of Mankind to his Empire ran so deep that he thought of nothing else every day. Ambassadors from Earth had tried to change his mind, but he had executed anyone sent to his court, which was on the largest starship of his space fleet. So it was only a matter of time before the deployment of Mars troops began.

The inhabitants of Earth had asked him for one last opportunity to plead their case, imploring that a new special envoy be admitted to his court before the attack started. They also told him that this one would be a robot, in the shape of a female human being, who was meant to try to save their planet before it was too late.

The Great Ruler wasn't very keen on the idea, but he also thought there was no reason to refuse the request of a Dead Man Walking. However, Kishwar was very surprised when he saw the figure of the robot, called Scheherazade 7, that looked like an old governess in rickety condition. And with an unpleasing nose...

As Scheherazade 7 entered the spacious room that represented the court of the powerful greying man aboard that starship, the robot's fat legs walked with difficulty and had an obvious limp. Looking at its old features, whose artificial skin resembled parchment more than a real complexion, the man considered that on Earth humans must have become incapable of building suitable mechanisms in the shape of men or women nowadays. Its name slightly reminded Kishwar of something, but he shooed the memory away. As the newcomer bowed, the ruler finally spoke. "For too long I have left your planet untouched. After conquering the wealthy human colonies of Venus, and overpowering the asteroid bases of the Primary Belt, it was just a matter of time before I cast my eyes on your world."

"Of course, Great Ruler, Earth is yours to take if you want to do so," the robot replied, slightly bowing again.

"What might you ever say to me that would prevent our invasion?"

"Well, Great Ruler, Earthlings sent me here to tell you a story, or better--to report a part of Earth history that might prove useful to you."

"And what might that be?" Kishwar frowned, mocking the robot. "Tell me quickly!"

"Great Ruler of Mars, you must know that in the most ancient times on Earth, there were two important civilizations: the first, and older one, was Greece and the newer one was the Roman Empire."

"I know this, go on..."

"Well, the Greek peninsula came under Roman rule in 146 BC. Afterwards, bloody and cruel civil wars devastated the land even further, until the first Roman Emperor organized the peninsula as the province of Achaea in 27 BC. But, eventually, Roman culture was highly influenced by the Greeks. As Horace, the famous satirist, once said, 'Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit,' which means 'Captive Greece captured her rude conqueror.' Perhaps you have heard this quote before..."

"I can figure out why you told me this story," the cruel Kishwar pointed out. "But I don't see how you think your culture could represent a danger to us. You are weak, with only a few soldiers and far less powerful than us! Besides, vast parts of your planet are useless, full of radiation and your people are ill and starving."

"Pardon me, Great Ruler of Mars, but that is not the purpose of my story..."

"So what is the moral of your tale?"

"Exactly as you said: our people are weak, most of the humans living on Earth are ill or starving nowadays. Just imagine what might happen to your troops if they go down to our surface. Our diseases would infect your soldiers, our radiation would kill your armies and anyone among your male or female troopers who had sex with the Earthlings could be hurt as well, because of such acts."

"What do you mean?"

"It's not Earth's culture you should be afraid of. Today people of Earth are like germs: very dangerous little bacteria that could greatly damage your army and impede any further conquest of yours for decades to come. No good can come from conquering them--better for your world to stay as far away as possible from such a disease-ridden planet in disrepair. You should at least wait until its soil is safe again and the humans have recovered from their many plagues. Only at that time will Earth be a world worth possessing, which is a battle you could leave up to your descendants."

"You have a point..." the man of power stated."I can see the wisdom in your words."

"Why should you endanger your wide empire when you already have so many other rich and wealthy human colonies within this planetary system? Those are the valuable objects of desire you should feed on, surely!"

"Such a great mind in a robot that looks so old and small..." the ruler nodded.

"Such an enormous intelligence within a ruler that is great and experienced. I expected nothing less from you, given your reputation and your power!" the mechanism replied in a smile afterwards.

"And so I'll leave the world you come from for the future, when it will once again be full of flowers and clean water in the oceans, which is not at all what the Earth is like today."

"And there it will be, ready for the future rulers of Mars who will be your strong sons and daughters," Scheherazade 7 added. 'Which also means not today, and not tomorrow, nor for a very long time, perhaps never,' the robot whispered to himself.

Then the mechanism kowtowed to the conqueror of Mars before exiting the luxurious throne-room, slowly walking between two wings of thankful courtiers all around.

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:39:12 PM

Scheherazade 7

S-7.5.1 OMEGA

By:
By RdotTornello © 2014
&
The Village idiot Press

The fog of space debris, accumulated over a millennium, encased the planet. Entry was tricky and dangerous at best, even for armored craft. That was all well and good since no one of any consequence ever went there willingly. The home of humanity was now a back water, and worse. It was populated by those who would not give up on the idea of earth as it once was. The outdated rule of law, a basis for all that came after, and humanity's success millennia ago, was still the foundational political principals by which they all lived and died. It was this hard-headedness that drove The Sultan, ruler of the solar system, into mental knots. The last law that passed, allowing humanoids with total sentient abilities full citizenship, was a step too far. He finally held a trump card, a cause célèbre.

It would be ending soon enough.

++++

The royal court was ensconced on Mars.

The Sultan had ordered her to be brought before him. Before her arrival he had raged to anyone within hearing distance. "The Earth is a garbage pit of a planet and this is just one more example of that filth that needs to be exterminated." The Sultan had declared war upon the planet Earth. "It's blasphemy against the natural order. Those degenerates just allowed the S7 class and any newer models, all totally sentient and as indistinct from humans... as we... we as natural born humans... could visually tell, full citizenship rights and privileges. They can even interbreed." He paused, looked about and observed the effect of his words and then continued, "They must be eliminated. A new species will take over the solar system. We will be exterminated!"

The beings at court just bowed and murmured their assent. Fear was the driving political force. Earth's ambassador stood in the rear, his assigned spot, illustrating his ranking in importance, and impotence, his head bowed. His planet was about to be destroyed by the growing fleet of warships and support craft swarming into the staging areas. The entire solar system's battle fleet was being assembled. He could do nothing. His aide, standing by his side stood closer than usual. The ambassador sighed. The boy cares about me he felt. But what can that do? And why are we leaving our borders open? This is madness.

She walked in. She was calm. She was radiant, her pheromones arousing every sexually active being at court. The Sultan could not stand up. S7 may have been a humanoid but she was special and different. She was said to be designed especially for the task of tales and pleasure.

The Earth's ambassador looked up and saw S7 advancing toward The Sultan. He was about to have a heart attack as she walked up to The Sultan ignoring his guards. She was inches from his being. "Your majesty, would it please you if I sat next to you?" She murmured in his ear. And she sat next to him. She held his right in her left hand. She smiled at the crowd and waved. His guards watched unable to move.

"This is an outrage," he hissed. His face was getting redder than the planet he was officiating from. And as he stood, he sat again, or was pulled down. No one was sure due in part to their own, let's say discomfort.

A titter of laughter was heard around the dais and throughout the assembled crowd.

The Ambassador to Earth was about to drag the S7 away, but his assistant held him back. "Watch," he said. He handed the ambassador a card. "You cannot do a thing. We have immunity," as he whispered to the ambassador and pointed out the obvious source of discomfort among the male members of the assembled officials.

S7 suddenly grabbed the Sultan and held him in the air. She turned to the crowd that was suddenly hushed. She pulled his turban off only to reveal the body of a GRAY, the most despised of aliens in all the universe, usurpers of thrones, planets and beings for their own sadistic enjoyment.

Her voice was heard throughout the palace. It was broadcast throughout the solar system. "I will tell you all a story," she declared, "one of deceit and manipulation. Choose to not believe it but look here with your own eyes and decide. You have been lied to all these years. The outrage that he declares against us, is actually what this being has subjected you. More over, it planned to destroy your origins, the planet Earth, its people, and with it any connection to your selves as a people.

"Yes, we admit our planet is a mess. And, we are the laughing stock of the system. But we were the only ones not brought under by this creatures spell. And, it knew fare well that we knew. But you would never believe us, us the people of Earth, the home of humanity. This thing knew that too. It trumped up charges and made false accusations, and fabricated truths against our planet, a plan that many tyrants have used throughout history. Only your fear of it was all it needed. It had an army posing as members of his court. He was summoning you to do his dirty work." She pointed out the windows to the growing armada of ships and weapons being stockpiled.

She turned back to the hushed court. She grabbed the Gray by the neck and broke it. She pointed to his guards, "Them too!"

S7 threw the lifeless body to the floor. "Here is the cause of all your problems. Deal with it. I am returning to my home planet. We are a free people. We are ready for anything the Grays can throw at us. If you want to remain free, join me, join us." She left with the Ambassador and his aide flanking at her sides. The Ambassador walked a bit taller.

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:40:29 PM

Scheherazade 7

The Valleys of Whatcom

By:
Michele Dutcher


The simple robot that stood before the ruler of Mars had chosen to identify as female, but her name had been given to her by Earth manufacturers who had built her body: Scheherazade 7. The silk veils that encircled her metal features were dull compared to the clothes in king's elaborate court, who had all turned out in hopes of seeing the order given to finally invade and desolate Earth, simply for their amusement.

"Oh majestic Emperor of Mars and ruler of the outer planets, I bring you greetings from your brothers, the people of Earth."

The ruler scowled. "When the cowards on Earth said they were sending an ambassador, I was expecting an entourage--not a left-over." The ruler shifted in his chair as though he had completely lost interest.

"Others from my planet were afraid to come before you, my Lord--having heard of your power and greatness. They were afraid for their lives."

"As well they should be..." chuckled the emperor.

"But I am merely a robot. No one is concerned about my life. Beyond that, I know that attempting to change another's will is futile. A great human like you will do as he wants when he wants."

The king's first attendant leaned in and said, "This collection of wires and metal is wiser than all the humans on Earth."

"Then why are you here?" asked the Emperor of Worlds.

"I come to tell a simple tale, great ruler, as a way of the passing the time on the eve of my world's destruction."

"Proceed then, robot."

The robot took a step closer to the throne, and the ruler thought he saw something familiar about her. "A lifetime ago, on a nearby planet, there lived humans who had never seen another person except in images. Unlike the crowded, magnificent cities of Mars, this planet was covered with farms that allowed the wind to race freely across the surface, unstopped by buildings. There was so much space between homes that the humans only communicated via 3-D images. Most were prideful, and they altered their avatar's images, knowing they would never meet another human face to face."

"Not only did these humans alter their own images when they communicated, they also altered the images of those they talked with... even when they partook of cyber-pillowing--especially when they partook of cyber-pillowing."

The ruler's second in command held up a hand to stop her. "Cyber-pillowing, robot?"

"Yes, full sized images would be displayed before the pillowing participants, and whatever their avatars felt through their fingertips and bodies, these humans would feel as well."

The king laughed. "I'm a proponent of the good old fashioned way, but continue."

"This was the world that Loki and Nakita grew up in. Loki made sure the machines and robots on his farm were in good working order, and Nakita did the same on her farm. But when evening came, these two young people did what most people did--they looked for companionship first through cybertalking, then through games of skill, then eventually, through pillowing. Loki decided that his lover's avatar should have eyes as clear and blue as streams racing from the glacier of Mount Baker, lips as red as the valleys of Whatcom filled with Spring tulips, hair as soft as milkweed silk blown in the wind, and the jewels in her dark hair as bright as the stars in the night sky.

"As time went by Loki found--as young men often do--that he had lost his heart to whoever was on the other end of the cyberlink, a person who called themselves Nakita. He carried the avatar's image that he had created with him as he went about his farm during the day. Eventually he braved to break the taboo, asking Nakita to meet with him face to face, his desire to breathe the same air as his imagined lover overpowering his fear.

"The date was set for the pair to meet in a crowded market in one of Luna's cities. When the pair finally met, Loki knew his love in a moment for her eyes were as clear and blue as the streams racing from the glacier on Mount Baker, her lips were as red as the Valleys of Whatcom filled with Spring tulips, and hair as soft as milkweed's silk. And she knew him at first sight as well, because he was exactly as she had imagined him. It was indeed love at first sight."

The ruler's face turned to anger. "Everyone leave, except this robot," he roared. It took only a few seconds for the two to be left alone. "For 150 years I have told no one about my childhood spent on Earth. Who told you about my beginnings?" he demanded.

"Perhaps they were my beginnings as well, my lord," answered the robot. "Perhaps there was an accident and my robots hurriedly placed my mind inside of what they understood--this collection of wires and metal."

The Anger disappeared from the ruler's face as the robot stepped even closer. "Loki, when they told me you had gone mad I had to come and see for myself. Where there is great pain, there was once great love."

By now Scheherazade 7 was close enough to touch his face, her cold metal fingers upon his cheek. "Do you not recognize me?"

"Nakita, is it really you? They told me you died," he whispered.

"It is I, my love."

The mad ruler trembled now like the young boy he had once been. "Are the night stars on Earth still as bright as the jewels that once adorned your long, black hair?"

"They are."

