Inhuman Resources: Chapter 1Cloud Computing
"Yeah, Dobe," I replied. "Start it up."
The portable generator chugged hollowly for a moment before finally rumbling into life, a brief green flicker from the computer bank announcing its success. A curl of exhaust issued forth, and to my nose seemed to fill the whole office block with its petroleum stench. Even this, however, was nothing compared to the sensation that accompanied it; subtle, but far more potent.
The computer had not been switched on for some time, and a number of scheduled tasks had accumulated. In my mind's eye, I perceived them, though the screen lay cracked and broken on the floor: toppled, no doubt, during the evacuation all those years ago. Nevertheless, though mute, though silent, the computer spoke, and I listened. Almost imperceptible beneath the heady drone of data streaming through the air, I could feel a faint whirr from within my ribcage and a dull warmth from the cable running up through my neck. The machine had begun its work
VerdigrisThe sun was red the day Slicker died. She watched him fall a hundred levels, to shatter against a fat, reinforced gas pipe, shards of him breaking across archways and supports and cables, plummeting into the foggy void below. His blud drenched a cluster of backup valves. It dripped from the nozzles, thick and syrupy.Verdigris5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Slicker was unsticking the gears on the Bigtime, with such focus that he paid no attention to the approach of the Quickhand, making its minute-long journey around the Bigtime's face. He had clamped safety cables to the supports, but was careless. The Quickhand caught a support line, and dragged him off the gears, sending him plummeting. The Bigtime was in such poor repair that the other clamps had torn free, sending scraps of rusted steel along with Slicker to his death.
Shine had tried to shout a warning, but Slicker couldn't hear. Or wouldn't. Slicker loved his work, loved the way things ran smoothly when he was finished. Mostly, he loved it when things worked, as
Geiger's CourierAs I walked, the blue of the desert sky began to fade. I pulled my hood over my head, even though my machine body needed neither protection from the sun nor shelter from the wind. Simply put, I didn't like the feeling of the unending void above me, looming, watching, infinite. I knew I shouldn't have such feelings, so I ignored the rationale and allowed my hands to move as they pleased.Geiger's Courier2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I adjusted the leather strap. The sky was pale. Gray. Stars blinking into view, I refused to meet their eternal gaze. As I walked I was dying. As I walked, I was not yet born.
But as I laid my feet in a careful pattern, one in front of the other, I didn't notice. Day, night, it didn't matter, for I'd been given the unenviable position in life of a courier, and I neither knew nor cared for anything else.
Not yet, at any rate.
My body was a vessel for my vague sense of self, for I was water gathered between shaking palms, a cup half-filled, a fleet lif
Vanguard, Chapter 1: DuncanDuncan's Journal: Day 1288Vanguard, Chapter 1: Duncan2 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
I consider myself a good man. I respect women, elders, my equals, and the dead. I say a morning prayer, and an evening one. Hell, I even thank the gods for a meal, instead of immediately chowing down in the voracious manner as the other soldiers here do. By all logical means, I should be in paradise. No really, not just because I'm a good man, but also because I should be dead by now. So I ask myself: why, oh gods up there, have I ended up in hell?
1288 days. 1288 days of my life have been spent in this misery, and I'm beginning to lose faith in the glory I was promised. Some of the rookies still live in their ignorant bliss, but I've lived long enough to realize that there's not much glory to find here. “Sing the songs of glory and march into battle—-join The Crusade today!”. Such were the words of the posters The Crusade has spread all over The Mortal Realm. Gullible fools practically stand in line for these songs of glory that th
Wild Hunt :: LongmaLike any good story, this one does not begin where it began. It does, however, begin where it endsat a funeral.Wild Hunt :: Longma4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The village was not particularly big. Rather, it was frightfully small, and just as frightfully remote. That said, it was little surprise that every denizen turned out for something so important as the funeral of a good man.
and it truly was each and every one: every man, woman, and child; every son, brother, and father; every maiden, mother, and crone. It was said even the dogs followed at the heels of their masters, even the songbirds gathered in the trees, and the livestock unable to free themselves from their pens bowed their heads in respect. But the story that is still told to this day was how the most notable guest at the funeral of Bai Huan was his finest (and only) stallion.
