FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - May 2017


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:36:25 PM

Murder Most Foul

Stowaway

By:
Michele Dutcher





Buzz Buzz Buzz. The phone alarm inside William’s skull was going crazy so he pulled his right earlobe to turn it off. He looked at his wife.

She opened one eye. “What time is it?”

“Two A.M.”

“Good night,” she hissed, pulling a pillow over her head.

Buzz Buzz Buzz. William tapped his cheek. “Go ahead.”

“Hey there, Buddy, this is Carlyle. We need you down at Pike Street Market. There’s been a 187 an overhead loft.”

“Pike Street? I’ll see you in a few.” He got out of bed and reached for his pants when he saw Kate sit up and tap her cheek.

“Yeah, this is Kate. What’s up?” She listened intently to the words inside her head. “Pike Street Market, right? Yeah, I’m freaking psychic. On my way.”

Will and Kate looked at each other. “Now why would they need a cop and a diplomatic liaison at two in the morning?”

They suddenly looked at each other and said in unison: “Skekko!”

“I’ll drive,” said Will.

*****
Kate Boling was the cultural liaison between the United Nations and the alien birdlike species called The Byna. On their planet the dinosaurs had continued to evolve at a steady rate, eventually gaining self-awareness and wings, living in cities that clung to the cliffs surrounding deep fjords.

Most of the new settlers had assimilated easily – but there were a few like Skekko, a female, who seemed to have a weak moral code. Coming from a good Bynaian family, however, she had influential connections that made prosecution difficult. Her suite of rooms overlooked the Public Market in the megatropolis of SeaTac.
Kate and Will thoroughly examined the body.

“It’s one of the strangest murders I’ve ever seen,” said Sergeant Carlyle. “The assassin seems to have killed the victim, disemboweled her, and then actually fried her entrails. He ate them right here at her kitchen table next to her dead body.”

“How did the killer get into the apartment?” asked William.

“There were no signs of a forced entry – and no one was caught on surveillance coming or going,” replied the Sergeant.

Kate’s face began to pale and she tugged on Will’s sleeve to take him aside.

“It’s the same M.O. as the other killings.”

“The other killings?”

“There have been killings of Bynas in Southampton and La Paz, with no forced entry, no suspects. The entrails were fried and eaten in the same way.”

“When it’s not a break-in, the killer is usually someone who lived with the victim. But I know Skekko, and she lived alone.”

“Except for her Dinie,” replied Kate, giving a nod towards a dog-sized dinosaur watching everything from a doorway leading to a second bedroom. He looked like a miniature Spinosaurus, with slightly bigger arms. He seemed to be acutely aware of the entire goings on. “That thing has been here the whole time.”

“I’ve never seen one of those in the flesh. Look at those teeth!”

“Yeah, they came in with the fifth wave of ships. A man is to a monkey as a Byna is to a dinie. They’re pets…the step before the Byna on the evolutionary ladder.”

“But they’re docile, right?” asked William. “I don’t like the way its eyes follow me.”

“Well, a dinie doesn’t have the intelligence to use a knife and fork. This murder was done by a creature with intelligence.”

“A creature? – you mean a human or a Byna don’t you?”

“I’m not sure, William. There are tales in the Byna’s collective memory about sentient beings, vapor creatures, who would…”

“Detective Boling – you need to see this,” said the Sergeant’s voice from the second bedroom.

As William and Kate entered the room they noticed four large square wooden boxes.

“We noticed heartbeats coming from those things,” said Carlyle.

“Good job, Robert.” Will pushed open the lid to one of the boxes and inside was an egg the size of a picnic basket.

“I’ve seen these boxes,” said Kate. “They are used by slavers to transport and hatch the Bynaian eggs. Feathered babies become the servants of the highest bidder.”

“That has to be illegal,” said Sergeant Carlyle.

“The Bynas haven’t been here long enough to work their way into our laws,” said Kate. “It’s definitely immoral.”

“Skekko must have been selling them,” said William. Everyone stopped for a moment to think. “What do we do with them now?”
Kate became adamant. “We can’t leave them here. We’ll need to take them with us to the embassy.”

William picked one up, but the dinie blocked his exit. “The eggs are mine!” it shrieked.

“Are those things supposed to talk?” William asked Kate.

“No – it’s impossible,” she answered. The dinie was baring its teeth as well, its claws slashing the air. “It’s possessed!” shouted Kate to the others. “Kill it!”

Before anyone could move, the dinie rushed towards the detective, slicing William’s left arm with his talons. Kate grabbed William’s laser-pistol, decapitating the pet.

Suddenly a fog hissed out of the body of the dinie, becoming what could only be described as a demon. It towered over the humans with glowing red eyes and needle-like teeth. “We’ll meet again, cop,” it promised before filtering through the wall.

“What was that?” gasped Carlyle.

Kate drew a deep breath before answering. “There’s a myth about an ancestor that was chased by a vapor demon up a cliff wall where he found refuge inside a cave. He made his home there, eventually growing wings so he would never be in danger again.”

“That spirit thing probably wanted those eggs so he could murder and eat them when they hatched – the way it ate poor Skekko.” William shook his head. “We’ll have to start checking those pets when they come through customs – to see if they’re possessed.”

Sergeant Carlyle looked worried. “What happens when these mist demons run out of their natural prey and start in on humans?”

“I guess whoever’s left had better learn how to fly,” said William.


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:38:02 PM

Murder Most Foul

Gluttony Kills More than the Sword

By:
Sergio Palumbo



“Who killed her?” the younger policeman asked Daniel Franks, the black-haired, pale appointed Interplanetary Affairs’ detective.

“I knew this one. Her name was Skekko. Many wanted her dead, but I find it hard to believe anyone would really dare do this. She had some disreputable acquaintances and she was charged with crimes many times, but she had no real convictions - thanks to some important connections who let it be known that harming her or damaging her illegal business could prove very dangerous for everyone.”

Walking around the ground where they had found the dead body of the bird-like alien called Skekko (of the species known as Jilglgkg) Daniel’s chestnut eyes were looking over the scene, wondering why someone would risk so much.

The alien -- the height of an average human, with a bipedal posture, the face and the legs of a bird, and some yellow-gray feathers as long as a man’s arm -- had been killed because of a strange noose tied to the bend of a board which, seemingly, had grabbed Skekko’s long neck suddenly, extending it until parallel to the ground and suffocating/breaking it after the violent counterstroke. The most unusual technique Daniel had ever seen…

There were some shrubs and fruits next to the corpse, which looked even weirder.

Then a question came to his mind. “Is Chandler Arizona’s annual Festival being held now?”

The policeman looked surprised. “Yes, but…”

“Okay, check this out…” the detective said. “Do you have reports in your office of poachers previously found in this area?”

“Of course. Do you really think…?”

“It could be…”

But it’s absurd, how could anyone commit such a serious crime, possibly involving delicate interplanetary politics?”

“Maybe he didn’t mean to…”

The other displayed a doubtful look.

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

They took the highway, arriving shortly at the house of the person under suspicion. The previous reports in the local police databank indicated a single name: Chuy Esteban.

The policeman rang the bell, but nobody came for a while. Then he rang again and finally a hairless man, with pitted facial skin, opened the door.

“What may I do for you, officers?” he said, in a low voice that made them think he was sick with a seasonal flu,presumably.

“We have just one single question, sir: why did you kill Skekko?” the detective started.

“Skekko?” the groundskeeper asked in return.

You know who I’m talking about!” Daniel continued.

“No,I don’t, sir…”

“But you placed that trap, didn’t you?”

What trap?” He almost fainted.

“The one set to trap birds…your fingerprints are all over it!”

Then Chuy Esteban seemed to figure out why they were there.

“Did you want to hear her to squeal, maybe?”

I don’t trap birds that sing…” he replied. “But I know what I do is illegal, anyway…”

“Like killing aliens?”

What? No! I didn’t kill any alien...”

“So what do you mean?”

“I know there are many bon vivant people who like ostrich meat, but hunting and killing such animals is forbidden nowadays, according to the new interplanetary regulations. However, each year I use my cousin’s cabin and visit the annual 'Ostrich Festival' in Chandler, which is one of the last Ostrich races still accepted within the United States. Usually, I set my traps to catch one of the racing animals when the owners release them in the open range the day before the race, in order to relax them. Then I sell its valuable meat to my rich customers, who are very fond of it.”

“So, are you telling me that you positioned traps to catch an Ostrich and ended up killing a Jilglgkg representative by accident instead? Or did you disguise the death of Skekko by pretending you set the trap only in order to take some Ostrich meat?”

The death of a Jilglgkg? What, oh my god! Because of my illness, I have been forced to stay at home, and haven’t checked my last trap yet…”

“Why shouldn’t we think you did this on purpose?”

“I never thought my activity could harm anyone, human or alien,” the groundskeeper cried. “How did it happen?”

A look was passed between the two police officers. “The alien named Skekko came near your trap, then she was caught by the rope, probably by surprise, and died because of a violent hit. Her neck was weaker than an Ostrich’s…”

“But I didn’t mean to kill her!”

“The death occurred because of your device, certainly. Did you use some shrubs and fruits to conceal the mechanism?”

“No, I put those in the trap in order to attract the prey, which likes them a lot…”

That’s what I thought! Those bird-like aliens love to eat that kind of fruit too. Skekko was attracted to them, like an Ostrich.”

“Will you arrest me?”

“Yes, on the charge of alien murder…”

No! It can’t be!”

“Next time, pay more attention - if ever you’re released from prison!”

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

The sentence came quickly. The old judge looked at Chuy Esteban exclaiming: “You violated the laws twice. Starting in 2222 bird hunting has been forbidden worldwide, as a part of the Interplanetary Agreement of 2220 with the Jilglgkg, by which Earth allowed that alien species’ members to come to our planet and live here freely, even starting their own businesses. Since then, no one can harm a single bird –- not even an Ostrich -- by firearms and the likes. This is because birds look exactly alike the Jilglgkg’s revered ancestors on their homeplanet. In exchange for new technology and medical treatments, Earth agreed on these terms. Besides, you killed an intelligent alien species’ representative: a serious homicide! Sentenced to twenty-years’ in a top-security prison!”

After the trial,when everyone had gone, the judge told himself, Better not remind our susceptible bird-like alien allies of that 1928 Republican Party campaign slogan: ‘A chicken in every pot’…


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:39:21 PM

Murder Most Foul

Unfeathered

By:
Lester Curtis



The Skekko case got to be mine by virtue of my being on the night shift when the call came in at 04:11. A body -- not human -- on the steps of the K'ti Embassy. Uniforms were already there when I arrived, of course.

" 'Morning, Sergeant. Has the coroner been here yet?"

"No, Detective -- oh, wait, here he comes now."

I kept everybody back while the big blue-lighted wagon stopped at the curb. The pudgy coroner got out with his scanner and wriggled into his clean-suit to approach the body. I looked up at the building and saw several K'ti behind the glass doors, gesturing.

The coroner waved his scanner along the body and turned to look at me. "Yep, it's K'ti."

"I thought so from the beak, but I couldn't be sure. What else?"

He grinned. "Yeah. They don't look near as nice without the feathers. Got DNA -- oh, you're gonna love this, Detective -- it's Skekko."

Damn. I tapped my phone and called for the Terran Marshals. Skekko had Embassy connections, her ritual nest-mate being the Second Ambassadorial Attache. "Ya got a COD?"

He shook his head, looking at his display. "Other than being plucked naked, I don't find any trauma. Major organs don't seem to be involved. She's been dead about an hour. Lot of alcohol in her -- well over two percent."

"Well, that ain't it." K'ti alcohol tolerance was legendary. "Anything else?"

"She was already dead before she was plucked . . . oh boy -- her cloaca has semen in it -- human -- "

"Huh. Any ID on the donor?"

"No match to anyone on file." He stood up and made for his wagon. "I'll need to research this, but -- you definitely got a murder on your hands; probably some sort of poison. You know how they are about their plumage."

"Yeah." Even Skekko wouldn't go a week without the K'ti high priest blessing her feathers.

I turned to the Sergeant. "I want two sniffer-bots here on the double, and -- " I looked up and around -- "there's gotta be thirty cameras in line of sight. Find out how she got put here, and by whom."

The Terran Marshals' air-car was just descending when four K'ti in ceremonial robes came out of the Embassy doors and down the stairs, all yelling about desecration and K'ti soil and lawsuits. I ran around the body and tried to hold them back, showing my badge and yelling about evidence in a murder investigation.

One of the marshals got in the midst of it with them while another called the Terran Embassy, and everything was at a noisy standstill. Then the one on the phone told us to back off, that the ambassadors were handling it.

Great. Bureaucrats.

I went back to the office to think. I knew that, between the Marshals and the ambassadors, I was off the case, but I've never been able to walk away from an unsolved puzzle.

Skekko had lots of enemies. The K'ti were crucial to our entertainment industry, due to the amazing things they were capable of with computer graphics. Skekko was part-owner of a company that did that work, but she squeezed her clients seven ways from Sunday. She also ran an illicit gambling operation, with some really nasty collectors. But every time we tried to bust her, she got loose on diplomatic immunity.

The sergeant called me at about 6:00 to tell me that the sniffer-bots got one trace of unidentified K'ti, and the cameras just showed the body appearing as though by magic. Stealth tech.

My phone rang at ten 'till seven, just as I was about to call it a night. The voice was masked.

"I have Skekko's murder information. Meet me in the back booth at Kenny's, twenty minutes."

"Who is this -- ?" The line went dead.

The murder hadn't been publicized yet. I went.

Kenny's was popular with a lot of off-worlders, and there were several K'ti there when I entered. One in the back booth, as a matter of fact. I thought he looked familiar. I took a seat and ordered coffee. He was drinking something flammable from a large tumbler. I turned on my recorder.

"Detective. I am -- was -- Skekko's ritual nest-mate." He stuck his beak in the glass and sucked out two inches' worth. "You have tried to arrest her on several occasions."

"Yes -- ?"

"That's how I knew of you. You must understand, though, that the things you charged her with are not crimes on my world."

"Go on -- "

"Other things are, though. She -- she became what you might call crazy here . . . she took to behaviors which are not to be spoken of. Things connected with our species' sacred honor."

"Such as -- ?"

"Such as mating with non-K'ti." He drained his glass and signaled for a refill. It popped out of the table-slot and he drank about half of it. "I knew of this, but did nothing as long as she kept it hidden from my sight . . . perhaps I had been too forgiving. Earlier this day, though, she performed this abomination in my presence; in the presence of other witnesses."

"And I take it that's a capital offense to your species -- ?"

He nodded. "And to me, personally. The disposal of her body was such as to put her shame on herself."

"So -- you killed her -- "

"Yes. A poison, specific to us." He was swaying slightly. Even that much alcohol shouldn't be effecting him yet.

"You know, you could have kept this to yourself . . . the Embassy would have shielded you . . . "

He nodded again, and almost failed to get his head erect. "I wanted to confess. Before I die."

I tapped my phone to summon the EMTs. "Why -- ?"

