FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - ?


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Post February 27, 2014, 02:12:19 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

Experimental Values

By:
J. L. Haines


“Move that scanner five centimeters vertically and hold it still.” Elfreth Penrose’s voice grated through the intercom speaker.

“In position,” Miranda Lippincott replied. He sounds different today, she mused. Last night, he’d been the eminent Chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology, the attentive mentor to the Whitman Fellow in Biorobotics.

Penrose bustled through the office doorway at the back of the lab. “Huff is on his way over. Move out of the way, Miranda; I want to see this.” He strode across the tile toward the experiment in its open glass container.

Professor Wilson Huff stood at the outer hatch to the airlock and pointed to its keypad. Lippincott waved her left hand at Huff, showing four fingers.

“Good morning, Doctor Huff. It’s a great day for our little shop today.” Penrose shook hands with his senior biochemist.

“After eighteen months, I wouldn’t miss this,” Huff chirped.

“You remember Doctor Lippincott: she’s been monitoring the subject since midnight.”

Yes, and I’ve been trailing you both for twelve months, grading papers and teaching undergraduates and running your lab for you, Lippincott brooded. While you, Chairman Penrose, were entertaining the Board of Trustees of Wistar at your beach home -- with your wife.

“Well, Miss Lippincott, how does it look?” Huff addressed the top of the researcher’s head.

“The vibrations have increased in frequency,” Lippincott replied. “The unit appears to be intact, and temperature and pressure are constant. We expect a sharp change in pressure as the subject completes the growth cycle.”

“Is that the entire experiment in there? It looks like a glass coffin.” The rectangular ceramic tray just fit into the glass box.

“Yes, Professor, and the lid is secure.” The housing was bulletproof glass. Lippincott envisioned fearful tellers watching security cameras.

“How will you know it’s ready? This is the first one, isn’t it?”

“The unit itself is strong enough to make the transition, but we will stimulate it if necessary.”

“The enhancements can be used even before the subject is fully developed,” Penrose explained. “What it is, augmented, would run to four times more powerful extremities. Come in to my office, Wilson, and let me show you our readings.”

The two men walked into the room behind clear glass walls. Lippincott saw Penrose pour his best bourbon into two glasses. She turned back to the experiment.

Four probes penetrated the thick lid. The tank reminded Lippincott of the glass cage in which her brother had kept his snakes. He would brandish Elaphe guttata in her face and declare it Agkistrodon contortrix. Lippincott had recognized the difference, soon loathed reptiles, and now detested her brother. The probes held sensors measuring temperature, acidity, electrical current, and oxygen saturation. Buteo jamaicensis was the host egg for the implanted Velociraptor genes. She inspected the titanium electrodes running to the control unit beside the tank.

She patted the side pocket of her lab coat. It was there.

Penrose and Huff walked out of the office. “These nanobots will change its nature, put a sting in it. Unlike the chrononanos with a fixed expiration, these will be immortal. All we need do is control the upgrades.”

Huff watched the researcher adjust the gyroscope. “Do you have sole control? What about her?”

“Her fellowship ends this semester. Miranda will be leaving the project. And besides, she’s been exposed to the chrononanos.”

“You infected her?”

The gray mane nodded.

“But how?”

Both snowy eyebrows lifted.

“You mean . . . ?”

The dark beard dipped again.

“And your wife doesn’t know?”

The white tips of the mustache quivered.

“Penrose, you dog.”

“Doctor Lippincott, is there any progress?” called Penrose.

He turned to his associate. “I want us to be in control of this thing before it breaks the shell. The nanos enable its target selection.”

“Sensors read decreasing acidity within the shell. Temperature has risen point two degrees.” Lippincott leaned over the incubator and read values from her scanner. “Professor Penrose, I believe the shell is at capacity. I’m reading higher pressure along its longitudinal axis.”

Penrose took a laptop computer bag from the worktable. “Wilson, here’s our marketing brochure. The child demands a pet Velociraptor, the parent buys the unit, we issue monthly upgrades, and the parent pays the licensing fee. As the units disperse through the local population, they acquire targets automatically. The upgrades only buy the customers thirty days of protection.”

“So, we keep control of the nanobots, and only license the upgrades?”

Penrose radiated schadenfreude. “We’re selling happiness. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Lippincott removed her face mask and slipped it into her side pocket. “Professors, I think our subject is beginning to emerge. If you’ll come over to the incubator, I’ll check the video feed.” She walked over to the concrete wall and adjusted the largest of an array of switches. “Power is on.”

Penrose clamped his right arm around Huff. “Come on, Wilson, we’re finally there.” He led his associate to the tank, and heard the ceramic tray clatter against the glass. “Look at that, Wilson, the shell is cracking.”

Lippincott returned to the incubator. She grasped two wires from the probes and, holding them in her right hand, slid her left hand into her pocket.

“Where’s the camera aimed, Miranda? I should be next to the unit.”

“You have to be the focus of attention, don’t you, Professor? It’s always you, not us.”

“Miranda, what do you mean by that? This is an important moment for all of us. Why are you holding your mask there? What is that?”

“One hundred thousand volts, Professor.” Under the white mask gleamed the handgrip of a stun gun. Lippincott attached one wire to each contact. “You could have taken me to your beach house. You could have shared your life with me.” She pulled the trigger. “I’m sorry, Elfreth, it’s been too much work and not enough play.” She aimed the contacts at his neck and watched the charging signal light.

The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:14:10 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

Hlt Goes to Space…

By:
Sergio Palumbo


"May I keep it?" the eyes of the female child’s tiny reddish face looked up at her slender father who was testing some rock samples and bustling about the machinery connected to the light brown ground.

As he didn’t seem to be listening to her, nor did he turn to the child, she raised her voice and asked again, “May I keep it, please, father?”

At that point, the 19-feet-tall scientist moved his four orange eyes towards his daughter who was still only 14 feet, given her very young age, and replied in a tired voice, “What’s up now, darling? Why don’t you go play around those small boulders and let me complete my site survey?”

The child wasn’t content with these words, so she repeated her request again until her father simply stopped what he was doing and stared carefully at the creature the child held in her eight-fingered-hands.

It was an anapsid reptile, a large herbivore only five feet long, and it might weigh half-a-ton. Someday it would be named Pareiasaurus, after the rise of Mankind, but their science that studied fossils was still far in the future. Being stocky, with a short tail, small head, and broad feet, its body was protected by bony parts that were set into the skin itself. He wouldn’t say it was beautiful but it had something significant about it, so he didn’t dislike it, actually.

“We’re going to leave in a little while, sweetheart - so couldn’t you simply play by yourself and not touch the local animals?”

“But I want it…I like it, please father, may I keep it?”

The father made a face, time was running out and there was still a lot to do. What if he allowed her to keep it? Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all, as it was really tiny. According to the Probabilistic Device whose instructions he was following now, that creature, along with many other animals living on this wide continent, would soon die in the next extinction event, anyway.

As a matter of fact, the present Paleozoic Era was going to end with the largest mass extinction in Earth's history. The effects of it would be so devastating that it would take 30 million years for life to recover on the surface - even though in the oceans it would recover much faster. The origin of such a disaster was due primarily to the six-mile-wide asteroid that their devices had already detected in near space. Volcanic eruptions produced on the side of the planet, just opposite the impact site, would also contribute to widespread ocean anoxia – severe deficiency of oxygen – for millions of years to come…

His duty was to take data and fill out files about the evolution of the continents of this small world, before all that happened, and this process required continuous surveys over the course of millions of years, of course, as it took a lot of time to be precise. But the alien scientist liked to bring his young, short daughter along with him during his job, so he could keep a close eye on her. Not that this prevented the child from asking him for gifts or things to be taken from the sites where they traveled to. She already had four strange alien animals that they had to feed in their garden back home. Well, maybe one more would not be so bad, actually…

“Ok, ok, you can, darling, but just let me finish what I’m doing.” And with that said, he turned away, while she happily stared at her new pet that would soon be part of her collection and said “I’ll name you Hlt!”.

The trip spent on this very ancient land, Gondwana, was going to end soon. Actually, many millions of years still had to pass before that part of Earth’s landmass was eventually named Gondwana by Austrian scientist Eduard Suess, after the Gondwana region of central northern India. Many other alien scientists would eventually come to this planet and take souvenirs away with them - be it part of a stone building from an ancient civilization, a living animal from a time gone by, or a member of any of the races of Homo sapiens. After all, when you just consider that old saying, ‘The tourist’s inclination that’s hidden in you’…

***

The two scientists moved silently across the terrain, trying to remain unseen. The pair were researchers at the University of Paleontology of Colorado; they had taken the opportunity to spend a short vacation at Yellowstone Park. But their surprise was immense when one of them spotted an unusual, incredible creature in the distance.

“It’s an anapsid reptile, a large herbivore long extinct. It’s alive now, in this area, I just saw it!” the first one, a dark-haired man about 30-years-old exclaimed.

“No, that’s not true…” the other had immediately replied.

“Come and see!”

So they reached the point indicated and, in reality, the Pareiasaur was there, eating some herbs and slowly looking around. But the scene lasted only a few moments, as an imposing voice coming from nearby almost made the trees shake. And then a female alien being at least 14 feet tall called her pet back, telling it to follow her orders. “Hlt, come here, we must leave again…father has already called us!”

So, the presumably extinct creature turned to her owner and they both went back to their huge spaceship that suddenly appeared on the ground and that disappeared again as soon as they were inside.

His daughter was aboard now, and the father finally finished his duties. Many millions of years still lay ahead to be traveled through and many other new continents on Earth needed to be studied and reported on before the end of that day, during their long voyage across time…

At least for now his daughter hadn’t begged to keep that jeep containing humans as a souvenir, too…

The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:26:51 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

LARA MIDIA

By:
R. Tornello


“Well dear there it is just like I told you. It’s a small upright animal with a stick.”

++++

* Artie conducted a mental overview. The Laramidia base camp had been set up. The perimeter was secure. Heavy weapons were in place with infrared aiming detectors set to automatic fire using depleted uranium cores. He knew this was a dangerous endeavor. Why I volunteered is beyond me. I must have been on drugs.

++++

“It’s alone too.”

“It can’t be too smart, and what a stink..”

++++

* I swear I heard something just a while ago. I see nothing and my helmet indicates no animal life forms, yet. I wish Langley could have time-jumped a helo here too but the energy needed was beyond what Langley could generate. It’s our equipment and us.

++++

“Dear, if you notice, it appears unafraid. It’s not hiding or scurrying about. Maybe we should be a bit cautious.”

“Nonsense, it’s stupid.”

“I recommend caution. Let’s watch it and see if anything runs into it. I don’t know about you but I could smell it from our nest.”

“I think we should flank it and follow its tracks back and see where it came from. Send a message and inform the others. Ask them to send some younger ones.”

++++

* I just saw something move on my right. It was big and fast. “Base camp, you may have visitors.”

“Roger that, any ideas?”

“Negative, but it’s big,”

“We’ll be ready.”


++++

“I already did. A group of teenagers are on the way. ”

The big male says, “You go right and I’ll go left. Stay out of sight until I give the word. This might be fun!”

++++

* “Base Camp, I see one. It’s huge. It’s heading your way.”

“Roger that, we’re ready.”


++++

Watching the uprights in their camp from a distance of 3 miles, the two adult theropods transmitted their observations to the approaching younger pack.

++++

* Artie climbed a small hill to get a better view. His visor gave him a good look a few miles out. There he saw another theropod just standing. From the direction of the theropod’s stance he surmised that it was observing the base camp.

++++

“There are three others like the one we mentioned. They seem to have a nest. Strange they also seem to have fire and are not afraid. These are different creatures than we have ever encountered. Extreme caution is demanded. We believe they may be dangerous.”

A reply came back. “So small a creature as you described, what nonsense, they’ll be a snack.”

“Oh? And what is the mortality rate among you young ones? Heed our caution.”

++++

* I think I’ll take a shot. Artie laid the heavy 50 cal. rifle on his bag for stability. He noticed no wind down range. He set his sights for a mile shot and took it. The boom was heard for miles. He watched; nothing happened and then the T-Rex went down. “GOT HIM,” he yelled. “I got the first T-Rex in history.”

“Base camp, I just got the monster. It was a T-Rex. I’m going to go over and take a look and get some photos. No one is going to believe this.”

“If there is one there will be others,” base camp transmits.

“Roger that. I don’t see anything. I’ll let you know.”


++++

The big male theropod stops communicating. He feels her pain. “It just killed my mate. They are a threat. Back off until I come up with a plan. These animals must be crushed.”

++++

One younger theropod suggests, “We can stampede their camp. You know how we run the back blades over the cliffs, we can do the same and run behind them.”

“YES,”comes the reply from the pack.

“Good idea. I’ll be back. I dare not go to where my mate lies, not yet.”

“These are dangerous creatures. They may be small but they have the ability to kill. We will use the blade-backs as shields. We will all take part. We will avenge my mate’s death and drive these beasts out from our land.

++++

* Artie was beside the downed T-Rex. “My god it’s huge. It must weigh 15 tons. Guys, do you see the pics I transmitted?”

“Return to camp. It’s getting dark. Repeat, return to camp. You were not supposed to do that. We’re looking for a way to set up mining camps for minerals. This is not a hunting expedition in Africa.”


++++

That night twenty-five triceratops or back blades were herded toward the
base camp of the uprights. Five adult and ten teenage theropods brought up the rear.

The earth was shaking. The noise was deafening.

++++

* The earth is shaking. The noise is deafening. All the base camp members are armed and ready. The machine guns surrounding the camp are set to fire automatically.

The charge came from one direction making most of the perimeter defenses useless. The guns were too heavy to move quickly.


++++

Only a few of the triceratops made it through the camp’s defenses. That was enough. The T-Rexes followed behind and killed any of remaining humans.

Over time there is nothing left that would indicate human presence except for the steel guns and ammunition.

++++

* At Langley a report is sent to the acting chief letting him know that communications were lost with the expedition team in Laramidia.

The chief is now talking to the Pentagon. “Damn, I know we can do this. Maybe we need to wait until we can down-send more equipment. We know that there are predators. They weren’t supposed to engage any living thing except in defense. This is the second team we’ve lost.

“How are we ever going to mine China’s rare metals if we can’t even keep our team alive in our own back yard? I’ll send another team as soon as possible.”

The command is given. “Yes, you do that until we can establish a foot hold and spring board from there.”


The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:28:33 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

The Subway Train

By:
TaoPhoenix


At 6:30 on the morning of October 27, 2014, George Gibbs IV went into the station at 42nd St. Grand Central and boarded a 6 train towards Brooklyn, heading to work in the usual manner of a New Yorker: The Subway.

He was bleary-eyed from a night out on the town the previous evening, and missed a small detail. There was a square around the numeral 6, which shouldn't have been there. George gazed vacantly out the window as the train left the station. Apparently it was an express train, since it bypassed several of the local stops. While this was an unusual train service pattern for this area of the 6 line, New York's accelerated plan of repairs shuffled service routes around in such bewildering fashion that a passenger felt that a train could go anywhere.

Soon however, matters developed in a mysterious manner. The recorded announcement was the first clue. It wasn't the voice of Charlie Pellett from Bloomberg Radio. This was a booming new male voice, with a gorgeous warm timbre and a truly exotic accent featuring long vowels. The content was equally strange. "This is a Triassic bound Temporal T train via the City Hall station. This stop is Eighteenth Street. The next stop is Worth Street. Stand clear of the Adjusting Floors."