* * * * *
A long way from the village (but not nearly far enough) a
The Beckett ColcannonCIAN, bowler hat, medium gray trench coat, old-fashioned sunglasses, a cane.The Beckett Colcannon5 years ago in Comedy More Like This
BEAG, bowler hat, light grey trench coat.
SET: Front center, a rectangular table, around 8 feet long. To its right, as seen by the audience, an oven/stove. On the stove, a pot with steam coming from it, and on the floor to its right, a small garbage bin. To the table's left, a simple armless chair, facing the audience. On the table, one pound of ham, in one piece. The set is lit in medium light, and the remainder of the stage is left in darkness.
Curtains rise. CIAN sits at the chair. He stares directly forward. Five seconds.
CIAN: Ready, yes, they must be ready.
CIAN knocks his cane twice on the floor. BEAG enters from the right immediately, looks into the pot. He makes to leave.
CIAN: Are they ready?
BEAG stops and faces CIAN.
CIAN: Good. How long have they been steaming for?
BEAG: Almost long enough.
CIAN: Good. (Pause.) And the ham?
BEAG: Sitting on the table.
Night Chaser02:37am 22nd July - depart from London by commercial jet, business class.Night Chaser3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
00:53am 22nd July - arrive in New York an acceptable 7 minutes behind schedule.
Slaying an archangel is hard work. It takes a great deal of study, picking your mark, separating fact from legend, learning your target's tells and vulnerabilities. Even if you succeed, and when I tore Gabriel's crystal heart from his open chest I became one of the precious few who have, there is still the matter of retribution. Angels never forget the death of one of their own, and a legion of these creatures now wait to descend and deliver their vengeance. My only sanctuary is the night. Angels can only exist in light of the sun and as such I owe my continued existence to the wonders of modern technology, which is capable of sending man half way around the globe faster than the approach of the morning sunrise.
I chase the night. Or at least I chase the processed luminance of airports and rail terminals.
I've got an hour and
Billy's PterodactylsBilly was in what his mother called 'his dinosaur phase'. He'd been firmly ensconced in this phase for the past six months, ever since his Dad had taken him to see the Natural History Museum in Oxford. The first thing he'd seen on entering was the huge bones of the Tyrannosaurus Rex glaring down at him, and that was it; he'd been hooked ever since.Billy's Pterodactyls3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
In the time since then his entire room had been re-decorated with a Jurassic theme. Dinosaurs were on the bedsheets, the curtains, the posters on the walls, and little plastic ones covered his floor to the point where it was dangerous to walk across it. Unless you were Billy, of course. No dinosaur would dare to harm Billy, who reigned supreme among them and controlled their every move. Billy was in his element and entirely at home within his dinosaur-infested room.
Every now and then the dinosaurs would venture outside of Billy's room, in an effort to invade and infest the rest of Billy's house. On one such occasion his mother inadvertently
TeatimeIn January, Elsa got new neighbors. She greeted them with apple cinnamon tea.Teatime4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It gets so cold, here, they told her, shivering in overstuffed parkas. Snow had turned to mud in their front hallan unavoidable side-effect of moving in winter. Elsa nodded along to their complaints and observations, silently brewing the tea in their kitchen. They were young; they had big plans. Allison and Steve, newlyweds, just starting out. They sat on the cold floor together, sipping with chapped lips. The house filled with cinnamon.
In April, Allison knocked on Elsa's door. We're pregnant! White tea in a china teacup; the taste of flower petals and champagne. The last caffeine for the next eight months. Elsa let her keep the cup.
