Saturday, July 28, 2012

Flat Mountain

“Welcome to Flat Mountain, stranger!” I called. I can always spot the newcomers on account of their dazed expressions. “You'll feel better if you sit down for a spell. It's the thin air up here.”

The man glanced behind him. “But I haven't climbed anything. The road's level.”

“'Course it is, fella. That's why it's Flat Mountain.”

He glared at me. It takes 'em that way, sometimes. “You're nuts.”

“Mind your step,” I warned as he walked away.

 He didn't.

I sighed. Another tourist fallen over the cliff. I keep telling the sheriff we ought to put up a sign.

Friday, July 27, 2012


The red-furred creatures bumbled unseeing past Smythe and Rennett.  They weren't exactly mammals, but the survey team called them monkeys anyway.

Smythe scratched under his bonnet and sighed.

"Hss!" Rennett warned.  The monkeys, catching momentary sight of the disturbance, paused and murmured uneasily.  "Don't adjust the suit, dammit.  You've been told often enough."

"Why did it have to be pink that they can't see?" Smythe whined.  "I feel like an idiot."

"Try thinking instead about all the frequencies we can't see, and what might take advantage of that to watch us."

Smythe was quiet for the rest of their shift.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Skill Factor

"Strength?"  The contestants retrieved their statistics sheets for confirmation.

"Seven point two," Titanus smirked.

"Six point eight," said Ultimasen quietly.

"Drafting percentage?"

The list was long, and on almost every metric, Titanus was cleanly ahead.

"Why even bother with the game?" Virus asked, leaning in close so the rabid arena fans around them wouldn't overhear.

"Well, there's still the luck factor in the game itself," Runnel answered.  He pointed to where the judge was holding up the Game Disc for inspection.  "If that comes up red side, Titanus wins.  But it might come up blue, and then Ultimasen wins instead."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


The mountain shuddered under their feet.

"Well, that's it," said Huirn, staring at the now-empty sky.  "We're sunk."

"Not quite."  Tyces held up the Marking Pen.  "We still have this."

"You heard them; they've loosed the gods and broken the Lawstones.  They won't obey us anymore."

"They won't obey instructions," said Tyces, "but they still see the messages."  He unfolded a blanket from his backpack and scrawled something on it.  It rose gently up into the air.

"What did you do?"

Tyces tucked the Pen away.  "I commented it out.  As far as gravity is concerned, this blanket doesn't exist."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

h4 to Ashtray and Thence Freedom

"Orders have come down.  You're going in."

"What?  That's a suicide move!"

"Come on; you've got that pawn right where you want her."

"Yeah, but if I do, that rook will roll up and crush me.  Look, he knows it.  He's smirking!"

"He's a stone tower."

"He can smirk if he wants to.  Screw this.  I'm going straight.  Dodge the whole thing."

"You can't just ignore orders!  Besides, if you go straight, you'll lose support and that smarmy bishop will just pick you off."

"Well, what am I supposed to do?"

"What you can.  Not like we have much choice."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gifts of the Spirit

The fire came down from Heaven.  My mother can see the future; she thinks the planet's orbit will bring it into view in two million years.  My cat gained the gift of scholarship.  It's heartbreaking, watching her pore over those tomes; she can't read.  Myself, I have a miraculous tissue.  Feel it; it is always damp, but never quite breaks.

Supposedly, someone out there has the gift of interpretation to tell us what all these signs and portents mean.

Yesterday, I stepped on a snail whose antennae were crowned by a tongue of flame.  I hope it wasn't the one.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hovering Just Over the Shoulder

It's hard to get used to the stares.  In stores, in restaurants, even in my own neighborhood, if I don't keep the curtains drawn.  No one sits next to me on the bus, as though it were contagious.


It isn't.  Stop looking at me like that.  At the very least, it won't be hungry until it finishes what it's eating, okay?


It's one of those evolutionary quirks, I guess.  If you've got limited resources, then the slower you metabolize, the longer they last, right?