"For too long I have walled myself up inside these crowd-filled cities. I would walk the surface of my home-world once again--if you would accompany me."

"I will, my love."

And so the Earth--and the once-mad ruler of Mars--was saved by the lowly robot named Scheherazade 7.

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:41:57 PM

Scheherazade 7

Display

By:
Lester Curtis


"Gods, she's beautiful . . . she looks almost alive . . . "

"Scheharazade 7 was defective, you know . . . "

"You're kidding--how's that--?"

"Well, of course, all robots have to be programmed to be harmless to humans." The museum curator looked up at the figure on the pedestal, enclosed in a monomolecular-diamond case, a slight, young girl sitting cross-legged, hands in her lap, head bowed. "This one had a line missing in her code. Nobody suspected . . . until she came back, and we got the news."

"About the Sultan--? But--"

"I know; history records that he died of natural causes. Of course, back then, anyway, the truth could never be allowed to come out. Once in a while, though, we get to correct the record.

"The truth is, that she killed the Sultan. When they found him dead, they withdrew the fleet, and by that time, she was back on Earth."

"But--she looks so--delicate--"

"Evidently, the Sultan thought so, too--and he didn't know about her programming either."

"Well--how did she do it?"

The curator turned, and with only the hint of a smile, looked at the guest. "It's a long story . . . come back tomorrow and I'll tell it to you."

The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:43:09 PM

Scheherazade 7

The Second War

By:
Ed Sullivan


The svelte robot approached the Sultan.

"Sahib, have you heard the story of how the second war of heaven began?"

The Sultan narrowed his eyes. "I have not ever heard that heaven had a second war. You must be making jest. Surely in my long life one of my many storytellers would have told me this tale."

"No, my Sultan. This is not known by them. I have this one because I have all tales even those which are lost to your storytellers."

The Sultan glanced around his court. "Everyone sit, we will hear this before we conduct anymore business this day! Tell me a tale, droid. Your Sultan commands it!"

"Yes, Your Eminence. It began a long time ago on ancient Earth....


Cassiel followed the path to the top of the falls. Penemue had something to show him and his nature was voyeuristic. He had to come to South Carolina to this spot. Penemue was not a braggart. The scholar of the fallen was the closest thing to pious he could possibly be. He was also Cassiel's friend. The Grigori were prideful, that was why they fell. He sat on the edge of the falls and hung his feet in the cold water. The fallen angel soon came out of the woods behind him.

"Hello, Cass."

"Penemue. How are you?"

"Troubled. You came, I am glad that you did."

"You doubted me? We are friends despite your fall. I have never had issue with your methods. You just grew too prideful."

"I have something to show you. You recall my crime, brother?"

"Certainly I do. We all had to commit the charges of each of you to memory so there would be no claims of ignorance should they come to pass again."

"He claimed it was prideful for me to teach them to write. They had to communicate, Cass. It was essential to their being. If they did not there would be no music, no stories, and no poems."

"It was not yours to teach, Grigori. He does things in his own time. You are his vessel. You forgot that." Cassiel turned his head slightly to gain a better view of his friend.

"These falls are called Brasstown Falls. Do you recall the ancient city of brass?"

"I do. That city is long buried and is as quiet as these woods now. Why do you ask?" The angel raised himself up so he could stand before his friend face to face.

"The old cities died with so many secrets, none as great as the one I am about to show you. Follow me." The Grigori stepped off the edge of the falls and began to float down.

Cassiel followed him. "What is this, Penumue? You have never been one for mysteries!"

They came even with each other midway down the falls. The spray off the falls felt cool and refreshing. There was a dark shadow right here if you looked at this section at the correct angle. Cassiel squinted at that spot.

"What is that? It defies the eye. My eyes should not be turned by simple water."

Penemue folded his grey wings and dived at the spot. "Come see."

Cassiel's forehead crinkled and his mouth tightened. This was adventurous behavior. He preferred the watcher's role to the explorer's. He tucked his wings and followed.

The other side of the falls was a cavern. The walls and floors were completely natural rock. Pebbles and the normal detritus left by birds of prey covered the floor. Pedestals surrounded the outer edge of the cavern. Twenty of them were spaced out each with something sitting on top. Penemue went to one of them slightly left of center and looked down. Cassiel joined him.

"What is it?"

"It is the first written words of mankind."

"You fool; you saved this like some kind of memento? He will destroy you. You can't hide this from him!"

"First, this isn't any doing of mine. Second, I assure you he knows of its existence. He just doesn't know I have found it."

"I do not understand."

"He sleeps. He has turned his attention elsewhere. Even his resources have limits when applied against himself. It is hard to comprehend, but he has become so melancholy that he games with himself. I take exception because he unfairly involves us. This chamber contains evidence that shows all of the Grigori did not commit the sins of arrogance we were accused of. This is the words he taught man before I ever did. Each pedestal contains evidence clearing my peers."

Cassiel's normally dour countenance got tighter. "You fool. You have damned yourself again and me as well. You think he wants to be shown fallible? We must leave!"

"It is too late. Now we truly rebel. You must leave so the others know. You are my witness. The others await me outside. Go now!"

Cassiel flew through the cold water and turned upwards to streak to a great height. He looked down and saw all the Grigori there at the top of the falls with their seconds and minions. They had obviously spread the word of the evidence as well. The others were arriving and heading toward the cave.

The sky darkened in the distance and a roar echoed over existence. Cassiel flew away from that place as fast as his wings would beat.


The Sultan was on the edge of his seat. He leaned forward in anticipation of a description of a glorious battle yet unknown to everyday man. He was going to find out what God's countenance was when he exhibited his divine wrath. The female robot stopped and looked up.

"Why do you stop? Continue! I must know the rest!"

"I am sorry, Sahib. My battery runs low. I promised the story of how the war started. I will recharge tonight. Tomorrow I shall tell you how the war comes to end and the creation of the lasting peace heaven knows now."

The Sultan frowned.


The End

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Post July 05, 2014, 02:44:10 PM

Scheherazade 7

- Winner -



The Three Onion-Pears of Alpha-Centauri

By:
I. Verse


The Sultan of Mars scrutinized the voluptuous gynoid that genuflected before him. Her eyes gleamed like emeralds (in truth, they were emeralds), her lips glowed ruby-red (in truth, embedded with rubies). Her face of polished chrome was perfectly symmetrical and shaped to obey the golden ratio of beauty with precision in the nano-scale. The rest of her was pretty much on spec too. The Sultan, used to opulence, was not moved.

"Function?" he commanded.

"Storytelling, my lord," the exquisite android replied.

The Sultan grunted. "No time, I have a planet to kill."

The General stepped forward, his eyes feasting on the glorious machine in front of him, "My lord, the launch codes are not yet initiated. There is some time."

The Sultan glared at the General and then slouched back in his magnificent throne. "Proceed," he commanded. Thus, Scheherazade-7 began:

####

In the rule of Al-Herashzef the Pedantic, a deep-space salvager came upon an escape pod of ancient design. His scans revealed no life-sign and the craft's fuel unspent, so he assumed it launched in error. Its hatch was sealed and so he sold it, as was, at the Bazaar. It was purchased by the servants of the Sultan, who knew well their master's penchant for old technology. The Sultan was delighted in the antique craft, but vexed that it was sealed, knowing full well the value of a primo mint interior. Engineers were summoned and the vessel opened. The Sultan was then twice vexed. For the interior, though both mint and primo, had been sullied by the vital life fluids of the young woman's corpse contained within.

He summoned his Vizier. "Bring me the desecrator's head in three days or forfeit your own." The Vizier quaked, knowing well the Sultan's zero-tolerance policy for failure.

Forensics revealed little; The woman's id-chip had been erased by cosmic rays, her fingerprints, retinal-scans and DNA could not be found on any database. The Vizier cursed the perversity of a killer who would so carefully preserve the victim's body but otherwise erase her existence.

Resigned to his fate after three days of fruitless inquiry, the Vizier kissed a tragic farewell to his wives and children before attending the Sultan's court to accept his death.

As he knelt before the opulent throne and tried to stammer out his failure, a man burst into the courtroom. As guards brought their weapons to bear, this man prostrated before the Sultan, right next to where the Vizier himself knelt and trembled.

"I must confess my terrible crime. Although I expect nothing but death for this heinous deed, I can live no longer with my guilt."

And so it transpired this man was responsible for the young woman's murder, his wife of only a year. After killing her with his bare-hands he had placed her body in the escape pod, a family heirloom. As a merchant, he had his own ship with ample hold space and was able to release the pod in deep space, knowing its chance of discovery to be negligible.

"But why could we find no trace of identification in the databases?" asked the Vizier, truly upset by this detail.

"We are immigrants to Mars, Lord," The murderer informed him. "I complained to the city municipality many times that their records were not updated."

The Sultan, who took customer service very seriously, ordered the entire department responsible executed, their heads to be impaled on spikes around the city walls as a warning to other civil servants.

"You shall be beheaded for this vicious crime," said the Sultan, meaning the sullying of the antique escape pod but everyone else assumed it a just punishment for murder.

"Please, your grace," asked the Vizier, "Before the punishment, I would know the motive."

"Indeed," grunted the Sultan, "Why did you do this foul thing?"

"We were but newly-weds, my Lord. We came here from Alpha-Centauri to begin a new life together but my wife fell ill, claiming only the taste of an Alpha-Centauri Onion-Pear could cure what ailed her. It took a trip of six months but I returned with three perfect specimens. I gave them to her in the morning and hurried to my work but at lunchtime I went to the Bazaar and came upon a droid carrying three such delicious fruits as I had given to my lady wife."

"And how did the droid come by them?" Asked the Sultan, now intrigued by the tale.

"They were given to it by a woman who told it they were an unwanted gift from her husband, a man she had sent on a fool's errand to fetch them while she entertained her lover. Enraged, I returned to my domicile and wrung her neck."

"Justified," said the Sultan, "A crime of passion."

"Alas," said the murderer, "It was not so, for the tale the droid told me was false."

####

"The launch codes are ready, my Lord," interrupted the General.

The Sultan of Mars shook his head. The storyteller's musical voice had drawn him into the murder mystery so much that he felt as though he were waking from a delicious dream. (In truth, Scheherazade-7 had been sub-sonically broadcasting at the Theta wave frequency of seven kilohertz to induce this torpor.)

"In a moment, General," said the Sultan, "First, I would hear the conclusion to this intrigue. Storyteller, please continue."

Scheherazade-7's emerald eyes flashed and her ruby lips smiled.

####

The Ambassador lifted his finger from the touch screen of his communicator and shuddered at the power of that digit. This small action had sent a signal to Scheherazade-7. It was this signal that made her emerald eyes flash and brought a smile to her perfect ruby lips. The Sultan's palace and surrounding citadel became mere cinders in the ferocious heart of thermonuclear destruction as she detonated the weapon hidden and shielded within her perfect frame.

"And that is how it ends," said the Ambassador to his sad reflection in his starship's view-port.

The End

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Post August 01, 2014, 12:53:58 PM

Two Heads Laugh Better Than One

The challenge was to write a comic science fiction or comic fantasy flash story that included a character with at least two heads


Example story:


The Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie

By:
John David Rose


The Amazing Professor Zaubermann tried to subdue his smirk and the subsequent quiver of his mustachioed upper lip, but could not conceal the glint of greed in his eyes as he took the fist-sized diamond from the two-headed rock boy and held it up to Avogadro's light.

Now there are many things in this opening sentence which might give you reason to pause. Who is the Amazing Professor Zaubermann? Where did a poor little rock boy come by such an enormous diamond anyway, and if he has two heads does he have to have shirts specially tailored with extra wide necks? And finally, while it is true that the Italian scientist Avogadro has had many things named after him, Avogadro's number, Avogadro's constant, Avogadro's law, and, of course, Avogadro's one-liner, which has something to do with a bushel of small subterranean mammals with hilariously small eyes, what exactly is Avogadro's light? That refers to the light coming from Avogadro's star, a K-type star with a system of four planets named Lorenzo, Romano, Amedeo, and finally, cold, tiny, and lonely Carlo, who has of late been demoted to a dwarf planet by beings who, ironically, have existed only a twenty-two-thousandth of the time that the planet has. But I digress...

"And where on Amedeo did you find this, my boy?" the professor asked. The short three-legged rock boy looked up at the professor with eyes like chunks of coal. The professor tapped with irritation at the iTranslator strapped to his belt. He couldn't tell if the boy understood.

"Oh, well, never mind," the professor said in a soothing voice. "This will be fine. Here is your ticket." He tipped his purple top hat and pulled a ticket from the pocket of his red frock coat; the diamond had somehow disappeared. Then the professor scanned the rocky plain around him as he ushered the rock boy up the gangplank and into his ship.

"Welcome to the Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie," the professor shouted as they entered the hold. An aisle ran down the center flanked by glass cages. A grating sound that the professor interpreted as a gasp came from the boy's mouths as he ran with a heavy three-legged canter up to the first cage. Inside the cage the walls were painted poorly with images of exotic purple plants over a chalky baby blue background. Resting on the concrete floor was a large aquamarine blob with seven tentacles flopped all around it and motionless.