George was still groggy, but now becoming alarmed. Maybe they were testing a new voice profile for the subway, which was fine. The station message itself was not. New York is a city that rewards knowledge of trivia, and George was well read on the history of the subway. The City Hall station was not supposed to be in use! Neither were the other two stops.

But all that paled beside the truly bewildering service route description. "...Triassic bound Temporal T train via the City Hall station"? What the hell did *that* mean?

Then George noticed something else. Half of the prior passengers had departed, but none got back on. That was odd.

The train clacked its way to the next stop, but in the process, it felt like it was changing somehow. Everything including the passengers began to grow hazy and indistinct. The walls were changing colors and design. All of the other passengers stepped off into the haze at the Worth Street stop. George Gibbs IV, a typical New Yorker who just wanted to go to work, was all alone in the train! He couldn't see anyone else through the haze at the station either. It was supposed to be abandoned, and it looked like it.

Geographically, Worth Street and the historic City Hall stations were supposed to be quite close to each other, which was why Worth Street station was closed. But this next junction was taking a long time! The train was picking up speed now, faster than he had ever recalled a train traveling! The appearance was shifting multiple times, too. George swore the results resembled his book on the history of the NY Subway, being flipped backwards. Past the R62 class built in 1983, then the R17 class built in 1954, into something else. As the speed increased, the train rattled tremendously, yet held together structurally.

George gasped when he recognized the next design taking shape around him. The haze was coalescing into the original 1904 design ... introduced at City Hall! Because by then it had hit him, a realization that thrilled him with mystery and wonder. The mystery unfolding somehow included data service to his phone, and he confirmed his hunch. On October 27, 1904, his Great Great Grandfather George Gibbs the first had publicly opened the service to the modern New York Subway here at this City Hall station!

The City Hall station was built to be the showcase of the visionary new underground service. Complex, gorgeous tile work adorns the station. Gold-and-Leather hues ring forth the upcoming century with splendid archways overhead. The station still looks good today in its touched up though unused state. But this time - for George Gibbs IV, descent of the original subway visionary, it presented itself gleaming in brand new condition, visited by a Gibbs train car fresh off the production line!

The doors closed, and the train started off to ... somewhere. George was still all alone in the subway car, which by now was part of only a five car train per the specs of the City Hall Station. This time the announcement was new, longer, and wonderfully mysterious:

"Hello, George. By now you have noticed the differences in itinerary destination aboard your train. You have uncovered the deeply hidden temporal nexus in the New York Subway system, which is activated in your case by your family heritage intersecting with this particular day of the year. Also in your particular case, you have the opportunity to visit the time of the dinosaurs, millions of years ago. However, please listen to the following rules extremely carefully for your own safety.

It is recommended that you stay aboard the train for your first trip. With luck there are useful photographic opportunities available by looking outside the window. The doors will open for thirty seconds, allowing such activities as acquiring soil or plant samples within reach. There will be three stops, corresponding to each of the three main Geo-historical periods: Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic. At that point the train will loop and return. Enjoy the ride!"

George settled into his seat to begin his adventure. Then he thought of a wonderful idea. His phone included a few custom features including automatic sound activated audio recording. His luck was holding. His phone had saved the wondrous new announcement! So George emailed himself with the message as an audio file attachment. The message header read: "Sent, 8:13 AM, October 27, 1904."

His life had just become much more than it was!

The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:40:20 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

Prehistoric Fear

By:
Herbert Chamberlain


"AAAAAAAHHHHHHH MOOOOOOOOMMMM! MOM! MOM, WHAT IS THAT?"

"We have to go now Gil!”

Crashes, explosions, gun fire, and screams of horror pierce the ears of all the inhabitants of the blue house. The ground shakes every few seconds, and the blue house’s shaking gets worse with each tremble.

“Mom! IT’S GETTING CLOSER!”

“We have to get below ground! HURRY…”

A blue clear obelisk falls past the window and crashes to the ground. The woman watches the obelisk fall in complete horror.

“We must go now! The protection of Ganbely is not with us.”

The tremors rattle in Gil’s ears.

“MOM!” Gil slips and falls to the floor looking back out the window, he sees the largest animal he has ever seen barreling towards him.

“Mom! Help Me! IT’S GOING TO CRUSH MEEEEEEEE!”

A bright light dissolves and covers Gil’s sight.

“Time to get up… time to get up now.”

Gil sits up straight in his cot, and looks directly at his mom. He is dazed for a moment, trying to figure out where he is. He feels a trembling motion and his heart rate picks up again. Looking around he notices the small table where his family eats and glances out the tiny windows to watch the landscape whip past. Now, he realizes he is riding in the mobile home/RV that his Dad purchased to see the country.

“What is wrong, sugar plum?”

“I WAS GOING… to be crushed by a giant tyrannosaurus. People were running around and screaming. Mom, people were dying. Some people were shooting at it with guns, and some were throwing rocks to stop it, to stop it from coming closer, but, nothing stopped it… it was going to crush ME.” Gil begins to cry uncontrollably.

“It’s all right it was just a dream. It was just a dream.”

Gil slows his cry, and reigns in his emotions. “Mom, who is Ganbely?”

“Ganbely? Well, Ganbely is believed to be a god of all-seeing. Some believe he offers protection to the ones who worship him.”

A bright light comes over Gil’s eyes again, and when his eyes focus he sees his dad sitting next to him in the driver seat of the RV.

“Bad dream son?”

Gil goes through the story again with just as much vigor. Through the story, over the radio, two individuals are debating.

An optimistic man is speaking “…the earth IS safe from nuclear war; all great powers believe it is too devastating for all parties involved.”

The counter point of the debate speaks “Clearly another form of warfare will rear its ugly head, you just wait, and it will create just as much fear…”

Gil’s father asks, “You think your dream was about some kind of war?”

“YES, it was so scary.”

“I suppose seeing that coming at you made you want to surrender, huh!?”

A white light covers Gil’s eyes again; everything he was experiencing disappears except the trembling feeling of motion.

“WAKE UP PRIVATE! GET YOUR ASS UP! IT’S TIME.”

Gil shakes his 20 year-old head, and makes his way to the cab. He sits in the driver’s seat, fastens each safety harness, and takes over control from the current driver. With each motion the vehicle raises and lowers making the ground tremble. It crushes everything in its wake.

Gil looks to his right at a war machine in the shape of a brachiosaurus, to his left a centrosaurus. Gil watches individuals unloading their firearms at the machines. They throw rocks and anything else they can hurl, trying to slow them down. People run in fear with each step of the machines, not all are fortunate enough to get away.

He puts the machine in third, and picks up the speed as he goes through town. He sees down the road, a small blue house in his path, on top of the house is a clear blue obelisk. He gets closer to the house. He notices that the trembling of the machine causes the clear blue obelisk to fall to the ground and break into a thousand pieces. He hits the power flux, to pick up even more speed.

Gil’s mind flutters and he feels time slow down, as his mind searches. His eyes go wide as he looks at the small house. Through his telephoto monitor he swears he can see a small boy falling on the floor of the blue house. He breaks into a cold sweat, and something in him breaks for a moment as he cranks on the driving level to the left. He just misses the blue house, stopping the machine dead in its tracks. It sits on its edge, one false move and it will topple over.

“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PRIVATE?”

Gil doesn’t answer as the machine falls on its side.

The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:41:57 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

Chicken of the Sea

By:
Michele Dutcher


To the old woman he was like a scientific anomaly: something that should not have existed but stood there in front of her none-the-less. He was, to put it bluntly, the most beautiful man Mary Robinson had ever seen.

When he entered the small room where the retirement seminar was being held he couldn’t immediately find a seat. He stood in the aisle for a moment which allowed Mary to guess his age – probably 32 – and his height at well over six feet. He was head and shoulders above the seniors who were already seated comfortably in the resort lecture hall.

His skin was flawless, a deep coffee color, his jet black hair was curly and swept back away from his face. His black eyebrows framed deep eyes as shiny as black pearls. When he took the seat in front of her, Mary wondered if she should say something, anything. But she decided to let it pass. She checked her watch. To distract herself, she decided to call her niece. She heard Jill’s phone trill three times before the teenager answered.

“Hi Aunt Mary,” her niece said with a rush. “I don’t have many minutes left – but what’s going on?”

“I’m here in Buff Ledge, at that seminar I told you about.” There was a pause as Mary listened. “No, I don’t know how long I’ll be here. I like the beach and the marina… Okay, okay, I won’t keep you. Bye.” The phone on the other end had clicked off before Mary finished her sentence.

It was then that the mysterious man turned around to her and smiled. “Don’t you just hate that…when kids rush you off the phone because they’re in a hurry? – What’s so important? – Getting to level 89 on Candy Squash?”

She allowed herself a chuckle.

“I’m Franklin,” said the amazing man, holding out his hand.

Mary gladly gave him a handshake. “I’m Mary. But are you certain you’re in the right place? This is a seminar on retirement.”

“I’m thinking about becoming an instructor in this field, so…”

Mary smiled, relieved. Plausible enough.

“I have a boat docked at the marina, the Chicken of the Sea. I’m having a small gathering over for dinner tonight, half-a-dozen seniors from these groups. You should come. You’d enjoy Lake Champlain from the deck of a yacht.”

Later, Mary surprised even herself when she actually took advantage of the young man’s invitation, finding and boarding Franklin’s yacht.

“I’m so happy you could make it,” he told her, taking her hand and welcoming her aboard. There were other seniors there, at least half-a-dozen, mulling about on deck and under it, where dinner was ready to be served. There was the sound of a bell being hit and Franklin announced that dinner was served.

The menu was full of fresh seafood and wine. Mary felt the boat pull away from the dock. The conversation around the lavish table was lively.

“It’s a shame it will be too cloudy tonight to enjoy the alignment,” said John, one of the seniors midway through the meal.

“Ah yes! Jupiter and Venus. It would be exciting to view it if the skies were clear,” answered Franklin. The host smiled at his guests, obviously pleased. “It’s good to have another scientific mind aboard. If I may advance a theory: I have always clung to the notion that life under the oceans continued to evolve, just as life on land evolved. I believe, in fact, that during the millions of years that creatures dragged themselves onto the surface, evolution below the waves continued to progress steadily.”

John took up the gauntlet, eager for a good debate. “There is no evidence of any intelligent creatures in the seas. At least, no more thoughtful than dolphins, perhaps. If there are creatures who are self-aware in the oceans there would be cities, immense populations that would have been discovered during the past century.”

“You must concede that scientists know less about the bottom of the ocean than the surface of Mars,” Franklin retorted. “If life had continued to steadily evolve in the Seas, they would be so advanced by now that they could easily hide their cities.”

“Interesting, but improvable,” said the old man, lifting a glass of wine towards his host.

“Perhaps the proof is right in front of you, but you just can’t see it,” said the beautiful man.

John laughed. “It sounds as if you are saying you yourself come from one of these cloaked underwater cities.”

“Perhaps I am a member of a race of beings who were pets of these undersea city-builders. Perhaps I am descended from dinosaurs that were kept in undersea zoos for the enjoyment of the masters, before that asteroid hit. When that chunk of rock ended my kind’s existence on land, many of us continued to evolve inside of vast underwater caverns, cared for by our masters.”

“If all this is true, why have you invited us here?” Mary asked, playing along.

The beautiful man smiled a wide grin. “Perhaps our masters allow us the occasional fishing expedition. As you call tuna the ‘chicken of the sea’ – maybe we call humans the ‘tuna of the land’.” He threw his head back and laughed.

“Your appearance may be beautiful, sir,” said Mary, “but your humor is ugly!”

At this their host stood up. “Perhaps you’d find my appearance closer to the truth if I looked like this!” And saying this, Franklin‘s form began to morph, his skin turning to scales, his smile turning to rows of sharp, pointed teeth, his hands becoming claws with opposable thumbs.

There was chaos now as the guests ran upstairs, into the arms of the captain and the waiters, who had now morphed into dinosaur creatures as well. “Tuna of the land,” Franklin mumbled to himself chuckling. “Every time I say that line and see their reaction, it makes me laugh.”

The End

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Post February 27, 2014, 02:43:23 AM

Welcome to Gondwanaland

- Winner -



Planet III, Mission I

By:
Renee Harden


I crouch beneath the slimy fronds of the towering fern, moisture dripping off the notched, curled leaves and onto my face-shield. The droplets distort my already compromised view and I impatiently sweep them off. Captain Leat taps on my head from his perch on the fern’s thick stalk.

“Get out there and see if they’re gone,” he hisses. Of course. Give the least experienced officer the suicide mission of walking into a Coelophysis snare. I give him a furious glare but scrabble forward several feet, keeping one palm at the stunner strapped to my hip. The forest floor is slick with a smelly muck, mostly manure and urine of the various creatures that vie for the territory. The breathing filter that lets me take in the heavy air is not very good at keeping out the stench of this god-forsaken planet. I cautiously crawl into the open, exposed in the dim light. The rain pours down on me in sheets. Several small, mammal-like creatures scurry away through the dark-green underbrush at the sight of me, but the preying reptile couple that has haunted nearly every step of today’s surveillance is nowhere to be seen.

“Clear, for now,” I murmur into my communicator. We do not dare shout or even speak loudly, since doing so has already resulted in the death of one of our officers; Drae. She had laughed at a joke Seane had cracked from the ship. Something about not wanting to go outside to relieve himself for fear of having exposed body parts snapped up by the voracious reptiles that had taken up residence underneath the vessel. Seconds after her momentary lapse in judgment, her lifeless body flopped in the air, hanging from a pterosaur beak. Her tracker still blinks on our map, five miles north of us, somewhere in the cliffs that overlook the valley. The charge will run low in a few days and the device will turn off. Drae is already gone, so it’s not like it matters.

Captain Leat emerges from underneath the fern, followed by his assistant, Pin. Pin is the worst off of all of us, excluding Seane who spends most of his time in the controlled environment of the ship. Though the brightness of the sun is tempered by the never-ending overcast of the monsoon season, Pin has still managed to come down with heat exhaustion, sunburn and sun poisoning. Back home his family has lived underground for the past seven generations. I knew from the first time I met him that he was unsuited for this mission. Too pale and too thin and that is saying something for us. I live in an above-ground colony and my own pallor shines like the phosphorescent insects that fill the night skies during the brief lapses in rainfall. I miss my home. Planet IV. Even with the water shortages, the bitter winters and the population decline, it is better than this.

A loud chattering caw breaks through my reverie, snapping me back to miserable reality. I turn to see two reptiles bearing down on us, muscular back legs kicking up the mud onto their green-striped haunches, gaping mouths open, showing spiky teeth, claws outstretched. It is the claws that unnerve us the most about this creature’s physique. They look so much like ours.

All three of us deploy our stuns, mine and Captain Leat’s hitting the one in front and Pin’s just barely grazing the back one’s forearm. The animals stumble, the fore one pitching forward on its snout with a shriek. It is enough to slow them down, but we need to run. We had learned that running comes in handy on this planet. Too bad we’re not very good at it. We rarely run at home, preferring to use motorized pods. The dragging gravity of Planet III doesn’t help. As we sprint for our shelter, Captain Leat complains with what is left of his breath about our lack of kill weapons.

“Dim-witted scientists wanting to “minimize our footprint.” They might have considered that some footprints are bigger than ours.”

By the time we reach the makeshift underground shelter less than a half mile away, we are all gasping for breath, muscles burning and soggy-shoed. Utterly defeated at the day’s events.

