Bundts and Bolts, Part 3

bernicons            Of course I make a break for it, but I slam right into a the largest pair of tits I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. Jessica, as it turns out is a lovely woman, towering at nearly six feet tall with a wide build like some valkyrie or something. Jessica grabs my arms and twists them behind my back.

            I wince. “Hey! Be gentle, gorgeous.” I can at least get the satisfaction that I made her blush.

            Still, Jessica’s grip is as strong as iron and she removes my sister’s cake from my grasp and passes it to Agatha.

            “Creator Agatha, be careful with the costumer,” says UB and I’m almost touched.

            “She’s not a customer, UB. She’s a thief,” her words drip with loathing and her breath smells of burnt sugar. “Who are you?”

            “Does that really matter? You caught me. Call the police already.”

            “Don’t you worry about that.”

            “Yeah? Just know you’re ruining a little girl’s birthday!”

            UB’s digital face drops into a frown. “Birthday?”

            “Yeah, my sister’s!” I turn to Agatha, “Look, you’re prices are too high. But that little cupcake you’re charging through the nose for would make her entire year. So let me have it.”

            Agatha rolls her eyes so deep into her head I think she’s about to faint. “You know we sell day-old goods at half price, right? We even donate the majority of our leftovers to charity. You went through a lot of extra effort just to get yourself into jail. Why should I buy your story.”

            “Because I wouldn’t be in a ten block radius of your little bakery otherwise! I think you’re smug little operation is stupid, and now I know why you all keep you’re chef here a secret. You can’t really sell the ‘old family recipe’ crap with a robot.”

            “Is there something wrong with your food?” asks UB. Man, that things was just a little too considerate. I look up to speak but catch my breath when I saw how disappointed it is.

            “They are family recipes for your information,” said Agatha. “UB here just makes things more efficient.”

            I glance over at UB who stares at the cake it was just decorating with this immense sense of disappointment. “Look, man, I didn’t mean it-“

            “Hey, don’t talk to him!” Agatha pinch the bridge of her nose with frustration. “Jessica, tie this fool to the post over there. Grams will figure this out.”

            Jessica brings me over to a pillar at the side of the room and secured me with one of those zip tie things. She pauses. “How old is your sister?”

            I smile. “10.”

            She nods and looks away before following Agatha out the kitchen. I hear the sad hum of UB approaching and I halfway wonder if I’m just projecting the sadness in its movements.

            There’s a fork of cake in front of my face. “Wha-?”

            “Has this human tried UB’s creation yet?” it asks me.

            I shake my head. “No, I haven’t.”

            It’s digital yellow face appears determined. “Then you will!” It pauses, “Is this human allergic to any standard baking ingredients?”

            I shake my head again and before I can even say no, the cake is in my mouth. I almost cough it out because of the shock of the moment but the luscious creaminess that is the frosting overwhelms my gag reflex. Shit this is good.

            I don’t even need to say it, UB can see my approval in my expression. “Good. Another!” This goes on for like at least another minute and I’m full of cake. It’s only when Agatha comes back with Jessica and Grams does UB stop.

            “Looks like our baker has taken a liking to you,” says the little old lady with missing teeth.

            “Yeah-” my words are lost between the confectionary chewing.

            “Tell me,” she begins, “Is that you said true, that you wanted a cake for your little sister’s birthday?”

            I gulp the cake and nod, staring the old woman in the eye.

            She appears unimpressed but nods. “So be it.”

 

            My little sister likes to visit me when I’m working at the bakery. This is the deal we worked out with the Bundts and Bolts family; I work off my debt and promise not to tell anyone about my new buddy UB. Jessica is taking me out on our second date this Wednesday, UB wants to bake a cake in celebration. Typical.

Must Be This Tall to Ride, Part 3

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Artino looked up at the Altairian with the gun and realized that he was tall for one of his kind. Maybe even three and a half feet even without the head scarf. He’d noticed so little about him before but now he, like everyone on the bus, was very interested in what might be going on inside the shooter’s mind.

Even the man who he’d shot was looking up at him, his eyes glazed over with the pain of his wound but with his brow furrowed in confusion. The idea that a Stump might have shot him, might have hurt him, seemed to confuse him as much as anything.

For a moment Artino wondered if the tears running down the human’s face were as much to do with that quandary as with the spreading pool of blood. He pushed that thought away though. The only thing to worry about now was trying to salvage the situation and possibly save his own life, as well as those of his family back home.

“My name is Artino.”

The words felt flat and stilted, even in the deep baritone of his kind, but he armed them with every bit of friendliness he could. The other Altairian looked at him again then and said, “I cannot tell you my name but you may call me Fighter.”

“Fighter.” Artino let the word roll off of his tongue and hoped that his nervousness was well hidden. He had never seen the blood of a human in person and the stench was overwhelming to his sensitive nostrils. “Why is today going to be a glorious day?”

He immediately regretted the words as he saw the face of the Fighter light up in enthusiasm.

