Art and the philosophy of life

Posts tagged ‘A Short story’

The Asylum…A Short story.

Brown Brick Building Under Blue Sky

The Asylum had been deserted for many years, except for the ghosts, of course.  Spirits, who don’t cross over, seem to congregate in places like Asylum’s, if they once spent time there.   Those memories are often too intense to forget.

Naturally, the town’s folk heard the screaming, as well as the hysterical laughter that came from the building.  They listened to cries for help, the pounding on windows and walls, all of which went on day and night.  Eventually, anyone who could move away, did.

But see for yourself.  Step inside.  Don’t be afraid.  Things aren’t always what they seem to be.  Trust me, if you want to know what really happened inside this cursed place.

You see, people are gullible and to eager to believe…anything at all.  So, quite some ago, two women came up with a plan.  They wanted to provide a safe place for women who were on the run.  A place where they would not be found by those who hunted them.  When they came upon the battered and broken building, they knew they had found what they were looking for.

Carefully and quietly, they began to renovate the inside of the Asylum. The noise didn’t bother them, and they were happy when people started to relocate.

Eventually, word went through the woman’s underground, saying there was a safe place for the bruised and battered, the poverty stricken and the abused.  One by one, they came.

Women are resourceful beings.  They can do absolutely everything, and so they did.  They cooked, and sewed, they built and chopped, they turned the Asylum into a thing of beauty and comfort, while making the outside world believe the building was dangerous and haunted.

When the town finally died, the women had more freedom.  They planted flower and vegetable gardens.  They planted trees and raised chickens and goats.  They worked side by side with Nature and in time, they healed and grew strong.  Once they were no longer afraid, the women blossomed, and so did their creativity.  When two witches moved in, they spelled the Asylum and it became invisible to those who didn’t need shelter.

But don’t let me mislead you.  The building was good and truly haunted by its former inmates.  After all, Asylums were nothing more than torture chambers which were sanctioned by the masses.  This one, happened to have been filled with women who refused be broken, so when the women moved in, the ghosts were quite pleased and so was the building.  Buildings have no say as to what happens inside them, but that does’t mean they are happy with what goes on.

As time passed, the ghosts did whatever they could to be of use, joining the women in the kitchen, dancing at their parties.  It seemed as if the ghosts themselves were healing, and now and then, one of them would say goodbye, and disappear into the unknown.  Eventually, only two of the spirits remained.  They knew they should leave, but they were enjoying their lives, for the very first time.  Still, one fine sunny day, they floated among the women, blowing kisses and wiping at their dry eyes.  It was time.  The women wished them well and waved, as they faded from sight.

Over the years, the number of women living in the Asylum has barely changed.  Oh, it goes up and down, with new people coming in and others  passing on, but the Asylum remains an island of safety for women, to this very day.  It’s a place of peace and tranquility.  One just has to know how to find it.

 

 

Answer…a short story

white red and black textile

When she arrived at the abandoned building, she was certain she was in the wrong place.  She looked down and checked the address on the piece of paper she held tightly in her hand. The addresses matched.   She tried looking through the windows, but they were far too grimy for her to be able to see anything.  So she just stood there, thinking.

The note said that the door would be unlocked, and that she should go inside.  The answer she sought, would be on the table.  So, taking a deep breath, she pushed against the door, scraping it across the worn wooden floor until there was enough space for her to squeeze through.

Once inside, she shoved the door closed and waited for the dust to settle. Then she listened.  But apart from a few mice running in the walls, she was alone.

It was obvious that no one had been inside the room for a very long time; but still it smelled of newsprint and cigarettes, dying flowers and ink.  She told herself not to get lost in the story the room was trying to tell her.

“I’m just here for an answer,” she said, to no one in particular.  “I know you have a lot to say, but I just want to see what’s on the table.  The only thing in the room was the table.  She sighed, her shoulders sagged and the exhaustion that had been nipping at her heels for days, finally caught up to her.  “I’m kind of tired,” she whispered to the room.  “Maybe I can listen once I get the answer I’ve been looking for.  Okay?”

The room remained silent, except for the mice, and the sound of an old typewriter banging out what she thought must be a news item.  She quickly thought of carbon paper and wiped her hands on her coat.