In May, Steve bought a carseat and a crib. Elsa helped him carry it inside. Flat-packed, but heavy. Sturd
The Furnish Is EverythingIt was 183 days ago when Minerva Kisling the Yiddish Mentalist first came to my train station. She toured the Neptune-Aries circuit in vaudeville. I had seen her glossy photographs a few times outside of the Easton theater and The Springhouse when she played there, but I never saw her in person. At least, I never saw her until the locomotive that was supposed to be bringing her husband failed to arrive with said husband.The Furnish Is Everything4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As a redcap for the Southwest Lake Station with a half-dozen sisters, I scarcely could afford the ten cents or the time to see a vaudeville show on a regular basis, but the children working near the tracks would put on cheap imitations of the more popular acts in hopes of getting pennies rained on them. They would dab burnt cork on their cheeks, bug out their eyes, and sing or tell jokes. Often they received the most money when they stopped singing and went back to carrying bags. What the children failed to re-enact, they retold to me on slower days. I was more than pr
Ashen Sky-Ch.1 Revised"I always knew the zombie apocalypse would start in Chicago. I just never thought the zombies would be trying to buy life insurance." Matt Owens chuckled as he glanced over his shoulder to his cubicle-mate.Ashen Sky-Ch.1 Revised4 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
Tess Abernathy rolled her large blue eyes at him and sighed. "As much as I absolutely adore my job in data-entry here," she began, her voice dripping with sarcasm, "I love your amazing ability to come up with the stupidest ideas ever even more."
"Aw, c'mon, Tess!" said Matt, laughing. "Seriously, though. I had to look this guy up 'cause his address was wrong, and the database says he died at an old address about a month ago, but he's alive at a new address now. Weird, isn't it?"
Tess rolled her eyes again. This was common practice when it came to Matt. "He was probably trying to jump rent or evade taxes or something," she dismissed, glancing at Matt's work before frowning and turning back to her own pair of screens. "Matt, you're doing that thing with your finger again. Would
RenovationsThey will come again, and when they do, the others will hide.Renovations2 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Mr. Brown will curl up in his hole in the eaves. The Wife in the crawlspace, and I'll be here, clutching my dear ones close. I'm wrapping my legs around them, and I can hear them fidget against the soft sac, their little tremors not unlike the desperate throes of flies, but warm, beautiful. It won't be long now. Now is the tender time. Soon I'll wear them on my back, and we can leave this place. But not yet. Not yet. Now is the time when a swift strike would kill them, and me with them. I will not leave.
I can't leave. I've hidden as well as I can. A small shadow between the braces under the mantel, where their lights don't penetrate. At least not yet.
Too much light. Too many sounds. They come with their sounds, with their fangs at the ends of their legs, shooting explosions into the walls, toppling everything. They are giants. They grumble at each other, tear up the floors, rip down the lights. Destroy everything that has
They Say I'm GuiltyOf the nearly eighty female prisoners that had answered my request, I had narrowed my choices down to two of them. The first was a voluptuous, porcelain-skinned brunette that would make my brother drool in seconds. The second was a golden-haired, frail little piece of work, and normally I would have dismissed her during the first round of eliminations, but something kept her there. Maybe it was the way she stared at me with her venomous green eyes, but I couldn't be sure. In any case, I had my two choices set before me, each isolated in separate cells on opposite ends of the jail so that I might observe them more personally.They Say I'm Guilty3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I turned to the prison guard. "What can you tell me about this one?" I was starting with the brunette.
"Number 67," he practically spat. "Don't believe a word she tells you. She's as good a liar as they come."
I wondered at what sort of lies she had told the guard because clearl
The Silo Complex"You won't believe what I just saw in the field."The Silo Complex5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I sighed at Eloise in the doorway. "Another dead raccoon? How big was it this time? You know it's just maggots, right?"
"No, that wasn't it. I saw a man."
"Was it John?"
"It was a man, but it wasn't really a man. Almost a man."
