Friday, May 27, 2011

Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb (Parts 15-19)

I wanna hear some screaming. I give you four! Count'em Four Chapters of the Mother-f'in' mini-epic: Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb. We're nearing the end of the road, so I won't keep you.
Here is, the story so far: Mal and Jayne had Caleb cornered, but the tables were quickly turned when a confused and scared River attacks the pair. Meanwhile, the first pays Zoe a visit. It attempts to get her to kill herself. She does not.
Zoe stood up on unsteady legs, rubbing tears from her eyes. Kaylee tried to help her, but she pushed the girl away, putting her palm on the girl’s shoulder and applying not unkind force to it. Kaylee put her arms around herself and watched as Zoe stumbled toward the doorway. Simon was sifting through the wreckage of the medical bay.
“Any idea where the Captain went?” Zoe asked, clearing her throat and peering down the hall.
“Not sure. The action moved out toward Inara’s ship, probably there.” Kaylee said, watching Zoe with concern. Simon drew in an excited breath and Zoe and Kaylee turned to look at him. He gave an embarrassed look and showed them a small, black leather bag about the shape and size of a bible.
“Not everything is broken.” Simon said shyly.
“What is it?” Kaylee asked.
“Just some antibiotics and sedatives. Nothing, really.” He dropped the hand holding the bag.
“He was walking funny, like he was drunk.” Zoe said, looking back down the hall.
“The man we brought in? Yeah, I administered a sedative.”
“Would that do the same thing?” Zoe asked.
“Something like it, yes.”
“Than we’re going to visit your patient.”
Sparks popped down onto Caleb’s chest. The First had him and River go into Inara’s shuttle. He wasn’t much for machinery, a priest and murderer by profession, and he made his frustration known. It wasn’t really his fault either. He was being asked to work with technology a handful of centuries more advanced than anything he’d ever seen. He growled as he tried to undo what the First had had Jayne do earlier. The First whispered instructions, which Caleb found more and more difficult to take.
“You are a special kind of guy, aren’t you.” The First said, a hollow smile stretched across its face.
River sat in a corner, wiping silently with her hands over her head, a small bit of cruelty on the First’s part. The First had the ability to appear to a singular person, to whispering, to corrupt. The First hadn’t chosen to do this. No, the First decided to allow River to see it as Wash and to see it as Wash with a sucking chest wound, complete with dribbles of blood. This wasn’t the fully extent of the First’s cruelty. River had barricaded the door with Inara’s old furniture. She’d seen hordes of the undead gnashing and clawing at her. Blackish brown blood streams from their mouths, noses and from their eyes. They bore jagged, shattered teeth in their mouths and they looked hungry. She couldn’t understand what she was see, couldn’t rationalized how hundreds of dead people were both animated and on Serenity. The First had spared Caleb the constant sounds of ragged fingernails scratching against the metal.
The shuttle began to hum softly to life and Caleb gave a celebratory hoot.
“River, darling. We’re getting out of here.”
Mal blinked and blinked again. He smiled softly as a lovely voice spoke his name. It was Inara’s voice, though Mal wasn’t sure how that could be. Inara was gone. But he looked up to her face. Plush lips, soft skin, long, dark curls and such lovely eyes.
“Mal, you need to get up.” The news that Mal wasn’t privy to, was that Inara wasn’t there. His heart would shatter when he learned that fact.
“Mal, you need to get to the cockpit. Reavers, Mal.” Reaver knew Reavers and need to get up. What wasn’t Inara was right, if there were Reavers. He patted around, looking for his gun. His hand landed on his weapon. Where Jayne laid unconscious, Mal saw a writhing Reaver with a face striped with blood and bits of metal. He aimed the gun down at Jayne, fixing to put the Reaver out of his misery.
Jayne’s eyes cracked open to the sight of Mal aiming the gun down at him and Jayne uttered an apology for the wrongs he did. He remembered the conversation Mal and him had after the business on Ariel. Mal chose not to kill him, and Jayne knew it was a choice.