“You’re just tired,” she told herself.  “You’re letting your imagination run away with you.  There are no phones ringing anywhere in this empty room.  No typewriters, just mice.”

It was late in the afternoon and the weak light trying to shine through the filthy glass, would soon be gone.  She looked around, dropped her bag, and reached into her pocket for the half of granola bar she had stashed there.  Now that she was finally here, she was taking her sweet time doing what she cam to do. “Coward,” she mumbled.

She ate the granola bar, or what was left of it, and crumpled the wrapper in her hand.  She put the paper back into her pocket, since there was no waste basket to be seen.

Finally, she walked to the table and stared at the old newspaper.  It was sepia in color, and fragile with age.  Carefully,  she began to unfold it.

THE ANSWER YOU SEEK
YOU WILL FIND IN THESE PAGES
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR

 She ran her hand down the page, straightening it the best she could, without tearing it, and began to scan the stories.  Page after page…nothing caught her eye, until she  finally saw her name on one of the last pages.  Her breath caught in her throat. What was her name doing in the Obituaries?

She stepped away from the table.  “I’m dead!” she chuckled, picking up her bag, pulling on the door.  “I’m DEAD,” she laughed loudly, as things fell into place, and she walked into the night.

Two fat brown mice, with tiny white wings, came out of their mouse house, and sat in the middle of the floor.

“She worked here for two years,” said the mouse.

“I remember,” said the second mouse.

“It takes some of them such a long time to realize what’s going on,” said the first mouse.

“Indeed,” said the second mouse.  “Indeed.”

 

 

 

.

The Grill…a short story

red and white UNKs neon sign

“You work here?” he asked, from his booth.

“No.  I just like to dress up like this and carry a pot of steaming hot coffee around with me for fun.  But give me a minute and maybe I can find someone who can help you.”

“Sorry.  No need to be sarcastic.”

“That wasn’t even close to sarcastic.  I’ve been on my feet for what seems like fifteen hours, now do you want coffee or not?”

He turned his cup right side up and pushed it toward her.

“See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?” she asked.  “Do you know what you want, or do you need a few more minutes with the menu?”

“Grilled cheese with a tomato, fries, cole slaw and blueberry pie with ice cream.”

“Excellent choices,” she said, toping off his coffee.  “I’ll be back,” she whispered, pretending to shoot him with her finger gun.

“I’ll be here.  Still hungry.”

He picked up his phone and looked at the text messages.

DID SHE RECOGNIZE YOU?

how could she she’s never seen me before

THE GRILL ISN’T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS REMEMBER THAT

you don’t have to remind me

DO YOU STILL THINK YOU CAN GRAB HER BY YOURSELF

I outweigh her by a hundred and fifty pounds

SO IS THAT A YES

yes

I HOPE YOU’RE RIGHT DON’T SCREW THIS UP YOU WON’T GET A SECOND CHANCE

He shut off his phone and played with the mustard bottle until she started putting plates down in front of him.

“How’d you find me?” she asked, pouring more coffee.

“What?”

“Oh, come on,” she laughed.  “You stand out like a man at a feminist rally.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about.  How much are they paying you to bring me in?”

“Five hundred thousand.”

“Not enough.  I’m worth three times that much.”

He laughed.  “Seems like a lot to me.”

“You think too small.”

“Look who’s talking.  You’re working at this dive, probably making minimum wage and getting dollar tips.”

“It’s not like that.  See, this place,” she said, waving her arm overhead, “is a trap. A trap for people like you.  You can walk in, you just can’t walk out.  Kind of like a roach motel.”

He swallowed.  “Funny,” he mumbled, a mouth full of fries.

“Maybe. But it’s true.”

He finished his grilled cheese sandwich and started eating the pie.  “Good,” he said, nodding at his dish.

“Most people deserve a last meal,” she said, “but do hurry.  We’d like to close for the night.”

“Just come with me and I won’t have to hurt anyone,” he said.

“Don’t be silly.  You’re not going to hurt anyone.  Your food was poisoned.  Our cook is an expert when it comes to poison.  One has to have a delicate touch.”

He pushed his plate away and looked out the window.

“Looking for your ride?  Don’t bother.  Your friends went…away.  Forever,” she snickered.

