Thursday, December 26, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
“I knew it was just a matter of time,” Santa said as he addressed the Council of Head Elves. They had never seen him look so wretched. “The United States Environmental Protection Agency has informed us ... well, me ... that I cannot fly in United States air space as long as I am using reindeer power. Their excrement is causing too much methane pollution. They have threatened to take it to the United Nations if we don’t do something about it.”
“They can’t do that! The reindeer are essential to our mission. They’re legendary!” Sherman, head of the reindeer division, shouted angrily.
“Without the reindeer’s speed and power, there’s just no way we can get around the world in just one night. We’re cutting it closer and closer every year,” Herman, head of the sleigh division, yelled.
“Read the report. They’ve been tracking our methane levels for decades. It isn’t a pretty picture,” Santa replied as he tossed the 147 page report into the middle of the table. It landed with a thud.
“The reindeer are the most environmentally safe solution we have,” Sharon, head of the science division, said as she flipped through the report. “All the known alternative fuel supply options would cause much more pollution.”
“You’re all going to need to get your heads together to solve this one. They demand a resolution to the problem by the autumn solstice to give their researchers time to test and approve our solution,” Santa said grimly. “I’ll be sending Marvin down to talk to them and see if we can get some kind of pass for next Christmas to buy us some time. In the meantime, you need to get to work on this. This is your new focus. Use as many elves as you need. I need you to fix this. The children of the world are depending on you.”
“Yes, Sir!” they replied in unison then scattered to their offices to start brainstorming.
Santa sat back in his chair and took a long swig from his flask. The whiskey warmed him from the inside and he started to relax for the first time since he’d gotten the package. He took a second swig then headed for home and Mrs. Claus’ loving touch.
Sharon pooled her elves together in the lab. “We need to come up with an environmentally friendly fuel that will be able to get Santa around the world in one night,” she announced. “The reindeer are officially on the no fly list.”
There were murmurs among the group. “I can google to see what MIT and NASA are doing,” Simon offered.
“I can check out some of NASA’s competition, like Virgin,” Debra volunteered.
“Great! If you find anything, let me know immediately. We only have nine months to come up with a solution and implement it.
Several days passed. There had been a flurry of activity as the elves searched the Internet for any alternatives that would be pollution-free yet powerful enough to allow Santa to deliver the presents in December.
“I think I found it!” Debra declared late one evening. Only Sharon and Simon were still working.
“What is it?” Sharon asked as the two elves squeezed into Debra’s cubicle.
“There’s a scientist in Sweden who is examining the DNA of tree bark to determine if there is a way to use it to create a renewable fuel source that has very little pollution. His preliminary studies have shown that only the bark from a blue spruce tree meets the perquisites,” Debra said as she clicked on the chart with the results of the tests.
“Well done, Debra!” Sharon replied as she patted the other elf on the back. “I want you and Simon to travel to Sweden to talk to this scientist. Offer him whatever is needed to buy his research. Money is no object.”
“We’ll leave first thing in the morning!” Simon said as he cavorted with Debra. He’d wanted a break from the North Pole for awhile and he would get to spend time with Debra, his new lover as well as help save Christmas. Who could ask for more?
“Remember, we only have until the autumn solstice! Now get home so you can pack and be ready to travel tomorrow,” Sharon ordered then headed for Santa’s house to share the good news.
It was late but Sharon was sure Santa would want to know as soon as they found something. She knocked on the door. Jenny, the head housekeeper, answered the door. Her hair was a mess and her dress was awry. “Can I help you?” she asked as she ran her fingers through her hair.
“I must see Santa, right away!”
“He is ... indisposed.”
“Well, dispose him then! We may have found a solution to the EPA demands!”
“I ... I ... will go tell him,” Jenny replied then stepped to the side. “You can wait in the parlor.”
Several minutes went by then Santa appeared in the door. He was wearing a robe and his face was bright red with sweat dripping from his brow. “Sorry about that,” he apologized with a sheepish grin. “I needed to finish what I’d started.”
