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.

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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.

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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.”

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Gladiators Do Not

A Flash!Friday contribution. It had to feature a gladiator as the protagonist and the prompt was an adorable kitten. How could I resist?

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Gladiators Do Not

A lot of rumours go around about gladiators, and the thing is, most of them aren’t true. Yes, we’re ruthless killers, but it’s not like we murder people in our spare time. There are rules. Thumbs-down means you gotta kill the guy, or they’re gonna kill you. Better him/her/it than me, that’s what I say, especially when the opponent’s a big old bear. I hate bears.

I’m gonna address some of those rumours and you write it on your little notepad there and put it in your paper, okay? This tradition’s been back a hundred years or so and people ought to know us by now.

Gladiators have a code. We have to maintain a certain amount of “physical wellness”, but that’s up to your own…I mean, trainer. There’s no slavery in spite of what I almost just said, got it? No masters, no slaves, just good old killing fun. The trainers never starve anybody…unless they deserve it, haha!

Oh, and the last thing – we don’t hurt kittens. We don’t sacrifice adorable baby animals to the gods or eat their hearts or whatever. I mean, if the gods required an animal, I’d sacrifice a bear, but not a little kitty. Okay?

Thanks for the interview. Enjoy the show.

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Christmas Dinner

This morning I was delighted to learn that I was first runner up for Friday’s Flash!Friday competition.

It’s a little early for Christmas (I mean, normally I put my tree up November 4th for my birthday but this year I can’t so I’m pretending it’s too early for Christmas) but I was inspired.

Christmas Dinner

“Do you remember that Sherlock Holmes story?” Marv asks.

Greg shrugs. “There are a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories.”

“The one where they find that big blue diamond in the horse’s throat.”

“I know the one, but it was a goose, not a horse. Imagine having a horse for Christmas dinner! Anyway, what about it?”

“I was just thinking how nice it would be to find a diamond down Jackson’s throat,” Marv says. He looks out the window. Jackson’s old and not good for much anymore. He can’t even pull the cart.

“Stupid to wish for something like that,” Greg says.

“I suppose. Wish some money would fall in our laps, though.”

Marv and Greg are almost out of food. The first few flakes of snow fell this morning, and if it gets too cold too fast they’re not going to be able to find work.

Christmas dinner might be horse after all.

The Wisdom of Spindles the Hedgehog

An updated version of this will appear in an upcoming anthology (2019)!

This one is from this past Tuesday’s Finish That Thought.

I was the runner up and my day has been made! I knew the naked jokes would pay off eventually…

The Wisdom of Spindles the Hedgehog

The postal worker showed up on Harry’s porch at the most inopportune time.

There is a law of the universe that dictates that one shall only receive important packages when one has just entered the shower and soaped up. Harry had just worked up a proper lather when the doorbell rang.

He was so surprised that he slipped and landed on his backside in the tub. His pride was the most severely injured, but he also pulled an old running injury (in the groin, naturally). He almost slipped again when he stood up, but managed to maintain his balance. That is, until he set his foot down on his hedgehog.

Spindles squeaked in terror and Harry screamed in reply. He jumped several feet in the air and stumbled into his kitchen. He grabbed onto something for support and realized he was clutching his mother’s antique teapot. He didn’t clutch it for long, as it slipped out of his grasp and shattered to a bazilliion pieces on the floor.

“This is not my day,” Harry said. The doorbell rang once more and Harry yanked open the front door.

The postal worker was just filling out the pick-up form. He nodded once and handed Harry the electronic signature device.

“Bit chilly out this morning, isn’t it?” he asked.

Harry looked down. His towel was long gone.

Stay calm, Harry, he told himself. Play it cool, like you meant to be naked. He almost struck a pose but decided it was best just to take his mail and shut the door.

“Well, Spindles, it’s finally here,” Harry said. He went and put on some pants before he grabbed a knife. There was another universal law about sharp things and nudity and he didn’t want to tempt fate further.

He tore into the package. Styrofoam peanuts flew left and right. He held aloft the contents so that he might see it better in the light.

It was a butterfly net.

Harry liked butterflies and was not opposed to a good frolic in the outdoors, but he’d been expecting a part to fix the motor of his supposed-to-be award-winning invention for the competition that evening. He checked the address on the box and saw that it was for two doors down.

“What am I going to do, Spindles?” Harry moaned.