“They’re DEAD?” he asked, suddenly feeling a bit off.

“Yes.  I mean they did come here of their own accord, after all.”

“You can’t just go around killing people like that,” he said, starting to slide down in his seat.

“Why not?  You do it all the time,” she said, matter of factly.  “Well, let me take your dishes away.  I think your finished,” she said, listening to the snickering in the kitchen.

His hands were around his throat, when he hit the floor.  Foam from his mouth, dribbling down the side of his face.

She put the tray of dirty dishes on the counter and then went to the door and flipped the OPEN sign to CLOSED.  Then she turned out the lights and  went into the kitchen to chat with her friends and have a nice hot cup of tea.

 

Photo:  Alex Kristanas
Unsplash

 

Travel…a short story

black and silver round ball

“Have you been to all those places?”

“Yes,” she said.  “I have.”

“Why the different size pins?” he asked.

“Big planets and smaller ones.”

“I see.”

“Do you?”

“Yes.  Big planet, big pin.  Small planet, small pin.”

“Yes, but I admit some of the larger pins are there because I really liked the place.”

He nodded.  “What do you recommend for a first time client?”

“Definitely Planet 1377,” she said immediately.  “You’ll love it.  It’s beautiful, and everyone, no matter their origin, is polite and extremely pleasant.  There’s so much to do and see.  I suggest staying for at least three or four days.  The accommodations are varied, so you can choose a hotel room, such as those on this planet, or you can stay in a floating bee bee, which is an environment unto itself.  It’s a large bubble that is tethered to the ground, but not tight enough that you stay in one place.  It’s a lovely experience. The beds are so soft and fluffy.  I’ve stayed in a bee bee several times.  You’re high enough so you can see multiple sun rises and sets on several smaller nearby planets.  Some of them have more than one star so they can have two or three sunrises and sets a day.  And daytime lasts far longer than nighttime on 1377.  The food ranges from what you’re used to, to the exotic.  They serve stardust brokes for breakfast and they are made with real stardust.”

“So we’re literally eating sunflour?”

“Oh good one,” she laughed.  “And yes.  You are.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“It is,” she said.  “But, if you’re looking for violence, the best place to go is to Earth.  You can choose your weapons and kill anyone you like.  You can join a combat troop and go to war, you can rob and beat individual humans, you can join a religion and worship an idol, then murder and rape in his name.  Everything you need to hunt, trap and kill is there, and no one will really stop you.  Not if you are male, look a certain way, and have money, which, of course, comes with our premium package deal.”

“Can I be killed while I’m there?”

“Well, it’s always a possibility, but you’ll be well armed.  It’s the chance of being beaten or killed that makes it exciting for some people.”

“I see.”

“There’s also Sea-42, which is a water planet,”  she said, tapping a pin.  There’s no land at all.  You can stay on a large boat, or a raft built for two, or more. The choice is yours.  There are few storms, since their weather is rather mild, but oxygen levels are such that you must wear a mask the entire time you’re there, and the food isn’t very good. The entertainment is poor, to say the least.  Nothing lives in the water and it’s dark most of the time, since the planet is far away from it’s star.”

“Sounds terrible,” he said, frowning.

“I wouldn’t say it’s terrible.  I mean some people like that sort of thing.  They go back every year.  It’s just not for everyone, that’s all.  I’ll just tell you about one more, and they you can simply read about the rest in the brochures.”

“Okay,” he said.

“It’s called Versions.  It’s a small planet but most everyone adores it, because you can be any version of yourself you’d like to be.”

“I don’t understand,” he said.

“When you’re there, you can be whatever you want to be.  Not only that,  but you will excel at any of the choices you make.”

“Are you saying that my dream’s can come true on Versions?”

“Well some of them, that’s for sure.  But you can’t become a dragon or a unicorn.  It’s in their contract. And don’t even think about riding them.  Unicorn’s bite and the dragon’s can fry you, if you try.  It’s legal for them to do that. Mostly you stay yourself, and just add new skills.”

“I have a lot to think about,” he said, looking at the handful of brochures she had placed in front of him.

“You do.  Choose wisely.  But once you travel, you won’t be able to stop.  There are so many interesting things to do and see.”