“Curse this place and its ravenous wildlife,” Pin says as he throws himself onto the sleeping mat at the back of the shelter. He leaps up quickly. “It’s wet again,” he complains. Moisture keeps leaking in through the pod’s floor.

“This place is not fit for intelligent life,” Captain Leat sighs. Pin nods vigorously. I’m inclined to agree.

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:09:13 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

The challenge was to write a modern fantasy flash story that somehow incorporates the color green.


Example story:


The Little Man

By:
John David Rose


It all started when big Darren Zielinski was injured at the paper mill. A nervous greenhorn was running the hydraulic hoist and managed to drive a steel core into the back of Darren's skull. The walnut-cracking whack and stifling darkness were simultaneous. When the lights finally fuzzed back on in his head, things seemed a little off plumb. In the weeks after, everyone he talked to said that by rights he should have died; somehow it didn't surprise Darren that none of them seemed to feel all that bad about it.

His recovery was slow, but the mill was quick to rush him back to work. Memory problems plagued him, and he just couldn't seem to think straight anymore. The company said they had enough light duty to keep him busy for a long time, which made him swear defiantly. It was the type of work he hated, checking inventories, sorting order sheets, stocking labels. It wasn't the kind of work a real man was designed for. And on top of that, the doc, thinking a seizure was imminent, had Darren's license suspended. Now to keep his crummy job he had to ride the bus every day.

Darren had been riding the bus for a week before he noticed the little man. The man couldn't have been more than three feet tall. He had a graying red beard that ringed his face but no mustache beneath his pointed nose. His eyes were beady and an eerie shade of emerald. He wore a finely tailored suit with a green coat that was completely out of fashion, with a matching green bowler hat, and black shoes with ridiculous gold buckles.

Once he'd discovered the little man, Darren couldn't take his eyes off him. Each day Darren would pick a seat nearby just so he could stare. The little man was always on the bus before Darren got on, and stayed on after Darren got off. He seemed to have a perpetual frown on his face. The only other thing of note was a large green duffle bag that was always on the seat between the man and the window.

One day Darren sat behind the man in the hopes of maybe seeing what was in the duffle bag. For several minutes he stared through the slat in the seatback at the little man's hand resting on the bag.

"Most people who notice me have the decency not to gawk. I'm supposing now you'll be wanting my gold or three wishes or some such nonsense."

A flood of excitement washed over Darren. The man was speaking with a thick Irish accent.

Instinctively, Darren reached over the seat and put his hands on the man's shoulders. He imagined a black pot brimming with round gold coins and the little angry man dancing a furious jig. A nervous giggle escaped from Darren's throat.

"You think I'm a leprechaun. Don't you?" the little man said spitting the words up into Darren's face. "What kind of sane person believes in leprechauns? Hm? And why would a leprechaun be riding the city bus? I work for Evergreen Realty, you asshole."

"Uh..." Darren sat back. The man's verbal attack seemed to momentarily clear Darren's head. He couldn't believe he'd actually grabbed the man.

"I'm so sorry. I... I have a head injury... from work."

"Yes, excuses, excuses. It's not easy being me, but I guess I should be thankful that I'm not some meat-pawed buffoon like you." The little man glared; his eyes were screwed almost all the way shut.

"Really I'm sorry," Darren said. "What can I do to make it up to you?" Ever so slowly the little man's expression softened.

"Well, I suppose there's no real harm done. Honestly, what would possess you to think such a thing anyway? Are you really that detached from reality?"

Darren tried to center himself for a moment. If only everything didn't have that persistent skew that was disrupted by an occasional funhouse-mirror distortion to his vision. "I suppose it was a fantasy. I... for a moment I just... I just wished you were really a leprechaun," he blurted.

"And you really wished I had a pot of gold too?" Now the little man had a gapped-toothed smile on his face.

"Yes... I really wished you had a pot of gold just so I could see it."

"Well, there's no harm in wishing such things, but this is reality. However bad your life is, just think of what I've had to put up with. I can't ride the bus without some ass thinking I'm a leprechaun," the little man said. "By the way, don't you usually get off the bus by now?"

Darren swung his head around. At first he couldn't tell where they were, then he realized he was at least five blocks past the mill.

"I wish I didn't have to worry about that stupid job," he said leaping to his feet and pulling the cord. "I'm really sorry," he said back to the little man. "I'll make it up to you tomorrow. I'll bring you a donut or something." The bus pulled to the curb and slid to a stop with the whoosh of the brakes.

"Why would you be on the bus tomorrow?" the little man asked, unzipping the duffle bag.

"Same reason as every day. On my way to work." Darren said as he stepped off the bus.

"I don't think that'll be a problem, laddie." He hollered as the door closed shut.

Suddenly Darren was nauseated by an intense feeling of dread. He felt numb and tingly.
He strained to see the little man as the bus pulled away from the curb. Through the brain-searing sunlight reflecting off the bus windows Darren thought he could see the little man standing on his seat and doing a jig. There was an angry, evil sneer on his face, but he was laughing and holding up a black pot of gold for Darren to see.

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:10:19 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

PESTO CARBONAREA

By:
RdotTornello © 2014
&
The Village idiot Press


CRANBERRY SALSA
1 12 oz. bag of cranberries
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of green onions cut into 3-inch lengths
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
2 limes juiced
3/4 cup of sugar
1 pinch of salt
Blended in a processor fitted with a medium blade. Chop to medium consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Pesto Carbonarea looked at his mother's most loved recipe. It was always a show stopper. The Pope was in a secret meeting between the ambassador from the alien invasion fleet and one or two heads of state.

"Pesto," said the Pope. "I need one of your best dips for this meeting. I'm not sure what will come of this but no matter we must save the Holy Church and its people. I have our cooks working on the best meals from each of their countries. You're a bit different. You combine North America, South America and native America. Please make me a great dip that we all can love. Maybe they will take mercy upon us."

Pesto Carbonarea presented his cranberry salsa with great flourish. It was perfect.

****

Pesto looked at the recipe again, the spilled dip and the alien ambassador dead on the floor. "Oh my lord, I'm so sorry I had no idea my dip would kill it. Oh lord, forgive me." He was on his knees crying.

The Pope, his two military advisor-astronomers looked down at the dead ambassador. General Medici asked, "What did he say? Can anyone translate what it said?"

The American president's advisor looking up from his code book said, "The best I can make out is, "Shit, green spice food. They poisoned me. How did they get to know our secrets?"

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:11:27 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

Taking It Back

By:
J. L. Haines


The stones in her hand gleamed in the dim light from the television. "Where did you steal these?" Serena asked.

"Don't worry about that," Tortula snapped. "You sell this stuff first thing tomorrow and come to me with the money."

She tapped a fingernail against the glittering earrings. "These are jewelry stones," she answered. "My guy up here buys gold; he doesn't buy diamonds and stones. I got to take these down to Jewelers Row."

"So, do it; and get me my money in the morning."

Serena laid the earrings on the table next to the other items. "The gold necklace I can sell. Roth buys phones, too, if they're new. What you bring me credit cards for? The girl you stole them from calls them in as soon as she gets home. They're no good."

"She ain't gonna call nobody. Don't worry about it," Tortula growled.

Serena looked up at him with narrowed eyes. "What's that mean?" she demanded.

"You get out of my face, girl," Tortula replied. "You stay out of my business. It ain't nothin' to you how I roll my line." He tugged the sleeves of the sweatshirt over his hands, covering the inked knuckles. He patted his pockets and zipped up his hoodie. "Tomorrow."

Serena locked the door and turned to the earrings. Green emeralds surrounded shimmering diamond pendants. She carried the gems to her dresser. The room faded into mist.

No one was on the street at eleven at night. Three hours of Verdi echoed in her mind. Serena touched the emerald stones on her ears and shivered.

"Excuse me, miss? Do you have the time?" Tortula's voice hissed behind her shoulder.

Serena spun around and saw Market Street dark under streetlamps. The train station loomed in the distance. She wore a suit dressier than she had ever owned, and conservative pumps matched her hose. A silver pin held her hair in a braid, and a gray bag swung from her shoulder. These aren't my clothes, crept into her thoughts. This can't be happening.

"Miss?" Tortula muttered.

Serena saw the hoodie pulled over his head--she was looking down at him. Tortula's taller than me. This isn't me.

"Give me the bag." He pointed a Glock nine-millimeter at her waist. "Just stand still and give me the bag and your phone."

"No," Serena gasped, "get away from me." She stepped back and the hooded figure dissolved into darkness.

* * *

Roth watched Serena slouching at the entrance. The speaker over the sidewalk blared, "What are you doing here, Serena?"

"Roth, open up; I've got stuff."

The door buzzed open but slammed on her heels. Serena scanned the shop for occupants; she saw only Roth gazing at her.

"You were just in here yesterday."

"Yeah, I've got some nice stuff."

"You know I have to check it against the police report. Let's see it."

On the screen, yesterday's date held one entry: "Armed Robbery," a name, and a photo of diamond and emerald earrings nestled in a red velvet box.

Eight hundred dollars was all Roth offered for the stolen necklace and phone. The earrings waited in her pocket.

She stood in the shadow of the El musing and watching the rain. Dark green trash bags littered the gutter; drops beaded the plastic. A taxicab splashed through the puddles at the curb. Serena waved her arm. "Germantown," she told the driver.

Serena pinned the emeralds onto her earlobes and reached for her phone. "Curtis," she said against the background noise, "I need you to get me the same thing again. I'm coming over now. Where are you?"

Bars on Stenton Avenue opened when children left for school. "Pull over here," Serena told her cabdriver.

Serena stood in the doorway to the bar. Curtis was at the end; two regular patrons were under the television.

"County Auditor DiLuca, who was fatally shot last night, is survived by . . .," droned from the television. The bartender and both regulars looked at Serena.

"Hey, Curtis, how you doing?" Serena walked past the rapt patrons.

Curtis exchanged startled glances with the two other customers. "Miss," he stammered, "are you somebody I know?"

"Curtis, man, I just called you." Serena stood by the barstool looking down at her gunsmith. Curtis jerked his eyes away from the overhead screen and blinked at Serena.

"Serena, you look different today, dressed up like that. It doesn't look like you."

"Hey, baby, you know what? He was thinking you look like that dead girl on the TV," suggested the nearer patron. "You're dressed like a lawyer."

"Yeah, I'm going to a funeral, that's why," Serena told the customers. She turned to Curtis and raised an eyebrow.

"Talk in my car," responded Curtis. "Got the same as before: a nine."

An older, larger cab took Serena back to her house. The driver had opened the door for her and called her "Ma'am." She opened her purse on the seat. Her phone rested on the two hundred dollars remaining. Her new gun filled the leather bag.

Serena looked around Holly Drive; Tortula's car was not in sight. She climbed the stoop. The front door alarm was on; the vestibule light was on. Serena locked the door behind her and emptied her purse on the hall table.

"Who's that?" called Tortula's voice.

Serena jumped and clutched the automatic in both hands. "Hello," she shouted. "Are you home?"

"Get in here, you fool," answered Tortula. "Where have you been? Where's my money?"

He ambled to the bedroom doorway and stared at her. "No, you . . . you can't be. . . . You're that girl. Those earrings."

"You shot me," intoned Serena. She paced forward toward Tortula, holding the pistol level with his chest. "You took my life away from me. I'm taking it back." Serena squeezed the trigger and watched Tortula fall backward. She touched the emerald stones on her ears and smiled.

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:12:37 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

Iced Green Tea

By:
Renee Harden


I never cared for hot green tea. The cloying steam beading on my upper lip and fishy aftertaste turned me off from it. My former girlfriend, Stacy, always brewed a cup when she got home from the office. She claimed it calmed her down, though with 20 grams of caffeine in every cup, it was more likely contributing to her daily need for stimulating evening conversation. Zelda is a game best played with full concentration and I only listened with half an ear. I thought my stocking stuffer gift of loose leaf chamomile was subtle, but she didn't say thank you. Quite the opposite.

"What is this shit?" she asked, holding the box far enough away so that she could read the label without her glasses. She knows I hate the "s" word.

"Chamomile tea," I mumbled, holding my own stocking stuffer; a bra and panty set from Victoria's Secret.

"What am I, three? It says sleepytime!"

I briefly considered explaining the stimulant nature of green tea versus the relaxing properties of Matricaria chamomilla, but thought better of it under her glowering gaze. I had a feeling that the chair massage pad that sat wrapped under the tree would go over about as well as the tea. I was right.

By New Year's we were no longer together. Our demise had less to do with my lackluster communication skills, and more to do with a spell gone badly wrong.

I really dislike hot green tea. Perhaps I overreacted when I mistook her cup for mine and swallowed a large gulp of the vile liquid. I was engaged in a fierce battle with Yuga, just a bow-shot or two from defeating that bitrayen lowlife. I grabbed what I thought was my cup of hot coffee and took a fortifying swig. Seaweed essence and wildflower honey do not mix well.

"Fresen," I shouted as I threw the mug across the room, aiming for the trash bin next to the couch. Unfortunately one of the reasons I took up video-gaming in my teens was that my dismal hand-eye coordination made me unsuited for sports. That and the random shouting of spells during emotionally charged moments could be hard to explain. The cup and its now frozen contents smacked Tracy hard on her clavicle. A look of pure rage, accusing glare, perfect rosebud lips just barely parted, frozen like a wax sculpture perched on the edge of our amber leather couch. The fault is mine, to be sure, and I will take this guilt to my grave, but did she really need to sit down on the couch in that lacy camisole at the exact same moment I was throwing the cup? I sat for some time, staring at my new inanimate roommate. Link waited patiently for me at his save point, having been vanquished by Yuga. Poor chap is used to it by now. I finally worked up the courage to walk over to the couch and pick up the mug, the green tea just beginning to melt into speckled slush. I had a bad feeling that Tracy would not return back to normal once she started to thaw. I sniffed the iced green tea. Tasted it. I think I prefer green tea to be iced. Perhaps iced girlfriends are best as well.

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:13:40 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

I'm Not as Green as I Look...

By:
Sergio Palumbo


The fertile soil of South Africa's Free State province had ensured that much of that area was devoted to a thriving agricultural industry. But there was always something even more fertile than farming in that territory: hunting. Among the big-game sought by rich international hunters, the kudu remained on the top of everyone's list. Being one of Africa's most sought-after game trophies, this animal looked like a large antelope with a stately bearing and horns that set him apart from all others of the same species. Also called the 'grey ghost,' it sported a coat that was pale-grey with white vertical stripes down the flank.

Frank had been guiding foreign hunters for over a decade and this week things seemed to be going as usual, apart from the hot temperatures that were presently enveloping the entire plain. Actually, the 50-year-old bald man was getting tired of doing this kind of work, as he had been hunting for too long and there was almost no wild beast he hadn't killed so far. Of course, he earned a nice living in exchange for his time and expertise, but money wasn't everything, surely.

That morning, after leaving the Eastern Free State Lodge where they had stayed the night before, something unusual happened that immediately got his attention.

"I saw it, I swear!" said the young, tall fair-haired woman of the group. She was the wife of the old businessman who was on safari, along with three of his friends who were Frenchmen. She seemed to be out of place here, but she was the kind of person who always followed her rich husband wherever he took her. Frank was a bit doubtful about their true sexual relationship, as he thought that she really was beautiful and exuberant while her man appeared absent-minded. He only seemed to come alive as he shot some big prey in the open savannah, undoubtedly.

Her husband obviously thought she was making it up. "No way, there's no such a thing…"

"But I saw it, my darling!" she repeated.

