Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Wishes

"Get your cheap wishes here! Just three for $100!" the medieval faire vendor called out.

"I bet they're not real wishes," Ben said.

"They're fairy certified!" the vendor said as he pulled out the certification for him to read.

"Prove it," Ben challenged.

"I’m sorry Sir, but no free samples," the vendor replied, walking away.

"Wait up," Ben called. "I'll buy three."

The vendor took Ben's money then handed him three tokens. "Find a wishing well and toss one coin in per wish. But be careful for what you wish for, because you might not get what you expect."

Ben put the tokens in his pocket then wandered around the world for several months looking for a wishing well. The vendor’s warning was soon gone from his thoughts.

During his travels, he’d felt alone and wanted someone to travel with. Ben didn’t want to marry just anyone though, he wanted to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. When he finally found a wishing well he threw a coin in and wished for the most beautiful woman.

A woman appeared next to him but she wasn't beautiful. In fact, Ben thought she was very ugly. When she spoke, however, he discovered she was a beautiful person on the inside. But that’s not what he had wished for.

“I can’t marry someone so ugly,” Ben said and sent her away.

“Stupid wishing well,” he grumbled. If he were wealthy, he could get any woman he wanted to marry him and he wouldn’t have to rely on the wishing well to give him a beautiful wife. Ben threw another token into the wishing well.

“I want to be rich,” he said as the coin hit the water.

He headed to a nearby bank to check his accounts. They hadn’t changed and he was still poor. Instead, he felt a richness in his life and every new experience made him feel richer.

“Bah! This not what I wanted!” he lamented. Ben ignored the feelings and they soon faded, leaving him feeling like himself again.

Ben went back to the wishing well and thanklessly kicked it. “Stupid thing! You’ve not given me anything I wished for. I wish you’d never existed!” Ben said angrily. The last token slipped from his hand and fell into the well.

“No! I wasn’t ready!” Ben cried out as he jumped into the wishing well after the token. There was a loud splash then Ben and the wishing well disappeared. He was never heard from again.

© April 26, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

High Stakes

"All in," Anna bets, her voice emotionless, after she looks at her cards—a pair of twos. Her flesh-rotted hands push her chips across the green table.

"$127,950 to call," the dealer says.

Jeremy, Chris and Ian fold. David checks his cards—two kings.

Anna smiles at him flirtatiously and winks. A brainless zombina, she often forgot she was no longer a sex kitten.

"Call," he says, not swayed by her tactics. Anna reveals her cards; David smiles as he reveals his kings.

The dealer lays down a two, king and three on the flop then a four on the turn.

"Let's make this interesting," Anna suggests. "If I win, you let me gnaw on your brain. If you win, you can take me back to your room."

He'd always wondered what sex with a zombie would be like and with only one possible out, it was as close to a sure thing as he could get.

"You’re on," David agrees.

The dealer sets one card to the side the flips over the river card. A two.

"How did you do that?" David demands.

"Lady Luck," she answers with a smile then walks around the table to collect her winnings.

© April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Splice of Life

David and Neil entered the clinic, hand in hand. They were so excited they’d found a program that would allow them to have a child with both of their DNA, a privilege that was only available to heterosexual couples until a few months ago.

“Welcome to A Splice of Life,” the receptionist greeted.

“We’d like to have our DNA spliced together,” Neil said.

“Take these cups and put your name on them then go into one of the empty rooms and fill them with your ejaculate. When you’re done, put the lid on the cup and place it in the fridge,” the nurse explained. The two men went into separate rooms and filled the cups as directed.

They were taken into an office and given a long form to fill out with every kind of DNA that could be manipulated listed. They had to choose which ones they wanted from each person to be included in the splicing. When they finished, they handed the form to the nurse.

“You’ve read the literature and understand all the possible outcomes?” the nurse asked. Even though they’d only glanced through it, they nodded their heads. “Please sign here and here.”

“We’ll call you we’re ready to impregnate the surrogate,” the nurse said when they finished.