"Because -- I loved her . . . "


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:41:31 PM

Murder Most Foul

Thanksgiving Day Murder

By:
Rick Tornello



Beheaded, stuffed, and cooked, that’s what the crime scene pictures showed. Detective Gooch knew Skekko had gone too far this time and double-crossed someone. This was a warning to others but from who or what off-world gang?

The room where they found her still smelled of stuffed turkey and ham. Gooch was amazed just how the smells lingered. Makes me hungry he thought. “Hey Micha you up for a pizza?” Micha was his overly large crime scene partner.

“Sounds good, but lookie here. Dere are claws missing from Skekko. Ever see dat before?” Micha questioned as he hit the pizza request icon. .

“No, and I never even noticed. What do you think?

“Not sure, but dis ain’t no normal alien killing, none dat I ever saw,” Said Micha shaking his head. “Where’s da pizza. I buzzed for it. It should be here.”

Micha could eat through anything. Everyone on the force knew that. It was said he ate a slice of apple pie that was still warm at a crime scene once while stating, “It looked too good to let it go to waste.”

Back at the Morgue

Gooch sat down on a stool next to the cooked bird in the morgue. He looked at the images and then again at the bird. “Something, a clue is missing.”

“Yeah, gravy and all da fixings,” Micha said.

“Do you have anything about where this bird came from, anything about the culture, gangs or…?” Gooch trailed off.

“Nope not a thing. These aliens keep to themselves socially except when they’re making deals with da POLS and other off-worlders. This ain’t any of our normal gang style jobs. Where you goin with dis?”

“Well I know Skekko wouldn’t take risks that would serve her up like this. I wonder if it was something else, something like we deal with all the time.”

“You mean like family? Most people are offed by a family member or friends.”

“Something like that, but not quite. There is no sign of a struggle; we have no clue of poison. Hell, we don’t even know the genetic makeup of these aliens. For all I know
A soda could kill them.” Gooch knew more than that but the truth was the aliens never submitted to genetic profiling. They claimed intergalactic immunity for all their citizens. It worked both ways.

Gooch looked around, looked a Skekko and shook his head. “I really liked her, as much trouble as she was I really liked her. Hey I’ve been trying to nail her for a few years and…”

Micha interrupted with a laugh, a nasty laugh “yeah me and da squad wondered if you ever did nail her.”

Gooch would never admit that sometimes he took more than just a professional interest in his clients, as he called them. The smarter they were the more interesting they became. The squad thought something like that was going on.

Micha looked at him closer, “You did her, didn’t you, you …”

“Shut your trap,” Gooch said gritting his teeth. “You’re a sick bird.” And realizing his pun, smiled if only to lessen the tension and divert the question.

The Commander came in and announced that the ambassador from Skekko’s planet was here to retrieve the body.

He came in. He was a tall bipedal feathered creature, with bird like, almost hawk like facial features. He looked at Skekko and then at Gooch. “This is because of you,” he said to Gooch in a low voice.”

“What do you mean?” asked Gooch.

“I noticed the missing claws right away. She was having an affair with an outsider. The beheading and cooking is just part of the ritual of removing the family member from the nest. It’s symbolic. The claw is another story. This is what happens to my kind and it’s carried out by family. You’ll never locate them. They’re gone off-world and out of your jurisdiction. But It was because of You. She developed a liking toward you even as you were trying to get her arrested and kicked off this shit-hole you call a planet. I think she even loved you. That’s an Earth term I still don’t comprehend.” The Ambassador stared at him as if he were prey.

Gooch felt hot all over. The word would get out. His reputation would be shot.

Gooch picked up his gun, pointed at the ambassador, who just smiled. “Gooch, that will not solve anything.”

Micha and the commander stood there not believing their eye or ears. "It has to be a ploy to draw da ambassador out," whispered Micha. "I think it was him or his..."

“No? Not for you, but for me, it will.” Gooch move quickly, he put the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:43:23 PM

Murder Most Foul

- Winner -



Chekhov’s Pun

By:
I.Verse



The uniform logged my badge and lifted the tape for me. Rain was coming down hard, the poor guy was probably drowning under his poncho. He nodded me in the direction of the head of scene. From behind, I could see she was a petite blonde, her hair plastered to her head and hanging in rats’ tails down her back.

“Detective Tervonen?”

She turned from the white tarp that was trying, and failing, to stop the evidence from running down the drain. First impressions; cheekbones, blue eyes as cold as ice, lips in a thin line across her pale face and young. Very young. Too young.

“That’s me.” She eyed me up and down, assessing the threat and then taking me for one of her own. “You must be Chekhov?”

I nodded, “What’ve you got here, kid?”

She smiled at the ‘kid’, didn’t chew me out. It confirmed my suspicion. She was on F, Fountain, the dirty route to youth and immortality. Cheap and safe, as long as you didn’t quit. Quit and it caught up with you quick. Quit and you go down faster than a hundred-dollar hooker on pay day.

“Victim’s known to you, alien, name of Skekko according to ID.” She turned and pulled the sheet up so I could see.

It was a Falconian, that much was sure. A mess of feathers and blood, a yellow, black tipped beak, broken and dripping gore.

“Cause?”

“Jumped.” She nodded over her shoulder. I looked at the apartment block, shielding my eyes from the torrent of water. Curtains waved feebly from an open window near the top. I looked back at Tervonen, she caught the question; Falconians don’t fall, they glide. “Check it out,” she said.

I queried cop-space when we got in the elevator; Detective Eleanor Tervonen, forty-eight, homicide, and here she was as perky as a kid just out of high-school. She lead the way from the elevator to an apartment door flanked by another uniform. My link to cop-space dropped out as I walked in the door.

“We’re off the record, I lost my link.”

Tervonen nodded. “There’s a jammer, techs are looking for it. The bedroom’s the primary.”

The bed was a large doughnut affair, favoured by the bird-like extraterrestrials. The open bedroom window was where Skekko had taken her dive. The terminal velocity suddenly made sense; the room was covered with flight feathers, their stems still wet with blood and gore from plucking. And in the doughnut hole, a clutch of broken eggs
.
“Looks personal. Someone trying to send a message maybe.”

Tervonen shook her head. “I’m thinking suicide.”

“How come?” I kept it calm, non-committal, just a question.

She pointed to a set of bloody pliers by the bed. “Preliminary path results on the eggs say they’re all duds. No prints, except the vic’s on the pliers. No prints anywhere else in the apartment. She’s broody but the eggs ain’t gonna hatch, she finds out, she takes the dive.”

I shrugged. No prints - someone had wiped the place down and done their job too well. The whole thing screamed hit. She may have looked it but Tervonen was no rookie. She was going to paper over the cracks and make it go away. Was she in it with the perp or was it coming down from higher up?

“Tell me about the vic?” Tervonen asked as she perched on the window sill and went through the motions.

“Skekko was an ET of interest, ran an import export business fronting an offworld smuggling operation. She was always careful to have a cut-out. I never got close to pinning anything on her.”

“What kind of stuff was she moving?”

“Various stuff, black market tech, illegals, but mostly it was just F.”

She was good, not a flicker when I mentioned the drug, and why would she; Fountain was illegal but no-one went after the users when cold turkey meant the fast-track to a zimmer frame. Even the dealers got left alone. The city was happy to leave it to the ‘market forces’ to keep everyone in line. Was happy.

“Well, if I need anything else I’ll get in touch”, Tervonen said.

I moved in close, blocking her there. She was jammed in the window. I kept my voice low but put enough gravel in to show I meant business, “What’s the deal here, Detective?”

“Get back, what do you think you’re doing?” She tried to push me away but her teenage frame didn’t have enough muscle to shift me. Just the opposite, she ended up grabbing my jacket to stop herself going over the edge.

“This was a hit,” I growled. “You know it. I know it. What I don’t know is, were you in on the kill or are you just covering up?”

She got real still, looking up at me with those ice-cold, baby blues, and smiled. “This goes all the way to the top, Chekhov. You think you’ve got the stones for that?.”

She was forty-eight going on seventeen, she didn’t make enough to maintain her kind of habit. I was the wrong side of fifty and going nowhere fast. I stepped back and pulled her to her feet. My cop-space link came back online, the techs had found the jammer. I logged in, every word would be on the record now.

“You got your riot gear in order, Detective?”

She looked at me, uncertain, and shook her head.

“Skekko was the main distributor for Fountain, ran the network. Supplies are going to run out fast now, the price is going to skyrocket. There’s going to be some serious public disorder. People are going to start dying of something unheard of in this century, old age. Are your superiors ready for that? Are you ready for that?”

She started to look scared. It wasn’t a good look on her.

“Don’t frown, Detective.” I said as I turned away. “It’ll give you lines.”


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:46:49 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

The challenge was to put a human detective on the murder case of the nefarious, bird-like alien Skekko in a comedy and/or parody story.
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Post July 04, 2012, 02:48:58 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

The Clueless Detective

By:
Michele Dutcher



Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a curious download of ill-begotten porn--
While I nodded, nearly stecking, suddenly there came a pecking,
As of someone gently peck, peck, pecking at my entry door.
"'Tis a tree branch," I muttered, "pecking at my entry door--
Only this and nothing more."

But I wondered what had caused it, in the dreadful heat of August,
My air conditioner gently puffing smoke into the air.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my porn an ease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Skekko-
For the rare and radiant alien whom the angels named Skekko--
Soft bird-like one Skekko.

And the stinking, sad, uncertain, rustling of each dust-filled curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now to the sad beating, of my heart I kept repeating
"'Tis some Jehovah Witness wanting entrance at my door--
Some Landshark wanting to come in there at my entry door;
Only this and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or deadly fish, your listening is what I wish;
I fear I was web-surfing, and so gently you came lurching,
And so faintly you came pecking, pecking at my entry door,
That I wasn’t sure I heard you"--here I flung wide the door--
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Fearing what had killed my love might now kill me as well;
As a detective I kept asking, why she had been taken from me,
But the only word I could know, was the whispered word, "Skekko?"
This I whispered and an echo murmured back the word, "Skekko!"--
Merely this and nothing mo.

Back into the bedroom turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a pecking even louder than before.
"Surely something more than nil, has landed on my window sill;
Let me see, then, is there more and this mystery explore--
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;--
'Tis the wind and nothing more.

Then I went and flung the window, and he shot through it like an arrow,
A bird of pitch black feath-feath-feathers from an ancient shore.
Without so much as howdy do; into my bedroom now he flew
And with a haughty look of flair, he perched upon my bedroom chair--
Perched upon a wing-back chair inside my bedroom door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then the bird beguiling, set my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Tell me now – I know you know Who did off my dear Skekko?
Who did oft my feathered thrill?
Leaving behind just claw and bill?”
He said “They hailed from Louisville.”

Much was I shocked at this ungainly fowl to hear him speak so plainly,
He thought his answer held great meaning—great relevancy bore;
But I had just awoke from snoozing and its answer was confusing,
So I asked it as it sat there, the black bird upon my chair --
“Why toy with a man so glum?”
It told me, “The brand name was Yum.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that furniture spoke only
In riddles as if its soul could not outpour
Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered--
Till I scarcely more than muttered “I’m afraid I still don’t see.
Please tell me now and more clearly.”
Quote the raven, "KFC."


Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Taught by some hungry master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one message bore--
Tell me plain I wish you would!”
“She was finger-lickin’ good.”

Trying hard to catch his meaning, I did not just stand there leaning,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and chair and beak;
Then, into the velvet mucketh, I did take my thumb and sucketh,
As he drew from his wings a bucket.
“Riddle me no more or you’ll regret it.”
Quote the Raven, “Just forget it!”

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Tell me whence came her sad demise, she of soft down and angel eyes,
Who suffered from a weak-willed heart, and sold the drugs, and ripped the farts,
But left my sad heart torn apart,
The alien named Skekko,
My wayward love, Skekko.”


And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the wing-back chair that’s sitting just inside my bedroom door;
From the bucket he does eat enjoying all of that fowl meat,
Occasionally throwing small bones onto the floor;
And my eyes can’t help but staring at the bird that has no caring,
At the dreaded, stedded, credded, macarating omnivore.
It’s seems that I’ve run out of words –
Save this one: Nevermore.


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:50:00 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

Fried, She Died

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Cayetano, the greying detective, looked at Skekko’s dead body on the ground.

Alas, poor Skekko! I knew her well…’ the man thought…’A person of infinite jest…’ Well, she was a delinquent, too, and he had arrested her many times, but she had never been convicted…or better yet, she had never been sentenced. Any time Cayetano came to arrest her, she told him some jokes like: “Do you know how many cops are needed to arrest a birdlike delinquent? None - because cops never arrest any birdlike aliens once they have tasted their feathers, if you know what I mean!”

At that point, the detective usually smiled and replied, 'You have the right to remain in silence, but you don't have the ability to…'

“Who did this?” his younger colleague asked the old detective nearby.

“I’m thinking. Why the coating in breadcrumbs? Was she fried after being killed or was that the cause of death? And why did the assassin leave her here?”

“I don’t know…maybe she was too heavy to carry, the killer was seen by someone or maybe his attention was attracted by something tastier, like a cake. Maybe he was afraid that all those breadcrumbs would upset his stomach.” The colleague sneered.

Cayetano didn’t reply to such a bad jest. “It’s just difficult to think of her as gone, after arresting her so many times. Perhaps I should concentrate on the many convictions against her…”

Attempted convictions,” he stated. “You were never able to have her sentenced.”

“That was because of her powerful connections! At least I tried!”

“Maybe you should have tried some deep-fat-frying. That seems to have worked!”

Then the detective looked at him, shaking his head. The colleague laughed, turning to the other side, seemingly busy collecting data over there.

Back at his office, Cayetano kept thinking of the conditions of the dead body and the evidence that was found. Who killed Skekko? And why?

The first answer came when the medical bureau said that frying the birdlike alien was the cause of death. The second, more important answer was whose fingerprints were found on the breadcrumbs: the ones of a policeman, according to their database!

There had been a very fierce space war between some colonies of Earth and that birdlike species twenty years ago. Perhaps that fact might be of some importance…Further research proved interesting. It seemed that every year a bird-like alien suddenly disappeared in that area…so it wasn’t just a coincidence!

Besides, was this a planned job, or did it happen without any premeditation? The detective asked himself: when I want some meat fried, do I have it by chance or on purpose? Such actions might be a sort of procedure needed for…a ritual? That could be the right answer. The question was: what ritual?

When another birdlike alien was reported missing the same night, the detective knew he had to move quickly.

It didn’t take Cayetano long to discover that the suspected policeman’s tabletphone indicated he was now next to some caves of at the Bluespring Caverns Park.

When he got to the site, the detective entered the caves, advancing slowly along the stony stairs and found some lights dangling from the walls: there was a wide ceremonial chamber ahead of him, with another fried corpse in the center. Two dozen people stood in a circle inside, all hooded, with red robes on.

The detective reached for his pistol, took aim and cried out, “I’m a policeman from the Interplanetary Relationships Bureau. Show your faces and then don’t make another move or I’ll open fire!

They all stopped and turned to him, slowly pulling back the hoods from their heads, everyone showing their faces. Cayetano was really caught by great surprise.

