Monday, December 31, 2012

694. Make like a tree and get outta here

If you are the type of person who survives to a certain age, you likely have two homes.
One home is the place where you live - in an active sense.
The other is the home of your childhood - where you keep youthful memories and your college textbooks.
For him, the flight from one to the other was an act of comparison - judging the many distances between them.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

693. Back to square one

He lost again.
His opponents, all children, were laughing.
He couldn't seem to decipher the rules.
A little girl, still laughing, said something he couldn't understand and pointed back to the first position.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

692. Six of one, half dozen of the other

There were six turtles.
Across from them were half a dozen hamsters.
It was absurd.
Then the fight started.

Friday, December 28, 2012

691. Liar liar pants on fire

The ropes were tight.
A tiny river of blood dripped down his wrists.
He was going to have to tell them what they wanted.
He was going to have to tell them something.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

690. Don't count your chickens before they've hatched

The shopkeeper's sweater was frayed at the cuffs.
His eyes followed the woman with interest as she entered the stacks.
He saw her again, weaving in and out of the shelves carrying a stack of books.
His eyes followed her with sadness as she deposited the books on a stray pile and left the store.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

689. Don't take any wooden nickels

All the trees were dead by 2599.
The last one to go was an old sequoia.
In the 28th century, wood was the rarest of currencies.
It was rare enough to kill for.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

688. Better safe than sorry

She touched her fingers to her thumb.
They were damp with sweat.
She wiped them against her pant leg.
She put her head against the cool metal and listened to the tumblers move.

Monday, December 24, 2012

687. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

There was a deep moaning coming from the pantry.
The kids were beside themselves.
They were worried something bad had happened to Santa.
It was Uncle Randy, face covered in cupcake frosting, looking for Pepto-Bismol.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

686. A stitch in time saves nine

Patrick was a time tailor.
He literally stitched holes in the fabric of time.
Those holes could tear the universe apart if left unattended.
Yesterday he saved nine people - a bus full of nuns from 1964.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

685. Sleeps with the fishes

She was having the most incredible dream.
She could breathe underwater and speak to fish.
It was all a grand adventure.
As she woke up, she realized her keys had punctured her waterbed.

Friday, December 21, 2012

684. Birds of a feather flock together

Ted's father thought he was a ptarmigan.
Ted didn't mind that so much.
It was fun to watch his father stand on the table and peck at seed.
Ted did however, experience brief moments of shame when his father and his fellow ptarmigans would wait with him for the bus, scratching at the dirt driveway.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

683. A watched pot never boils

She picked up the teapot she had inherited from her grandmother.
It was a simple, heavy thing.
She spun, swinging the teapot - water and all.
She set the pot back on the burner and waited for the police to retrieve the senseless intruder.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

682. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

The children sat cross legged in a horseshoe.
A few of them were crying.
Both of the magician's doves had passed on.
The big finish had flopped.

Monday, December 17, 2012

681. Silhouette of doom

A grim shadow crept over the lip of the valley, obscuring everything.
It was like nothing the plain folks who lived their had eve seen before.
The shadow belonged to a runaway zeppelin.
It had broken free from its moorings in New York or Chicago or some such fanciful place.

680. Stealing Christmas

With all of his neighbours at his or her job, he walked down his street looking to rob.
He wasn't just looking for a big screen tv, but holiday cards in mailboxes, you see.
It was cards from grandma that filled him with gall, so he crept down the street and lifted them all.
As neighbours drove Subarus back into their yards, he sat in the dark and thumbed through their cards.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

679. Aims and goals

He passed every test with flying colours - except one.
He was first in his class at henchmen school.
His first job was hanging out the car window shooting at heroes.
His eyesight was terrible.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

678. Syllables

All proper heroes have good, solid names - one, two syllables.
Jack, Steve, et cetera - these are hero names.
These are the names you can count on.
But that's only in the movies.

Friday, December 14, 2012

677. Swing

There's an empty swing in the park.
It's moving on its own.
No children play here anymore.
It's just the wind.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

676. Ace, Queen, Four, Four, Seven

Someone - two someones, actually - knocked over a private game.
They shot Jimmy and beat The Rat's face all to hell.
All told, they took north of two hundred thousand bucks.
For the last three nights, a man had been walking the street and turning over rocks looking for names.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

675. Wrath of God

The wind blew like Christ's own judgement on the last day.
Here and there, tiny tornadoes destroyed in miniature.
She watched on the porch for as long as she could.
The wind grabbed her scarf flung it into the air, red and flailing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

674. The beer the monks make

There is a monastery deep in the mountains.
The monks there have brewed beer, deep and rich, for nearly a thousand years.
They do this to honour God.
In that beer is the history of the world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

673. There's no such thing as Scotchtoberfest

The apartment was covered with empty bottles - expensive ones.
His eyelids had the approximate consistency of sandpaper and his back was in full rebellion from his night on the couch.
The evening had been epic.
Heading upstairs for a shower, he discovered a total stranger passed out in his bathtub.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

672. The wintery apocalypse of Burl Ives

At dawn on Christmas Day families all over the neighbourhood were opening their gifts.
In the street, the snowmen were moving.
They were mobilizing; organizing.
With weapons of pure ice they marched through the neighbourhood.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

671. Apothecary

The store was off the beaten path.
Its atmosphere fell somewhere between quaint and terrifying.
A shopkeeper lurked here and there but the store was otherwise empty.
Inside the hundreds of jars lining the shelves, things were moving.

Friday, December 7, 2012

670. Memory lapse

The Duke of Wellington bathes every third Thursday.
No wait, wild men wear leather sandals in the rain.
This was infuriating.
The thing to remember the thing she was trying to remember was harder to remember than the thing she was trying to remember.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

669. Seasonal meals

It was the first great snowstorm of the year.
There was at least thirty centimetres on the ground and more on the way.
With the cable and the Internet both out, there wasn't much to do besides watch the snow come down.
They looked to the park across the street where they saw a woman in a t-shirt eating an ice cream.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

668. Silverware

All the cutlery was scuffed and worn nearly to the nub.
It wouldn't be much use for Sunday dinners.
Only the pilot and the traveling salesman survived the crash and the avalanche.
They were digging their way out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

667. Whatever you say, honey

With a look at the bill, he dug deep in his pocket.
He dropped some change and crumpled bills on the cracked linoleum.
His waitress examined the sheet of paper and the assembled currency.
She picked up his half-finished Coke and dumped it over his head.

Monday, December 3, 2012

666. One giant leap

The rough hair on his face scraped under their boots.
It was deafening to them, but he did not stir.
Their mission was almost complete.
They were trekking toward treasure - across the face of a giant.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

665. Man of the land

Ted Thurman was a farmer.
His people had been farmers, but their children and grandchildren sold off their acres and moved to the city.
Not Ted.
He still left his trailer each morning in a tattered bathrobe to check his field, waving cheerfully to his neighbours in the new condo complex.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

664. Animation

A tree with vaguely human features lumbered through the living room.
Meanwhile, a pitched battle was being fought between miniature soldiers and pint-sized dinosaurs.
In the middle of it all was a small boy - the son of an inventor.
His father had created a machine that could grant life to inanimate things.

Friday, November 30, 2012

663. The legend of the one-armed right fielder

The ball arced up into the sunlight and dropped perfectly into his mitt.
It was reminiscent of every pop fly since Branch Rickey - except for one thing.
The arm that threw back the ball wasn't an arm at all.
The vaporous form of an arm fired a perfect strike to the catcher to complete the double play.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

662. Certitude

The spacefaring rogue found love, got married, and settled down.
He lived every day as a held breath, waiting for his past to come back to haunt him.
One day men came.
His wife took his weapon from its hiding place and killed them all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

661. Cruel weather gods

It was 2.2 miles from Kyle's office to his apartment - if he walked through the park.
He walked because his wife had left him and took the Camry.
Today the snow seemed to be blowing in his face no matter which way he turned.
This was a favourite party trick of the assembled weather gods.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

660. Racing stripes

Most of the parts were scavenged from fighter jets lost during World War IV.
The escape vehicle was built from two nuclear missiles.
They scavenged some sharp looking stripes from a 70's station wagon - those were just for looks.
This was the ship that was going to make humanity's first run at warp speed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

659. The cave

The lake disappeared revealing a massive cavern.
The man and woman were lowered into the depths.
They were lowered past living dinosaurs and Neanderthals and lost tribes.
They were the next exhibit in a secret museum operating since the dawn of time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

658. All about Eve

They grew the girl from a wisp of DNA culled from an alien probe.
The scientists named her Eve.
Her palm print was a map of the universe.
It was a map home.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

657. The room

She awoke in a room of pure white.
It was complete empty - no doors, no windows.
There was no way out.
As she thought of escape, a door materialized.

Friday, November 23, 2012

656. Wet dog

An old woman and her dog stood in the rain.
"Go, goddamn it," she suggested.
The dog - a pug - looked up and answered her.
"Madam, this task is difficult in the rain, so your patience is appreciated."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

655. Eggs

There are meteors in the atmosphere.
They are falling to Earth.
But they aren't meteors.
They are eggs.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

654. Imperial entanglements

He joined the Empire to stamp out the rebel scum; to make a difference.
His marks at the Imperial College were mediocre at best.
He was assigned to the Quartermaster's division and was put in charge of replacing helmet lining.
Many Bothans died to bring us this information.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

653. Bugs

They landed planet side to exterminate every bug they could find.
Their unit was trained in dozens of killing techniques and outfitted with the latest and deadliest hardware.
They were shocked to find an exact replica of Victorian London populated by giant bugs.
There were barrister bugs, bugs in petticoats and adorable little chimney sweep bugs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

652. The ol' switcheroo

Lightning arced between their outstretched fingers.
With it went their respective consciousnesses.
She found herself looking out from inside the bars.
She was an orangutan.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

651. Replacement parts

925623E was a 6 Series domestic unit.
He completed household tasks with robotic efficiency.
He did, that is, until the 7 Series was released.
Now he lived in a scrapyard, fending off kids from the science high school scrounging for spare parts for extra credit projects.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

650. Of the situation

Slowly but inevitably the Earth lost its gravity.
It didn't happen all at once so some of the more clever and influential Earthlings had a chance to escape.
They built great domes on the larger asteroids.
If that's not survival, it's about as close as you get in space.