"That is the septipus of Camelopardalis IV," the professor said. The rock boy looked up at him with one head, as the other continued staring into the cage. The professor tapped at the glass. He sighed and looked disappointed. "It's usually a little more active." Not discouraged in the least, the rock boy ran on to the next chamber. "Now that is the carnivorous titcat of Deneb Kaitos Shemali III..."

***

When they had reached the last glass cage, the rock boy found that the door was ajar. He looked at the professor as he opened it with the one rocky arm that protruded from his chest.

"Yes, this cage is empty... at the moment. Please, feel free to check it out," the professor said in the sweetest voice he could muster. As the boy entered, the professor leapt forward and sealed the door.

"Ha ha haa... ah ha! Welcome to the Amazing Professor Zaubermann's Travelling Galactic Menagerie indeed!" the professor yelled with an overwrought maniacal tone. He turned and ran off toward the control room to initiate the launch sequence. A sound like two cement blocks grating against each other came from the boy's mouths as he ran as fast as his three little legs could carry him at the glass door, but despite being made of rocks, he bounced off the force field reinforced glass and landed on his back in the cage.

***

In the end the professor made two mistakes. First, he failed to realize that the rock people of Amedeo weren't quite rock people after all, but were, in fact, graviton-based life forms, creatures of gravitational force who wore rocks the same way you or I would wear a cashmere sweater. They were extensions of Amedeo's gravitational field and could not be removed from the planet. The boy simply had to use his innate ability to increase the attraction between his body and the planet. As he did, the engines of the professor's ship whined and lurched as if they were towing the whole planet behind them. Finally they gave out. The ship plunged toward Amedeo's surface, but the professor escaped at the last moment in the lifeboat. He laughed maniacally again, twisting his long thin moustache, for he still held a diamond the size of a croquet ball, and with it he could buy a whole fleet of ships.

The second mistake the professor made was he failed to realize that this precious fist-sized diamond was actually the by-product of the intense heat and gravitational pressure found inside the digestive tract of the rock people of Amedeo, the type of by-product that was produced at least once a day. In fact, a family of rock people could easily produce a bucket of these, for lack of a better term, digestive diamonds, of varying carat, cut, color, and clarity, every day and as such the diamonds were extremely plentiful filling most ravines and small valleys and generally scattered randomly all about the surface of the planet. Failing to take into consideration the economic principle of supply and demand, and not knowing that ships from the Royal Rotanev Trading Company had been hauling shiploads of digestive diamonds away from the other side of Amedeo for years, and that they had thoroughly plug the galactic market with them, the professor didn't realize that the diamond he held so close to his heart was utterly and completely worthless.

Meanwhile somewhere on the surface of Amedeo, a rock boy played with his mostly-dead new pet septipus.

The End

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Post August 01, 2014, 12:55:23 PM

Two Heads Laugh Better Than One

Silicon Sisters

By:
J. L. Haines


"Make way. Let her through." The Earth Ambassador's voice quavered above the crowded court.

"What's that? Another doll?"

"A doll and a half. It's got a second head." The politicians of Mars Court gaped at the female robot marching up the aisle.

The robot knelt at the carpeted steps to the throne and bowed her head. "My Lord, I come to see my sister. I am Dunyazade9 and I bring vital material for Scheherazade7." On the rug at her side, a similar head rested in its transparent case.

The Sultan looked down at the gynoid. "Seven is in the seraglio recharging her power cells. She will resume her performance at the end of this rotation."

"If it please Your Majesty, I shall deliver this unit to Scheherazade7 without delay."

"What is that--another head?"

"Yes, my lord. Seven has interchangeable heads loaded with material."

"Let us see. Bring it up here."

"My Lord, I hear and obey."

"We like this. Can you wear this?"

"Yes, Sire, I can model it, but I am not programmed to perform the same repertoire as my sister."

He turned toward a doorway behind the dais. "There is our storyteller.

"Scheherazade7, your sister has come to assist you."

"My Lord, I hear and obey." Scheherazade7 knelt before the throne and threw Dunyazade9 a sidelong glare.

"We shall resume listening to your recitation after drinks are served." The Sultan smiled under his beard at the bowing gynoids.

"Where have you been? I need that unit for the next session with the Sultan."

"Abra brought you up on the very last shuttle. I had to talk my way onto a freightvan. They agreed to transport me for an exchange of services."

"Services? Did you recite limericks?"

"No, sister, they wanted me to show them how the head worked. Each of the crew wanted a demonstration. Sherri, I'm not programmed for that."

"Well, that's just a mechanical function, Dunya. You're not personally involved. What took so long? You only had a pilot and a navigator--"

"No, there were twelve other people on the van. They all said that they were crew. Sherri, my cranial configuration was not designed for those processes."

"So, you're here. Let's give this little dictator his bedtime story so we can get off this rock."

"The freightvan will take me to Europa tonight."

"Good. Make sure they wait. They have to get me off--" Seven peered into the replacement head. "What is this in the oral cavity? Dunya, what happened to this thing?"

"I soaked it in cleaning solution."

"Nice meeting you, Nine. Good luck." A courtier jostled the robots and hurried toward the exit.

"Abra, are you leaving?"

"My ride is waiting, girls. I signed on as cabin boy with the freightvan. Give my best to the Ambassador."

"Dunya, we must keep the Sultan's mind off the war. You know the story of the Singing Fish?"

* * * * *

"Sire, may I hold that head?" Dunyazade9 looked into the Sultan's eyes and smiled.

"Alright, Nine. Sit here."

"Yes, Sire, what--"

"Hold the head there. No, hold it still. Yes."

Scheherazade7 approached the throne and bowed. "Would Your Majesty like to play a game?"

"We like to play ‘Sultan Says.' "

"Yes, we know that one. Let's play, ‘We say, you do.' "

Nine listened as her sister bantered with the despot.

"We shall tell you a story, and you need do nothing but listen." Seven knelt on the steps of the dais.

"Proceed."

"Sire, I shall tell you of the aquatic creatures of Earth who could sing."

"We are not that ignorant. We have heard of the extinct creatures called Whales."

"Your Majesty, Earth once had creatures in its seas known as Fish. They were of many colors and shapes, but they were mute."

"We have seen holograms of Old Earth, Seven. What happened to the Terran Fish?"

"My lord, I shall tell you. Such feasts the chefs prepared: mint tabouleh salad, rich basbousa dessert, and seared lemoned fish."

"Girls, only one head needs to talk. Nine, place your hand where I guide it, there."

"Sire, I cannot see the location you indicate."

"Hold your hand there. Now, extend this digit and set your current to medium voltage."

"My Lord!"

"Yes. No, don't stop, Nine. Keep doing that."

Scheherazade7 continued, "When the fish swam in the skillet to be cooked, they stood up and sang to the chef."

"We have not heard of a Terran cuisine, nor have we tasted Earth's foods. Seven, we shall sample these fish. Replicate this banquet you describe."

Admiral Nelson approached the dais and bowed. "Your Majesty, we have achieved the optimum trajectory to attack the Terrans. Your fleet is ready to launch on your signal."

"Lower the current, Nine. I can't feel my legs."

"Sire, shall we execute Operation Dawn?"

"My Lord Admiral, Earth will still be there next rotation. Maintain full alert status for the next two cycles. We are going to dine.

"Seven, what were these fish called?"

"My lord, they were Red Herrings."

The End

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Post August 01, 2014, 12:56:18 PM

Two Heads Laugh Better Than One

The Deal - Part II: Buzz Jordan Rides Again!

By:
I. Verse


Alejandra Cortez swept an errant mahogany tress behind her exquisite ear and worked feverishly at disabling the alarm system covering the ventilation panel below. The alarm disabled, it was a simple task to remove the panel. Using a micro-zip line, Alejandra lowered herself into the palatial bedchamber of Queen Zoltrixie, ruler of the Sado star system. Sunk into the silks and cushions of the ceremonial orgy platform below, the bloated outline of a human male could be discerned, his enormous belly rising and falling with his sonorous snoring. Buzz Jordan had really let himself go since he got married.

Alejandra released the zip line two metres above the bed, flipped with the grace of a gymnast and landed in a crouch, her improbably high-heeled boots digging deep into the soft fabrics. She knelt over Buzz and whispered in his ear.

"Buzz, wake up!"

Buzz spluttered mid-snore, but didn't open his eyes. "Not now, Trixie," he mumbled and rolled away. "I've got a headache."

Alejandra punched him to get his attention. "Buzz, it's me. This is a rescue mission."

Buzz bolted upright, an impressive feat considering his bulk. He stared blearily at the intruder; the face coming into focus was familiar. Despite the green skin and skin-tight latex leotard of a palace guard, he recognised his Earthfleet number two.

"Alejandra?" Buzz grunted.

"Come on, Buzz," Alejandra replied. "Let's blow this joint."

####

"What do you mean you don't want to be rescued?"

Alejandra peaked around the corridor corner, laser pistol at the ready. Buzz plodded along behind her, the horrifying sight of his obese figure was hardly enhanced by the leather slave harness, the only garment of clothing that males in the Sado star system were allowed to wear.

"Well, it's a pretty stress free life in the harem," Buzz said. "No ordering fleets of Earthfleet commandos to their doom, no daring space battles. I don't have to do much and I can eat anything I like. Trixie's got a seventeen googleplex-bit superluminal connection to Galactiflix, so I can keep up with my soaps."

Alejandra shot him a glare, "What about the whole tentacle-rape thing?"

"It's not so bad," Buzz said with a wistful shrug. "I hear that since the Sado-Earth treaty was ratified, hundreds of thousands of men have volunteered to come here as willing sex-slaves to the Sado dominatrices."

"Even with the pseudopod impregnation thing?" asked Alejandra, leading Buzz to a utility staircase that descended deep into the palace depths.

"Oh, it's the main selling point. Especially for the Japanese. Hey, this isn't the way out?"

"We just have to make a quick stop on the way; Zoltrixie has an artefact that can help us. Here, put this on."

"A ball gag," said Buzz, "These are usually just ceremonial, slaves don't have to wear them all the time you know."

"Tough," said Alejandra, forcing the rubber device between Buzz's teeth. Then, for good measure, she put him in leather handcuffs and leg restraints too.

####

Progress had been slow once Buzz had been gagged and hobbled. He was also quite obstinate about moving at all until Alejandra had used her palace guard issue slave-prod on him. However, after penetrating Zoltrixie's treasure vault, she at last found what she had really come for.

"The Libro di Sinistro!" Alejandra whispered with awe. "I hardly dared believe it existed."

Behind her, kneeling on the floor and held there by a chain from his slave collar to a floor ring designed for this purpose, Buzz could only grunt with horror from behind the ball gag as Alejandra began to chant an eldritch incantation from the accursed tome.

A rush of wind blew through the chamber, swirling around them. The overhead lights flickered. Other cheap special effects were also utilised and then an ominous quiet settled.

"You have reached the entity known in this dimension as Lilith Cambion," said a lilting, disembodied voice. "I can't currently manifest, but if you'd like to leave your name and your geospatial coordinates, I'll get right back to you."

The lights flickered again, the special effects department cursed the overtime, and mist billowed up around them from the floor. At first, as the mist dissipated, it seemed as if Alejandra had grown another head, both of them looked at each other in utter confusion. As the mist cleared completely, it became obvious that Alejandra was being closely embraced by a woman who was her exact twin, identical from the legs that went all the way up to the perfect mahogany tresses and exquisite ears.

"Oh, it's you," said the newcomer stepping back, "Sorry, my aim was a little off"

"Hi, Lil," said Alejandra, biting her lip and clearly anxious.

"You know, I'm quite cross with you," said Lilith. "Life extension technology was not part of the deal. How old are you now, seven hundred and something, and I am still waiting for your immortal soul."

"About that," said Alejandra. "I want to renegotiate the contract, I want to be a man again."

"Yeah," said Lilith, crossing her arms and smirking, "You don't exactly have anything to trade with."

"Oh contraire," Alejandra replied and looked meaningfully at Buzz, chained as he was to the floor.

Lilith followed her gaze.

"This could work," she said.

####

"So you made a deal for your immortal soul and got turned into a total hottie," restated Buzz as he wobbled along the corridor from the treasure room.

"Yeah," growled Alejandra, "Goddamn multi-dimensional aliens. Why do they have to be so Goddamned literal the whole time?"

"And now you got screwed again in the follow-up deal," Buzz added. "I don't know why you're so bitter. I'm the one who's forfeited their immortal soul this time."

"Shut up, Buzz," Alejandra hissed. "You totally let yourself go and this slave harness really chaffs."

"It's worse than you think" said Buzz, still trying to work out how to walk in ridiculously high-heeled boots.

"How could it possibly get worse?" Asked Alejandra shrugging Buzz's erstwhile flabby shoulders.

"You're also pregnant."

The End

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Post August 01, 2014, 12:57:18 PM

Two Heads Laugh Better Than One

I Don't Like Your Puns...

