#PotAD 4 – Werewolves of London by #WarrenZevon

You know when you’re a kid and you hear a song lyric incorrectly, but you swear that your version is the right one, and the fiction turns out to be more wonderful than the truth? Werewolves of London is that song for me. I had always thought that he was saying Werewolves of Thunder. How cool would that be? Werewolves of Thunder! Maybe they could even showdown with the Thunder Cats. Alas, my childhood fantasy of thunder werewolves was not meant to be. However, in a lot of ways, the character of Jasputin Trotsky is much cooler in the story of his head than in reality.

Jasputin was a character brewing long before I decided to get back into writing science fiction again. When we first started dating, my wife had a small 18 pound dog named Jasper. It took one weekend of watching him while she was out of town to earn his love. Now he sleeps on my shoulder as I type this post. When my wife and I first moved in together long before we were married. We got a nice slice of the ghetto near Burton Park. Since the neighborhood on the other side was nicer than ours, we’d muse on our walks about what was going on in the dog’s head.

We had created this inner monologue of this great hero who guards the house and called my wife, mommy, and me, “man”. Since our dog seemed to take every task with a grave sense of importance be it barking at the mailman, or walking through the park, we amused ourselves for hours with a “dog” voice about what Jasper thought about the world. We had visions of our dog sitting in a large stuffy chair in a gentleman’s sitting room, smoking a cigar and sipping cognac, talking about the rise and fall of bone prices. We created mysteries perpetrated by an “m-man” only to be discovered later that it was mailman all along. He was a dog PI named Licks Waggert. A Russian revolutionary named Jasputin Trotsky. A landed gentry named Sniff Barklington with our cat Mura Purmewsmith.

Though Jasper’s appearance in my novel almost never happened. In the first draft, the dog was flavor text for the first chapter. Later on (spoiler alert), I realized that actuators would probably need some helpers who could take the equivalent of the employee corridors of a haunted house. If a building was designed to test, then someone had to reset the test and clean up the bodies. The “friends” were born, and if there was going to be a character from the core group who was destined to join the friends, why not use this larger than life character my wife and I created together. My only regret is that I didn’t get to use more of our silly dog related creations. Maybe one day, I’ll write a dog fantasy novel with a hardened PI named Licks Waggert.

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Boxed Furniture and Other Dangerous Endeavors

Furniture shopping can be dangerous with mystic forces and pent up sexual frustration.

Furniture shopping can be dangerous with mystic forces and pent up sexual frustration.

“Furniture n’ in the Box,” Jeff said with a half-smirk.

“It’s not Furniture n’ the Box,” Stacy retorted. “It’s only the best store ever invented.”

“The 99 cent breakfast is only there to get you in the store.”

“Oh come on! You are the only person in the world who can fault a 99 cent breakfast.”

“It’s a gimmick. They give you breakfast, and you walk away with a box of furniture you have to assemble yourself.”

Stacy rolled her eyes and walked into a display apartment. Jeff passed a sign that read 497 square feet with some garbage about how there was room to entertain and live. Stacy walked up to a bed, wardrobe, and cabinet unit with a plethora of drawers and spread her hands out. “Storage! Look at all the storage,” Stacy said triumphantly as if she won the argument.

Her piercing blue eyes and green hipster skirt caught Jeff’s attention more than the storage. He adjusted his glasses like he often did around her to cover for the times when he was noticing her beauty. Even though Jeff and Stacy had known each other since grade school, she never thought about him like he thought about her.

“Sure, but what are the chances of me finding an apartment with exactly the same layout?” Jeff said determined not to give her the win. Stacy rolled her eyes and spun towards the bathroom. Jeff fixed his button up shirt and followed her into the fake apartment. His skinny awkward gate stumbled after her grace. They entered the display bathroom where she turned the knobs on the sink. “They aren’t hooked up. This is a store display.”

“Do you know how to tell when you really want something?”

