Walto Haggerty was working his field. He strained away under the hot sun, trying to attach a plow to the rear of his tractor.

He paused momentarily to look questioningly at the sun and wipe his brow with an old handkerchief.

“Damn it all,” he muttered.

It was one of the hottest springs in state history. On this particular day, it had reached 96° by noontime.

During a season that was usually cool and rainy, it remained hot and dry, leaving the soil dusty and hard, hard to work for planting, and making it unlikely any crop could be successfully grown.

Walto finished dabbing at his face and neck and set back to work hitching the plow to the tractor. He was having a hard time, much more so than usual. This day wasn’t going well for him.

His sweaty, oily hands struggled to get the hitch attached until, finally, the bar attaching the plow to the tractor crashed down onto his foot.

Walto screamed and hopped on one foot for several minutes, cursing loudly, before finally limping toward his small while house.

The screen door screeched open on rusted hinges and slammed shut behind him as he hobbled into the kitchen.

His wife Doris turned from the stove to look at him as he collapsed into a chair.

“Something wrong, Walt?”

Continue reading “Walto Bets The Farm”

I’ve been here a long time. And I don’t like it here. Most of the time it’s real cold and dark and lonely. It’s hardly ever bright enough to get light where I am. The water’s kind of dirty and down on the bottom all the light is blocked out.

I don’t like it, though, mainly because of being lonely. I’ve been down on the bottom now for months and I haven’t had many friends. Fish aren’t very friendly. They get afraid too easy. And they’re not very smart. My owner used to have a cat and the cat would lay on me and I’d like that. But fish don’t lay on you and they aren’t soft and warm and cute. Everything’s just cold and wet and I feel all pruney and wet and soaked all the time, like it’s making me all fat. It’s started to make my paint peel and my rope bridle is coming apart.

So I don’t have any friends down here. There’s a lot of garbage and broken things and furniture and, really, everything down here. People must throw things down here all the time. But there’s no people to talk to, to be friends with. I miss my owner, Bobby, who was really nice and really liked me.

I don’t really remember what happened now. Everything was fine and Bobby would ride on my back and rock back and forth and yell and play cowboy and smile and was always happy. But one day I was in a truck, going somewhere, maybe moving, maybe being thrown away, but I don’t think so and I hope not because Bobby loved me, and I was in the back of the truck and we were driving along next to the river and I fell off, but I couldn’t hold on anyway, and I fell off onto the road, but was okay, and then the next car hit me and threw me over the side and I floated down to the bottom. And the car had broken my leg, so I guess it’s good that Bobby doesn’t ride on me anymore, but I miss that and the cat and wish I could have friends again. And I felt kind of floaty, but my leg’s been caught on a metal stick since I hit the bottom, stuck between my legs, and I may have floated away to somewhere else if it wasn’t for that being there, but that’s okay, because I guess it isn’t so bad except for being so lonely, but I guess things could be worse, but I’m not sure because I never really went out before I fell off the truck.

Continue reading “Undersea Ballet”

The outside of the Jablonski house, a small ranch-style domicile, was lit with Christmas cheer. Glowing plastic Santa’s and snowmen lined the yard, lights hung from every tree, and a small manger scene stood next to the street. The Christmas shrine was only punctuated by the small wooden garden gnomes casually placed throughout the yard, a leftover reminder of the non-seasonal yard decorations the Jablonski’s also delighted in.

It was early in the morning and the house was still dark, except for the glowing cherubic faces of Christmas cheer that peppered the yard. No windows were lit. No one was awake.

And, then, one by one, the lights came on.


Charles Jablonski sat up in his bed, yawning to himself. He ended the buzzing alarm that had awakened him, just as his wife, Doris, stirred from her rest.

They smiled a polite smile to each other and carefully rose from the bed, stretching and prancing as their bare feet touched the cold floor for the first time of the morning.

Doris enveloped herself in a thick robe and, tying the belt, headed for the kitchen to begin cooking breakfast.

Charles strutted into their adjoining bathroom to take a nice hot shower and begin another morning.


The children, too, had awoken and were busily getting up and heading to their bathroom to shower and brush their teeth. Little Chuck would usually sleep in while his year-younger sister, Grace, dominated the bathroom, but on this morning he sat back on his bed, looking over his school books before breakfast time.

Continue reading “Uncle Pete Spares No Expense”

It was somewhere on 34th Street, in the midst of Chinatown, when the rickshaw finally tipped over. It had been careening on for some time, the driver had been going far too fast, an unbelievable accusation, but true, and its lurching, jumping wooden frame could no longer stay upright in its current condition.

