Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jane 26

There's a hiss of escaping air like the world's tiniest sigh and the cryopod opens at the end of the cantilevered walkway. I catch myself as I fall to the faux marble floor, whorls of mica glittering like gold flecks inches from my face. Chandeliers of fake crystal light the cavernous room, which is itself shaped like an egg, or an even larger cryopod. Mahogany panels - or some convincing synthetic - line the walls. I'm in the embrace of a mechanized orange, segments along the wall smooth except for crimson candelabras with flickering electronic candles.

The effect is cheap techno-boudoir, but I am not.

To read the rest, go to this page.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sod Story

This story is by another friend, and was inspired by Nikolai Gogol's The Nose.

"Since they refuse to trust truth, they are banished to their chosen world of lies and illusions."

Light trickled from the horizon and slowly the sun rose until the rays warmed a small greenhouse. Mr. Sod stretched his long, scrawny arms out, reaching for the sky.

He enjoyed the energizing sun and thought about his day to come, “Yes, this is the day. This is the day I make a difference. I’m tired of working for that old man, taking care of his garden and whatever odd jobs he has for me to do. I’m going to go out and change things for the better!” Mr. Sod looked down and noticed he had stepped in some fresh dirt he must have spilled the night before. His tropical plants, which he loved because of their uniqueness, needed the best soil, so that’s what he got for them.

He watered his plants, speaking to each of them for a short bit. He knew that helped them to grow and be healthy. He was disappointed that they had so little to say back this morning, though; they didn’t seem as excited as he was about his plans for the day.

After making sure the plants had their fill, he poured himself a glass of water and drank it down. He left the greenhouse, enjoying the breeze, and made his way to his small dwelling attached to the rear of the glass house. He prepared for the day, putting on his brand new suit and grabbing a stack of business cards he had made for himself.

Walking outside, Mr. Sod grabbed his old bicycle and began to pedal towards the city, that huge, ironclad, depressing city.

Mr. Sod entered the suburbs, glancing about to make sure no troublesome children would harass him as they usually did.

The shrill screams reached Mr. Sod’s ears before he knew where they came from. He looked all around, wondering what could make such a terrible sound. Noticing a stopped lawnmower, he stormed over, trying to hold back his fury for the old man that was trying to get it to start.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

The man looked up, “Trying to get this thing to start up.” And scratching his beard added, “You want to help?” He went back to his work.

Mr. Sod had trouble not screaming. “Help? Are you kidding? Why would I do that?”

The man glanced at Mr. Sod, wiping sweat from his eyes he said, “Well, I reckon because I need to get this lawn mown.” The man stood up, apparently having some trouble doing so, and continued, “I’ll tell you what kid, you mow this lawn for me and I’ll buy you lunch. Anywhere you want to go. What do you say?”

His fury welled up within him! How could this man ask him to do such a thing? The man was clearly some kind of wicked man! He grabbed the lawn mower, throwing it on its side. “I’ll show you why you shouldn’t mess with my friends!” and acted as if he would attack the man. The old man hobbled away from Mr. Sod, flailing his arms somewhat and fell into his house.

Mr. Sod went back to the grass and dropped to one knee. He felt sorry for it. How could such a terrible thing happen? He then knew it would be harder than he thought to change this world…but it must be done! He could sense that the grass was upset, but he could not guess as to why, and, thinking it would be better to let the grass get over its trauma, decide to go on his way. After all, he had a busy day ahead of him.

As Mr. Sod neared the metal and plastic confines of the city he could feel the difference. The calming view of the landscape was leaving him and massive frightening monstrosities began to surround him. The buildings had less grass around them and concrete seemed to cover the entire Earth now.

He neared his destination, noticing an acquaintance as he did so. Mr. Sod walked up to talk to him, saying, “Hello Phil, how are you today?”

The low hedge he stopped to converse with sat as it had before.