I dunno.  I'm no expert.  It's not like I asked to get bitten by a timesnake...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Woman Made of Flowers

The woman made of flowers winks one rosebud eye at me.  Her eyelid is a glossy green leaf.  I think it must be some sort of holly, to have that waxy sheen to it.  Either that or she uses fakes, but she doesn't seem to be that kind of girl.  The soft peonies in her cheeks shade to red in the middle, making a becoming blush, and I watch the supple vines of her legs sway as she tosses a final glance over her shoulder.

I get this all the time from flower ladies.

After all, I'm made of bees.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ghost Stories

Real ghost stories never happen to your cousin's friend in Ohio.  No one opens ghost stories with “You won't believe this.”  Ghosts do not lead great-grandchildren to buried treasure or secret love letters or proof of innocence.  

Ghosts are half-seen shapes and inchoate feelings.  Ghosts are glimpses in broken glass in the night or whispers on the cusp of sleep.  If a ghost was ever something that could be interpreted on a human scale, it isn't anymore.

Real ghost stories are not told.  Everyone has one, but what you have seen, you can never speak, any more than can I.

Friday, July 6, 2012


“Consider,” said the Doctor.  “Every human is in competition with every other human, simply by virtue of living.  Each set of genes exists in order to propagate itself and none other.  Romantic partners, siblings, even children are in competition with you.”  He paused, stroking his beard.  “Cloning frees us from the necessity of cooperation; each gene-pattern is its own potential founder now.  It follows that every time someone else uses a resource, they are damaging you and your genes' ability to reproduce most efficiently.”
He pulled the lever, and the red numbers began the countdown.  “This, therefore, is simply self-defense.”

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Cody flopped onto his bed, not bothering to remove his backpack.

“Rough day?” asked Mister Fuzzbutt, pausing on his exercise wheel.

“We learned about pollution and climate change and stuff.”  Cody's voice was muffled by his Superman comforter.  “We're all going to die in a giant tidal wave after the planet turns into a desert.”

“Poppycock,” said Mister Fuzzbutt.  He groomed his ears.  “The temperature in here is lovely, and I keep everything very clean.”

“That's just your gerbil terrarium,” Cody said.  “I'm talking about the whole world.”

Mister Fuzzbutt gnawed on a toilet paper tube.  “I know my limits.”

Jury Duty

The court officer flipped another page.  “Are you familiar with the details of the Doctor Maleficus case through the news media or other means, not excluding so-called 'comic books'?”

“Well, not through the news, no…”

The officer peered over the top of his glasses.  “You've dithered over every question, Mr. Grove.  Jury duty is a civic responsibility, not something to be weaseled out of at every opportunity.”

“Right, yes.  Of course.”  Thomas Grove, a.k.a. Thunderbolt, tugged at his collar.  “I'm sorry.”  He tried not to wriggle too much; he knew he shouldn't have worn his costume under his suit today.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ballad of Klorahks

"There's a terrible ochre that lives in that cave," said Sir Gallant, the White Knight.

"A what?"

"He's beaten a merchant's train black and blue.  The watchmen caught him red-handed.  We'll have to draw him out.  When he's more readier, we'll clash for sure.   Not you; you're too green yet.  But he'll show his true colors.  His type bleeds easily, and that kind of cowardice doesn't come off in the wash."  Sir Gallant handed his squire a small bottle.  "That's when you'll need to use that."

"What is it, sir?"

"Bleach with color guard.  It'll stop him from running."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tum Thax

"Hello!" said the man hanging above me.  Metal prongs speared the shoulders of his suit and penetrated the spongy surface behind.  "New fellow, eh?  What're you?"


"What are you?  I'm the grocery list.  Been here years; he always buys the same things, you see.  What'd he say when he pinned you?"

"Oh.  Um.  'Doctor's appointment.  Seven-thirty-eleven-fifteen."

"Ooh."  The grocery list sucked a whistling breath.  "You're a short-termer, for sure.  Pity.  You have a nice face."

"What happens to short-termers?"  Beside me, a monstrous thumbtack pierced a skeletal ribcage.

"Best just try to remember that message," the grocery list advised.