“We have a lead on a possible alternative fuel,” Sharon said.
“Excellent! Tell me more, but be quick about it. I need to get back to ... my ... err ... obligations,” he replied. Sharon quickly explained what Debra had found and that she was sending the two elves to Sweden to buy the research.
“That’s amazing! Take the rest of the week off and give Debra and Simon a generous bonus for their work,” Santa said then gave Sharon a wink. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have something warm waiting for me!”
The elves weren’t able to buy the research from the scientist so they did what any industrious elf would do and stole it. There were no questions asked when they reappeared a few days later and the bank account hadn’t changed.
The scientist elves analyzed the research and started experimenting. Six months passed with no positive results from Simon and Debra’s work. Santa was growing increasingly impatient. “What are those elves doing?” Santa demanded as he pounded on his desk.
“They’re working as hard as they can,” Sharon explained. “Tree DNA can be tricky to work with.”
“They have two weeks! I am running out of time!”
Sharon hurried back to the science center. She was less than happy. Simon greeted her at the door with a huge smile on his face. “You’re just in time. I think we’re on the verge of a major breakthrough.”
“It is about time!”
“DNA is tricky! You know that!” Simon replied.
“Indeed it is.”
Debra was just putting the finishing touches on the latest experiment when they walked into the lab. They held their breath as they watched the newly-created tree bark burned then read the results. “We did it!” Debra announced.
Sharon called Santa with the news. They were thrown a hero party then Herman got to work on creating a furnace to burn the new fuel for the sleigh.
It was three days before the deadline when Santa was summoned for a test drive. He climbed into the sleigh and pressed the ignition button. Nothing happened. Herman turned bright red as he rushed in to see what was wrong. Santa pressed the button again. Nothing.
“I’ll get this sorted in just a minute, Santa,” Herman announced then climbed under the sleigh. Santa crossed his arms tapped his fingers against his forearm. Everyone around the sleigh shifted nervously. “There, try again.”
Santa pushed the button and there was bang and an explosive fire. Extinguisher foam filled the sleigh and quickly put out the fire. The elves rushed towards the sleigh and quickly hosed it down. Santa, who had been wearing his flame retardant suit, was covered and soot and looking very displeased.
“Fix this or you’re all fired!” Santa screamed then stomped back to his house.
“We’re ready again,” Herman announced on the autumn solstice. “We’ve tested it several times. It’ll work.”
Santa silently followed the elf out to the sleigh. He got in and pressed the ignition. The furnace started up and Santa took the sleigh for a spin around the North Pole. He landed in front of a cheering crowd.
“Excellent work!” he announced. “We’ll ship the furnace to the EPA on Monday.”
A letter arrived on Santa’s desk on December 20th. It was from the EPA. The furnace passed all their tests and was approved for use. A huge cheer went up from all the residents of the North Pole when Santa made the announcement.
“We’ll have a huge party on December 26!” he yelled over the din.
Herman put the furnace back on the sleigh and tested it several times before he would allow the elves to load it up. Then, on Christmas Eve, Santa climbed into the sleigh and pressed the ignition. As he rose into the air and flew out of sight, he called, “Merry Christmas!”
WORDS: DNA, tree bark, google, cavort, wretched, explosive
Monday, October 7, 2013
The earth shook, sending anything not tied down crashing onto the floor and people scurrying for the safety of doorways. Downtown, near the epicenter, the damage was more extreme. Buildings were crumbled, trapping people under the rubble, and the pillars around Town Hall had fallen and split open.
It wasn’t until all the commotion settled that someone noticed an arm in one of the broken pillars then a leg in another. Horrified, they began the task of cracking open all the pillars. They found five bodies, one in each of the pillars. The bodies were chopped up and distributed throughout the cement structures.
The faces were difficult to make out but one of the town’s elders looked them over.