The passengers, a young married couple from Moose Head in Oberwalz on their honeymoon, had been screaming for some ways. The driver was either a lunatic or hadn’t heard them over the loud clatter of the rickshaw’s shoddy wooden wheels on the pavement.

It did not tip easily, though, oh no. It had jumped from side to side, bounding from one splintering wooden wheel to the other, sending the rickshaw driver, a young man who had introduced himself in broken English as Kwan, bouncing from one foot to the other, tipping with the rickshaw.

They had been careening on down 34th Street and it did finally tip over and sent them all rolling and sprawling directly into traffic at the intersection of 34th and Seamson Avenue. The speed that they had been at sent all three rolling across the pavement, their arms and legs slapping against the blacktop, until they reached the other side of the intersection.

Continue reading “The World’s Worst Rickshaw Accident”

Gortan Peter Mephet-Galleho stood outside the Lunar Space Administration Building, staring up at its aluminate and plastic spires, admiring their smooth and shapeless beauty.

It reminded him of his forefathers as he looked up at the floating energy globes hovering in the dark, starless expanse over the dome of the Administration and realized that his great-great-great grandfather had helped to formulate the Settlement Council plans that would designate the space to eventually construct the landmark, pinnacle of system-wide travel structuring and tourist trap for those who would come from as far as the outer ring or the settlements beyond Neptune to view the Administration’s museum to the history of space travel. If only they could see it now, that Settlement Council of 3142, as they drew up the documentation that would set in motion a series of local ordinances and claims that led to a French lunar landholding being seized, one of the moon’s many great craters being filled in and supported with a webbing of styrocrystine growthrods, and this great monument to the power and glory of the United Planets Of America being assembled over the following 16 hours. And here it stood, 157 years later, a testament to the permanence of the U.P.A.

According to his neurogram, the High Header Of Space Movency, Greek Talwet-Orosco, had scheduled an important in-personage consult at 26:49 on Fourday morning. He would have a 5 mark window in which to meet about the unspecified work-related task that the Safety Board Commission Staff Mandate had loaned him to the Space Administration for, something that apparently was of such a securized nature that the thought-send was out of the question and he couldn’t be veeped of his mission order.

Continue reading “On The Commission Chief’s Covert Tactical Operation”

There was a knock on the door as Pascal Weber was folding the white shirt with the small blue and red stripes. He placed it with great care into the drawer of the oak dresser and, sliding the drawer shut, set the laundry basket aside. The knocking at the door became more insistent, but he made no great hurry to reach it any faster. The rapping was becoming rather fevered and heavy when he finally slid back the chain, turned the deadbolt, twisted the lock and swung the door open.

“Yes?” he squeaked in his decrepit, ancient voice, made more decrepit and ancient by his habit of remaining completely quiet in his home for days on end until finally being forced by politeness to emit sounds, like the twisting of dry leather.

The two gentlemen outside his door, one rat-faced and sneering, the other a blank, greasy giant, looked down at him, having found their expectation to have been a foot too high in regards to the placement of Pascal’s head.

“Mr. Weber?” the rat-faced man asked, sneering even more, as if Pascal’s insistence on being a small, balding man of nearly 70 years were somehow an intense nuisance. “Mr. Pascal Weber?” he asked again in a salami-thick goombah accent after Pascal continued to stare at him, unresponsive.

“Yes, I know who I am. Who are you?” he creaked again, sounding more and more like an unoiled rocking chair.

The rat-faced man frowned and began “My name is…” before he was interrupted by a long string of racked coughing from Pascal, who was bent in half with choking gasps. The men looked worriedly at each other before the coughing finally slowed to a wheeze.

Continue reading “No Good At All”

“So, do you like working in a bank?” he asked, biting into one of the particularly hard breadsticks that the Italian restaurant offered to every patron, probably in the hopes of getting rid of the stale, tasteless things.

She smiled slightly, running her hand up over her forehead and through her thin blonde hair, teasing it in another direction, and returning her gaze to his eyes. Her light blue eyes were chilling and set her bright red lips even further into contrast.

“Well, it pays the bills… It isn’t very fun, but you meet a lot of people and the bank is pretty lenient. They let you be up to fifty dollars over or short every day…”

“Really?” he asked, wanting her to go on, hoping that by letting this girl talk that he could get into her pants. She really was gorgeous. He had, of course, met her at the bank, but had been set up by a mutual friend who knew that they both had a few things in common, such as eating, breathing, and enjoying the company of the opposite sex.