“Today will be a glorious day for many reasons.” He paused and Artino could see his eyes narrowing in a fit of rage as his four shoulders arched backward. “Today will be the day that the Freedom Fighters of Altair show how strong we are and how strong we will be.”

And suddenly every person on the bus, human and alien, locked eyes on the one calling himself Fighter, searching in his eyes for a vague hope that the day might not end with all of their deaths.

“Listen well, Whistles.” The derogatory word for humans came out with such violence from the Fighter’s face that Artino started. He’d never heard anyone use the word in the presence of one from Earth, though he imagined they all knew what the word meant. “You have taken everything we have and given nothing back. Our technology, which we offered in peace, and our culture. You mix our homeland’s music with the horrible noises you call entertainment and you have fattened yourselves off the plant altering techniques we brought, but what have we gotten in return?”

He paused for effect and waved the gun in air above him before noticing that the bus was slowing down and that the driver was looking back at him as well. The barrel of the pistol came across the side of her head then and the pierce of her scream followed the small spray of blood to the back of her seat. The Fighter though, seemed to have calculated the pressure of his strike and she continued to drive, though whimpering all the while.

“We scrub your toilets and we build your terrible junk products which are too dangerous for your own weak bodies. We work for you for nothing and always under the fear that we might offend. You have turned us into slaves, but no more.”

Artino noticed the blue and red lights then, circling the bus. It seemed the driver had pushed the emergency alarm after all, though the Fighter seemed to ignore it.

“But now, now we shall–”

The man on the floor interrupted him then, his words falling from his lips as gasps of breath but loud enough to stop the Altairian.

“You won’t do shit. You’re just a bunch of weak willed little piss ants.” The man took a deep breath and tried to lift himself against one of the seats, only to fall back into the puddle of blood beneath him with a grunt.

“You dumb little fucks couldn’t do anything with that tech anyway, dying fast as you do. We’ve done you a favor and if any of these assholes in the back of the bus had any balls they’d take you down now. What’s the world coming to that we’re letting goddamn Stumps talk to us like this. . .”

The Fighter lifted the pistol then and pointed it toward the forehead of the man, barely three feet away. The man’s eyes were not on it though; he examined his knee, seemingly for the first time as he trailed off and the tall Antairian tensed.

Between his gun and the body of the human suddenly stood the body of Artino, as surprising to himself as to any other on the bus.

“No. This is not the way to do it.”

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing, Part 3

kellyiconJackson checked his watch for the fifth time in a half-hour.

“You’re sure this is the right time?” he asked.

“I’m positive,” Madeline said, though she felt nothing of the sort. She was sure she had heard the voice tell her to meet at the park at three in the afternoon, but heard wasn’t the right term at all, was it? Someone had sent her a telepathic message in a coffee shop, and here she was, hopeful at meeting someone like her – thank god, she wasn’t the only one – and nervous that he or she would turn out to be an evil super villain or something. Weren’t telepaths usually super villains?

“No,” Jackson said when she asked him. He was still scanning the park as if he could spot the other telepath by sight alone. “Professor X is a telepath, remember? So is Jean Grey.”

“Didn’t she eat a planet?”

“No, that was the Phoenix Force. Kind of. Look, there are plenty of heroes who are telepaths.” Jackson took her hand and squeezed it. “Don’t worry, Maddie. Chances are this person is just like you – excited to meet someone else with your kind of power.”

“Right,” Madeline said, and squeezed his hand back. “Thanks.”

You guys are cute.

“Ah!”

Madeline jumped from the park bench, sending their bags tumbling to the grass. Jackson jumped up beside her, looking this way and that. Madeline concentrated harder than she ever had, hoping that her frustration would carry over with her words.

Where are you? This isn’t funny anymore!

Okay, okay! Sorry! The voice sounded genuinely sorry, and Madeline softened a bit. I’m actually right in front of you. Look across the pond, on a bench – there! There I am!

Madeline had followed the voice’s instructions until she spotted someone waving from across the pond. It looked like a woman, a little older than her, with dark skin, and long, wavy brown hair done up in a loose ponytail. She was wearing a long, loose skirt, a spagetti-strap top, and the most marvelous, bright blue, large-rimmed hat Madeline had ever seen.

Madeline grabbed Jackson’s hand, who himself only managed to grab their bags from where they had fallen, and sent off down the path that led to the other side of the lake. She wove in between young couples and families with babies in strollers as fast as she could, tugging so hard on Jackson’s arm she could feel it pulling at his shoulder.

“Hi, there!” The woman smiled down at Madeline as she and Jackson struggled to catch their breath.

“Hi,” Madeline panted back.

“Sorry about all the games,” the woman said. “I just couldn’t help myself. Also, I wanted to check out for myself what kind of person you were before I met you. My name is Sabine.”

“I’m Madeline, and this is Jackson.”

Jackson, still bent over trying to catch his breath, gave a little wave.

“So you’re…just like me? You can read minds, too?” Madeline asked.