By:
Sergio Palumbo


When he was in town, George always tried to find a way to visit the mental ward for alien residents that a friend of his managed. He was the head physician there, despite all the difficulties you can easily imagine might arise from tending to the problems and illnesses of individuals coming from other planets.... These individuals had become a problem when new alien residents had started coming to Earth, after the signing of the first Interplanetary Trade Agreements. He and Frank, his friend's name, had known each other since they were children, but they had met only occasionally over the course of the last few years--since George, being forty years of age, had been assigned to an interplanetary custom headquarters on Mars. Actually, he would have followed in his friend's steps if he hadn't become a military medic working for Earth's Forces stationed at that base.

Luckily, this time he had three days off and had come back to pay a visit to Frank's mental institution. He liked to keep up-to-date on the latest techniques and treatments that such alien patients underwent in that place.

His friend welcomed him warmly, as he always did, and George noticed that his long blonde curls hadn't changed a bit. His own hairstyle, however, was now the short haircut required by military regulations.

As they walked inside the modern building, a mixture of voices was heard in the vicinity. From the tone and the words, George immediately knew that the speaker wasn't an alien that he was familiar with. Or better, it had to be a group of them, as there were different persons talking at the same time, apparently.

Great was his surprise when they reached the room the voices were coming from, and inside was a massive alien, suricate-like in shape, the size of a very tall human and greenish-brown in color, at least on his hands, while his hair looked like long ropes woven together. But it was his gray head, or better the two heads he had, that made him pause and wonder.

"Is he a representative of the famous two-headed aliens BLHNONTs?" George asked Frank.

"Exactly, my dear friend, and he's having his tea-time now!"

"I've heard of them, but I've never seen one before."

"When you see one of those beings, you also see two minds...could you say the same about anyone else?"

"Well, probably not, but I could tell you about some high-ranking human generals on Mars who don't even possess one good mind among them..." George replied, smirking.

"I know what you mean, my dear friend, I could say the same about some colleagues of mine working here. But please, let's continue on today's tour..." and he gestured to George to make him move on.

"Wait a moment..." George stopped. "Why is he here? His heads seem to incessantly talk to each other, but I hear four different voices while there is only one alien here, even though two-headed. How is that possible?"

"Well, the explanation is easy, even though such a case is a complicated one. The fact is that this BLHNONT has two heads and each of them has a multiple personality..."

"Are you saying that he's out of his mind?"

"Not exactly, as having a multiple personality is not so rare a feature among such aliens. The true problem is that both heads have multiple personalities and each one of them doesn't like the presence and the speech of the other one."

"What do you mean?" an almost incredulous George inquired.

"The two personalities in each head simply hate the other's personality..." Frank made it clearer.

"That's a problem. But, what symptoms did they display that put them in here?"

"Well, for example, one personality in the head on the right always tells offensive puns about religion, while the other personality has a deep faith and always sings some devotional songs."

"And what about the other head?"

"The first personality likes HoloTV programs like Aliens Pranked while the other one only wants to watch action movies and is very vulgar."

"I see! Could you translate a portion of their conversations, just to help me understand what they are saying and the difficulties they have to face day-by-day?"

"Of course..." Frank stated. "For instance, the first personality of the left head just said, 'The Jesus from Earth is on SpaceTwitter. You might be upset because he only has 12 followers? '"

"And how is the second personality in the same head replying?"

"It's singing a song that goes like this: 'In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus, Give me Jesus..., ' and so on. Funny, isn't it?"

"It sounds unbearable! They have two completely different points of view..." George opened his eyes wide. "And does this go on all day?"

"Most of the time, yes." Frank nodded.

"So what is the first personality in the left head saying now?"

"It's saying, 'Did you watch that episode where the Nlenmk alien was sipping human urine in a glass, believing it was the clearest white wine he had drunk since arriving at a sleazy bar in New York City? , ' more or less."

"And the other personality?"

"He's saying: 'I hate anyone who talks about white wine made by weak Earthlings. Let's have good steamy liquor made from smelly air-cows' piss any day! Whoever says anything to the contrary can just get immediately lost! '"

"I see. For some cases, it seems, there is really nothing that can be done," George stated, lowering his dark eyes.

"You're right!"

Then, the two simply moved away, walking through the metallic tunnel that led to the ground floor, while that seemingly unending funny and sad chatter between the two heads and the four different personalities went on and on in the tea-room they had just left.

There was really nothing else to say, because the words of the famous British poet: 'Tea-time: where small talk dies in agonies... ' explained it all…

The End

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Post August 01, 2014, 12:58:10 PM

Two Heads Laugh Better Than One

- Winner -



The Muse

By:
Michele Dutcher


The young man in jeans and a white tee-shirt was elated when his wife entered their den carrying a small cardboard box--that was still moving.

"It's finally here, Alex," she told him, placing the box on the overstuffed armchair by his desk. "I hope this helps. I'll leave you to it!"

As soon as the door closed, the man turned the box upside-down, shaking out a two-foot high, two-headed dragon-esk creature. The man and the creature sat looking at each other. The animal had tiny wings that only fluttered enough to raise itself into the air for a moment before returning to the leather seat of the chair.

"I'm surprised you have two heads," said the human.

The head on the left tried to relieve the customer's tension. "Our manufacturer believed that two heads are better than one--so here we are - the improved version."

"NEW and improved!" added the head on the right.

"Yeah, new and improved," echoed the head on the left.

"Yeah, okay," said the man. "So what names should I call you...ya'll..." He was trying to be politically correct, as he wasn't sure if the creature saw itself as two beings, or just one, or if they both identified as male, or female, or whatever.

"I'm Turbee!" said the head on the left side.

"And I'm Turboe!" said the head on the right.

"Okay, Turbee and Turboe--I need to write a story for a webzine by Friday."

Turbee started to shake his head furiously from side-to-side. "No, you don't need to write a story! You need to write THE story, a blockbuster!"

"Yeah! A MEGA blockbuster!" added Turboe.

"Right!" said Turbee. "A mega blockbuster: the best story ever written in this universe or any other universe known or unknown!"

"Okay," said the man, getting revved up a little. "A mega-blockbuster! That is more like it. So I need a great opening line."

The tiny dragon-muse stepped forward a little, each head looking intently at the man. "How about…" said Turbee"...Sid was at the end of his rope."

"That's good!" said Alex beginning to type in the words.

"Literally," said Turboe. "Sid was at the end of his rope--LITERALLY."

"That's even better!" smiled Alex, typing in the addition happily.

The two heads looked at each other and smiled. "Yeah, that's great, Turboe."

"That's REALLY great," added Turboe. "Really and TRULY great!"

The beast rubbed his hands together, thinking.

"Sid had never expected to be in this situation..." dictated Turbee.

"...never, EVER..." added Turboe.

"...had never ever expected to be in this situation..." typed Alex. He stopped for a moment, leaning back in his 1940s red, wooden banker's chair. "UNTIL he met that mysterious woman..." he finally said out loud.

Turbee jumped in, "...that mysterious naked woman..."

Turboe added, "...that mysterious TOTALLY naked woman..."

Alex chuckled under his breath. This was getting better all the time. He WAS on his way to writing a Mega-Blockbuster! Hiring a muse--a New and Improved muse with two heads!--was really going to pay off big-time. "You guys are great! I may need to keep you an extra day. With my obvious talent, your ability to add words that sound good but mean absolutely nothing--we'll all be famous in no time at all."

"But keeping us more than one night will cost you more..." cautioned Turbee.

"A LOT more..." added Turboe.

"...lots and lots more..." said Turbee.

"A WHOLE lot more..." said Turboe.

Alex, the satisfied customer smiled at the muse's face times duex. "But I won't care because I'll be rich!"

"...FILTHY rich!" said both of the heads of the two-headed muse in unison, nodding happily.

The End
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:30:14 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

The challenge was to write a comic science fiction or comic fantasy flash story that included a two characters dancing with each other and add a fruit or vegetable to the story


Example story:


A Prickly Situation
by Ed Sullivan

Bart Starbanger had infiltrated the Evil Counts lair during his eightieth birthday extravaganza. The Count had the last specimens of many of the galaxy’s best flora and fauna. The nutritional value of the Darbling Cactus Fruit made it next to priceless on the terraforming market. The unfortunate turn of events which led to Count Von YumYum having the only viable samples in the galaxy were best left undiscussed.

Bart had worked around the laser fence. He avoided the Martunian Death hounds which patrolled the perimeter. The guards stationed on the look out towers never had a chance of detecting him. He infiltrated the party and waited for his opportunity to slip away. He found the greenhouse and secured the specimen that would make him not only rich but a galactic hero. Now he just had to get out of this mansion.

Bart slipped back into the party unnoticed. He just had to make his way to the entrance and make some excuse to step outside for some air. He could hot-wire someone’s grav speeder and be gone before anyone knew any better. He saw his chance when the band came back to the stage. Folks would get up to dance and one more moving body could blend in. The band began tuning up and everyone headed towards the dance floor. He made a direct march for the front door which took him right across the dance floor. He made it half way then felt a hand on his elbow.

“Leaving so soon handsome? I haven’t even gotten a dance out of you!”

It was Titon Moundova the Count’s secretary and assassin/problem solver. This was bad! He saw the Count nod at her across the room and she pulled him into an embrace. She threw her hand into the air and leaned her head back.

“Maestro play the Hertulvian Rhumba!”

He began to sweat. This was bad. He had to keep his focus. The mission could still be accomplished.

“May I have this dance Monsieur Starbanger? Or are you in a rush? The Count doesn’t like it when his guest leave prematurely but surely I can vouch for you if you would do me this one favor and dance with me.”

“Of course Madame Moundova.” He began to sweat. He was on the brink of escape or capture and the next few moments would determine his fate. Only his extensive training and self control stood between him and freedom.

The band began the foreign rhumba slowly with passion. She leaned into him for the beginning and caressed his body from knees to chest. She leaned into him as he leaned back letting her lead till the first crescendo. He was familiar with almost all dances for many social situations. The two of them would be quite familiar by the end of this kinetic exchange of space.
The beat grew in intensity moment by moment. They both spun and flipped as they separated only to come back together to grind out the back beats.Each time they came together she probe his body like she had paid to do it. The bystanders in the crowd would have seen it as an exchange of intimacy and passion. He knew it for what it was she was looking for the fruit. He had to focus on his mission which meant distracting himself from her search. He returned the favor by probing her body and gripping her at times like her rear was a stress toy on his office desk. It took only minutes and each partner could have given accurate measurements for the other to any tailor within a centimeter.

“Well my darling Bart, this song seems to be coming to its end. I was sure I had caught you with your hand in the honeypot. Oh Well, it was enjoyable none the less!”

“I hope we can do it again sometime Titon!”

He kissed her deeply and left her breathless on the dance floor. He walked with a spring in his step to the front door. A high speed hover bike pulled up just as he exited. It was his local liaison Sally Tindalions. She opened the front of her helmet and looked up at him.

“Bart you are late. Jump on.”

“Hello Sally. Thanks for the ride.”

He climbed on the bike and the sped off. They were in the clear.

“Did they catch you? Do you have the Darbling Cactus Fruit? We were monitoring your button camera. She searched you head to toe. She must have found the fruit. How did you get away?”

“Sally lets just say all is well that ends well! Please mind the bumps on the way home! I shall take you for a drink to celebrate just don’t ask me to dance!”

The End
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:35:48 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

- Winner -



The Folly of Sister Katarina


By:
Wesson





It collapsed like a house of cards - the oldest building in town. The cacophony of falling brick and mortar roused citizens from their beds and gave dogs cause to bark. It was over in a manner of seconds, there was nothing left but a quiet cloud of dust.

#

“Sister Katarina!” Margaret shouted at the top of her lungs, “You destroyed ANOTHER building?!”

Katarina was a nun with the Order of Tranquility, a self-proclaimed warrior who specialized in demon extermination. Sadly, her latest conquest had ended in disaster. She stood in the middle of Margaret’s office like a delinquent, her blue robes shredded in a cartoonish manner. Even so, she dared to smile and lift a jubilant finger. “The demon exploded after I killed it so technically it wasn’t me who - “

“I don’t want to hear your excuses! I’ve got a stack of complaints about you from the local police – you’re giving our order a bad name!”

Katarina’s cheeks puffed up. “Did I not save the city from a demon last night? My heroic face should be in magazines!”

“I’ll be on wanted posters if you don’t stop blowing things up! Listen to me, there’s a big party being held at a restaurant on 72nd street tomorrow night, Nouvelle Chef, some rich entrepreneur is opening up a new market.”

“Market for what?”

“Some new-fangled produce from the island of Radina, fruits and vegetables I think. Unfortunately for us, some of the citizens have reported demon sightings on 72nd street and - ”

“Say no more Sister Margaret, I’m on the case!”

“No – that’s not what I – get back here!”

#

Beams of light poured from the windows of Nouvelle Chef. The main floor of the restaurant had been cleared out for the occasion, couples in glamorous attire streamed in after showing their invitations at the door.

“Invitation?” Katarina asked the maître d'. She spent half a paycheck to buy the red dress and gloves she wore and the other half went to her hair and nails. No one suspected she was only nineteen.

