Short Fiction

Week 382: Good Old Days on Viagra; Five Stories That Do Not Need Enhancement, and a Salute to 90’s Cinema

As I sit here at five o’clock on a June Wednesday morning, wakeful aphids zooming through my open window from the garden and gathering on my screen, and as I unsteadily wait for the coffee, nicotine and little pill I took to kick in, I reach into my mind and pull out the first thing I find: Let’s go with The Good Old Days–when all was great and there were fewer aphids.

Everyone needs Good Old Days to fondly recall and inflate with virtues not evident until a minimum of one generation has passed. The constantly under construction present and a future whose only certainty is our eventual permanent disappearance often conjure the Ghosts of the Good Old Days; those shades of What Never Really Was, whose remember when voices speak sweetly of yesterday.

Our increasingly labeling society tends to measure out The Good Old Days by the decade. All a time gone by needs to ascend to Good Oldayian status is a decade to call home. I believe that this is a 20th century thing–for I’ve never read olde literature in which someone in 1202 pines for the 1170’s. How else to explain the 1990’s ascension to old times not forgotten? (I’m certain there are many “elses”–but the desired effects of my addictions remain tardy.)

Continue reading “Week 382: Good Old Days on Viagra; Five Stories That Do Not Need Enhancement, and a Salute to 90’s Cinema”
All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

The Executor by Barb Lundy

Emmet Emafo started his day running. Broken branches and shredded herbs told the story of the hail storm that woke him during the night. A thin mist still fell. A canvas of fall leaves swayed in trees. He became one with the morning light and shadow. The slap of his footfalls on the wet cement comforted him.

Continue reading “The Executor by Barb Lundy”
All Stories, Fantasy, Humour, Short Fiction

The Legend Of The Devil’s Brew by Hugh Cron – Warning – Adult Content.

Beelzebub and one of his friends created The Devil’s Brew or as he called it, ‘Ma Beer.’

Folks don’t realise that Auld Lucifer is a bit possessive and likes to take credit.

He’d been bored and decided to make some Homebrew syrup to corrupt. The thought that people would have to take time, brew it, leave it for less time than instructed, add more sugar and yeast to form as much alcohol as possible and then drink the corruption made him well happy.

Continue reading “The Legend Of The Devil’s Brew by Hugh Cron – Warning – Adult Content.”
All Stories, Fantasy, Short Fiction

Some G.O.A.T. by Leila Allison

It was a day for hiding from my worries. For I’m almost always in my office, thus I make it easy for trouble to find me. So I wasn’t at my desk when my Imaginary Friend and second in command of our make believe realm, Renfield, came looking for me with the latest crapbomb for me to either disarm or disregard and let detonate. I was in a vista I had copied from an old movie; relaxing in a colorized meadow, under a shade tree, nipping from a bottle of Bokay fortified apple wine concealed in a paper bag, writing what you read now on my trusty Chromebook.

But Renfield found me anyway, she too had a similar paper bag. But she was also carrying what I assumed was the latest crapbomb. By name it turned out to be an altered edition of what is known in our world as that beloved children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. But this copy was from a “PDQ Pilsner Music and Book Emporium” located at Other Earth. Their version of E.B. White’s tale is titled Charlotte’s Web: Some G.O.A.T.

“It’s so cute,” Renfield said, sitting down beside me. “Daisy and Peety are going through an extreme capitalism phase.”

Before I could ask Renfield what she meant by that, she opened the book to the page normally left blank inside the cover, the one I’ve always assumed is there for the author to sign, and handed it to me. Alas, the only way to ask for Mr. White’s autograph since 1985 is via a crystal ball–and this copy was a recent print. Yet the page was filled with words anyway, in long-hoof, which I recognized as that of one Miss Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess. For someone who has to velcro a pen to her hoof, Daisy produces a remarkably tidy script.

It said:

Dear, Miss Leila–

To prevent you from asking Miss Renfield “What in hell’s name (or sake) is this hot steamer?” and knowing that you will launch a futile campaign to con her into spilling the backstory, she asked that I, the Goatess from G.O.A.T., explain the current situation.

As team G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) [here, Daisy had underlined the first letter of each word of the acronym] me and my sidekick Pie-Eyed Peety the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon are a superhero duo who rescue fictional characters inside books, plays, television programs, and films shown at Other Earth–a place recklessly created by the person who employs you as a Pen.

G.O.A.T.’s latest triumph rests with you. Miss Renfield will fill in the details, but in a conversational way that will not come off like an information dump.

Yours,

Miss Daisy Cloverleaf, The Supreme Goatess of G.O.A.T.

Before I could speak, Renfield grabbed the book, thumbed to the final chapter “The Last Day,” and handed it back to me.