“Sure can!” Sabine said. “As far back as I can remember. I was told there were others out there like me, but you’re the first I’ve met. Here, sit!” Sabine swept aside her books (thick, heavy ones that said things like Advanced Physics on them. Maybe she was a grad student?) and patted the seat. Madeline sat down, and as soon as she looked into Sabine friendly, brown eyes, a well of emotion overcame her. Tears formed in the corners of her eyes, and it was all she could do to stifle a sniffle.

“What’s wrong?” Sabine asked, those big eyes full of concern.

“I thought I was the only one,” Madeline said. Now the sobs came out in full force, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I thought I was the only one like this.”

“Oh, baby.” Sabine put an arm around her shoulders and drew Madeline into a hug. “You’re not alone anymore.”

July, 28 (Pt. 3)

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TL;DR

Germany needs to stop using EMP weapons or face repercussions from the world community on charges of warcrime.

–P.M. Richard McGuinness

Sam blinked away the twitter feed and closed his eyes. Leaning against the back of the old trench wall he took a deep breath and reached down to scratch at his right thigh. Something about the prosthetic there just hadn’t stopping itching, even after nine months with the implants and cybernetics. The skin around was supposed to heal nearly instantly and every doctor through the rehab said they couldn’t imagine why it would itch but itch it did.

Giving himself a moment to just revel in the satisfaction that came with scratching it, he felt the cool dew falling on him with the coming of the night. Perhaps this unused line might be the best place to bed down for the evening, though he’d been hoping all day to make it a little farther. It seemed a miracle that the Germans didn’t have this stretch of trench better monitored and he knew it would be best to take advantage of their failures. Too rarely did they make mistakes so when they did it was best to take advantage.

Leaning further into the soft dirt of the trench, at least three months old and probably unoccupied for most of that time—the lines had moved quickly in the first few weeks of the war—he let his pupils stray to the icon lurking in the corner of his vision. He’d only been allowing himself one quick glance at the picture of Richard each day and he’d waited so long to see it but he knew that when he did pull of a picture of them together, smiling and happy, Sam’s legs still intact and Richard without the faraway look to his eyes he’d gained after the past year, he would have to begin the nightly fight to stop himself from pulling them up again and again, looking at photo after photo and video after video.

No, it was better to hold off for a little while, or at least until he was bedded down and safe. Lately he’d been managing to fight the urge at least three nights out of four and tonight he suspected he’d be tired enough to sleep quickly and soundly.

The feeds were a distraction at least, but one he felt best left alone as much as possible. Here he couldn’t upload any data and couldn’t view anything personal but he could see public feeds and sights as long as he didn’t go over the limits on the bandwidth. Anything too much would alert the German monitoring system of an implant in the area.

Of course the Germans had neutered all their own citizens in the same way and now, with the knowledge that they’d resorted to EMP weapons once again, ignoring the Geneva convention of 2072 which banned the weapons as a war crime, Sam knew that they must be desperate. He also knew that if the Germans were that desperate, it was likely the Brits were too. The Americans, the Chinese, even the Russians had stayed out of the battle so far but everyone suspected the Russian Federation had been shipping supplies across their lines through the Ukraine.

Allegations that India is sending supplies to the rebel fighters in Saxony are resolutely false. Bitches be trippin’.

  • Fasil Kanchana, Indian MP

“And what about Paul? Any word yet?”

Richard’s voice echoed in his mind as he closed the feeds again, looking off into the distance at the orange of the setting sun on the western horizon. The sunsets had been beautiful this year all across Europe with all of the debris in the atmosphere. Unfortunate that it took so much death to create such beauty.

“No. I’ve hope though, and in–”

But then he’d lost the connection, as brief as it had been in Paris where he’d hoped he could get away with the encrypted line. The last time he’d talked to Richard. Possibly the last time he ever would.

No, stop it. You’re going to see him again and you’re going to save Paul too. He stood up and shook the thoughts out of his head, pulling his pack open and laying his thermals across the soil of the trench as his ears pricked up at the sound of engines in the distance. Peaking over the edge he could see a jet, coming in low over the horizon and towards the sunset. It sounded like one of the new fifth gen Harriers but quickly all sound of it was pushed aside by the screech of the Eurofighter on its tail. Both jets screamed over the ground above him and he could see the RAF roundels on the underside of the Harrier along with the Iron Cross on the forward wings of the German plane as they flew over.

The RAF had been on instructions to stay low, he’d read the other day, in the hope to neutralize the Toureg’s speed and maneuverability. Jumping down and running to the far edge to peek over again, Sam could see that the method was having about as much success as he’d thought it might. The Harrier quickly sprouted a plume of smoke as it moved quickly into the distance, shrinking into a small blot which burst upon the ground in a splash of bright orange ink, the triumphant plane shooting upward as a screeching mark in the sky.

Meet Janice, Part 3

bernicons            “No, Michael,” sighed Janice, “He’s not in.” She nodded, to no one in particular and took down a note. “Yes, yes, of course I’ll give him your message. Yes. Good. Thank you too.” She paused. “Oh and can you tell your brother not to call me back again? Thank you.”

