Thursday, March 31, 2011

It was all they knew...


The mud was never-ending. The only thing that was more boundless than the mud, and the desperation, was the cold. It got into everything—the ground, the homes, the people There was a brief period in the summer when you could use the mud (still chilled in winter’s wake) to patch holes in the sides of your house, and to use it to insulate just a touch from the oncoming cold. Winter came quickly, then. It rode in on the first westerly breeze and lasted for months upon months. And the people… they froze. Or died of malnutrition. Then froze.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And they would be set free...

She’d cast a hundred  and fifty tiny castles in lead, and painted each one the color of a different kingdom. When the set was complete, she wrapped each in the deepest violet silk, hand-woven by elves and sealed in a box carved from the wood of a Spirit tree. Each castle was given to a different child, to take back to his or her village. She handed a box to each one, down the line, bowing and showing proper respect. “And when the time of strife returns to you, melt it down,” she told them. “Its power shall be released.”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The circus was in town...


Clowns. Why did it always have to be clowns? One white-faced and maudlin, an air of Italian high drama about him. Another scruffy-faced and doe-eyed, a flower drooping off of his cap, playing the tramp with a broken suspender strap and patches in the knees of his oversized trousers, and the last one bald and red-nosed, with big flopping shoes and huge white gloves. And of course, just to make things just a touch more miserable, they were axe-wielding. And chasing me. I tore through the tall summer grasses, nearly tripping over abandoned tires and dumped refuse as I fled.

It was for your own good, really...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Family reunions were killer...


It was one of those hot and humid summers, the type where mosquitoes congregate around every bit of wet or dampness they can find, ruining anything vaguely resembling outdoor fun with their constant biting and blood-sucking. Not that there was much fun to be had when your blood was boiling in your veins and your skin was ready to peal off like old paint even under the park’s huge umbrella canopies. Even the huge, bug-like Vartin were hiding under the trees, heat sizzling off their shining green exoskeletons, wondering what they’d done for shade before humanity had terriformed their planet.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Too bad the caretaker was already dead...


In a shocking turn of events, it turned out that the monster on the old Beckman farm wasn’t a monster at all, but Mr. Lerner, the caretaker. No one had seen it coming, really. What with the creepy sounds, and the mist that rolled in every time the loping, bulbous monster crossed the fallow fields. They’d fully expected the misshapen creature to be some sort of mutant, mythical animal, or something misbegotten at the least. But just a cranky old caretaker tired of snooping teenagers, who wanted nothing more than to dig up the treasure purported to be buried there?

Friday, March 25, 2011

The past wasn't to be trusted...


The legend had it that the Earth had once held people. Living people, that is. At some point in the distant past, living humans walked its rocky, dry surface, doing the very things that humans did every day. Showering, eating, going to work, entertaining themselves, and meeting and falling in love. They did all of that on the scorched surface. They’d even thrived on Earth, at some point in the distant past. Now they were gone, and Earth remained but a burial ground for the First Families of Earth, as it had been promised so long ago to them all.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We all lie to ourselves...


Time distances us from our past. We no longer remember the burning anger, the joy, the stabbing pain of stupidity, nor the heartbreak. We’re so far removed, we can only have the memory of those feelings, and the surrounding events cease having their tactile nature, and they become just stories we tell ourselves. Stories open to reinterpretation and revision with each new telling. We make them dramatic. There’s no point in telling a story if it isn’t good. And that point, at which the past becomes tale, was the very threshold at which the WX2000 was secure in its sentience.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Even nature cried...


The weeping flowers were weeping their silent tears. But they were particularly mournful today, for one of their own had been cut down, and in the prime of his existence. Mortimer had been in full-bloom, his petals lush and full of dewy life. Even his thorns had been youthful and green, his stem firm and tall, with leaves that glistened in the morning light. And with the click-snap of gardening sheers, it had all been over. The flowers had not even been allowed to mourn their dead, before he’d been taken from them and plunked in a vase of water.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The hero's journey...


“Crying won’t help anyone, you know. Only babies cry.” The wizard pointed his staff at the ever-escalating trial that wound up the mountain. “We need to be moving on now. I won’t continue traveling with a crier.”

The girl kneeling next to the smoking corpse looked up at the man in the course woolen robes, hot tears rolling off her cheeks. “You killed my father. In front of me. I think I’m going to cry.”

Huffing so hard it blew his scraggly grey beard in front of him. “He was questioning my judgment. Now? Lets get on with this quest."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cats were such destructive beasts...


The cats were at it again. At four in the morning. The only surprising bit was the longevity of their play, and its loudness. They’d been going at it since the early evening, and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight. Crashes, explosions, the whole bit. The whole house shook intermittently with the force of their…over enthusiastic play. Moxie had that evil glint in her eye, and Fritz licked his lips viciously as they continued their battle in the dark, clicking and clattering away, doing their best to frag all the noobs cat-ly possible on their favorite server.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Having things a certain way...