“Mal. Do it quick. It was my fault.” Jayne said softly.
He felt the blast before it came, though the blast never did. The gun exploded out from Mal’s hand and footsteps rushed toward the two of them. The world was swirling around for Jayne, but he steadied everything enough see Mal do something Jayne never thought Mal would do. Mal drove the heel of his boot into Zoe’s chest, just in time to stop Zoe from shooting Mal.
Simon screamed that Mal wasn’t the other guy, but Mal wasn’t backing down, so Zoe wasn’t either. Simon was fumbling with a black bag and fished out a needle, which he stabbed into Mal’s neck. Mal gave a scream and then collapsed to the floor.
Simon was tending to the unconscious Mal, though Jayne was the one with the bad leg. Simon hadn’t forgotten what Jayne did, nor Kaylee, nor Zoe. There was more than a little bit of bad blood flowing in the corridor. Nobody was aiming a gun at Jayne, which Jayne was grateful for. A finger might slip, accidentally on purpose. Jayne wasn’t sure how much they gleamed about his part in the matter. He wasn’t looking to hide any of it, but he would have liked to share that information with an unarmed party. He figured that if anyone would, it would be Zoe. Simon was sweet on Kaylee and Jayne attempting to sell his sister to the Alliance didn’t help the relationship the two of them had. Kaylee was probably still sore about being knocked out and stuffed in a cart.
“How many of those sedatives do you have left?” Zoe asked Simon.
“One more.” Simon said with a wilted tone. “He shouldn’t have been able to move around like he was with the sedatives that I gave him in the first place. This is weaker in comparison.”
“Will it slow him down?” Zoe asked.
“It’ll do something, I’m sure of that at least.”
“Zoe!” Jayne called. A low rumbling sounded through the hall that heralded a shuttles departure.
“Zoe! He’s in there. He’s got River in there, will him.”
“River’s in there?” Simon said, his eyes beginning to bug out of his head. He jumped up, leaving Mal to Kaylee’s care. He began banging on the porthole, leading into Inara’s shuttle. The door wouldn’t open. He screamed his little sister’s name and his calls echoed through the halls.
From the other side of the door, River couldn’t hear much of Simon’s desperate calls. Simon’s voice couldn’t carry through any ship worthy of space travel. But still, River heard him. It was a pin point of his psychic consciousness blazing light out to her. She thought his eyes and understood the world as he did. She wasn’t with Mal and the halls weren’t filled with the undead. Through his understanding, she saw the man before her and saw the bloody mess he’d made of her new family.
In the excitement and hurry, Mal hadn’t noticed that River still held Jayne’s favorite gun which was a horrific mistake considering the size of it and considering that the First was losing what control it had over her. Caleb turned to the sound of the gun cocking.
“ Such a big gun, being held by a little girl. Remember me, there darling?” Caleb said, walking casually to River.
“Ain’t no need for…” River fired twice into his stomach. It didn’t kill him, like all the other bullets didn’t him, but wasn’t her focus, he was just in the way. She fired again, blasting the shuttle’s navigation terminal. It sparked, exploded and the shuttle caught fire. Caleb stood with a wild blaze at his back. Violent arks of electricity lanced through the air and the two of them sneered at each other. Caleb was bleeding black acid and his fists were balled. River shot him again, popping him in the head. Caleb collapsed to the ground like a hog-tied bull. River went to the task of breaking down the barricade she’d made and of getting the door unlocked. The onboard computer wouldn’t allow the doors to open while the shuttle was launching, but she took care of that when she destroyed the terminal. The door swung open and she fell into Simon’s arms. She pulled away from his embrace and started toward the cockpit.
“We have to jettison the shuttle before he gets up.” She told him. She ran and Simon followed, tossing the black bag to Zoe.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Facts About Maine