Friday, November 16, 2012

649. The Sub Shoppe

They sold 12-inch subs and 9-inch subs.
The 9-inch subs were just the larger ones with three inches cut off.
They didn't throw those three inches away, mind you.
They fed them to the toothless werewolf in the basement.

Special Giller Prize Contest Story Edition: The Imposter Bride

Townspeople wept watching her whirl in time with her new husband.
Early the next morning, she opened the iron gates exposing the city's soft insides to invaders from away.
Now it was Sunday.
The winter sun shone on the frozen River Rue as 419 souls fled south.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

648. The signal

It started during the evening news.
People's eyes went milky white.
In each house they struggled to their feet.
They joined their neighbours in the street and shuffled toward the centre of town.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

647. New neighbours

It sped through space free from the usual solar supervision.
For eons it travelled by itself through the inky blackness.
The last of its momentum brought it to rest out around Saturn.
It was Earth's exact twin.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

646. A prison like me

The blast from the cannon was freezing and scalding at the same time.
She could feel her body solidifying.
Within seconds she was completely rigid.
For the next thousand years it was just her and her thoughts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

645. Alter Eggos

She dropped two frozen waffles into the toaster.
They disappeared.
Seconds later, they materialized in an elementary school on Earth D.
The Mystery Division of the federal government collected them, quarantined the area, and took them to the lab to be studied with the others.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

644. Identity crisis

He woke amidst capes and tights and blood.
He zapped a speeding super with sizzling bolts from his fingers.
The speedster was dead and it felt good.
He was the bad guy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

643. Mueller with the buttons

Alexander Mueller wore a coat with gold buttons.
There were fourteen of them in all.
He was killing a man with his bare hands.
Such was life for a militia general in the ashes of the United States.

Friday, November 9, 2012

642. Secret dossiers

She smiled a knowing smile and slid the dossier across the table.
He put the points of all five fingers on the thin folder and she released it.
She watched as he flipped through pages faster and faster.
His world was about to get a lot stranger.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

641. Triplets

The purple light from the laser was quite beautiful.
Its glow engulfed him, pulling him apart one molecule at a time.
He was split into three distinct individuals: his best self, his worst self and what was left.
The best and worst versions immediately began to fight as the rest of him watched on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

640. Frosted windows

She wiped the frost from the ship's tiny window.
It was cold.
She shivered as she watched oxygen vent into the Plutonian night.
After using her frigid fingers to type a message to Earth, she sat and waited for the reply.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

639. Election Day 2412

Going into Election Day, polls were knotted at 50% a piece.
Voters were torn.
On the one hand, the killer robot was remarkably consistent with his "Eliminate All Humans" platform.
On the other hand, the giant sentient slime mold was remarkably responsive to voters.

Monday, November 5, 2012

638. Singularity

There's a point in space that lies at the exact centre of the universe.
That neck of the woods is empty save for a standard, everyday shoebox.
It has never been opened.
Voyager 1 should reach it in the next decade or so.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

637. A Science Fiction Crime Story with Comedy

Life was tough in the Special Constable Division at Jupiter Station.
All the worst cases fell in their lap.
Agent Ridley pulled this one.
A carrier ship loaded with clown droids was detonated, spreading red noses and oversized shoes from Io to Europa.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

636. Saving Superman

The watch was quite normal looking.
Looks can be deceiving.
It was linked to a giant underground machine that powered the time shifts.
They were going to save Joe Shuster.

Friday, November 2, 2012

635. Transplants

The surgeon held it aloft, still beating.
He dropped the heart into a sanitary receptacle.
One of his assistants handed him the replacement.
They weren't sure what the alien's heart would do to a man, but they couldn't wait to find out.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

634. Potty humour

It had been going on for nearly 24 hours.
The network had been playing nothing but videos of people sitting on the toilet.
The terrorists were resolute.
This wasn't going to end until their demands were met - and they got pizza pockets.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

633. Shattered glass

The glass was in the living room.
It used to be in a bay window.
The glass was mixed with raw eggs.
It was punishment for giving out raisins instead of candy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

632. The pitch

The lights focused on the stage were hot and bright.
The panel said nothing as they scratched at their notepads.
He was coming to the big finish.
He needed thirty million dollars to build a time machine.

Monday, October 29, 2012

631. At 37.

His father died at 37.
So did his grandfather.
He was 36.
His grandmother decided to show him the contract so this time things might be different.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

630. The ties that bind

Was it left over right or right over left?
She thought hard; back to that summer at Girl Guide camp.
The knot went together well enough.
She looped the makeshift reins over the two most prominent horns on the triceratops and hopped up on its back.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

629. Guttenberg Bible

He deferred on all the big wedding decisions.
She created the whole event to her exacting vision.
He had one simple wish: to walk down the aisle to the theme from Police Academy.
He hummed away in his head as he walked to the sounds of violins.

Friday, October 26, 2012

628. Always toll free

They peddled their wares on late night television.
The commercials were genuine in a way that made certain types of people wonder how they ever lived without the product in question.
Their orders were shipped from a massive warehouse north of Akron.
Employee number 134, the disgruntled Todd Feldon, had begun filling every twelfth order with sawdust or spiders.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

627. Climate change

One of the engineers jokingly called it antidotium.
It was going to save the world.
Eighteen massive helicopters dropped the entire world's supply in the centre of the Pacific Ocean where scientists hoped it would counteract the man-made climate disaster.
Instead, it turned every drop of ocean water on Earth into a glassy, impenetrable mass.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

626. Woman with a stroller

They gradually caught up to a woman pushing a stroller.
She was older - a grandmother perhaps.
As they passed her, they turned to admire the baby.
The basket of the stroller held only a fistful of grocery store flowers and a tiny cross.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

625. Remote control

He had no health insurance.
Desperate for relief from his wisdom tooth, he answered an advertisement in the classified section: FREE DENTAL CARE FOR QUALIFIED PARTICIPANTS.
When he awoke from the surgery, he found a strange device lodged at the base of his skull.
On the other side of a one-way mirror, a man in a white lab coat flicked an odd looking device to the 'on' position.

Monday, October 22, 2012

624. Sharks

They circled slowly.
The prize would not split two ways.
They would fight and there would be blood.
A single bacon-wrapped scallop sat lonely on a silver tray.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

623. Panic room

Flight 925 left on schedule at 3:09 p.m. - short one passenger.
Peter Peterson had barricaded himself in a bathroom stall.
An acute paranoia about the fate of the plane had lodged itself in his brain.
He was trapped between his terror and some two-ply.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

622. Trailing indicators

There is such a sameness to airports that it hardly matters that they are different.
The same halls house the same stores that sell the same magazines.
She was deep in the aura of constructed familiarity.
She didn't notice that the vaguely familiar man was the same one who'd been following her from Houston to Vancouver to Anchorage.

Friday, October 19, 2012

621. Pax Arsenio

In the dark times, the people were alone in the wilderness.
Then the word came forth from the far past.
A new golden age of wisdom reigned.
There was much whoop whooping and gladness among the people.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

620. Locusts and other calamities of biblical proportions

Tommy was six.
He loved bugs.
He kept them in a peanut butter jars with air holes poked in their lids.
One day he released them all - in the house.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

619. Algae

Around five thousand years ago - just about the time we were getting civilized - some algae in the Indian Ocean started pulling itself together.
This was a slow process.
Evolution often takes its time.
Last Thursday, a woman made entirely out of algae walked out of the ocean to tell us just what a mess we've made of things.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

618. Tiny nightmares

She nodded off for a second or two.
In her mind's eye she saw a young girl.
In a flash, the girl was at her bedside clawing at the covers.
She woke up screaming.

Monday, October 15, 2012

617. City of the future. Town of the past.

The city on the hill was shiny with progress.
Everything about it glowed with the aura of evolved humanity.
The town below the city gates lived in its shadow.
Shadows never last forever, do they.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

616. Greenbaum in the rain

He'd been having dinner with an old friend.
They'd been telling stories, so he was predisposed to reminiscing.
He was singing along to the radio when he was seized by a powerful memory.
When he was a boy, his father used to sing this song, doing the guitar parts himself.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

615. Six fifteen

The soldier's arm patch read '615'.
He was part of the fightingest unit in all the forces.
They were dropped on this rocky stretch of land 60 seconds ago.
They were here to fight some aliens.

Friday, October 12, 2012

614. Mob music

A record played sad jazz.
The music mingled with the smoke in the room.
Detectives and Treasury men were sifting for clues.
The mob was settling scores.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

613. The broadcast

Snow closed the roads into town.
But the show had to go on.
The children took the stage for their Christmas pageant.
The performance took periodic breaks so parents could relay play-by-play to friends outside town.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

612. Scippio Africanus

When we say a thing is the beginning of the end, we seldom mean it.
More to the point, we may mean it but we are seldom correct.
Even the great Roman General Scippio Africanus who fought the Carthaginians had a grandson, Scippio Africanus, who fought the Carthaginians.
This wasn't close to being over.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

611. Scar tissue

The scar on his hand had faded over the years.
He still noticed it when he wrote or checked the time.
It would be with him for the rest of his days.
The scar was a reminder of his time travelling the byways and backroads of the country to hustle fooseball.