“How?”

“When you can’t stop touching it,” she smiled and walked into the kitchen.

The last part hurt. In all their years, she had never touched him. They talked all the time. He listened when she would tell him about some asshole she met in college. She talked to him about intellectual subjects she would never utter around a boyfriend. She shared every part of her life with him, expect what Jeff assumed was the most important part. He didn’t bother to look at the kitchen. He went right to the display sofa and plopped down next to a boy waiting for his mom.

The kid glanced at Stacy and then back at Jeff. Then he looked to his mom and then Stacy. Both were engrossed in looking at all the details of furniture they would never buy.

“Women!” The kid said and nudged Jeff.

Jeff gave the kid an “I’m an adult who’s not paying attention to you look” and mumbled a response. The child got bored with Jeff and left him to brood. The boy played with a cardboard box with a TV printed on the front, and his mom swept him away before he began poking holes in the box. After an awkward moment where Jeff pretended to read the Swedish books from the display bookshelf, Stacy got her kitchen fix and joined Jeff on the couch. He didn’t look up from the book.

“I didn’t know you could read Swedish,” Stacy said.

“There’s a lot of things you don’t know about me!” Jeff snapped. Stacy backed away, and Jeff felt like an ass. Jeff put the book down and walked toward the showroom floor, but there was a problem with the showroom floor. It wasn’t there.

Finish the story: click here.

Our Final Days on Bellicus Prime

Author’s note: This is a short story that pairs with a song by the same name:

Lana screamed as loud as she could possibly scream. Lights flickered on through out the house. Her older brother was the first in the room with a sword at the draw. Her older sister, Maia, was right behind him. Maia was more sensible and possessed a firearm.

“What is it?” Brother snapped, ready for action.

“There’s an alien outside my window.” Lana pointed to the window near her bed. Her brother, Tarn, peered out the window with the sword useless at his side.

“That’s why you bring a gun,” Maia quipped snidely.

“A sword is an honorable weapon,” Tarn said, unfazed by her remark. There was an empty field with a single tree visible outside her window. The bark of the tree was cracked and old. The branches were twisted.

“There is nothing out there,” Tarn pronounced.

“You are useless Lana. I stopped having bad dreams when I was five,” Maia teased.

“A warrior respects fear with dignity,” Tarn interjected.

“Fear is a part of life… I’ve heard it before,” Maia said.

“I saw it! It’s not a dream!” Lana screamed.

Father’s bodyguards entered the room first. Father pushed past them.

“Patriarch of Bellicus,” The bodyguards objected. “We must protest-”

Father was icy and quick, “I will face any threat to my family with the dignity of a warrior.”

“Forgive us.”

The Patriarch turned to his children, “Explain.”

“There is nothing to report. Lana had a nightmare,” Tarn offered his insight.

Lana interjected, “I wasn’t asleep.”

Maia scorned, “You saw the tree.”

“Enough,” The Patriarch commanded the room. The children tensed while the bodyguards relaxed. Their earlier indiscretion would at least be forgotten. “What did you see?”

“I saw it father. Its eyes were… big… empty… like it could see the whole world. I swear father. It was standing in the field, a little ahead of the tree. It was looking at me… like it knew me.”

“Warriors of the ancient saw the same creatures. They would appear on the eve of a great battle to bless the warriors with strength and prowess. I think you bring us a good omen for we are about to embark on the greatest battle of our species.”

“You fill her head with myth and legends. I was learning to wield the dagger at eight!” Tarn scoffed.

“If you were a lesser man, I’d have your head, but as you are my only heir, you will not sleep anymore and proceed directly to physical training.”

Tarn stormed from the room. Maia smirked. Her brother was about to have a shitty morning.

“You too, Maia.”

Maia knew better than to argue with her father. He dismissed the bodyguards. Relived that his wrath didn’t extend to them, they scrambled into the hallway and closed the doors.