The first one was Earth Prime Minister himself, the second the First General of Earth Army, the third was the policeman he had been looking for. How was it possible? What the…?

As he remained still, the Prime Minister spoke. “Calm down, officer. This thing is bigger than you can imagine. So, just leave this place, we need to complete our ritual.”

“What kind of ritual, Prime Minister? Why do you put the corpse of a birdlike alien here?”

“It’s a ritual of purification. We do the same thing each year. It’s because of the last war: many Earthmen died over the course of the bloody battles fought in space between our species and theirs, and many prisoners were never returned. We were forced by the peace treaty to let such creatures freely roam Earth to stop the bloodshed. That was fine, but we couldn’t allow the aliens responsible go free to run the streets. We can’t sentence them because of their powerful allies, but we can have some of them killed, the same way they killed our prisoners.”

“What? Did the aliens eat our soldiers?”

“Yes, a few of them,” the First General confirmed. “Even though this is a restricted info the average citizen never knew for obvious reasons... We can’t let some turmoils start on Earth because of the bloody war crimes of some individuals.”

“Why was Skekko’s fried body left on the ground?”

“Because one of our younger hired hands, that policeman, was discovered while travelling and thought it better to leave the corpse there, searching for another delinquent. This is a case bigger than you can imagine, let it go!”

The detective thought about it. There were some very important people in the chamber, how could he ever think he would be able to put an end to that conspiracy of great proportions? If you just can’t beat them

“Just one thing…I’ve always wondered…what does such an alien taste like?”

“Then, just partake in our ritual diner…” the General said, offering him a part of the fried body.

The coating in breadcrumbs looked inviting, certainly.


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:51:16 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

MYSTERY #2 The Parrot Dee

By:
Richard Tornello



The bare bones of Skekko, the bird-creature rested on a plate of China, looking more like a morgue slab, a few inches less the six foot length of the table. “The stuffing was gone as were all the fixings. The body had been cooked and wrapped in thick aluminum foil to keep the juices in,” one cop said.

“Something is wrong here. They just killed, cooked, ate, and flew the coop,” said the detective as he stuck a fork into the apple pie. “This is too good to let go to waste,” he said to no one in particular. One pie had been completely eaten. He ran his fingers in the empty plate, licking them to taste what he had missed. “Pumpkin,” he muttered. “Good too.”

Someone threw up just behind him. He turned around and laughed, bits of pie flying from his stuffed mouth. “A newbie. He’ll get used to it. We all do.” Murder and blood had no affect on his appetite. He’s seen so many, and besides, this was an off-worlder, so who really cared? Maybe family, but if family cared that much they wouldn’t have let their good daughter, sister or whatever they called their kin, come to this forsaken planet at the edge of the galaxy.

What a waste of time and money spent to appease the politicos, thought the detective. And I’m stuck here investigating, on a holiday no less. I was supposed to be off, but no, Jackson got ptomaine from eating sushi. He grabbed another chunk of pie. “MMMM that is good,” he said and crammed more pie into his mouth.

Now what did you do to deserve this little bird, he wondered? What was the motive? He walked around the dinner table a few times, then sat on a chair away from the scene and just stared. “What’s missing?” he questioned aloud.


“What’s missing?” screamed his sergeant “What’s missing is the evidence you just ate. You’re an idiot, you know that?”

“No I don’t know that, and no, I’m not an idiot,” he said with a small hurt voice. “I solve all your cases and I will solve this one too. So let me do as I do. Want a slice of pie?” He offered it up to the sergeant who knocked it out of his hands in disgust. It hit the floor with a crash, the fine china breaking into fragments like an exploding hand grenade.

“No, Damn it I don’t.”

“Hey what was this party for anyway? The detective asked.

“It was a wedding or that’s what we think based upon the gifts and the rice,” answered the cop.

“A wedding, hey get me the protocol for this planets weddings. And get me a piece of that pudding if you don’t mind. That really looks good.”

The officer choked back a gag. “Get it yourself.” Barf

“This was supposed to be Skekko’s wedding party right? The detective asked.

“Yeah why? Asked his sergeant.

“Well she’s already married and”, he stopped talking and took a bite of the pudding, “not bad but not quite the best,” he said tasting it. Then he looked up and said, “Something else was going on here. It only appears to be a wedding party.”

“What are you talking about? It was in all the society papers. What else could it be? So, Mister Smart guy, Who-dun-it?” asked the sergeant.

“Sarge, it was a planned murder from the get go. Has anyone seen her in the last week? NOPE! Skekko was never cooked, well not before she died. Here’s my guess. She was forced to eat dry rice. And as we all know dry rice make pigeons, and she was a stool pigeon for the force, explode.”

“This was planned to the last piece of pie. They made it look like a human party. They didn’t know I’d be here. They assumed we wouldn’t notice the uncooked rice in the pudding. In fact they probably didn’t even know some of the raw rice was in the pudding. That was their mistake. Had this bowl not had the few pieces of raw rice in it, and I am assuming with a good bit of knowledge that it was no mistake, I never would have figured it out.”

“Who ever ordered and cooked the food is the killer. Get his or her name and cook, I mean book them.”

IN THE STATION HOUSE

The cook to the Ambassador of Skekko’s the planet, not having immunity, was picked up on the street that evening. He sat feathers drooping, cuffed to the chair.

The Detective said, “look Chef, I know you’re a perfectionist and this is not your style of pudding. Who put you up to this?”

The cook just shook his feathery head. He refused to even squawk.

“Look you’re going to get deep fried if you don’t confess. It all points to you and I know better. I’ve eaten your rice pudding. And this just doesn’t compare. You were hoping I’d be on the case. You knew I would know just by the taste this was not your doing. It was your way of signaling me.”

The cook shocked by the detective’s acumen, and relieved at the same time broke down. “The Ambassador forced me. He found out Skekko was informing on the songbird seed drug trade. He killed her right then and there AND HE HAD ME COOK HER, like one of your planet’s holiday specials. He had one of his birdie guards force it down her gullet. He had her wrapped in foils so she wouldn’t make a mess when she exploded. The he made me cook her. He said he would do the same to me if I so much as chirped! Where can I go? Where can I hide?” He was sobbing.

“Thanks to you, the Ambassador will get his just desserts” said the detective. “We have wildlife refuge protection forest for you. You will be safe and treated well.”


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:52:57 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

Cap'n Krotch in the Case of the Mysterious Flippin' Bird

By:
Mark Edgemon



"I don't know why the Nuthatchian government sent someone to shadow my investigation.” The stone-faced, inspector remained silent as he dragged himself across her apartment, the silhouette of his vulture-like features loomed across the adjoining wall, moving in sync with his ominous frame.

"Says here your name is Capt. Richard Krotch, a human detective from Earth. Is that correct?" the inspector inquired.

"Most people call me Dick for short; some would say, even shorter than most." The inspector was not amused.

Skekko was a strange bird. Her overt sexuality ruffled a few feathers on her shuttle trips to Earth. I liked her style...maybe too much.

The inspector continued in a gravelly tone, "Although no body was found, her apartment seems to indicate a struggle had taken place,” he paused, “…followed by a cover up. Were you here often?"

I responded with some trepidation. "Every now and then."

<><><><><>

As the inspector shuffled about the apartment, I began remembering the last time I saw Skekko. She lured me into her apartment for a night of salacious debauchery. Naked, we took our conversation onto the terrace for a cup of java, made from the finest blend of coffee and birdseed.

"So, are you gettin' any from your wife these days?" she asked.

"If I were, wouldn't I be plowing her about now, instead of rolling around here in some love nest with the target of my investigation?

"I thought sex in marriage was like...an all you can eat salad bar. You can go back as many times as you want and they can’t refuse you." She poured me another cup of joe.

"I didn't hear you complain when you squawked up a storm an hour ago."

"Well, I got a gesture for you now, but my hand is busy at the moment!" She handed me the coffee.

"Am I easier to seduce than the flock of other guys you have flying in and out of here?"

"Pretty much the same, Dick. Compliment a guy's genitals and he can live off it for weeks."

There was something about her mystique that could mesmerize a man. It was like she was flippin' everyone the bird, but only with her eyes. Ironic, wasn't it?

I ventured the question that had been weighing on my mind. “You told me last time that your cargo would be inside the law. Did you lie to me?"

I followed her eyes as they glanced downward below my waist. "My sweet little pecker, don't you know, I'd never lie to you." She paused in thought. "Okay...well, that was a lie..."

I interrupted. "I can't cover for you anymore Skekko. I have to turn you in. I'm sorry." I stared away.

Her feathers began ruffling.

"As sorry as you will be when your wife views a secretly recorded video of our sexual romps. Do you think she'll take the kids this time?"

She believed she had me.

"How about your boss, think he'll understand?" She glanced down once more. "Ah, your little man has totally disappeared." She cocked her head to one side, "Never give a woman an ultimatum when you're naked. Too revealing."

Seething, I reached for my tie from the chair I had draped my clothes upon, stretching it tightly in my hands as I lunged toward her. She grabbed a handful of seed picks from her kitchenette countertop and threw them at me, the first several sticking out of my arms and chest. I turned away to pull them out. As I did, one lodged into my butt.

"You didn't think killing me was going to be this easy, did you?

"You know..." I said while pulling out the picks, "...for a moment there...yeah, I kinda did."

I reached back toward the chair and into my pants pocket; I pulled out a small pistol.

"You can't kill me!" She laughed as I began walking toward her. "You're a cop!"

She mocked me with a presumptuous air of overconfidence. "You know, I'd always thought your gun would be bigger."

After a momentary pause, a gunshot pierced the uncomfortable silence.

I capped her in the back of the head, blowing the left front part of her face clean off.

"It's not the size that matters, bitch! It's how you use it." I watched her as she slithered to the floor, clawing hunks of flesh from my chest as she went down.

<><><><><>

"Captain Krotch?" I was disoriented for a moment. "Detective, are you listening?" The investigator shook my shoulder trying to get my attention. "Yeah, I'm alright."

"You killed her, didn't you?" He stared at me as vultures do. "You don't have to answer, but when we connect you to our brain wave monitoring device, we'll have the hard evidence we need."

"Have you reported your findings to the Nuthatchian government?" I stared at him, trying to guess his intent.

"Just seconds away. But tell me," the investigator inquired, "What did you do with the body? I suspect that you ate her.”

"More than once," I replied.

His facial expression changed to disgust. "I'm not even going to ask what that means. What did you do with her bones and beak?"

"Boiled them for dog food."

"And the feathers?"

"Fluffy pillow."

The inspector began dialing his cell phone, placing it to his ear. "For the life of me detective Krotch, how could you possibly think you could get away with this?"

I responded, "Cause I'm goooood!"

Immediately, a loud shot rang out as I capped the inspector in the back of the head. I caught his phone in mid air as it began to drop. Pressing the exit button to end his call, I quickly dialed a call of my own using my texting thumb.

"Hello, Is this Kalaxy Fried Chicken? I'd like to place a large order please. This is Captain Krotch...fine, I'm doin' fine. No thanks, just sides again!


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Post July 04, 2012, 02:55:35 PM

Murder Most Fowl Comedy/Parody

- Winner -



Bastille

By:
I.Verse



Nathan Bastille, debonair bachelor and best selling crime writer, caught sight of Detective Stana Kalashnikova as he entered the squadroom. She had the phone jammed against her ear as she scribbled furiously in her notepad. Nathan smiled as he took in the delicate curve of her neck, the strong line of her jaw and her full, red lips. She was his muse, the woman he loved, but she was damaged, driven and could never return his feelings until she’d brought her father’s killer to justice.

“Bastille, what are you grinning at?” Stana slammed the phone down and grabbed her jacket before striding towards Bastille. “We’ve caught a murder at a warehouse down on Sesame Street. Let’s go.”

***

They found Janie, the pathologist, already at the scene in the cluttered back office room of the grimy Sesame Street warehouse. Loose papers and yellow feathers covered every surface. Janie stood over the corpse of a six foot bird.

“That canary ain’t gonna sing no more,” said Nathan.

“Why did you have to bring Bastille with you?”

“Now play nice, Janie,” replied Stana. ”You know the deal, he gets to follow me around doing research for his books and in return his poker buddy, the chief of police, stays off our backs. What have we got?”

“Vic’s an extraterrestrial, name of Skekko, ran an import export business out of here. She’s been strangled. Time of death is between ten and two last night.”

“So, who choked the chicken?” Said Bastille with a grin.

“Skekko was dirty bird,” said Detective Rodriguez, Stana’s partner, as he walked in. “Got a rap sheet as long as my arm; smuggling, drugs, fraud.”

“So, plenty of enemies,” said Stana. “What do you think, Bastille?”

“Ah yes, a case of murder most-”

“I have a gun,” cut in Stana, “Don’t make me use it.”

“She’s been strangled,” continued Bastille soberly. “That’s personal, a crime of passion no doubt.”

“We’ve got her business partners downstairs,” said Rodriguez. “See if they knew anyone who had a grudge.”

***

“Wow, a couple of Mupponians!” Bastille stared at the short, orange humanoids that had been Skekko’s business partners as Stana and he came down the stairs into the shadowy warehouse. “They look so adorable, can we keep them?”

“They’re suspects,” growled Stana, “not pets.”

She turned to the to the Mupponians, her face stern, “So, which one of you is Earnest and which is Bertrum.”

“I’m Earnest,” said the shorter. “He’s Bertrum. I can’t believe the big bird is dead. It’s just so sad.”

“She had it coming,“ said the taller one, “She didn’t make many friends. “

“Can think of anyone who had a problem with the deceased?” Asked Stana.

“Only everyone that ever met her.”

“Now, that’s just mean, Bertrum. She had a big heart under that soft, downy exterior,” said Earnest.

“Have either of you got an alibi between ten and two last night?” Asked Stana.

“We were at home together, all night,” said Bertrum. “Earnest took a bath and I was reading, we went to bed about midnight.”

“Where’s your other business partner?” asked Rodriguez, coming down from the office, a stack of papers in his hands. He turned to Stana and Nathan, “I’ve been looking at the paperwork, there’s a fourth business partner, name of Aloyoshenka.”

“Bah!” said Bertrum. “The mythical sleeping partner. Skekko made him up so she could take more share of the profits. We’ve never laid eyes on him.”

“It’s true, we’ve never met him, but the big bird always spoke very highly of him,” said Earnest. “She said he was a Chameleoprobos, from her home planet.”

“A Chameleoprobus!” exclaimed Bastille.

“What is it, Bastille? What’s a Chameleoprobus?” asked Stana.

“This is so great,” said Bastille. “Detective, I think we may have a witness to our murder most-”

“Bastille!” Cut in Stana, “I won’t warn you again.”

***

“Okay, Bastille,” said Stana with scowl on her face. “What are we all doing back in the office?” The room was crowded with Bastille, both detectives, the pathologist, the Mupponians and the body of Skekko.

“We’ve all been avoiding the elephant in the room,” said Bastille. “Janie, give me your UV light and goggles?”

With an puzzled expression, Janie handed over the equipment. Bastille shone the UV light around the room, squinting through the goggles.