Frank intervened to settle the dispute, before the wild animals overheard their yells and moved away, putting to waste a good day's hunting. "What's the matter, Mrs. Degrand?"

"As I was telling my husband, I saw a green rabbit, there's no mistake…"

"You saw WHAT?" asked Frank, immediately showing a renewed interest.

"A green hare, a rabbit. Do they have those around here?"

"Not usually. Are you sure?" the experienced man insisted. "Really sure?"

"Yes, indeed!"

"And where did you see it?"

"Down there. It stood half-hidden among the greenish shrubs that grow on that small outcrop."

The man immediately grabbed his rifle, heading for the place the woman had just pointed to. This was an opportunity that seemed to be too great to be missed, so he rapidly moved towards the site where the animal had been supposedly spotted. He knew perfectly well that green rabbits didn't exist, but he also knew that this colorful shape was one of the ways a legendary magical creature known as Zomo chose to appear from time to time.

It was such a very rare being that almost no one really believed it existed, except the old locals. It would be a great addition to his already notable collection... Beyond that, imagine the great renown he would get if he killed a creature that was not only considered to be exceptionally rare, but also a mythological one!

As the man neared the outcrop, he slowly looked around, ready to aim at his possible target. Minutes flew past but not a single wild animal appeared. Maybe, that ditsy woman had simply imagined that she spotted something... Then some movement was noticed among the shrubs and all of a sudden the fabled green hare showed itself!

'Incredible! Unbelievable!' Frank told himself as he saw that creature. "So, it really exists... I must have it!"

As he moved to approach and shoot, the animal changed position hiding under a small rock so that Frank couldn't hit it from his vantage point. But the man didn't lose his head, as that future trophy was so near that he could almost see hanging on his wall at home, his prized trophy. He walked on, in silence, in order to reach the best point to shoot from.

He heard something. As he turned to the right, there it stood! His movements were immediate and Frank fired accordingly. "I got it!" he cried out, and immediately he ran to the site where he had seen the creature fall down, already dead.

Great was his surprise when the man reached the place. On the ground, lying lifeless was the slender figure of a beautiful young woman hit in the head by his shot. "Oh my!" Frank burst out. "How is this possible…? How did I miss?"

As the others in the group of hunters approached, screams went up, rising high on the plain, and the experienced guide was simply unable to explain all that. He had told the others to stay away, not to follow him, and then he said that he was sure he had aimed at the right prey... what had gone so horribly wrong?

In the distance, half-hidden under the tall shrubs that covered the ground, the creature known as Zomo looked at that scene in silence, satisfied.

As a fabled trickster, he had been playing that game for a long time, and his pranks usually caused trouble among gods, among men, or between gods and humans. The legendary Zomo knew that every human who spotted him had to be killed or to pay the price, getting themselves into trouble in the end.

All of that was a lot of fun for him, it had always been that way. You see, the old Zomo liked to go hunting, too, from time to time and he undoubtedly liked to get some human prey, using only his magic, without bringing his own weapon and without needing to even pull the trigger, indeed...

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:25:23 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

Bíonn tú Glas

By:
Sage Green


The little bearded man sat looking at his queen. He was eating the mint chocolate chip ice cream she had bought him at the nearby stand. She was shelling and eating pistachios. They sat by the shore of Lake Michigan. He liked this little park in Howard, Wisconsin especially. It was about twenty minutes north of her current base of operations. The dragon, only they could see, swam lazily back and forth in the lake cutting through the lake algae. The little man had a high pitched voice.

"You know your highness I am envious that you do not suffer from this malady as I do."

"Seamus, every time you get depressed I find you in that horrible bar in Ann Arbor. It is just dreadful you laying there in that state dressed like a blueberry!"

She was the picture of tranquility sitting there absentmindedly looking at a caterpillar crawl on the hem of her emerald gown. She looked up at him with eyes the color of sea foam. He knew what she would say next before she said it.

"I am going to leave some sprites here with you this time till you are feeling well again. You will like Kelly and Olive. They will get you back on your feet again."

"Thank you, your highness."

He looked over her shoulder at the two young women sitting in the clover eating watermelon. The smaller one was rolling a tennis ball under the heel of her sneaker. The taller girl was looking at a frog hop by them off to their left.

The queen picked up a hand full of moss and squeezed it till her hand closed fully. When she opened it she held a jade amulet shaped like a grasshopper. She leaned forward and reached out to Seamus.

"I want you to take this and hold it when you need to speak with me. You should use it whenever you need to. I know you are the last of your kind Seamus. I will not tell you that it will be easy to recover. That man tricked you and has your gold. You will have to learn to deal with that. It is imperative that you understand that I need you to live through this."

"Your majesty... I am not sure I can! It was such an important part of me."

"I have arranged for you to stay at a room I keep at Peridot Gardens downtown. Go there and get your head straight. You are an important part of my organization. Additionally please change your clothes. It is disconcerting to see you dressed in those aqua tones. The girls have a garment bag and hat box in their possession which has a suit and hat of the proper color."

He stood and walked towards the young ladies. They got up and walked on either side of him towards the small copse of pine trees that separated the lake from the parking area.

The queen looked sad. She picked a shamrock and twirled it between her fingers. If she lost the last one of any of her people it would be the beginning of the end. That was her biggest fear; she might really be in a pickle this time.

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:26:23 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

What's in a Color?

By:
Herbert Chamberlain


October 16, 1995, Washington, D.C., Million Man March.

He clenches his teeth with all his might. He begins to move towards cover. Every step he takes is a struggle. "Must keep strong; must keep going."

All around is a bustle of activity. People are all moving around him. He notices people of all races and skin colors, but a large percent of the crowd have dark skin.

"Excuse me. Excuse me, please. Ohhh!" He grabs his side, and whimpers. "Stay strong. Stay strong."

As he is struggling through the crowd, he is bumped and jostled. Suddenly, his body begins to quiver and shake. His skin turns to a bright white. "No, not here, NOT here."

His body returns to his ordinary flesh-colored form. He begins to believe the hype, that there truly are a million people around him. His blood pressure begins to rise, thinking about the reality of it all. His knees buckle, as the fabric of his jeans form together like a robe, the blue saturation dilutes to solid cotton white.

"Focus, damn you, FOCUS," he murmurs to himself. His jeans regain their color and form two ordinary legs again.

Working through the crowd he can see a small woodland area in front of him. He knows if he can make it there and muster the strength, he can hopefully perform a successful evaporation spell. Revealing yourself in public as a wizard has become an offense punishable by death. If he can reach the woods he can release his gut-clenching hiding spell.

Right in front of the tree line he observes some of the largest dark-skinned men he has ever seen.

"So you are using that hiding spell. You thought quick, huh? I thought I took enough out of you that you wouldn't be able to maintain." A tall, slender, white-faced man with a cowlick in the middle of his head walks in front of him, wearing a green t-shirt, blue jeans, and a slight sneer.

The first man begins to shudder, trying with all his might to keep focus.
"FOCUS, come on. Not now, Julian," he says in a whisper.

"You can't keep this up all day," Julian says.
The first man continues to move forward, much slower now. Suddenly he feels a sharp pain in his abdomen, and he doubles over clutching his stomach.

"It feels like you ate a gas station hot dog, doesn't it?" Julian jokes, then mocking. "You have to concentrate. So much excitement, so many emotions, the guilt, the fear. Remember! That fun hiding spell only lasts so long!! Even harder to keep going in your weak state."

The man continues to move forward, but at a crawl now.

"Oh, give it up. It's over," Julian says.

The man shudders and quakes violently. He convulses and seizes. Julian just stands and grins, as other spectators look on in sympathetic wonder. The man's skin begins to turn to a white fabric, and his skull begins to grow larger and becomes a pointed cone. He appears to be wearing a white robe, with two black openings for eyes.

There is a murmur in the crowd, as some around him begin to see what they can only assume is a Ku Klux Klan member at the Million Man March.

"NOW you can show them who you really are. Ain't it grand?" Julian taunts.

The crowd becomes infuriated, and forms a large circle around what they think is a cloaked figure.

"Julian please help me, don't you realize what I look like?" the man pleads.

"Oh! Yes I do KNOW. Why do you think I sent you here? Remember why the KKK call their leaders Grand Wizards? REMEMBER? All because of one visible fight we had so many years ago. I have to admit, being disguised as a dark-skinned human might have been a bad idea on my part."

"You know those White Robes of Resistance are the strongest magical protection known to the wizarding world, but so much concentration is needed to maintain a human form. Stronger robes, more concentration, RIGHT. But, OH! If you take off the robes will you ever be able to put them back on? It is too bad they don't protect from physical harm, just magical, right?" Julian smiles at the man.

"Julian, you have to help me. I can't focus. I am too weak to keep my cover. I see that humans are learning to get along after what we have caused."

The crowd is completely enraged, and glares at the man in the white robes.

"Do you know how many years I have wanted those robes? So, many years of trying to find something that came close. I have tried everything from black to pink to even green robes. Do you know what the green robes protect from? Well, I had my arm frozen and broken to pieces by the Icelandic cave wizard. So, NO, the Green Robes don't protect very well against magic. Oh! By the way, thanks for helping on that one."

"I am sorry; I was busy," The man replies

"Well, NOW I am busy," Julian replies with vigor. "CANKER SORES! That's what those green robes protects from."

The crowd moves in with fury in their eyes.

"OK, OK, you win. Suffucas, saffious, lutacris, flank," the man chants.

Julian conjures a cloud a smoke around both men. The white robes fall to the ground in a heap, appearing now to be a ratty tattered brown color. On the ground lays a naked old man.

The crowd looks around as if they all just awoke from a dream, and forget what they were moving towards, and start moving in different directions.

Julian picks up the tattered pieces of cloth, and whispers to the naked man on the ground, "Tell Ma I will be home late tonight."

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:27:20 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

Walden's Secret

By:
George T. Philibin


I walked out towards the pond. Yes, it was colder than I imagined, and the pond had a sparkling clarity in it.

"Isn't it just wonderful?" Kate said, my wife of many years. "Thanks for the vacation up here... the kids will always remember it. And I always wanted to visit the New England states so bad."

"It's okay but... I like our ponds and lakes better," I said.

Yes, but David Henry Thoreau never lived in Pennsylvania, Dad. Walden's Pond is the epicenter of Transcendentalism. My English Comp Professor Emerston always said so. And can't you just feel Nature? Nature will show us things!" Kiera said, my youngest daughter.

"I know. That's why I go hunting," I said.

"Dad! That's not what I mean!" Kiera said. She started lecturing me.

Like a great dad, I had to listen, and listen to things like "I just love to walk in the woods... Oh, how Nature purifies us... Oh, I rank things in my mind--not my pocketbook... Oh, this proves that the Sun also rises... etc..." Kiera was so good at chanting.

Finally, after a few minutes I interrupted and said, "Remember that time in Stackhouse Park when you were sitting alone by the brook, enjoying Nature? Well, after I pointed out the bear tracks--you for some reason didn't want to sit there anymore. In fact you stayed very close to me until we left! Now, how did you rank that one?"

"Dad! That's different!" Kiera said.

I caught myself looking over the pond and studying all of it. "I don't know what it is, but I wish I had my Browning semi with me today," I said. The hairs on the back of my neck started crawling.

"Yeah, that would be cool, Dad," Eric said, my youngest son. I didn't hear him come. He loved firing my 30-06 Browning semi.

"Hunting, hunting, hunting! That's all everyone thinks about in this family," Kiera said. She then stormed over to Tina, her cousin and best friend.

Kiera and Tina sauntered over to the water's edge. Kiera now laughing at something Tina said as they both turned their backs to the pond.

"Mom, Mom take our picture," Kiera said. She put her arm around Tina's shoulders, smiled and yelled, "Mom, we're waiting!"

Kate walked towards them a little; Eric and I watched. Kate stopped and raised her camera-phone. Suddenly, Eric grabbed my arm and shouted, "What the hell's that!" pointing at something in the pond.

A green head with two eyes had popped up to the surface. And its eyes fixed themselves on the girls, and the green head started moving towards them at a slow and very noticeable swim.

"Girls, get back! Get back now!" I screamed. But the girls just looked at me with their typical huh! I started running towards them, but Eric with his quick mind managed to get the girls scurrying instantly with "There's a big snake after you two--run!" Kiera looked puzzled, but Tina looked around and saw the green head moving towards them. She grabbed Kiera by the hand, and yanked her as she started sprinting from the pond, dragging Kiera along!

Eric ran ahead of me, but when the girls passed him he stopped. Instead of returning, he picked up some rocks and started lobbing them at the green head like mortar rounds. They splashed in front of the first one, and it stopped moving. And it frowned a little!

Eric kept up his attack until the girls were up on the trail with me and Kate.

"Eric!--get outta there!" I said. Eric turned, sped.

We backed up some more. The green headed thing then started lumbering towards shore; its neck now extended upwards at least fifteen feet. It waddled in closer, then slowed down and seemed to flop down on the bottom, for it came no nearer. The other two green heads stayed out in the pond, and they appeared younger and smaller than the first one.

"That's no snake!" Kiera screamed. "Dad, what is it! What is it!"

"It's the Loch Ness Monster!" Eric screamed.

"No it's not, it's some specie of eel, a fresh water variety, that's all it is," Kate said.

"No it isn't. It's not an eel--more like one of those dinosaurs with long necks that swam in the ocean millions of years ago--get some pictures!" I said.

"It wants to play with us!" Tina said. And upon hearing "play" the green headed thing seemed to smile.

We all looked at Tina--even Kiera the Nature lover--with eyes so wide they mimicked TV discs, and faces so white that a ghost would feel suntanned.

"I can feel it... it's a friendly dragon and has been sooooo misunderstood," Tina said.

"Yeah, well if I had Dad's Browning I'd show some misunderstanding--right Dad?" Eric screamed out.

"Yes, I'd feel safer, but I doubt if I'd have to use it. Tina's right, I don't think they want to harm us," I said.

And then things became very strange: The green headed thing or dragon withdrew with a sad countenance, and when it turned back to give one last look, its eyes had tears in them--I'll swear to that--to this day. So will Kiera, Tina and Kate. Eric swears it was crying because it didn't get to eat the girls for lunch!

Tina turned to Eric and screamed, "It knows you want to kill it! That's why it's leaving. You're so immature!" Eric threw up his hands and said, "Help save a life--and this is how I'm repaid!"

I looked at Kiera who was still wide-eyed and said: "Maybe your Thoreau fellow came out here for something else besides solitude. After all, it's known he was a Nature lover!

Kiera nodded. The green heads went under silently making almost no ripples in the water.

And I had to add, "Honey--what did Nature teach you today?"

The End

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Post March 30, 2014, 11:28:35 PM

Modern Fantasy in Green

- Winner -



Spam

By:
Michele Dutcher


The little man in the tiny office at the National Printing Factory sat stoically going through his email. He was rail thin, as he had always been, but nowadays there was a slight smile frozen onto his pale face. Soon the sun would be rising outside. Soon Rick Gilmore would have cleaned out today's email, so he could go home.

"From: Sani Usman" was the title given on the left side of the inbox. "Re: Your payment" was the phrase in the subject line. Rick Gilmore clicked on the email line, opening the spam message.

"Dear one in Christ, I am with much happy to write to you this secret letter about the 3 millions of dollars that will be deposited into your bank account, because you are clicking on..." The email went on and on but that was all that Rick had time for, looking down to the bottom where it said, "with peace and greetings to for you, Vidalia Nyarkoa."