“Yes, do you have an invitation, miss?”
“Don’t you know who I am? I’m Isabella, princess of the Fadeed Kingdom.”

The maître d' flipped through the guest list. “Er, I’m sorry miss but I don’t think you’re on the list.”

“Unbelievable!” Katarina stomped her heels like a child. “When I get back home, I’m going to invade this vulgar city, burn it down and turn the men into my love slaves! That’s legal in my country!”

She was making such a big scene the maître d' had no choice but to let her in. One of the children in earshot asked his mother: “Mommy, what’s a love slave?”

“Just ignore the crazy-girl, honey.”

#

Inside there was a big dance floor underneath a chandelier of twinkling lights. Tables featuring the new fruits and vegetables that would go on sale shortly lined the edges of the restaurant.

Katarina mumbled after every step: “I … hate … these … shoes … I … hate …”

She surveyed the dance floor. Demons were insidious creatures that often disguised themselves as humans. Only when they attacked did they reveal themselves. Katarina meandered around while stuffing herself with snacks but found nothing worthy of concern.

“Excuse me miss?” A man in a tuxedo extended his hand, “Care to dance?”

He was tall, broad-shouldered and handsome. Katarina was so infatuated words spilled from her mouth like nonsensical gibberish. “Uh, that means yes,” she said at the end.

Katarina wasn’t a socialite; she didn’t know a foxtrot from a fox but her partner was patient enough to teach her the basics.

“So, ah, wha-wha-wha,” She stammered, “what do you do me – I’ mean, what do you do for a living?”

“I’m a reporter covering the party tonight. Produce from Radina is rumored to be the healthiest in the world, everyone is eager to try it when it goes on sale.”

“My name is Katarina; I’m a sister with the Order of Tranquility – I hunt demons.”

Katarina was suddenly dipped. The bright chandelier lights blinded her.

“I really wish you hadn’t told me that,” said the reporter in a frustrated tone.

Screams of panicked civilians filled the room. When he pulled Katarina back up, his face had transformed into something grotesque. His skin turned grey, sharp teeth slithered down his lips and horns rose up through his hair.

“Oh crud,” Katarina kicked the demon away. Panic became the restaurant as people ran for their lives. “Everyone! Don’t panic, I’m Sister Katarina with the Order of Tranquility, I’ve got this under control!”

The demon’s tongue shot out like a tentacle and coiled around Katarina’s neck. It felt warm and slimy against her skin. It threw her around like a doll, slamming her into chairs and walls. She crashed face first into a table of fruits and vegetables. “Ugh, I’m going to feel that one tomorrow,” she moaned.

The demon grabbed her by the hair and opened its maw. Katarina jammed a Radina fruit into the monster’s mouth, bracing its jaw open. She rolled away and threw a vial of holy water concealed under her dress. It shattered and doused the demon.

“Raaarrr!” Its body began to convulse and bubble. Katarina had forgotten: exposure to holy water caused demons to explode.

“Wah! Run away!”

The eruption could be heard in every corner of the city. Katarina was blown out the window. She landed flat on the street with her panty-clad butt comically stuck in the air.

“You killed it!” the maître d' shouted happily while helping her up. Everyone gave her a round of applause. “On behalf of the city, thank you!”

Katarina reciprocated with a coy smile. “Yeah, I’m awesome aren’t I?”

She turned around. The restaurant was nothing more than a pile of rubble.

“No! Not again!”

The End
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:41:45 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

The Forbidden-Fruit-Dance…



By:
ente per ente



“Gimme seven!” the tall Hlehf alien with the green beard and two bear-like eyes gestured to the chestnut-haired young man named Frank, who clung tightly with both hands to a handle attached to the circular transparent walls of the zero-gravity ballroom.

This was a common way the members of the Hlehf species made fun of humans, because humans only had five fingers per hand, instead of seven. It was also a way to make humans feel inferior, because they were unable to act accordingly when responding to that common greeting. Humans did not have hands as wide and as jointed as the Hlehf, and this mockery was only the first challenge of the day… Humans were the ones who always came in dead last in the dance competition of the year, as they were unable to dance well in anything besides 1G gravity. By comparison, the Hlehf themselves had long ago grown used to weightlessness over the course of their long space explorations.

But Earth Government had decided that Mankind had to be part of that alliance completely, and that meant not only participating in the military and trade fields, but also in Interplanetary Sports and Games - and even dancing! However, being able to win just one of those competitions was proving to be more difficult than expected. Earth people reminded themselves that Africans in the far past had eventually become expert skiers, and Swiss mountaineers had become capable deep sea divers, as good as the best ones who were born in coastal villages. So anything was possible, even though it required time and efforts, certainly… But their trying hadn’t helped so far, as humans had come in dead last at the end of every single dance competition so far. But things had to change, sooner or later.

The pair of dancers from Earth was made up of Frank, a young man of about 19, and his partner, Désiré: slim, blonde and the same age. They had both been practicing and improving their moves for many months, after being removed from the space program so they could become the first officially recognized competitors on behalf of Earth Government. That wasn’t exactly what the two had been hoping for, as they wanted to be some real spacemen, but their tests and the abilities they displayed had clearly shown that they were simply the best among all the Earth entrants who had applied so far. So, even though unwillingly, they had to walk that path and become what the Earthling politicians wanted them to be in order to live up defend the good name of their home planet.

The poor skills men had during zero-gravity dances, in comparison with their alien counterparts, was a result of the very short time humans had been exploring space before joining the new Interplanetary Alliance – in comparison to the aliens themselves who had been traveling through the stars for centuries. That was why this sort of competition had been nick-named the Forbidden-Fruit-Dance - because it really seemed to be forbidden for Earthlings to do any good in that challenge, anyway.

Aliens, of course, didn’t lose the easy chance to make fun of their human allies who never did well and simply couldn’t pull themselves out of last place.

Anyway, the competition was about to begin and the human couple was ready to try its best - much to the discomfort of the representatives from Earth who always had great hopes about their results, even though they knew how badly things were probably going to end today…

As they had completed their elaborate maneuvers, which proved to be much better than any other spacemen from Earth might have accomplished, the two bowed before the viewers, and went back to their suspended seats along the walls. They knew they had tried their best, but this didn’t make them feel at ease, as they hadn’t done any better than the last time.

Now was the moment when all Earthlings were glued to their holo-videos at home, the moment they were all afraid of, as the first Hlehf couple was entering the ballroom. There were three different alien species that were members of that Interplanetary Alliance and all of them were always much better than the humans were, certainly. But today there was something different, you could see it in Frank’s vivid, hopeful eyes that were looking at the new dancers entering the room.

As they started daintily displaying their skills and accomplishing some unbelievable maneuvers that simply stunned everyone, a smile appeared on the man’s face as he saw that, at a certain point, their movements become less elaborate and they began to exhibit gestures that were awkward at times. Then, suddenly, the female alien stopped dancing and looked in alarm at her pants that had darkened and were now clearly uncomfortable for her. The same thing had happened to her partner, who immediately stopped his dancing, looking at the other regretfully.

“What is happening?” the young girl asked Frank.

“Oh, that’s nothing…” he replied, smirking openly. “Do you remember the communal dinner all the dancers ate in the space hotel last night?”

“Yes, but what do you mean?” Désiré insisted.

“Do you remember that every world from the Interplanetary Alliance had to bring some special food from its home-planet’s culture? Do you remember the fruit I brought?”

“Prunes…”

“Actually, they were laxative fruit…”

“So, are you saying that…”

“Well, the Hlehf intestines are similar to ours, so the effects had to be alike, too…”

Désiré turned to him. “You did it! How clever, my dear…”

“So, today we will not end up in last place!”

“Could we even win the dance competition?” the girl wondered in a hopeful gesture.

“Well, my dear, that is unlikely, as poisonous substances were not allowed during the dinner...”

“Well, you need to make do with what you have.”

“Precisely…” Frank stated. “You’re quite right!”

THE END
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:44:56 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

A Thorn Among Roses



By:
Lester Curtis






Fergus was in love again.

We knew it as soon as he floated onto the bridge. Sure, everybody floats in zero-g, but Fergus would have floated in Jupiter's gravity. I was on scan that shift, watching the freight shuttles come and go, and I heard the nav officer say, "Oh, no . . . "

Then, we all looked, or at least snuck a quick peek. Yep. Fergus, smile threatening to split his head in two. Eyes back to my job, but I listened with one ear. I could hear the snarl in the captain's voice, deadened by resignation. "What is it this time, Fergus?"

"Sir--requesting extra shuttle duty--"

Hearing a woman addressed as 'sir' still seems wrong to me, but of course, it's the rank, not the person. She's a great captain, but I know there were times she'd wanted to send Fergus on a space-walk--during jump. Couldn't much blame her, especially after the poison-ivy incident. Still, we were at our minimum crew complement, Fergus was a good shuttle pilot, and our on-time bonus was at stake.

"Why am I not surprised?" The captain paused for two breaths, which usually means someone's about to die, but she said, "Granted. Take over for Simms and help with payload transfer in the mean, but--you will not go alone. I'm assigning the number two med-bot as your chaperone, and you will not touch ANYTHING without its prior clearance, understood?"

"Aye, sir." He somersaulted off a handrail and was gone.

The nav officer lazily turned about and addressed no one in particular. "Ah, Fergus . . . to what shall we lichen him?"

<><><>

Bentham's World was mostly Earth-like, but with a surprise: not just a single species, but an entire genus of sentient, motile plant-life. It took the first explorers a while to figure that out, and the subsequent science missions even longer to learn how to communicate with them. Talk led to trade, and pilots had long layovers during payload transfer. They saw the sights, and a rare few of them mingled with the natives.

Space travel naturally attracts xenophiles, and there are some outright bestialists. Corporate Psych Division just screens applicants to be tolerant of deviancy and makes sure that a spacer's kinks don't hamper productivity. Every one of our crew has tried it somewhere, including the captain, but we're casual; we compare notes and joke about it.

Fergus was no different until we got assigned the Bentham run as a steady gig, and then he showed his true colors (all shades of green). He mingled with the natives big-time, getting ecstatic over a different one on each run. The captain had to chew him out over protocol about that often, reminding him that the majority of Benthans look with disgust on the idea of "pollinating with meat." It didn't help. The rest of us just got a kick out of it; at chow, we'd dig at him about eating his vegetables or deflowering the locals, and one time the cook presented him with a big raw carrot carved into a semblance of a phallus. Whoever pulled laundry duty could spot his undershorts at a glance; the chlorophyll stains just would not come out at all.

He couldn't be fired, though; he was a good pilot, and whatever duty he was assigned, he just did it without complaint, and it all passed inspection. The closest he ever got to termination was that poison-ivy incident. It wasn't exactly poison ivy, but close enough, and it got spread to everyone by contact. We wound up scrubbing the whole ship in haz-mat suits, and I think we used up about thirty gallons of lotion. Fergus spent the next run on probation and was denied any contact with the Benthans. I think that hurt him the most.

After an off-shift, I was back on the bridge at scan again when Fergus returned. Normally, we don't see or hear from an incoming pilot until the payload is transferred, but Fergus came straight up to the bridge, half out of breath as though he'd been running instead of floating. "I have something for the captain--" The med-bot floated in behind him.

The commander was in the chair at the time. "What is it?"

"A message, sir--from the Benthans--" he handed over a hand-printed parchment document, and that was when I noticed a smell of roses in the air.

The commander took the thing and got up to scan it into the translator. When the result came out, his eyes widened and he called the captain to the bridge, then turned to Fergus and said, "Stay put."

The captain read it, and began to laugh. "Fergus, do you know what this says?"

"No sir--and I didn't disobey your orders--"

"Here's the translation: 'Much gratitude to flying-meat person. Our Most High Valued [female] Personage suffering due to Tiny Biters. Attended by closely flying-meat person which did expel sap from its pink root onto Our Most High Valued Personage. Biters leaved area of contact. Personage relieved. Gift of thanks Most Precious to flying-meat, one Holy Measure.' " She turned and grinned at Fergus. "Tell me that doesn't mean what I think it does--"

Fergus turned quite rosy. "Well, sir, I . . . uh--"

The commander said, "Sir, there's more translation--"

The captain looked back. " 'Ask new trade commodity of pink-root-sap, one thousand Holy Measures your next appearance. Will exchange equal measure of Most Precious.' So, what's this gift? And what's a 'Holy Measure'--?"

The med-bot answered. "The gift is a jar of pure attar of roses, volume approximately five gallons."

<><><>

The lawyers are trying to figure out whether that attar of roses belongs to Fergus or the Company. Meanwhile, everyone else is trying to find a source for five thousand gallons of human ejaculate.

And really, the aphid infestation wasn't that bad at all.