“It’s all the same as it was until the very end,” she said.

“Why did Daisy write this instead of telling me in person?”

“Daisy and Peety are huge celebrities on Other Earth. Here, out in the barnyard, they’re just two of your Fictional Characters.”

“So, they’re a bit ashamed of their creator,” I said, taking a nip of wine. “Could be that they think they’re juuuussst a little bit better than their old author.”

“I got a big idea,” Renfield said, “let me take over the narrative as you read the additional material.”

“All right–Hey! this could be the stylistic invention that finally lands me the Nobel,” I said. “Me, you and Daisy–we can pass around the narrative as though it were the Gorgon sisters’ eye. I smell the luta-fish on the barbie already–you take the helm.”

Which is exactly what I, Renfield, did. As I opened my phone and took over control of this file, I considered informing Leila that lutefisk was a Norwegian delicacy impossible to prepare in the Australian way, and that the Nobel for Literature is awarded in Sweden, but if I spent my life casting light on all her little ignorances, I’d have no time for anything else. Besides, she’s convinced that every land north of France should be called United Iceland; such can be expected from someone who’s also convinced that the Dutch would be better off called the “Hollies.”

“You do know that every word you write comes up on this screen?” Leila said, nodding at her open Chromebook.

This was when a mysterious god-like force caused Leila to close the Chromebook and give all her limited attention to the novel I’d brought her.

As she read the changed passages, strange expressions crossed her face, apparently on their way to the other side, like chickens crossing the road, as she got to the good parts.

Since I was at “the helm” I chose to have Leila to read aloud the “improvements” team G.O.A.T. made to White’s story.

“And as Charlotte prepared to die with dignity a dwarf Goatess wearing a white cape accompanied by something best described as the bizarre given life–a small two dimensional drawing of some sort of bird, even more incredibly, animate, and drinking from what appeared to be a can of beer–came to where Charlotte lay.

“‘Greetings, Spider,’ said the little Goat. ‘I am the Goatess from G.O.A.T. and this is my sidekick Pie-Eyed Peety. We have come to make it possible for you to reunite with Wilbur.’

“‘ “That boy is a P-I-G Pig’’ Babs–Animal House,”’ said Pie-Eyed Peety,” Leila said, quoting a character who had just quoted an external character from a film inside the story she was reading out loud. (So that’s why you get “‘“ marks, if anyone the Nobel committee is reading.)

Leila stopped reading it aloud. The mysterious god-like force allowed her a little more wine. The mysterious god-like force then stated that Leila was seated on the ground, her back leaning against the base of a tree, legs straight out, the Chromebook balanced on her lap, the novel in one hand and the wine in the other–for the benefit of readers who could not infer a clear picture from the half-ass clues Leila had provided prior to the mysterious god-like force’s taking over the narrative.

Then Leila shook her head as if such an act could clear it instead of having the effect of scattering her thoughts like the fake flakes in a snow globe. She then mentally wrestled with the mysterious god-like force like Captain Kirk hamming it up against an invisible entity; her face contorted like Prince Andrew contemplating the invitation list to a slumber party…

“Three consecutive similes and you are out!” I yelled, as I, Leila, regained control of the narrative.

“Rats,” Renfield said, .

“You know the rules fiend! The fifth adverb and third simile are one way tickets to Palookaville.”

“I still say rats–those were Daisy’s suggestions.”

“Serves you right for taking direction from a herbivore.”

“That’s fine. Whatever. Didn’t want to do it any more anyway.”

“That’s very thirteen-years old of you, Rennie–now, would you please explain the end of this crapbomb to me?”

“Why? It should be plain to even a P-I-G, pig, what happened.”

“Well, it says here,” as I held up the book, “that Peety restored Charlotte to health and gave her immortality by dumping a drop of PDQ Pilsner on her. And it now ends not as it has for decades, but with Charlotte writing things like, ‘TELL MOM AND DAD TO BUY PDQ’ and ‘WHEN YOU WANT THAT FIRST SPECIAL DRINK EVER, MAKE IT PDQ’ in her web.”

Renfield showed me her brightest smile. “That’s where the extreme capitalism phase comes in. Team G.O.A.T. and PDQ Pilsner have merged brands on Other Earth. Fortunately the guidelines in that world about what is and isn’t appropriate advertising for children are slightly blurred.”

It made sense, in a weird and twisted way. I opened my Chromebook and saw that there were nine-thousand-seventy-five unread emails in my box, all from my “employer”–who gets an earful of complaints from Other Earth, and is under the delusion that I care about her problems.