The hedgehog had no good advice to give. You see, the last important law of the universe is that hedgehogs don’t speak English. Harry was going to have to figure this out on his own.

His robotic butterfly net did not win a prize, but it did catch the attention of a rather handsome spectator, who just so happened to enjoy dinner, and would he like to have dinner with Harry later that evening? Why, yes, he would.

“I guess all’s well that ends well,” Harry said, quoting his favourite law of the universe. The universe gave him the thumbs up, and back at home Spindles the hedgehog smiled.

They Stole It Before I Thought Of It!

A few years ago I outlined a story about a police department that dealt with supernatural crimes called the Unnatural Unfortunate Incidents Department, or U.U.I.D. Last year the R.I.P.D. movie came out and I learned it was based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov. I’d never heard of the comic before and even though I didn’t watch the movie (I heard it was bad) I had a profoundly sad moment of “There goes another one.”

I’m sure it’s happened to every writer at some point. That special, original idea that turns out to be the end of The War of the Worlds. (I mean, honestly, why haven’t I read The War of the Worlds yet?) It’s frustrating because it’s unintentional, but in the end it just doesn’t feel right to go ahead with the idea.

We’ve all heard it before – “There’s no such thing as an original idea.” I don’t know if I subscribe to that theory, but I’m feelin’ it today.

The good news is that while I was reading the first two chapters (which is as far as I ever got) I realized that I actually liked it, and I might have something I can work with later. It won’t be a police department anymore, but maybe I can think of a hilarious office setting where the boss is really awkward and…no, wait.

So, tell me, has this ever happened to you? Did you take it in stride? Did you scream, curse, and throw things out the window? The second one sounds like more fun, frankly.

Ramblings about Reading

My dad taught me to read with Berenstain Bear books. I had a huge stack of them, but unfortunately my mother gave them to my cousins when they were young. I suppose it’s best for children to have children’s books, but I am possessive of my things, particularly my books. I made a catalogue of all the books in my library and I think it’s around 800, but that includes my husband’s as well. That does include some of my childhood favourites, but alas, many are gone.

I read a lot in elementary and high school. We didn’t have the internet, I didn’t watch much TV, and though I remember hours spent on the Super Nintendo books were my passion. I read The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) because my friends were reading it, and I remember being embarrassed because I thought it was dull. Good times. We used to go shopping as a family a lot, because there wasn’t a lot to do where we lived, and when the parents were buying a treat I choose a book.

I kicked the habit of writing my name in every book I buy, but it still makes me smile when I open a book and see it there. Last weekend I bought a book at a charity sale specifically because it had writing on the inside cover. There was a name, which I can’t recall at the moment (and it’s all the way upstairs) and then it said “Love Nana, in 1966.” I can’t believe anyone would get rid of something so precious, but don’t worry Nana – I will love the book. It’s an old copy of The Wind in the Willows, which I definitely should have read by now.

A few years back I went on a classics-reading kick. My definition of “classics” may have been loose, but I think I did all right. I read Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake), A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess), Lolita (Vladimir Nabokov), The Man in the Iron Mask (Alexandre Dumas), and probably others. I still pick up a book now and again for the sake of reading a “classic” but fantasy and sci-fi have long been my favourites. I like vast worlds filled with countless hours of escape, and compelling characters with interesting problems.

Several months I began a hunt for gay and lesbian theme sci-fi and fantasy. It was disappointing at first because I kept running into the smut books, but I’ve found a few gems. The Fire’s Stone by Tanya Huff has become and will remain one of my favourite books of all time. Swordspoint and subsequent books in that universe by Ellen Kushner were very compelling. The search led me to Robin Hobb, who is of course amazing.

The drawback of this mission is that I have a pile of about sixty books to read. I tried to stick with the list, but when I go to these charity sales I go a little bit crazy. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but at $2.00 with proceeds going to the children’s hospital, what have I got to lose? It’s even more fun when my brother comes along and picks out the silliest-sounding ones. Sometimes they end up being charming, like Little Fuzzy (H. Beam Piper).

Have you ever read a book because you thought you should (not necessarily because someone told you to, but perhaps that as well)? Do you have a preferred genre? Is there a genre that constantly disappoints you, but that you’d really like to love?

I know people who rarely, if ever, pick up a book. I don’t understand, and I don’t want to.