“I’m afraid, father,” she hugged him. He felt cold, but she knew that was the body armor.

He patted her, “Fear is natural. Only a fool would deny it. A true warrior learns to control their fear.”

But Lana didn’t want to control it. In fact, she wasn’t sure she even wanted to be a warrior, but she didn’t dare tell father that or anyone for that matter.

_______

 

142 fucked up. The fuck up wasn’t a small fuck up. It was big. The kind that could get him shipped to another star system, but he couldn’t help himself. He had to see the denizens of Bellicus in the flesh. Usually, they watched from the smaller of the two moons. But 142 knew an important decision was being made for Bellicus. He wouldn’t have another chance.

He would have gotten away with his trips if his personal cloaking device didn’t malfunction. The device had a glitch. The light bending matrix got out of sync. As an inexperienced researcher, he didn’t know how to fix it. So he just froze. That’s when the girl saw him.

She was just a little girl. In the scheme of the entire planet, that shouldn’t matter. She would just be a girl telling stories, but she was the leader’s daughter. So she was a little girl connected to a lot of power. Still, he knew what 141 would say, “The most insignificant person can change history.”

That’s why the researchers were under a strict non-interference policy. They possessed technology eons ahead of the planets they studied. Even using the technology to heal a sick puppy could create a world religion. Researchers were strictly forbidden to interact, could only go to the surface when necessary, and must always be accompanied by another researcher.

“Researcher 142. Stay right there.141 out.” Researcher 141’s voice bellowed over the intercom. Here it comes.

“Yes.” 142 tried sound as neutral as possible. He loved early civilization cultural studies, but he’d probably be shipped off to some far off station to study white dwarves. His new name would be Researcher Ten Million on the white dwarf project which had not changed in a billion years. Every thousand years, researchers switched jobs, even names.

141 would be slowly coming down the hallway by now. He was named 141 because he was the 141st researcher at the Bellicus Prime station, research that started more than 141,000 years ago. 142 began 300 or so years ago when 140 left. It was a peculiar pairing. 141 was a humorless old being. 142 learned to enjoy his job.

141 entered and inched his way into the room. 141 was a different species. He was more of a spider than a bipedal species. Each leg cracked with age as he moved. 142 used to make jokes about how 141 was as old as the amount of cracks in his bones. Those jokes stopped 10 years in as 141 was never amused. 141 needed to train 142 to be the senior researcher of the two person post, so for 500 years 142 could lead 143, just as 141 would lead 142 for 500 years. But there would be no 143, the research project was about to come to an abrupt end.

All the council species had exceptionally long lives. Natural age limits seemed to not be as important when species shared life extending technology. There was more than just a mere 500 year age gap between 141 and 142. 141 was set to retire after countless postings like this one whereas this was 142’s first post out of his education. 141 often treated 142 like a child. Today would be no different.

“You made an unauthorized trip,” 141 folded his several arms.

“Yes. I will admit to that.”

“And a resident saw you.”

“I cannot deny that.”

141 paused. It’s over. White dwarves in boring lifeless solar systems. 142’s work was too important to give up now. He needed this posting at this planet.

“I guess sooner than later, the Bellicus residents will know about us,” 141 said dryly and began to type on a terminal.

“So can I get back to study?” 142 said sheepishly.

“I don’t see why not.”

In a state of disbelief and relief, 142 slinked over to his terminal and began to type. 142 was barely coming to terms with what happened when 141 spoke again.

“It happened before.”

“Oh?” 142 tried to act nonchalant.

“On Bellicus. It happened before.”

“What happened before?”

“A researcher revealed himself to the population. You know the myth of the war spirits that appear before battle. That really happened. A researcher revealed himself to an army of the warrior king Bellicus. The army that saw the researcher won the battle the next day.”

“Crazy.”

“Unwise if you ask me. Now is Bellicus a warlike culture because of that incident? Or were they always warlike and just integrated our existence into their culture. Why is the smaller moon the war god?”