“Voila!” shouted Bastille, and handed the goggles to Stana, “There is your witness!”

“Well, I’ll be!” said Stana with awe, “There really is an elephant in the room.”

“Bravo, Mr Bastille,” the deep voice came as what appeared to be a wall and row of filing cabinets resolved themselves into a seven foot tall pachyderm, its luxuriant fur changing color and texture so it no longer blended with its environment. “May I just say, I am a huge fan of your books. And this must be Detective Kalashnikova, on whom your character Kate Frost is based. A pleasure to meet you too.”

“Can it, Jumbo,” said Stana. “What did you see?”

“Skekko and I were working late last night when Bertrum burst into the office. He accused her of having an affair with Earnest. My species are pathological cowards, I’m afraid, evolved to avoid attention and conflict. I could do nothing to intervene. When Skekko denied the affair, Bertrum went crazy and strangled her.”

“It’s true,” confessed Bertrum. “Even as I choked the life out of her, she denied she was trying to steal my dear, sweet Earnest from me. Earnest, say you’ll wait for me?”

“Of course, my love. But Bertrum, there was no affair!”

“I heard you, Earnest, through the bathroom door that night , saying how you loved the yellow bird. I came here immediately, in a jealous rage.”

“I was talking about my little rubber duckie, bath time just wouldn’t be so much fun without it.”

“Rodriguez, cuff him,” said Stana. “Okay, Bastille, you can say it now.”

Bastille smiled with delight. “Ah yes, a case of murder most fowl.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:48:03 PM

Something Under the Bed

The challenge was tell a story with the inspiration of "something under the bed".
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Post October 07, 2012, 06:51:25 PM

Something Under the Bed

The Bogeyman

By:
I. Verse



It has many names. In India they call it Goggayya, in Africa it is called Dongola Miso, in the cold north it’s called the Gryla. Where English is spoken it’s often called the Bagman or Boogerman, but most commonly it is simply the Bogeyman. Parents invoke it to keep unruly children quiet in their beds. Frightened kids will lie petrified, scared that a clawed hand will grab them by a vulnerable ankle and drag them, kicking and screaming, into the unfathomable darkness beneath their beds.

Like most things of myth and legend, there is a grain of truth. The Bogeyman is real but It’s a thing of waveform, not matter. No sub-atomic particles here, no substance that can be examined under a microscope. It is, quite literally, the stuff of shadows. And, as you might expect, it hates the light; cruel photons that interrupt its pattern, that dissolve its essence. And yes, like legend, it steals children, when it can.

Jenny is seven. Jenny knows the Bogeyman is real. She knows it lives under her bed and it wants to get her. She’s heard it whispering and scratching under her bed at night. Unlike millions of other children around the world, in this case, Jenny is right.

Abigail is seventeen. She’s a pretty girl, petite and blonde. She’s used to getting her own way with a coquettish smile and dimples. It works on almost everyone. Everyone except the brats she has to babysit. Unlike Jenny, she doesn’t believe the Bogeyman is real, but she knows the power of the Bogeyman, oh yes. With graphic details of its torments, she rules those young, impressionable minds unlucky enough to end up in her care. She rules them with an iron fist of fear.

“Will you read me a story?”

Abigail scowls. “No.”

She stands in Jenny’s bedroom doorway, her hand on the lightswitch. Jenny sits bolt upright in her bed, the pink, My Little Pony, bed covers bunched around her and a scruffy toy rabbit, also pink, clutched in her arms..

“Can I have a drink of water?”

“No.”

“But I’m thirsty.” Jenny doesn’t whine. Her voice is steady, reasonable. She knows she has to be credible. To whine or show fear at bedtime wins her nothing from her parents, she expects the same of her babysitter.

“No.” Abigail repeats.

“Can you leave the door open?”

Abigail sighs with exaggerated exasperation, “No. The TV noise will keep you awake.”

“Can you leave the light on?”

“No.”

“I mean, my night light.”

Abigail smiles, the dimples come out.

“You’re not afraid of the dark are you?”

Jenny nods her head, uncertain. She’s still trusting enough of adults to try the truth sometimes.

“A big girl like you?” Abigail’s smile deepens but never reaches her eyes. Jenny realises she’s made a tactical error. She says nothing now, pinned by Abigail’s knowing look.

“Is it... the Bogeyman?” The theatrical pause and astonished reaction from Jenny almost make Abigail laugh out loud.

“You know about the Bogeyman?” Jenny asks.

“The one under your bed?”

Jenny nods, solemn, face drawn, she squeezes her toy rabbit closer.

“Want me to check if it’s there?” This is the part Abigail really enjoys. The pantomime of seeking out the monster, of pretending to get caught, of struggling and escaping, of coming within an inch of a horrible death. If she plays it right, Abigail knows she can leave a child in terrified, bed-wetting fear, silent and unmoving for the rest of the evening. But Jenny is shaking her head, very emphatically, no.

“I don’t want it to get you,” Jenny says.

Abigail moves to the bed, gets down on her knees beside it. “It only eats little kids. I’m too big,” she says. Jenny is trembling, Abigail can feel it through the bed frame and is delighted.

“Don’t. Please don’t,” Jenny begs.

Ignoring her, Abigail crouches down onto the soft, beige carpet and puts her head and shoulder under the bed. Out of the corner of her eye she sees movement in the deep shadows. Startled, she cries out, bangs her head.

“Abigail!” Jenny’s scream is full of desperation and fear.

Abigail looks again; A dust bunny, disturbed by the movement of air, settles. Abigail grins with chagrin and then anticipation of what comes next.

“Oh, my God!” Abigail screams in mock terror. “It’s here, it’s got me!”

Jenny’s answering shriek is piercing and loud. It makes Abigail grin even more. That’s when the light bulb blows with a pop. It’s chance, no supernatural intervention required, but it’s what the Bogeyman has been waiting and waiting for.

Under the bed, it’s pitch black now. The Bogeyman rises through the darkness to strike and fast, because as fast as light is, the Bogeyman is faster. Windows to the soul, that’s what they say about the eyes. For the Bogeyman it’s true. Photoreceptor cells are evolved to sense light but they are also a gateway for the shadow creature. It pours its essence into Abigail’s eyes, along her optic nerves and into her mind. Neurons stutter, misfire under malignant attack, and Abigail thrashes, banging her shoulders and head repeatedly against the underside of the bed. Jenny sobs, her worst fears coming true, and tries to avoid the rocking mattress from throwing her to the floor.

Abigail’s young soul is no match for this ancient phantasm. She is quickly subdued, destroyed, dispatched. This isn’t the Bogeyman’s first, it knows how to control its host’s vacated shell. In the dark, dark bedroom the thing that wears Abigail’s body rises unsteadily to its feet. Jenny lies shaking on her bed, unable to stop the whimpers that escape her tightly pressed lips, but the Bogeyman pays her no attention as it lurches from the room.

The night is young and so is its stolen body. The Bogeyman has much mischief it wants to try before the dawn.


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:52:37 PM

Something Under the Bed

A Cold Night with Hell

By:
George T. Philibin



I placed all my toys and shoes and even a throw-carpet around the bottom of my bed. Then, tucked everything as tight as I could between the bed-rails and the floor---I even moved the now-empty toy-chest against the bottom of my bed, snuggling it tight to the throw-carpet that I had rolled up and wedged at the foot of the bed between the floor and bottom bed-rail. And I collected other things and set them in a corner. I didn’t want anybody to trip over them.

I stole two flashlights from Dad’s workbench and practiced turning one on and off until I had that process down pat! One under my pillow and the other under my covers next to my side. My older brother, Mike, had a solid-wooden baseball bat that was now nestled next to my right hand. And I had practiced swinging and retrieving it from under the covers until I felt that no Navy Seal could do better.

Rambo, our dog, I coaxed into my room with a bag of Doritos, his favorite treat.

I knew Mon would come in, and I had already planned an answer with a full-proof story.

“Eric what is all this?” Mon said.

“Oh-- I’m cleaning my room. You said I should.”

“Why all those things under you bed?” Mon said.

“I didn’t want nobody to trip over them, so I thought that under my bed would be a good place until I’m done,” I said.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with that--that demon you say lives under there?” Mon said. She rolled her eyes once or twice, crossed her arms and stared directly into my eyes.

“Oh, that was just Mike playing around with some old wind-up toy. He stuck it up under my bed in the springs.” Nobody believed me when I told them about demons, so I had to take matters in my own hand.

I tried to stay awake all night but before I knew it my eyes were losing their focus, and my eyelids started weighting a ton.

I heard Rambo growl. Then heard him growl louder! My eyes sprang open, and before I knew what, they settled on a face floating up from the bottom of my bed. Rambo looked in that direction, sniffed in the air, yet he didn’t seem to see the face. But I could!

I grabbed the bat, sat up in my bed, then froze like a statue left at the North Pole a hundred-years ago. The room filled with a moist-mist that lived, or so it seemed, and settled over my bed like a morning frost upon a fresh-cut-lawn. And a cold chill grabbed me, held me like the nurse did when the doctor had to give me a shot: I could move, yet go nowhere, I could scream, yet not be heard, I could feel the chill but didn’t shiver, and I could see Rambo, but couldn’t call him. Only the face before me changing, contorting itself into a evil clowning demur ready to answer my deepest nightmares with a smiling grin.

As the face floated before me, it’s heat mixed with the chill and gave me a sensation that I wished I never experienced, and one that I hope will never enter my world again.

“Little boy blue, I know who you are, you’re mine dear kid, and only mine! No mother, no father-- no dog named Rambo, will save you from me as time does flee. Yet, not now do I want thee-- no not now is wrong. Only after life has nurtured you will I take thee at the appropriate time. And you might also think of me as your--Guardian Angel!! Haaaa.... You’re in my web where I’ll protect you--- until the time of my desires! “ the demon said.

I screamed, but no sound utter from my lips! I jumped up holding the baseball bat, but really didn’t move an inch. Rambo’s fur stood high on his back, his teeth showed themselves, and his back arched-up. Yet, within a moment, Rambo settled on the floor and closed his eyes while his body relaxed into a quiet slumber.

I rubbed my eyes and called out to Mom. She came running into my room, flicked on the lights, looked around then came over to my bed. She hugged me, and told me that everything is Okay, and nothing is wrong. “Just Look,” she said. Rambo has been by your bed all night long. See--there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Dad came in. He said little. But he did utter “I’m going to have a man-to-man talk with Mike! He had no business scaring you like that.” Dad went back to bed, but Mon kept hugging me, and she hummed a soft tune that I’ve always heard since the first days that my memory recorded what my ears picked up.

“Mom, it was so real,” I said. My P.J’s were wet at the crotch, my night-shirt soaked, and my forehead and hair were also drenched in sweat. And my face was watery from tears that didn’t seem to stop----for the remainder of that night.

Oh, how that night has haunted me and haunted me, but not from the fear that the demon demonstrated, nor from his evil-dancing face that played upon my imagination, nor from his words that still echo around the inner-caverns of my mind when twilight acts upon us all. No, something Mon said.

“There is nothing under you bed, Honey, nothing in the house and nothing outside the house, you just had a bad dream, Honey. And you father is really going to have a talk with your brother. He shouldn’t have scared you like that,”

“Will you be Okay now Honey,” Mon finally said. “Rambo will stay here.”

She kissed me on the forehead. Then covered me up. As she stood over my bed said looked around, grabbed her arms and said. “It is really cold in here!”


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:54:07 PM

Something Under the Bed

Devotion

By:
Michele Dutcher



By now even Marissa had to admit that she should have buried the body further from the basement door. It really wasn’t because it was illegal to bury a corpse within city limits – by the time her son was actually digging the hole they both knew it was illegal.

The looky-loos who wandered through the courtyard that afternoon also knew it was illegal. “What ya doin there? – burying a body?” her neighbors asked with a snide chuckle. In Old Louisville people could get killed in broad daylight and no one ‘would see anything’ – but try burying a body and the whole neighborhood turned out.

“No, we’re just planting a tree,” Marissa lied, desperately wanting to tell them the truth and shut them up.

Besides the nosey neighbors, the hole itself turned out to be a problem because the Victorian Era homes were built on one foot of topsoil covering four feet of landfill: bricks; wooden planks; and broken tiles. As Max dug the hole it fell to Marissa to get down on her knees and throw the trash towards a trash heap in the courtyard.

“Go get the box, Max,” she finally told her son.

“You sure Mom? Lots of people keep walking past.”

“You dump her and I’ll shovel in what topsoil we have. The tree canopy will cover us if we do it fast.”

And that’s exactly how it went, followed by throwing the roots of the tree into the hole.

Really, Callie (before she became a corpse) had always loved Marissa. Every night Callie would slowly creep up her bed, climb onto Marissa’s elbow, and drift off to sleep while purring contentedly. If only she hadn’t clawed the grandkids and peed on the old woman’s 1850s Bridgeport settee’.

Even when the woman gave the cat away, she always fought her way back through screens and doors and up staircases –reappearing as if by magic on Marissa’s doorstep. Callie was devoted to her owner and was determined to sleep with the woman – come hell or high water.

The first night following the funeral proved tense. Her other cat, Sammy, sat at the top of the stairs watching something move in the darkness at the bottom. Eventually Marissa couldn’t keep her curiosity at bay any longer and looked towards the base of the stairs. She seemed to see something and there was a sound with a scratching. “Probably an alley cat,” she told herself.

By the second night, Sammy was still waiting there as if he expected Callie to claw her way through the doors as she had before. Marissa just huffed and went to bed.

Third night, 2 A.M. The old woman was finally in a deep sleep after taking a Benadryl, but what was that? – something on the bed crawling towards her. What, what? She opened her eyes, squinting into the dark. Oh, it was Sammy. The unreasoning terror began to increase however as her cat reached her elbow, climbed onto it and went to sleep purring – as if he had done exactly that hundreds of times.
***
Marissa was introspective at the tavern after telling her story to a friend over a beer.

“Your cat, the live one, had probably seen Callie do that so many times that he took the place of the dead cat. It happens sometimes – it’s part of the grieving process, even for animals.”

“I think he’s possessed. It was just too weird. I think sometimes I should just dig her up and throw what’s left in the trash,” said the woman.

“No point to that, Rissa…the rats probably have her by now,” replied Flattop Chris bluntly.

“The rats?”

“Oh yeah. With all the landfill in the ground rats have built extensive tunnels.”

“Thanks for giving me a whole new vision of terror.”

“It’ll be okay, Marissa, I promise. Here, let me buy you another Bud to make up for my insensitivity.”

The woman smiled at the young man and nodded in agreement. Things would work themselves out in time, and with enough beer, she’d sleep well tonight.
***
In spite of being drunk, something had shocked her awake. She sat up and looked at the clock but the numbers were a red blur. She looked at the French doors and noticed that one was slightly ajar. The lace curtains were moving at the bottom – probably just the wind. She should get up and close the door.

Marissa put one foot on the floor and then stopped suddenly. Sammy was crouched between her and the door, growling at the area under the bed. “What is it, Sammy?”

He looked up at her for a minute, turning his head sideways, as if confused himself before moving even closer to whatever was under the bed.