1. 47% Of People who live in Maine are dead inside, 48% Of People who live in Maine are addicted to Crystal Meth, 5% of people who live in Maine are plotting to escape Maine.

2. Mooses control the whole of Maine and will frequently rape and attack the citizens of Maine

3. If one were to drive through Maine at a speed higher than 30mph, the citizens of Maine will instinctively throw themselves in front of said car. This being so, as of 1998, it is no longer illegal to vehicularly kill a person from Maine.

4. As of 2003, it is no longer illegal to shoot a person from Maine if said person raises their voice above eight octaves.

5. As of 2006, the government has started the practice of sniping citizens of Maine from helicopters, in the hopes of curbing their population growth.

6. The commonwealth of Massachusetts has installed thousands of land mines and sniper perches in the hopes of deterring Maine from trying to restore itself to it’s former configuration.

7. It is illegal for a person from Maine to purchase tabacco before their 37th birthday.

8. People from Maine are not Human, but a breed of large bipedal cat.

9. People from Maine sleep standing up

10. If you jump on a person from Maine, they will turn into $50.00 worth of pennies

11. The 5% of Maine’s population that plot to escape from Maine meet on the last Thursday of every month to gain moral support and to try and raise money to rent a bus.

12. At exactly 12:43am everyday, the whole of Maine stops to stare directly into the sun. No explanation has been given as to why.

13. People from Maine are capable of telling a 12hr. story about an event that only lasted 2 minutes.

14. People from Maine do not understand human humor, but will laugh if they hear someone else laugh.

15. The Citizens of Maine’s humor consists primarily of the “silly things” their older brother does. No one knows what those things are.

16. Although it was proven untrue that the citizens of Maine’s brains are made of cotton candy, the American government still encourages the harvesting of said brains for carnivals and circuses.

17. A 2005 study reports, 76% of all Americans, if stranded in Maine would walk in any direction (even into the Atlantic Ocean) than stay in Maine.

18. That same study reports that 91% of all Americans agree that Maine should be forced out of the union.

19. Again, that same study states that 100% of Americans believe that Maine sucks.

20. The Canadian government has issued over ten thousand requests for Maine to stop touching them; Maine has yet to oblige.

21. The Citizens of Maine have the ability to cry root beer

22. The Mecca of Maine is a Pinero’s Pizza off Route 22.

23. Maine is not considered civilization because of the frequent moose rape and lack of an effective police force.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Productivity Drive

The Office Fan fiction: Productivity Drive or Creed in the Wall

Cold Open: The director’s voice is quickly heard ordering the camera man to switch to the B-camera. The camera man drops the one he is holding on the couch outside Michael’s office. The camera stays on and fast forwards a few hours. The office empties and Creed is seen sneaking back in and prepares the couch by reception with pillows and a blanket. He looks to the front door and races to the conference room. Next two men in blue jumpsuits come in and set up bug bombs around the office. They leave and Creed picks back out of the meeting room, sees the looming gas and makes an attempt to escape through the front door. It won’t open, he scurries out of frame and returns back into frame, and he finds an air vent by the reception desk and climbs up into it. The tape runs out.

The office is buzzing and the sales staff are hard at work, each have a phone pinned between their shoulder and the side of their heads. Each are multitasking either by scratching down sales information or by clacking away on the computer. The camera sways into Michael’s office which is empty. The lights are off and the shades are drawn.

“Sabre sent out a company wide memo announcing their yearly Productivity Drive. Simply said, they put up some crazy bench mark, 10,000 printers sold in a day for instance, and award the branches that reach that bench mark with a pretty sweet bonus for everyone, accounting, HR, everyone. Because the average for this branch is more like 15 or 20 printers in a week, we thought we’d give ourselves the best chances and we’ve tricked Michael into staying home today. It seems harsh, I know, but I’ve already sold 57 and I’ve only been here for an hour.” Jim says into the camera whilst a smile creeps over his mouth.

The focus is drawn back to the office. Dwight is at his desk, chugging an energy drink before tossing it aside and launching into a sale call.