“The researcher told them about our observation station?”

“We don’t know what he said to them. He cut all the recording feeds. He claims he was trying to convince them about the value of peace. Now did he give the army an unfair advantage? Nope. They fought with indigenous weapons. But he did give them hope. The gods visited them that day. Who knows, maybe that army should have lost.”

“So we become gods. What’s the problem? The cultures will make their own decisions. And by the time they are ready to meet us as equals, they’ll know we aren’t gods.”

“Only if we don’t interfere. Our culture fought wars. We had a massive part of the population work for the luxury of the lucky few, but we figured it out. If someone were to try and steer us there too early, what would happen if we misinterpreted the knowledge?”

“We send teachers with the researchers.”

“What happens if the cultures never learn? How long do we teach?”

“We are willing to observe until they reach out to the stars.”

“You have much to learn 142. The system protects us as much as them.”

“Until the final decision.”

“Not all cultures will end up like Bellicus.”

They fell into silence as they worked.

“What happened to the researcher who interfered with their culture?” 142 mused after a moment.

“He spent the rest of his days in a lifeless white dwarf system.”

“Huh.” Figures.

To continue reading get the kindle version here.

 

Rest Area of the Future

Rest Area of the Future

Story III in the Sperm Donor for a Cosmic Paradox series.

Anna Thompson wanted to see her son again. Each event that pushed her further from her son got progressively worse until she ended up bleeding out on a path in the woods. There was a bullet burrowed somewhere deep within her gut. She remembered a television show she watched in high school. The show claimed a gut wound was painful and would take hours to bleed out. The painful part was true for a while. However, the pain receded away to numbness. It was like her body had some sort of defense against pain or she lost so much blood, she couldn’t feel her body anymore. The thought of death wasn’t scary or frightening. She faced her own mortality the moment she time traveled to the past.

As a woman of the twenty first century, she never really thought about death. Medical science was really good. Scientists predicted her generation would live for a 150 years. There were always some optimists who claimed medical advancements would make people immortal through tissue and organ regeneration, or even just a robot body to house the consciousness after the flesh body gave out. None of these medical enhancements would be possible for her because of a bullet from the gun of The Gold Piece Bandit.

The Gold Piece Bandit was a local hero in his own mind of a town called Underwood, Iowa where she had made her home in the last seven years. He was a bully and rode with a gang. His gang stuck with train and bank robberies from outlying areas, so the town folks tolerated his presence, but they were a rowdy and crude gang. The Gold Piece Bandit would make a show of keeping his men respectable in the city limits, but he was a vile human being. Anna could sense it. Especially the way he looked at her, with a hungry and lecherous stare. Even though she was a waitress in a whore-free Inn, he could tell he wanted her, and she feared the day when he would come take her. When the day came that his lust overwhelmed his sense of being a “respectful” member of the town, she wouldn’t go down without a fight, so she prepared herself. However, no forethought prepared her for what happened.

Before the inescapable confrontation, she tried to avoid the gang as best she could until the day they got a new member. The new guy was different. He was pudgy and his skin was burnt like he had never seen the sun until recently. There was a difference between the skin of a person who sunburned over and over, and the skin of a person who stayed indoors and was burning for the first time. On closer inspection of the new member, Anna found out that he was wearing Gucci glasses. Gucci glasses meant that he was a fellow time traveler, and if there was another time traveler, then maybe she could get back home with her son.

Her biggest fear aside from her death was not being able to help her son. He was seven-years-old, living in what felt like a Western movie, and she would not be there for him. What began as a path home after being stranded in the past became a series of unfortunate events. The biggest unfortunate event of them all was the bullet in her gut and the abandonment of her son. She could feel herself slipping away. The irony was that she was so close to home. The horn of a semi broke through the traffic noise of the nearby freeway. Not too far away were cars traveling down the interstate. Blood poured from her gut, and her mind slowly faded out of consciousness.

