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.