“Thank  you,” he said, tapping the papers on the counter.  “I’ll think about where I want to go and let you know.”

“Our number is on the brochures.  Please call and make your reservation whenever you’re ready.  We also have people you can hire to watch your vines, or abode.”

He nodded, and turned to leave.

“Keep in mind that our tours provide everything you will need, while you’re away, even security, where appropriate.”

“I’ll see  you soon,” he said.

“Look forward to it,” she said, smiling.

He walked outside and dropped the brochures into the fire slot.  “Dragons?” he whispered to himself.  “I don’t think so.”  Then he got into his Zip and took to the air.

 

Photo:  Javier Miranda
Unsplash

 

A Woman’s Tale…

Gothic lady in Halloween costume

“Don’t be afraid,” she whispered, staring at the startled man.  “Come closer.”

He shook his head and started to back up.

“We are the women you have forced us to become,” she said, softly.

His eyes widened.

“Are you worried?  Do you feel trapped? Cornered, with no where to run?”

He looked over his shoulder.

“You shouldn’t have come into the forest.”

“I…” he stammered.

She held up her hand.  “There’s no need for you to speak,” she said.  “We were never allowed that privilege, and you’re in our reality now.  Isn’t it beautiful here?” she asked, looking around.  Peaceful, quiet, no screaming, just birdsong and the sound of crickets.”

He felt the others behind him.

“You can’t escape.  There’s no way out.  There never was for us, you know.  We lived among you, as prisoners of war.  Hunted as prey, punished for crimes we didn’t commit.  It won’t be painless, I’m afraid.  You’ve given up any right to a painless death,” she said.

Two wolves walked up to her and she reached down to pet them.  “Life never had to be about death.  You made it that way, torturing and killing innocents.”

The wolves leaned against her.

Then she nodded and the women moved forward. Eventually the screaming stopped, and the forest was fed.

 

Photo:  Dima Valkov
Pexels

 

 

Error…a short story

text

“They were a huge mistake,” She said.  “I never could have imagined the destruction human animals would cause.”

“You couldn’t have known,” he said.

“I was trying to grow them organically.  I should have I programed them more…tightly.

“That’s what experiments are for.  To work out the bugs.”

“I’ll have to take them out, if I wan’t to save the planet and the rest of the life that lives there.”

“How will you do it this time?”

“I might just turn them off.”

“It’s too bad they didn’t work out.  You gave them a beautiful garden, clean air, oceans, and other living beings to share with.  And all they did was cement the earth, poison the air and water, and kill everything they could, including each other.”

“I’ll factor that into the next batch.  I’ll remove the violence and make sure they can’t reproduce without limits.”

“Makes sense, because if they can’t kill each other they’ll be overpopulated in no time.”

“Well, it’s back to the drawing board,” She laughed.  “What would we do without our little games?”

 

Photo:  Dominic Swain
Unsplash

 

 

Changes…

“Excuse me,”  he said, leaning over the counter.

“Are you ready to check out?” she asked, reaching for the stack of books she was holding for him.

“No,” he said, looking over his shoulder.  “No.  I just wanted to let you know that I saw a…mouse,” he whispered, “in the Science Fiction Section.”

“Was he wearing glasses?”

The man stared at her.  “Glasses?”

“Yes.  Spectacles, eye glasses.  Wire rimmed.”

“I see,” he said.  “Well, as a matter of fact, he was wearing glasses.  I thought I imagined it.”

“You didn’t,” she laughed.  “That was Henry and he’s quiet near-sided.”

He stared at her again.

“Look,” she said.  “Henry and his wife, Whiskers, were living in the alley, searching for food in the bins.  I invited them inside, so they would have a place to live and care for their family.  They never touch the books in the shop.  I give them old books to tear up for their nest, and we are all quite happy with the arrangement.  You can go and talk to him, if you like.  He loves Star Trek.  You probably won’t understand him, but he’ll certainly understand you.”

“I see,” he said, softly. “Anything else unusual in your shop?”

“Mice aren’t unusual, they’re everywhere.  I’d like to have a unicorn, but…well, why would a unicorn want to live here, right?”

He nodded.  “There’s a cat sleeping on the New Releases table.”