I nodded at Renfield’s paper bag. “Is that PDQ?” PDQ Pilsner does not exist on our Earth, but it is the cheap swill of choice, over there. Although we seldom discuss it, Renfield is a huge PDQ shareholder at Other Earth.

“Christ no–I’d drink Roundup before that piss,” she said. “It’s another bottle of Bokay for you. Courtesy of Team G.O.A.T.”

Renfield rose and again flashed her megawatt smile. “Next up for the PDQ/G.O.A.T. team brand is music. They are aiming to enter Billy, Don’t Be a Hero and transform Billy into The Coward of the County.”

“Wow, can hardly wait,” I said as I cracked the fresh bottle of Bokay, deleted, unread, a new swarm of emails from my employer and silently cast about my mind for a better hiding place.

Leila

All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

374- Dear Daisy, The Week That Still Is, And Nine New Ways To Avoid Heaven

Dear Daisy

Greetings!

Leila caught a cold while composing this weekly update and claimed that she was only worth “two-thirds of my usual genius” (a statement which proves that the common cold has no ill effects on the ego). Instead of calling out sick and thrusting her duty on her fellow Editors, she asked that I, Daisy Cloverleaf, write the introduction to this week’s wrap and that she would handle the middle and end. Which is precisely what has happened.

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All Stories, Editor Picks, Fantasy, Short Fiction

Week 372: Family Circus of the Damned, Five Points of Light and Making Sad Amends

The Nobel Prize For Being a Corporate Tool Goes To…

Almost everything we read online is either a blatant lie or plain wrong. (Forget the “fake news” euphemism–for a kiss is but a kiss and a con is but a con.) For instance, I recall intelligent sources telling me that we use something like ten percent of our brains, and the rest may as well be cornbread stuffing until enough evolution goes by. Although this “fact” (like countless others) is certainly nonsense, someone smart started that misconception, which I bet more people believe than do not.

I’ve finally reached the point where I no longer blindly accept “facts” minus proof. I probably would be better off if I had arrived at this point sooner, but, maybe, “better late than never” is, at times, a valid sentiment–though still not much use in situations when the pardon arrives after the gallows has dropped.

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All Stories, Science Fiction

A Probing Interview by John Willems

 My wife went ahead to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving, so I had to catch up to her after work. It’s a four-hour drive, and after two hours driving up highway 35, I needed to get off the road for a burger and beer. As soon as I got out of the car, I was surrounded by this white light, which I initially thought was just a floodlight from the shopping center. Before I got to the door of the microbrewery, I felt myself dissolving into a thousand little bits, and in five seconds, I went from the parking lot of a pour house to some kind of oval room with bright, white metal walls. Then, an alien walked in through what could have been the orifice of a metallic uterus. When I say an alien, this guy could have been taken from the fake autopsy video Fox tried to sell us all in the 90s. As cliché as it may be, he was a grey stick figure with oval, black eyes. The first words out of my mouth were “Dude, you’re an alien!”

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Short Fiction

Week 368: Adventures With Wildlife and Top Do-Overs on My Unsteady Jukebox

I love wild animals yet I know that some cannot love me back because I am human. Them’s the breaks. Still, I do my best to be friendly to the peripheral critters who hang around my hometown in abundance. Yet no matter how much I try to ingratiate myself to the wild things, some refuse to look past my status as a human being.

Fortunately, no majority of any wild species finds me disdainful, only a few devout misanthropes and the occasional bad apple. To be fair, I would say that a higher percentage of people find me objectionable than do, say, Voles. But, sadly, there have been exceptions to the tranquility.

Continue reading “Week 368: Adventures With Wildlife and Top Do-Overs on My Unsteady Jukebox”
All Stories, Crime/Mystery/Thriller

Van Damned by Todd Mercer

I’m not saying society is unstable here, but Kidnapping is the third-leading sector of employment. When I flew in, I was shocked by the ubiquity of it, and the apparent randomness of who is selected. So different from back home. Six months later I’ve adapted and am making mind-blowing amounts of money driving a Kidnap Van on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I could ask for more assignments, but the quality of the work-life balance is so important. Two days a week pays all my bills and then some.

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All Stories, Fantasy, Short Fiction

PDQ Pilsner Playhouse Proudly Presents by Leila Allison

Without knocking, Renfield entered my office pushing an antique television on a furniture dolly. The thing looked old enough to have aired the Lincoln assassination.

“What now?” I asked.

She smiled. “Every time you ask me that; every time I avoid answering you, and every time I wonder why you have yet to catch on.”

I leaned back in my chair, put my feet on the desk and attempted to look wise yet amused, all knowing but still a good sport. For I’d read somewhere that such poses are commonly associated with a tall in the saddle style of leadership that people find inspiring. Unfortunately, I am very short.

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