“That’s Mayor Edwin Mollusk,” she declared with absolute certainty. “We always did wonder what happened to him and the council.”
The builder was still alive, living in the county nursing home. The police chief visited him.
“Charlie, who made the pillars for town hall?”
“I did. They were perfect, too.”
“Did you bury them in the pillars?”
“Them blowhards was corrupting the city, ruining all that was good.”
“You’re under arrest for the murders.”
“I’m a dying man. Do what you must.”
The chief couldn’t be judge and executioner, but Charlie had confessed. And, it would cost thousands to move him to the jail and sustain him on life support. As the chief left the room he ‘tripped’ over the cord and whispered, “This court finds you guilty. Rot in hell.”
Donna angrily watched as her friend Sarah had her teeth examined. The ten year old hated everything about these visits from the local dentist. There were much better things she could be doing than standing in line, like reading or taking a math test. These interruptions to her education infuriated her. If looks could kill, the dentist would have been dead as soon as he walked through the door.
Once every two months a local dentist dressed in a badly fitting suit would come to the school and examine their teeth. He would jot down notes then send them back to their desk. Those who needed work would be summoned to the nurse’s office and the dentist would perform work on the students. One of the benefits of the private Catholic school she attended.
Donna had never been called to the nurse’s office but she’d heard the stories from her classmates. He was cruel and evil, they said, but they could never say what was so bad about it. It was enough, though, for her to hope she never had to go and to do her best to make sure she took care of her teeth.
It was her turn. The dentist looked around her mouth, poked and prodded. “Hmm,” the dentist said after taking far too long to look at her perfect teeth then jotted some words on the pad of paper. They were indecipherable. Donna did not like this at all.
When she got home, Donna brushed her teeth extra long and flossed twice. She brushed twice after dinner and again before bed. Surely her teeth were perfect.
The next day, her name was called on the intercom.
“Please don’t make me go,” Donna begged her teacher.
“Don’t be a baby. Look at Timmy, you don’t see him crying. This is his third time this year!”
Donna’s eyes widened as she looked at her classmate. His eyes were glazed over and his body was rigid. There was a bit of blood on his shirt and his lower lip was swollen.
“You can’t make me!”
“You have to go,” her teacher said.
“Please Miss Higgins! Don’t make me go!”
“Don’t be such a baby!”
Donna stood her ground. “I won’t go.”
The teacher picked up the phone and called the nurse. “She is being difficult ... Okay, thank you.”
“You have to go now,” Miss Higgins said firmly.
“No, I won’t!” Donna yelled then turned to run out of the class to hide. Standing in the doorway was the dentist. He was in a white uniform with a mask over his mouth and nose. His eyes were dark and forbearing.
“Come along,,” he said in a sinister voice then took her by the arm and dragged her to his office. He strapped her arms, waist and chest to the chair then forced her mouth open, using blocks to keep her from being able to close her mouth.
He tilted the chair back and turned on a bright light. Donna couldn’t see anything but the brightness then spots when she blinked. The dentist poked and prodded her mouth again, searching for whatever he’d seen the day before. It was in the back left on the bottom.
“Found it! It is a little cavity so it won’t take long,” he said then placed a few drops of novocaine on the area around the tooth then started to drill out the cavity. She tried to scream but no sound came out. Her fingers dug deep into the chair as he drilled deeper. It seemed like an eternity had passed before he was done.
“Just a little filling then you can go back to class.”
Donna stared blankly at the light, unable to even nod her head. He mixed some filler then sloppily covered the hole he’d made. “Don’t eat anything until lunch,” he told her as he cleaned up the mess he’d made then unfastened the belts. “Here’s a pamphlet on how to take care of your teeth properly.”
She nodded her head then stumbled out of the chair, gripping the information sheet tightly in her hand. When Donna got back to her desk she started to read it and vowed never to let him, or any dentist, near her teeth again.