Janice was all too eager to let the phone drop back into its cradle. Then it rang again. “Hello?” She cringed. “Goddam- Gabriel I told you he’d call you back when he got back. Not before.”

The room grew hotter and Janice felt relief swell in her. “Hold on, Gabe. I think he’s-”

When Satan entered, it didn’t look good. He was still dressed in his suave designer suit, but his shoulders were slumped low toward his chest and his black eyes were focused on the ground. He barely gestured to Janice in his passing.

“Gabe? He’s going to call you back.” Despite Gabriel’s cries of protest, the phone was set back on the receiver. “Satan?” Satan had left his office door open, waiting for Janice to follow. And she did, with clipboard in hand.

He fell back into his chair, his eyes were distant. Janice tried to ignore it. “You have 47 missed calls, most of them from Gabriel, so you shouldn’t have much trouble with-” she eyed him. “Did your lunch not go so well?”

Satan shrugged.

“I’m going to need you to communicate in words,” sneered Janice.

“If Jehovah can be indirect with his answers, then I can be too.”

Janice let her arms fall to her side and rest on her hips. “You’re not getting on about your Daddy issues again are you?”

His eye twitched and Janice noticed it getting warmer in the room.

Janice stepped into Satan’s line of sight. “Talk to me. With words.”

Satan’s lips were caught in a pout and he said nothing. So, Janice slapped him.

Satan’s flesh dipped into a deeper shade of red, almost as black as his eyes. He stood up and towered over her. Suddenly it wasn’t warm at all, but bitterly cold. “You. How dare- you haven’t done that-”

“Since the last time I slapped you,” Janice said coolly, head cocked back to glare into his big, black eyes.

The room gradually returned to a reasonable temperature. Satan stepped back, slumping into his chair. “That was ages ago,” he sighed.

Janice nodded, “Yes it was.”

He glanced up at her. “You went by another name then.”

“I did,” she smiled, “But Janice has a better ring to it. For a secretary.”

“You’re much more than that,” said Satan.

“And you’re much more than a son looking for Daddy’s approval.”

Satan smirked. “That’s Gabriel’s job, isn’t it?”

“Isn’t it, though?” Janice paused, “I know you well enough to know that you asked the Big Guy about Mrs. Timely.”

He nodded.

“And I think I know him well enough to know that he didn’t really give you any real answers.”

He nodded again.

“So now you’re worried you don’t have any answers for her.”

A third time.

“You know, you don’t need to have them.” Janice looked out Satan’s window. “Sometimes you can’t explain something away to a person, they need to walk the path themselves. You’re going to need a very specific skill for that. You’ll need patience.”

Satan smirked. “Kind of like Jehovah?”

“Kind of like him.”

 

“Mrs. Timely?” Janice stood at the open office door, letting the heat of the flames mess up her hair. The little woman walked up, cautiously. She clearly didn’t want to be back here, but she had nowhere else to go. Janice smiled. “Welcome back.”

Satan was waiting for them in his office, he smiled. “Good to see you again, Mrs. Timely. Please take a seat.”

First, Do No Harm, Part 3

kellyiconIt was the restraining order that pushed me over the edge. The good doctor reached across his desk to hand me the papers, and I took them with shaking hands. Dr. Lowe leaned back in his chair, a foot over his knee and his hands loosely folded in his lap, his eyes on mine, waiting for my reaction.

I skimmed the documents quickly, taking in little but Emily’s loopy signatures. There was the restraining order, just like Lowe said, along with instructions that it not be served until after her final procedure. Under that were statements from two different psychologists claiming Emily to be of sound mind and that she was looking to file a restraining order because she feared for her safety if I learned what she was planning to do. Neither name was that of her regular psychologist.

“This is absurd,” I said, looking from the papers in my hand to the doctor. A small grin had crept onto his face, and looked for all the world as self-satisfied as a cat who had just caught a bird. “I’ve never hurt or threatened Emily in my life. It’s obvious she took this out to keep me away from her while she goes through with this. It’ll never stand. No one willing to do this to themselves could be considered in their right mind!”

“Perhaps,” Lowe said. “But you’re missing the point, Mr. Jones. My procedure is completely legal and Miss MacIntyre underwent it of her own free will. You’re free to press charges, of course, but I can’t imagine what it’ll accomplish.”

It was right there, right then, that I had had enough. Emily’s anxiety had always been a problem for her, and she had been seeing psychiatrists for as long as I had known her. Was this what she had been telling them all this time? That I was hurting her? In the past few weeks she had seen so calm, so much more relaxed. Was it because she had decided to go along with this madness? And now…and now…

“You son of a bitch!”

As soon as I said it, I was up and over desk, grasping at the lapels of Lowe’s coat and throwing us both to the floor, his chair spinning wildly from under us. Spitting and cursing, he tried to put up his hands to push me away, but it was too late. I reared back my fist and slammed it into his eye as hard as I could. We both let out a howl of pain: Lowe reached up to cover his already-purpling eye, and I pulled back my fist – it was like hitting a cement block. It felt like I had cracked all the bones in my knuckles, and the skin around them had split and was oozing blood. Hell, even my shoulder was hurting from the impact.