She heard a scratching now, like claws moving quickly on the wood floor. She couldn’t look but she had to see it – what was it? She took hold of the cotton sheet lifting it slowly. She lifted it a little more, leaning over the side, looking, looking…

What was that, huddled towards the back? It had brown, and black, and tan fur. “Callie?” the old woman couldn’t help but whisper. “Callie? – is that you?”

It moved. It started coming closer slowly. She could see the cat’s nose and ears and her hollow eyes – but then the skin slipped and she saw beady eyes reflecting the light from the French doors over a pointed nose and sharp teeth. “Rat!” she screamed as Sammy charged under the bed. It was chaos, crazy madness followed by frantic scratching tearing across the bedroom floor and through the open door.

Marissa jumped off her bed and slammed the door shut, leaning against it, panting. She took a paint can and pushed it against the door before turning on the light. Callie’s skin lay there on the floor. For some reason she could not explain, Marissa picked it up and began to cuddle it.


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:55:12 PM

Something Under the Bed

Dreams Torn Asunder

By:
Sergio Palumbo



On the outskirts of Hiji, a pleasant city on Kyushu Island, with good views of Beppu Bay, the Mamiko family was just sitting down to dinner. The Japanese family was comprised of only three members: Takaya, the short black-haired father; his 39-year-old wife; and a baby of about 30 months. It was ordinary except for one peculiarity - on a shelf there was a picture of another baby, a few months older than their present son, with a black cloth on it. The photo was of their previous child, who hadn’t lived past his 32th month, unfortunately.

After eating, the wife cleaned the baby’s mouth, and then her husband lifted him up saying that he himself was going to take the child to his room.

As Takaya placed the son named Shuu on the bed, the infant spoke a few words to the father: “Me…fear…the…bed…darkness…” It wasn’t the first time his child had expressed such confused terms. He knew, as a matter of fact, that a typical 30-month-old's vocabulary was made up of only about 350 words, and most toddlers were also able to combine a couple of words to ask questions or make statements. So, there was no problem if the infant seemed incapable of saying longer sentences.

As Takaya left the child, switching off the light, he kissed his wife, then put on his brown overcoat and went out: a long night of work was waiting for him.

As he was driving his white Daihatsu along the main road, the man considered all he had gone through the last two years. Since his first child’s death, everything had changed.

He remembered clearly that his lost baby had also said the same confused things at night. Nothing strange, he had always thought, as every young boy was afraid of the darkness or of what lay underneath his bed. His parents had often told him that he had said the same thing – when he was a child. And everything would have been okay in his family, probably - if that terrible death hadn’t taken place at home.

The sudden passing of babies was a rare occurrence, but happened occasionally, often making the parents loose heart. That was exactly what had destroyed their life, many months ago, when their beloved firstborn had died unexpectedly one night while in his bed. Even though such tragedies were mainly due to some undiscovered illness, a few still remained unexplained. They could have done nothing to prevent it, as the doctors had confirmed, but deep sorrow had pervaded their home, making his family’s world fall apart.

One morning, while praying in a stone temple in Bungo Takada, trying to find some comfort, a hairless monk approached Takaya, telling him he recognized his face. The religious man was an old friend of his as they went to school together years ago, before their paths had taken them in different directions.

It was this man who gave the father some useful information. As he saw how desperate Takaya was, the monk revealed a secret that was part of some old temple traditions. Actually, it was an ancient tale similar to the legends told by common people, and a few of those had proven to be true, even though science would hardly believe in those.

Baku are unearthly beings that devour dreams, as the myth goes,” the religious man said, “doing harm to humans while eating their energy. They have a long history in Japanese art, too, but many think they could be the real cause of an infant’s death.

As the father looked incredulous, the monk continued. “There’s a reason why these creatures prefer eating a babies’ dreams instead of an adult’s…”

That being…?” Takaya asked.

“Toddlers sleep and dream for longer times than common men. Babies usually eat or are asleep, you know. But older humans tend to go to sleep at a late hour, and dream less than the young ones…”

“True,” Takaya nodded. “Something connected to aging then, I imagine…”

“Indeed!” the religious man stated. “But that is something that the Baku also know, obviously…”

The father stared at his old friend, visibly frowning.

“The Baku must eat several dreams in order to keep themselves strong, to live every day, and there’s no better place for them to stay hidden, waiting, than under a young child’s bed to get all the energy they need! But when men grow up, their task becomes more difficult and unproductive, so they leave, looking for another prey. Unfortunately, not every baby is strong enough to live until the day he becomes of no interest for such creatures of the night…”

The father took his leave from the monk, continuing his journey, but since then he had decided he needed to study that subject. Maybe something could come out…

And something did, later on!

While driving at night, the man checked his watch and saw that it was time to stop and go back the other way. His wife thought he was at work, as everyday at that time, but today Takaya had requested some hours off. He had some business back at home…

The father entered the front door, unseen, as everybody inside was asleep, then reached Shuu’s room, making no noise.

The son looked quiet, but there was a strange scratching coming from under his bed. The man got down on the floor, in silence, and looked at the little metallic container with bars he had placed there before leaving home.

There was the horrible, almost colourless crawling creature! The automatic trap, made up of sacred iron as depicted in an ancient tome his friend had given him, had worked!

Then Takaya stood up, staring at his son’s black pupils, lovingly.

Awakening, the child told the man again “Me…fear…the…bed…darkness…”

“Be afraid no more, my son” the father replied, hugging him. ”There is no need for your fear, anymore…”


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:56:30 PM

Something Under the Bed

DREAD NAUGHT

By:
Richard Tornello © 2012



Around the campfire we all sat,
telling stories and unnatural facts.
For we boy scouts, on our annual trip,
away from the world, our fears and their finger’s grip.

(A camp of summer fun and play,
at least they’d have our parents think that way.
A code of silence was sworn from each.
We’d never tell, they had long reach).
+
Under each tent a floor of wood,
protect us from the not understood.
This wasn’t Haute Camp Have Some Fun
It was hardtack survival, 101.

Under the floors we’d never know
we dare not look the afear’d below:
bugs and rats and too fierce to mention.
Of this we were warned, our introduction.

To escape that initiation
under the floor I stove, I with fear and great trepidation.
She came to me most magically.
Moving, slit eyes aglow, so silently.
Her voice, my mind, taking its hold.
Rhythmically, hypnotically she said real slow,
“Be careful, my children, you do not hunt.
We live below your canvas bunks.
Deep in the dirt we can be found.
Forewarned!
When we travel, we make no sound.”

And then surprise, to me she infused
“We see you young ones are much abuse’ed ,
the older boys bigger, tis no excuses.
They taunt and beat you, too extreme.

The leaders look on
for reasons kin beyond,
of which you’ll discover, later, anon.
But right now, a bargain ,a deal, no loss of your life.
And I’ll end these games of hellish strife.”

I asked those eyes as if in a dream’
“What am I, young, suppose to do?
And why, should I, now help you?”
Wondering which could be worse here with her?
or
THERE, with them?

She answered as if I’d know what she means.

“Do not give us up to your leaders two,
And we’ll take care of the rest for you.”
I nodded, agreed, what could I do?

She rose and hissed and seemed to smile
“Cause if you do,” while all the while
rattling, lightly hinting, tongue flicking,
(from under our beds from under the boards
was gone,
and like the light from a moon-cloud kiss,
promised).

Shivered and frightening.


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Post October 07, 2012, 06:59:41 PM

Something Under the Bed

- Winner -



What Great Service

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



He paused a long time, the phone pressed to his ear. “You have what you need removed? Uh, right... What’s your address?”

That's a bad neighborhood. Bad people.

“I’m in the middle of another service call,” Roddy lied, “but I’ll be there as soon as I can. Ok, I’ll see you then.”

He could really have been there in ten minutes, but that was as fast as he wanted to move for a call to that part of town.

“Don’t care if them bastards come after me. I ain’t rushing to help one of them ‘cause they got a critter in the house. Maybe if they’d gone with a regular builder instead of cheapin’ everythin’, they wouldn’t have this problem.”

***

Roddy stepped down from the cab of his dented, light-blue pickup and began to survey the scene. Older two story house, white painted fence, overgrown trees and a lot of wild-looking shrubbery. Plenty of room for pests to hide out. Roddy didn’t have a yard, just a hallway outside his apartment, but he convinced himself that was to keep from having a place for varmints to take residence.

The whole family was outside, waiting for him. Mousy-looking lady with the sour look had to be the mom. Dude with the scratched face was the Dad. Must have tried by himself first—the cheap way. Little girl in pigtails crying had to be the one who found it.

Mousy Mom barked, “I called over three hours ago.”

I guess I know who the cheap one is. There’s always one in this neighborhood.

Roddy stopped dead in his tracks and challenged, “There are other exterminators in the book. Maybe one of them would take care of your issue faster.”

Scratched Face jumped in the way, “No, no. The others all said this was a job for you. We’re glad you’re here.”

None of them others will take on one of these.

“Where’s it at?”

Scratched Face spoke up right away. “Upstairs. End of the hall on the left.”

Pigtails added, “It’s under my bed!”

They usually don’t make it upstairs. Must be a hole in the vinyl siding near one of them trees. Great ‘maintenance-free exterior’ numb-nuts.

The screen door whispered slightly as his thick, green work overalls and steel-toed boots slid past the welcome mat. It paid to have extra layers for this kind of work. He held the tight-mesh cage in his right hand.

The damnable reek of those plug-in room fresheners almost made him gag as his footfalls padded gently up the deep-pile steps. Photos of Scratched Face, Mousy Mom, and Pigtails in exotic locations angled past him on his left. At the top his steel-toed boots against the hardwood hallway gave away his location, but there was little Roddy could do about that. It would have figured out he was near soon enough.

‘Kaylee’ was the name in rainbow colors on the door. It creaked open, an unfriendly warning, giving him a view of the carnage. Princess sheets and bedding lay shredded on the floor. Kids books were torn in hunks and tossed all over. Pieces of chewed Barbie dolls and accessories littered the bed. A fetid reek of burned hair curled his nostrils.

Only one critter smelled like that.

“It’s Roddy,” he announced. “I’ve come for you.”

A strange hissing came from under the bed. Roddy pulled a small flashlight from a pocket and bent a knee to the floor just as he spotted the faint flashing from the wall.

Great. A camera in the kids room. Constantly monitoring Pigtails, finding everything she does that’s wrong and nailing her on it. ‘Modern’ parenting shouldn’t be allowed. A kid’s room should be private. Now if I screw up they can play it back over and again or make me a laughingstock on YouTube.

He pointed the light under the bed. Something moved, but the ripped sheets hid it. He pulled a thick pair of leather work gloves from another pocket and said, “Okay, critter. Let’s do this.”

***

Roddy’s coveralls were torn in several places when he came back out the front door of the house. In the back of his bare left hand were a few short quills. His right gloved hand held the lurching cage which Roddy had covered with a section of torn quilt from Pigtails’ room.

“It’s all right,” he declared. “I got him.”

“My quilt!” Pigtails protested.

Roddy scolded her. “They don’t like sunlight.”

Mousy Mom said, “Her grandma made the quilt. We need that back.”

Roddy frowned at her. “Fine.”

He pulled off the quilt. A dark brown creature like a cross between a porcupine and a baboon screeched and flailed in the cage, chewing and tearing at Roddy’s other glove in its mouth. Its burned scent filled the air immediately and he put the cage on the seat in his pickup.

Scratched Face asked, “What is it?”

“Something out of nightmare mythology, a nixie. That’ll be $500.”

It took some coaxing but Mousy Mom finally gritted her teeth and handed him the check.

“Make sure you keep an eye out,” Roddy told them. “With these things, there’s always a nest somewhere else in the neighborhood. There’s always one or two more.”

As he drove off, Roddy could see how pale Scratched Face was. It made him chuckle.

***

As soon as he reached the first stop sign, Roddy turned to the creature. “I owe you for the heads up on the NannyCam so I’m going to open the cage.”

The nixie growled, “Camera bad.”

Roddy opened the cage door. The diminutive nightmare clambered out of the cage and calmly buckled himself in the seatbelt next to Roddy.

Roddy smiled. “Next, Walter, we do the neighbors. Didya see the size of that swimming pool? They gotta be loaded, and after they see the footage Scratched Face will show them from the NannyCam, this neighborhood will start paying out... big time.”

Walter grinned, showing a disturbing number of teeth. “Ok, Boss.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:20:35 PM

Buyer Beware

The challenge was to have one or more present-day humans attempt to conduct a business transaction with an alien or being from another time.
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Post October 07, 2012, 07:25:49 PM

Buyer Beware

Romancing the Truth

By:
Michele Dutcher



The middle-aged male human jumped to his feet and stuck out his hand, as soon as he saw the Nacilbuper walk into the bar. The bright orange alien appeared unsure about the darkness of the venue but made his way past the barstools, only knocking over two in the process.

“Yenmor, you old rascal, welcome to the Dew Drop Inn – the best little dive bar in The Big Easy,” the human burst out.

“Mitch, I assume. It is acceptable that we are meeting at this time in this place,” answered the alien stiffly.

Mitch grabbed one of the large humanoid’s five hands and pumped it twice. “I am delighted as well. Have you lost weight? - because you look amazing.”

The 653 pound alien seemed confused, looking himself over as best he could. “No, no – I believe my total mass is unchanged.” Then Yenmor began to smile with one of his two mouths. “Oh, I see what you did there – you did that thing – you – you lied.”

Mitch laughed a little as if embarrassed. “You caught me red-handed – so to speak – flattering you.” The human pulled up a bench upon which the bipedal alien placed his ample buttocks. He then ordered them both a Long Island Iced Tea.

“Was that part of the lesson, Earthling?” asked after sitting down.

“Well, you’re paying for my time and expertise, so yes, it’s all part of the one-on-one training program that I like to call ‘Romancing the Truth: an interstellar approach to procreation.’” Mitch took the time to take a huge gulp from his drink before returning to the job at hand. “Did you bring the gold bars with you?”

“I did indeed, Earthling.”

“Please call me Mitch…”

“I did indeed, Mitch.” He placed three 16 oz bars of gold on the bar, which was quickly and safely stowed away in a satchel the man had brought with him specifically for that purpose. “Was that name thing part of your seminar as well?”

“You mean the ‘Call me Mitch’ part? Absolutely! It’s important to make the female of your choice feel as if she has known you for years. And making sure she says your name is part of that whole familiarization process.” The human took another swallow from his mixed drink.

“But if I have just met a female, then I haven’t known her for years, so that would be lying and we don’t lie on Nacilbuper.”

“Which is why your planet’s government licensed one hundred of us Earthmen to teach you guys how to lie – because your species was in danger of extinction because you always tell your females the truth. And no female likes to be told she DOES look heavy in THOSE pants.”

The two males sat there in the dimly-lit tavern for a moment, allowing the statement to sink in.

“Your assessment is valid though regrettable, Mitch,” the big guy finally relinquished.

“Anyways, flattering a female to get laid is not lying – males just dress up the truth a little, parade the truth around the room, and then see who the truth goes home with.” Mitch tapped his empty glass against the alien’s and motioned to the bartender for another round.

