Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Ink Stain, A Life

I've tried to start this letter so many times, I've lost track. My ballpoint pen just won't write any more... it's probably tired of describing the tragedy of today's events. But I can't give up. There's a mother out there who needs to hear what happened to her child. Or, if she is dead too, there is someone out there who needs to know what happened here. So this is my last attempt, I don't think there are other pens to find.

The sky was dark. The sun was up there, somewhere, but sickly war clouds obscured it. The sounds of screaming and explosions alternated in the distance, and it didn't take long until I could block them both out. Did it make me a cruel person that I could see a lifeless body and think only of the food they might still have in their homes? Did it make me soulless, heartless, that I put pets out of their misery when I knew their owners weren't coming back?

The city used to have a name, but I wasn't sure what it was. I'd been shuttled around with refugees so many times in the past few months that for all I knew, I was on the moon. I'd grown tired of the wailing, the unclean scent of someone who hasn't had the luxury of a shower, the crying. I knew I had to leave the refugee camps as soon as a woman's tears didn't spark compassion within me.

I couldn't even tell you, stranger, what this war was about. The Americans pissed someone off but good this time. I think the Chinese struck first. Whoever it was, they weren't interested in taking prisoners. They were interested in wiping us from the face of the Earth. And instead of occupying cities, they merely dropped bombs until everywhere looked the same. Smoking, ruined, and filthy. Riots broke out, stores were looted, typical end-of-world behavior. I'd rescued a few women from groups of hungry men, but gave up after the first time I was beat up for being a "dick loving faggot." I barely made it away with my life.

I'm sure you know this world well, stranger, you're living in it.

Today though, today is the day I discovered I still had a heart, and that a heart had no place in this world any longer.

I'd found a basement in some nondescript home, and had camped there for a few nights. I woke up this morning, put on some clothes, and rummaged around for some canned foods. Peaches and beans. I checked both for freshness, and consumed them greedily. I sat back against a water heater with a dusty pillow, and opened a torn copy of Moby Dick I'd found laying on the floor. And what a strange place for a single book to lay.

I'd barely read four pages into it when I heard the high scream of a young boy. It sounded close enough that I hitched my shotgun over my shoulder, dropped the book, and sprinted upstairs to find out what was going on. Women may not have moved me to tears, but the cry of a child is a very difficult thing to ignore.

The boy was beautiful, in a choir-boy sort of way. The perfect blond hair, still somehow shining and healthy in this environment. His clothes, of course, were filthy. He was cowering against the wall of the building across from the one I currently occupied, and his eyes were wide with fear. Probably blue eyes, judging from the skin and hair color. The more I looked at him, the more I felt like he looked like what my son would have... had he lived to see that age.

A group of three men were closing in on the boy. I couldn't imagine what three grown men would do with a child. Sell him off to some black market? Rob him of lunch money? But it was when I saw the lead man unzipping his pants, that the horror of the moment completely overwhelmed me. Before I knew what I was doing, I'd pulled my shotgun from my shoulder and put a round into the skull of the man whose hand was in his pants. Brains and bits of skull coated the man nearest him, and I saw the boys eyes widen even further than they already were. He looked too scared to scream.

I shot the second man in the same way. As I was aiming to shoot the third, I saw the quick flash of a knife. I dodged, expecting the weapon to be thrown in my direction. Too late, I realized the blade was not meant for me. The little boy dropped, crimson spreading through the dirt of his once-white shirt. I could not fathom, stranger, what would drive a man to do these things to anyone else, let alone a child. I fired once more, the shot hitting the man in the chest and launching him backwards against the wall. I shot once more for good measure, relishing the blood dripping from his mouth.

I reached the boy, cradling his body in my arms. His breathing was ragged, and tears streaked his face.
"Boy... what is your name?"
"A... Adam." He whispered, a similar trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth. I felt my heart break a little, amazed that I could still feel something so strongly. For a stranger no less. No... do children count as strangers?
"Do you have parents, do you know where they are?"
"I don't know where they are. My stomach hurts so bad, mister, can you help?"