To continue reading download the Kindle edition here.

Living Material Inside – Open Immediately

Unmanned drones began delivering packages to Sean’s door about three years before the murder recorded by the Hillsboro Police Department, June 23rd, 2019. Sean was more of a manger than an engineer and didn’t really know how the drones fit into the situation until it was too late. Sean was an early adopter of technology because he worked for one of the largest technology companies in the US. As soon as companies like Amazon and eBay had unmanned drones deliver packages, Sean signed up. Sean was sold on the technology when a package of pumpkin spice flavored k-cups was waiting on his door a half-an-hour after he ordered them. He didn’t realize at the time how k-cups would connect to the incident that would alter his life forever.

When the drones first hit the air, there was a lot of fear. Rumors spread on the internet about old ladies and pets being attacked by the drones. People feared that hackers would mobilize armies of drones or at the very least steal packages. Some of the more radical websites claimed that the government was using them to spy and wore protective clothing, including the tinfoil hat that an enterprising crazy should have patented in the pursuit of gobs of money. But the drones were better pilots than people. The difference between a drone and person was that people made mistakes. Designers and engineers tested and retested the drones, to ensure the mistakes were worked out their systems before they took flight.

Once the fear of new technology subsided, the drones became a fixture of the sky, and no one looked twice, except for Sean. About four months preceding the murder, Sean always looked up, every time he left the house. He would stay in the open air for as little time as possible. Sean often ran from his car to work. A casual observer of his behavior would conclude that he was paranoid, and should probably wear a tinfoil hat if it made him feel better. However, Sean was not loony; he was average.

The incident began about nine months preceding the incident in a warehouse located in Gresham, Oregon, just outside of Portland. The warehouse was a wonderland of electronic wizardry because it was entirely automated. Very few humans oversaw a warehouse the size of ten football fields with goods ready to be shipped all over the globe. The workers had all been replaced by drones.

On a typical day, an order would come through the internet to a brain that was almost artificially intelligent. It would send an army of drones to pick the order off the shelf, another army would pack the items, and the star of the show, the aerial shipping drone, would fly the package over Portland, to the sleepy town of Hillsboro and on to Sean’s doorstep. Because Sean made a lot of money as a manager, was recently divorced, and had kids who had already been through college, Sean ordered more stuff by drone than any human in the Oregon/Washington area. Rather than go to the grocery store when he was out of peanuts, he’d fly them in. If he wanted a movie to watch, he’d order the blu-ray online.

Every product would come in packages of one or two at a time and were dropped off on Sean’s doorstep. Because the warehouse was almost entirely automated, Sean could order at anytime. Drones didn’t make overtime, nor did they require vacation time, or even a forty-hour workweek. If Sean needed to have some milk in the wee hours of the night, a drone would be at his doorstep. He felt as if he was living the dream of his favorite childhood show, Star Trek. The aerial shipping drones and the automated warehouse was the closest thing to replicator a boy could dream, given the technology. An 3D printer could print an object made of a basic material, but a drone and a yearly service fee for free drone shipping could bring him anything he ever wanted. Sean was living in the future.

Sean’s future was about to unravel, and it all started with a rose.

You can finish the story here:

http://www.amazon.com/Living-Material-Inside-Open-Immediately-ebook/dp/B00JM24PI0/

2014 Just Might Change the World

I am going to change the direction of my blog. I’ll be honest when I’ll say that I started the blog because I envy Dave Barry’s job. Say what you will but I couldn’t think of a better job in the entire world than to write silly stuff every week. So back in 2010, I decided to write silly stuff every week. I figure I would treat it like my job even though I was not getting paid. And sometimes, it did feel like a job. I felt I had to post even though I wasn’t feeling funny. Aside from the December break from writing, I’ve been fairly faithful to the idea. For those of you who have been faithful to reading my silly stuff every week, I humbly thank you for your support and probably would have quit long ago if it wasn’t for regular traffic to my blog.