Rick Gilmore didn't care if the names at the top and bottom matched; he just clicked on 'reply' then closed it, knowing that the said amount would be deposited as promised. He smiled, looking at the next subject line of the next email.

"From: Ambassador Mo... Subject: Your ATM Card Payment. Honestly nothing on this earth can stop me of writing this to you but there are also others telling me that you will not do what I say and send me of money 300 dollars so I may bless you with the four million of dollars left to you by my friend Caliph Rashid."

The middle-aged man had read enough--he immediately pushed the reply button knowing that the $300 would be taken from his account and sent to Ambassador Mo. The little man knew that if he checked his bank account, the statement would say that 300 dollars had been sent elsewhere and four million dollars had been deposited to his account.

"From: Mrs. Angela Benja Subject: Your urgent Assistance is needed." Rick pressed delete. He knew that when the subject line contained no promise of wealth untold, it was usually a plea for help. He didn't want to waste his time with that insanity.

"From: Your Attentions! Subject: Re: Foreign Contracts Payments." Ah! That was better. Payments. That's what he wanted to see. He opened the email just long enough to see how much money he was going to receive before hitting reply, knowing that 250,000 dollars in cash had just appeared in one of his P.O. boxes in Switzerland, probably the one at No1 Postfach CH 4002 Basel. Momentarily someone would appear to pick it up in Switzerland, and then deposit it into one of Rick's accounts there. He didn't know why, but the Foreign Contracts Payments always worked like that.

"From: Mr. Edward Meyers Subject: International Account Bank of America." Click open, money promised, reply sent, email message closed. It had been the same routine since he had come in one morning to his boring, trivial, brain deadening government job and found one hundred and fourteen emails from a certain Ima Genie. He had meant to delete them all but had been so exasperated with the sheer number of them, that he had accidently opened the one on top instead. "Mr. Rick Gilmore," it had started. "If you will hit reply to this email after reading it, you will finally release me, a genie, from my digital imprisonment--and I will grant your first wish after you have released my essence."

The unending desperation of years of faithful (yet unrecognized) government service had suddenly risen to the top, forcing him to stop for a moment. Should he take the chance?--what did he have to lose?

He thought about his meager apartment over a garage and his faithful dog Mr. Dukes--the only real friend he had in the world. If not for himself, why not try it for his seven-year-old Boston terrier. Rick took the mouse in his hand, his cursor hovering over the reply button.

"Click" went the mouse button on the word 'reply,' and something magical happened. The entire computer simmered, glistened the color of an emerald, and a faint form took flight going right through the ceiling of his second floor office. Then everything returned to normal. He remembered the memo saying he could make one wish only. He closed his eyes and whispered, "I wish that every unbelievable promise in my junk email was true."

Rick opened his eyes to notice that all the emails from Ima Genie were gone. The only emails remaining were spam.

"From: EZ money" read the first one. "Subject: Your secret millions are waiting." Rick clicked on it, read it carefully, and then hit reply. He miniaturized his email before checking his bank account online. There it was--2.3 million dollars sitting there waiting for him, no questions asked.

With his first withdrawal of $200,000 USD, he bought two houses in the historic part of town. Eventually he paid the head of his firm a hefty sum in cash to ensure him complete, eternal access to his original computer and office.

"He's back at it," said Lori Haralovich to herself, as she punched in for the day. In the last six months her secretarial work for Rick had turned quite profitable.

Suddenly the door to Rick Gilmore's office opened. The tiny man was smiling as he stepped out, making certain the lock had fastened securely. As usual he held an unmarked envelope filled with cash. "Miss Haralovich, you are looking as lovely as ever," he said joyfully. He laid the envelope into her waiting hand.

"Thank you, Mr. Gilmore," echoed Lori, smiling back at him. "Enjoy the rest of your day."

"Oh I will, Miss Haralovich. I most certainly will." And with that he walked out of the office, into the rest of his beautiful day and his beautiful life.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:34:25 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

The challenge was to write a science fiction flash story set in a future long after a catastrophe has caused the fall of human civilization.


Example story:


Through Cats' Eyes

By:
John David Rose


Marissa watched the governor's chariot pass. It needed new paint. The gold on the wooden wheels was peeling, and the red of the chariot itself looked washed out and chalky in the bright sun. The elderly liger that pulled the chariot looked tired and nowhere nearly as ferocious as the propaganda out of the capital would suggest. Governor Vendo III, was not impressive either. The old man, fat, balding, sweating in the sun, leaned against the side of the chariot, holding an umbrella over his head, while the charioteer, a muscular ebony-skinned young man, that Marissa couldn't take her eyes off of, coaxed the old liger down the street with clucks and the occasional snap of the reins. Vendo's guards followed, armored in leather, carrying spears; the crowd cheered.

The people of Ledoc called themselves cat-people, but were in fact human. To scare off enemies in the desperate times that followed the mass extinction triggered by the Biotech Age, the people of Ledoc had claimed to be descended from the great cats of legend like lions and tigers. The liger, a genetically engineered hybrid that had survived the extinction even though its antecedents hadn't, roamed the desert lands of Ledoc. The cat-people had taken the giant beast as their symbol, emblazoning its roaring image on their banners and had even managed to domesticate a few that served as fearsome mascots on the battlefield.

"Well, I guess the governor's still sucking air." Lucca whispered. He was Marissa's twin, but he was six inches taller than her. He was thin and had long arms and long brown hair that he was forever pushing away from his eyes and hooking behind his ears. Marissa, who had the same hair, fought an urge to duplicate her brother's obsessive behavior.

"I guess this means it will be another year before he appoints a successor," she said. Both of them thought about the possibility of the governor dying of natural causes or some unnatural ones, but to say that out loud was extremely dangerous.

Drummers and a row of scantily clad women waving giant emu feathers in synchronized movements came marching next. Some of the crowd on the other side of the street were cheering and shouting. Probably someone's sister was in the group. Then Marissa realized some of the young men looked like they were on the verge of the vildelust. She was glad at that moment to be on this side of the street. Men in vildelust were known to lose control and nearby women could easily be victimized.

***

As soon as the parade ended the crowd seemed to evaporate as the sun set. Marissa and Lucca headed towards home, a second floor flat in a rundown, sun-dried brick building far from the capital. Along the way they decided to buy some kabobs from a street vendor who was nervously packing up his wares. He had a few kabobs left and since it was the end of the day Lucca was able to get a bargain. The smell of the cooked meat was smoky and inviting even if the meat looked like it had set out all day in the sun. Lucca handed Marissa one of the kabobs as the vendor rushed off leaving them alone on the street.

A clay jug shattered in a nearby alley. In the long shadows Marissa thought she could make out four men. Then she heard their drunken cat calls.

"Come on Lucca," Marissa said in a harsh whisper. She nodded toward the men to indicate her concern as she pulled Lucca along.

"What? Marissa stop!" Lucca didn't see the danger. He often walked alone, even at night. But this was the festival. Fights were expected. Riots even broke out. And women were frequently assaulted. The elders didn't approve, but the Governor did nothing to prevent it.

Suddenly another jug shattered against the wall behind them. The men descended on them like a pack of demons. Two of them pushed Lucca back to the wall. The other two pulled Marissa to the ground. One of the men held her in a choke hold; his breath on her face was fumy with alcohol. She couldn't breathe. The other man laughed as he pawed at her breasts.

Lucca screamed out in defiance, but the men holding him began to beat him. Marissa twisted her head only to see her lanky brother collapsed on the ground and being kicked. She felt her body flush with a strange aching strength and a scream growled out from the pit of her being. She would do whatever she had to to save her brother. She jammed her knee into the groin of one of her assailants and then freeing one arm she clawed at his face. She felt her nails dig deep into his flesh. He screamed as she raked across his face. He fell away in the darkness, whimpering. The other man on her punched her in the stomach, but her success in repelling the first man bolstered her, and she reached for the second man's neck, ripping and tearing. The man clutched at her throat in return, but somehow his strength seemed to be seeping away, like a puddle after a storm. Finally, he slumped to the side, motionless.

Marissa stood up and looked towards her brother. Both of his attackers were dead on the ground, just feet away from the one she had killed. She didn't know what this all meant. Something was wrong, and it frightened her. Lucca was hunched over. His body was contorted, changed; Marissa could hardly recognize him. His fingernails had become blood-drenched claws. His face had become the face of a beast. When he looked up at her she was met with fear and confusion. Suddenly she realized they would be outcasts. To save themselves they would have to flee into the desert.

"Lucca," she rasped. But it was as if he couldn't recognize her with his yellow cat's eyes.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:39:26 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

Seattle Parasites

By:
Michele Dutcher


The man living next door to Simon was the perfect example of a good, Nation of Seattle, worker bee. By 8 AM the man next door had eaten breakfast, dressed, shaved, and was now outside tilling the soil in his small garden using a spade. He had served four years in the Border Army, had a skinny but not sickly wife, and was always polite-casual when Simon walked past. For his neighbor, it was as if The Burning had never happened and so it behooved the man to act the same way his father always had.

Simon was not a good worker bee. He was a parasite. People like him sucked up, fought over, and squandered whatever had been left behind by all the worker bees who had desolated the planet before they fried alive in their own muck of an atmosphere. He and his kind lived five to a room in a mansion on a hillside overlooking Bellingham Bay: a 19-room house made of stone and brick with stained glass windows, fireplaces, hardwood floors and oak staircases.

The time between 8 AM and noon was usually a dead zone for Simon and his girlfriend Isis, but this morning he had to pay for food, so he took his shot gun with him as he left the mansion. No one drove anything down the road: not a car moved, not a truck, not a bus. He walked past the rusting carcasses of dead, overturned cars, with melted rubber hanging off their axles like string cheese. Of course it was raining, more of a light misting really, which had been a bad thing a century ago--but no longer.

He walked up to where Isis lived and together they walked down towards a bluff overlooking Bellingham Bay. He liked the fact that his girlfriend had binoculars and could spot the incomers before anyone else. Isis was all that.

"Did you bring a snarf bag?" she asked Simon as they were walking.

"Got it right here," he told her, pointing to his backpack.

"We need to pop one off today. The Burning Festival is day after tomorrow."

"Yep. That's rule number one--nobody works on Burning Day, no matter how much you need the money."

"You and your rules," she chuckled as they sat down by the ocean on top of a boulder. "Tell me more rules."

He started using his fingers as if counting. "You don't mix two kinds of alcohol unless it's Tequila and beer. If you hear someone scream for help just walk the other direction. Nobody who's a parasite never gets hitched permanently and we don't go to the prom either. And," he stopped to emphasize the next one, "When all else fails, popping an incomer for cash is an acceptable way to buy a food bag."

"One more!" she begged, waiting to say it in unison with Simon: "Don't start no shit, won't be no shit!"

"This is the whole of the law and the prophets," added Simon while Isis screamed with laughter.

They were sitting together on a large stone ten feet above the surface of the water. Simon checked to be certain they were out of sight of the guard towers run by the military. And they waited, enjoying the sound of the waves as Isis searched the horizon.

Around 11 AM the girl spotted something small heading towards them with Lummi Island in the background. It was bobbing in the bay like a cork. The pair watched as it got closer and closer--the current bringing the boat within 15 feet of their boulder.

As the exhausted man onboard dragged the boat up onto a patch of gravel, the two jumped out of their hiding spot.

"You know you're not supposed to be here," said Simon fiercely, shotgun in hand.

"They wouldn't let me stop on Lummi Island," the man tried to explain.

Isis looked him over. "Then go back to where you came from, back there into The Hot."

The man backed away from the boat and the teenagers. "You know I can't do that. I can't just stay out there and die like everyone else. I have money, Seattle money, if you'll let me pass."

The man held out some plastic currency bills and Isis took them. "These are probably all fakes--but we'll keep them just in case."

"Can I come in then? They're all dead out there in the hot. I just want a piece of ground where I can grow some food, where it still rains sometimes. Where the soil doesn't just dry up and blow away . . . "

There was the sound of a gun being fired, more of a canon sound really as it reverberated off the cliffs and echoed out over the ocean.

"Thanks, Simon," said Isis. "I always hate it when they get all whiny about rain and pure water and all that."

"He should have gone back into the hot. I gave him a chance--you heard me."

"Yeah, Simon, I heard you. That was more than he deserved really, trying to cross the border by water like that."

"How much did we get?" asked Simon looking at the money.

"Close to five hundred . . . "

"Nice not needing to rifle through the pockets. He just handed the money over to you. Funny really. "

". . . plus the body bounty of course."

"Of course! Here, help me with the bag."

Soon the happy couple was dragging their bloody prize up the road towards the police station. They had done their part to protect the nation's borders, so they'd be duly compensated. Simon was a happy parasite knowing he'd be having a joyous Burning Day celebration this year. He looked over at Isis, his ace in the hole--yep, Isis was all that.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:41:06 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

Ignis Fatuus

By:
Ed Sullivan


Brother Tan gazed out the window. The scorched desert could be seen over the survival wall only from the highest windows of the Tower of Truth. This essentially meant you never saw over the wall unless you were a full brother of advanced standing. The office he was in was just high enough to have the view despite the fact he was the third most senior brother in the tower. He was only allowed access to the secret holy library because Brother Blue died five years ago and he was then too senior to deny. He had educated himself for years through collecting black market books from the city. The last five years had been miraculous though, he had advanced his education and theories more than in his previous forty. He was ready to present what he found to the world. He had already forwarded his findings to the other senior brothers. This was his moment of triumph.

There was a knock on his door. This was odd as no one ever visited him. It occurred to him that perhaps for some reason he should not answer and just let them go away. That was ridiculous of course. He was a man of faith but he was logical at his core. Omens and ill feelings did not dictate his behavior. He rose and answered his door. It was his peers and a novice that attended them. Brother White was a thin frail man, almost skeletal. He was the chamberlain and everything that happened in the towers was his purview. Brother Black was his opposite in most ways. Black was corpulent. His size was so great that every word of his speech had a tendency to sound as if it started with the letter "B." He was the spiritual head of the order. He was the final arbiter of all things which were questions of faith. Little Brother Red was the constant companion of one or both of them. Little Brother being a novice title for him was humorous, him being the biggest man anyone had ever seen in this city. He had hands the size of other men's heads. They all entered without being formally invited.

Brother Black spoke first as befitted his station. "Good Morning, Brother. The blessings of our Lord are upon you."

"Also with you, Brother Black. What can I do to help you and your companions today?"

The skeletal chamberlain's face took on an angry rigor. "You know very well why we are here, Tan. Those papers you gave us are blasphemous. You cannot allow others to see your delusions. It contradicts our whole purpose."

"I don't see that it does brother. Besides, the truth is the truth. The creator would want us to share truth if we discovered it, wouldn't he?"

The giant novice was walking around the room touching things and looking generally bored. The fat monk put his hand on Brother Tan's shoulder.

"You must understand our position. We have told all the people of the great city of Salvation that our tower is a beacon to communicate with the Almighty as he and his heavenly kingdom circles our world. Your work contradicts this."

"But our world circles the heavens. I have studied the needed math to prove it. I have even found evidence in our own archives of texts that were saved from before the fall that agree. It is the truth."

White surged forward finger pointed accusingly. "We are the truth. Our order has saved civilization. We tell Salvation and mankind what is right!"

"But we were wrong. I have seen the science to prove it. I have tracked the heavens. I have watched the stars. There are patterns which prove it. I have found pieces of information in the library that agree."