From that point on, Donna was always sick on the days the dentist came to visit and followed the instructions from the pamphlet obsessively. As she got older, she became increasingly obsessive about it and rubbed her gums raw, until they bled, and wore down the enamel on her teeth until it was barely there.
Her parents dragged her, kicking and screaming, to their dentist. He strapped her arms and waist to the chair, for her ‘safety’.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said as he examined her teeth. “How long has she been like this?”
“She’s been obsessive about brushing her teeth for fourteen years but it has only gotten like this recently,” her mother explained.
“I am going to have to perform surgery to sew up her gums and apply a preservative to protect the enamel and allow it to grow back.”
Donna stared blankly at the ceiling, the memories of the last time she was in a dentist’s chair flooding her mind. When they left the room she pulled her right arm out of the belt and unfastened herself then grabbed the sharpest utensil.
The dentist returned alone. She lunged at him, slicing his face and neck manically as she repeatedly screamed, “Never again.”
Her parents and the dental assistant ran into the room. Donna’s father pulled her off him and held her tightly. She was covered in blood and breathing heavily, struggling to get away so she could slash the dentist more. Unwittingly, she’d cut a main artery in his neck and he was dead before the ambulance got there.
Donna didn’t care. She was pleased that she killed him. The jury found her guilty by reason of insanity and the judge ordered her into treatment for her obsessive need to brush her teeth and to control her anger.
When she was released six months later, she made an appointment to see the dentist from her childhood. She was almost giddy as she sat in the chair and waited for him to come into the room.
“Do you remember me?” Donna asked. She was smiling wide, showing off her damaged teeth and battered gums. He barely seemed to notice as he pulled on rubber gloves.
“You filled my only cavity when I was a student at St. Michael’s.”
“I saw hundreds of children.”
“I remember you,” she said then lunged at him, shoving the knife she’d been hiding up her sleeve deep into his chest. Donna chanted, “Never again,” over and over as she chopped off his hands then shoved the fingers in his mouth.
When she was done she left the knife resting on the tray with the other dental utensils then grabbed a handful of toothbrush and floss samples. She walked out of the room and waved good-bye to the receptionist, blood still dripping from her hand.
Donna went home and brushed her teeth and gums until the bled. When the police found her she was hanging in the shower from several strands of dental floss that had been woven together to form a rope. On the wall, in blood from her gums, she’d written, “Never again."
Friday, September 6, 2013
Wendell Smithson, a policeman, was on his way to work. He stepped onto the sidewalk to hail a cab. A moment later a black car pulled over and he climbed in.
"Scotland Yard," Wendell directed. As they drove along he drank this morning tea from a thermos. When they got close, he put his hand in his pocket to get out his money and discovered he'd forgotten it at home.
The cab driver pulled over. "That'll be 2 pounds 30."
Wendell smiled, "I have a riddle for you. If you don't get it right, then I don't have to pay."
The driver sighed. "Go on then."
"What gets wetter as it dries?"
"A glue stick?"
"Nope! A towel! I guess I cleaned up on that one!" Wendell replied, laughing loudly at his play on words.
"Good one officer. You win. Have a nice day."
"And you," Wendell said and got out of the car. "Today is going to be a good day."
A short while later he was called into the captain's office. The cab driver was sitting in one of the chairs.
"That's the one," he said.
"Wendell, did you stiff this cab driver this morning?"
"We made an agreement! And he didn't guess the right answer!"
The captain pushed the button. "Lads, come on in."
A moment later two policemen came into the office and arrested Wendell. They read him his rights then took him down to booking to be processed.
"What was the riddle?"
"What gets wetter as it dries?" the driver answered.
"A towel, of course," the captain replied.
"Why did you guess wrong?"
"He's been banging my wife every Wednesday," the driver responded. The captain didn't say anything, just nodded his head. "Thanks for taking care of things," the driver said then took his leave.
He passed Wendell on the way out. "I'll let the missus know you won't be around on Wednesday. Oh, and do you need an attorney? I'm going there next, I'm sure they could use a new client."