But I have to be honest with myself that my writing energies have been focused on my first love of science fiction and horror (my stories from high school were poor retellings of Ender’s Game, Aliens, and Terminator). I wrote a novel last year and one of the only reasons it’s not out on Kindle Direct Publishing is my wife’s advice to make a go at a publisher. But to satisfy my DIY writing addiction, I’ve been giving out short stories for free when I can on Amazon.

So I am going to widen the scope of this blog to more than just silly posts. For the fans of the silly posts, I promise you that I will still write them. They just will not be as frequent as they used too be. Most of my weekly writing energy is being consumed by the fiction so I may not blog every week. For those of you who have been keeping up with the fiction. Yes, I am planning to write more in the Sperm Donor for Cosmic Paradox universe. I really intended it to be a short story but it wanted to be more. And those of you who asked me for more, more is on the way. For those of you that just want to ask me a question, send me an email: 

Desert during the Day of the Dead

Desert during the Day of the Dead

The amazing cover art of my story.

The next morning Maria woke with a gasp. Her head pounded from drinking a bottle of wine all by herself. She scrambled off the couch and knocked her wine glass to the floor. She was lucky it didn’t shatter. It must have been sleeping on the couch with her. She must have finished the wine because there was nothing but a red stain in the bottom of the glass. She didn’t quite remember falling asleep. She remembered staring out the window waiting for the spirits to come and eat the feast. Her nerves threatened to constrict her throat. Last night was Day of the Dead. She slowly turned her head to confirm her worst fear. It was true. She had fallen asleep with makeup on her face! Now the cheap Halloween sludge was smudged all over her grandmother’s couch! She was such an idiot. She stumbled out of the living room into the kitchen. “Crap. Crap!” she cursed.

She caught a glance of her face in the mirror. The once beautiful makeup job was now a complete mess on her face. She looked less like a Day of the Dead celebrant and more like a drunken Halloween date. But there was no time to fix her face. Her family would murder her if they found out she ruined the couch. Everything in this house was precious or at least so she thought. In reality, her uncle would probably sell as much as he could on Craigslist after the family picked through the belongings. It was sad really, her grandmother’s last belongings picked away by estate sale shoppers.

She grabbed a mess of Kirkland Signature paper towels. As a child, she always thought Kirkland products were from Kirtland Air Force base in Albuquerque. Her mom laughed and told her about the “t” in Kirtland and about far-off city of Kirkland, Washington, home of Costco. Her uncle bought her a giant Costco-sized package of paper towels when she first decided to stay in her grandmother’s ramshackle house. Not that she would use that many during her sojourn in the desert. Her uncle was kind of lazy unlike his sister, Maria’s mom, who was so driven and passionate to the point of being a little too intense sometimes. Maria definitely inherited some of her father’s ability to be okay with doing nothing whereas Mom couldn’t sit still. Maria gathered a giant wad of paper towels. She doused them with cold water following her mother’s advice about getting rid of stains.

She brought the still dripping pile of paper towels into the living room when she screamed and dropped the slopping mess. The food on the porch was gone. There was an empty wine glass and a tipped over wine bottle. The burrito, the green chile, and everything else was gone! She carefully made her way to the front door. Even though the morning sun was bright in the sky, she walked like she was in a horror movie discovering a dead body. She wanted desperately to see her grandmother last night. She knew her grandmother was dead. She knew there was no magic in the desert. It was just a fantasy.

She pushed open the front door. If she had been in an actual horror movie, she should have a gun or a frying pan but Maria wasn’t thinking. In fact, her eyes welled up as she surveyed the feast. It was really gone. Every last morsel had been eaten. There was no food left on the table. Maria up righted the empty wine bottle. There was a red stain in the bottom of the glass. Maria’s knees buckled. She slumped to the ground and began to cry.

To read the whole story download the free kindle version here.