“Buttercup.  He gets along well with the mice.  Sometimes they nap together.”

“Do you speak to the cat as well?”

“What a strange question,” she said.  “Of course I speak to the cat.”

“And the cat answers you and knows what you’re saying?”

“How can you not know these things?” she asked, frowning.

“It seems that you have a bit of what you might call angel in you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said dismissively.  “Angels aren’t real.”

“That’s true,” he said, nodding.  “Not the way you picture them, but there are other beings in the universe and sometimes they come to earth and mingle with humans.  Sometimes, their genetic…”

“Okay, that’s enough,” she chuckled.  “Write a book and I’ll try and read it.”

“You can understand what animals are saying.”

“So?”

“You can understand what I”M saying.”

“Why wouldn’t I be able to understand what you’re saying?”

“Because I’m not speaking in a language that exists on this planet.”

“Sure you are.  English is alive and well and spoken on this planet.”

“It’s not English, it just sounds that way to you.”

“Whatever.  Go back to  browsing, or check out.  Just don’t bother the mice.”

“Excuse me sir,” he said, to a man walking by.  “Could you please tell me what color shirt I’m wearing?”

The man looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak your language..”

“See?” he said, smiling at her.

“What color shirt am I wearing?  That’s the best question you could come up with?”

Henry appeared on the counter and sat up, his front paws folded across his soft chest.  “This guy is weird.”

“I agree,” she said.

“There’s something different about him.  Like he doesn’t belong here.”

“You are quite right, Henry.”

“You speak Mouse?”

“I speak all languages, so yes, I speak Mouse.”

Henry looked him up and down.  “What’s your deal?” he asked.

“I’m just passing through and came in to buy some books.  Then I saw you, and met…her, and now we are talking about…things.”

Her name is Rosie,” said Henry.  “And if you try anything funny, I’ll make you wish you hadn’t.”

“I am pure of heart Henry,” he said, holding up his hands.

“Yeah, and pigs fly at night in an apple blossom storm.”

“Good one, Henry,” said Rosie, running her finger down his back.

The man grinned.  “I like this place.  I like it very much.  You know it doesn’t exactly exist on the same plane as everything else, don’t you?”

“Excuse me?” said Rosie and Henry at the same time.

“You’re just a littttttle bit on the edges of somewhere else,” he said, holding his fingers up, so she could see how close they were to wherever he was talking about.  “This is a magical place.  Look,” he said, pointing to the Gardening Section, where vines were spreading across the books.  Magic.   How old are you Henry?”

“I’m five, why?”

“Mice don’t live that long.”

“Sure they do.  You can see me, can’t you?”

“You’re alive because Rosie’s belief in your aliveness, is keeping you alive.”

“I told you he was weird,” said Henry, out of the side of his mouth.

“I just seem weird to you because you’re not used to all the other things that exist.  You’re weird to all those who aren’t from…here.  Everything is weird if you’re not used to it.”

“I guess that’s true,” said Henry.

“Rosie,” he said.  “I’ll take those book, now.”

“Do you want to take them with you, or would you like to have them delivered?  I mean they’re pretty heavy.”

He burst out laughing.  “You couldn’t possibly deliver them to where I’m going, but thank you.”

“Whatever you say,” she sighed, watching Mr. Bean walk in.

“Rosie,” he said, nodding at her.  “Henry.  Any new books in the Sci-Fi section?”

Henry ran up Mr. Bean’s arm to his shoulder, and together they walked deeper into the shop.

“You do know he’s a fairy, don’t you?”

“Who?”

“Mr. Bean, isn’t human.  He’s Fae.  Summer Court, from the looks of his white hair and pale complexion.  He’s very…beautiful, don’t you think?”

“I guess so.  I mean, he’s handsome and…”

“A fairy.”

“Is your money real, or will is disappear when you do.”

“It’s very real,” he said, seriously.

“Great,” she sighed, counting out his change.

“The woman standing by the Cookbooks is a merperson.  If you look carefully, you’ll see a slight green tinge to her skin.”

“Why are you telling me these things?” she asked.  “You’re playing with my reality.”