Dwight barks his pitch in a rapid fire monotone, “Hello, this is Dwight Shrute from Dunder- Mifflin/Sabre Sales Department. Let’s talk about your printer needs.” Dwight paused for a twitching second, rapping his fingers on the desk. “Ok, shut up. You’re going to buy 12 of our XG Ink Jets and you’re going to do it now.” He says quickly in forebodingly.
“Yeah, you bet you’re sorry. I’ve already filled out the sales form, I just need your information, give it. No! No! You hang up on me and I’ll find you. I swear it. Don’t you dare. Good. Now, we can both just walk away from this if you just give me your information, you hear me?” He shouts to the dismay of his coworkers. Dwight prepares a pen and paper. He scratches down the customer’s information. “That wasn’t so hard, was it.” He hangs up the phone and starts a new call.
Jim stares at Dwight for a long moment before saying, “It makes no sense that you can get away with that.”
“Yeah, Shut up.” Dwight barks before brushing Jim off completely. He starts his abuse toward the next customer in the same rapid fire monotone. “Hello, My name is Dwight Shrute.” Michael hurries into the office, raps his knuckles on Erin’s desk. He shouts aloud to the office as a whole, “I need some suggestions for good band names! Come on, people!” He starts clapping his hands and repeating the latter sentence.
“Coco and The Peanuts.” Kevin calls from Accounting.
Jim stands and moves to Michael. “Hey, Michael. You mind if we talk in your office?” He said.
“What about? Is it about Pam.” Michael asks, whispering the latter sentence and peering obviously to Pam, who looked back awkwardly.
“Yeah, sure. But in your office.” Jim says, herding his boss into the empty office. They sit down and Jim rests his folded fingers over his mouth.
“So, Michael, ah, I noticed that you’re here. Um, why?” He says, bringing his hands to his lap.
A smile perks up on Michael’s face and a muffled laugh drips off his lips. “It’s Tuesday, Jim. I’m always here on weekdays. Though, a funny thing happened. Someone reset the Calendar on my phone. For some reason, it’s saying it’s Saturday. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to fix it.” Michael pulls out his phone and plays with the buttons.
“Hmm. That’s weird.” Jim says. Jim thinks back to himself slipping into Michael’s office after Michael strides out toward the break room.
“Hey, ah, how you doing today? You’re looking a little pale, a little tired.” Jim asks, pasting a concerned look on his face.
“ I do?”
“Yeah, and you know there’s that bug going around.”
“There’s a bug?”
“Yeah, a nasty one. You know what I’d do if I were you? I wouldn’t risk it, I’d go home right now.”
“No, I can’t. I’m needed here.” Michael says, drawing out the ‘No.’
“Don’t you worry about us. We’re fine. In fact, I’m telling you, for the safety of yourself and the office, take the rest of the day off.” Jim says. Michael starts to gather his things and move toward the door. He stops just outside the doorway and turns back to look at Jim.
“Wait. Do you still have the authority to send people home?”
“Technically no.”
“Then you definitely don’t have the authority to send me home.”
“Yeah, but, um, don’t you want to go home anyway?” Michael continues moving toward the exit. Jim hurries back to his desk, watches Michael leave and picks up his phone.

Productivity Drive Part 2
The sales staff continues their calls. Pam throws her phone on the cradle in frustration. She cocks her head back and whines aloud. Jim forms a shy smile and looks over to his wife.
“Everything Ok, babe?”
“No one wants printers. You can’t get anything off your computer without it and stupid everyone doesn’t get that.” Pam says folding her arms.
“Well, What’s your pitch?”
“What do you mean?”
“What do you say to make them want the printer?” Jim says through a nervous smile.
“I say what it does.” She says in a most-obvious-thing-in-the-world tone.
“You mean like it prints paper.”
“And other things.”
“Printers, for the most part, don’t do much of anything. All they do is print, so if you go in that direction, you’re pretty much limited. Do what I do, I stick to pricing, and I stick to customer service. We kick ass at that.”
“I say that, but they ask me what each model does. They’re printers. I want to say what do you think they do, but that’s confrontational, apparently.” She makes a whine and Jim smiles at it.
Erin calls across from reception to Jim. “Line 6, Scranton Regional Computer Support Services.” Jim picks up the phone and launches into the call.
“You suck, Erin” Pam kids, frowning at her husband’s lost attention.
“I’m sorry. Don’t hate me. I’m not sure what I did.” Erin says nervously. A bang sounds from the wall behind reception and causes Erin to jump up in shock. Everyone pauses for a short moment, but continues shortly after. Another bang sounds, followed by a groan.
Phyllis, putting a hand over her receiver, says, “Jim, cut the crap, not today.”
Jim, doing the same, asks, “What makes you think I’m doing that.”
Stanley scratches down information on a piece of paper and announces in his patented sleepy droll, “It’s always you, normally we’ll put up with it because it’s funny, but it ain’t cute today so cut it out.”
“It’s not me.” Jim says, sounding more defensive. The banging continued and louder than before, followed by a notable old man scream.
Phyllis, shouts out in irritation, “Jim! Stop the damn banging!”
“That’s what she said.” Michael says grinning.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Analysis: All That You Love Will Be Carried Away

