When we finally built a time machine, everyone cheered. Unfortunately, history proved to be depressing. Mighty heroes turned out to be total dicks. Great cities of ancient civilizations were open sewers. And Cleopatra had halitosis.
The Spinosaurus we dropped into Ninth Century France livened things up, though. It was recorded in some epic poem as a marauding dragon.
Next we dumped a nine-foot Gigantopithecus in northern California. Caused quite a stir. I suggested a Plesiosaur in Loch Ness, but Dr. Llewellyn says the water’s too cold.
“But,” he added, “a Cenozoic proto whale . . .”
Who says history can’t be fun?
Author’s Note: This harks back to the Science Fiction Writer’s Handbook, by L. Sprague de Camp, which suggested we give thought to the B.O., grime, sewage, and other unpleasant things we’d find if we could actually travel back in time.
Carlos loved the mechanical squirrels so much that he built two dozen.
He’d wind them up and giggle to himself as they ran around the apartment, scaled his bookshelves, and danced until the tension of their springs spun out.
It was great fun.
After two weeks, however, things went terribly wrong.
The squirrels never stopped. Hour after hour they skittered over Carlos, tormented him with their incessant chattering, and chewed up all his shoelaces.
After five consecutive nights without sleep, lying on the edge of insanity, Carlos realized what had gone wrong: the squirrels had learned how to wind themselves.
Author’s Note: I have a great fondness for watching the frenetic activity of squirrels. It’s as if they’ve mastered insanity as a survival trait, and it never ceases to make laugh. I’ve always imagined, however, that eventually they would start to drive ME insane, if there were too man of them around.
Five months into Allie’s pregnancy, Dr. Mason informed her there was no fetus. She viewed the ultrasound picture of an empty gray-scale sack. “Screw your tests,” she said. “I’m carrying a child.” Doctor Mason patted her hand. Month six, the baby kicked. Month seven, a tiny hand pushed against her from the inside. Month eight, constant movement convinced her that life grew within. On delivery day, blood and urine tests still reported lack of human life. The doctor bullied her. “It’s in your head.” Two hours later, a creature akin to a goat ripped from her to start His reign.
Author’s Note: I was reading through brainstorming cards (Writer’s Toolbox) and saw one that said, “the smell of chicken.” I thought of being nauseated by that if I were pregnant. Then came this story.
Hair. It’s just hair. Matted, gnarled, festooned with briars and—Christ, a vole’s nest? But it’s just hair, twisted, braided, strong enough to support even the weight of a Prince. And yet, halfway to the promise of his endeavors, he realized two things: first, that it wasn’t just hair. It was also little bodies, little eyes, hungry little mouths attached to hungry little creatures. And as they descended upon him, skittering up his arms and into every careless seam of his clothing, he realized, second, and screaming, why they said no one ever returned from the tower in the wood.
Author’s note: I’ll never watch Tangled again without scratching my head. And I really, really need a haircut.
Oliver examined the bookshelf in Liza’s dorm room, tapping the spines so they were even.
“Can’t believe how many vampire romances you have. You really like this stuff?”
Liza shrugged and sat down on the futon. “Well, you know. You get addicted.”
“I heard they suck.”
She rolled her eyes. “They’re fun, okay? Don’t judge me.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist and whispered, “Suppose I bite you, then. Like a vampire.”
“That’s kind of hot.” Liza grinned and stretched out her neck.
Oliver’s fangs gleamed red in the glow of the lava lamp. This was getting too easy.
Author’s Note: I think the rehabilitation of vampires’ image as romantic heroes would be a great deal for vampires.
It was all because of the alien abduction.
You know how it is ― that box came up on my computer, saying: Congratulations! You have been randomly chosen for the honor of an alien abduction! Click the “okay” button if this is acceptable to you.
So I did, and I was gone for a week. Unfortunately, I think the teleporter glitched, because my paper got deleted. So, can I have an extra week to finish it?
Teacher’s response: Yes, but you are reminded that students are only allowed one abduction per semester. If abducted again, please contact your overlord to complain.
Author’s Note: My roommate in college was required to write a paper called “The Reason Why My Paper is Late” whenever she turned in a paper that was late. So I volunteered to write one for her. This came from that. (Her teacher didn’t believe a word of it.)
It was at the Annual Bakers’ Convention that The Great Vampire War on Snickerdoodles, formerly waged secretly in the hearts, minds and stomachs of people everywhere, first came to light.
Contrary to popular belief, the vampires’ greatest weakness was not a stake, or cross, or sunlight, but, in fact, the snickerdoodle. Perhaps the combination of white sugar and cinnamon in all its sweet sugary goodness was somehow anathema to whatever dark unholy art animated the dead. Perhaps the universe simply had a twisted sense of humor.
But on that tragic day the vampires came, and they ate all the bakers.
Author’s Note: This one came from a random sentence about vampires and snickerdoodles. Because why not?
December 31st, 2008. 10:46pm:
“We are dangerously low on spirits and my boss just arrived,” Mr. Shepard told his wife, an empty wine glass shaking in his pale hand.
“Calm down,” she responded, “we have plenty more in the cellar.”
“Not that’s been aged!”
Mrs. Shepard sighed. “Go ahead and open the sixty-three then. We’ll just get something else for our anniversary.”
“You’re the best,” Mr. Shepard said, then strolled down to the cellar, past a couple children and an emaciated corpse, and shoved a spout into the chest of a forty-five year old man, then filled pitchers with blood.
Author’s Note: I sometimes wonder if blood enthusiasts would have a preference for blood type as well as year.
The congregation grazed contentedly in the overgrown orchard, but Clever Hoof stood apart. “I’ve been thinking,” she said.
Pink Splotch lifted his snout, munching a windfall apple. “What now?”
“Well, Boar Briar’s sermons. Forbidding us things, like whatever’s in the buildings left behind by our departed protectors–”
Her friend recited, “Until Sow Thumb shall birth her New Brood: Behold! They shall unlock every door with new-made hands–”
“Yes, yes, but listen. Where did Boar Briar get his frock?”
The priest’s telltale black robe was nowhere in sight. Across the orchard, the door of the abandoned church stood wide open.
Author’s Note: If the departure of humanity leads to animals telling stories about the things we left behind, those stories could accumulate and aggregate into religions, complete with prophecies, origin myths, and taboos.
I’ll never forget the stories Grandpa used to tell about working in the steel mill. The labor was hard, but the wizards paid well: two hundred hours a week. He lived to the old age of seventy-four.
Pa griped about his work a lot. He started out in Grandpa’s mill as a laborer, worked up the ladder, and was eventually promoted to foreman. Even then, he only earned one hundred and eighty hours. He passed at sixty-seven.
I got a call from my boss last night. I’m going to need a second job if I want to exist until retirement.
Author’s Note: The concept of wizards selling time enthralled me. I was especially interested in how it would relate to an economic depression