"Almost a man?" She had recently taken to wandering in the fields under gray skies, thinking that she'd find her answers among the abandoned farm equipment and rows of dried corn husks. She never did. Just raccoons. I never heard anything about men who were almost men. "How can someone be almost a man?"
"Never mind. You don't believe me."
"Just tell me what he looked like."
"He looked like smoke."
I didn't realize what she meant until the next day when a woman who was almost a woman appeared outside the back door, peering through the window. She was in the form of a woma
The CartI always got my best book recommendations from my old library cart. Well, the library cart wasn't really mine. I was a shelver at my town's library, before I started college, and I would use their carts to do my job.The Cart4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I first noticed something was up with the cart when I was shelving juvenile paperbacks. These were the lightest books we owned (and kept in the worst shape - kids are brats). But when I was rolling the cart, it was heavy. It groaned when I pushed it, and steering it was a mini-workout. It wasn't this hard to move a double-stack of adult non-fiction.
What was really odd, though, was as I removed more books, it barely got lighter. Finally, when all of the Fairy Princesses, Mary Kate and Ashley's, and other stupid books were shelved, its weight became normal. Only R.L. Stine's Goosebumps remained, and it was actually pretty light, even lighter than I'd expect.
I shrugged the incident off. But then I noticed it happening more and more. And then I noticed patterns
Creationism She took the clay into her hands and rolled it around. If she closed her eyes and concentrated, she could feel the imperfections in the little sphere, but she would never think to smooth them out. It was the little things that gave each of her creations character.Creationism4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
This particular ball gave way to spiky tips and deep depressions. She held it up and blew on it to speed its drying. When it was ready, she brought out the paints. The low parts became blue and fluid, and the spiky places turned gray. But she didn't stop there. The in between places were painted green and brown, and she came away a little and painted white puffy shapes. And then she waited.
For a long time, nothing happened. Then there was movement, but still she was disappointed. This one didn't glow the way some of her creations did. She moved in for a closer look at the globe. Perhaps she could figure out what had gone wrong.
Convenience Ducky Short usually avoided using 'convenience' stores. The floors were always grimy, the lighting was too dim for his tired veiny eyes, and the cashiers never spoke more than five words of English. But the thing that irked him most was how every one of them put the Ho-Hos on the very bottom shelf, and every time he would have to find a way to maneuver his long body and old rusty joints into a crouch just so he could reach them.Convenience4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He had been struck with a Ho-Ho craving as he was walking by, and since the only store nearby was a tiny convience store, he had no choice but to go in and claim his cakes. There was no controlling this sort of thing. 'Happy Ho Ho emergencies', his mother used to call them, God rest her soul.
But Ducky hadn't expected a different kind of emergency.
The bell on the door barely had time to jingle before it was drowned out by a frantic holler.
"Freeze, everybody! I've got a gun, so no messing around!"
16.7.1945You can't blame them for what they did, not really.16.7.19455 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Their war, ensnaring the most powerful countries in the world and sending millions of their finest young men and women out as if to the slaughter, had been raging for nearly six years. Both sides showed no sign of faltering, entertained no thought of surrender. Something had to be done to break the psychological stalemate. Something that would make men fall to their knees in awe even as their cities and their people disappeared in a flash of white light.
What the scientists and the handful of informed onlookers say today in the desert under heavy rain will never be known by man, for the age of man will end in approximately ten seconds. There was talk that the test be delayed until the storm has passed to avoid magnifying the fallout, but orders came from far above that they need these results now, and when the scientists get an order like that, it would cost them more than their lives are worth to ignore it. They place bets while t
Tale 2: Worlds in the AtticHe was very old by now. His long, white hair, uncut for fifteen years, was loosely spread all over the back of his coat. His shoulders were brought forward by age, his fingers weren't as deft as they had been. If there was one thing he was very happy for, it was that when he had started, he had used the higher shelves first. It meant he didn't have to climb steep, uncertain ladders all the time now.Tale 2: Worlds in the Attic5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
There were hundreds, thousands of jars and bottles and little tin boxes neatly stacked on the shelves, hung from the ceiling by thin chains or ropes, some small and precious glass containers brought together by ropes hanging from the ceiling like clusters of grapes or braided into garlic-like strands.
