Thursday, May 29, 2014

Granola Prose XX

The Writer looked around. It had been so long since he had last visited his epic that everything was different. This couch. This laptop. This operating system. Even his browser looked different, as did his body. Both had acquired new rounded outlines.

"Oh, it's just so sad, the passing of time!" he howled fatly.

"And why is that?" asked his wife, poking her head around the corner. "You know what happens when time passes? Wounds heal, things are learned, lives are changed and the world becomes a better place. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, but humanity is and has been on an upward trend since pretty much forever."

"Poppycock," the Writer said. He liked that word. The Wife had a point, but he wanted to use poppycock so he did, because this was a free country.

"The very notion of a 'free country' isn't that old, but can you imagine the outcry if someone tried to get rid of it tomorrow? You can type horrible things--barely literate things!--and shove them into the faces of an unsuspecting public, and you'll barely even get executed."

"Okay, okay. I admit to your point-having. Now poke your head back around that corner. I have epics to unfurl."


Stubs had never heard of a timequake before. He knew enough to know that he didn't know everything, and so he knew that simply living would continually present him with things whose existence he had never even surmised. Just because he didn't know what to call something didn't mean it didn't exist or that it wasn't really, really terrible.

He was glad to know that this sensation he was now experiencing had a name, so that he could avoid it in the future. Timequakes, he mused as the fragments of his consciousness were squeezed through the void between reality's nucleus and its electron shell, felt like your whole existence was a throat that needed clearing, and you weren't allowed to go ahem.

"Ahem," said a voice.

"Lucky bastard!" cried Stubs. "If I ever get my body and my hammer back, I'll give you such a hamming!"

"That wouldn't be a very good way to treat your accomplice. Especially not after all the odors you've subjected me to."

Stubs opened his eyes. He was in a swamp. Sitting in it, in fact. A small cloud of steam was wafting away from him and dissipated as he watched. His whole lower body felt hot.

"Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no." He lurched to his feet, and fell back again into the turbid water. His legs didn't work yet. He slapped around in the water, trying to locate his hammer.

"It's okay. Calm down," said Becky. "Here's your hammer. It arrived a couple minutes before you did. Come here, you've got to see this. It'll cheer you up, I think." She hooked her arms under Stubs' and hauled him up. "Hey, Tony! Stubs made it! Wanna see if he's got any bread?"

There was an angry fluttering of wings and a duck exploded from a nearby bush. "If he doesn't, I'll kill him and I don't even know why!" it shrieked in Tony's voice. "I can't help myself!" The duck hit the water with a plop in an ungainly tangle of feathers and goofy orange feet. "Arrrrgh! This shitty little body!" it shrieked again.

"Heh," said Becky.

"Ahem," said Stubs.

"Wonk," said Tony's original body.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Granola Prose XIX

The interaction with Gulliver had been so strange and fart-worthy Stubs had not noticed the tremors that had begun shaking the ground until they were so violent as to cause the television to jerk across the cave floor, its base making horrid little screeching sounds as it went. 

“We hasn’t the patience for a timequake. Does we, Samuel?” Gulliver bent his head toward his breast pocket and waited for a moment. Then he looked at Stubs. “We hasn’t.” 

Stubs was finding it difficult to maintain his balance as the cave floor began to pitch and buck. “What’s a timequake!” He had to yell the question, as the shaking was now accompanied by a roar that increased in volume with each passing moment. 

Gulliver responded by slapping forward to save his endangered television. “Must take television with us!” 

“For the love of mead!” Stubs yelped, as rocks began falling from the cave roof. “What is happening?” 

The tremors caused the perfectly-sized boulder to pop out of the hole and Stubs heard Tony and Edward chortle and wonk respectively. 

“Gotcha this time, you shitty dwarf!” Tony’s face appeared at the hole. It was menacing and gross. He squeezed through the opening and dropped to the floor with a good deal more aplomb than Stubs had managed. Edward sashayed through as if he didn’t have a care in the world. 

“Would someone please tell me what is happening! I’m about to lose my patience and hammer someone!” Stubs felt himself losing all sense of dignity. 

“We called in a little favor from a nasty wizard friend of mine,” Tony said. “He happens to be an expert in timequakes.” 

The cave was shaking so badly Stubs could barely hear anything the antagonist was saying. Even Edward’s piercing wonks were muffled by the roar. 