The declaration made the other brothers tense as he got to the word "wrong." They both looked apoplectic. The thin monk looked angrier if that was possible. The larger man looked upset briefly but regained his serene look quickly. He removed his hand from Tan's shoulder. He shook his head with what seemed sadness.

"Brother you have gleaned so much from so little. You have a great mind and have always been a benefit to this order. We have documents even you have not seen. Your findings are nothing new. Brother White and I have access to documents which confirm everything you have said. We have access to histories which ironically tell that this isn't even the first time this information has been withheld for the glory of the Almighty."

"But . . . we must tell everyone! It is the truth; the Creator is about the truth!"
The head monk raised his hand palm up to stop his outburst. "Brother, I love you. We all love you. This information cannot come out."

He turned toward the door. The chamberlain jutted his chin out in a reverse nod and followed. They closed the door behind them. Tan was incensed. He would leave the order. He would write his findings and distribute them. It was not to be stood for. He turned to begin packing and preparing. It was then that he realized that White was not gesturing to him in defiance. It was a facial gesture of implementation of a previous order. Little Brother Red had never left the room.

"Go with the peace of the Lord, Brother."

The big man's soft voice was the last thing he heard as the large hands crushed his throat.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:43:32 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

Super Bowl M

By:
George T. Philibin


The North Side Clan lines up. The New 'ork Clan lines up against them--each clan face to face with spears aimed at the other! Now, Longyards of the North Side Clan bends over and places his hands around the goat head and grunts, "Huh, Hoo, hee, haa..." With haa, he tosses the head back into the hands of Magone, the fastest known runner in North Side Clan. Magone sprints forward, ducks left missing a spear thrown at him, lunges forward missing arrows that almost find his thigh, but before he could run farther, a rock strategically thrown from New 'ork's defense knocked him down and out.

"High Priest Referone measured Magone's distance. He conferred with other priests, then announced to all, "Magone has made a first dung!"

The North Side Clan jumps up and down; aimed their spears towards the field, and with each fake lunge forward of the spear they shout, "First dung, first dung, first dung..."

Two dead clan members with bashed in heads, Steampipe of the New 'ork clan, and skyscraper of the North Side Clan, are dragged off the field.

Magone comes to at the side lines. He is not quite ready for another play, and upon learning this, Chief Kingone shouts a command, "Thunder--you're up!"

"The ancients called this footfall, the high priests tell me. They played this game instead of making war," Chief Kingone said. "Tis better to kill a few in a short time, than many, many, many over a long time. You, Thunder are the runner of the goat head now, and with you our clan's honor rests. If we lose this game, thirty-young maidens must be given to New 'ork Clan, and--- your sisters will be with them----- understand!"

Sweat beads formed on Thunder's brow; many started running down his brow and bumped into other sweat beads, which forced then to start moving until they dropped off his nose or chin. Thunder quickly said, "I will not fail." But the sweat beads continually grew larger and larger.

High Priest Referone shouted, "Let the next dung begin. Clans--line up!"

The two clans formed a line and faced each other. The weapons of the game were spears, bow and arrows, and rocks picked up from the field. No other weapons permitted. If a knife were found, that player paid by having his left hand cut off! Punching, grabbing, kicking, and elbowing were all Okay. But no finger in the eye! and no biting!

Longyard placed his hands on the goat head. He looked right then left. All was silent between the two clans; then Longyard started his count down, "Huh, Heh, Ho, auha, euha...." Then with the speed of a thought after he uttered euta, Longyard tossed the goat head back to Thunder.

Thunder lunged sideways, landed upright and immediately got shielded by four guards --- they all raced diagonally forward. A spear finds the thigh of Thists, a guard, but Thists continued to run, an arrow grazed the head of Theoda, but the arrow had no effect on Theoda, a rock found the knee-cap of Lirista, which caused Lirista to fall flat on his face, but Thunder now charged past his guards and held up the head for all to see. Now, a zig-zag run forward, then backward, a dodge here and there-- then across the finish line! Thunder just made a touchdown, as the ancients once said!

The crowd roared; Thunder jumped up and whipped the goat head around and around. The roars, the hoots, the grunts all mixed together in a hypnotic chant as the New'ork Clan remained silent with their heads lowered.

At the side line, bets were placed between chiefs of other clans that have came to watch. Chief Govevor of the East Side Clan and Chief Mayort of the River Side Clan try to make a bet with each other: "Three young maidens for one cows" Chief Govevor said.

"No, no----four young maidens for one cow--if North Side Clan wins by two stones!" Chief Mayort replied. The arguing went on and on.

Chief Kingone rubbed his chin, brushed his long hair back----then finally yelled, "Pegnout, come here."

Chief Kingone huddled over Pegnout and some other players. Then, the group including Pegnout ran out to the starting line.

Magone returned to play, and the Clan cheered as he ran to the starting line.

High Priest Referone gave the signal to start, and both clans raced inward, hopping to get the goat head first.

As the clans sped forward, Magone takes the lead-- he sprinted, and reached the goat head first. He grabbed it but didn't run ! No, he lateraled it to Thunder, who lateraled it to Theoda, who lateraled it to the very young Pegnout. Pegnout held the goat head and ran faster than ever seen at the games before, he evaded an arrow, jumped up and tried to avoid two strong hands, but one ripped off his loincloth--Pegnout now running naked with only sandals on. Faster and faster, ducking spears, and missing arrows until he crossed the finish line.

"North Side Clan wins!" High Priest Referone shouts. A roar and shouts erupt, and the New'ork Clan withdraws, heads down, sauntering back in defeat.

Pegnout is picked up by Magone and some others and is held high; then he is paraded around in front of friendly cheering clans that are jumping up and down and chanting "Pegnout, Pegnout, Pegnout" in support of the North Side Clan win.

And as promised, thirty-young maidens are marched from New 'ork Clan. Some have blond hair, some red, and some dark...

High Priest Referone pointed to Pegnout, then pointed to the maidens.

Pegnout is let down to stand at the victory-rock circle, and the maidens are paraded before him.

Pegnout understood with a broad smile that molded itself on his face. They don't look frightened, many smile, many form kiss-shaped lips at Pegnout, and--- Pegnout happily returns their gestures!

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:44:46 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

Left-Overs

By:
RdotTornello © 2014
&
The Village idiot Press


They were the left-overs, the ones who managed to find life after all the death. They existed within the ruins in a box canyon of what must have been a great civilization destroyed millennia ago. They didn't care. The earth was plentiful, the seasons always warm, never too cold and nobody ever bothered them. There was nothing but desert surrounding them, and that was surrounded by a great ocean. It was a natural barrier. The left-overs inherited a pretty nice place considering the structural situation.

"What do you believe?" shouted the small group of shaman standing upon the raised dais.

"We're sheep," the Left-overs all responded. "The book tells us so."

The shaman looked over their assembled flock nodding approvingly. The shaman gave the left-overs what they needed psychologically, a source of belief. None of the sheep could read but the shaman.

The very few smart ones, both male and female were culled from the general population and after years of schooling, were raised to the level of shaman, readers of the scrolls. Scrolls were vestiges of books pasted on top of other material from days-gone-by and rolled up. It was the only way to save what once was. It was the only source of knowledge in a hodge-podge glued together sort of way. Physics and a cook book could be glued together. It was the shamans' role to figure the collective meaning.

"Yes you are sheep. You are my flock to protect. Now go back to your homes and have a good hearty dinner and procreate. Go do IT. We need to insure the survival of our community. The birth rate is below the number that we can sustain ourselves. We need more children. In-put equal out-put. The Book says IT is the 2nd Law of Dynamics. Now go do IT!" The Book or scroll to which the shaman were referring was a combination of pages from an old Betty Crocker cook book, The Joy of Sex and some pages from a Stephen Hawking book on quantum physics and the origins of black holes all glued together. What that combination lost in common sense was more than made up in originality.

That evening and many others were good for many. The shaman had ordered IT and the assembled flock went at IT and did IT with gusto.

The next morning and many after that were slow-starters. Who cared, the earth was plentiful with huge crops that grew like magic. But most everyone of child bearing age had smiles on their faces. Even some of the older ones found time and energy to practice what was preached. A few months later the results began to show.

Nine months later, plus or minus a few, a new bumper crop of sheep were born. All the shaman were satisfied. Their survival was ensured. The left-over sheep were not the brightest of what was left of the human race. The sheep made for an excellent life for the few smart ones, the 2% hand picked to shepherd these beings.

And it was in the shamans' interest to keep things as they were. Without the benefit of the sheep, the shaman were a doomed class and vice versa. It was said among the shaman that in order to maintain peace and harmony and their positions within the society, it was best to save and serve the left-overs each and every day.

And so IT still is.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:45:59 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

The Ground Is Red

By:
Herbert Chamberlain


Anna's mom whispers, "Anna, your grandma's on the porch, she's a little loopy today. She isn't taking her meds."

Anna sits next to her ailing grandmother on the porch, as she impatiently waits for her friends to arrive.

Anna's grandmother looks off in the distance and her eyes widen. "Anna, once upon a time, many, many years ago, there were great beings that ruled the earth. They made everything conform to their will. Destroyed and built everything to suit their needs. No thought or concerns of the natural world. These creatures, they were called . . . Ukons. They were 10 times bigger than a normal man, and they ruled the earth until the Great Event."

"Thanks, Grandma, I will keep that in mind." Anna quips as she rolls her eyes. She notices her friends coming up the road. "Gotta go."

Anna enjoys an evening at the lake, and decides to take a shortcut through the woods.

Anna awakes to a sticky heat in the air, and finds the ground all around her a blood red, with the feeling of hot sand or stone. In front of her is tall vegetation that she has never witnessed. Her throat is parched, and is in desperate need of water. Uneasiness fills her mind, having no idea how she got to this place. The last thing she remembers is walking home. She stands up and begins to move across the strange land, staying close to the vegetation. "Ouch!" she exclaims. Each step her feet burn as the soles of her feet blister. While struggling to swallow, she notices a large water oasis just in the distance. A sense of momentary relief fills her mind, as she begins to work her way to the water, one agonizing step at a time.

Without warning a large shadow descends over the land, blocking out a portion of the light. The shadow doubles in size. Is it a large commuter ship? Perhaps, maybe that is how I got here, Anna thinks. She looks up to see a large mass of flesh coming towards her. This realization sends a shiver down her spine. This cannot be good, she thinks. To Anna's right hand side, she can see a large stone structure with large stone columns. In the center there is a large opening, where possibly a door once stood. Anna recalls what the elders have referred to as castles, and thinks this is what this structure must be. The large fleshy creature flies closer, and her reflexes take over and she ducks as quickly as she can. The creature passes over her head. She watches it pass, and tries to see the full creature. It seems to go on forever into the sky. Her heart skips a beat with this realization. She moves as fast as she can to reach the sanctuary of the stone structure. "Three more steps," she whispers, and jumps through the opening.

"WWWol laaa AAAllloonneee." A faint echo is heard through the air.

The shadows slowly dissipate and are replaced with bright light.

Anna's thirst comes back with a vengeance. I must get to the water oasis, she thinks. She continues her journey to the oasis, staying close to the cooler sand. The sand ends at a dark edge. As she gets closer to the edge it forms an outer rim, or outer wall. It seems to be transparent, but she can't see to the other side. Seeing her reflection staring back at her, she thinks, I can't worry about this now. She continues to move along the outer edge. "Finally," she exclaims, reaching the water oasis. She uses her hands as a cup and begins to drink the lukewarm water. She suddenly feels a large fleshy creature grab her around the waist and raise her into the air. She twists and turns doing whatever she can to release the grip on her body.

After a time, her eyes focus. She can see two giant brown eyes looking directly at her. She looks to her left and sees two more large brown eyes. These have a sense of sadness or compassion. She can see that the large fleshy creature is in fact a large hand.

---------------------------
Journal entry 4-59-5008:

3 weeks now--my 6th attempt at escape has failed. Each flaw I find in the damn fish-tank-like aquarium, they find a way to seal. I must get out of here. I must!
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Anna sees the sky darken again, she knows what this means; they're back. This time is different; she can make out three shadows. A new larger shadow is present, larger than the other two. A large fleshy hand bigger than the others grabs her. She rises in the air at incredible speed and with such a jarring motion, it causes her eyes to flutter, and all goes black.

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

Anna awakes on the path she was taking home. She can see her family porch just ahead. She gets up and runs as fast as she can. She knows the immediate turmoil is over, but fears the magnitude of what this means. She sees her grandmother rocking on the porch.

"Grandma, thank God," Anna exclaims. "Grandma, tell me about the Ukons?"

"The Ukons?" Anna's grandmother replies.

"Please, I think I was their prisoner."

Slightly startled Anna's grandmother says "The Ukons? The Ukons, child, were us."

"WHAT!" Anna exclaims.

"The Elders say, over time we evolved to be smaller to accommodate our limited resources. There are no Ukons any more, child."

"But, Grandma, I have been their prisoner for three weeks." Anna says.

"Child you left yesterday, and came back this morning." Anna's grandmother finishes her statement and slowly stares off into the distance.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:46:57 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

Among the Ruins

By:
Sergio Palumbo


As the entrance to the beige step pyramid with temple on top appeared before Okude's eyes, his wide dark-brown eyes looked a bit pensive. The archaeological site was located in the jungles and had a multitude of styles, reflecting paintings observed in that area of the lowlands. The presence of such diverse buildings was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from some countries nearby, but most contemporary interpretations viewed such styles more as the result of cultural diffusion.

As he was getting ready to proceed, his female assistant, Akene, opened her beak-like mouth and warned him, "Be careful, professor! You know it's full of those creatures down there . . . "

Okude nodded, simply saying, "I know, but I have to go. . . . " Then the large-eyed Yulehvt--with a hairless, hexagonal-shaped head and four legs--turned towards the entrance again and headed for the stone steps going underground. Venturing down there always left him a bit worried, actually. It was not because of the many ghosts that occupied those ancient ruined buildings, as the young academician had been investigating such sites since he was a child, but it was the presence of those bipedal creatures that concerned him, the ones who were rumored to be the remnants of humans who were once the most intelligent species living on the planet. Their glory days had happened millions years ago, long before the Yulehvt species had evolved and occupied a world that had previously been ruled by other older races.

They commonly gathered in such dark places, the same as insects might gather around a light. One might even think they had a subconscious memory of a glorious past that drew them to such ruined areas, staying there, hiding. It was as if they felt safer here where their more intelligent ancestors had built notable structures when their civilization was at its peak, before collapsing in a matter of centuries.

Now those weak, nude and feeble-minded beings lived in small groups, their brain no bigger than a flying monkey's and their short hands proving to be unsuitable for creating works of art and houses like they had made in the past.

There were speculations among scientists about how limited their mental capabilities actually were: they apparently were unable to see the old ghosts around them; moreover they didn't even understand the languages of the dead and were incapable of asking questions about the past, or of even replying. That was a pretty strange thing for a species that was as ancient as cats and dogs. At least those animals could notice and stare at the souls of the deceased, although they were unable to speak, and that explained something. . . .

Who knows, maybe that was only a specific problem that affected the older species that once ruled Earth before their own more evolved race had risen to inherit the planet. He had humans in mind but there had also been the Nagas--those who had ruled over Earth for millions of years before mankind came to power. And men probably hadn't even known about that intelligent species who had walked the continents before they themselves had evolved a considerable brain--that was half the size of a Yulehvt's, anyway. There were no traces in their buildings or documents that revealed any human knowledge of the Nagas. So, the representatives of that ancient race had lived for a long time in a world which was full of ghosts from their own race, but they couldn't see those ghosts around them--much less the souls of all the other intelligent species that had lived on Earth long before Mankind was born. How incredible . . .