But it didn’t matter. I pulled back my fist, truly ready to beat him into submission, when a hand much stronger than mine grabbed my wrist and threw me back against the far wall like I was a rag doll instead of a six-foot, two hundred pound man. Before I could so much as process what had just happened, two huge men in black jumped on me like NFL linemen, pinning my arms and legs beneath them. Through the tangle of limbs, I could just make out Lowe rolling on the floor, hands clutching at his eye while Brittany the secretary crouched over him and spoke frantically into her phone.

Twenty minutes later, the office echoing with the sound of sirens, I was finally allowed to take a breath without five hundred pounds of security guard pressing down on my chest. Dr. Lowe was sitting at his desk again, but his calm collected demeanor was gone. The eye I had smashed was covered by a cold compress, but I could still see bruising around the edges. The other was wild and wide, and as soon as the cops had me on his feet he started to rant.

“You come in here, into my place of business, and you try to kill me? No wonder your fiancee thought she had to take out a restraining order on you!” He was pointing wildly in my direction, much to consternation of the EMT trying to tend to his eye. “You’re the one who really needs the procedure! People like you are the reason people like me have a career!”

He was still ranting as the cops led me out, my hands cuffed behind my back. Truth be told, the cuffs weren’t necessary. What was the point? Emily was gone.

That’s when I saw her. The cops were leading past the double doors, the ones that hummed with some kind of energy and chilled my heart cold just looking at them. The door was slightly ajar, and from behind it someone was peeking out into the hall.

Emily.

“Emily!” I tried to run toward her, but the cops held me back. I could only see part of her face – one amber eye, part of her small, upturned nose, and her short, cropped, black hair – but it was her.

“Emily!”

The cops were all but dragging me toward the front door. I kicked and struggled, anything that might get me loose. If only I could get to her…

“Emily, please!”

But it was no use. Emily looked away and slid back to where it was she came from, leaving me kicking and screaming back into the sunlight.

Parchment – Part III

tjiconI was still considering my plan to take some Tylenol (or Tylenol PM because I didn’t have to work in the morning and there was nothing that would require my wakefulness before 2pm), even as I knocked on the door to Apartment 42 on 8th Street.

The door opened almost immediately, “Yes! It’s you. The kid from the print shop.”

How many times can I get called kid in a day? I looked down at my shirt to make sure it didn’t say “Kid” on my name tag. “Yeah, I’m me,” I said.

“Come in, come in,” he said, opening the door, stepping to the side, and motioning madly with his hand for me to enter. I did. “Come. Sit,” he said guiding me into his living room.

It wasn’t nearly what I expected. The walls were not covered like wallpaper with more of the old parchment and weird scribbles and doodles. There were not mountains upon mountains of old books and papers chronicling all of the known, and most of the unknown, research  into mysticism and quantum physics since the beginning of time. No stuffed, taxidermy creations of beavers with cat heads with raccoon tails and eagle wings. Not even a single comic book in sight.  The tingling suspicion that they called him Mr. Glass was slightly abated.

“I was just making some tea,” he said. “I’ll bring you a cup.”

“No thank you,” I started, but he was already gone. I took a seat on his couch. It was obviously old but surprisingly nice. That could actually also explain his reclining chair, his end table and lamp, his coffee table, floor mat, his entertainment center and television, and his bookshelf in the corner.

He came back with a tea set that made me think he might be British and sat in on the table. “What kind of tea would you like? I have chamomile, earl grey, oolong, matcha—”

I grabbed a bag just to shut him up, “This one will be fine.”

“Ooh,” he said with a smile, “good choice.”

He took the bag out of my hand, put it in a mug, and poured hot water into it. He then did the same to his cup and sat down in the recliner. The man I had thought was a retiree Indiana Jones with ADHD was turning out to be Mr. Mary Poppins.

“Okay,” I said, impatient, “so tell me why I’m going all River Tam.”

“Who,” the old man said, blowing on his tea.

“Never mind. Just… what’s the deal with the super powers.”

“Well first off, I’m not certain they qualify as super powers. But I’ve never been much into the funny papers, so I couldn’t say—”

“What the hell is going on with me?” I said a bit too loudly.

He took a sip of his tea. “Well, the truth is, I don’t exactly know.”

My mouth opened to say words, but I didn’t have any.

“The parchment belonged to my grandmother,” he continued, “I found it while I was cleaning her attic when I was a teenager. And then it started. I saw the strange writings and symbols floating through the air and I suddenly knew how to do these incredible, improbable things.”

“What… how… where did it come from?”

“My grandmother told me that she had gotten it from one of her teachers in junior high, and the teacher had gotten it from some old lady in his neighbor hood who he used to mow the lawn for. Before that, I have no idea.”