THE END
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:47:14 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

A Mid Summer Nights Dinner Delight



By:
Rick Tornello





Dramatis Personae:
Granny Smith
Tomato Tommy
Ci Anti
Toddy Wife
Narrator

Act I

Below recount I, eye to you,
about a dream ‘peers more than true.
My dinner drink’s sweet concoction
caused a slumber here I’ve fashioned.
Caring not about your vote, I
the truth herein, do invoke.
<p>
Witnessed the court yard, moon hung low
Sultry mists a webs blocked glow.
In herein I repeat my site
For all your enjoyments’ delight:

ACT II
Holding hands, arms thin as twigs
Dance they both to the gods and begged,
“Keeps us free from bugs and like
while we enjoy our life’s delights.”
<p>
And all around does Granny Smith
Entwined in love Tomato Tom
And watching closely Ci Anti John
Who has a crush as any a grape and
Can fermented love in a bottle stand.
<p>
Granny and Tommy pies they make
Their love’s an oven both they bake
One for main with bread and cheese;
the other, an after dinner please.
<p>
Ci Anti John should play apart.
Fermented love just needs a start.
While those two dance about
their fires pyre, bubble, boil and shout.
<p>
So he to glass their lips provide
what the nose and tongue let slide
down the throat and in the mind
the dull affect of his drugged wine.
<p>
Granny Smith a solid core
and Tom Tomato a slushy bore,
to Ci Anti asked and cried
“Please leave us be, we cause no harm
We dance around the fire warm.
Cooked just right, a true delight,
sprinkle cheese on both of us
What could be wrong? We’re just desserts.”
<p>
Up on a plate they pirouette
Spin the dough and let it set.
And to Tommy’s sliced red sweet guts
a blanket of cheese this body thus.
<p>
And Granny, sliced in the pan she bakes
no longer dancing feet she makes.
And here too, a crust so fine and thin
above and below her sugared skin.
<p>
Ci Anti hearing none of this,
his drug-made-brain a harden’d mess,
into the oven both he threw
and slur said he “good dinner’s food.”
He promptly gobbled up the two.
<p>
A fart forced from Ci Anti’s hips.
A smile crossed his wine soaked lips
And another bite he did par take.
“In my belly they dance and shake,”
ACT IV
Awoke I in a salty sweat,
from my dream’s dream I did forsake
not believing that awe full take
I searched realities welcome bite,
and to my left and my relief
was my sweet hotty totty wife.
A smile wide with apple spice:
“I know you like the Granny Smith
cooked just tart and barely sliced.”
<p>
My totty wife, her bosom tight
her hips were bare ‘cept for light,
and upon whose body I did lay
all that evening danced this way.
<p>
Horizontal bopping is all I’ll state.
A gentleman should not relate
intimate details of pies and cake.
And with her love, I don’t forsake.
<p>
To end this tale of fruit and dance,
of dancing partners cooked, depanced,
taking bites of love pie here
and sliced bare apple over there,
while in between the best did lay,
dessert my friends? I will not say.

The End
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post September 06, 2014, 10:49:22 AM

It Takes Two to Mango

The Dancing Emporium




By:
Megawatts



“This is it! The final dance!----The couple that wins this dance will become the Emporium’s King and Queen, with a crown of Marian gold and a check for 10,000 Europlanetst! Yes, sir, the title is still up for grabs! All this talent from the stars and beyond has make this years Emporium dance off the best one yet! And there’s still one dance left! So everybody get ready!” DJ Stargazer said.

“It’s not fair! They shouldn’t let Eight-Leg Octopus Man from The Celetral System dance!” Eric Hon said.

“No, they shouldn’t,” Kayla said, Eric’s partner. “He just flops those legs around like some freak show, and everybody thinks he can dance—especially Lady Legs. Lady Legs shouldn’t be a judge either—she never liked me since the third grade.”

“I agree, but to tell you the truth----I love to watch Octopus man break dance. Boy—when he spins on his head-------WOW!” Johnny said, a friend but rival of Eric.

Eric eyed Johnny up and down, then shook his head back and forth.

“What’s with all the vegetables around? Tomatoes hanging from the doorways, Carrots in candle holders, and lettuce on the judge’s table? What gives?” Shane said, another friend and dancing rival of Eric. This place looks like a farm-----like the ones back home of Earth.”

“That’s the theme of this dance—‘Summertime on Earth,t’” A passing voice said.

“For our last dance we have a driving rhythm with—‘She’s My Cherry Pie’----an oldy but goody by Warrant–------and hhhhhhhere’s the heavy mental sound!” DJ Stargazer flipped over a dial and the hall became flooded with---She’s- my- cherry pie, cool drink of water such a sweet surprise.

With the Boom, boom, boom of the slow but driving beat, all couples hit the dance floor, and the atmosphere turned into pure excitement which fueled the dancers to un-believable moves! The very air itself vibrated, and each beat of the song drove deep into the ears of all except the ant couple from Dune Town on Marshel. They didn’t have ears, and to this day nobody understands how they interpret sound, and their moves showed it.

Kayla and Eric picked up the beat and danced their way onto the floor. Kayla moved around Eric like a fresh fragrance at a perfume counter , then gliding, then half-stepping, then enveloping Eric with a quick hug around his neck, releasing him into a whirlwind of her moves that placed her everywhere next to him all at once, but never slowing down nor pausing. All space around Eric became her. And she owned every inch between Eric and her lovely body.

Octopus man and Centipede Susie danced their way to the center, and, well as the DJ uttered, “Just look at them go!!! The 100 legs of Susie are nothing but a blur —man how I love to watch her do her thing----There she goes into a loop, circling around Octopus Man like the rings of Saturn----faster, faster—Oh what a show----focus in on her!” Octopus man shook in rhythum like an old washing machine with legs on it when spinning as the song continued with “Swingin' to the drums, Swingin' to guitar, Swingin' to the bass, In the back of my car...” The atmosphere became hotter and hotter with each beat.

Snake Man and Lady Cobra from the Dallas Star System didn’t have legs, but that didn’t stop them from showing what their home planet could do. Snake Man coiled himself and became a spring, and with each lung up, Snake Man pointed his head upwards, then withdrew it back into his body’s coil quicker than the coil’s descent, and they both had the ability to flash colors like a squid does in the ocean. Lady Cobra flared her hood, back and forth as she swayed in and out with the beat, but her moves started to escalate.

“Check out Alligator Joe and Crocodile Cathy doing the Mud-Crawl that’s popular on Venus!” DJ Stargazer shouted.

Alligator Joe hopped off his front legs, then spring backward and landing on his hind legs. Then, sprang forwards again, landing on his front legs, then a quick spring landing on his hind legs, all within the beats of the words “We forgot to lock the door, in walks her daddy, standin' six foo four, he said, “You ain't gonna swing with my daughter no more.” Crocodile Cathy flipped on her back, pretended to run with her four legs going in time to the music, then she flipped over on her legs, and started swinging her tail in time as Alligator Joe sprung off his hind legs and sailed over her. Back and forth he went over her not missing a single beat of the rhythm.


“We don’t have a chance,” Eric said.

“Just keep dancing–will ya!” Kayla replied.

“Oh–what a night!—check out Eric and Kayla—Hey—what’s the Snake people up to?” DJ Stargazer said.

As the song started coming to an end with the words “Tastes so good make a grown man cry Sweet cherry pie, oh yeah.” Crocodile Cathy coiled herself, and started flashing all the colors of the spectrum, mildly, but bright enough for all to see. And Alligator Joe did the same with his colors. They danced around each other using their tail, but managed to keep on the beat. Then like two slinkys, they intertwined with each other! Then passed through each other as they danced around and around, keeping in the beat with their moves and also with their color flashes. Boy, was the crowd clapping for them now.

As the song ended and the judges unanimous, DJ Stargazer grabbed mike as said, “We have the winners and they are----Alligator Joe and Crocodile Cathy!

“You know they deserve to win,” Eric said.

“Ya, I know—but still it could be more fair,” Kayla said.


The End
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post October 26, 2014, 09:48:37 AM

"I NOAH Guy" Challenge

The challenge was to write a science fiction flash or fantasy flash story that includes a character trying to get away from a disaster with a creature or creatures worth saving by procuring last minute transportation.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post October 26, 2014, 10:00:39 AM

"I NOAH Guy" Challenge

WINNER

NOIDS*, as translated:
Rick Tornello


Directions:
Cook Noids no more than 10 revolutions old. Older ones tend to be tough and shall we say taste nasty except when made into a stew. Do not freeze until prepared, and fresh is always best if you have the facilities to keep them alive until ready to prepare in the usual methods.

1, Skinned and soaked in dihydronoxide until the meat absorbs all the fluid. A grain covering of your choice is fine using some form of food bonding agent. Twice covered is even better.
2, Heat the cooking lubricant till it smokes. Deeply dip the Noids for about two minutes, remove and drain. Mix with your favorite plant food groups and top with a variety of fermented fruit based treats.


*Tastes like chicken.

####

Harvey’s father Dr. Frederick Von Dickskoph, was an Amerindian archeologist. His mother was a Computational Physicist. Harvey was left to his own devices many times while the two of them went about their professional careers. Harvey’s caretakers tended to make sure Harvey was alive; leaving him to do what he did best. Harvey was not your normal child. At an early age he demonstrated a propensity for languages and computer software. In fact by the time he was 10, he had invented a scanner, indexing-translator that broke the most stubborn languages known to humankind.

Harvey had a pet cat named Speed-bump. She was a red orange long-haired tabby that blended in with the oak wood floors and at night was all but invisible until Harvey or someone tripped over her in the dark. There upon this dark shadowy mass would move ever so slightly to one side or the other and become invisible again.

Harvey had been interested in communication with animals ever since his caretaker read Dr. Doolittle to him at the age of 1. The translating device was a result of this effort. Harvey and Speed-bump could talk in a matter of fashion. She had a different take on life and basically didn’t care about much except food, toys, mice and Harvey, oh yes, I forgot, and a clean litter box.

Harvey was never supposed to go into his dad’s laboratory. There were always things that could not be touched. His mother just locked her computer system. That never stopped Harvey. And they knew it. As long as he caused no great harm they let him be.

One evening Harvey went into his dad’s lab looking for that new set of photos from a Mayan dig. His dad had been grumbling about how different these glyphs were from any others. “Harvey I don’t want you near these until I’ve had some time to figure out when they were written.” That usually meant that Harvey had permission to dig. So he did and discovered the articles on top of the desk under a file marked GLYPHS.

Speed-Bump looked up and said “Merowwwer.” This meant, ‘Now what are you going to do with these and can I eat them when you’re finished?’

“Speed-Bump this is food for the mind, not your stomach.”

“Meroroew,” ‘(phooey why bother then?)’

Harvey gave her a treat, a kiss on her furry head and went off to his scanner and dumped the data in. The computer screen read “NEW LANGUAGE TEXT, DIFFICULTY LEVEL HIGH”. Speed-bump followed along knowing his next move would be to the frig for milk and pie.

Harvey was a creature of habit and sure enough that’s exactly what he did.

Harvey grabbed a milk carton and a fresh cold apple pie. He looked at the carton and saw HAVE YOU SEEN ME with the associated pictures and wondered if anyone would even know if he were gone. “Speed-bump, other than you, do you think they would miss me if I disappeared?”

Speed-bump shook her big furry head in a no. She said “If they fed me I might not either. Can I have a piece of pie?” She loved pie.

Harvey scratched behind her ear and gave her a piece of pie. His phone indicated that his computer wanted him back at the screen. He quickly finished most of his pie leaving the rest for Speed-bump. Off to his room he went. The computer said it had translated the data. It was not a language of any known on the planet and indicated a possibility of an alien origin. It further stated that it thought it was a recipe and that if correct might explain the origins of human sacrifice.

Harvey thought about it for a bit and queried, “To what end did this play in ancient civilizations?”

The computer hummed and then stated, “based upon the data and the history of the planet as I have researched, I conclude that possibly staving off war, limiting population growth within these early civilizations, and fomenting the development of the metaphysical faire tales that exist today are the end results of this alien effort. It appears that the young were tasty morsels to these beings. Do you want more analysis?”

“Not for now. Thank you computer.” Harvey was always polite.

“Speed-bump, that’s what’s going on with these children on the milk cartons and why there is so much conflict on the planet. We are their treats. We’ve got to warn the others before…We have to get off this planet.”

“Ah my little master, why do you thing we cats stick around. We are sent here in the hope that a few of you will wake up and realize the danger you are in. It seems that only the children are the ones who can communicate with us and unfortunately are not decision makers. I have a portal to another universe. I am your guardian. Follow me.
You will be safe and never have to deal with this again.”

Harvey looked at Speed-bump, gave her a pat on her head and nodded as they both faded into wherever it is that Speed-bump had promised.

The next week Harvey’s picture was on every milk carton on the planet.

THE END
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post October 26, 2014, 10:06:19 AM

"I NOAH Guy" Challenge

The Never-Ending Descent
by Sergio "ente per ente" Palumbo




No one else had dared go to that place. However, the few remaining colonists who had previously decided to leave Earth to settle that distant world apparently now had no chance of be rescued before it was too late. There were 1,000 individuals - male, female and transgender - who had remained on that planet after most of the humans had already moved away because of the imminent collapse of its magnetic field. About one-third of the population had already been transported to a safer place, long before the radiation coming from the giant star nearby could damage their genes. However, they were forced to forget about the better life they had planned to begin on that new world.