Was human's inability to see wider wavelengths, like the ones the Yulehvts currently saw, the real cause of their downfall and the loss of the predominance they once had over the entire planet? Or was it simply the great climatic changes scientists had discovered by studying the rocks and the orange seas? It was difficult to be entirely sure about that, but such great limitations were very serious . . . Probably, the fact that Mankind was not psychic--as all the members of Yulehvt species were--had hurt those ancient creatures, finishing their role in the unending chain of evolution, undoubtedly.

After all, as an old Yulehvt saying went, 'The greatest abilities that lead to the most useful achievements frequently lay buried out of common sight.' And the members of his species always took their superior senses and psychic abilities for granted.

It didn't take Okude long before eventually getting to a corner where one of those poor humans lived. As the professor moved forwards, he noticed the creature was alone, probably his fellows had left him as soon as they had seen him approaching. The Yulehvt's movements were fast and he had no difficulty in grabbing the creature. After all, humans were so slow and predictable . . .

As the weak man feared for his life--and he was right to do so because he was going to be killed soon--the professor knew that there was no other way: he had to do what needed to be done. They wanted some answers for the current experiments they were leading in the ruined city, and no useful data could come out of the present absent-minded being that he held captive at that moment. But the ghost of such a stupid human would be much more helpful for their research after they began interrogating him using their psychic minds. They only had to free his soul by simply stopping the man's heart, and that was something that required only an easy action, after all. . . .

Okude had done that kind of thing many times before. In a way, he thought it was a pity, as he was in favor of human rights as well as Yulehvt rights. That was the way of a truly complete Yulehvt being. It was just a real shame that modern Science didn't agree with his thinking. . . .

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:48:53 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

The Board

By:
Meghashri Dalvi


"Hey! I won again! Now give me something new."

John turned to Della. The frail ten-year old was playing board with three other girls.

"What do you want now?"

"See--you taught us to play with these coins. If I cross over my opponent's coin, that is mine. Right?"

"Right!"

"So I keep taking over coins from these girls. Hardly few minutes, and I win. It happens every time."

John smiled proudly. "That means you are becoming an expert, Della."

"Yeah. Whatever! But it's boring now. I want something new."

"Well--what else can we play? Let me see--"

"No! Something new in this game!"

"You mean--"

"It's simple, John. See--all these nine coins are not the same. These two are fat and squat. These two are thin and tall."

"True. Actually this game had many more coins. Sixteen white and sixteen black. But we lost many of the coins. And now we are left with only these nine."

"Whatever! But we can give them different moves."

"Different moves?"

"Yeah--see this one looks like a horse." Della put the coin on the old tattered board in front of him. The 64-sqaure black-n-white board was once the favorite of brainy people.

" John? See--this horse will be the fastest. Maybe it moves four places in one gallop. And these squat ones--they'll be the slowest. They'll move just one place. And these smallest ones will move only forward. And these tallest coins will move forward or backward. What say?"

"And then?"

"Then it'll be big fun! You know why? Because when I play, I'll need to think about which coin my opponent will play, and then I also need to think about which one I will play after that. Got it? Then his move, my move--I can play only after imagining these moves--you know." She was delighted just by sheer thought of it.

John was taken aback.

This tiny delicate girl. One of only a few children left now on Earth. This simple board game is no longer enough for her. She wants something more. Something more complex. Something more challenging. She wants to break free of basic stuff. She wants extraordinary.
Another young boy moved forward. He was listening from the sidelines for some time.

"She's right, John. I hated the board game for it was too simple. If you make it complex, I'll join."

John sat stunned. Was this the way the chess game first evolved? Did someone like her first come up with its tricky rules? Did people then develop its devious strategies?

Who knows?

Who even knows how this frayed chessboard landed in the limited belongings of us nuclear disaster survivors?

When John had found it, nobody really knew how chess was played. He had then taught kids to play checkers with it. With the broken pawns and other assorted bigger pieces.

And today--Della had broken the basic boring mould of checkers. She had effortlessly made her mind to think different. And others seem to enjoy this different idea.

If Della and other kids want, they can rebuild the human empire on this ruined planet again.

The End

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Post May 02, 2014, 01:50:26 AM

Surviving the Ruined Earth

- Winner -



We Were Once the Same as You

By:
J. L. Haines


The bowl drops to the floor and splashes water across our legs. The plastic hand basin still holds liquid, its fissures patched with tape.

"Why are you so clumsy this morning?" I ask.

"So sorry, Mistress," Valerie answers. "I filled it too heavy to lift. I apologize."

"Don't apologize; clean this up and get me a dry towel. Be more careful next time."

"Yes, mam." Valerie mops at the wet rug and places a towel over it. She hands me a clean towel. "Would you like your tea now?"

"Yes, Valerie, if you would." I look out the parlor window. Mustard-hued salts stretch under a dim morning sun. "It's going to be a sunny day. The sky is mauve."

"Yes, mam." Valerie replies. She sets a metal tray on the low plastic table. "I've heard of sunshine. Our foremothers spoke of seeing their shadows, back in the Before. It was bad luck."

"That's oldways, Valerie." I pick at a dry biscuit on the tray. "We have Vaults from Before. We know much about the ancients. There was never such a thing as "luck."

"Yes, mam."

"Valerie, what is wrong with the Scullion today? This roll is unoiled."

"I'm sorry, Mistress," Valerie responds. "I keyed the wrong order. I apologize."

"Don't apologize again. Is your vision defective?"

Valerie takes a quick breath. Her face draws into a mask of deference. "No, mam. I am healthy and fit."

"You are not young. You have served in this abode for twenty-five years. You come from a people known for their deficiencies."

"Yes, mam."

"Are you at the end of your serviceability?"

Valerie seems to choke on her words. "No, mam. I am healthy."

"For a refugee whose ancestors did nothing but dawdle in guest camps for eight centuries, I suppose you are normal. But, your kind tends to die at an early age." I drop the biscuit on the tray and reach for the napkin.

"Dame Mercedes, Mistress, most of my clan experience sightloss before their birthing years end. It is a common affliction among us."

They are fecund beyond imagination. They breed in vivo. It is disgusting.

"You people are issued optic radiation shields when you begin service. Yet, I don't see laborers wearing optic guards. If you won't use the safety equipment we provide you, you may be injured."

"Yes, mam." Valerie's voice is soft. "We have the optic shields. But, mam, we do still have sightloss, even among laborers."

When I was Valerie's age, my beloved canid struggled to run and play on his arthritic hip. I endowed the Surgeon-Veterinary with a year's revenue to relieve the suffering of my dear companion. My pet lived in comfort for four years.

"You people are genetically inferior, Valerie," I remind her. "As much as we try, we can't prevent every disease."

"Yes, mam." Valerie lifts the tray and steps back. "Is there something else I can get you?"

"Select the sautéed Portobello ocimum. And key it in carefully."

"Yes, Mistress."

I watch the pale orange sun rising over the salt grounds. I have never exposed my skin, let alone my eyes, to that burning ball. My foremothers shielded under helmets with automatic darkening glass. I wear gloves, boots, and walksuit when I must go outside. At twice the age of my servant's, my skin is still smooth and unblemished.

The dented tray thuds against the table. My maid seems to be trying to center the tray. Mushroom crowns roll off the tray, bounce, and drop to the rug.

"Valerie, what is that? You are making a mess, again."

"So sorry, Mistress," comes the reply. "I apologize." She is rubbing her knee, which jostled the table.

"Do you look where you're going?" I push the tray to the center of the table. "Valerie, can you see?"

My maid recoils slightly and stands up straighter. "Yes, mam." She takes a deep breath. "Dame Mercedes, Mistress, I could do better work for you if I could have new lenses."

Her words hang in the air like acidic fumes. It takes me a moment to form a response. "Valerie," I say, "what lenses do you mean?"

"Cataract lenses, like yours, mam," comes the immediate reply. "I've never had them. You have had them and you know that they are good."

"Laborer, I think you know that in the eight centuries your people have been our guests, we have never provided replacement parts."

"Yes, mam. But, I hear rumors. . . ."

"Laborer, are you demented? Don't talk to me of rumors. Why would you imagine that our State might provide orthotics to refugees?"

"To make us better servants, mam. To keep us working longer."

"You people multiply like vermin. We can't afford to utilize all of you as it is. If you live longer, there will be nothing for your offspring."

We thawed and incubated embryos when our numbers diminished. A quarter of some cohorts reach maturity. Our Arks hold our embryonic future.

"There are other things we could do, mam."

"Valerie, this kind of talk is not beneficial to either of us."

"Mistress, people talk about this, in private."

I look at her eyes: no signs of infirmity show, yet, on her face. "Valerie, you are a fine servant. Do not speak of things you do not understand. Tell your friends to do the same."

"Yes, mam."

Her hand feels for the door frame as she enters the kitchen. I hear a muffled thump; then, a plate rattles.

She is an excellent maid, and I do not wish, at my age, to acquire and train her replacement. My Surgeon-Optometrist could be persuaded. It would be the same repair, the same parts, the same chemicals as our own.

"Valerie," I call.

"Yes, Mistress." She shuffles into the parlor.

"I shall consult my Surgeon-Optometrist. You will not discuss this. We shall see."

"Yes, mam. Thank you, mam."

"Perhaps, we both shall see."

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 12:46:45 PM

I Am Invincible

The challenge was to write a superhero fiction flash story about a character who is invincible.


Example story:


Paragon

By:
John David Rose


I stare up into the open sky. It's never as saturated as I expect it to be, always just a faded blue. Then for a moment I begin to hallucinate; there is a peal of thunder and the sky above me splits in two and falls away, and the black infinite nothing of reality pours in on top of me, suffocating me with decay and dirt. It is that reality that I really believe in, the one where I am dead and my skin crumbles away as I lay in my grave, not this one.

I hear a parade of sirens half a city away through a forest of skyscrapers, and somehow before I've shaken my grim vision, I'm flying like a red and black missile over the city. My cape, held tight against my body by the wind, cracks like a whip.

It's a hostage situation, some bubblegum pop star. Three gunmen on a tour bus with blown out tires. Police surround the area, screaming through megaphones for the raging fans to get back. A sniper is on a rooftop.

Someone in the crowd spots me and then, slowly, the chanting starts.

"Paragon, Paragon, Paragon, Paragon . . ."

I honestly don't remember where the name came from.

My feet don't even touch the ground. I can see all three of the gunmen; I can take out all three of the gunmen. I can't afford to wait. If they have time to think, then they will think they have a chance. Three red beams leave my eyes, two pierce windows; the third goes through a wall of the bus and into the bathroom where the pink-haired, potty-mouthed princess is being held. Each beam burns the hand of a gunman and their guns clatter to the floor. All this in 2.935 seconds.

And then I notice. As the gunman by the toilet clutches at his wrist, I see he has a tattoo on his forearm. It is a jawless skull with glowing blue eyes. Even from this distance I easily recognize the mark of the Enclave.

I can't be everywhere at once. They know that. This was all a distraction. The Enclave was distracting me, and as I think about that I realize I'm angry. I fly straight up slicing through the air as I head for the stratosphere. The police board the bus and bring out the pop star, but they all dwindle away with the crowd whose chant is too slow to keep up with me. I arc out over the ocean until I reach the apogee of my flight. Then I slow down. My cape floats behind me as I search the hemisphere below me. There . . . a series of explosions in a city nestled in the Carpathians. I look closer and see Enclave troopers with their assault rifles and jackboots, driving back local forces in the ruined city, taking advantage of the recent political upheaval there. This is what they didn't want me to see.

As I start to fall for a moment I'm distracted by the heat from air molecules brushing past me. The red heat. I dream of my body being burned away by a pure flame and finally finding peace. I dream of a coffin where I know I really am, the victim of a brutal accident, a hit and run. The last moments of my real life were loosed on cold bloody pavement on a January day, and the sky was azure. I know I died; I don't remember when I learned to fly . . . .

I find myself standing on the ground in the ruined Eastern European city. I hoist their wheeled tank over my head with one hand and pause. They open fire from all sides, as if their superior numbers or just trained precision will make a difference. Dozens upon dozens of the mercenary vermin come swarming out of the alleys in their gray fatigues. I wait; I want them all out in the open. And amidst the growing acrid smoke, listening to the rat-tat-tat and the ricochets, my mind revolts. It can't be real. I feel nothing. Nothing. This is all in my head, the gift of a dying mind. I wonder how long it will last. . . .

Long enough. I toss the tank to some of them. A clap of my hands knocks out some more. Beams from my eyes finish the rest. I round them up. I make their weapons into a mangled ball of red-hot metal. Finally, the locals take control of this neutered faction of the Enclave.

As I rise off the ground, in a moment of clarity, I wonder if this was just another ruse, another distraction. I wonder what the Enclave of Evil is really up to. Sooner or later, I imagine, I'll find out . . . as long as there's enough time.

I stare up into the open sky. It's never as saturated as I expect it to be, always just a faded blue. . . .

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 12:49:27 PM

I Am Invincible

Still Regretful After All That Time...

By:
Sergio Palumbo


At the point where a distinctively curved tree stood along the grueling path in the woods--its peculiar trunk more similar to worn bark than a typical local Piptadinia Africanum--the young hooded man named Kewullay smiled. He was a journalist and had been walking for days across that forested area in the Gola Rainforest National Park. A huge variety of plants, trees and wild animals lived there among those hills and valleys of Sierra Leone.

But finally what he had been searching for so long for was in sight. In front of him stood a meager building that was made up of one or maybe two rooms. Within that poor small house the man he wanted to find lived, according to all the research he had done during the past two years.

His heavy, filthy boots trudged up to the top of the mountain where the lonely building was built. The front door was open so he had no problem entering. As he went in, his chestnut eyes looked around and he immediately noticed the figure of a slender colored middle-aged man sitting at a table. His hair was graying and he seemed to be involved in deep thought as he stayed cross-legged on a very old chair, or maybe he was simply sleeping... As Kewullay made a gesture and introduced himself, the owner's dark pupils immediately came back to life and turned to the newcomer.

"You are Umaru Musu, aren't you: the Hero of Old Koinadugu? Let me introduce myself: I'm Kewullay Pujun, a journalist of the renowned African Weekly Magazine, maybe you've already heard of me..."

The other stared at him for a moment before stating, "You shouldn't be here; I want to be alone..."

"But you are an acclaimed war hero, and you acted very bravely in the past! You killed a lot of our country's war-time enemies, even against superior forces. Many said that you defeated a lot of soldiers by using your superpower!"

"You don't know anything, stranger."

But the journalist kept speaking. "You could have been a real hero during the following two bloody military coups, but you simply disappeared. Think about it: you are capable of completely wiping out all the delinquents that fill our city streets nowadays. Even though I don't fully understand your superpower, it could still be of help to the citizens, don't you think?"

The other simply remained in silence, a very sad expression on his bearded face.

"Alright, I see you don't want to cooperate. Well I must inform you that I am a well-known journalist and you are one of the most famous people who ever lived. So I'm going to tell everyone that I found your hide-out and soon people from all over the nation will come here in search of you, asking you to help them. So, you won't be able to stay in these woods anymore. You'll have to come out and do your duty; you'll have no choice!"

The man raised his eyes, which appeared to be filled with sorrow. "Please, don't do that," he said. "You don't understand!"

"Why should I allow you to remain here, far from the real world, when you could be a very useful part of our civilization? Don't you see?"