In Stephen King’s All that you love will be carried away, the reader is offered a glimpse into the life of a traveling salesman by the name of Alfie Zimmer. This particular salesman found himself sitting in a motel room, contemplating suicide. He had everything prepared – A fully loaded revolver and a final cigarette, but he hesitated because of a notebook he had filled with truck-stop graffiti. For seven years, Alfie had collected interesting quotes, sayings and all together random outbursts that he found scribbled in truck-stop bathrooms and phone booths. What stops him from killing himself is the fear of how people might misconstrue the book’s contents as insanity. So I would like to discuss the short story in three parts. The first of which would be sheer speculation. King left quite a bit to the imagination. I’ll speculate on why Alfie wanted to die and how serious was he in the first place. Second I would like to discuss the last quote in Alfie’s notebook and the title of this story (All that you love will be carried away.) Lastly, I’ll discuss the use of literary devices to captivate the reader.
Upon first reading of this story, the impression Alfie gives is that of a middle-aged man who was a bit dissatisfied with his life, not miserable or depressed mind you, just dissatisfied. King leaves little bread crumbs that you can follow to your own conclusion about Alfie’s mindset. A couple phrases King casually flung toward the reader that help in that respect is him being referred to as “a little man”, the passage stating “what happened to him was unfair as well” and the passage likening Alfie to torn bits of truck tire. King also refers to pills of some sort. All of these just screams “ he’s manic depressive, just move on!” but something makes me think that Alfie had much more going on then just pure miserable dementia. I can’t claim that I know the mindset of a suicidal man but I’d imagine a suicidal man wouldn’t really care how he was found or if the finders thought he was crazy. A suicidal man wouldn’t call his family with little reminders as Alfie did. So although Alfie was suicidal, I still wouldn’t lump him in with the whole “goodbye cruel world “ stereotype. But it would be rather reckless of me to romanticize his predicament. I know it wasn’t some man on the run, up against a wall situation because of the ending where he has the slightest weakening of his resolve. He began bargaining, he left it to chance, this is true but still he allowed himself to fight against the situation he was in. I, of course, refer to the deal he made with himself about the barn light coming on in the next sixty seconds. If it came on he’d get his collection published, if it didn’t he’d kill himself as planned. So the only clarity you can derive from the “why would Alfie Zimmer want to kill himself “ debate is that he had a problem that killing himself solved. You can take your pick on this one: Problems at home, problems on the road, Mental problems, Physical problems. Hell you could go supernatural with King’s history.
Next we move to Alfie’s notebook. In said notebook on the last page he had jotted down the words “All that you love will be carried away.” After reading this story, I remembered a quote from a book, the name escapes me but the quote is “how unfortunate is it that you can’t publish single sentences.” I thought of that quote and thought that “All that you love will be carried away” was a perfect candidate. It’s a truly powerful sentence, something that demands attention and almost claims authority. It also slides off the tongue, it has a unique flow to it and lastly and most obviously it is truly ominous. It sounds like a threat or a warning of dark events. It would be surprising to find in a bathroom to say the least. But what does this sentence have to do with the story? It can be interpreted in four ways; all of which are linked to Alfie’s suicide. The first way it could swing is, toward his family. He was concerned that people would mock his family if he went through with it. He feared there would be whispers of a crazy father and husband and the luck of the two of them that he didn’t take them with him. Secondly, it could swing in the direction of the book itself. Alfie Zimmer loved his collection of roadside sayings and he didn’t want them being seen as the ranting of a madman. Thirdly, it could be a mixture of both family and the notebook. The saying was ALL that you LOVE will be carried away. Lastly and a bit of a stretch I admit, it can refer to him being separated from his two loves by means of death. But the formula is something precious to Alfie being taken from him or harmed.
Lastly, I’d like to discuss the way the story was constructed. There are three things I noticed and enjoyed about this story. Firstly, is the character Alfie. Completely without being said, we know that Alfie is a nice guy, he’s a family man, he’s intelligent but at the same time he is unsure about it, he doesn’t want to assume anything. King was very successful in giving the reader a read on the character being presented. Second, I liked the way he utilized the time allotted. If this were a real situation, it probably would have taken place in the span of an hour and a half and in this hour and a half; king managed to stay strictly in the present. He wisely left the why to the reader. Lastly, he added what I call the King Hit and Run method. It basically is when he puts something extraordinary in the middle of a sentence and keeps moving on with the story as if it was normal. For example, in the middle of a section in which King was discussing the Mid west’s love of gourmet food he announces that Alfie is intending to kill himself. The subject matter doesn’t tend to lend itself to suicide so you don’t expect it. But he leads it there and it is all the bigger shock.
So after discussing all that is this story I am left with one question, what theme can be taken from this short story. Is it misery? Not quite, as I stated Alfie Zimmer wasn’t miserable as much as dissatisfied. Then is it fear? To that I’d have to say no again because fear of what? I think the theme is Consequence. How Alfie’s suicide affects his family and the content of his notebook. How a stranger writing a funny saying on a wall might inspire another to take that saying with them on their travels. It all plays into consequence, whether it be good, bad or neutral.