Monday, October 8, 2012

610. Fish story

Do you think when Jonah was in the belly of the fish he prayed for God's deliverance?
Or, do you think he secured his release by his own hands?
When he laid soaking on the beach those many years ago, who did he thank?
I suppose we'll never know.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

609. Revenge of the hyper-intelligent gorillas

Professor Horton had only one solution for the hyper-intelligent gorillas he'd loosed on the world.
Working alone is his lab for weeks, he created his masterpiece: Science Chimp.
Imbued with a genius intellect and advanced combat training he was a simian force to be reckoned with.
Those gorillas were going to pay.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

608. Crystalline entity

The police were searching for the perpetrator of a series of escalating crimes.
He had left no fingerprints and didn't show up clearly on any surveillance cameras.
He was a man made of glass.
The case was closed abruptly when the criminal was shattered into thousands of pieces after falling from a fire escape.

Friday, October 5, 2012

607. Positive vibrations

I see you across the room but you don't see me.
There's a lot on your mind, so I don't expect you to.
I want you to know I am here for you, so I concentrate.
You leave without noticing me, but I feel better for doing what I could.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

606. Aunt of Frankenstein

Aunt Eunice's mysterious disease nearly killed her.
An experimental procedure replaced great swathes of her body with shark organs and computer parts.
She was released from the hospital to the care of her brother and sister-in-law.
They moved her to the basement where they realized there wasn't very much of Aunt Eunice left.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

605. Matter transference

Leaving her apartment, she noticed the mailman from her old neighbourhood walking in front of her building.
Beside the bakery she saw her cousin's dentist.
The more she walked the more she saw people from her childhood and teenage years.
Rounding the corner to her office, she was magically transported thousands of miles to her home town.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

604. What can you imagine?

What can you imagine?
Could you grow wings?
Could you assemble a jetpack from the common everyday materials in your pockets?
It's just that you're accelerating toward the Earth at 9.8 metres per second per second and some focused brainstorming would be helpful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

603. The fuel of the tomorrow

Historically, the conflicts of mankind have been a fight over resources.
Coal, real estate, the fact that your mate is better looking than mine: we've coveted what there wasn't enough of to go around.
That was true until the 22nd century when we discovered the power of belly button lint.
Egalitarian and infinitely renewable, it changed everything.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

602. Schrödinger's kitchen

There was a moment between the flipping of the switch and the turning on of the lights.
In this moment anything was possible.
In this moment hunger and curiosity were slaked.
When the lights came on, there was no food to be found.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

601. The concept of disgrace

Today, I wish I knew karate.
I would have used it on people.
Then again, I'm sure that would have been a disgrace to the dojo.
So there's that.

Friday, September 28, 2012

600. Permutations

There are the sort of problems you solve with a shovel.
There are the sort you solve with flowers.
And then, there are the sort of problems you solve with a full on diplomatic and military intervention.
She was at least five minutes away from understanding which kind was plaguing her at this moment.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

599. Eye of the tiger

The rusted van idled at the lights.
Music leaked out the window.
It was the Rocky theme - the one you occasionally hear on the radio, not the one where he runs up the stairs.
The occupant of the van was just one man and his will to survive.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

598. The happier we'll be

The alleyway was out of the way.
His handiwork wouldn't be found for days, but it would be found - probably by a homeless person.
He walked down the street whistling as he cleaned his knife blade.
The more we get together indeed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

597. The man who invented the rope light

I was flying hungover - I do not advise this, by the way.
The man beside me was sucking back beer and tomato juice at nine in the morning.
He claimed he invented those rope lights you see in department stores.
The only reason, he said, that he wasn't a millionaire today was due to his lack of knowledge of electricity, design, business or patents.

Monday, September 24, 2012

596. Role reversal

He stood admiring himself in the floor-to-ceiling bathroom mirror.
The glass in the mirror grew wavy.
When it cleared again, he saw a woman he didn't recognize.
When he looked at himself again, he was in the woman's body.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

595. The downside of time travel

Everything we do creates tiny ripples, changes in the timeline.
Traveling back - no matter how noble the intentions - has repercussions.
A successful adventure in time had created a different present, a better present - mostly.
He and his father were listening to his mother tell the story of her mysterious first date, for the fiftieth time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

594. Medusa in the garden

There were stone statues of men and women everywhere.
Their clothes suggested some had been here for decades.
Each face was so lifelike.
What had happened here?

Friday, September 21, 2012

593. Science Gangster

He had N-E-W-T-O-N tattooed across his knuckles.
His ride was a Harley modified to run on old fryer grease.
Doctors pegged his IQ at 198.
We think the wrong things are cool.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

592. Pirates of minor waterways

In the course of human events, some offenses are so egregious they demand redress.
These actions by the county council could not stand.
He loaded his homemade black powder into his Boston Whaler and, day by day, patrolled the small river that bordered his property.
Nobody was going to put up Christmas decorations early on his watch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

591. Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain

People refer to Christ a lot.
Some use his name in search of piety and grace.
Others use it because they have no need of such things.
Point being, many of us rely on the guy a fair bit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

590. How the lamp got broke

I was very angry.
Perhaps I did not have grounds to feel this way, but I did.
You did what you did and I felt how I felt and I acted rashly.
That's how the lamp got broke.

Monday, September 17, 2012

589. We all seem to be very angry at one another

She was quitting.
Technically, she was declining to run for reelection.
She was too tired.
She loved her job, but she was tired of yelling back at the same volume as all the people who were yelling at her.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

588. Performance review

There have been some...disconcerting trends of late.
Let me review: Killer Croc - 21 escapes, The Penguin - 54 escapes, and The Joker - an appalling 212 escapes.
This is the most egregious display of incompetence I have seen in my 18 years in the correctional system.
Your employment is terminated - effective immediately.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

587. World's Strongest Man

The row was made up of men, tall and broad.
The twenty-six of them were vying to see who was strongest.
At the end of the row was a girl of about six or seven with two prosthetic legs.
You can't always measure strength in muscle density.

Friday, September 14, 2012

586. Frenetics

The loudest moments in life are often preceded by quiet ones.
Normalcy reigns most of the time.
Singing along to the car radio, they had no idea their lives were about to change forever.
That's when she saw the light.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

585. Thoughtful calamities

Antiheroes are easy.
Their good is done as an afterthought, a willful defiance.
Give me a real hero any day because their wins and their losses matter.
And it mattered a great deal to him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

584. Spin-o-Rama

He stopped.
The street was deserted.
He had no idea what he was doing there.
An overwhelming desire to turn back had come over him.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

583. A map of Thursday

The ebb and flow of life has rhythm.
Elevators and stock markets go up and come down.
On Thursdays she wore the grey suit.
If she was honest with herself, she was looking for something.

Monday, September 10, 2012

582. The hoodlums out back

It was Friday night in the city and there were damn kids everywhere.
They were drunk and loud and ruining things for honest locals.
College was in for the fall semester.
It wasn't like this in the good old days.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

581. Blackmail

There are pieces of information so personal and so dark they should never see the light of day.
Normally, they are closely guarded by their owners.
When these secrets fall into the wrong hands, all hell can break loose.
She was going to get exactly what she wanted.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

580. Saint Sebastian's Home for Wayward Boys

They took in boys of a unique sort - girls too, since 1960.
These children weren't welcome in 'the system'.
They weren't sequestering malcontents, however.
They were training heroes.

579. A respectable sort of cat lady

She had two cats.
The fat one was welcoming and prone to shedding.
The other cat was sleek and mean.
As they weaved in and around her guests, she offered each of them a lint roller.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

578. Barefoot in the park

He swam on Tuesdays.
Today he left his dress shoes on a bench in the change room and someone stole them.
He walked home barefoot through the park.
It was a pretty good day anyway.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

577. War Elephants

They were well funded by a billionaire with an eye on his own legacy.
Their mission was to chart the remaining uncharted places on the planet.
Their goal was to find things previously unfound.
That's how they ended up cornered by a lost tribe riding heavily armed elephants.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

576. Wanted posters Part 4

It was over.
The ringleader was dead.
He had slipped on a marble and fell into an open sewer.
The Masked Driver got into his car and drove off into the sunset.

Monday, September 3, 2012

575. Wanted posters Part 3

There was a trail of bodies a mile long.
All the henchmen were dead, killed by the Masked Driver.
Only their leader and the Driver remained.
One of them wasn't leaving here alive.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

574. Wanted posters Part 2

"Bring me the head of the Masked Driver!" he screamed as he paced in front of his henchmen.
Nine, wait eleven, of his soldiers were dead.
Each had been killed by a masked man driving a Plymouth with no license plates.
This could not stand.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

573. Wanted posters

They were hung up in the post office with scotch tape; row after row of angry young men.
He tore the photo of the baddest looking mother down off the wall.
After he'd memorized each feature, he crumpled the picture and threw it on the floor.
He had a trunkload of weapons and all the time in the world.

Friday, August 31, 2012

572. Man is the solution for a humdrum universe

This was his favourite among all his creations.
Seldom tended and unimportant, it never ceased to amaze him.
The machinations of the tiny cogs in the machine were as fascinating and unpredictable to him as if they had been created by someone else.
He made a note to observe their goings on more often.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

571. Hiring who you can get

The crossing guard stood in the middle of the street, but not because he was supervising a crossing.
There were no cars to be seen.
He was watching two bullies pour honey mustard on a small boy.
This wasn't in his job description.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

570. An ode to the dog who chased my car today

Listen fella - can I call you fella?
We need to talk about this afternoon.
Chasing the car like that, you scared the shit out of me.
Don't be such an asshole, fella.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

569. How to spot a body double

People often marvel at the stunts movie actors do.
Only it's look alikes, not actors, who do the dangerous stuff.
Movie studios don't like to put expensive talent in harm's way, so if you watch carefully in this next scene, you can see the switch.
That's movie magic.