The look on Wendell's face was priceless. He couldn't wait to see his wife's reaction when he came home with the news.
Monday, September 2, 2013
“It is all gone. The stars in all the other galaxies have died and they have gone cold,” he answered matter-of-factly. “We are the last living beings in the universe.”
Snroff tightly gripped her father’s tentacle, her eyebrow furrowed over the large eye in the middle of her tall, slim head. “Will that happen to us?”
The young female started to shiver. “While I am alive?”
“Unlikely. You should live to be at least 10,000 Marcianic years old!” her father said, lying,
“Like you?” Snroff giggled then ran out of reach of her father’s tentacles so he couldn’t tickle her.
“Why! I outta!” he said then chased after her across the green sand. Their tracks were quickly covered by the wind swirling the sand around. They laughed and giggled when he caught her and fell to the ground.
A loud boom filled the air all around them and stopped them in their tracks. They looked up and saw the sun begin to expand then explode. The hot molten core of the star split into millions of pieces and was flung into space, hurtling towards their planet and destroying everything in its way.
“What is happening?” Snroff cried, clinging to her father.
“Seems Daddy was wrong,” he said and held her close, covering her body with his. His tear didn’t have a chance to roll off his face before the first of the sun’s core hit their atmosphere.
The inhabitants of Marcianic fell to the ground, gasping for air as the flames soaked up all the oxygen from the air. The pieces of the sun’s core pounded into the surface and melted everything in its path. Snroff and her father turned to ash.
Then, just as sudden, there was nothing.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
"Bob has cheated on me for the last time," Jen said as tears ran down her face.
"Do you want to make sure he never does that again?" Sheila asked. Jen blew her nose then nodded. "Go to the Man Haters Café."
Sheila handed Jen a business card. On it was a phone number. "Call to make an appointment. You'll be happy you did."
Jen called the café the next day. "I have a man problem," she said. "My boyfriend has been lying and cheating on me for months."
"We can dispose of him for a modest fee," the woman replied.
"What do you do with the body?"
"We make it useful, the one thing they constantly fail at when alive, by using him to create sumptuous meals for our patrons. You would get first dibs of a meal of your choosing."
"I ... I don't think I could eat him!" Jen said.
"It is part of the contract," the woman replied.
There was silence as Jen pictured Bob kissing that floozy outside the club. "I'll do it," she said and provided them with the details and her billing information.
A week later Jen received a call. "Bob has been taken care of. Will you be joining us tonight or tomorrow?"
"Tonight at 7?"
"Splendid," the woman replied. “We will have a limo pick you up at 6:15.”
Just before 7, Jen, who was dressed like she was going to a five star restaurant, rang the doorbell of the large Victorian house.
A woman in Victorian-era clothes answered the door. "Jen Smith I presume?" she asked.
"Yes," Jen answered.
"Please come this way."
Jen followed the woman to a table set for one. There were two candles and a bouquet of roses in the middle of the table. The table was set with antique silverware and China. She sat down on the plush velveteen covered chair and waited for her meal to be brought out.
“The first course was a liver pate on thin slices of fresh baked Jewish rye bread,” the female server announced as she set the plate in front of her. Jen nibbled on one slice as she’d never eaten anything like it and was surprised how much she enjoyed it.
The owner watched Jen from the shadows. Watching her clients eating their former lovers gave her much pleasure. It reminded her of the meals she’d made from every one of her former lovers who had betrayed her trust and love. The recipes from her Jewish heritage made excellent bases for many of the dishes she served.
The server returned with a bowl sorbet, another bowl of soup and a plate of what looked like grilled scallops. “Penis stew with onions and stewed tomatoes with grilled testicles,” the server announced.
Jen blanched but ate the sorbet to cleanse her palette then cautiously took a bite of the soup. It was simple but quite delicious. Next she tried the testicles. They were a bit gamey but not bad. When she finished most of it she set her silverware down and waited for the next course to be delivered.