“Okay,” I said as I tried to process the fact that none of his answers told me anything I wanted to know. “So, why were you making copies and putting them up around town. ”

“Well, I’m not sure if copies will work but I didn’t want to risk losing the original.”

“I mean… the purpose, what was the purpose of hanging them up?”

“Oh. Yes. Well, I was hoping what’s happening to you would happen to others.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, from your story about the flying car, you know what these… abilities of yours can do. And that’s just the start. I mean, I mostly used them to be really good at golf, but you could do amazing things.”

“So… yeah, still not getting the copies on telephone poles thing?”

He sighed, but still had an excited, goofy smile on his face. “Look at me. I’m getting old, too old to be out there stopping bank robberies and saving kids from vehicular manslaughter. I wanted to pass the torch, just as it was passed to me and to my grandmother before me. I wanted spread these abilities to the next generation.”

I nodded slowly. “So, sounds like you want me to be a super hero.”

“Well, if you want to put on one of those silly costumes, I’m not going to stop you. Just do good things.”

I took a deep breath, then yawned, suddenly realizing how tired I was. “Okay. So I have super powers. I’m gonna go get some sleep, I’ll figure out my alter ego tomorrow.” I stood up to go.

“No, no, you can’t leave. We have to start your training.”

“Look, it’s kinda late, and I’ve had a busy day of making copies and forking cars. So, training will have to wait ’til tomorrow, okay, sensei?”

“Wait… um, there’s something else I haven’t told you. Another reason I put up the copies.”

I dropped my head and rubbed my eyes, which was now becoming a habit. Could this old man get any weirder? “What is it?”

“Well, the first person I showed my paper to was my granddaughter last week. She got the visions and whatnot. I was happy, some people don’t, you see.”

“So why post the super powered promos everywhere?”

“I, um… I’m afraid my granddaughter isn’t… well, a very good person.”

“Oh my Odin, are you saying what I think you’re saying.”

The old man’s smile finally faltered, “I believe I am. I think my granddaughter might become what you would call a… super villain.”

Pineapples, Am I Right? (Part 3)

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“But it’s good just to see Rachel with someone who isn’t a disinterested prick. She’s always ended up with these passive aggressive men who made me nervous but this guy seems to treat her well, at least. And he’s very handsome.”

You humans are silly.”

“And cat’s aren’t? What do you know anyway?”

Some where around this time Elizabeth began to remember that she was talking to her house cat and perhaps she’d lost her mind. Still, she marveled, it’s amazing how quickly a person can get used to the surreal.

“And speaking of that, how the hell do you know about Sailor Moon?”

Don’t look at me, I’m just a cat. Probably just a figment of your quickly debilitating mind.”

“And what does that mean?”

She suddenly stood up in disgust and found her hands on her hips looking down at the tabby. Elizabeth was by nature a good-hearted and quiet person but to be insulted to so effectively was enough to give rise to even her pride.

Again, I’m just a cat.” Piddles paused to lick his genitals again, his legs splayed in the air, “But come on. You’re what, twenty eight? That’s like eight million in cat years and you live alone, you work at a library, and you’re talking to your goddamn cat.”

The pot of water chose that moment to boil over and Elizabeth walked over to turn the burner down, her eyes narrowed and looking towards Piddles. “Well, I don’t normally do that, but you’re talking back today.”

Again, she thought, it’s amazing how quickly you get used to these things.

Uh huh. Remember, I’ve been here the whole time. As I was saying,” Again the cat paused to lick a particularly pungent part of his bum, “You live alone, talk to your cat all damn day and, pardon my forwardness, but when’s the last time you had a guy over?”

“Well, there was Brad. . .”

Brad, tall and balding and never quite sure what to do with his tongue, whether it be in his mouth or other places. Brad who came over twice and then stopped returning her calls.

Yeah, Brad. I may be a cat but that guy was a goddamn stray. And really? How many years was that in human terms? I was still a spring chicken, is all I know.”

“It wasn’t that long ago!”

Yeah, and what about Anthony?”

Anthony, his broad shoulders and his hairy forearms which flexed in that special little way when he slipped her the paper with his number on it. The number she’d thrown away wondering how any man could ever be so forward as to slip his number to the librarian.

“How do you know about Anthony?”

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I heard about him from you for like two weeks and that one night when you kept moaning his name while played with that blue vibratey thing–”

“Hey!” Elizabeth stomped her foot on the ground and yelled at the cat, her anger finally up and the sound of the knife on the cutting board a resounding whack as she slammed it down. “That’s none of your business! And you chewed the damn thing up anyway!”

Eh, I was never that interested in your damn sex life anyway and I didn’t chew it up for the taste. It just kept jumping around under your pillow.”

“You little ungrateful. . . Turd!” She waved the knife at him then, slinging it around like a pointer as she yelled. “I feed you and I scoop your. . . your shit,” Elizabeth puffed her chest a little then, proud to have gotten her anger across, “and you talk to me like this.”