“I admit that I observed your successful work with my acquaintance, Nayr. I had been persuaded he was completely incapable of ever acquiring a female to mate with…and yet you enabled him to do exactly that.”

“I remember Nayr – he was an open and adventurous student of my plan. He began lying to females right away, and now he has a lasting relationship with the female he settled for – all due to his purchasing my expertise for 48 hours.”

“I suppose you’re right. You’re a really nice guy after all, Mitch.” The alien used one of his hands to bring a drink to his mouth – and then began to laugh out loud. “You see what I did there? – I lied about you being a nice guy.” Mitch slapped him on his back and they seemed to enjoy laughing together. “And that hair cut is really working for you,” the alien said, laughing uproariously, using all five of his hands to hit the bar at once.

The human wasn’t pleased at this sudden turn of events, but he decided to go with it. “You’re getting into the spirit but we’ll have to work on the whole rolling on the floor laughing bit. You’ll get it, you’ll get it!”

The alien had laughed so hard that he excused himself for a moment to use the restroom. As Yenmor stepped out of earshot, Mitch motioned for the bartender come over. The barkeep threw a white towel over his shoulder, leaning in to talk to his favorite customer. “Looks as if you’re making progress, Mitch.”

“Yeah, but I wonder if it’s worth it – especially when my customer dishes me like that. He should be thanking me on his knees for giving him a chance to have a family.”

“ Hey, you’re making big money – right?”

“Yeah, Steve, making money hand over fist. We all are - all one hundred of us.”

“Who would have thought U.S. senators would end up teaching aliens how to lie,” snickered the bartender.

“Well, the people of Nacilbuper wanted the best liars available – so that’s what their paying for - 100 of the most skilled liars on Earth. But eventually, if the gold runs out, I’m not too proud to go back to being a politician,” Mitch confessed.

“I’ll get you another drink, Senator McDonald. One more Long Island Iced Tea coming up.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:27:17 PM

Buyer Beware

The B&B and Zip Code 93949

By:
Richard Tornello © 2012



Knock, Knock, Knock. Ringgggggggg.

What’s the rush? There were two of them, average height, and pale like they stayed indoors all their lives. “Hello may I help you?” I asked as I opened the door.


He asked, “We don’t have reservations. Might you have some availability? A suite would be ideal if you have one?”

“Yes, please come in.”

“I have one on the main floor and one on the second. Which would you prefer?”

“She said “The main. We have a cat.”

“I’ll have to charge extra.”

“That’s okay. How much for two weeks?”

“I can give you a discount. With the pet charge it will be the normal daily charges, add weekends, $2000.00.”

I looked out the window and saw a 1930 Model A flatbed. It was electric blue. It was immaculate. “Yours?” I asked.

“Yes, “he said.

“You drove that from?... Oh BTW, I’ll need a credit card and your license.” All these PITA laws to comply with.”

“Rer-ow,” said the cat.
“Zip code 93949.” He said. The two of them looked at each other. Then she produced the necessary papers.

“A Vandenberg area with this zip code. Are you scientists?”

“Sort of, we’re just getting away from it all.”

“Welcome to Woodstock and the Twin Fabled B&B. Breakfast is served at 8:30.”

“Parking?” he asked.

“In the back.”

“Do you mind if we cover the truck. It’s a classic.”

I looked out the window again. It was a beauty. The cab body was pretty stock. The engine and suspension were modern components. The engine bay was open. They must be motor-heads on top of rocket scientists.

“Chevy or Ford block?” I asked.

The cat said rer-ow again. He was a pretty orange long-hair tabby. “Oh just a hybrid system that… we… sort of invented.”

“What’s his name?”

“Commander,” they replied in unison.

“Cute.”
“Cover it, by all means. It’s beautiful.”

They unloaded the truck. The bags looked heavy. I ran out and assisted them. They were almost weightless.

I watched as they moved the truck. It may have had a V-8 but it was silent and I swear it floated as it rolled.

I knew not to ask. If they wanted to talk, I’m all ears. If not, I’m all ears.

That afternoon I noticed some blacked out Tahoe types, driving up and down Tinker Street. It could be the ex-president or the Sops. They lived across the Hudson.

****

That night I heard the two of them.

“They’ll never find us here. We can purchase a place,” he said.

“No,” she said. “Renting will be better, less paper work to deal with. We’ll fit right in. The locals are old-timers, doped up freaks or artists. The cops don’t want to be bothered and that’s just what we will do, not bother anyone. Down-load the blocking system!”

“NYC maybe, but here?” he retorted.

The lights dimmed.

Scientists my ass, hackers I thought.

The next day they went for a walk with the cat on a leash.

I took a peek under the tarp. The cockpit was like nothing I’d ever seen. Gauges were in symbols that looked like cuneiform.

“You like what you see?” Boomed the voice.

I almost had a heart attack. “Yes as a matter of fact I do. I don’t know where you’re from, and I really don’t care. But if you’re hiding from someone, living right out in front of the police station,” as I pointed across the street, “might be the best place, RFI and all that.”

She looked at me and then to him. I guessed they were communicating with each other. The cat rubbed up against my leg. I reached down to pet it. He was about to stop me but she grabbed his hand. He had six fingers. So did she.

“Would you prefer to go inside?” I recommended.

The cat rer-owed. They both agreed.

I made a pot of coffee and brought out some pastry. “I heard you talking last night and I guessed you’re looking to keep a low cover. Do you care to explain?” This could get me killed I surmised.

She looked at him and then back at me.

Then my mind filled, ‘We’re on the run from the future. We wanted to live in an easier time period. We stayed past our allotted time. It expired a month ago. We like it here. In Up-Time every thought and action is monitored. We are scientists, that’s how we got to go. Normal citizens are never allowed to travel outside a tour controlled visit. You know those Norwegian bus tours you see every now and then? They’re from Up-Time.’

I said to both of them. “If you want to stay, I will put you up. I will see what I can do about employment. Things are pretty tight control wise.”

He said, “We have the technology to defeat those systems.”

“I assume the blacked-out Tahoes were just the normal government types with the ex-president and not your people looking for you.”

“When did you see them?” she demanded.

“The same day you arrived. Friends of yours?” I asked. “I assume they have tracking devices, right? How do you know if transponders are not implanted into your bodies?”

“They were. Airmid,” that’s the first time he mentioned her name, “surgically removed them. There are others like us here and there. Our authorities grab us and send us back when they can locate us. When you see them again please, please let us know.”

He never mentioned his name. “So what’s your real name?”

“Dagda,” he said.

The truck, the baggage, all made sense. Commander was probably a sensor. If he liked me then it was safe. Dagda nodded his head as if he could read my mind.

****

The next morning when I awoke, the cat was on my bed, the truck was in the back, the keys on my dresser with instructions signed with a lipstick kiss. Commander and I never saw them again.


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:28:38 PM

Buyer Beware

Cost Whisperer

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Here comes a smart guy…” said the tall salesman, thinner than any other individual the fifty-year-old passer-by had ever seen. He had seemed to jump out of nowhere, and was holding in his hands a triangular-shaped object along a deserted path leading to a village seemingly lost out in the woods near O’Leary, in the far north of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The almost hairless local man was caught by surprise, remaining silent for a while, apparently unable to speak.

Come on now man, admire this wonderful combination of art and science. This is a clock made by means of high-tech methods. Just consider its brilliant surface - and now watch this,” he mischievously whispered into the human’s ear. He then activated a button that made a sound, and something unusual happened. “Do you see that? The special metal used can unequivocally capture the light that is emitted by the far stars in space. You know, there really are so many stars up there, each having its peculiar colour, and the surface of this object simply reflects, one at a time, the light shades of those that are within any particular sector you select, according to your preferences. Here comes the yellow-orange light, then the blue one, followed by the yellowish-white tone of another one, all laying in the region of the Scutum, as it is known hereabouts…”

Since the salesman had started the device, its surface had continued to change by reflecting many star’s lights that were now invisible in the sunny sky, given the fact that it was only 2:00 PM.

“Cool…it seems cool…cool…!” the human repeated three times, delighted. The alien vendor smirked, his face a mask of latex in order to disguise the real, insect-like features of the Ktehl, the same as the surface attached to the rest of his body just to resemble a man-like figure, even though very slender. Things were going to be easier than expected...

“Buy it for only a few dollars, sixty will suffice…” the seller whispered again into his right ear. “And this artistic clock comes with the most efficient portable calculator ever made in the world! Just try it and you’ll be pleased.”

A calculator? A calculator?” the man said this time, repeating it only twice.

“Yes.”

“I like calculators, I like calculators. May I try it?”

“Of course, my friend,” said the Ktehl seller, disguised as a human.

The passer-by touched the keypad on the screen on the front side and did some calculations. Then he cried out, “No! It doesn’t work, I can’t buy it.”

The perplexed alien looked at him for a while. “What are you saying? This is super modern technology; certainly the mechanism can’t miscalculate anything…”

“But it did, it did… “ the one replied, self-assured. “I’m very good at arithmetic…”

At that point the Ktehl was eager to check it for himself. “Just let me see…what calculations have you done?”

“I simply keyed in 15,327 x 5,653, the correct result is 86,643,531.But it gets it wrong, the result on the display is only 86,643,530

What? How did you get that answer in your head..?”

“It doesn’t function, I can’t buy it, I can’t buy it…But you can give me this as a present, I like presents, I like presents…”

The Ktehl whispered his psychic suggestion into the passer-by’s ear another time, but then the man asked again to test the calculator, and the conclusion was the same. The alien knew the other was right,there was no way to convince him to buy a device with a defective calculator.

Of course, the salesman couldn’t have known that the man he was trying to sell that thing to wasn’t a common individual, but a person affected by autism, who subconsciously showed incredible skills in mathematics, certainly…

Such a human had proven to be a really tough guy, displaying some superior abilities in calculation --clearly above the general level of skill of the Ktehl themselves -- which the alien considered as ‘very deep’. If this guy was representative of the general population on Earth, this was going to be a bad market to try to unload such cheapjack goods.

“Give me that as a present, give me that as a present, I like presents…” the man insisted, crying out like he was going into conniptions. “You can’t sell it, you can’t sell it, the calculator doesn’t function…”

The alien looked around cautiously: all that yelling could arouse the unwanted interest of other passers-by…So the Ktehl considered himself defeated in the end and simply gave it --as a gift-- to the smart human, who exclaimed: “Thanks, thanks, cool, cool!”

As the alien got back into his small single-seat spacecraft hidden in the woods nearby, he looked bewildered and considered: ‘We have our rules…we may be seen as deceivers across the galaxy, but we don’t sell anything to anyone who doesn’t give us express consent, certainly.Our psychic abilities have greatly helped us so far in achieving our goals, but it seems that they don’t function here!’

Those defective devices were going to be a hard- sell on this planet. The Hulh aliens, who sold them to him originally by using their superior mind control in order to overwhelm his psychic defences, just passed-on a scam to him, but that was just part of the game: the most capable seller always wins against the least one...

The Ktehl thought these humans were primitive, living on this world so far away from all the main trade routes in space. The alien had planned to amass some local banknotes by selling such rubbish here, and then immediately converting the money gained into the most valuable currency worldwide at some Currency Exchange station before disappearing…But the Earthlings had proved to be very smart, actually.

‘I guess I’d better try elsewhere…’ he decided, feeling very dejected, certainly.


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:35:21 PM

Buyer Beware

Forbidden

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



I was bad, bad man.

“Jane,” I asked, “can you take this report to accounting?”

Her smile made me shake inside, just a little. I didn’t think anyone saw.

“Sure, Tom.”

When she leaned over my desk to get the file, the view down her low-cut blouse was almost enough to make me forget my own name. Her nearly waist-length red hair fell down from her shoulders and draped for an instant over my hand. I wanted to run my fingers through it. An intoxicating odor of lavender tickled my nose.

“Tom?”

I snapped out of it and looked up into a pair of green pools. “Yes?”

Those eyes rolled at me. “You have to let go of the report.”

Dammit. “Sorry. Thinking about... the Smithson deal.”

I couldn’t help thinking as her hips swayed away from me that I was going to hell. I was going to lose everything. My wife, my kids, my job--and she was just a kid. Sure, she was old enough to be all woman, but still half my age, and naive. Still, how could a man not overlook a few things for a body like that?

Her stride jiggled her chest against the fabric of her shirt as she walked back around the cubicle wall into our part of the office. The sight of those bouncing orbs was the best thing that had happened all day. I had to force myself to look at her eyes.
“Boy,” she said, “that accounting clerk is bitchy.”

No argument there. “Weren’t you supposed to work for accounting before you switched to me?”

Jane smiled. “You make me laugh. I don’t want to work up there.”

We could stay together up the company ladder until I had that private office with a couch... STOP! Stop thinking that!

When I opened my mouth, the words that came out were, “Are you doing anything tonight?”

***

Jane hooked her arm in mine as we walked in the darkness. I really liked it.

“Why are we in an alley?” she asked.

“We have to meet a Glug. They don’t like bright places.”

She grinned and bounced just a little. “I’ve never seen a Glug up close. They’re very mysterious. Hardly anyone knows much about them since they showed up six months ago. How do you know them?”

I swallowed hard. “I made a few enquiries.” It cost me five thousand dollars just to arrange the meeting through somewhat unsavory contacts. Jimmy in our mailroom had a criminal past and got me in. Glugs had odd tastes, as it were, and even stranger rituals to conduct commerce. That extra money would be missed soon.

A faint odor like cardamom let me know they were near. I stopped.

“We greet you,” I announced, “son of the Haaken planet. We come to conduct a business transaction.”

The bang of the dumpster opening to the side of us made her jump. A slimy, blue tentacle tasted the air before a seven-foot ball of them bounded from the garbage and landed next to us. In the center of the squirming mass was an all-black eye half a foot across and a slightly-open mouth. Inside the mouth seemed to be a lot of teeth. In one of the tentacles was a half-eaten rat.

She gasped and turned away from it. I could feel her trembling against me, and I put my arm around her. I wanted so badly to put my hand on her rear.

“Do you trust me?” I asked her.

“Yes.”

“Turn around,” I said. “Since you are a female, their rituals say you must walk over to it. It will touch you. Whatever you do, don’t freak out or the deal will be blown.”

She looked at me, uncertain, but then swallowed hard, and walked unflinchingly toward "Slimy." A whirl of blue tentacles caught her wrists and lifted her arms up until she was on her tiptoes. It turned her to face me, and then another appendage covered her mouth from behind. Her eyes bugged out, but she kept her cool.

Slimy said, “Ten thousand earth dollars to take this shipment.”

It took a long time to save that much. Those tentacles counted it in seconds.

“Contract agreed. She will make a filing meal.”

“What!?” I barked. “What do you mean? I thought you just wanted people to take back to your planet, like for sex slaves or something.”

Slimy sniggered. “Humans not pretty.”

My fingers slid around the flasher in my pocket. One quick blast of that ultra-bright light, the Glug would have skittered away.