The man had wanted to be a writer, or a sculptor, or a painter, or some other sort of artist that could show all the worlds that lived inside people. A long time ago, he had understood the fact that he had no talent. It didn't affect him now. He was content to be nothing else but a keeper of w
Transdimensional Super TeamNotice: The full length version of this tale, which is far more palatable, is available right here.Transdimensional Super Team4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The magical computer pool glowed. We stood around it like gods.
"Place your palms upon the unimetriscope," said the man in the top hat. "Validate your identities to Her Majesty, the Queen of the Multiverse."
It all seemed a bit hoity-toity to me, but there's a lot to be said for peer pressure when some extra-dimensional fancypants tells you your "peers" are a lady with wings, a James Bond looking guy, a giant robot, and a little girl and her psychic-bondmate, a white pony.
The guy in the top hat called himself Jeremy Flavius Beedle, and he twirled his mustache when he spoke.
He'd found me in San Francisco. I wasn't even working. I was sitting outside the ferry building munching down on a pastry from the shop there when he approached me.
Top hat and cane, fancy suit, and a giant
The Dalzell KnockoutThe Banana Bar wasn’t Conner Dalzell’s sort of place. I was behind it slicing lemons, wincing at acid burns, when he walked in alone in a buff duffel coat. The guy was at least fifty, maybe older, his hair turning white.The Dalzell Knockout3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Tonight was student night, all the cocktails were half price, and fresher girls were getting fresh with lecherous finalists in the faux-leather booths. Conner Dalzell stood in the doorway for half a minute and I thought he would leave. But he took off his coat and searched for a peg to hang it on. To his evident surprise, he didn't find one, so he flung it over his elbow and waddled to the bar.
“What would you recommend then?” he asked. My hands were sticky with lemon juice. I hastily wiped them on my apron.
“Our featured cocktail today is the Blue Lagoon Special: vodka, blue curacao, and white wine.”
“Sounds awful,” he said, slipping from the barstool he’d tried to mount. “What’s blue
RomeoThe name's Romeo. Yeah, alright. Don't bother. Whatever you were about to say, I've already heard it: considering the fact that probably everyone in the world is force-fed Shakespeare at some point or other, it's not surprising that all the stupid puns that come my way aren't exactly original. I've had English teachers yell lines at me, thinking that, for some dumb reason, I've got the whole play memorised. Not likely. My parents didn't call me Romeo because they're Die Hard Bard fans. Dad lost a bet to a mate. Not exactly enchanting.Romeo4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I was watching TV in the living room, minding my own business. All of a sudden the door slammed open, and there was Mum, glaring at me as though I'd left a week's worth of socks stuffed behind the radiator. I was about to remind her that I'd taken out the rubbish that morning, but before I could say anything, she strode over to the windows and wre
Inhuman Resources: Chapter 2CorkboardsInhuman Resources: Chapter 23 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
In bygone days, before Strain Three had forced the people of this place to flee across the water, the lab had not been a lab. As Dobe and I passed beneath the great steel shutters, I considered that we would once have been able to wander in and out without the need for scans or keycards. As we passed the clicking banks of pipetting systems and their stacks of microplates, I wondered at how vacant this space must once have seemed. And as we descended the series of ramps leading to our living quarters, I savoured this one and only reminder that we were walking through a multi-storey car park.
The vehicles sat rusting on the sealed upper floors. A year or so ago, I had made trips up the outside of the building. Had seen them there. There was nothing special about those carsI personally had siphoned the fuel from every last one to feed our generatorsbut there was something uncanny about the way they rested just above our home, waiting for the drivers who had left the