Hey, I’m just a cat remember? Just a figment of your imagination, but I’m just saying maybe you should get out more. Maybe call your friends occasionally when you’re not just desperate for help.”

*** All around me are familiar faces; Worn out places, worn out faces ***

And stop listening to such depressing music!”

Hearing the ring-tone Elizabeth picked up her phone and saw Rachel’s face on the screen again but this time it was her and Ian looking longfully at one another, Rachel’s lips a bright red and his cheek wearing a crimson imprint. Of course she changed her Facebook picture to some sappy crap like that, she couldn’t help but think as she picked up the phone and looked at the little icon, wondering if she should answer.

Looking at Piddles again, licking his privates once more, she idly picked a piece of the pineapple from its can and started to munch on it before she finally swiped the “answer” icon to the right.

“Meeoorrww?”

 

Please Don’t Go, Part 3

bernicons            “FUCK!” she swore.

“One more!” encouraged the doctor.

With a final, horrible scream, Gwen pushed, grasping Rodney’s hand. A moment ago she wasn’t sure who would faint first, her or her boyfriend but now all she cared about was the screeching of an infant. Gwen wanted to take a breath but found her lungs would not obey; her throat tightened as did her grip on Rodney’s hand as she brought herself as high up as she could to see…

“It’s a boy!” declared the doctor, holding up a tiny person with a thick mess of black hair crowning his tan head.

Rodney smiled and kissed Gwen’s forehead. “Not a fawn…” she breathed. No one seemed to notice.

Hours later, Gwen held her little boy in her arms and kissed his head. “You’re fucking beautiful,” she whispered.

Grandpa Pat yawned. “You both are.” He stood up from his chair in the corner of the room and came around to Gwen’s bedside and brushed the hair from her face. “I’m going to get some coffee. Rodney, want to stretch those legs?”

Grandpa Pat had caught Rodney in mid-stretch. Rodney grinned and looked to Gwen, “You need anything?”

Gwen shook her head. “I’m fine.” Rodney kissed her and walked out with Grandpa Pat. Gwen looked around and sighed. She wished her parents would have come, but they had been so furious… It was pointless to think of it now. If they wanted to see their grandson, they’d have to come around eventually.

She looked out her window into the hazy wetlands in the distance. It was just a dream, just a strange, strange dream of another place. Gwen had hear that women went though some crazy hormones during the entire 9 month journey. Maybe that was all it ever was.

“Hello, Gwen.”

She gasped and turned, seeing the handsome young man she had met eight months ago. “Isaac?”

He smiled and his piercing blue eyes twinkled, “You did very well, he’s beautiful.”

Gwen brought the baby closer to her. “What are you doing here?”

“I’ve come for my son.”

“He’s not yours,” hissed Gwen, “I’ve only ever been with Rodney.”

“Ours is not the kind born of lust, Gwen, we select a vessel to carry our young,” Isaac approached. “And I chose you.”

Fury welled up inside her, “You- what?! Didn’t I have any say in this?”

Isaac appeared perplexed, “You accepted my invitation. You didn’t say deny me.”

“I didn’t say yes either!” the baby began to stir in her arms. Gwen looked down and began to rock him as gently as she could with her rage beginning to boil over. “Get out! I never want to see you again!”

“I can’t leave without my son-”

“He’s not yours!” Gwen reached to her side and grabbed the nurse buzzer. “Get out now or I’ll get someone to throw you out!”

Isaac looked at her sympathetically. “It won’t work, Gwen.”

“What-?” Then Gwen saw them. The ferns growing on the floor and creating a lush carpet of flora beneath her. “RODNEY!” she cried but the hospital room melted away revealing a surreally beautiful forest. The sun hurt her eyes. She wasn’t in her bed any longer, but standing in the woods with her babe in her arms. “Take us back!

“I can return you to your world, Gwen. You are the mother of my child, I owe you that much.” Isaac approached, his arms extended. “But first I must have my son.”

Gwen spat in his face. “Fuck you!” And she turned to run.

Her legs were weak and she soon found it hard to breathe. The baby woke up in the chaos of the run and started to wail. “Shhh, please baby. Shhh!” Gwen try as she might to sound calming, the panic in her voice betrayed her. Her feet were stabbed with twigs and stones but she kept running.

A shadow leapt over her and the power figure of Isaac in his stag form cut her off. Gwen slide to a halt and scrambled to turn another way. But Isaac was quicker and again stopped her escape. Tears welled up in her eyes. “No!” she screamed, “No please!” Isaac backed Gwen up into the board trunk of a tree. “Not my baby! Please, no!” Gwen choked on her own tears.

Isaac the man stood before her again and his face almost read of pity. “My people are in dire need, Gwen. They need our son.”

“But- Rodney- no, please! Not my baby!” She searched Isaac’s eyes for any sort of compassion, but found no such thing. She was washed away in the blue of his eyes.

 

 

Gwen sat in her hospital and for a moment it was as if she had never left. She just stared blankly out in front of her. Then she heard the gentle coo of her baby. Her eyes darted toward the window, where Isaac stood, holding her baby and smiling at him lovingly.