Just then a giant boulder detached from the cave roof and fell toward Gulliver, who was still attempting to steady his television. He was howling with fury at the interruption. “We must knows what happens to Don Draper!” Locked in the battle of his life, Gulliver failed to notice as Edward the Cookie fell out of his pocket and landed on the floor in a little cloud of lint. 

“Gulliver!” Stubs waved his arms, trying to warn the weird little dude of his impending doom. 

The boulder hurtled downward and Stubs braced himself for impact. It promised to be squishy and awful. Instead, Gulliver melted before the impact, as if the boulder were eating instead of crushing him. A rain of fragments showered the cave room, several of which struck Stubs on the legs and arms. The dwarf stared at the points of impact. The bits of rock had passed directly through his clothing and flesh, gone straight through, leaving pinpricks of emptiness behind them. As he stood there, frozen with disbelief, another piece of the roof fell. He looked up just as it dropped onto his right shoulder, which promptly disappeared without a trace. 

Stubs looked at Tony, fear gripping his throat. “By all the beards in Whimsidor, what’s happening? 

“Your dwarf, doom! I mean, your doom, dwarf!” Tony said, barely able to speak between his snorting laughter. “The timequake will be your undoing!” 

“And yours too, it appears,” Stubs said, watching a chunk of rock eat away Tony’s left foot. 

“Ah, but that is the plan.” Tony grinned evilly and picked up Samuel. He blew off a bit of lint and then popped the cookie into his mouth. “The timequake spell dismantles everything in its target area down to its molecular level, transports it to another time and place, and then reassembles it! The beauty of the spell is that the person responsible for the spell always reassembles first. Aaaaaand, that would be meeeeeee!” Tony sang this last in a jolly tone quite unsuited to him. “That means when you finally reappear, I’ll be there waiting for you! You’ve led me on quite a chase, over hills and dales, through swamps and forests, past insane rulers sitting on thrones made of compressed clown wigs, and off the sides of cliffs. But now I will have my rev--” 

Just then the entire cave roof collapsed in a deafening rumble of rock and dust and magic. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Adventures of Stupid Bachelor Man (a Story Shot®)

Stupid Bachelor Man shuffled into his kitchen wearing a pair of fetching boxer shorts and a smile. It was time to have some cereal! He stuck his fuzzy face into the fridge so that he might inspect its contents.

"Oo, new jug of milk!" he concluded. He lifted the jug out using only one hand. He sure was strong!

Now, the difficult part: pour the milk into the bowl without splashing it all over the counter. Because the jug was filled right to the top, the milk would come out as soon as the container was only slightly tipped. This could lead to potential spillage.

"Idea!" he said, getting an idea. As a triumphant score with many trumpets played in his head, he held aloft the milk jug with one hand, and with the other he lifted the bowl to the opening of the jug. He accomplished this in a smooth motion because he was very strong. The bowl was there to catch the stream of milk as it poured forth, confirming Stupid Bachelor Man's hypothesis and netting him a bowl of milk. He was proud. The cereal would come later.

"I sure do like milk on my cereal," he said to himself, looking around for some cereal. "I also like it in my mouth, just by itself. For drinking."

He stood there and let that sink in. He scratched a buttock.

"Idea!" he said, getting another. Because Stupid Bachelor Man was a bachelor, he had the house to himself. He also had this jug of milk to himself. It was his, and his alone. The logical thing to do, clearly, was to drink straight from it without involving intermediate equipment like cups. "It'd just get dirty, and then I'd have to do work," he reasoned.

It was decided, then. Why go through the trouble of using a cup when his face was perfectly suited to the job? He picked up the jug, tipped it, and splashed milk all over his face, chest, and the floor.

"Oh," he said.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Story Shot: Cold [Soda] War

Craig sat, back straight, arms outstretched, zombie-like, with fingers ready to dart onto the sprawling control panel console in front of him at a moment’s notice.

“Being a nucular technician is hard!” he exposited.

“Would ya quiet down a little, please, sir?” said a fellow Pentagon employee at the next panel over. “I can’t hear the President’s speech.”

President Harry Truman’s voice, distorted by static and the radio’s tinny little speaker, echoed around the missile silo. He was talking about the Russians again. Seemed like he was always talking about the Russians. 