Malcolm Reynolds Vs. Caleb (Parts 11-14)

They said it wouldn't happen. They said he couldn't do it, that he'd written himself into a corner. Well, I'm here to say that they were wrong. He can't be stopped. He can't quit. He won't back down. Without further ado, let me bring you the story so far:
Caleb and The First Evil(Season 7, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) got onto Serenity and are causing all sort of hell in the hopes of capturing the widely sought after River.

“Zoe.” The First whispered. “Zoe.” He called again.
Zoe opened her big brown eyes. Her gun was somewhere else. Somewhere far from her hand and she couldn’t quite remember why she needed it.
“Zoe.” The First cooed. Zoe turned her head, it was difficult to do so. She’d been moved from where she’d hit the wall. She’d been arranged so she’d be comfortable.
“Zoe.” The First said again.
“Wash?” Zoe said with a shuttering voice. The First formed a smile that could have had love, but really was filled with hate.
“You’re very close now. You’re so close to me.” The First said. “Come to me, baby.” Zoe felt fresh tears welling in her eyes.
“Come to me.” The First cooed. “Look there.” The First guided her gaze to a scalpel that laid close to her hand.
“Come to me.” The First said.
“I think that they got him out of the medical bay.” Simon said to Kaylee.
“It was Jayne. Somebody’s talking to him.” Kaylee said as the two of them hurried their way to the medical bay. Blaster fire echoed through the halls, but that was behind them. More blaster fire sounded before them, along with Zoe’s roars. They arrived to see Zoe fire her gun into empty air. Her brow was furrowed in hurt and anger. She was shaking in anger and tears were rolling down her cheeks in steady streams. Kaylee put her arms around her and held her as she sobbed, making cooing noises.
“I saw him.” She whispered. “I saw him.”
Simon surveyed the damage. Everything was gone, smashed thoroughly. He predicted that this would be the worst time to not have medical supplies.
“Having trouble?” The First asked.
“Don’t you come to me as that bitch.” Caleb said through raspy breaths. The First had taken the form of a thin blonde with pouting lips. The girl had died along, but not before killing Caleb and thwarting the First Evil.
“You’re not forgetting who controls who, right?” The First asked.
“No. I’m just a little cross because I’ve been shot up so much. Ain’t exactly fun I’m having.”
“Well, while you were getting shot up, I’ve been working on your backup. She should be around shortly.”
“You ready?” Jayne asked Mal. Mal was more concerned about how handy Jayne would be with his bum leg. They both had their guns raised and ready for the fight ahead of them, which meant they were completely unprepared for the fight behind them. River disarmed Jayne first, driving her foot into his bad leg and then popping him in the throat and lastly, she drove her knee into his solaplex. He fell back, puffing and moaning. By this time, Mal had time to realize that something had happen. Mal got an elbow in the throat and a foot in the groin. He dropped to his knees. River gripped Jayne’s gun, but didn’t fire. Mal fell over to one side and that seemed to be enough for her.
Caleb limped into the hallway and River gripped him around the waist, beginning to sob.
“Mal, They’re everywhere. They’re trying to get in my head.” Caleb was tentative about the small girl gripping him so tightly, but he slowly wrapped his arms around her.
“You stick with me, darling. We’ll get them all.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Evolution Of Violence