"It's you who doesn't understand," the other replied, his eyes becoming even sadder than before.

"Don't even try to stop me! I've made up my mind; you won't have any other choice but to help us..."

"Please, tone it down, young man. You seem to be threatening me, and that is very bad. You can't imagine how dangerous this discussion is."

"Why? You can try and stop me but there is no way you can make me forget about where you are. I'm not afraid of you. You're not a delinquent and you don't kill innocent people."

"You are a fool!" the hero cried out. "It's not me; I never wanted to kill anyone." And that being said, Umaru's body began to shake uncontrollably for a very brief time. Then suddenly a dark presence came out of the chest of the man and started moving towards the guest, soon reaching him and causing a very strange effect.

As his elongated, obscure extremities touched Kewullay, his heart was immediately affected and he started suffering because his heartbeat was so fast. It didn't take long before the journalist became red-faced, falling to the floor, having difficulty breathing. Only a minute went by before he finally lay on the ground, speechless and lifeless.

Things had gone badly once again. Things always went this way.

That stupid individual couldn't have known, but Umaru was well aware of the secret. It had never been him, but rather a strange presence residing in his chest since he reached adulthood that killed people. Because of some unknown reason that thing had always risen to protect him and to kill anyone who threatened him. The man had made a great use of it when he had fought against his country's endless wartime enemies, but he had never been able to get rid of the dark presence once the battles were finally over. And that unwanted power had become a real problem, as it had harmed innocent people, anyone that the presence thought might be a danger to him--whether it was the taxman or the neighbor that didn't let him sleep at night because of the music coming from his building nearby. Such a curse didn't distinguish between good and evil, it never did actually... That was why Umaru had finally quit civilization and had moved away, as he was unable to control such superpower. Being in a secluded place where he could live alone--far from any other living being--was the safest course of all!

In a way he was invincible, he had always been so. This didn't make him feel less regretful about all that however; nor could he do anything to stop it, unfortunately...

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 12:52:39 PM

I Am Invincible

You Are Who You Eat

By:
RdotTornello © 2014
&
The Village idiot Press


As he stirred the sauce, the sweat dripped off the top of his bandana and down to his chin. It was summer. The A/C compressor was compressing as hard as possible but the kitchen was still hot. It bothered him not. He was doing what he loved, cooking. He just sweat a lot.

"Frankie," Lord Francesco, Chef of the Gods, now a semi-retired immortal, was on sabbatical from The Heavens. He opened a small eatery on his favorite planet with its truly insane people. The eatery was a ten seat operation located on a side street just behind a strip mall, with parking for ten vehicles. He served weekday lunch only and served until the prepared meals were depleted. When he was out, he was out. On weekends he cooked for a food kitchen pro re nata. He had one assistant and his name plate read Number Two.

"If the Health Department ever saw you, they'd shut us down," yelled Number Two pointing to the sweat falling into the rich sweet tasting red sauces.

Frankie looked up from the pot of quick sauce he was stirring and said, "They will never see it. I will make sure of it; trust me. Now, go set the tables and tape today's offering in the window."

Number Two looked at the offering:
FRIDAY OFFERING:
Rigatoni pasta, w/sliced grilled salmon, in a sweet red sauce, w/ olives, mushrooms, grape tomatoes and artichokes, a small salad and a glass of Chianti, $15.00.

The perfume of the sauce was heavenly. Number Two knew the basic recipe by heart. It was just the little things that he was missing.

QUICK SAUCE

2 large 28 oz. cans imported Roma Tomatoes
(or equivalent fresh local organic)
1 small can paste
1 medium onion chopped
1 small shallot diced
4 to 6 cloves of Garlic crushed or diced
1 medium carrot diced
Various Italian spices, fresh only
Salt and pepper
Either 2 cups Marsala wine for sweet or Chianti for stronger fuller sauce
Olive oil and butter.

The tomatoes, paste and wine would be blended and placed in the "frig" for a day to ferment. The next day the other ingredients would be sautéed in the olive oil and butter. Then the tomato mixture, at room temperature, would be added and cooked uncovered at a medium low heat for about an hour. The whole mixture would be blended again and cooked for about another hour.

Number Two inhaled deeply. The dining room and kitchen smelled heavenly. Only one thing bothered Number Two. It was those spices that he was never sure about. Just how much and just where did Frankie get them. What was the secret? He knew he had a few more millennia of apprenticeship to undertake before all would be revealed and he would be allowed on his own. He'd just have to wait. And time? Time really meant nothing to him.

Frankie looked up at Number Two, wiped his brow and asked, "Gavone, what-are-you looking at? NOW Go set the tables, tape the offering on the window and get the fish ready."

"Yes, boss."

++++

The customers were queued up before 'Frankies' opened. On the door, in red letters, was nailed the notice:
First come, first served, no reservations.

As they entered and while being seated by Number Two one patron was heard to say, "You know, I feel better for days after I eat here."

His buddy replied, "Me too. We're lucky to even get a seat. It's Friday. I had to call in and say I had an AM business meeting so I could get here on time."

Another patron said, "Frankie cooks better than my wife and she'd kill me if she ever heard me say that."

"I don't know what it is, but this food is heavenly," added even another patron at another table.

The whole crowd gave a hearty laugh. The atmosphere was very warm and informal. The assembled patrons raised their glasses and in unison said "Salute" as they looked toward the kitchen.

Frankie came out, bowed, wiped his head, smiled and ducked back into the kitchen. He was preparing the Saturday meals for the food kitchens. You see, as only Frankie knew, the sweat from his brow dropped into the sauce. And a little bit of this god's DNA was absorbed by anyone who ate his food. It cured any disease. No one ever knew it, not even Number Two, yet. But everybody who ate it left of sounder mind and body than when they had entered.

As Frankie backed into the kitchen he heard someone state, "The food is a bit saltier today. It's still great. I wonder if he let his Number Two cook?" This was followed by laughter all around.

Number Two just shrugged. Frankie smiled and knew. He gave an extra dose for a few of them. In a sense he was an unknown secret superhero and that's how he wanted it for now.

The End

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Post May 31, 2014, 12:54:03 PM

I Am Invincible

And Loving It!

By:
Michele Dutcher


The Channel 12 Newsman stood in front of a county fair scene, interviewing a man and his wife. The small man in a white shirt with a navy-blue tie thrust a microphone in front of the middle-aged couple.

"So, Mr. & Mrs. Weise, did you actually see the bi-plane going down?"

"We were at the picnic table over there," the wife began, "watching the bi-plane doing loops in the sky, when suddenly it hit some kind of bird and it began to roll in the air wildly before bursting into flames and flying over the hill there!" The woman pointed in an easterly direction, not more than 100 feet from where the three of them stood.

"So you never actually saw it crash?"

"No," the husband burst in. "But we heard the crash--and there's no way anyone could have survived that. I know crews are looking for the wreckage, but there's no hope for the pilot, really!"

"So there you have it, dear viewers. Death at the Casey County Fair. This is Max True, signing…"

But before the newsperson could finish his sentence the camera panned to his left and zoomed onto a small smoky figure quickly walking over the hill. The photo-bomber was a man in his late 30s, not terribly tall but not short either. Long story short his looks were average except for the parts of his clothing that were still burning in small patches.

"Sir, sir," called out the reporter, bringing the smoky man the microphone. "Were you somehow involved in the crash?"

"Well, yes," answered the normal man, using his baseball cap to beat out the tiny flames still on his tee-shirt and blue jeans.

"Did you see the pilot, Mister... Mister..."

"My name is Sam Hill and of course I saw the pilot. I am the freaking pilot you idiot."

Mr. Weise rushed over to the smoky man. "But that's impossible! We saw your bi-plane burst into a ball of fire! No one could have survived that--let alone walk away from it!"

At this point, Sam Hill appeared to hear the sound of approaching sirens. "I hate to crash and run, but it's a mess back there, so see ya!" And with that, he waved to the camera and sprinted away from the cameraman.

For almost three seconds the newsman stood with a shocked expression so pure that it would go viral within 36 hours, each viewer wondering who in the sam-hill Sam Hill was.

At the same time that the Smoky Pilot (as he came to be known worldwide) was running for the hills in Casey County, two men at a local pub were less impressed with the goings on. "I can't believe that nut is still alive," said the tall, sturdy man, dressed in your standard super-hero spandex and cape.

"You're just angry because Susie Street liked him better than you," said the sidekick.

"Yes, Wally, she ran away with him, in spite of the fact that me, Trox the Triumphant, makes terrorists tremble at the sound of my tremendous name!" The superguy puffed up proudly, flexing his mighty muscles while turning on the barstool a bit so the other half-dozen customers in the bar could adore him. Wally the sidekick downed another slug of his beer, obviously unimpressed. "It was Sam's big hands--if you know what I mean," Trox said quietly, smirking at his friend.

"I never know what you mean," Wally the sidekick said bluntly.

2 weeks later:

The female interviewer sat across from the average looking man. "Let's start at the beginning then. When were you born?"

"1886--April 25th 1886."

"You must mean 1986."

"Nope, April 25th 1886, just like everyone else."

"Everyone else?"

"Yep, all the invincible superguys and supergals were born on April 25th 1886, don't ask me why--I don't know. You've seen the movies, you've read the comics--the writers didn't have to make up the stories, because all that stuff really happened. We're all invincible."

"Prove it to me," said the woman, crossing her arms.

"I'll do more than that," said Sam. "I'll show you that I'm invincible." At this point the man walked over to the far wall and pulled a rope. A 10 by 10 foot chunk of marble fell on him, completely pounding him into the floor. Ten seconds went past before the marble cube was pushed over, and out crawled the average looking guy, who took his seat by the reporter.

"Do you always have that block of stone ready?"

"It impresses the ladies, but I don't need to tell you that!" The man smiled, the woman smirked. "Really, that block is my limit. The other guys keep pushing the envelope, but not me. They all think: if I can jump 50 feet, why not to the moon, why not into space? Not me, I stay right here with my feet on the ground. I'm not tempting fate--I'll leave that for those other invincible dudes: Trox the Triumphant; Gus the Glorious; Drew the Dominator. I'm known as Mediocre Man for a reason."

"But then what do you do?--if you don't want to help save the world?"

A wide smile flashed across Sam's average face. "In one word: The Ladies. While all those other superguys are busy saving the planet from evil, I'm right here ready to show their ladies a good time. I tell them, ‘Drop that Hero, Get a Zero.'"

"Say what?"

"I know how to treat a woman; I give them all of my time. I'm never too busy doing the right thing to not do a lady right. I might be Mediocre in most things, but when it comes to good lovin'--I'm one super man. My motto is: Mediocre and lovin' it."

The reporter turned off her recorder and bolted for the door. "Mediocre and loving it, yeah, I got it. Thanks for your time."

"No, pretty lady, thank you for yours."

The End

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Posts: 805

Joined: December 31, 1969, 08:00:00 PM

Post May 31, 2014, 01:56:28 PM

I Am Invincible

The Template

By:
Ed Sullivan


Please be advised: Class 5 threat in downtown. Subject identified: Kodiak. Alpha Prime and Dynamite Girl have been neutralized. The Shield has used Plan Omega and has failed; she is no longer viable. Please prepare for the deployment of The Template.

It was Agent Tucker's first day assigned to the Bureau of Superhuman Affairs. He was replacing a retiring agent whose assignment seemed to be some sort of babysitting project. He was reporting to the Senior Agent in Charge of the section, who also seemed to be the only other agent in the section. He reached the door to the office just as the loud speaker declared the alert about a Class 5 threat. He was just reaching for the doorknob when the door burst open. A human avalanche came through in a black suit. He was almost knocked down. The blur spoke to him.

"You must be Tucker. I'm Finch. Let's go; time is a factor. The Template isn't good with waiting and he is being loaded now."

"Huh?"

"Follow me!"

The young agent followed. "Did that announcement say Class 5? There's no such thing! Alpha Prime is a Class 4 Archangel and Dynamite Girl is a Class 4 Blaster; they don't get neutralized. One more thing, what is Plan Omega?"

"Keep up! Kodiak is the only Class 5 to ever appear. He is stronger and more damage resistant than anyone. He beat Alpha senseless and shrugged off Dynamite's full blasts. He then threw her into the suburbs. She might live. The Shield covered Kodiak in her strongest field while we exploded a tactical nuke inside with him. The strain put her into a coma. Kodiak was unharmed except for the loss of all of his body hair. Now he is angry and looks like a nine hundred pound naked mole rat. You and I are bringing The Template to the fight as the last resort."

"What is The Template?"

"Not what, who."

"Another hero. Won't the Class 5 just smash him?"

Finch snickered, "Unlikely."

"So we have a Class 5 then? Why didn't we just deploy him and why doesn't anyone know about him? I never heard of a hero called The Template. What's his deal?"

"We call him The Template. He calls himself Tim. He isn't a hero. He is hyperkinetic, meaning his brain connects in every way to every part of his body quicker than anything in existence. He is also mathematically in tune with Chaos Theory. He can see every possible outcome of every possible scenario within his five senses with one hundred percent accuracy. The classification system is moot in his case. He is the most powerful being in existence. The nature of his abilities also makes him agoraphobic and a pacifist. He isolates himself because he can see every outcome of everything he does right down to stepping on a bug. You and I are assigned to him. This means we sit around until something happens which makes him actually agree to leave his bunker. Then we drive his isolated transport to the scene and try to keep everyone and everything away from him so he doesn't freak out."

"The most powerful being alive is a shut-in?"

"Yup, sure is!"

"That doesn't seem very powerful to me."

They had just arrived at what looked like an armored car in the parking garage. The back section was completely isolated from the driver's compartment. Finch climbed in the driver's seat and started it. Tucker climbed into the passenger seat still waiting for a response.

"Power is a very relative thing as you will soon see."

"Yeah, sure."

Finch put the truck in gear and started out of the garage. He pressed a button on the dash and spoke, "You ok back there, Tim?"

The response was barely audible, "I think so. I think I may throw up. Please drive carefully. Don't hit the bugs. Obey all the speed limits please. Oh dear. . ." This was followed by retching sounds and vomiting.

Finch released the button. "It was like this the other two times he went out. Poor guy."

"Two times? How long you been doing this assignment?"

"I have been with Tim since he came to us. It has been almost fifteen years now."

"He has been out twice in fifteen years?"

"That's right. Here we are. Ground Zero. There is Kodiak just finishing up pummeling Captain Courage. I am just going to turn the back of the van towards the battle." He did a three point turn so the back was towards the villain.

Kodiak was huge, hairless and angry. He saw the truck and started towards it. Finch turned towards Tucker. "So, you go open the back doors, stand back so you don't creep out Tim and watch the action."

"Seriously? That thing is coming right for us!"

"Trust me. Just open the door for Tim and back off so he can lean out a bit."

Tucker exited the cab and went around to the back. Kodiak was getting close. He only had to come another hundred yards or so. He opened the cargo area and stepped back. A slight man about thirty, who was dressed in flannel pajamas, leaned just barely out of the back. He had vomit on the front of his pajama shirt. He threw one ball bearing to the left and one to the right. The first ricocheted twice and then popped into Kodiak's mouth. The second ricocheted three times and landed under his foot and he fell on his back. The little man went back in, closing the door behind him. Tucker watched as what he thought was the most powerful villain on earth asphyxiated in five minutes. He walked around to the cab and got in. He spoke to Finch but continued to look forward.

"What happens if Tim ever decides to go astray?"

Finch looked serious for a second. "Well then I suppose we all die, kiddo!"

The End
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