Seventh Hope

An updated version of this story will appear in I Find You Mildly Irritating, and Other Stories, due out in 2019!

This was an Honourable Mention at Micro Bookends.

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Seventh Hope

Six planets out of seven were useless. The fourth was closest, but upon landing, the natives had sent them packing. Jessie wasn’t about to argue with man-sized cockroaches (at least not now that the government insisted on peaceful contact).

The seventh planet had promise. The long line of scientists at the control panel buzzed with excitement while they processed the data. The planet had water, breathable atmosphere, etc. etc.

Jessie took a seat beside Betty and scanned the monitor everyone ignored.

“This is the one,” Betty said. “Our last hope is a success.”

“I don’t think so, Betty.”

“Why not?”

“Because the temperature of the water is a million degrees.”

*

Literature

This was Special Challenge Champion at Finish That Thought.

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Literature

“Stumbling out of the back alley, she noticed blearily that she was missing her hat. There was only emptiness and a cool breeze where it should be. She reached up to touch her naked head, and realized…her head was gone.

“She couldn’t be moving around if her head was gone,” Anne said. She hadn’t looked up from her newspaper once during the story and Belle was sick of her attitude.

“She’s supernatural now, don’t you get it? The rest of the story has her wandering the Earth as a zombie, trying to replace her brain, but she can’t eat brains because she has no teeth. It’s a tragedy.”

“It certainly is,” Anne said.

“I know you’re implying something, but I’m going to ignore it.”

“What are you reading, anyway?” Anne’s eyes finally stopped scanning the sports, or weather, or whatever.

Belle handed her the magazine.

“Fish Tank weekly?”

“The title of the magazine implies that we’re all stuck in a prison like a fish tank, until we can break free and travel amongst the stars. It’s mostly sci-fi,” Belle said.

“Why does a sci-fi magazine have a zombie story in it?”

“In the dramatic conclusion, she gets turned into a toad by a star witch, and shot into outer space in a cannon.”

Anne shook her head in a disapproving fashion.

“It’s literature,” Belle insisted.

“Sure.”

“They paid me fifty bucks!”

“Hurrah.”

Belle gave up. Years ago they’d played astronauts together, but Anne had apparently grown out of her imagination. She might always be too down-to-Earth for Belle’s continuing adventures. Belle snatched the magazine from Anne’s hands and turned her back.

“Hey,” Anne said. “I liked the part about the radioactive onions.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. You’ve got some real talent.”

Maybe they’d never play astronauts again, but they would always be sisters.

*

Call of Nature

This won an Honourable Mention for humour over at Flash! Friday.

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Call of Nature

Your application has been processed and you have been invited for an interview.

The man at reception, immaculate in his purple spandex, told Randall to wait. An hour ticked by.

Randall didn’t have the skillset for anything technical and he wasn’t prepared to work in faster-than-lightspeed-food. He had to impress the RingMaster. His nerves were shot so he went to the cafeteria for a cup of tea.

Two hours and a few trips later he was summoned.  Reception had informed him there were no public facilities and he hoped for a short interview. He’d do a quick tumbling routine and she’d have to love him.

The RingMaster was glorious in her spandex tuxedo and in her presence, Randall started to relax.

“We’ll begin with some preliminary questions,” she said.

Randall crossed his legs.

Another hour later he’d answered everything from his favourite breakfast cereal to his preferred colour of underspandex. Inside he felt the roaring force of Niagara Falls desperate to be released.

“If you’ll follow me, I’d like to see what you’ve got.”

This was it. Randall begged the Falls to wait a little longer.

“I almost forgot – you need the obligatory slap to the stomach,” the RingMaster said.

After that, Nature won. (Naturally.)

Randall didn’t get the job.

*

Dental Strike

From Micro Bookends.

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Dental Strike

“Fear is your enemy. We will succeed.”

“We’re gonna be swallowed,” JanJan whispered.

Maxine didn’t believe his statistics. Tonight, humans would win the war.

“When we’re inside aim for the gold,” the captain said. An ogre’s golden tooth was its weakness.

The experimental shrinking process succeeded. However, the troops hadn’t expected the sheer magnitude of the rancid smell. The fumes attacked the nervous system and rendered the human troops useless.

Their last line of defense had failed. The ogre’s bad breath had triumphed.

Maxine tried to catch JanJan but she couldn’t move. He tumbled down the ogre’s throat. Maxine’s scream was drowned by the shuttle’s explosion. Her body went flying.

*

CHRIS AND MIKE VS THE ROBOTIC WAITER

This was the winning entry for Brian S Creek’s Chris and Mike contest. Chris and Mike are two brilliant characters and I’m looking forward to reading more of their adventures!

The Adventures of Chris and Mike belongs to Brian S Creek; check out his blog for more info. This Chris and Mike adventure was inspired by real life events that occurred with my own Chris and Mike. I’ll let you decide which is real and which is fiction…

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CHRIS AND MIKE VS THE ROBOTIC WAITER

“I forgot my wallet,” Mike said.

“How convenient,” Chris said.

“Wait, did you hear that?”

The team knew a scream when they heard one. The other patrons took no notice.

“Pretend to be drunk.”

Mike staggered over to their waiter.

“I love you, bro,” he said. He squeezed the waiter in a hug.