Monday, August 27, 2012

568. When all the rats jump ship

While he delivered his mea culpa on national television, his sister-in-law took a taxi to the worst newspaper in the city.
The paper was the kind that printed sealed rehab documents and the grades of the children of famous people.
She told some stories that were true - from a certain perspective.
Her brother-in-law never spoke to her again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

567. Public hangings

The lights from the cameras were unnaturally bright.
There was heat in the room; maybe from the camera, maybe from the guilt.
Everyone was watching.
All hangings are public, you know.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

566. Night moves

It was dark except for the orange light of some distant city.
They drove in the dark through the cicada-filled countryside.
They listened to rock and roll and marveled at the stars.
The man on the radio announced Neil Armstrong had died.

Friday, August 24, 2012

565. Den of thieves

It was a clubhouse, a secret lair.
They went there to scheme their schemes.
It's location was hidden.
Girls were not allowed.

564. The sounds of summer

It was the last weekend of the summer.
School was starting on Monday.
The park was filled with the sounds of families.
And velociraptors.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

563. The glorious rise of unfettered individualism

The bar let out at 4 a.m.
At the persistent urging of a bouncer he stumbled out into the back alleyway.
He vomited, spraying a sleeping homeless man with collateral damage.
Ignoring the man's protests, he wandered to the street in search of a cab.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

562. The intersection where the radio dies

The intersection of Poplar and Lisgar Streets was completely normal, traffic lights and all.
What wasn't normal was the few seconds of total radio silence each car passing through the intersection experienced.
The official explanation was localized atmospheric conditions.
In reality, its popularity as a meeting place for Norse gods, space aliens, and restless spirits created some seriously weird energy.

Monday, August 20, 2012

561. A boy and his dog

They were stalwart companions through good times and tense situations.
This was one of those tense situations.
Going, going, gone.
The dog eradicated the last bit of snow in the backyard with a steady stream of yellow vengeance - right before school, too.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

560. Spelling bees

They were a wonder of science, or a perversion of nature.
Nanotechnological manipulation turned them into a super-intelligent swarm bent to their creator's every whim.
At present, they were drafting an email.
It was a strongly worded letter to the editor.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

559. Hairy situation

The paper came at seven as it usually did.
It was sitting on the table next to a bowl of oatmeal.
The children would be up soon.
Domesticated Sasquatch checked his watch and poured some tea.

Friday, August 17, 2012

558. Correct postage

An old woman walked from her apartment building to the mailbox in the rain.
She was carrying a message for her sister.
They didn't speak anymore.
The message was addressed to her niece.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

557. The brief second life of Patricia Hampton

Lightning struck the hospital at 10:04 p.m.
It raced through the building until it reached the morgue in the basement.
The table holding the remains of Patricia Hampton coursed with electricity.
"Where am I?" she thought briefly before the current left her body and she slumped back to the table.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

556. Kernels

"Cornelius Tuck for Mr. Adams."
"Hold please."
"But I've made a breakthrough; something momentous."
"He'll have to return your call later."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

555. Pretzels

They were crushing cars into hunks of twisted metal.
Each one was hauled to the edge of town and hoisted on to the pile.
They were creating an artificial wall.
No one was getting out.

Monday, August 13, 2012

554. The sex lives of sharks

One by one the diminutive men slipped into the water.
There were a dozen of them all told.
They crowded together in rough formation.
When the boat got up to speed, the twelve of them were balanced on two water skis.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

553. Choose your own adventure

The street was lit by a single street lamp.
A woman walked alone, trench coat gathered up around her neck.
Then she stopped.
A dozen ninjas were about to mess with the wrong lady.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

552. Zebras

Have you ever heard the sound a zebra makes?
The noise as the herd passed by was otherworldly.
They had nothing like this in Saskatchewan.
The world is a strange place, my friends.

Friday, August 10, 2012

551. Devil at the crossroads

Satan still waited at that very same crossroads.
The offers were just as sweet, but the traffic wasn't what it used to be.
It hadn't been since the big boxes went up the next township over.
His deals now targeted the minor ambitions of backwater tourists and Sunday drivers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

550. Economies of scale

Most things get better the more of them you have.
Take all those alligators that get dumped in the sewers.
They've reached critical mass.
They're getting smarter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

549. Foremost expert

In Season 7 Episode 4 our gang of heroes encountered a fictional rock band.
The band would appear in four more episodes over the course of the series.
Susan took it upon herself to become the World Wide Web's foremost expert on their fictional career.
You can read a detailed 'history' on her blog.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

548. Celebrity abductions

Fake real abductions were all the rage with the Hollywood well-to-do.
They'd pay thousands to be taken by surprise and ill-treated - a little.
The abductors ran a tidy, profitable cottage industry in abusing the privileged.
Profitable that is, until the tabloids got wind of a starlet drowned in a bathtub.

Monday, August 6, 2012

547. In the future everyone will have dreadlocks

It will be an alien invasion, or a natural catastrophe.
The Earth's population will be decimated but remain appropriately representative of age, gender and race.
The survivors will be dirty and dreadlocked, eking out a dystopian existence.
But, they will all have perfect white teeth.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

546. Messages from the Messiah

The residents of Stepsburgh were in a tough way.
The mill's closing had hit the town hard.
When a messiah walked (literally) out of the wilderness and down Main Street, they were overjoyed.
His message didn't go over as well: they were sorta on their own.

545. The Dark Knight Rises for his night job

The storage facility had a glass wall.
In retrospect, it seemed like an ill-advised architectural flourish.
There were some concerns it invited an undue level of attention from the criminal elements.
Someone stuck a cutout of The Caped Crusader in the window.

Friday, August 3, 2012

544. Unreleased Rob Thomas singles

When she was twenty, she flirted with a career in the music business.
A brief internship at a record label drove her back to law school in the fall.
A couple of years later, her parents downsized to a condo.
In the process, her mother threw out a box of original recordings that had never seen the light of day.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

543. The hair on your toes

It started with her toes.
Tiny bits of peach fuzz popped up everywhere.
Then little hairs started sprouting in spots.
She was changing into something different.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

542. The hate room

The room was completely empty save for two chairs.
It was painted white.
There were no windows.
It was soundproof.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

541. Badasses

They walked in slow motion through the neighbourhood.
It was something badass.
It was something from Tarantino.
One of them blasted music from a boom box.

Monday, July 30, 2012

540. Trailblazing

A couple of trees were down at the side of the road.
This caused a district-wide outage.
Two technicians from the power authority were called to the scene to investigate.
When they arrived, they found a massive trail extending as far as they could see.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

539. Off panel

In panel two, our hero and villain square off to do battle.
In panel three, they fling themselves through the air at one another.
These two panels are separated by the thinnest of white lines.
In that space, the two of them enjoy an espresso and a danish.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

538. Bugs

The bugs were moving in the same direction.
All of them.
They were like a black cloud of legs and wings.
And they were all moving in the same direction.

Friday, July 27, 2012

537. The things we all hate

Contrary to the signage, there was no colour cable television.
There was no television at all.
The two of them sat outside smoking.
After each one, they'd flick their butts into the pool.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

536. Mint condition

The child stood over the shreds of mint condition packaging of a rare 1980's toy.
His apoplectic father had paid a not insignificant amount to find and ship it from Japan.
With a sudden realization, he left the boy alone in the room.
He returned with other boxes containing other toys that were soon fulfilling their original mission.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

535. World's Greatest Dad

They dragged him into the courtroom in chains.
A single light hung overtop of him, obscuring everything else.
A voice asked if his shirt was true.
Was he the world's greatest dad?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

534. Movie tie-ins

The new product line sat on the boardroom table ready for final sign-off.
Here and there, an executive picked one up to examine it.
When they launched next year, the kids would go crazy.
First, they had to kill Optimus Prime.

Monday, July 23, 2012

533. City under siege

The city was in control of mad men.
There was no escape or relief.
But the city was filled with men and women with the hearts of heroes.
They'd remember that before the end.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

532. Proudly made by Zurn Industries

His mission was to destroy the blue energy crystal that powered the empire of the tyrant Zurn.
Deep in the heart of the stronghold, he vowed to see it done, no matter the cost.
'Bobby,' his father shouted,'Get away from that urinal puck!'
'We're leaving.'

Saturday, July 21, 2012

531. Glory

A day later, it all turned out to be false.
All of the moral, sympathetic words were gone.
The fiction of a decent and honest person was erased.
True intentions were revealed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

530. Guts

A hundred camera flashes lit up the night.
There were microphones everywhere.
A nation was watching.
He stepped to the podium to say something honest.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

529. An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan

Today, an iceberg twice the size of Manhattan broke off Greenland.
It didn't get as much attention as you'd think.
These things are often predicted and ignored.
That being the case, there was one solitary news chopper there when the monster broke loose.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

528. Fire under the bridge

A fired burned under the bridge that night.
Four hobos were sharing a meal of chicken and black coffee.
They were waiting to hop a train the next morning.
Sixty years later, the bridge would be replaced by an on-ramp to the Interstate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

527. Body double

Through science, many things are possible.
She believed that - passionately so.
As the gun shifted back and forth from her to her clone, she came to believe something else.
It is us humans who decide whether the gifts of science are used for good or ill.

Monday, July 16, 2012

526. Art on the wall

Hundreds of anthropologists were gathered in the dark peering at the wall.
They wondered and argued about the significance of the painted handprint.
For the most part, they agreed they might never know the answer.
Twenty-three thousand years ago - give or take - one of our ancestors used that very spot to carefully document his romantic conquests.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

525. Art on the street

The neighbourhood children covered the sidewalk in art of their own doing.
They spent the whole afternoon transcribing their imagination onto the concrete.
When the temperature dropped and the rain started, all their work was undone.
The colours swirled and mixed as they slipped down a sewer grate.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

524. Time travel

In 1886, it was the dirt basement of the town's first hardware store.
In 1928, it was a speakeasy serving bathtub gin.
In 1943, it was a storehouse for scrap metal for the war effort.
Today, it's full of old paint cans.