“Really? That’s good.” Mr. Sod then noticed something different about Phil and, while taking a closer look, continued speaking. “Did you get in a fight? It looks like you lost some limbs.” Again the hedge held its ground. After a pause Mr. Sod continued, “You got trimmed? TRIMMED? That’s terrible…what? You didn’t mind? How could that be? Do I like how you look?” Mr. Sod took a step back, thought it over, and said, “I guess…you look…nice…I suppose.” With that Mr. Sod fled back to his bicycle. Peddling as fast as he was able, shocked by the conversation he had just had with Phil.

Strange thoughts started to occur to Mr. Sod. Should he believe Phil? Could having one’s limbs lopped off really not be that bad and make one feel better? How could that be…? Only one thing could be done, Mr. Sod would have to find out for himself.

Mr. Sod stopped his bicycle, feeling bad that he had left Phil so abruptly, and looked for a place that gave trims. He spotted a small shop that seemed to do so and set his bicycle outside next to a small tree, asking it to watch the bike for him.

Walking inside and noticing all the seats, he decided to sit in one and wait to see what would happen next. A woman walked up behind him. “Hi, how are you doing? I haven’t seen you in here before. How you want your hair cut? Any style in mind?”

“Oh! Well…just a...trim…I suppose…”

“A trim? No problem.” She turned him around. He looked into the giant mirror and saw that she was going through a bag…seemingly looking for something. He felt a lump form in his throat and sweat emerging from his brow. “So…what are you looking for?”

“My scissors of course.” Then he saw her pull out a small set of hedge clippers…she could have been the one that butchered Phil!

“NNOOO!!!” He screamed, leapt up and ran for his life, hoping she was not chasing him. After running for several blocks he stopped, hid in an alley, and caught his breath.

“She doesn’t seem to have come after me…good thing…that was terrible…what could Phil have been thinking? This must be more of a problem than I thought! Even the plants were turning against themselves in this city…not like the ones in my greenhouse…or maybe they are…the guys didn’t seem happy about my plans for the day this morning either.” Mr. Sod sat down on the ground, placed his head in his hands, “Could I be wrong? Could it really be that the plants are happy about all of this? That they not only don’t mind, but like it? How could it be? It can’t be true! Or else they have been tricked! Yes! That’s it…they have been deceived somehow…all they need is a strong voice to remind them…”

Mr. Sod stood up, brushed himself off and walked back to the little shop. He noticed his bicycle was missing, no doubt given away by the deceitful tree. It was sad indeed, that he would now have to watch who his friends really were.

He did not stop for anything else. Nothing distracted him from what he knew must be done. We walked to his destination, a super market. The Super Mart stood before him, with its super hero mascot sitting on the sign, smiling and waving, enticing people to come buy from them. Mr. Sod would not let this “super hero” scare him; nothing could stop him now.

He walked inside, grabbed a shopping cart and headed towards the vegetables. Of course he had grabbed one with a bad wheel and had some difficulty getting it there. Despite the trouble and the loud screeches, he made it, filled the cart to its brim and headed towards the door.

Just before he made it, a teenager in a store uniform, complete with Super Mart red and purple stopped him and said, “Umm…you need to pay for that dude…”

“Pay! Are you kidding? Get out of my way!” Mr. Sod then attempted to get by the boy, but the cart wheel had become stuck and refused to move. “…why do these things happen to me…?”

“Dude…you have to pay for the food. Just a minute…I’ll get the manager.”

Mr. Sod continued trying to push the cart, but it wouldn't budge. “Why won’t you move!?! GO!!”

After a few moments a woman walked out, looked at Mr. Sod and said, “Sir, could I help you?”

“What? Oh, sure! If you could just help me push this cart…”

“You mean to the cash register?”

“No…out the door. I have to rescue these guys.”

With that the woman walked away and the teenager came back over to talk to Mr. Sod. “You know, she’s calling the cops. You should get out of here. Is this a joke or something?”

“JOKE! This is no joke! This is a tragedy!” Just then Mr. Sod had an idea and went to get a new shopping cart, thinking he could transfer the vegetables to a new cart, one that would hopefully move.

He walked back just as the police were arriving. They looked at Mr. Sod and one of them went to speak with him. “Sir, are you planning on buying these vegetables?”