Her chest heaved up and down, nearly bursting those buttons, and her eyes were so wide. I knew I could have been her hero, the one that saved her from the aliens. She’d have given it up for me so hard she maybe would have forgotten her own name. That would have been great.

Could I ever look my wife in the eyes again? Or my daughters?

“Sorry, Jane.” I won’t lose her for you.

Her face was a mask of hate. The tentacle moved from her mouth, and she growled, “Think so?”

Glugs were a lot faster than I thought. Slimy spit something at me and I lost track of it for a moment. Then it had my arms like hers had been.

“Hey!”

So many teeth. “The deal was made.”

Jane stood in front of me. She simply stared at me, as if waiting. Finally, she said, “I started in the mailroom. I used to date Jimmy.”

Slowly, I got it. “How could you?”

“Glugs say men taste better.” She smiled that smile that used to light my day, the smile that used to make me forget the woman I married and all she meant to me. “You leer at me all day long, Tom, and then you try to have me kidnapped. And on top of that, you only pay me minimum wage.”

She paused. “A girl’s gotta eat... and now so will it.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:36:23 PM

Buyer Beware

When the Moon Shines

By:
George T. Philibin



In a warm summer evenings over Decker Ridge in the Allegheny Mountains, an owl hoots in the distance, crickets sound out, and an occasional bark or howl from a dog echoes around the ridge and fades as it travels farther along the sloops. But tonight three round lights spaced in a triangular pattern ooze over the valleys and hillsides, and when they stop, the lights descend down and vanish in the thick forest. Silence and stealth accompany the lights.
.
Up on Decker Ridge, a heavily bearded John McAndrew, holding a flashlight, and his sons Eugene and Bo Boy, both clean shaved and dressed casually, wait. John is about to let Eugene and Bo Boy meet his new found customers who pay handsomely.

John turns on and off his flashlight three times shining it upwards towards the lights. The three triangular lights above blink three-times in answer to the flashlight’s signal. And within a few moments, a large three-sided object softly floats downwards until it reaches tree-top level in which it hovers, noiselessly. An opening appears beneath the craft, and three humanoids slide down on a flat beam of very dim-blue light. Once on solid ground, they walk over to John, look him in the eyes and say, “That last batch was damned good, as they say on this planet. Damned good, don’t you think so Ihactky?” Ihactky, one of the other two aliens, stepped forward and uttered, “Number one, man---yes, number one in my---book.” Then he looked at the two others who were standing next to John and said, “Who are those two?”

“Why, them’s my kin. They help me make the stuff. They don’t know nothin’ about you guys----just help out. They can be trusted, believe me they can. Just need a little getin’ used to with you fellows,” John said. “Besides, I gotta have that operation soon, and they’ll be the ones running things for awhile.

“Pa, they--look weird,” Eugene said. “Boy do they look strange! I thought you said an airplane or helicopter was going to land.”

“No, I said my good-paying customers were agon’ to fly in tonight. What I left out is that they come from the Moon.” John said.

“We don’t come from your moon. We come from a star far on the other side of the Galaxy. No use telling you its name because you can’t see it from this planet’s location, but, really guys, that’s not important,” Ikusela said, the lead alien.

“What! ---There’re from---they’re aliens---from another planet,” Bo Boy said.

Ikusela threw his arms up and said, “We-don’t-come-from-one-of-your-planets! We come---Oh what’s the use...,”

Eugene stepped back and almost tripped over a stone, but Bo Boy just stood still, very wide-eyed with his mouth hung open.

“Oh-- don’t let them scare you! They pay in Gold--- Eugene how you think I got ya that Harley, and you Bo Boy---how you think I got ya that humvee! Ya two are riding in Moonshine money and these guys are a buying real good!” Pa said.

“But--but--but...,” Bo Boy uttered out.

“Now, sons--do they look any stranger than the McMackish clan over in Crow Valley? Hell, at least these guy have matching eyes--maybe rather large eyes but a least they match in color, not like the McMackish clan. One McMackish has a blue and green eye, the tall girl has a brown and red eye, and the little one’s eyes seem to change color! And they all have them long arms! Hell, even there dog has one brown eye and one green eye!! Now that’s strange!!” Pa said.

Both Bo Boy and Eugene had to nod their heads in agreement with Pa.

The third alien, a little smaller and apparently younger than the other two, turned towards Eugene and Bo Boy. He raised his hands up head high, made them look like some kind of claws and screamed out, “I love humans--I eat two during our star’s cycle---GRRRRRRR!”

This time Eugene tripped over backwards, and Bo Boy backed-up into Ikusela, almost knocking him down. Ikusela turned around and screamed something in a language that bordered on Chinese and Pig-Latin with overtones of French and Italian. John understood the meaning as Ikusela stared at the little alien, who just turned his large eyes and head downward and folded his arm. Ikusela shook his head back and forth as he walked up towards John.

“Pa--did--you...,” Eugene started to say.

“Didn’t I tell ya these fellows were Okay? He’s just a funnin’ with ya! Ya do it all the time with ya little brother Luke. Now how do you like it when the tables are turned--heh, heh, heh.” John said.

Eugene and Bo Boy and the little alien whose name was Iduska, stared at each other for a moment, then Iduska broke out into some form of laughter. He placed his hand over his mouth and ran after Ikusela.

“I got ya six barrels of the best Moonshine ya can find anywhere,” John said.

“It’s a deal,” Ikusela said.

Eugene and Bo Boy watched as the six barrels were gently raised up into the craft by beams of light. Once all the barrels were loaded, Ikusela handed John a large rather heavy bag upon which John said, “Thank ya much. Tell all your kin folk about me. You tell them--ya hear?”

Eugene and Bo Boy watched the aliens enter their ship. Before they closed the door, Ikusela yelled, “Till we meet again, and waved.” Both Eugene and Bo Boy quickly waved back and John just yell, “Ya all have a nice trip now, ya hear?”


Once again three round lights space in a triangular pattern silently start moving, only this time they moved upwards, faster and faster. And soon, they vanished.


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Post October 07, 2012, 07:37:36 PM

Buyer Beware

- Winner -



The Deal

By:
I. Verse



I never thought I’d meet an alien. I mean an honest to goodness, extraterrestrial. And I never would’ve imagined that this alien would come in the form of a smoking hot brunette. I mean, I knew about the aliens - who doesn’t? When the Geeks at that place in Europe with the big collider thing created the first superluminal doo-hickies, it was like a big beacon to the universe letting the aliens know we were here. Ten minutes later, the first alien materialised in the control room and politely asked them to turn the volume down. Apparently, our broadcast was like all caps on Twitter. Aliens are all multi-dimensional and whatever. Space ships, ray guns. Forget that. In fact, real disappointing. Aliens look like whatever they want - animals, cars, trees, mostly they manifest as humans.

Anyway, they kind of popped in to say hello, welcome to the multi-verse, here are the rules of etiquette: Rule one - no shouting in the superluminal ether. After that aliens started dropping by quite often, you know, consulting with the big wigs, presidents, captains of industry.

So, I was blown away when I opened the door that morning and found a real, live alien standing there. A smoking hot alien.

“Hello, Mr Carter. My name is Lilith Cambion and I should declare that I am an extraterrestrial. I have come to you today with an exciting, once in a lifetime opportunity.”

I said she was smoking hot, right? Let me tell you, she had that sexy librarian thing going on. Dark, luxurious tresses piled up in a complicated do, dark rimmed glasses, real nerdy but so... you know, right? Her figure? Oh, man! Take every Playboy centerfold you’ve ever seen and just throw them away. She was wearing one of those silky blouse things, nice and tight, buttons straining kind of affair. And a super-narrow, figure hugging skirt to her knees that left absolutely nothing to the imagination. I just stood there and gaped.

You’re thinking, I should’ve known it was some kind of con, right? I mean, it was a classic used car opener. But, she was just so freaking sexy, it was hard to even think straight.

She made a polite cough and I realised that I had been staring at her for way too long.

“May I come in?”, she asked.

“Sure.”

My place was a mess. There were dirty plates with take-out on the coffee table, so old it was making a bid for sentience. I moved a dirty sock from the cleanest spot on the sofa and waved her to sit down. What can I say? Bachelor pad, you know.

“So, Miss Cambion...”

“Please, call me Lil.”

“Lil. You said something about an opportunity?”

“Yes, that’s right, Adam. May I call you Adam?”

“Sure.”

“Well, Adam, I would like to purchase your immortal soul, and in exchange I will give you your hearts desire.”

I know it sounds real corny like that, but the way she said it, the look in her eyes, the little seductive half smile she had on her lips. I didn’t know whether to laugh or, you know, whatever.

“My what?”

“Look, I understand that humans don’t generally believe that they have an immortal soul anymore but, on my plane of existence, it’s a commodity of real value and I’m willing to give you anything you ask for in exchange.”

“Anything?”

“Anything.”

“A billion dollars?”

“Do you want a billion dollars?”

“Wait! I’m still thinking about it.”

“You’re a shrewd negotiator, I can tell, Adam.”

She touched my knee when she said that. It sent a shock right through me, like a little spark of joy. She was sitting forward on the sofa. Her knees were pressed together but I could see a little thigh, and her blouse was really Goddamn tight. I started thinking maybe this was some candid camera type thing. You know, some kind of practical joke.

“Say, how do I know you’re really an alien?”

“Oh, well. Can a human do this?”

She clicked her fingers and a large wad of papers and a genuine, real-feather, quill pen materialised on the coffee table in front of her.

“This is a standard contract for your immortal soul. Once we settle on the details, I just need you to sign it, in blood, and that’s it.” She gave me this thousand megawatt smile. It was so bright, it could’ve made a blind man weep.

“This is getting a little too biblical, here,” I said.

“Oh, this isn’t the first time we’ve been to Earth. We used to visit, oh, such a long time ago, before there were trade limitations against dealing with primitive societies. I wouldn’t believe all that stuff. It was mostly just bad press, sour grapes.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So, what’s it going to be, Adam. What do you want for your soul?”

“A billion dollars and I want to be famous, like, on TV. And I want a Ferrari and, er...”

“Yes, Adam?”

“You.”

Hey, I’m just a man and she was a smoking hot, sexy, librarian, alien woman. Like she said, once in a lifetime opportunity.

“You want this body?” She had such a dirty look on her face, her voice all low and husky. I swear, I nearly passed out from sudden blood loss when it all went, you know, down there.

“Yes,” I said.

“Done.” She pricked my finger with the sharp tip of the quill. “Just sign on the dotted line.”

And that’s how I became a smoking hot brunette. You know, a woman. The book deal, movie rights and TV appearances are making me a fortune. The Ferrari's on order. It wasn’t the deal I had in mind but it’s still, kind of, almost, mostly okay.

Of course, I worry about my immortal soul.

Why do aliens have to be so Goddamned literal?


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Post October 07, 2012, 08:17:58 PM

Thinker's Fantasy

The challenge was to tell the story of a royal "Thinker" finding a way to "skip out" on an impatient King and do something simple for a change.
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Post October 07, 2012, 08:23:22 PM

Thinker's Fantasy

Smelf

By:
Michele Dutcher



“That must be her,” said Victoria while pointing towards the open sky. A few hundred feet above the horizon a hang-glider floated carelessly over the fields, against a back-drop of grey, flat-bottomed clouds. The occupants of the ground-skimmer watched as the small shape became larger the closer it got – seemingly from the size of a bee to the size of a large eagle.

“I’m so pleased you decided to pair with a smelf, Victoria. It’s a big commitment but well worth it in the end. She has the facts and mental aptitude - and you have the life-experience.” Zovonamir looked out the window at the oval parachute.

Victoria shrugged, obviously worried. “I’m still not sure about the pairing – or if I’ll be able to help her at all.”

Zon could see the smelf clearly now and he grimaced. “Well, you could start by telling her to wear a helmet. This will protect her most valuable asset – her brain.”

“I’ll make a note,” she said.

“Please do. All a smelf really has to offer is their brain and the knowledge downloaded by the Confederacy. Without that knowledge they’re worth practically nothing to anyone. Do you like your smelf, Victoria?”

“I’ve only seen her three times so far: at her birth of course; after her downloading; and now at three years old.”

“It must be something important for her to make such an impromptu journey.” They were now on the outskirts of town. “There is one more thing you must remember, my young friend. No matter how much they resemble children, do not pick them up, unless they offer. They are an esteemed race and are not to be talked down to. Their enhanced intelligence vastly outweighs our own.”

“I understand that, Zon. Why would you feel the need to remind me of something so basic?”

His eyes softened, allowing the young girl to see into his hazel eyes as he leaned forward. “I only remind you because you are childless and might be tempted to see Lana as a way to fill that need. I can assure you a smelf is much different than a human child.”

“Thank you for your warning, Zon.” The ground-skimmer came to a stop suddenly. “Well, here I am, right on time. Farewell for now.”
***
The 3-foot smelf had already chosen a table on the restaurant’s patio, against a wrought-iron fence. She wore a shift-dress of striped terrycloth that came to just above her ankles and had a hood.

The woman took a seat at the table, closest to where the smelf was standing. “I’m honored that you’ve come to visit, Lana.”

“I’m here on important business for the King,” she answered, getting to the point. “I was advised by my tutor to seek out my human.”

“What does the King want?”

“He wants to know the number of dwarfs in Parish Centuria NOW!” The smelf lifted her eyebrows as though the difficulty of the task was obvious.

“It’s not as if he asked for the number of stars in the sky,” said the human.

“2,354 stars are usually visible from one location with the naked eye at 3 AM,” Lana answered stoically. “The King is impatient and wants the number of dwarfs now, and they don’t keep written records for census.”

“I will be delighted to accompany you on your quest, but couldn’t you simply approximate the number of dwarfs by visiting an average village.”

“I didn’t think of that! And then use the German Tank equation!”

“The what?”

“The number of dwarfs can be estimated as the maximum observed age minus one, plus the number of dwarfs seen divided into the maximum observed age. The German Tank equation. Thank you.”

Victoria began to stand. “Well if we are to make it to the closest village by nightfall, we’ll need to leave now.”

The smelf looked at the woman quizzically. “Can you tell me why I’ve had trouble relieving my bowels?”

“Perhaps you need to eat more fruit to increase the fiber in your diet.” The woman reached over to a bowel of fruit on the table and handed a peach to the smelf. Lana began to eat it and smiled.
“Thank you again. We can go now,” she said. Victoria placed a Kumquat inside her purse.
***
The journey in the ground-skimmer proved uneventful and they easily made it to Volicheck.

Walking through the community, Lana immediately began to make mental notes of the number of dwarfs coming and going from their underground homes, and the approximate age of the dwarfs they encountered. By the time the pair had reached the opposite edge of the village the smelf was smiling – reassured that she would definitely be able to bring the king the numbers he wanted. “6,538 – plus or minus 3.”

There was now a mist in the air as they stood beside a stream. “My hair is getting damp and I forgot to bring my cap,” said the smelf to Victoria.

“You have a hood on your dress, why don’t you put it up?”

“I always thought the hood was merely ornamental,” she said.

Victoria reached over to pull the hood over her head, but stopped suddenly. The smart elf nodded her permission, so the human adjusted the cloth over the smelf’s head.