A praying mantis makes slow, fluid motions on a low hanging tree branch. Like a dancer in molasses, its limbs are methodically controlled. The fly is enchanted. The fly is at ease. The mantis launches forward and snatches it. The mantis rushes the fly to its mouth and kills it.

Paul puffed a bent cigarette in a corner of the old house. The big man nearly enveloped the entire corner of the room. He wasn’t supposed to be smoking in inside, he wasn’t supposed to be smoking at all, but he was feeling belligerent. He had said 5:30 and he meant 5:30 and Amber was an hour late. He wasn’t going to hit her. He wasn’t that kind of man, but still he curled and uncurled the fist that was free of the cigarette. The door slammed downstairs and Paul stood instinctively. He took his seat again. She knew where he was and he’d let her come to him.

A mountain lion moves slowly through the tall, swaying grass of some sun-dried wilderness waiting to catch fire. The pads of her feet make shallow impressions in the dirt and eagerness makes her sloppy. She moves closer than common sense would dare, but the antelope does not run. She is encouraged. She launches forward and tackles the antelope to the ground. It kicks wildly as she clumps down on its neck, cutting off its airway and breaking its neck.

Her high heels clicked loudly through the empty house as she called Paul’s name. He didn’t answer, he wanted her to find him. She pressed her fingers against the door and let it swing open slowly.

“I was calling for you.” Amber said with a note of irritation. Paul didn’t reply to this. It felt like a goad. It felt like she wanted him mad. They’d been married for over a year. They’d been together of over four and he’d never raised his voice. He’d been taught to use his words. He’d been taught that gentlemen never struck women. He’d been taught to turn the other cheek. There was red blush of Amber’s cheeks.

A beaten Pit Bull sees an opened gate and slips out onto the street while his owner sleeps under his kitchen table. The flea ridden and hunger dog moves down an alleyway where a little black child plays with a scuffed basketball. The boy had only ever seen the dog behind a gate and had always wanted a dog. He extends a hand to pet the dog’s dirty, tortured flesh. The dog bites without any thought and the child screams in blind horror and pain.

She was getting on Paul about him smoking in the house, about him smoking at all. He silenced her with two words. He said these two words with a firm, steady tone.

“My Child.” She smiled and he wasn’t sure if she was about to laugh at him or if she was smiling because of nerves.

“What are you talking about?”

“My child. DR. Calvin called your office and Jane called your cell phone. She couldn’t get you there, so she called the house.”

“Paul…” She started.

“Without consoling me.”