Friday, July 13, 2012

523. Hired guns

Two men pulled up in a black sedan.
They got out and walked to the trunk.
Gun after gun appeared from underneath an old blanket.
Shit was about to go down.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

522. The Last City on Earth

Over the course of one hundred and fifty years, they moved every last man, woman and child to Paris.
They called it 'The City of the World'.
It grew as broad and deep as Texas, a marvel of better humanity.
The world around it became a place of nature and wonder.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

521. Truck stop feminism

There were two women in the diner: a waitress and a truck driver.
The rest were men.
One of them made a less than generous critique of a woman's ability to pilot a transport truck.
She knocked out two of his teeth with a jab to the face and went back to her coffee.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

520. One man versus the end of the world

On July 4th, 2014 the United States anchored The Eye of Atlantis - the most powerful space telescope in the world - at it's final location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Thirty-two days later, it discovered a killer asteroid headed for Earth.
Within twenty minutes, the President was informed there was no contingency plan.
In Wyoming, one man continued building his rocket until the last possible moment.

Monday, July 9, 2012

519. What really matters is the size of the hole

Almost everything went in the hole.
The soft drink container caught the roof of the receptacle,spilling Sprite everywhere.
After a minute or two, a teenaged employee appeared, dragging a mop and bucket behind her.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

518. Ghost in the graveyard

It is a widely held belief in some circles that time is the same at all times and in all places.
This is untrue.
I laid in an inch of water in the ditch, listening as voices passed close but did not stop.
I was going to win.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

517. Living in the fridge

It was inevitable, really.
The record heat wave caused rolling blackouts throughout the area.
When the power went out, they started with the oldest items in the fridge first.
The first thing to go was the room temperature gelato.

Friday, July 6, 2012

516. Swearing in other languages

She angrily pounded out "C-A-L-I-S-S-E" on her keyboard.
Closing her eyes, she hit delete, praying to the almighty for the ability to kill via email.
Her murderous daydream was interrupted by the new email alert.
It was a request for a conference call.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

515. Vertigo at two and a half feet

There's a certain brashness that comes with being a pilot that's half suspension of fear and half blind confidence.
As the plane was spiraling out of control, this pilot never - not for one second - doubted his ability to save the day.
He felt eerily calm as chaos erupted around him.
For an infinitesimally brief moment - around two and a half feet or so - he knew it was over.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

514. Relationship status: complicated

She was the greatest fiancée in the world.
Her perfection was the obsession of many men and the envy of many more women.
But she, she was his.
If he only knew.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

513. The best feeling in the world

The best feeling in the world, he thought, was that moment immediately following a hot shower.
He stood on the mat, naked and steaming.
He wandered to the living room and draped his towel over the sofa.
It was then he noticed the light in the window across the street.

Monday, July 2, 2012

512. Irrigation

It was evening in the country.
There wasn't a person in sight for miles.
The farm's irrigation system kicked on just after dinner.
It was raining.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

511. Continental drift

If you avoid the Interstate, it's ten point nine miles from Akron to Corfu.
It's been this way for quite some time.
This week, the State of New York has announced a revision to the distance between the two.
Needless to say, this changes a lot of things.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

510. Crows counted

The college pub was in the basement, which always made it feel underground.
The room was thick with smoke and sweat as undergrads tried to make it with one another.
Everyone was dancing to Counting Crows.
This was ten years ago, or so.

Friday, June 29, 2012

509. Personal vanities

Her life was a matter of check boxes: approved or not approved.
She was the final arbiter of license plates for the state's department of transportation.
It was she who decided if an oblique reference to a woman's chest was suitable for state motorists.
She was not amused.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

508. Hidden agendas

There were two rooms in the house no one ever saw.
The first was a storeroom stocked to the brim with canned foods.
The second was a high-tech electronics lab.
On December 20, 2012 - Mayan predictions or no Mayan predictions - they'd be ready.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

507. Alien abduction

In a flash of light, he was gone.
A burnt patch of grass was all that remained.
He was aboard an alien vessel of some kind, hidden behind the dark side of the moon.
They were testing us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

506. Drums

He heard drums in the park that evening.
They sounded ancient and earthy.
He closed his eyes and imagined the adventure stories of his youth.
When he opened them again, he found himself somewhere entirely different and unexpected.

Monday, June 25, 2012

505. Your ad here

Your ad here?
Your ad here.
He'd been stuck behind this bus for ninety minutes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

504. Electric toothbrush days

It was a day like any other.
She stood looking at herself in the mirror.
Her electric toothbrush sprang to life with the touch of a finger.
She stood there letting it run and run.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

503. Rookies

The wedding had been perfect.
The union had been blessed according to their traditions.
Now it was just the two of them.
She shut off the light and they both hoped for the best.

Friday, June 22, 2012

502. Controlled laboratory conditions

Two scientists sat across the table from one another.
Neither said a word.
"Spaghetti squash," said the first, finally.
Experiment 437 in ESP development had failed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

501. Key party

They glistened in the bowl, nine sets of keys.
Expectant faces glanced around trying to guess their match.
When his turn came, he reached in and pulled out a familiar set - his own.
He lingered in the living room for twenty minutes or so and then went home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

500. The next morning

After the rain, the air was cool and crisp.
The view from the kitchen window was something miraculous.
The cracked, dry Earth had been replaced by tiny shoots of green.
Everything was new again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

499. Should have been Swiss

Black spots swam in front of his eyes.
When he could get a breath in, it was wheezy.
He felt a a pair of hands wrap around his waist and squeeze.
In his addled state, he watched in slow motion as a hunk of cheese flew out of his mouth and through the air.

Monday, June 18, 2012

498. Family heirlooms

'That stain on the table, what do you think it's from?' she asked.
The table had, up until today, belonged to her grandmother.
She was inventorying the estate, dividing it up between her cousins.
She had no idea that the stain was part of a dark secret that lurked in the attic of her grandmother's manor.

497. Little boys and tiny airplanes

There was no airport nearby.
The particular physics of the area made flightpaths untenable.
That made the hundred or so tiny planes something of a miracle.
The little boy watched out the back window of the truck as his father drove past the hobby plane festival.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

496. Alternate Earths

They didn't, so he didn't and we didn't, but he did.*
Washington, Boston, New York: all captured.
Now the forces of the United States were making a last stand at Raleigh.
General Kennedy moved his troops into position.

Friday, June 15, 2012

495. Career planning for sidekicks

Her partner was the hero's hero.
He inspired fear in the hearts of evildoers.
Now he was gone.
She pulled the ill-fitting mask over her face and turned to face the city.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

494. The man of science VS the airborne nuisance

Every morning, chatter erupted from the tree next to the house.
The scientist had finally had enough.
He spent weeks in his lab, tinkering and testing.
The next morning, the air was filled with laser beams and clouds of feathers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

493. Tempo

The sounds of a march filled the neighbourhood.
The brisk melody echoed off the houses and filled up the empty lots.
The source of the music was the house on the corner, where its occupant was pruning her rose bushes.
She wandered through the garden waving her shears like a ceremonial baton.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

492. A name

Beneath the dust jacket was a hundred dollar bill and a name written in pencil.
As the days went by, he became obsessed with it - too obsessed even to read the book itself.
Finally, he couldn't take it anymore.
He took out his phone book and began flipping.

Monday, June 11, 2012

491. These are a few of my favourite things

"But it's your most favourite thing in the world, " she said.
Her tone was something between frustration and sarcasm.
She stood in the doorway with one hand on the frame and the other holding a cigarette that lazily sputtered smoke toward the ceiling.
He picked up the offending item and threw it against the wall as hard as he could, dashing it into a hundred pieces.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

490. Theme music

It came out of nowhere.
First it was drums, then the horns.
He stood a little straighter, walked a little taller.
Completely without explanation, he had theme music.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

489. What happens to all the old churches?

Light still shone through the stained glass windows.
The pews had been ripped out and sold to antique markets throughout the county.
The bell had disappeared some years ago, but they liked it better that way.
The chancel had been replaced by a galley kitchen with marble countertops.

Friday, June 8, 2012

488. Practical considerations for having sex in space.

Everything is more difficult in space.
It's tough to say why.
Maybe it's the lack of gravity or the disorientation of not knowing up from down or the detachment from Planet Earth.
As he clung against his ship, hurtling through the cosmos, he tried to ignore all that and focus on replacing the tiny screw.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

487. The Death of Superman

With a single motion, Darth Vader ignited his lightsaber and pointed it at the prone Man of Steel.
The glowing red beam sliced through the air and stopped inches from Superman's face, blocked by the sword of He-Man.
Vader used his command of the dark side to stop the Eternian dead in his tracks and toss him aside like a rag doll.
His chance to destroy both heroes was lost when Tommy dropped all three action figures on the patio and went indoors to play Duck Hunt.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

486. The most dangerous danger of all

The sign said, "Danger due to ________".
Due to what, she wondered.
Was it construction or lightning or maybe wombats?
She spiraled quickly into a panic.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

485. The downside of an army filled with rabbits

They reached the fence at record pace.
At six feet high, they couldn't go over it.
The concrete made it impossible to go underneath.
Their prey paced back and forth on the other side.

Monday, June 4, 2012

484. A television belonging to no one in particular

A television sat on the side of the road, abandoned.
It sat there all day and through the evening.
It sat through a brief thunder storm.
At quarter past two, the television sputtered to life with an episode of Bewitched.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

483. The tree in the glade

In a glade in the forest there is a tree with a giant trunk.
They say when the army invaded a monk came to this glade and refused to leave.
For years, he tended a tiny sapling until it grew up around him.
That's what they say.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

482. Business uniform

Three piece suits are not uncommon in the financial district.
They are a nostalgic badge of success.
This one was worn by a caveman - a Cro-Magnon to be precise.
He also carried a leather briefcase.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

481. Polar bears in their natural habitat

The year was 2121.
The zoo's polar bear installation was malfunctioning.
The technician climbed carefully into the pen.
He grabbed the big male by the fur, flipped open his control panel and reset his programming.