“You know a great many things, human. I very much appreciate your help and will be seeking it again very soon, I’m sure. We can head back right after I find a café and a bathroom.”

The woman couldn’t help but chuckle, leading the smelf towards the center of town.

On the way home the Lana became sleepy in the ground-skimmer and asked Victoria if she could sit on her lap. As the human looked at the face of the sleeping smelf, she was glad she had chosen to mentor this small, brilliant creature, wondering what their futures together might hold. She smiled to herself and thought happily, “Who am I to blow against the wind.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 08:24:15 PM

Thinker's Fantasy

Question Mark

By:
Richard Tornello, © 2012



“Why are you bothering me with such trivia,” bellowed King Xebec of Secure Computer Fairie Cloudland to a group of his ministers. “Go to Question Mark my Wizminister. That’s his job description: fixit, makeit, changeit, doit, Damnit.”

“Yes your Royal Flatulence,” one mumbled.

“WHAT? OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!” And then Xebec remembered a question his Wizminister had asked him one day, ‘What goes ha-ha-ha thunk?’ Xebec had no idea at that time. ‘Someone laughing his head off.’ Fitting thought Xebec laughing to himself.

“We’re on our way,” his ministers answered mumbling “controlaltdelete” to themselves over and over again, groveling they backed out of the royal throne room minus one member, their noses stopped up in defense against his royalnesses perfumed flatulence.
****
Knocking on the Wizminister’s door they entered. The neon sign flashed: TAKE A SEAT, The WIZ IS IN.

They went to Question Mark, “We have a problem.”

“Yes you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”

“Oh he’s so smart.”

Their chief minister, Lord Up-Fu Skate declared, “In the Department of Redundancy Department, we work from 9 to 1 and then take midmeal. Then we go back to work from 2 to 5 and retire to our homes. It’s intolerable. We work so hard.

HMMMMMMM thought the Wizminister, the greatest thinker in all of Secure Computer Fairie Cloudland, and with a stern parental like expression gazed upon them. They’re eyes shown of hope and wonder. He felt the assembled mental energy was enough to power an oven light, maybe.

“I must retire to my study, go to the great thinkers and ponder a solution to this great problem. Wait here.” And with a flourish of his great motley cape, he disappeared.
****
Meanwhile the exiled great Evil Witch Princess Butterflyflicker viewed all this in her secure cloud screen. What a bunch of frauds,” she said to herself. They’re all idiots. I’m going to fix their stinky butts. I will come up with a good one.”
****
Question Mark returned to the assembled crowd. “I have an answer to your great ponderings”

The ministers were silent, with baited breath, waited

He declared, “Right now you work from 9 to 1 and then from 2 to 5 sending things back and forth committee to committee for review and re-review. And Yes………that…..IS ………………………..intolerable.”

The ministers mumbled their approval.

“Instead,” he said with great flourish, and stopped…………………………….


“I propose………………”

They waited.

“I propose…. that you work from 9 to 12 and then….. after mid meal………………..”
They waited

“I propose from 1 to 5!”

They looked at each other and in unison shouted, “WONDERFUL!.” They all applauded and shouted... “He fixed it.”

All-of-a-sudden, POOFda! POOFda!

Wizminister found himself in a translucent room with two great chairs, a table and a long rope. There were no doors or windows. And there beside him was King Xebec in his royal underwear.

“Where are we?”King Xebec shouted while covering himself. “I order you to get us out of here now,” he commanded. Looking around acknowledging the obvious problems to himself, he asked, “but how?” He Questioned Mark.

Witch Princess Butterflyflicker had placed both of them in an air tight tower that blocked the use of magic. They had to use their minds to solve what she considered a simple problem. Only logic would get them out of this. She Questioned Mark’s ability to reason his way out of a wet sack. She knew King Xebec was a brute so there was no issue there. The kingdom would be hers.

Wizminister sat down and asked, “King Xebec do you have any idea how we got here, where ever here is? I can feel that magic will not work. We are left to our wits.”

Xebec shouted, “It’s that evil Witch Princess Butterflyflicker, I can tell it was her. Damn her!”

“Yes, yes I will do that later. That will not solve our present problem. Let me think.”

Xebec was beside himself in worry. “That bitch,” he mumbled and paced back and forth.

Princess Witch Butterflyflicker looked upon the hapless duo and considered that this was a done deal and it was now time to pack her travel bags.

Wizminister viewed the room and at that exact time as Butterflyflicker was enjoying their terminal situation, he also realized there was an issue of air. “Sire, please if you would ease up on your activity. I think we have a limited amount of oxygen. There is a way to escape but I have to figure it out. I know it’s simple, and not obvious, but just what?”

Xebec in an uncharacteristic manner listened to his Wizminister, didn’t Question Mark, and sat down on the great chair, slamming his fist on the table.

YES!, That’s it!” exclaimed Wizminister.

“You lordship, I will need your great strength. Please break this table exactly in half.”

“What, are you crazy?” He Questioned Mark. (sorry I had to).

“No, just do it,” The Wizmaster instructed.

The King did as he was commanded. It was a perfect break.

The Wizminister held up the two pieces and declared, “This is our way out!”

“You’ve gone mad,” The King shouted. “We’re done for.!”

“No not at all. Here’s the solution. You broke the whole table in two, perfectly. Two halves make a whole.” He placed the two halves against the wall thereby making a hole. He took the rope, tied it to a chair and threw the rope out the hole. “After you your majesty.”

Butterflyflicker viewed their success and flew into a rage. She crashed into a tree causing amnesia. She forgot about most of her powers and her past and all that and lived in a large candy house in the magic woods somewhere in Bavaria until she cooked her goose with some criminal behavior and some abandoned children.

The Wizminister and Xebec never spoke of the incident. They became best of friends and wrote about their grim tales that were only to be published after their deaths in the Secure Computer Fairie Cloudland.


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Post October 07, 2012, 08:25:31 PM

Thinker's Fantasy

Doctor Z Goes Fishing

By:
P. A. Hosler ©2012



On his third attempt to make browned bread instead of charred bread, Chief Leif slammed the handle down on the small silver bread browner. The little gizmo shook nervously and growled when Leif began to curse.

“Oh no you don't!”, Chief Leif snapped as he reached for the little gizmo that was suddenly trying to run down the counter.

“That's my breakfast you're trying to steal!” He grabbed it just before it tumbled over the edge. The little bread browner ejected it's hot cargo, deliberately aiming for the Chief's face, and then snapped at his fingers with its hot coils. The Chief pulled his hands away quickly and shouted for Lily.

“Lily, fetch the Doc! My bread browner is doing that thing again and I... I think it tried to bite me!”, Chief Leif fumed.

“Right away Chief.”, Lily jumped up and ran for Doc Z's yurt at the furthest edge of the village.

Lily knew that Doc Z was overwhelmed with desperate pleas for help from villagers who let too much magic smoke escape from their gizmos. And sometimes when you let too much magic smoke out of a gizmo, the results could be downright dangerous. She thought it was funny when the bread browner tried to bite the chief, but she knew she would have to convince Doc Z to come across the village to refill the magic smoke in the Chief's bread browner.

Lily ran head long into a door that had never been locked before and was knocked flat on her rear . Lily swore and dusted herself off as she got up. She started to reach for the door again when a small fish gizmo she hadn’t noticed announced, “He’s not here.”

“Doc’s always here.", Lily said as she pounded on the door.

“HE'S NOT HERE!”, the fish growled as puffs of smoke began to rise from his gills..

“I'm here on Chief Leif's business, and the Doc is always here.”

The fish gizmo raised it's head from it's mounting board, turning towards her it said, “Push the red button.”, then laid back down.

Lily stood gaping at it for a moment and then decided to play along with the Doc's little game and pushed the button.

The fish gizmo sprang to life and began swish it's tail and move it's head back and forth to music and then sang, “Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh...”

“I don't have time for any song and dance routines, the Chief needs Doc Z NOW!”, Lily shouted. A small tendril of smoke curled out of the top of the fish. Lily closed her eyes and counted to ten, she didn't want bad karma releasing any more magic smoke.

She let out her breath in a slow hushing sound, then spoke as calmly as she could manage, "Please may I see the Doc?"

The fish laid flat then sighed, "Push the red button."

"I tried that, but all you did was sing and dance, and I must see Doc Z, the Chief sent me.", Lily was managing to stay calm, but just barely.

The fish shook a little, then said a little too smugly, "Well, you forgot to ask a question first, didn't you?"

Exasperated but keeping her cool, Lily pressed the button and asked, "May I please see the Doc? The Chief needs him right away."

The fish shook its head back and forth then flicked its tail for good measure and said in sing-song, "The good Doctor Zachary has gone fishing and instructed me to mind the village in his absence.”

“But Doc Z never leaves the village.”

The fish laid quietly.

Lily frowned and pressed the red button, “When will he be back?"

“When he gets bored or hungry I suppose. Your questions are lame.", it said sardonically.

Lily’s cheeks flushed hot and red. She pushed the button once more and managed to ask as calmly as she could, “Could you please tell me where he went?”

“I already told you, you little nit-wit, he’s gone fishing.”, the fish began to laugh so hard it almost fell off its mount.

Lily balled her fists and her face went completely red. She screamed at the fish, “Look here you stupid gizmo, the chief needs the Doc now, his bread browner has gone gonzo!”

A huge cloud of magic smoke erupted from the fish and suddenly its mouth was full of razor sharp teeth. Its eyes were red with fire and with a menacing growl it said, “It’s called a toaster you nimrod, and when I get down from here I am going to eat your face off!”

Suddenly the door flew open and a very small-very hairy man stood between the two of them. “What’s all the commotion out here?”, Doc Z frowned looking back and forth between the two troublemakers.

The fish laid down against its mount, the razor teeth gone, and said quietly, “It’s all her fault Doctor Zachary sir.”
Lily stood quietly, her mouth agape. She tried to clam herself then said, “That thing said you were gone. The Chief needs you Doc, his bread brow...", she glanced at the fish, “...toaster, has gone gonzo and he needs your help.”

“The Chief doesn’t need me Lily, he needs an attitude adjustment, his bad karma seems to be effecting everything these days.”, Doc Z said smiling down at her. “I need a little break, so I am going fishing for a while. Tell the Chief I’ll be back when I either get bored or hungry.”

“But what about his gizmo Doc?”, Lily asked nervously, not wanting to go back to Chief Leif without the Doc.

“Tell him to be nice to his bread browner for a change or lock it up until I get back.”, he said. He laughed and said, “You might want to tell him to try that with all his gizmos until I get back.”


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Post October 07, 2012, 08:26:34 PM

Thinker's Fantasy

How the Long Siege of the Impregnable Blue Fortress Ended…

By:
Sergio Palumbo


The long siege of the famous Blue Fortress had lasted for eight months. The stronghold was well guarded, with a lot of cattle brought in beforehand that the besieged could easily feed on. Their water came from a stream flowing entirely underground, unreachable, and its source was situated within another rival kingdom’s boundaries, so there was no way to poison the river or stop it.

But the King wanted to have the entire fortress burned to the ground because the foreign prince, who owned the castle, had offended his younger daughter by refusing to marry her. To be fair to the rebel prince, it could easily be said that the King’s daughter was very ugly and very stupid. On the other hand the prince was used to drifting from one beautiful woman to another and wasn’t eager to lose his freedom through marriage - not even to save his own life. Well protected within the walls of Blue Fortress --so called because of the color of the decorations you could admire from afar-- with his well-armed and experienced troops, there was certainly nobody who could capture the stronghold. And facts had showed he was right, at least so far, as a matter of fact…

But there was only one thing harder than the rebel prince’s desire for freedom, and it was simply the King’s stubbornness. So the long siege had gone on for all those unending, bloody months during which the royal troops had been sent forth continuously to face certain death before those walls which seemed impregnable.

So, it had finally fallen to Tlehb to find a way to overcome the castle’s resistance and to save all the combatants he could before the bloodshed went any further. He had been unsuccessful until today, anyway.

The sorcerer had created some strong magical shields to protect the advancing soldiers as they got close to the battlements, but it hadn’t been enough as the fortress itself was endowed with unknown defences -- thanks to the rebel prince’s ancestors who had developed them long before. These safeguards destroyed the translucent shields themselves when the assaulters approached the site, so the royal troops were protected against the arrows thrown from afar, but not just near the walls. Anyway the King hadn’t lost his pride, he wanted the war to be over soon, and therefore Tlehb was told to create a more powerful magical weapon. The mage had tried to do so profusely, but his energies were draining away day by day, without any real change.

It needs to be made immediately clear that Tlehb had solved many problems in the past as a well-known ‘counsellor to the mad King’, but this time things looked a bit different. Sixty-years-old, tall but weak, having fought several battles on behalf of his cruel King often for foolish reasons, the greying man was weary of watching so many young men die because of His Majesty. But he had no other choice, as the King had held Tlehb’s son as a sort of hostage-guest within the royal palace since he was born, in order to secure his loyalty.

As the sorcerer was walking around the military tents of the besiegers’ camp, he saw two men at arms accompanying some carts full of corpses from the last attack.

“How many dead this morning?” Tlehb asked the first one.

“200…” the other replied, lowering his eyes.

Then Tlehb noticed a known face among those lifeless bodies. It was Kluf, his promising apprentice.”NO!” he yelled. “You too, my dear? You lost your life on this battlefield for nothing…”

Full of sorrow, Tlehb went back to his tent, bent on finding the way to put an end to all this. He studied the ancient texts all the evening, but fruitlessly. Then, getting angry, he hit the candles on the table and one of them fell on a book. Soon the flames began destroying the old cover but he immediately stopped it using a water incantation. When the man reached the damaged text, he found that under the ashes of the burned corner another paper document lay, apparently hidden. It was only a blank parchment and looked very ancient. It had probably been added to strengthen the book cover itself. But soon a very strange idea came to his mind...The sorcerer took the ink at once and began faking a centuries old grammar style, writing the whole night long with renewed hopes.

At morning’s first light, Tlehb went before the King who sat on his stone throne in the battlefield so he could watch the next bloody assault, his devoted servant sitting beside him, and he asked permission to speak.


“Majesty, we’d better quit our siege, for your safety!” the sorcerer exclaimed.

“For my safety, what do you mean…?”

“Please, just have a look at this old parchment I found hidden in an ancient magical text.” The man handed it to the King. “It dates back three centuries and clearly shows that any king who conquered the Blue Fortress previously was deposed and killed by his own daughter because of the stronghold’s curse!”

What? Give me that…” and he grabbed the document. After reading it he exclaimed, “True, all the names written here are ancient kings who lost their life in a violent way.”

Exactly! Because their offspring covered up the murders - until today…I suppose they knew about the curse and motivated their fathers to declare war against the fortress in order to use the curse against them.”

The King looked at his mage for a while, and then stated, “Well done, Tlehb! Right on time…This bloody, useless war is over, we are going back home!”

The mage bowed respectfully.

“What about your daughter’s planned wedding?” the oldest servant of the King, next to the throne, dared to ask him.

“Well, the world is full of fishes…er, princes…” he replied, while quickly turning towards home.


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