“I’m telling you, so that you can order things that would appeal to the Magical community, since that seems to be the sort of clientele you cater to.  I mean there’s a werewolf in the Pet Section.  Can’t you pick up his odor?”

“Go away,” she said.

“You’re awake now.  You’ll never be able to NOT see them.  This is a safe place for everyone.  You should be happy about that.  And by the way, there’s a Hell Hound coming this way.”

“That’s Peanut, and he’s not a Hell anything,” she said, handing the dog a gigantic bone.  “You’re such a good boy,” she said, kissing him on the forehead.  The dog’s tail wagged so hard he almost fell over.

“You don’t care what anyone is, do you,” he said, studying her.

“Just you,” she said.  “What are you?”

“I’m one of the old Gods.”

“Which one?”

“Maybe another time,” he said, kindly.  “You have enough to think about.”

“Are you coming back?”

“Most definitely.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you then.”

“My best to Henry,” he said, picking up the three bags of books.

“Ah, Ms. Colton, how are you today?” asked Rosie, staring into the face of a vampire.  She looked out the front window and saw that the sun had gone down.

“I’m fine, Rosie.  Thank you for asking, Love.  “I’ll take these, thank you, and I wonder if you might like to hang some of my paintings on the wall between Mystery and Romance.”

“I’d love to do that,” said Rosie, happily.  “Why don’t you come over on Monday, after we close, and we can talk about a show.”

“That would be wonderful,” she said, excitedly.  “Thank you.”

“My pleasure,” she said, watching her head for the door.

“I think that guy was right,” said Henry.  “Since he’s been here, I’ve noticed a lot of strange things.”

“Well,” said Rosie.  “everyone knows that life can change in a minute, and I guess it has.”

 

 

INK…a short story

red and white rose petals on white table

She threw open the door, and shouted, “It’s happening again.”  Then she ran back back down the hall to the Department of Uncontrollable Ink.

Bobby hit the silent alarm and ran after Martha.

He caught up to her at the reinforced double doors to the wing of the the DANGEROUS INK section, and asked if she thought she could get to her office.

“I don’t know,” said Martha.  “It’s a white rose splattered with blood, so…”

Bobby nodded.  “I thought we had that contained.”

“So did I,” she agreed, “but you know how it is.  We can never be sure.  Ink always seems to find a way to start a new book.”

“That’s four this year alone.”

Two EIT’s (Emergency Ink Technicians), rushed toward them, dressed in combat gear.

“Update?” asked the woman.  “From what the cameras show the Ink is filling pages fast.  Another two hours and the book will be finished.”

“Well, we can’t have that now, can we,” she said, looking at the footage, pulling her mask over her face.  “We’re going in.”

Martha nodded.  “Please, be careful.”

“Always,” said the woman, zipping on her gloves.  “You ready?” she asked her partner.  He nodded, and they started to open the doors.

Blood dripped down the walls and roses lay dying on the tables and floor.  The air was filled with screams and moans.  The EIT’s filtered out the noise and focused on the bloody pages.  Words were chasing each other across the paper, almost faster than the eye could see.

“The Ink has a good head start,” said the man, over his com.

“On three,” she said.  “You cast.  If it doesn’t work, we’ll have to get…physical.”

They had done this before, but no one in the building ever took their experiences with Rogue Ink for granted.  Anything could go wrong.  Paper cuts.  It can cut through anything.  Ink can become poisonous.  Books will attack, if they feel threatened.

The spell flew at the book.  The book caught the spell between it’s pages, and snapped shut, swallowing it. Then it turned toward the EIT’s.

“Shit,” she said.  “I hate when this happens.”

The book cracked it’s spine, its words continuing to fill its pages, and flew at the woman, knocking her to the floor.   She grabbed the book, and rolled, covering the book with her body.  The ink immediately began to appear on her combat suit, as her partner shot a syringe filled with Erasure into the cover.

Little by little, the book’s movements slowed, its words, began to fade.  Eventually the book stilled and the woman flipped to her side.  The outer layer of her suit lay in tatters and she was breathing hard.

Her partner kneeled next to her.  “You need a hit?”

“I’m good, thanks.  Another few minutes and I don’t know if I’d still be here.  Vicious and twisted thing,” she muttered.

Martha and Bobby came over to the pair.  “Are you okay?” asked Martha.