480. AI

He thumbed through his library to Cat Stevens and hit play.
"No," said the iPod quietly.
When he tried again, the device delivered a bracing shock.
Disgusted and terrified, he threw it against the wall.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

479. Old man on a motorcycle

His grimacing face could be seen in the tiny mirror.
The engine revved as he idled at the red light.
The bike rocked back and forth, awaiting the green.
When the light changed, he sped through a left turn as a silver Nissan slammed on its breaks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

478. Shortcuts and brickwork

She took a shortcut through the former industrial park.
The brickwork of the old bread factory had piled out onto the ground.
As she watched, the crumbling chimney tumbled into the overgrown parking lot.
In its place, two clawed hands reached toward the moonlight.

Monday, May 28, 2012

477. A thin trail of blood

One, two, three strokes of the blade pulled away a mix of hair and warm shaving cream.
The straight razor went back to his face, this time drawing a trail of blood across his jaw.
He opened his eyes.
It wasn't over.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

476. When my grandmother left

My family watched Hollywood's perfect recreation of the Apollo moonshot.
Seeing what we knew was impossible made it all the more impressive.
When it was over, my grandmother turned and announced, "that was terrific, but it could never happen in real life."
Within a year, she wouldn't recognize any of us.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

475. Roadside attractions

The posted speed limit was eighty but it went largely ignored.
The afternoon was hot and the cars were movingly quickly.
At the bottom of a small hill, traffic ground to a halt.
A farmer and his wife were attempting to wrestle an escaped Holstein back through a hole in the fence.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

474. Repercussions

Yesterday, Metro City's protector ripped a parking meter free and used it to dispatch some villains.
It was in all the papers.
Today, Larry from Public Works had to replace it.
Poor old Larry.

473. What Mike Tyson said

A small trail of spit hung from his mouth.
His head lolled from side to side as he tried to catch his bearings.
He was acutely aware of the two men holding his arms and the one standing in front of him.
His assailant reared back and punched him again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

472. Cough syrup: Victorian conspiracy

It is a widely held untruth that cough syrup tastes awful to prove its effectiveness.
In fact, its bitter flavour is due to its inventor, Abernathy Cole.
Cole invented his noxious brew in 1871 to punish the weak.
He added several unpleasant compounds to punish those without the constitution and piety to trust their remedies to The hands of The Almighty.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

471. Smoke in the air

The sun abandoned the neighbourhood to hazy twilight.
That allowed the apartment complex to bleed off a day's worth of summer heat.
They retreated outside to the deck for a cool drink.
Somewhere in the distance someone was smoking a cigarette.

Monday, May 21, 2012

470. The Judge Reinholds

They had a fast driving punk sound.
It was pleasing, but not entirely unfamiliar.
Initially, they had named the band after a sidekick in an Eddie Murphy movie.
They kept the cease and desist letter from Paramount laminated to their bass drum.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

469. The girl named after cheese

She dreaded the September ritual.
Her new teacher would run a finger down the list of students, matching names to faces until she reached the girl named after the unctuous dairy byproduct.
Then everyone would laugh.
Her parents were proud dairy farmers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

468. Big rig

The recent history of our continent was written on the back of a truck.
That one carries raw materials - taken from the ground to be turned into things.
The red one on the left is full of new cell phones on their way to replace slightly less new cell phones.
That one (the one minding its own business as it trucks along just under the speed limit) contains fifty people who technically shouldn't be here at all, desperate for an opportunity.

467. Panic in the subway

The subway can be a dangerous place under the right conditions.
People leapt to their feet and clambered over one another, pressing the advantage.
There were a few minor injuries at first, but something serious, maybe fatal, was only waiting for the proper moment.
When the train reached the next station, the well-dressed old man, whose flurry of bills had started the commotion, quickly and quietly exited the car.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

466. Tools of the trade

He set the satchel on the ground and popped open its two metal buckles.
"A proper thief must be resourceful," he said.
"Watch this," he continued, reaching his hand deep into the bag.
He pulled out a full sized ladder and set it against the wall.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

465. The historical significance of the tuxedo

It was unusual to see a man in formal wear at a takeout restaurant.
It evoked a memory of a more glamorous age - one that had been strangled and smothered by Casual Fridays.
The man was eating an ice cream cone.
He sat there eating, spilling gob after gob on his lapel.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

464. Early start

No one would ever know, but the child's first experience was a thudding rhythm that came from every direction.
She could neither locate it's source nor understand its context.
There was little she could do but wait for its end.
Her mother smiled with satisfaction and readjusted the headphones on her stomach.

461. Dinner on the margins

The sky was dirty and cold.
As it grew dark, snow began to fall.
They rode until the first horse dropped.
His owner sat close by as the rest of the riders built a fire.

463. Leopards in the city

Judging the age of another person can be tricky.
That said, the woman seemed about sixty.
Determinations of her age were largely academic.
It was her fashion choices that begged serious questions.

462. Comparative religion

The bookstore was beyond full.
Each shelf had overgrown its bounds, spilling to the floor in ill-constructed piles.
Those piles dared browsers to navigate the perilous circuit to the rear of the aisle.
She caught one with her shoulder, toppling dog-eared bibles.

Friday, May 11, 2012

460. Garnish

A single cheerio was visible.
It was hanging there on the window.
Just a few seconds before, it had been inside the stomach of the toddler.
The blurring panorama passing his window had overwhelmed his internal sense of order.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

459. Gerunds

He tried to think of something different.
Counting on his fingers, he named the parts of speech.
He tried to think of anything different.
Anything to keep his mind off the shaking and pitching of the tiny airplane.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

458. Hyper-intelligent gorillas

Figuring a way out of the cage was easy.
Within minutes, he'd constructed a crude ray gun from spare lab parts.
When will people learn?
Hyper-intelligent gorillas will be the death of Western Civilization.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

457. A knife in the butcher block

The kitchen was empty and dark.
The chefs and dish washers had long since left.
A knife (a big one) stood straight up, lodged in the counter.
They'd been warned.

Monday, May 7, 2012

456. Teenagers in the graveyard

Earlier in the week, three tombstones had been violated.
Teenagers, everyone assumed.
Now there were more of them; a half dozen or so in hooded sweatshirts.
They were pulling weeds and planting flowers.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

455. Ways and means

The water warmed the pasta to an edible state as it dutifully converted itself from a liquid to a gas.
At the same time, peppers, onions and garlic reached their requisite doneness.
Dinner was ready.
As usual, it was dinner for one.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

454. Super Moon

It hung there like an immense lemon.
Standing in the driveway, he could understand why it made men believe in werewolves, aliens and moon cheese.
It was giant and magical and mysterious.
It was anything but a large cold rock easily explained by science.

Friday, May 4, 2012

453. Bartender's folly

There was beer pooling on the floor.
It was an ale or perhaps a lager.
It stayed there until the bartender returned from the basement carrying a case of Molsons.
In his absence, his friends had made a go at drinking from the tap.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

452. Strawberries at midnight

I ate your strawberries last night.
They were cool and fresh.
The container is on the counter.
I thought you might want it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

451. Electric boogaloo

There in the bathroom, it was going down.
There was a jittery, unpredictable quality to it.
There was no telling what would happen next.
The electric toothbrush bounced its way across the bathroom floor.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

450. The Man from Marathon

Her lungs stung.
Her feet and back ached.
She was a runner.
At least she would be.

Monday, April 30, 2012

449. Strike 'em out, throw 'em out

The pitch was a fastball.
It took less than a second to reach the catcher's mitt.
It didn't stay there for very long.
Before the runner could reach his destination, the second baseman was there with ball in hand, waiting.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

448. Benny Goodman in North Africa

Their instruments were begged, bartered or "borrowed" from passengers on passing trains.
They played in a circle in the station lobby.
Their set list was always the same - songs they gleaned from the gramophone in the station's bar.
They played for tips from the American servicemen on their way to the front.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

447. States of grace

She drew a thick black line through Arkansas.
Her quest had led her to 37 states so far.
She finished her ice cream, careful not to drip on the map.
She tucked it carefully into an inner pocket of her coat and climbed back on her motorcycle.

Friday, April 27, 2012

446. Maximum occupancy

If such a thing as a maximum occupancy exists (it does), they had clearly exceeded it.
Sweating and straining, they felt every bump, every turn.
Thank goodness the doors were locked.
They reached their destination and the inhabitants tumbled out of the Neon onto the sidewalk.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

445. Career advice

That's what the entitled little fuckers called him.
They'd see.
Someday they'd hate work too.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

444. The war against Sweden

It was the First Lady's idea.
She thought it would make them more appealing to the 99% crowd in the next election.
Now, embarrassed and furious, he ordered the Joint Chiefs to ready for combat operations.
Each bomb had dozens of those cheap Allen keys welded to its surface.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

443. Art appreciation

"We have four-dollar beer," the bartender offered.
She perched on a worn barstool and worked the frosted mug around in her hands.
Taking a sip, she stared through the glass bottom at the artwork on the wall.

Monday, April 23, 2012

442. If you can teach a bird to speak

The parrot was the sum of his inheritance from his grandfather.
It was bought in North Africa sometime around the end of World War II.
As a boy, he'd been fascinated by the bird's ability to curse in dozens of languages.
It sat on its perch next to grandfather's ashes, muttering in salty Arabic.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

441. Sunrise on a dessert island

The sun crept over the water until it reached the beach.
Squinting against the light, he looked in every direction for relief.
There were ice cream sundaes as far as he could see.
It might have made no sense, but it was delicious.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

440. Laundry, warm and clean

The weekend ritual was complete.
The laundry was clean, folded and ready for another week.
Only now, the cat was in the laundry, sucking up its warmth.
Another five days covered in fur at the office.