I looked down at his wound, pulling his shirt up for a moment. He cried out, and I grimaced. There was no help for that kind of wound, not in a place like this. He'd be dead in hours. Or...

"Adam, I do have help for you, but you'll have to close your eyes first."
"Why?" His eyes were so innocent, I knew I had to act quickly, before I tried to drag him through this hell while he bled to death, trying to find help that wasn't there.
"It'll hurt a little more, and I don't want you to see any more blood."
"Thank you." He said simply, shutting his eyes. Such trust!

I fired one more shot, then turned around and walked away. I could not look behind me to face what I'd done. Call me a coward, stranger, but I could not ruin the image of the choir boy in my mind with my decision.

So here I sit, in a dead person's house, writing with a dead person's dying pen. Between the beginning and the end, there is always a middle. That boy's middle was not long enough to count as a true story. And my story is about to end. I will leave this letter with me and pray... hope... that no one shreds it or hides it. I have my shot gun rigged carefully; the bullet will not miss and cripple me. I'm sorry that you had to find out this way, and I'm sorry the child had to see this world at all.

Story Type: Tragic

Must include: the death of a child, a torn copy of Moby Dick, and a ballpoint pen that just won’t write anymore

Must use the phrase: “Between the beginning and the end there is always a middle.”

Bonus: Absolutely no comic relief.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kitten Sashimi

The elderly librarian, Miss Maggle, had two kittens. Wiggles was a girl with stripey black and gray fur, and Sir Billingsworth (also known as Bill) was orange with a little white mask on his face. All the children in town loved to visit the library to play with the kittens.

One day, the kittens overheard Miss Maggle talking to a friend of hers on the telephone about something called "sushi".

"What is it?" Wiggles wondered, playing with a ball of yarn near the front desk.
"I heard it's a land of fish!" Bill replied knowingly, licking the back of his paw. Wiggles stopped playing, and sat straight up.
"A land of fish? How do you know?"
"I've heard her talking about tuna sa-.... something, and that's a fish, right? So it must be a land of fish!"

Miss Maggle bent over and pet the kittens both on the head.

"Be good, I'm going out for lunch with a friend and will be back in a few hours. Miss Adelle is here to watch over you while I'm gone." And with that, she grabbed her coat and left through the front door.

"Wiggles, we should go too!"
"But how are we going to get there? Besides, we have to stay, we're being watched!"
Sir Billingsworth rolled his little kitty eyes.
"That lady will be too busy reading books to notice that we're gone for a little while. I know a secret way out of the library!"

Wiggles knew that if they were caught, they'd be in big trouble. Even worse; they might get lost on the way to this Fishland!

"How do you know so much about it? What if we get lost?"
"What... are you scared? It's a land of fish! Think about all the yummy things we'll be able to eat when we get there!"
It's hard to argue about food when you're a hungry little kitten.

Bill, true to his word, led them through a broken grate in the back of the library. Both of them knew about places outside their library, but being out there alone was entirely different. Birds kept a safe distance as they strolled through the grass of the lawn out back, and quickly they came upon stairs that led downwards into a dark place.

"It's smelly down there, Bill, I don't know if we should go."
"But this is the way to Fishland! It's a magic people-mover... at least, I think so."

They both stood at the edge of the stairs. A few people walked up and down the stairs, not expecting to see two kittens there, so not noticing them. People sure were busy! Bill put one little paw onto the first step, then grinned.

"C'mon! I had to go down here once with our Lady, when I was sick. And I'm pretty sure the doctor was right near Fishland!"
"You sure are guessing a lot, Sir Billingsworth." Wiggles said, following him down the stairs into the ground.

A train was waiting when they got down the stairs. Wiggles wrinkled her nose, thinking it smelled worse down here than she'd expected. Bill wrinkled his nose as well, trying not to say anything about it. They got onto the train and ran to the very back, hoping no one noticed them sitting in the seats. They'd be in trouble then for sure!