“Many apologies, Steve!” Craig screeched. “Weight of the world and all. Nucular missile bombs and such.”

“My name is David,” said Steve.

“Of course it is!” said Craig. 

He looked down at the buttons in front of him. They were arranged in clusters, each cluster backed by a stainless steel plate with words stamped into it. Craig knew what some of the words meant. Right in the center, though, was his favorite button. It was a big red one that lit up brighter than all the others. It was covered by a little metal cage on a hinge. To flip the cage up, Craig had to poke a little latch on one side. 

Sometimes, when nobody was looking, he poked the latch.

The President talked on. Listening to him, Craig grew ever more patriotic. Being patriotic made Craig thirsty. When Craig got thirsty, he yearned for grape soda.

There was a full can of grape soda on the edge of his control panel. It was right there, just below his left shoulder. All he had to do was drop his guard for a split second and reach for it.

“Well, that’s putting it in such a harsh light,” he said. “I only have to drop half my guard at most, since I can reach with one hand while the other maintains its post.”

Please, sir!” said Dave.

“Sorry, Steve!” Craig scream-whispered.

He was going to do it. Future generations would consider him a hero for maintaining both his post at the control panel and a fervent, grape-fueled patriotism.

He prepared his body and mind. He flexed the fingers of his left hand, one at a time, and thought about polar bears.

“Yaarrrgh!” Craig bellowed. His left arm twisted into a knot of commie-bashing fury and his fingers wrapped tightly around the soda can as it if were Stalin’s throat. 

“Graaaaape!”

Oh no! Something was wrong! His grip was too tight, and the can, thought to be a pristine, unopened specimen was actually half empty! Its buckling sides forced the delicious liquid up and out of the drink-hole in a purple fountain of American majesty.

It spattered all over Craig’s control panel. It seeped into the spaces around the buttons and some of them stopped being lit up. A little speaker on the base of his console started beeping quietly.

“Um. Oh crap! Paul! I did it again!” Craig yelled into his walkie-talkie. Then he pressed the talk button and repeat-yelled.

A fat guy brandishing a single cotton swab pushed fatly through a door at the end of the room. “I knew you would. Been watching you through that window. You’re dumb,” he said.

“Did you bring your swab?” Craig asked, voice low, eyes darting.

“Yes. Move. I’ll fix this.”

Craig stood, backed up a few steps, and wrung his hands. “Um,” he said haltingly. “Can I, um, well…”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Paul said. He pulled a can of grape soda out of a pocket in his sweat shirt and handed it to Craig. “You owe me thirty cents.”

Visiting the FooDaddy, Part 1

I pulled my car into FooDaddy's driveway, chortling with glee. I killed the headlights and sat alone in the dark, rubbing my hands together in anticipation.

"Two questions," said a voice from the passenger seat. "First of all, why did you kill those headlights? They've done nothing to you."

I squeaked in a most unmanly fashion and jerked my head around. The Wife sat there, looking both smug and disapproving at the same time. I don't know how she managed this, but she is something of a genius when it comes to mixing up expression cocktails.

I finally found my voice, which had become frightened and scurried into the steering column. "What are you doing here? I thought I was alone."

"I've been here the whole time."

"You have?"

She nodded gravely. "I've been telling you all about my day and how I've been feeling. Haven't you heard a word I've said?" 

My keen insight into the ways of women told me I had made a mistake for which I would pay later. "What's your other question?" I asked in an attempt to delay the inevitable.

"Why do you keep chortling? You've been doing it for hours."

I sped up my hand rubbing. "Oh, it's going to be simply hilarious. FooDaddy doesn't know I'm coming over. He'll be so surprised!" I emphasized the last part of the sentence by hitting a warbling high E. I was rewarded for this display of vocal agility with a splash of bottled water to the face. My first reaction was to become angry, but I knew the Wife had been aiming for my wildly chaffing hands, which had begun to smolder in a somewhat concerning fashion.

Eager to continue with my plan to surprise Foo, I jumped out of the car and began running as quickly as I could toward the house. Ten minutes later, I began to wish I'd parked closer. Certainly, I have the physical ability of an Olympian, but even I can only run for so long in freezing winter weather. My efforts were interrupted by the calm voice of the Wife, who, oddly enough, still sounded very close by.

"You're not moving."

I looked down and saw that I had worn little grooves into the layer of ice covering the driveway.