Chris snuck into the kitchen. Two robots were lowering a gagged man into boiling water.

“Stop ruining my favourite diner!”

One robot turned and blasted Chris through the wall. He landed, stunned, at the waiter’s feet.

The waiter was now (unsurprisingly) a robot – and so were the other patrons. Mike was in their clutches, being tickled relentlessly.

“We are the Torture Bots. You will be broken,” the waiter said.

One of the other robots shed its exterior and revealed…a grizzly bear.

“I was hoping for a human,” Chris groaned.

The grizzly grabbed the heroes and hauled them out the door.

“Duck!” she yelled.

The diner exploded behind them.

“Where will we eat now?” Mike demanded.

“Did anyone save the guy in the kitchen?” Chris asked.

“Never mind that,” the grizzly said. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. The world is in great danger. I need your help!”

*

Plague

An updated version of this will appear in I Find You Mildly Irritating, and Other Stories, due out in 2019!

A more serious Flash! Friday effort.

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Plague

It started with Margaret dying.

I’ll always remember her with her arms around Edmond’s neck, and that look of love on her face. Edmond was the Prime Minister elected when we touched down on New Earth. She was young, only thirty when it happened.

I was staying late at the lab, dissecting another dead patient, trying desperately to cure this plague. It’s a wonder I never caught it myself. Edmond radioed in, screaming Margaret’s name. I hurried to his place but didn’t get there before the police. They’d taped everything off. Margaret had been murdered. Someone had got it into their head that Edmond was to blame for the new world’s troubles and they’d punished him for it.

Panic spreads. Edmond’s wife was the first but not the last. They caught the woman who killed Margaret and they punished her, but she became a martyr. Some fought for Edmond, some fought for his opposition, and thousands of others died from the plague.

That was how the world got divided.

We eventually found a cure for the plague, but nothing can fix the human condition. It’s been a hundred years and I might live a hundred more and never see the end of the war.

Fly On The Wall

From Flash!Friday.

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Fly On The Wall

At one time I didn’t care about the affairs of humans. I was content with my limited existence; eat, sleep, fly. Like other flies I was unaware of my mortality, aside from a survival instinct.

Life was simple and I had no master.

Now I must do the Wizard’s bidding. I am his eyes and ears on the walls of his choosing.

The Wizard extracts the conversations from the memory I should not have. I recognize that I don’t have a large enough brain for memory. How do I know that? The Wizard has made me so much more than what I should be.

He pats the top of my head as I crawl across his fingers. No one looks twice at the homeless man talking to himself. He, too, is next to invisible in his disguise, but I can go where he cannot.

“Good boy,” he says, as though I am a loyal dog.

Loyalty. A concept I should not understand, and do not feel. If I could break away from him I would. If I could go back to the not-knowing, I would.

I am the fly on the wall. The world does not know enough to fear me.

Fluffsy

From Micro Bookends.

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Fluffsy

Play was no longer fun for Fluffsy. His girl had removed both his eyes in the first five minutes, and that was over a year ago.

Enough was enough.

Kitten-Mittens, oldest and wisest of the toys, warned him against escape. “You’ll never make it,” she said.

“I have to believe I can,” he said.

He didn’t make it far. There were too many people and he couldn’t stay alive with human eyes on him.

The stone was cold and his heart ached.

Small hands grasped Fluffsy’s remaining ear. A child’s voice cooed “Bunny!”

And because he had taken a chance, Fluffsy became the beloved plaything of a charming little boy.

Jenny’s Side

A Flash! Friday effort.

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Jenny’s Side

“Whose side are you on?”

*

Her name was Jennifer. I fell in love with her dimpled smile. The first time she kissed me it felt natural.

Jenny. Brown hair, brown eyes, cut-off jeans, flip-flops, colourful tank tops and oversized button-ups. Sure, she had the antennae, but everyone’s got their flaws. I didn’t judge.

*

I assumed her parents were loaded because they lived in that gigantic house. I used to stop and look at it through the fence and wonder what kind of movie star would be able to afford it. It was prettier than the White House.

I was right.

*

One day she said “Marianne, we need to talk,” and I thought she was breaking up with me. Instead, she patted my knee, flicked one of her antennae, and said “I’m an alien.”

Her parents were alien space-drug smugglers. They lived on Earth for the fertile soil.

*

She looked sad when she told me. I couldn’t see why.

“It’s not your fault your parents are drug dealers. Why would I love you any less?”

It turned out she was more worried about the alien thing but I didn’t care about that either.

*

We were happily married until the invasion.

Now guess which side I’m on.

Truce

This is another Warm-Up Wednesday effort at Flash! Friday. I made it an exercise in dialogue. It head to end with the word “peace” and the prompt was a picture of a bridge.

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Truce

“Yeah, bridge. You had this coming. Every time you were backed up when I was late, every time you were closed for construction, you were mocking me. Now, I have the power.”

“Tim? What are you doing?”

“Shut up, Sarah.”

“You’re sleepwalking again.”

“I’m fine. I’m awake. I’m ready to go.”

“You’re in your underpants pointing a paintball gun at a model of the city. Let’s get you back to bed before you hurt yourself.”

“I have to kill the bridge first. This is war.”

“I’m declaring a truce. Come back to bed so the bridge can rest in peace.”

*