“NO!” She spilled out of her bed, crawling toward Isaac.

Isaac frowned. “Please, Gwen, don’t hurt yourself.”

“Don’t pretend you care!” she could hardly make her arms obey her. “My baby-!”

“Will be safe with me,” Isaac knelt down beside her, “I promise.” He meant it. She knew he did. “Goodbye, Gwen.”

Isaac turned from Gwen and took a step toward the window.

Gwen reached her hand out toward him. “…please don’t go,” she wept. Isaac paused. “Take me with you…”

His hand was cool to the touch, just as it had been eight months ago. And they were gone.

How the Years Go By, Part 3

kellyiconA pink and orange dawn rose over the lake, and the usually brown and murky sparkled like so many diamonds. The air was cool, a brief but welcome reprieve from the heat, and in the shade of Madame B’s porch it was almost chilly. I rocked the porch swing back and forth with my toes, hot tea in my hands, and stared out across the lake. During the night, Madame B and I had stayed up looking through her old photographs one by one. Each photo brought a wistful smile to Madame B’s face. Sometimes she traced her fingers ever so lightly over the faces of the men and women who had meant so much to her and were now long since dead. Dawn had broke by the time we finally closed the last of her albums.

Madame B sat down next to me, a steaming cup of coffee in her hands. The swing creaked as she leaned back, swinging back and forth on its old chains. She raised the cup to her lips and drank deep, then looked out across the lake with such genuine affection it warmed the heart to see.

“Beautiful, is it not? This is always my favorite day in this part of the world.”

“In this part of the world?”

Madame B laughed.

“Yes, in this part of the world. In the mountains I love the evenings, when the stars were so clear you could see them all in their millions trailing across the sky. And then there are cities with markets that, come afternoon, teem with every sort of human you can imagine. But here I like the mornings. There are few places as still and quiet as little towns in the early morning. And after such brutal heat, it is like being touched by God’s own cool grace.”

I sipped my tea, more to gather my thoughts than anything else.

“You never…get bored? Or tried of living?”

“Never. You could travel to every corner of the world and meet every person worth meeting, and after a few years everything would change so much it’d be as if you never left at all. In fact, one could say I look to the future more now than I ever did. Imagine if I had given up on living before movies were invented? Or planes? To see man fly across the sky like the gods of old in their chariots – there is a dream made real.”

“How did you become immortal?” My tongue stumbled over the last word. It seemed almost childish to ask her such a question. I expected her to answer with something profound, like ‘The first step is never as important as the journey,” but again she surprised me.

“This era doesn’t believe so much anymore, but once there were such things as gods. Great and terrible creatures they were. Millennium ago one such creature took pity on me and my short life, and gifted me with a life that has yet to end.”

I tried to imagine Madame B as a young woman, walking the streets of Babylon or Sumeria or Egypt. I waited for her to continue, but she continued to stare out across the lake, lost in her memories of so long ago.

“It doesn’t seem like much of a gift if you have to outlive all the people you care about,” I said.

“No, but the gods never did understand humans very well. She thought she was being very kind. And in my own way, I have a lived a life more fulfilling and full of wonder than I could have ever imagined.”

“Then what are you doing here?” I didn’t mean it to sound so incredulous, but if I were so old I could have visited the Sphinx when it was new, I don’t think I would have chosen to live in a little house outside New Orleans. I told her so. I expected her to laugh again at my naivete, but instead her eyes grew misty with tears.

“It’s hard to explain to one who has never known any place else but where they were born. I loved France, and I loved being French, even if in a way it was only ever a pretense on my part. Then the war came.” She paused to take a great, shuddering breath. “Many people ask me when they learn about my secret, ‘What happens if the world ends and you are still alive?’ I can tell you that the world has already ended once already. Whole cities were leveled to their foundations, and millions walked the roads headed they knew not where. They only knew that they had to keep walking on and on, a great shambling mass, but as silent and dead-eyed as corpses. I will never forget. I thought I knew how cruel men could be, but after the war I knew I needed to go far away from Europe. I couldn’t bare to see the cities I loved in ruins and the people I loved reduced to skeletons and shades. So I came here, to this country seemingly so untouched by war, and bought a little piece of land where I could be alone with my thoughts.” She wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I’m sorry. You probably don’t want to hear of such terrible things.”

“Do you still feel that way? About people and Europe, I mean.”

“I thought I would. So old I am, and yet even I keep forgetting that things change, least of all the hearts of men and women. I have gone back to France several times, and though it grieved me to think of all those who were lost, it brought joy to me heart to see the country so full of life again. But in the years since, this has become my home. So here I stay until I feel I must move on again.”

“What will you do,” she asked, “now that you know my secret?”

I turned to her, and for the first time since she sat down I managed to look her in the eyes.

“I would never tell anyone,” I said.

“Good. There are…stories I could share. Stories of people and places I have met. That would be nice, I think, to have someone to share my life with again.”

“I would love that more than anything.”