Rod took another bite of the breadstick and concentrated his peripheral vision along her body, her figure, her mildly revealing white dress, while keeping a firm and understanding gaze on the girl’s eyes.

She finished whatever it was that she had been saying and he had to respond to her somehow. Rod hoped that she had reached some conclusion to his line of questioning and asked a new question.

“So, you been seeing anyone lately?”

“Oh, no,” she smiled in a way that made Rod think that play was imminent. His chances weren’t bad regardless. He was in most way average, which seemed to work toward his advantage. Not too tall or short, not too fat or thin, not too serious or funny. Average.

“Do you go on many blind dates, then?”

Continue reading “Nemesis”

“Thanks for your time, Dr. Hutchins.” Marty shuffled through the papers in his bag.

The doctor glanced up from the notebook that he was looking through, sliding his glasses down to look at Marty. “It’s no problem at all, son. There’s not enough time in the day for me to talk about myself and my work.” He chuckled to himself, pressing the glasses back onto the bridge of his nose, and went back to skimming his notes.

Marty finally ended his shuffling, withdrawing a pad and small tape recorder from the depths of his bag.

Marty had been one of the star reporters at the Oberwalz University Of Fineness for nearly three years and was a state and national prize-winner for some of his stories, ranging from his article on marmoset-trading in the local Oberwalz underground to stories detailing school corruption, when the dean sold four of the dormitory buildings to pay off his gambling debts.

But, after being caught in the computer lab after-hours with his co-reporter, Lydia, in a particularly sticky situation by her father, the school’s Literature professor, Marty was unceremoniously demoted from his usual stories down to second-rung filler, mainly consisting of girl’s softball training reports and layouts of the next week’s cafeteria menu.

And, now, here he was, late in the evening, doing an interview with the college’s most notoriously flaky professor. It was his dubious task to learn about and document some of the exciting new research that Dr. Hutchins was doing in his time outside of teaching.

Continue reading “Marty Drexell: Witness To The Endtimes in “Genetic Material””

In the seemingly endless span of existence since life peeked its sneering head into our universe, things have happened. Great things, with great battles and feuds, so legendary that they will always exist in the cultural memory of those who witness them. And so, too, it is with those thoughtless and impulsive beasts, who by their very nature seek out each other’s end in magnificent fashion, unyielding and unheeding of danger’s warnings. These noble beasts prove the grace and necessity of the hunt in a way that man can hardly grasp, our futile attempts to shake our animal nature blinding us to the essence of what drives us. We thrive in the knowledge of nature’s perseverance, yet shudder to think that we too had at some point hunted and killed, taken everything we had from nature. But, now, we believe and tell ourselves wholeheartedly, we have no need for that part of our nature that revels in the throbbing of the heart that talon and tooth and claw and flesh battering each other produces. We have become boring.

But something in us still aches to hear of massive bodies throbbing against the waves and limbs straining forward in chase, for once we, too, were like them.

And so it was with the whale, chased nearly to exhaustion by the unyielding predator, stalked like he had stalked. Those fleshy seal bodies that he had partaken of had nourished him and it was only natural, instinctual, that he fed his hunger. But, now, he was the hunted and never had he considered this feeling, this fear that loomed as he sought to escape that beast that would take his life to nourish itself.

And, behind him in the distance, the predator swam on, his eyes like hell. His jaws bared fangs and, with a guttural howl, his powerful limbs dragged him on.

Continue reading “Killer Whale vs. Leopard: Predators”

Old Johnny Watson was sitting on the curb, hand outstretched, as the businessman in the Armani suit walked by. “Hey, buddy, could you spare a dime for a fella that’s down on his luck?”

The man sneered and averted his gaze. “Sorry, I’ve got nothing…”


Johnny had been there, on that curb, for four hours. So far, he had only managed to acquire $4.28 in loose change. It wasn’t the best day that he’d had. And he was feeling pretty down, more so than usual. He really needed a bottle. At the rate he was going, he’d be lucky if he could get the cheapest bottle of rotgut shit over at the liquor store on 42nd Street.

He looked up and down the sidewalk in either direction. The flow of foot traffic had stopped.

Johnny sighed to himself. He stood, his 53-year-old joints creaking, and crossed the middle of the street. His pace was slow and cars were forced to break to avoid hitting him, honking. He grunted and raised his hand in the direction of traffic as if to say “it’s all right”.

Continue reading “In A Bottle”