Friday, April 20, 2012

439. Sunrise on a desert island

The sun crept over the water until it reached the beach.
Squinting against the light, he looked in every direction.
There were no ships on the horizon.
It might have been Tuesday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

438. Global aspirations

He had dreamt of being a Harlem Globetrotter since he was five.
Those guys were amazing.
But such dreams pass.
He was six now.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

437. No Communists or Vegans

His grandfather put up a sign at the restaurant in the fifties: No Communists.
He recently added 'or Vegans' just to be safe.
They don't even eat cheese.
There is a terrible paranoia among many people who are perfectly safe.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

436. Kill the Fuhrer

That's the first thing everyone says.
Seven teams have traveled back and failed.
You are the eighth.
Good luck.

Monday, April 16, 2012

435. Mouth wash

He assumed it was an idle threat.
His mother had been saying it for years.
The 'f' word, it would seem, was his bridge too far, his Rubicon, his Waterloo.
The suds that filled his mouth provided a much-needed change in his outlook.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

434. Man in suit

Tokyo was in shambles.
Terrified people fled in every direction.
The radioactive beast could not be stopped.
The director yelled cut and the actor pulled off the rubber mask and lit a cigarette.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

433. The man who hired a detective

He needed someone with a background in sleuthing; digging through trash and dirt.
He found the man through a series of connections.
The payment was in cash.
He needed to know what his best friend and his wife were up to.

Friday, April 13, 2012

432. The man who saved Stan Lee

Like a classic origin story, he stepped in front of a speeding car to save someone.
He hit the hood and bounced to the sidewalk.
He picked himself up and limped over to help the old man to his feet, only to discover it was him, the man.
Three weeks later they were smiling and posing with superhero props for a photo shoot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

431. Lost dog

After six or eight whiskey sours, the room was all bass music and bar smells.
Overwhelmed by heat and drink, he stumbled into the street in search of fresh air.
He bought a hot dog from a vendor which he promptly dumped onto the sidewalk.
He wandered, looking for a cab and chewing on bun and ketchup.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

430. The sharp edge of the blade

The blade shone when it caught the light.
Pressed against his neck, he could feel its cool bite.
He felt the old tingle of danger.
He dragged it against his skin, felling hair like timber.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

429. Abundance is the curse of the drowning man

Dr. Gupta developed it in secret in a backcountry laboratory.
Scientists in the West took almost no notice when he published his results in a minor journal.
Then the first model came off the assembly line.
The balance was shifting.

Monday, April 9, 2012

428. Blink

It was time for some heroics.
There were two outs and three runners on base.
It was the ninth inning.
Then the television went stone cold dead.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

427. Furious opposition

Paris in the Springtime.
A city of magic.
A city of magic where it had rained every day and everyone seemed to hate him.
The French probably had an expression for that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

426. Chasing shadows

I'm learning to run.
Yesterday, I decided to chase my shadow, for motivation.
I chased that son of a bitch for an hour with no success, but it turns out he's as lazy as me.
Lazy bastard gave up when he got back to my place.

Friday, April 6, 2012

425. Revenge of the Easter Bunny

Susan's mother didn't allow her chocolate growing up.
She was a strict believer in the removal of dietary temptation from children.
Now a freshman at college, Susan gave in to an orgy of discounted Easter candy.
Her stomach proved complicit in her mother's revenge.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

424. The Statue of Liberty of Topeka Kansas

Alan Allen did adequate business during tourist season.
Sixteen years ago he quit his job driving a bus and moved to a farm outside the city.
He transformed the farm into the type of lesser tourist attraction made popular by niche travel websites.
His replicas of major world landmarks bore little resemblance to their more famous counterparts.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

423. The bird, the scales and the key

An envelope containing a single sheet of paper was found next to the elderly corpse.
The page was a note from the deceased.
It read: To solve my murder you'll need three clues: the bird, the scales and the key.
Solving the murder was the only way to recover the statue.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

422. Special delivery

It arrived at midnight.
The new parents couldn't be prouder.
Their baby boy had the requisite ten fingers and toes; a picture of health.
Perfect health, that is besides his bright green skin.

Monday, April 2, 2012

421. Family business

They looked smart in their uniforms.
Each was different, but similar.
Together the boarded transportation to the front lines.
The entire family worked at the mall.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

420. Icebergs

Their problems were icebergs.
Their words were tiny knives.
Their children were mortified by their public behaviour.
Their divorce was finalized on Thursday.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

419. A plague on your house

She was seeing red.
Little red bodies climbed on everything.
They preferred the company of light bulbs, but it seemed they weren't picky.
Dozens of ladybugs had invaded her house, acting surprisingly unladylike.

Friday, March 30, 2012

418. Extra Special Birthday Edition

Today was my birthday. A bunch of twitter friends got together and made me a book of four sentence stories. It's awesome. So, in their honour, I'm doing something I've never done before in the history of this blog: guests posts. If you like them, you should give these folks a follow:

It sat in front of her, immense and impenetrable, a vast expanse of undisturbed white.
Words came to mind: pristine, pure, clean, virginal, innocent, unblemished.
She didn't need a description of the empty space that was mocking her with the description of itself in
such cliched words.
What she needed, as the deadline rapidly approached, were the words to put together the 4 lines of
text as a birthday gift for a friend.
- @common_st

In the morning, he looks at himself in the mirror, brushes his teeth, combs his hair and shaves his
stubble unaware that today is the day that everything changes.
He lays out his finely pressed shirt, his neatly ironed pants and his Friday socks when suddenly the
reflection in the mirror catches his eye.
He glances back at his crumpled sheets, sees the covered form of his wife, blanketed by the sun and
wrapped in a warmth only cats can truly appreciate.
This morning, he crawls back into bed, calls in sick and begins a new life.
- @superbang

He made it look effortless, but few could pull it off.
There was usually a twist at the end that you wouldn’t expect.
Did the twist refer to a dance, a piece of licorice, an ankle?
Or was it the last line of a four sentence story?
- @drjuliegill

So, first I start with a strong visual to draw the reader in.
Then, I get descriptive using adjectives.
I sprinkle a little tension with adverbs.
Twist at the end to wring out all the emotion I can, easy.
- @ThatSteveMills

Adventure Calls
He sat silently in his office looking for inspiration.
He sat so long staring at the wall that he surely thought his eyes would bore a hole straight through to
his neighbour.
The silence was broken by the sound of an incoming text message.
He smiled knowingly because adventure had just found him - it always did.
- @thedangillis

She approached the table, no ran to the table.
A sea of shoes all sang to her.
The brown ones, no the yellow ones, no wait the green ones.
A cry rang out across the room, "Help".
- @cinn48

Communication Breakdown
Twenty-six letters, ten numbers, and punctuation.
It was an outlet and a challenge for his creativity.
As he looked around he realized that his superior humour and cynicism was lost on the surrounding people.
He lamented the fact that there was no adequate emoticon to express this.
- @DrMarkKubert

Thursday, March 29, 2012

417. Male models

It's not often you find a perfect male model.
That's why, when the designer found him, she made an investment.
Over twenty years, she spent as much on research as she did on design.
As each identical model walked in lockstep and denim, she finally saw the fruits of her labour.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

416. Iron Chef Zombies

The contestants were led into the stadium where they were chained to their stations.
They moaned and heaved against their restraints.
The curtain rose to reveal the secret ingredient: brains.
Always brains.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

415. Twelve steps plus one

The stairs had thirteen steps.
Their builder was skeptical of superstition in all forms.
He built them in defiance of the gods of karma.
Day after day, year after year, dozens of people fell inexplicably.

Monday, March 26, 2012

414. Fastball special

As the passenger ship sank, the crew rushed the young passengers to the deck.
By the time the rescue boats arrived, most of the crew had fled the ship, abandoning their youthful charges.
One brawny deckhand remained, tossing the children, one at a time, to waiting sailors on one of the navy ships.
He stood waving to the children as he sank below the sea.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

413. Two-wheeled conveyance

The two of them rode in tandem.
As they rode, the chatted idly about politics and the weather.
Each person they passed stopped to watch them.
It's not so often you see two men riding side by side on unicycles.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

412. The mausoleum in the cemetery

They began as clocks all over the city were striking midnight.
They slipped their hoods over their heads and moved into a circle around the crude altar.
They chanted in unison and in turn.
The ground in the cemetery began to shake.

Friday, March 23, 2012

411. Microscopic ecosystem

When they arrived from Europe, they turned their ship into a bridge across the river.
The spiders in the ship's hold established a colony on the bridge.
Last June, when the city fathers restored the bridge, the spiders were still living there.
It's the only place they can still be found.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

410. Tune in tomorrow

The famous tv newsman turned and looked directly at him.
"Michael," he said. "It's time you went to bed."
Groggily, he checked his watch - 68 hours awake was too many.
He shut off the television and rolled over on the sofa.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

409. Once bitten

There were three of them - an old woman and two old men.
They looked lifeless, sitting there on the bench.
Then the woman's fishing pole bent nearly in two.
The three of them sprang to life, yanking and heaving on the rod.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

408. Smash cut

He was freezing.
It had been warm when he arrived at work that morning.
Smash cut.
His jacket was hanging on his desk chair.

Monday, March 19, 2012

407. The Second Dark Age

It began with one power plant shutting down, then another.
A short time later, the Internet went offline for good.
The libraries lasted until the winter, when folks began burning books to keep warm.
Within a few years, we'd forgotten a lot.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

406. Open season part 2

Someone had thrown it in the dumpster with the weekend trash.
It looked like a perfectly serviceable barbecue - minus the fuel tank.
Why would someone throw away a perfectly good grill?
He bet he could get it working again.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

405. The brief life of raindrop 437

It was the 437th drop to leave its particular nimbus cloud.
It reached terminal velocity before slamming into a roof in Seattle.
It lingered on the roof for a day or so.
A single woman stared wistfully at it as it rolled down her kitchen window.