Three weeks later, they received the call. “We’re all set. Your DNA has been spliced together carefully following your list. We have fertilized the egg from the donor and will put it into the surrogate mother on her next ovulation.”

Over the next nine months, the two men decorated the nursery and received updates on their baby, including monthly ultrasound images and health reports.

A week after the baby was due they got the call. “Congratulations, your son has been born,” the nurse told them.

They rushed to the hospital and held each other close as they looked at their son. “He has your eyes and nose,” Neil said.

“And your cheeks and mouth,” David replied.

On the way home to finish preparations for their son’s arrival, they stopped at the clinic to pay the remainder of their bill. “Thank you so much,” they said to the billing clerk. “Samuel is perfect.”

Everything was wonderful for the first few months. Two days after Samuel had turned 13 weeks old; they were playing on the floor with their son when David noticed that Samuel was missing the little toe from his left foot.

“Well, that’s odd,” said Neil. They agreed that one missing toe wasn’t that big a deal and kept playing with Samuel.

Two days later, another toe was missing and Samuel’s nose was collapsing. David and Neil started to panic. Their baby was falling apart!

They called the clinic and demanded to talk to the doctor. When he got on the phone, they explained what was happening.

“You read the literature, correct?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, of course,” Neil lied.

“Then you’re aware that DNA splicing is not a perfect science yet,” the doctor explained. “There could be some side effects like those you’re seeing. It is possible there will be many more or this could be all there will be. Only time will tell.”

For the next week, they watched as more of his body parts fell off or collapsed. His mental abilities were going in reverse. Neil called the clinic again, demanding to talk to the doctor.

“It is getting worse,” Neil said. “Is there anything you can do?”

“You have two options. You can have your son placed into our rejection program where he will be studied and contribute to the future of spliced DNA research until he dies. Or you can keep him at home and watch him deteriorate until he dies,” the doctor explained.

“We’ll get back to you,” Neil said.

Later that afternoon, Neil and David solemnly drove to the clinic with their son and entered him into the rejection program. After they signed the transfer of guardianship to the clinic, the nurse said, “Ya win some and ya lose some. That’s the chance you take when you mess with nature.”

Copyright © April 21, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Story published

My short story, "The Gift," was published a few days ago. It is a fictionalization of my late husband's last 12 hours as seen from the viewpoint of his wife. The story was written for my college short story writing class. You can find it at: www.pensonfire.com/gift.html. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Molly Simpson looked at her reflection in the mirror as she ran cold water over the thin white washcloth she was holding. Her chubby face with large bags under her eyes and gaunt skin from too many nights of not enough sleep made her look much more than 30 years old. There were hints of grey all over her short brown hair that hadn't been there six months ago. The harsh lights in the small bathroom did nothing to help her look better.

She was exhausted and she wanted nothing more than to go home to her king-size bed and fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. Instead, she was at the hospital tending to her soon-to-be ex-husband Patrick. He'd called her at work and asked her to come see him. Molly had wanted to tell him no but couldn't come up with a better excuse than "I'm too tired" so she dropped Aileen, their six year old daughter, at his mother's house after work and headed to the hospital.

When the fabric was soaked, she turned off the tap and carefully wrung it out. Molly carried the still dripping washcloth across the white tiled linoleum floor to Patrick's hospital bed, which was reclined slightly so he was able to sit up comfortably. His balding head was resting on a pillow.

"Can you turn down the heat?" Patrick motioned in frustration to the controls on the radiator under the window. "It's too damned hot in here."

"Here, maybe this will help some," Molly offered, not wanting to get into a pointless fight over heat. She used the washcloth to mop up the sweat beading on his face then gently placed it on his forehead. He sighed as it took the edge off and he seemed to relax for the first time since she walked into the large white room.

Molly evaluated his condition and wasn't happy about what she saw-he was having trouble breathing, unable to cool down, and couldn't get comfortable. The standard-issue white and blue checked hospital gown was sticking to him all over as he sweated profusely. Molly wasn't a medical professional but she'd spent enough time around hospitals and sick people to know when things were not as they should be.