"So do we need to do anything for this to take us to Fishland?" Wiggles asked.
"Maybe there's a button..."

Before either of them could look for a button, the train took off! They couldn't see anything except for the flashing lights outside their window, which scared both of them. They hid under the seat for the rest of the train ride, not used to things going by so quickly in the dark. When the train stopped, they both moved toward the door.

"Oh my goodness, what are two little kitties doing on the Subway?" A high voice asked.
"Oh no! Run, Wiggles!" Bill and Wiggles ran out of the train, onto a more busy platform, and straight up the stairs into the sunlight.

As luck would have it, Fishland was right next to the subway! A giant, smiling fish blinked on and off above a sign that said
"The Yellow Chopstick!" Bill said excitedly. "That's where our Lady said she was going before!"
The two ran to the back of the building, knowing that someone would be sure to notice two kittens going into the front door. A delicious fish smell filled the air, and Wiggles, for the first time, was not sad that she had come.

The back door was open a little, and the two walked into a clean little kitchen. No one seemed to be in sight, and there was a very conveniently placed chair against the counter. Almost as if it was made to allow kittens a look at the tasty treats above them!

Bill jumped first, leaping from the floor, to the chair, to the counter. Wiggles followed, and they found themselves staring at plates full of strange looking foods. Some of them smelled like fish, but others smelled like something else.

"What is all this? I thought fish had eyes?" Wiggles asked, poking the nearest food with her paw. It was in a little circle of rice, and only the red part of it smelled anything like the fish she knew. Bill looked upward, at a menu that hung as a guide near the fridge.

"I see the word tuna, but I don't know the other words!" Both of them turned around, and saw a large fish laying not so far away. It was the biggest fish they'd ever seen! "C'mon Wiggles, let's try it all!"

They both used their little paws to scoop up the bits of the dishes that looked most like fish. Some of it was creamy, some of it was crunchy, but all of it was delicious. Neither of them had ever tasted anything as wonderful as this in their whole kitten lives! They got through 13 different plates before someone appeared in the door way. They'd been so busy enjoying the sushi that they hadn't heard someone walking toward the kitchen.

"CATS! IN MY KITCHEN!" They both froze on the counter, and Sir Billingsworth had a few grains of rice stuck to his face. Another person appeared... their Lady! Oh no!

"Wiggles! Sir Billingsworth! What on Earth are you doing here?!"

Neither kitten knew what to do! This was their Lady, but shouldn't they run? Wiggles tried to look like she hadn't been eating sushi, but she also had grains of rice stuck all over her face.

"These are your cats?" The man said, sounding astonished. "How did they get here? Don't you come by subway?"
"Yes, I'm not sure how they got here, but I will take them home immediately! I'm so very sorry!"

The man chuckled.
"Well, maybe they deserved a little sushi after a trip like that."

Their Lady scooped them up into her arms, thanked the man, then took them back through the Subway, and to the library. She tried to scold them, but had a smile on her face the whole time she was doing it.
"Now, really, I want you two to stay here this time!" She said, setting them down next to the yarn Wiggles had been playing with before they left.

"Wasn't that good? That was the best food in the world!" Bill said, starting to clean himself.
"We could just have waited til she brought some back for us." Wiggles said, playing with the yarn again.
"A Princess always gets what she wants, Wiggles." He said, noticing for the first time that he had rice on his face. Wiggles stopped playing and stared at him.
"Bill, you can't be a Princess. Only girls can."
"Well... whatever. I got what I wanted, anyway."

Story Type: A Cute Kitten Misadventure (children's storybook worthy!)
Must Include: 13 different plates of sushi, an elderly librarian, and a smelly subway train
Must use the phrase: A princess always gets what she wants.
Bonus: No violence whatsoever! absolutely G-Rated or bust!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Egg nog, nog, noggin' on Heaven's door

Biff Bafferson doesn't just wake up; he wakes the FUCK up. One adrenaline fueled kick to the sheets causes them to wrap around his feet, causing him to thrash and curse, causing the neighbors in surrounding apartments to complain to their landlord. But he doesn't just live, he lives in ACTION. Every day is an adventure.