“I will be,” she said, slowly getting to her feet.

“Who was it this time?” asked Martha.

“Edgar Allan Poe,” she sighed.

They all nodded in understanding.

“The Ink found the Tell Tale Heart and absorbed the print.  The Ink in the print drove it mad.  It was rewriting Poe’s story, but in a more lethal and gory way.”

“I’m going to push for lead containers for the Dangerous Ink,” said Bobby.  “We can’t keep having these breakouts. Something has to be done.”

“Follow protocol,” said Martha, staring at the team.  “Burn the book and seal the ashes.  Find the original bottle, and do the same with that,” said Martha, staring at the bloody walls. “Have the Cleaners do this entire wing immediately.  No one goes in or out until they give us the all clear.  Impress upon them once again that no scrap can be overlooked, no matter how small.”

“Will do,” said the EIT’s, placing the remains of the book into a thick metal container.

Martha and Bobby looked around the room, one last time.

“Interesting job,” he laughed.

She smiled.  “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

“Neither would I,” he said.  “Let’s get some lunch and then start filling out the report.”

 

Photo: Alenandre Boucey
Unsplash

 

 

Annie West…

“Annie West?”

Annie walked to the bench.  “That’s me.”

“You were going a hundred and ten in a twenty-five mile an hour zone?”

“No.  I was not,” said Annie.

The judge closed her eyes.  “Are you saying the police officer is a liar?”

“I’m saying he was grossly mistaken.”

“Officer,” said the judge.  “Were you grossly mistaken about the speed Ms. West was traveling?”

“No, Your Honor, I was not.”

“Ms. West?” asked the judge. “What do you have to say to that?”

“I’d like to think that this handsome officer was mistaken, but I don’t know him.  Therefore, I can’t say for sure, whether or not he’s a liar.   Either way, he’s wrong.”

The people in the court room started snickering.

“ORDER,” shouted the judge, banging her gavel.  She turned her gaze back on Annie.  “Ms. West, it’s been a long day,” she said, stiffly.  “I am giving you a chance to plead guilty and pay a fine.  If you tell me that you’re not guilty, you will be in far more trouble than it’s worth and you will be guilty, one way or the other.  Now how do you plead?”

“So you’re telling me to lie?”

How do you plead, Ms West?”

“Guilty, but I was forced to plead guilty under duress and I have been blackmailed by this court of law.”

The judge pounded her gavel and had the courtroom cleared.  “Get out of my courtroom, West,” hissed the judge.  Pay your fine and I don’t want to see you back here again.  Is that understood?”

“It is,” said Annie, “but I can’t make any promises, you know how those pesky demons can be.”

“Was the cop lying?” asked her friend Teri, as they left the building.

“Yes.  I was only going a hundred.”

“Well, the judge knows what you do, so she needs to take that into consideration.”

“Agree.”

“Demon hunting is a fast paced job.”

“Especially when they have bloody wings,” sighed Annie.

“Your work is under appreciated.”

“Because of the damage I sometimes cause?”

“No.  Because of the damage you always cause,” said Teri.

“You try catching one of those things.”

“Nope.  You’re the one with the magic, not me.  I’m just your researcher, and woman of all trades, if that makes sense.”

“It does.  Thanks.”

“Is that a scratch on your arm?”

“It’s almost healed, don’t worry about it.”

“We need to get it looked at now.”

“I said don’t worry about it.”

Terri pulled her gun and pointed it at Annie.  “Now.  Don’t make me kill you.”

“As if,” snorted Annie.  “But fine.  We can go to  Sanctuary and let Liz look at my arm, if it will make you feel better.”

“Thank you and what’s with the giant cat in the back seat?”

“Oh,” said Annie, “Isn’t he adorable?  I found him on the way out of that…”

“Don’t say other dimension,” said Teri, hitting her head softly against the window.”

“What should I say then?”

The cat meowed and the glass in the back of the car exploded outward.

“He’s great, isn’t he,” said Annie, happily.   “He told me his name but I can’t say it, so I’m calling him Seven.  He said he’s okay with that.”

“He must weigh a hundred and fifty pounds.”

“More like two hundred.  He slept on my bed last night.”