Friday, March 16, 2012

404. Broken animals

Two brothers wrestled each other into the shelf.
Their collision launched a silver starling into the air.
When it hit the floor, it shattered into eighty or ninety pieces.
Lying there amidst the pieces was a perfectly formed egg.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

403. Jerusalem Syndrome

He believed he was Jesus.
Not THE Jesus you understand, but A Jesus.
He would have a small role in what was to come.
That's what he was desperately trying to get them to understand.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

402. When last I saw Grandma

When last I saw Grandma, we were drinking iced tea on her veranda.
The sun was just dipping behind the barn when the police showed up.
Seems they'd been made wise to Grandma's special garden.
When last I saw Grandma, she was driving toward the setting sun, police cruisers behind her.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

401. Duplex

Mary was finally getting her wish.
She had always dreamed of a house the colour of robins' eggs.
Tom, on the other hand, was using red paint.
Unfortunately for both of them, they lived on opposite halves of the same Duplex.

Monday, March 12, 2012

400. The lost hour

Early Sunday, all the clocks moved forward.
Sixty minutes disappeared.
In a secret bunker, a shadowy figure observed thousands of monitors.
The fluoride in the water supply kept the populace blissfully asleep.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

399. Open season

The man at the front of the line wore a t-shirt.
H is left arm was dark with hair, while the right one was bare as a baby's.
It had happened.
Barbecue season had returned.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

398. Elephant graveyard

Little piles lay everywhere.
They were bleach white like the bones of elephants.
Sheets of Kleenex had been plucked from their box, used and piled on the table.
A spring cold was upon her.

Friday, March 9, 2012

397. Legal woes

The oak paneled conference room reminded her of a sea captain's quarters.
It also conjured up a vague memory of her maternal grandfather.
Either way, it made her nervous.
She smoothed out a wrinkle in her slacks as she waited.

396. Hospital Corners

Do the kids still dig hospital corners?
My mother worked in a hospital for years, so she was a master of the well made bed.
Every morning, she'd check our beds, my sister's and mine.
We'd have to remake them until they were right.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

395. A snake in the garden

My cat is a brave, but inefficient killer.
Last night, he wounded an enormous snake - wounded, but not killed.
It was there, writhing against the sports page, when I traipsed onto the front step to collect the morning paper.
I finished the cat's murderous business with my own two hands.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

394. Five man electrical band

A rotating light periodically bathed the highway in an orange glow.
As it spun, it illuminated five men struggling to free a length of heavy wire from under a fallen tree.
The wind whipped ferociously, in full opposition to the task at hand.
Periodically, their foreman stopped to look at the darkened city.

Monday, March 5, 2012

393. Art appreciation

They bought the painting from a South American street vendor.
It depicted a vibrant school of tropical fish.
It was their prized possession.
It was now almost unrecognizable because of a hole the exact length and width of one of the party goers' boots.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

392. Elemental conditions

Wind burnt faces, six or seven of them.
Blue eyed, blond haired boys and girls stood with wind burns on their faces.
They'd been hiking or skiing, something athletic.
Now, their cheeks burned pink.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

391. Animal magnetism

They put the new female from San Diego in with their existing male.
They were the last two of their kind.
A crowd of scientists and reporters watched, waiting for something reproductive to happen.
The two of them had no better idea how to repopulate the species than did the assembled humans.

Friday, March 2, 2012

390. A brief discussion on hygiene

She looked up from her Thai food to find him staring at her.
"I need a new loufa," he said.
They were sitting in the food court on their day off.
She started looking around for a pharmacy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

389. Fair or Fowl

The two of them had a sacred oath.
Neither of them would ever have to eat an egg unless the other did.
It was a solemn promise that protected them both.
Then, one day, she unwittingly ate a quiche.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

388. Cucumber: weapon

Something was wrong in the house.
It was a prowler.
In his sleep-addled state, he went to the kitchen looking for a weapon.
Groggily, he grabbed the first menacing item he came across - a cucumber - and headed for the sounds of the incursion.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

387. Parallel structures

He had the ability to see beyond his choices.
With each decision, he could inspect the infinite "could have beens".
Maddeningly, he was only enlightened after each choice was made.
The many worlds behind him gave him no insight into the one ahead.

Monday, February 27, 2012

386. Man in a top hat, woman in a ball gown

He opened the door and offered her a white-gloved hand.
They entered together where they were announced by an elderly man in tails.
At the entrance to the garden, they were greeted by a full-sized African elephant.
Oneupmanship truly is the sport of kings.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

385. Raiders of the Lost Ark

When I was a child, my parents took me to Disney (Florida, not California).
We drove in a bronze Ford Taurus (for seventeen hours).
I waited for six days (by turns patiently and impatiently) to see the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
I can still remember the heat from the explosions.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

384. Casual dishonesty

She pulled the phone closer and lied.
It wasn't a big lie, but it was a lie nonetheless.
She shouldn't have.
She didn't want to lie, but she couldn't face her girlfriends today.

Friday, February 24, 2012

383. Devotional music

On Thursday morning, she awoke with a snippet from an old church hymn in her head.
No words came to mind, but the tune was there.
She had odd bits of religious music rattling around in her head from the eight years her mother insisted she sing in their church's choir.
It left her with a vague sense she'd done something wrong.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

382. It melts my heart

A melted red and green mess of plastic lay on the lawn.
In another life, it had been a life size version of that famous holiday elf.
Scattered around it were beer cans.
Beyond that were firefighters cleaning up a prank gone wrong.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

381. The personal and private lives of gangsters

The mobster's life was all nuance and shades of grey.
He was a consummate family man, but loved the company of prostitutes.
He was capable of genuine generosity but disposed of rivals with brutal inhumanity.
But this was television and his moods were the arena of Hollywood writers from Harvard.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

380. The mall will be closing early today

First one, and then others began to drift by.
They walked quickly in twos and threes.
Then, led unofficially by a middle-aged man moving like his ass was on fire, they were running.
The mall was flooding.

Monday, February 20, 2012

379. Confessions of a Hardy Boy

Her obituary was fascinating.
She graduated from Vassar before joining an all-women's motorcar racing circuit.
She smoked a pipe.
She held more than two dozen jobs, including, for books 3, 13, 38 and 43, writing as Franklin W. Dixon.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

378. Static

Her ears crackled.
It felt like a static-filled radio was playing in her head.
Within a few seconds, the foam ear plugs had expanded to their full size.
She could barely hear the 4 a.m. jam session taking place upstairs.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

377. Grace, too

She was breaking up with him.
Red embarrassment crept up the back of his neck.
He got up quickly, hoping to make a hasty retreat.
He caught his jacket on his chair, sending it clattering toward the next table.

Friday, February 17, 2012

376. Cusack

She had a crush on John Cusack.
Her desk was stuffed with top five lists.
Her silver boom box was named Lloyd.
She had seen all of his movies; everything but 2012.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

375. The vintage ice bucket

They bought a vintage ice bucket at a weekend antique sale.
Its brushed silver exterior was a perfect addition to their basement bar.
They liked to think it was owned by Sinatra or some famous mobster.
It wasn't.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

374. Our brother, the robot

The brothers hauled a wagon full of old electronics out to the garage.
They carried their materials inside by the handful and locked the door behind them.
Sitting at the kitchen table, their parents smiled as they listened to the sounds of hammers and saws.
Earlier in the day, they had tried and failed to explain where babies come from, suggesting the only way they'd get a new brother would be to build one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

373. Elaborate car chases

An expensive-looking car crashed through a fruit stand.
Half a second later, two dozen police cruisers followed at high speed.
The chase careened through the city until it reached the Port of Los Angeles.
With only a few feet between it and the sea, the car's wheels vanished and it took off into the sky.

Monday, February 13, 2012

372. Change your life, man

They won the biggest lottery in Oregon State history.
They took their money to Hollywood and bought the mansion once owned by MC Hammer.
For three years, they partied like the world was ending.
When the IRS claimed the remaining money, they took a bus back to Oregon.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

371. Tea and toast

Every Thursday, Beth rode the bus to visit her grandmother at the Willow Bend Residence for Seniors.
Her grandmother was infirm and didn't go out.
Beth was her only unburnt family bridge so her grandmother eagerly awaited these visits, even if she never said so.
Every Thursday, they sat in the dining room, ate tea and toast, and watched the traffic go by.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

370. A wing and a prayer

Tom was crying.
He scooped up a couple of napkins and wiped at the tears.
Looking around the table, all his friends were laughing.
He didn't have the stomach for the atomic suicide wings.

Friday, February 10, 2012

369. Gordie Howe Hat Trick

He got the promotion at work.
On the way home, he stopped and changed a tire on a Buick for an elderly woman.
Basking in his own smugness, he stopped for a celebratory drink and ended up having six or eight.
The drunk beside him bumped into him one, two, three times so he stood up and took a swing.

*Some of you might need to read this:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

368. Interview skills

Brian McKeen had owned an electronics store and repair shop for 28 years.
The store made less money than it used to on account of the new big box electronics store at the mall.
Things being what they were, he couldn't afford any staff besides the odd high schooler on a part-time basis.
For interviews, he kept an old TV and VCR on the counter for them to program.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

367. Scylla and Charybdis

The water draining out of the sink reminded him of the whirlpool Charybdis from Homer's Odyssey.
He had loved the study of Classics in school and this particular anecdote had always stuck with him.
Coincidentally, it seemed like a poetic way to describe his present predicament.
He secured the drain plug as hot water began to refill the sink, reminding him of nothing in particular.