Monday, October 28, 2013

Not a Particularly Noble Gas

“What happened?” cried Bartlett.  The lab had been stripped bare, down to the gleaming countertops.  Not even the stools remained.

“Clearly,” Doctor Geisteskrank said, “we have achieved success in our endeavors to synthesize a new element.”

“You left the experiment running overnight,” Bartlett sighed.  “I’ll get the catalog.”

Doctor Geisteskrank disregarded him.  “Yes, something entirely new in the periodic table.  Something unprecedented.  What we see here is clearly the work of… the criminal element!”

A shadowy figure dropped from the ceiling and conked them both on the head.  “Not quite,” said the element of surprise as it riffled their pockets.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


He stood with his foot upon the cashier’s neck as he emptied the register drawer into a valise.  “Oh, you moral vagrant, you wastrel, you miscreant,” he chided, “to permit this theft.”

He stepped outside and encountered a slender woman of middle years, whom he grasped and osculated forcefully.  “Thou strumpet,” he said, pinning her hands, “to carry on so with a man so much your junior, and a stranger unto you as well.”

When the police arrived, all flashing lights and megaphones, he held his pistol to his own head.  “What?” he cried, “Would you be murderers as well?”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Talons Red as Embers, Paws Black as Soot

The sound of firetrucks woke Darren.  He sat up and began coughing; smoke already filled the top half of the room.

“Stay low!” Darren called to Alberta.  Together they crept out the front door to the hallway.  The other apartments already hung open.  Darren started toward the window, but Alberta yanked him back.

“Are you crazy?” she hissed as water began to splash against the roof.

With a  roar and a crackle, the fire fled snarling past them and leapt through the window, leaving scorch marks around the edges.

Darren gasped in confusion.  Alberta pointed to the sign: “Fire Escape.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

All He Wanted to Know Was Whether Clyde Knew What Had Happened to His Lawnmower

Clyde was kneeling by the cinderblock foundation of the shed.  “Have you been feeding him at all?  Look at this flaking on the sides.”

“The old paint?”

“Seems to be ailing.  I’d recommend a good dose of lard and three-quarters-inch nails, just for starters, and keep that up for at least two weeks.  Probably hasn’t had his termite shots, either, am I right?”

“…it’s a shed.”

“Yeah, it’s a little cold up here for them, but they look so cute in the store and people bring ‘em home.  You inherit ‘em with the property, and then what can you do?”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Spinning Faster and Faster

I couldn’t park in the garage, Jimmy said.  I was annoyed.  I worry about people breaking my mirrors or peeing in my wheel wells or something.

What gives, man? I asked.

No room, he told me.  Moon’s in there.

I peeked in the garage, and there it was: the moon, spinning quietly.

It’s wobbling, I said.

Yeah, Jimmy nodded.  That’s why I pulled it in.  Gonna fix the alignment, maybe some new shocks.

Easy fix, I said.  You don’t need a garage for that.

Yeah, said Jimmy, grinning.  But this weekend I’m going to soup it up.   Baby’s gonna cook.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


The sirens went off in the early morning.  It was an emergency.  No one knew what to do at first.  The nature of the emergency did not immediately reveal itself.

Eventually, people ventured outside.  The sirens continued.  The emergency was happening.  Life went on.

There were some differences.  Prices were higher; only to be expected, during an emergency.  People saved less.  There was more unprotected sex.  Donut sales skyrocketed.  Babies were born, got fat, grew up, got jobs in the service industry.  The sirens wailed through it all.

Except for yesterday.  Yesterday the sirens stopped.

What do we do now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Locus

“I feel like it’s all my fault, sometimes,” said Ernie.  “I know that’s silly.  Irrational.  But I feel culpable.  Like I’m the one to blame for all my troubles.”

The dark man, his drinking companion of chance this night, sighed.  “Do you want to know a secret?”

“Mnuh?”  Ernie raised his eyebrows behind his pint.

“You are.  You’re the one to blame.  Not just for your pathetic failure of a life, either.  All the misery of the world, all the sadness and death and pain and loss: your fault.  Just by existing.”  The man had a gun.  “We call your kind a ‘locus.’  I am here to save humanity.”

“Oh, God,” said Ernie.  He wondered if his lack of reaction was because he was too drunk to feel surprise, but deep down, he knew he was only recognizing the truth.  He hung his head.  “Just make it quick.”

The dark man smiled.  “Typical.”  He leaned in close.  “There’s another secret.  For it to work, for the scapegoat’s sacrifice to temporarily dispel the locus, the goat has to agree.  Congratulations, Ernie.  It really is all your fault.”

Ernie had enough time to blink before the dark man saved the world. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Never Mix

“She’s way out of your league, dude,” said Harrison. 

And he was right.  Trent was tall, blond, athletic; Elizabeth anything but.  But when he’d heard Elizabeth ask a single question that stopped Professor Stromboldt cold, he knew she was the one.

It was not easy.  She assumed at first that he was mocking her, then that he thought she’d be an easy lay.  But he persisted, driven by the sincerity of his admiration.

At last, success!  That night was glorious for them both, a true meeting of equals.

Then, in the morning, the League Enforcers smashed down the dorm-room door.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Bus as Long as the World

It's not so bad here.  If you are strong or clever, you can claim takeout bags almost nightly.  The seats are narrow, true, but that just makes them easier to defend, once wedged against the blackened windows. 

Yes, I have also heard the rumors.  That somewhere overhead is the Upper Deck, where the wealthy cavort amongst entire square feet of space and sometimes even catch a glimpse of sunlight.  But beware: to travel risks falling into the Axles, and the desperate, fareless creatures who cling there, lusting for bus tokens which they must never obtain, for the good of all.