“It’s my body…”


A husband slaps him wife and has for years. She falls to the kitchen floor in a showering of burnt scrambled eggs. She screams and cradles her head as the pan cracks against the floor near the back of her head. She breaks into shaky tears and the husband spits on her in annoyance. His spit smells of beer as it normally does. It rolls across the bridge of her nose and she grips the frying pan. She stands as he walks toward the refrigerator for another beer, but he never makes it. She brings the frying pan across the back of his head.

Paul hadn’t realized that he was standing and that he’d advanced a few steps.

“It wasn’t your baby.” Amber said with a trembling voice. Paul couldn’t process the omission she’d let fly, but he was sure that she was trying to get him mad. His fists were balled and his muscles were tensed. Paul’s breaths were shuttering and strained. Amber was reaching into her purse, but Paul wasn’t paying attention to that. He was trying to will his arms to remain at his side. He failed and Amber shot him in the stomach. He fell to his knees and the rage faded from his eyes. A tear rolled from his eye and Amber dropped the gun on the oak floor panelling. She caught his weight before he could fall all the way to the floor.

A mantis makes slow, fluid motions on a low hanging branch. A mountain lion moves slowly through the tall, swaying grass of some sun-dried wilderness waiting to catch fire. A beaten Pit Bull sees an opened gate and slips out onto the street while his owner sleeps under his kitchen table. A husband slaps him wife and has for years.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Taken Are Never Taken Alone

The world was dead and somehow, physics had followed it to the grave. Air would pop into sudden red blooms of fire, seemingly for no reason. People would be snatched up into the air and tossed into space at random. They’d disappear into the night, screaming. Worst of all was the people who were taken.

People would disappear completely, the air rushing in to fill the void they left, but they don’t stay gone.

Jack first experienced this truth in a late night of 24th spring since the world had dead. His wife had been taken. He’d been holding her as she cried. She’d seen a boy walking down a darkened hallway. The air swelled around him and burst. The boy fell to his knees with a sucking hole in the center of his chest. She carried him along to his weeping mother and then walking home in a daze. Jack clutched her close, pressing kiss across her brow and then she was gone, his arms folding in on themselves. Jack had heard of people coming back, but he’d written these reports off as fool’s tales of boogey men, not seeing the irony of not believing in anything in a world where reality was in flux.

Emily, his wife, came to him upon his wakening. He’d taken to an underground bunker made of steel and stone, with curvy ceilings and claustrophobic hallways. He wasn’t sure whether it was day or night and the hollow, yellow glow of electric light only served to disorient him further. His wife glided forward just a half inch off the ground and breathed in slow, shallow breaths which puffed the stink of sulfur. Jack curved away, his eyes growing to the size of dinner plates. She stopped short of him and cooed, her lips curling into the cruel smile of a predatory thing. Her eyes were glassy, empty. She looked as though she couldn’t see him and he gathered his courage and attempted to take advantage of this. He launched forward, attempting to move past her, but his shoulder slammed into the curve of her waistline. The flesh that made contact went numb. Jack scrambled forward through the bunker and out into the open night.

The obvious benefit of a enclosed space was that there was no danger of falling into space, what with a ceiling to caught you, should gravity fail. The clumsy solution to this issue was tethering oneself to something anchored while outside and only ever remaining outside when absolutely necessary. Jack could not benefit from a tether, as he was running in a blink terror.

Jack pumped his legs, unaware that he was not being chased. Emily hadn’t the need to chase, she was everywhere. When Jack finally took grasp of his senses and stopped beneath a skeletal willow, she was waiting patiently. She kept herself at a distance with her hands clasped before her as if she were posing for a picture. She was far enough that Jack wouldn’t flee, but close enough that Jack could clearly see the evil smile she held on her lips. Her eyes began to bleed black tears that swelled from ink to tar.

The air popped in the distance and the dry grass began to burn. Smoke was bellowing close to them both.

Jack’s eyes began to water as his situation became more apparent. As the smoke obscured Emily from Jack, he sensed her beside him.

“Never alone.” She whispered. The taken are never taken alone. She kissed him tenderly, her razor sharp fangs only cutting him a little. The two of them fell into the starry sky.