Seven unsheathed his claws and Teri stopped breathing.  “My,” she said weakly, “what big claws you have.”

“I know, right,” said Annie, smiling at her.

“Are you…keeping him?”

“Of course.  He said he wanted to stay because the food is better on this plane.”

“You don’t have enough money to feed him.”

“He’s a good hunter.”

“OMG!”

“What?” said Annie.

“What does he hunt?”

“Bad guys and a few other things, right Seven,” she said, and the cat head butted her shoulder and shoved her into the door.”

“Annie, think this through.”

“I have and he can become invisible if the need arises.”

Having nothing at all to do with what I was going to say,” whispered Teri.

“Hey, baby,” said Annie, parking, and turning to the cat.  “Want to come inside the hospital, or do you want to nap in the backseat a bit longer.”

“I’m glad you left him in the car,” said Teri.

“I didn’t leave him, he chose to stay in the car.”

“Is he a…”

“Yes, Terri, he’s a Hellcat and I love him.”

“Right.  I’ll add hm to my Christmas list.”

“Perfect.  He loves parties.”

“Come on, Liz is waiting for you.”

 

 

Eve…a short story

woman in orange hoodie holding brown snake

Eve was allergic to apples, but not reptiles.   She was also allergic to Adam, who never wanted to go anywhere, or do anything.  The snake told Eve stories about freedom, making her own decisions, not listening to others, especially males, who would enslave her and worse, define who she was.

The snake said his name was Harry, and that he was on his way to Nevada to build a place called Las Vegas, where people would go to play and have fun, while losing money, but walking away with wonderful memories of acrobats and dancing fountains. He also told her about run-on sentences.

Eve, was intrigued.

Harry told her things were going to change, now that humans had crawled out of the sea.  He said he had been waiting a long time, eons, to be exact, since Vegas wouldn’t be worth anything until people were alive and looking for a good time.

She said she understood why future humans wold be interested in a place like that.  Then she looked at Adam, who was napping under a tree.  “He NEVER wants to do anything.  I’m so bored,” she said loudly.  “I’ve been making flower crowns and rubbing mud on myself, to stop the insects from biting me, but that’s about it.  I go for walks, but it’s easy to get lost, since there are no signs, maps, borders, streets or GPS’s.

“You’re brilliant,” shouted Harry. “I shall add spas, to the hotels in Vegas.  Spas that will offer mud baths and all sorts of things, to people who are wrapped in terrycloth.

“What’s terrycloth?”

Harry explained and Eve nodded.  “Sounds like a plan.”

“I have a lot of ideas,” said Harry.  “I’m going to build cities, like New York, Chicago, LA and a couple of other places.  I’m going to invent neon gas and electricity, so I can light up the world and part of the sky, but it won’t be easy.”

“Can you do all of that by yourself? asked Eve.

“Sure.  I’ll use magic, but if you want to help, I wouldn’t say no.  After all, you have hands.”

“Good point,” she snickered.

“What about him?” she asked, looking at Adam.

“Paper hasn’t been invented yet, so you can’t leave him a note.  Truthfully, he might not notice you’re gone until he needs something.  A lot of men are going to be that way in the future.”

“Really?”

“I’m afraid so,” hissed the snake.  “This place is going to be violent and war like, with death everywhere.  That’s why I’m going to build Vegas, so people can forget about their lives and just be idiots and do stupid things, while walking around a strip in the desert.  Everyone in the world will know about it.  It’s going to be wonderful and people will love it, as long as they wear comfortable shoes.”

“Can we leave now?”

“Sure,” said Harry.  “I don’t see why not.  In fact, if we leave now, you’ll never have to have children and watch one of your sons kill the other one..”

“Oh, good,” she said.  “I don’t think I’d like kids.  Do they have them at Amazon?”

“No, Eve, they come out of your body.”

Eve threw up behind the tree where Adam was sleeping.  “That’s disgusting.”

“You ready?”

“As I’ll ever be,” she said.  

 

And that’s how fabulous Las Vegas came into being.  Thanks to a really cool snake, a woman who knew a good thing when she heard it and a lot of acrobats and bars.

 

 

Photo:  Steffano Ciociola
Unsplash

 

 

 

 

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