The server returned with another bowl of sorbet and the main course. It looked like a piece of steak on stir-fried carrots, peppers, snow peas and onions. The server moved her appetizer dishes away then set it the other food down in front of her.
“What is this?” Jen asked as she looked down at it.
“Seared heart cutlets with stir-fry vegetables.”
Jen looked up at the woman. “His heart?” The server nodded.
“Oh. I … he broke my heart but I don’t know if I can eat his.”
“The agreement is that you eat the full meal,” the server reminded her. Jen stared at the meat and she could swear she saw it beating.
“Is it still … beating?”
“No Ma’am, it is fully cooked.”
“Thank you,” Jen said then ate the sorbet before cutting into the heart. It was better than the best steak she’d ever eaten and the vegetables were crisp and flavorful. She surprised herself by finishing it off.
“Are you ready for dessert?” the server asked. Jen nodded her head.
The server returned with a French toast flavored cupcake covered by maple frosting and crumbled bacon made from Bob’s back fat. Jen bit into and actually moaned aloud. It melted in her mouth.
She sat back when she finished eating and let her meal settle. It was amazing the effect of eating Bob had on her heartache, she was feeling better.
The server returned. “I will call for the limo to take you home. Thank you for your business,” she said then disappeared again. A few minutes later Jen was back in the limo, being whisked home.
The next day she called her friend Sheila. “Thanks for the tip. Bob was delicious! Wanna go bar hopping tonight? I think its time to start looking for my next meal at the Man Haters Café.”
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
"Frankly my darling, I don't..." A scream from the back row interrupted the most famous line in “Gone With the Wind”.
Panic ensued as the spotlight moved from the stage and across the audience until it landed on a rowdy pair of drunk zombies chewing on the soft pliable brains of two teenage girls.
"Zombies!" a man screamed.
Then, almost as sudden as the attack started, it ended as the ushers ran in with rifles. They shot the zombies in the head twice, remembering the golden rule: Always double tap.
“… give a damn,” Rhett finished and exited stage right.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
“What have you done?” Janice, the head librarian demanded as she held up several books that no longer had hardcovers. Instead, they were covered in a soft flannel material.
“These new covers will allow the books to last longer and are much softer and more comfortable to hold,” Harold, the leader of the Book Preservation Society, answered. “We created a chemical that enters the covers on a granular level when injected and they become flanneled.”
“Who gave you permission to do this?” Janice asked.
“No one. We came in and did this of our own accord, out of our love for books.”
“This is not acceptable! You can’t just walk in here and change them. These books are the property of the town. You’ve defiled thousands of books. I am going to have to call the police.”
“We didn’t hurt the books. We are preserving them, which is more than you can say you’ve done. You ungrateful shrill. You should be thanking us!” Harold replied angrily gesturing wildly with his gloved hands. “You deserve what is happening to you.”
“What ... what do you mean?” the librarian asked as she backed away from the Society members. She tried to put down the books but they had fused to her hands.
Harold and the other members watched as the books began to consume her.
“Please! You have to stop this!” Janice pleaded.
“Sorry Ma’am, but there’s no way to stop it,” one of the members replied. “If you hadn’t been so indignant about our goodwill gesture, you would have seen the gloves next to the books and the instructions to put them on before handling them.”
“You’ll pay for this!” Janice screamed as the books continued to assimilate her.
“All anyone will know is that you never showed up to work and have simply disappeared,” Harold replied. “And I’ll become the librarian and preserve all these books ... in your honor.”
Janice stared at Harold. “You’re mad!”
“Yes, madly in love with books,” he replied.
When she was completely gone, Harold picked up the books. “Simon, can you please put these books in the back? I don’t think anyone will be borrowing them for a very long time.”
Simon nodded his head then put the books in the back room of the library, burying them behind stacks of other books. Harold walked around the library and caressed the spines of the books that hadn’t been preserved yet.
“Don’t worry my pretties,” he whispered. “Harold is here to save you.”