Mr. Sod began to sweat; he wasn’t worried about Super Mart Man, but he had not been prepared for the police. “Well…no…not so much really…”

“Sir, you can’t take these. You can either pay for them, take them back, or come with us to the station. Your choice.”

“Well officer…given the choices…” With that Mr. Sod grabbed an arm full of vegetables and ran out of the door, with the police in hot pursuit.

He ran as if his very life depended on it. He ran into an alley, hoping that he had lost them, but there the police officers were, still chasing him.

“What am I going to do? If only I could get out of this city…I could get away then…” He looked over and noticed Phil across the street.

Running to Phil he hopped over him, trying to hide behind him. “Thanks Phil, you’re a real life saver.” Mr. Sod stopped and glanced at the small hedge. “What do you mean they’re already dead? …you’re right…they are!” He threw down his fallen comrades and once again he ran, this time not looking back for several minutes. Eventually he noticed that he had escaped.

Mr. Sod decided to go home immediately. When nearing the suburbs he saw that a police car was behind him. He darted into a yard, tripping over a lawn mower that had been turned over. He looked down to see the grass he had rescued earlier that day. “Hello there, are you guys doing better now?”

We were shouting in joy...not in pain…

The words echoed in Mr. Sods head…and he ran, never looking back, leaving the city, not understanding what had happened or what it could mean.

Monday, July 2, 2012


This one was written by Jenny Mackiewicz following a very specific prompt. See if you can figure out what it was.

Ain’t all that much to say.  Bad times came for everyone, and I just had the good sense to see a way out.  Can’t say that way was one hundred percent above the board but, like I said, bad times.  Depending on who you ask- that is, just about everyone- bastard had it coming, anyway.

Every day of the week he had a routine he followed; wash on Sunday, grocery on Tuesday, drinks with the boys on Friday, that sort of thing.  For years, not a week had gone by he didn’t follow that routine to the letter.  Good for a man like him, with no patience for change and an inbred need for order, even better for me.

He was at Shaky’s Pub for cheap liquor and pool the night I came.  I knew what I was looking for, and right where to look for it.  Just like his routine was ground into him over time, obvious and reliable as the setting sun, so was his house and everything in it, unmoving and unchanging.

Keeping quiet, I crept my way in through the back door and headed straight for the washroom in the basement.  Last time I’d crept through that house, I had two black eyes and a bagful of clothes with me, though I was headed out, not in.  Memories of that time hustled me along and before I knew it, I was where I need to be, by the old water softener that sits alongside the washing machine.

Never been used, least not since the first month we bought it, when he decided he liked his water hard, never mind it wasn’t fit to swallow.  One quick call later and that water softener was nothing more than a giant, useless barrel full of salt, taking up space.  Paid a hell of a lot of money for the thing, and I was sure I’d get a beating for suggesting it in the first place, but he just smiled and nodded his head, said he had a fine idea what do to with it now.      

Quick and quiet, I lifted off the softener’s lid and set it aside.  Right as I expected, the damn thing was still chock full of salt, though it was turning yellow with time.  Settled atop it was a thin layer of dust, and I wondered briefly, horrified and a touch hysterical, if he made a habit of opening the softener and looking inside, to make sure that dust hadn’t been fussed with at all.

Time running short, I shoved both my gloved hands in to the wrist, dust be damned, and started rooting around.  Underneath the weight of it I found what I was looking for, a small box wrapped up in one, two plastic bags.  Very carefully, I shifted the salt around, made it lay flat as I could get it, and settled the lid back in place.  With the box and its two bags in hand, I shuffled out of that house as quick as I could manage, without creating too much of a fuss.

‘Xactly how long it took me to get home from there, I couldn’t say.  Your nerves can get the best of you, start to steal time, when you’re running from your bastard ex-husband’s house, with twenty thousand dollars of his dead daddy’s gambling money weighing on your wrist.  Zero regrets, no time for that now, only hope the bastard’s dumb enough to have forgotten about his hiding place, dumb enough not to see my part in this.