The knock came at midnight. Bert opened the door.
“We’d been worried about you, Miss Wentworth,” Bert said. “’Tisn’t safe out on the fens. Not when the Black Dog walks.”
“Oh, I’ve heard tales.”
“It’s no tale, woman! To meet Old Shuck is death within the year.”
What was that shadow behind her, huge, with glowing red eyes? Bert shuddered and snatched for the door handle; Miss Wentworth blocked him.
“Nonsense. All any dog needs is firmness and affection. Shuck! Come!”
The monstrous hound, pony-sized, trotted in on muddy paws.
Bert sighed. It was going to be a long week.
Author’s note: Around Bungay, Suffolk, the black dog “Old Shuck” is said to haunt the fens – and inspired Conan Doyle’s “Hound of the Baskervilles.”
Sorry, Mrs Peterson, but you kind of had it coming after what you wrote on my second grade report: I fear Rhona will never amount to anything in life. The girl lacks brains and determination.
You were right, of course. I never amounted to a single thing. I flunked my exams. I dropped out of school. I did the same brainless dead end job at The Fried Chicken King for sixteen years. And then the zombies got me. But you were wrong about the determination. Because I need brains more than ever now, and I’m determined to start with yours.
Author’s Note: I was wondering (as you do) whether a zombie would remember enough of its previous life to try and settle old scores, post-zombification. A mean teacher would be pretty high on the list, I think.
“What about the red one?”
“We don’t usually recommend Kona lava dragons to first time owners. They grow to over 80′ long and spit a jet of flame that can melt granite. Ma’am, if you’ll just come this way I can show you a greater bearded dragon. They’re much calmer and they only grow to about 6′. I have one, myself, and he loves to curl up under my feet while I watch videos.”
“But that one’s green. I don’t like green. I’m sure this little red one will be just fine.”
Kara sighed. “Let me show you the leashes…”
Author’s Note: No doubt she’ll be back in next week to complain that her new poopsie ate the neighbor’s dog and burned down half the block.
Two zombies were shambling around the kitchen. Breathing heavily, I cocked my squirt gun and prepared to shoot.
Blam! I hit one in the head. It howled with outrage.
Splat! I splashed one across the back. It shrieked.
Wham! The first zombie reached me, moving faster than I would have believed. It grabbed the squirt gun and seized my wrist. I could smell the stench of its breath.
“Die, zombie!” I shrieked, trying to pry my hands free.
The zombie growled in its guttural, barely-intelligible language. “For just one morning, would you let your parents make their coffee in peace?”
Author’s Note: It would be a very weird world if people were literally zombies when they first awakened in the morning.
A hush fell over Number-land. Everyone stopped multiplying and dividing, adding and subtracting. Unconsciously, they all had the same thought, every integer, positive or negative, every rational, and irrational, even the imaginary, the complex, the matrices and the functions, “Zero is coming.” Little i shivered with dread. It was suddenly cold, absolutely cold, and a faint buzzing was building from every direction in the infinite dimensions. Louder now, it resolved into an infinitude of voices impossibly out of tune and chaotically out of sync. It was Her voice and it tore i’s world asunder. “Fear me children. I am Oblivion!”
Author’s Note: I had a dream once where I was an imaginary number.