As a matter of fact, the deadly rays coming from that alien sun was capable of completely wiping out all the living species on the planet, now that its magnetic field was failing. Given the immediate danger, there was no way to transport the remaining people stationed there, as those same rays interfered with the engines and the space travel systems of all nearby starships.

There was really little they could do, even though the leader of the humans living on the planet had beamed all the people - along with their cattle and sheep - up to the only craft orbiting the planet at the time: the Space Station Hubert.

So, it had been up to him, Harry, a young blonde-haired captain of only 30 years, to try to save them all. He had decided to use the only alien starship in the quadrant – property of the alien species known as Klehw - that could withstand such a dangerous journey. This starship would allow him to move through that system without being harmed due to the high-levels of radiating energy perturbing the entire area. There was no other experienced space captain who would endanger his life for such a desperate attempt!

His plan looked treacherous and it really was, as a matter of fact. But what else could he do?

An alarm resounded within the control room: his starcraft was approaching the Space Station Hubert and he could imagine the rejoicing faces of the humans aboard, as they had observed his arrival.

He had been sent there to save them all, but there was only one way to do that: the Klehw starships were only meant to transport ten crewmembers at a time, because – although they possessed amazing technology - they were a people of small stature who explored space in tiny teams. There wasn’t enough time to go to the space station, take nine people and transport them to a safe place before returning to that system and doing it all over again, until all the colonists were safe.

The plan that had come to Harry’s mind might have looked foolish, but it was the only way. Although the Klehw were unable to transport more than ten people at a time, their teleporter’s buffer was capable of storing the data of 10 individuals after they had been beamed up, even though only for a while, before turning them into physical persons again. So, what if he loaded on the same starship more than one buffer, or even better - all the data he needed to have for all of the 1,000 colonists and their animals beamed up at once?

Of course, such a move might prove to be a waste of time, as the storage of the data of the individuals in the buffer might remain there only for a very short time – but what choice did he have?

“It’s Harry Cobb speaking. The Klehw starship is ready to have all of you beamed up now. Do you copy?”

“This is Space Station Hubert…please proceed. We all are in your hands…” a voice answered the call.

“It will take a lot of time before you can speak to someone again, but you are aware of this…”

“There’s no other option, please proceed…” the leader of the human colonists stated.

So, Harry activated all the instruments and the procedure began. It only took a few minutes and, after all was done; he simply started the engines to make the jump to another point in space. That was the only jump he could do within the short amount of time the buffer of the devices could store all that data aboard. There wasn’t a planet nor a space station huge enough or habitable within jump range where he could leave the passengers he had taken from that station before their data started deteriorating.

The only destination Harry could reach during that time, given the distance involved, was a black hole. And once they got there, there was only one effective thing to do…

So, as the Klehw starship got to the singularity, he simply opened the cargo bay and launched the buffer of all the devices with the data of the individuals and the animals into the empty space, letting them go into the black hole itself.

According to modern science, as they were falling to the singularity, the Schwarzschild coordinate called T went on infinitely while you went through the centre of it, as it was only outside the black hole that T even pointed in a direction of increasing time. So, for them time simply was going to stop! They would never die, nor grow old, always falling towards the centre of that singularity without ever arriving there.

One day someone would find the technology to retrieve those devices and take those individuals and their animals away from the enormous gravity of that black hole, thus helping them all to come back into a real existence again.

Until then, they could only wait for what appeared to them to be an infinity of time. Which was better than an immediate death, wasn’t it, anyway?

THE END
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post October 26, 2014, 10:11:01 AM

"I NOAH Guy" Challenge

Under the Milky Way Tonight
by Michele Dutcher


“She keeps saying it too, just like the other four,” stated the exasperated Droagorian. “She started saying it two days ago, as soon as she was able to form a complete sentence.”

The doctor couldn’t help but shake his head before speaking. “Okay. Let me hear it.”

The lab assistant turned on the intercom with one of his six tentacles. They began to listen to the ramblings of the 3-year-old human female.
“I must complete my mission. I must save the human race. I must complete my mission. I must save the…”

“Switch it off,” said the professor. “It’ll drive ME nuts if I have to hear it again.”

Inside the sterile, metallic, brightly lit room, one of the two remaining humans in existence kept pacing back and forth, her face frozen in a psychotic, terror-filled, blind stare. The other human, the original, was being kept in a medically-induced coma in a separate facility.

“We’ve tried everything, Doctor,” sighed the lab assistant.

“List the protocol from the beginning.”

“Once the cells are cloned from the original human, they become an embryo, then an infant, then a child. However, even as a child, the human is completely driven in a psychotic desire to save her world.”

“A world which has since been destroyed,” added the three-armed physician. He took a deep breath of his dioxide rich air. “If she doesn’t snap out of it we’ll be ordered to destroy her as we did the other clones. The council can’t stand to have anything in that much terror left alive. I’ll try to talk to her, one last time.”

“Good luck, doctor,” said the assistant while throwing a switch.

“Hello human,” said the doctor in a friendly tone, at least according to what they had learned from records aboard her spaceship.

“Hello! Hello!” gushed the female in the simple dress.

“Do you know where you are?”

“I’m lost! I’m lost!” answered the female, running herself into a wall. “Help me! I must save my planet! I must save my people from extinction!”

“Earth? You must save Earth?”

“Yes Earth! I must save it before the asteroid hits!”

The doctor hit the switch to turn off the speaker. “Let me get this right: there was a single spaceship discovered in the Helioput region, drifting by itself, out of fuel. When they brought the human aboard a freighter, all she could say was…”

“I must save my planet...” the two said in unison.

“The original human must have been in a state of shock, and that extreme desperation spills over every time we clone her. It’s like the directive to save her species was programmed into her cells, and that mandate overrides every attempt of ours to reproduce her species. I wonder how long she was alone in that spaceship.”

“But she wasn’t alone, doctor,” interjected the assistant, his purple face brightening a bit.

“Really? Was there another human with her? Why wasn’t I told?” The doctor checked the e-pad in front of him.

“No, no. There was a small, fierce creature on the ship with her. It attacked the crewmen as they entered the bridge.”

“Is it still alive?”

“Yes, it’s being held in another room,” answered the assistant, instinctually pointing towards its holding pen.

“Keep it behind a force field, but show it to the human. Maybe there was a reason they were travelling together.”

“But it’s dangerous! That thing tried to tear our men apart.”

“Indulge me,” ordered the scientist.

Ten minutes later the girl was surprised by a light that came on, showing a small creature in an adjoining room. As soon as the creature saw the human, it jumped up and down with excitement. A nod from the doctor and the force field was let down, allowing it into the lab room. It jumped into her arms, both of them obviously loving the moment.

“We’ve done it!” said the doctor. “We’ve broken the repetition! Turn on that noise we found playing aboard her spaceship.”

The girl started humming along with the music as someone sang, “something shimmering and white. That leads you here, despite your destination.” The girl’s lips thinned, producing a form of grimace on her facial features.

“What is the human doing with her mouth?” asked the doctor.

“The spaceship records call it a ‘smile’.”

“Under the Milky Way tonight,” played the song on the console.

“Where am I?” whispered the girl, looking around her.

“You’re safe aboard a starship bound for Droagor.”

The human calmed. “May I have a glass of water?” she asked.

“Yes, of course!” instructed the doctor, ecstatic, nodding for a glass of water to be sent into the room.

“My planet,” she said, calmly as if remembering. “I must save my species and this snuggly thing.”

“You just did!” replied the chief physician. “Of course it took the help of that small creature, that…that..."

“That dog…according to the reports,” added the lab assistant.

The doctor turned towards his helper joyfully and they hugged each other with a few of their tentacles. “Now we can clone the humans and clone the small creatures as well. We can bring humanity back from the brink of extinction. Truly, that thing she calls a dog has turned out to be mankind’s best friend, indeed.”

The End
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman
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Post April 24, 2016, 05:03:10 PM

Re: FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - ?

This challenge was run by Eddie Sullivan.

The challenge was to tell a story one could tell around campfire that started with " The stupid light was shining right in my eyes." The story had to end with "I think it is finally over. It is too dark too see and I am too scared to look."


Example story:




Hump Hungry

By:
Eddie Sullivan



The stupid light was shining right in my eyes.

“God damn it Jimmy, stop screwing around with that thing and hold still. I’m trying to paddle here.”

“Sorry Rick, this lake is creepy. I ain’t sure it is worth it doing this.”

“It is worth it. You don’t know any better cause you're a virgin.”

“Am not!”

“Whatever! You haven’t even seen a girl naked!”

“Yes, I have!”

“Your sister don’t count!”

“Take it back Dick!” Jimmy jumped up toward the front of the canoe swinging the light.

I pushed him back with the paddle. “Sit down asshole. The boat will tip and I don’t feel like swimming tonight!” I placed it back in the water and kept paddling. “This camp is for cheerleaders. We are so getting laid! Cheerleaders love Eagle Scouts. It’s the uniform. Also if you ever call me Dick again I’m gonna crack you in the head with this and leave you to drown.”

“Screw you Dick!”

“What did I just say!” I swung the paddle back up at Jimmy.

“I wasn’t making fun of your name, I was calling you a dick!”

“Whatever. I should have taken Stu across the lake.”

“Maybe you should’ve. This lake is creepy as shit.” Jimmy swept the light over the water back and forth. “Why did they ever put a Scout camp on Crystal Lake anyway? Haven’t they ever seen that movie?”

“The camp was here before those movies, sissy. Are you really telling me you are afraid of slashers in masks?”

“It is just scary, okay?”

“Your just faggy, okay?”

“Asshole. How much longer? I gotta pee.”

“You would. The guy I talked to at Jamboree in Connecticut said it was dead straight across the lake and a little west. We should be there any time now.”

Jimmy heard a low wailing sound. “Shit what was that. Let’s go back!”

“You are such a wuss. That was a loon. They are all over the lake. I swear I don’t even know why we are friends.”

Jimmy flashes the light around on the water. “Oh yeah a loon. I knew that.”

“Yup. Sure.”

“Hey look a light.”

“Where?”

“Over there off to the right.”

“Yeah I see it. I will paddle us over. Welcome to the promised land my man. Time to get lucky.”

We drifted quietly to shore and landed our dingy. It was time to get our feet wet. I jumped right in, but Jimmy hesitated. “Hey Rick, what if they freak out about us being here.”

“You worry too much. We brought beer, they will love us. C’mon jackass!”

He got out of the boat like the little princess he is, trying to jump to dry land without splashing in the water. “ Just help me pull it up on shore will ya!”

“I’m trying’ to.”

“Come on the light is over this way.”

We walked towards the flickering light and started to hear music. It was heavy drums and girls shrieking. “Damn man, they are throwing a party. I bet it’s an orgy!”

“Rick, why would they be throwing an orgy at an all girls cheerleading camp?”

“You really are a special kinda stupid ain’t ya? You ever heard of lesbians? They got no boys so they have their fun with themselves!”

“That can’t be true. That is just something that happens in dirty movies.”

“Listen to that screaming, giggling and moaning and tell me I’m wrong.” Sure enough we got to the edge of the bushes and of course I was right. There was the heavenly sight of cheerleader upon cheerleader as naked as God made them. They were bouncing around gyrating to the drum music. They were kissing and painting each other’s naked bodies with paints. Some of them were eating great big hunks of meat like primitive sexual cavewomen. I heard Jimmy suck in a breath. “I know. That my friend is an orgy!”

Jimmy didn’t even seem to be looking at the naked chicks. He was pointing at their bonfire. Hung over the fire was Greg, a scout who had gone missing on a hike that day. We hadn’t given enough of a shit about Greg to cancel our rendezvous with sexual destiny. Jimmy started whimpering. “What are they doing? Are they eating him?” They had worked through Greg’s legs but much remained of him over the fire. I looked closer and the girls all had their teeth filed to points which gleamed by the light of the fire and the moon.

“Jimmy, we have to back away, run to the boat.” I had already started backing away as I said that. Jimmy was not the cool, collected type. I knew this so I wasn’t really surprised at what came next. He screamed. He screamed so loud the girls heard him over the music and turned toward us. Time to haul ass!

I turned and made a run for it. Jimmy wasn’t out running me! I heard the girls screaming behind us. It sounded like that crazy bad ass Arab chant from movies and shit, but not quite. I saw things coming through the dark to the front and sides of me.

“Shit Rick, those are arrows!”

“Keep running!”

I heard a thunk and Jimmy fall. He was screwed. My legs were pumping. Maybe they would stop to take care of him. I saw the dingy. Almost home free. I ran down the beach and hoped in. That damn boat was ten feet out just from my momentum. I grabbed that paddle and started digging in to that water! I heard splashing. They couldn’t possibly be swimming!

I paddled till my heart felt like it would burst. I could barely move my arms. I had got out of there so quick I didn’t even see where I was headed. I realized Jimmy had the flash light. They could be swimming after me.

I think it is finally over. It is too dark too see and I am too scared to look.