It did know how get under the skin...


The book was filled with bile and filth of the kind rejected by polite—and impolite society. It said things… horrible, unsavory things. They were all true, of course, but the book reported them in the vilest manner possible. With curses, swears and lured descriptions and every possible disgusting visual imagery. The worst part was, once the book got going, it was impossible to shut the thing up. Locks, boxes, sandwiched in over-full book cases…thing’d stop the horrid verbiage and lewd descriptors that issued for the in the most annoying, raunchy voice. That, your honor, is why I shot it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Space hates everybody...


Space was scary, when you thought of it; there was no air that you didn’t bring yourself, no warmth, no food, water—anything. Just a big frightening uninhabitable vacuum filled with suns and radiation and comets and asteroids and a bunch of other stuff that wanted to kill you. And that wasn’t anthropomorphizing space, either. Mother Earth may want to nurture her children, and give them everything they needed, but the universe tended to hate most beings and seek their demise. And I’d have stayed, safe in Earth’s bosom, too, if it hadn’t been for all those damned bounty hunters.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The hue had changed...


He spent the deepest purple of his days folded in wool, leafing through pages he could no longer read. The paper was of no comfort; each turn made his fingers ache more.  He didn’t remember what he was supposed to have been reading there, just that the book had been important. It was a book, and they were important on principle, this one in particular. So important…but he didn’t know why. Violet dragged to plum, which faded to blackberry and into quiet, unnoticed death. The air was cold and bright, and the sky like sunflowers the morning of the funeral.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The corkscrew made him suspicious...


Betty put the boxed wine, vodka and the discount corkscrew on the liquor store counter. The clerk looked at the mismatched purchases, then the woman with the short blue hair and wrist tattoos and promptly asked for ID. The license she handed over was scrutinized at length, the magnetic strip, the hologram, the name and date of birth. “Restrictions? Corrective lenses, and… I’ve never seen this one before… ‘no FM driving?’” he held onto it, convinced it was fake.

“No driving on the nights of the full moon.” She held out her hand, waiting for the license to be returned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dogs were highly trainable...


In the Twenty-Third century, there were multiple systems and programs for teaching dogs to read. Depending on the system, and the aptitude of the dog, it took anywhere from one to three years to teach a dog to read. It took another three to teach a dog to do arithmetic. At this time, the dog was fully qualified to work for the Planetary Postal Service. Granted, it was just the mailroom, but if the dog was clever with sorting, he could move up quickly to customer service. People liked the service dogs; they were polite and always made correct change.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Big Guy didn't believe in gift bags...


By March, the elves were usually working three shifts a day; two on construction and the third on wrapping. Most agreed that the construction shifts were harder labor, but far preferred to spending eight hours a day as a wrapper. That shift, fortunately, usually fell to the new guys. It was a sort of…Santa’s Workshop hazing ritual. When you started, you had to work one cycle, from January 2nd, until December 24th, in the wrapping room, with the too-sticky tape and the weird smells from the Boss’ office. And the Paper Cuts of Doom. And having to wrap bowling balls.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It could have been any of those boxes...


It was one of those boxes. The kind imported from some country and sold at a mall by a lady in a two wolves t-shirt with frazzled hair that wreaked of incense and oil. In fact, there were twelve others on the table just like it. But this was the one. The one containing the soul of the pie god. If the box were opened, pie would rain down upon the earth for a thousand years. Which didn’t sound like a bad thing; everyone liked pie. Until one was drown and burned alive in tons of molten filling, of course.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Invisible realms unknown to man...


Melody slept in a sunny spot on the kitchen floor for a while, then chased after ghosties. Her people couldn’t see them, but they were there. They were mean, nasty buggers too. They said such unpleasant things, and if anything was ever lost or broken, suffice to say, it was the ghosties faults. Well, except for the things that Melody legitimately hid or broke. But the ghosties ran around the house, spreading ill-will and bad luck. So Melody caught them, and killed them, and presented them to her people. They thought she was chasing dust, not keeping the evil away.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

But at least she never had to mow the lawn...


“It’s not a frickin’ Hell Planet!,” the DJ’s sidekick protested.

“If you’re not from a Hell Planet, why’s your mom’s house smell like fire and brimstone, huh? Why was the lawn ON FIRE? With DEMONIC BLUE FLAMES?”

I hated this morning show, but it was about the only station I could get, this far off the beaten path. Well, besides the ‘all gloom and doom news, all the time’ network, affectionately known as public broadcasting. Yes, yes, everything’s going to kill us, we know, we know.

“The atmosphere is fifty percent sulfur! THAT is why it smells like that! GEEZE.”