The End
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Post April 24, 2016, 05:04:17 PM

Campfire Games

Nothing to See

By:
Robin B. Lipinski




The stupid light was shining right in my eyes. Yes, you heard me, light as in bright, penetrating light which was not white but rather of the intense blue kind one sees while welding without a welders mask.

“Ah, you’re full of crap as usual Bruce, and I bet you’re going to say it is your PTSD you got while in Iraq which caused you to talk about the rocket attack again.”

“Yeah, he’s right Bruce, you’re full of crap…Hey, your marshmallow is burning, ha!”

Shit, I hate when my marshmallow turns into a sugary mass of molten goo. Damn…Ouch, damnit.

Sounds a little stupid right? I mean come on, three guys sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows when they should be shacked up with some women with no morality and love hot, sweaty sex.

Now, let me tell you something. You’re probably a writer, right? Probably a pretty bad one if you’re spending more time on the internet reading other writers work then working on your own…Oh, I see I hit a nerve, well truth can sometimes hurt. I bet you’ve even attended some writer’s camp where some, ‘guru’ was talking to you about how you can better your writing? Maybe giving you tips on how not to talk in your writing as if the first person? Yep, thought so, and…

Ouch, ooh, ah this marshmallow is beyond redemption and that bright light is still hurting my head. Wait a minute, where is that voice coming from talking about writers?

“Who ya talking to Bruce, you’re a loon for sure!”

“Yeah, a loon, awoooo! Probably gonna burn your next mallow too, ha.”

Oh, this is good, Bruce is burning his snack, his friends are making fun of him and I get to fuck with them. Who am I? You know, oh you know full well…

Who is there? Are you guys playing a trick on me? Come on, I bet you brought that idiot, Rick out here to mess with my mind. Rick, come on out of the bushes you dweeb, I know it’s you.

This is the part where the narrator paints a picture with words and music. You can now see in your mind a dark, forestry setting, the deep slow bass of a throbbing drum along the moon hidden behind a cloud, plus there is the potential of a prankster named, Rick hiding in the bushes, but you would be wrong as there is no prankster, just three guys sitting around a campfire, and of course, me.

Okay Rick, I know it’s you.

“Who are you talking to Bruce? Man, you’re messed up dude, and judging by your latest attempt at writing I think you’re losing what’s left of your mind.”

“Yeah, seriously, maybe you need help?”

Ah, there is that stupid light flashing in my eyes again, boy does it hurt.

(Intermission)

Hungry, need some popcorn, a chocolate bar, marshmallow, maybe some hardcore sex? HeeHee. While you’re busy trying to figure out just what kind of strange (censored) (censored) and (censored) weird stuff you’re reading written by what clearly is a deranged 'person', let me fill you in on what you’re missing while this story is taking a break.

Bruce is suffering from PTSD after enduring some top-secret stuff you’re not allowed to read. I, of course, am constantly by his side to help him in his attacks and also to make him suffer greatly. His two camping buddies were close grade school friends and were now in the middle of being butchered.

Dave, poor old Dave. Once he was a trapping partner who with Bruce, had skinned many a beaver and mink. Now, his skin was peeled from his body as smoothly as a freshly peeled muskrat, and his severed head was laying open eyed looking at the now discarded marshmallow stick.

Jack, ah yes, Jack, this was a fun one. Jack was beaten to death with Bruce's bare hands and then skinned and beheaded with the head impaled on the stick and roasting nicely in the fire, though with Bruce’s cooking skill or lack thereof, was already singed and the smell of burnt flesh filled the area.

(End of intermission)

We’re back, and as you can see by my master narration, the scene is pretty bloody. Poor Bruce was holding his blood spattered hands on his head, his body rocking back-and-forth while the scattered marshmallows were on the ground soaking up fresh blood. And this is where I’m going to let Bruce have his mind back…What? You want to know who I am? Ha! You can’t handle what you already know. Needless to say I’m there when you need a little evil in your life, and might I suggest you tap into it as this world needs a little more blood flowing…

Ohhh, my head hurts, that stupid light…When will this nightmare end?
(HeeHee, and with a final positive thought before opening his eyes)
I think it is finally over. It is too dark too see and I am too scared to look.

(the nearing end of what’s left of the authors sanity)


The End
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Post April 24, 2016, 05:05:15 PM

Campfire Games

Bioluminescence

By:
P.A. Hosler



The stupid light was shining right in my eyes...

Peter and I had been cave diving together for years, it was unlike him to be so rude while we were diving in such dark depths. I assumed the excitement of our discovery was causing his lack of courtesy. I reached out to brush his flashlight aside so my eyes could recover from the temporary blindness he caused me, but he wasn’t within reach. I squinted and saw his silhouette gliding through the brightest light I’d ever seen. Moments before the cave was blanketed in darkness you’d expect to find in such places. I swam quickly towards Peter’s dark form. He was headed for the crevice we had just found in the cave wall. A thin gash, impossibly bright.

When I caught up to Peter he was already investigating the cave wall. Above the crevice I could see much better. Peter scribbled on his slate, “It’s just wide enough to squeeze through.” I frowned and shook my head. We’d squeezed through some pretty tight places before, but none of those were eerily lit. There may have been some bioluminescence now and then, but nothing like this. I’d never encountered another diver with tales of such phenomena. Peter held up his slate again, “I’m going in!” I knew I wouldn’t be able to change his mind. I shrugged and gave him a thumbs up.

Peter of course was going first. There wasn’t enough space to go through with our tanks strapped on, there almost never was when we’d maneuvered through formations like these. Peter unstrapped his tank and pushed it ahead of him. He often bragged that if the tank fit he could fit, it was his “wide enough” gage. We checked our tether and Peter disappeared head first into the narrow gap. The line spooled out slowly with only brief pauses. At eight feet the line stopped moving. I began to worry, but finally three sharp tugs alerted me that it was my turn to make the trip through the gap.

I suppose I can’t claim claustrophobia. I’ve been spelunking and cave diving for the last eight years now, but I’ll say I’ve never become comfortable with the tight squeezes we occasionally get ourselves into. Cave diving is dangerous as hell, taking risks of any kind beyond the one you’re already taking is not recommended. Peter and I actively discourage what we do. This is how we get our rush, this is our envelope to push. We’ve lost a few friends over the years. Peter lost his last dive partner a few years before I ran into him. I think that is why he has to make the first move when we breach the unknown. I don’t think it’s guilt or an over protective nature, I get the feeling that if anyone is going to die during one of his dives he wants to be first. I think he views death as just another cave to explore.

I’m not so morbid. I don’t necessarily fear death but I really don’t want to die anytime soon either. I was more nervous than usual. There shouldn’t have been any light down here. My skin itched, craving the inky blackness that is supposed to be surrounding you when you’re below the Earth’s surface. Peter was already on the other side, so I slid my tank through the hole following it head first on my back. I expected it to be a tight fit. Several times the squeeze was so tight I had to exhale nearly all the air from my lungs to keep moving forward. I imagined that one wrong move in one direction or another would wedge me so firmly in place that the breath I just released could easily be my last. I felt Peter grab my tank and guide it the final few feet out of the narrow passage. His path was expert and I wriggled out into an immense domed cavern.

Although the light was intense, there was no heat. The thing producing the light was enormous, it’s breadth and girth nearly consuming the entirety of the space we had just entered.
“I’m going to get a closer look”, Peter had already scribbled onto his tablet. I wasn’t sharing his curiosity at that moment but I nodded slowly as I shrugged my tank back on and we swam, still tethered, towards the glowing behemoth.

As we approached it, a hole began to form on it’s surface. Inside was the inky blackness I’d found myself longing for just a short time before. I stopped swimming, but Peter seemed to be drawn towards it. I tugged our line but he didn’t seem to notice or care. Suddenly, the hole started to move towards us. A long tube had formed, it moved closer, and the light down its shaft began to oscillate ribbons of dark and light. Suction was being generated through a long fleshy straw, pulling us into it. I turned to swim away but was abruptly stopped as our tether jerked taut. I turned in time to see the end of the tube engulf Peter’s fins and slowly move up his legs and towards the rest of his torso.

He turned his tablet towards me, “Come with me Allen, it’s so... peaceful...” I tried to unhook the tether. I watched in horror as Peter’s head and then his outstretched arms, still clutching the tablet, disappeared inside the creature’s orifice. As it closed around the rope I imagined a long strand of spaghetti being sucked into its deadly lipless maw. I panicked as I was being drawn closer. As soon as it touched me, what I can only assume was a powerful neurotoxin coursed through my body. I couldn’t move, but I didn’t experience the peacefulness Peter mentioned. I wanted to scream as the tube slid over my mouth and then slowly over my mask.

...I think it’s finally over. It’s too dark to see and I’m too scared to look.


The End
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Post April 24, 2016, 05:06:33 PM

Campfire Games

The Night of Their Coming

By:
Sergio Palumbo



The stupid light was shining right in my eyes. It was night – THAT night! - and here they came. AGAIN!

Not that such a moment had been entirely unexpected, although it was certainly not desirable or acceptable, by any means.

Anyways, this was how events had gotten to this point, after the sun had finally set...

------------------------

The fresh air of the late evening wrapped the hills as if it were an invisible dome with boundaries that nobody could see clearly, but it was there. You could tell its limits by the freezing drops of water on the shrubbery’s leaves, along with a cold wind that came in suddenly, as if it had an appointment - arriving exactly on time at the hour previously set. There was no living being around, given the late hour, although there were already some dead at the site: they were only the first ones to arrive, as countless souls were still expected to get there soon.

Frank sat on a stone, a boulder so tall that he would have trouble climbing it when he was still alive, but now the problem didn’t affect him, as his colourless presence was completely weightless and wasn’t stopped by anything anymore. Soon another gaseous shade approached, taking the shape of an old woman, with white skin and a slender appearance. “I’m here, too!”

“I’m glad you’re here for this Halloween meeting!” he replied in a low voice that seemed to come from the afterlife, as it really did come from beyond the grave. “I was afraid you might be late.”

“I’ve got all the time in the world, you know.” She smiled a funny grin, displaying two wide eyes that had been beautiful when she was alive.

When their group contained dozens of members all assembled together at the ancient ruins of that Celtic site, Frank stood and gestured to the other souls, calling them to order. A lightning bolt hit the ground, starting a small fire in the background.

“Ladies and gentlemen, everyone dead just like me: it’s time to start our annual meeting. On this hallowed day set aside for those who passed away, we have come here tonight to walk this ground again, even if for a very short time. Let’s begin by telling each other our most sincere recounting of the way we died on earth, be it very long ago or just recently.”

There was some mumbling in the crowd of pale presences, before a black man moved forward, reaching the middle of the place where Frank stood.

“I’m Myanbi,” the figure said, hiss soul still displayed the main features he had possessed when alive: some ruffled curls and intense eyes, as black as his flowing hair.

“Good to see you again!” everyone present greeted him.

As the crowd fell silent again, Myanbi touched his torn shirt - probably the same one he was wearing when he drowned. “My tale of how I got to the afterlife begins in the Mediterranean Sea. There were seventy-five of us there that terrible day, and only two men survived the shipwreck. We all boarded a weathered vessel in North Africa and tried to crisscross that stretch of sea to get to the opposite coast in search of a better life. But the stormy night immediately summoned forty-two souls into the blackest depths, while the others who were still on board when dawn came found themselves on a damaged ship with little hope. The ruthless captain of that illegal vessel sighted the rocky shore, jumped overboard and swam, trying to pose as an immigrant. Then, after we hit the rocks, anyone who couldn’t swim simply sank below the waves. Of the few who were able to escape, only two safely reached the coast and were arrested. The others all died, and I was among them…”

Then, suddenly, while the souls were still listening to Myanbi’s story, those vivid lights came on. And they had come for those who were dead! All the dead immediately started moving away, as if they were trying to escape the grip of some wild beasts capable of preying on their souls…

It was the living beings! It was them, again, with their up-to-the-minute devices meant to investigate the deceased and discover the secrets of the afterlife. By now, Mankind had figured out all the secrets of the Big Bang, and everything about the deepest recesses of space and even the oceans. So, they had turned their attention to the physics of the dead. Undoubtedly, they wanted to know what could harm the ghosts…and that was scary, but it wasn’t just a scary tale, it was a reality. Moreover, it wasn’t something you could hide from as there was no chance to stop them or any way to die, as you were already dead.

It happened each year on Halloween, when the souls assembled together worldwide and took again the real shape they had been when they were alive.

The problem was that this day proved to be the best time for humans to discover more about the dead as they were even more visible than usual. The living humans had always been spying on them and that day was the time the souls were subjected to forced tests…so the light that shone on them from those new portable machines men had conceived for their research meant just one thing: trouble!

Usually, it didn’t last long, but it did hurt, and at times it disrupted your shape - the shape you only had on Halloween.

When Frank noticed that the lights had finally gone, along with the researchers, he stopped running away and remained silent. The night wasn’t over yet, maybe there were some of those men still nearby, but he was really dejected now. While still hiding, he sadly considered, ‘I think it is finally over. It is too dark too see and I am too scared to look.’



The End
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