Abu Dhabi is trendy, is busy, is perfect for a man like Biff. But the tourists.. the tourists! He wakes at 0400 every day to avoid most of them, taking his power shower and putting on his adventure socks. Left first, then right.

Biff strode purposefully out of his apartment, slamming the door and locking it behind him. He glanced both ways, then stormed to the elevators. (He never half assed anything, not even a walk to the elevators.) Arriving on the bottom floor, in the already busy lobby, he felt that something was out of place.

His mailbox. Was covered. In graffiti.

A vein at his temple pulsed, and something within him snapped. It had been a fragile connection, to be sure, but this travesty on his own personal space... unacceptable.

"You just fucked with the wrong guy's mailbox!"

Biff Bafferson stormed purposefully back into the elevator, and back up the 30 floors to his apartment. In his apartment he found his sweet pair of M4s, and hooked each one over his shoulder. Nevermind that it wasn't the proper or safe way to carry them around. In fact, it wasn't technically legal to carry them around at all. But Biff only cared about justice, and justice sometimes just didn't give a FUCK. He slid on his sunglasses, passed a mirror, and flexed his muscles.

If only real life had an action soundtrack for Biff Bafferson. Instead, he made do with incomprehensible yells and snarls.

He ran down to the lobby, as real action heroes don't take the elevator. At the bottom, he kicked the door open and started firing on the unsuspecting people milling about the lobby. Luckily, no one was killed, as Biff had terrible aim. They screamed and dove for cover, or ran from the building. Biff quickly ran out of ammunition and realized, too late, he'd brought nothing extra.

He dove through the glass doors on the front of his building. More people screamed and scattered, but many onlookers simply looked on. What was this man doing waving around two very illegal-looking weapons, but not actually firing them?

Biff shoved a man off his scooter. When a motorcycle isn't immediately on hand, anything with two wheels will do. He took off, heading toward a local grocery store. An action hero becomes mighty thirsty after running down 30 flights of stairs and diving through a pane of glass. He drove the scooter straight through the large glass window of the grocery. Was everything glass in this city? Thank God it was, thought Biff, I have no time for doors!

Police sirens sounded in the distance. He was running out of time! And still had no idea who exactly he was looking for!

His eyes grew wide and wild, and he turned on the stunned store clerk.

"I'll find them and make them pay!"

The store clerk straightened up, and put on his own pair of sunglasses. He bent over and quickly withdrew a carton from behind the counter. A carton of delicious egg nog.

"No, Mr. Bafferson... you'll never find them."

It was a good thing no one else was in the grocery at that point, because they would never have believed what they saw next.

The clerk drew his arm back, and with the calm air of a criminal mastermind, lobbed the carton of delicious egg nog directly at the face of Biff Bafferson. The force of the impact caused the carton to split open, but not explode, sticking to his face. Stunned at the impact, Biff fell backwards onto the floor. Confused by this unexpected turn of events, our hero died tragically... drowned in a carton of delicious egg nog.

The police arrived, hearing nothing more than a story of illegal guns and a stolen scooter. They found a man on the floor, face concealed by a half-breathed carton of egg nog. They looked at the store clerk, who still wore his sunglasses. A moment of silence passed, and then the first police officer also slid on a pair of sunglasses.

"We'll take it from here."

The store clerk nodded.

Biff Bafferson's name was removed from his mailbox, which was suspiciously free of graffiti when the police returned to his apartment building. A hero died tragically, but at least his action socks were clean.

Story Type: High Octane Action Story

Must Include: Someone who only uses M4s, the location: Abu Dhabi, UAE - 0400 hours, and a carton of delicious egg nog

Must use the phrase: “You just fucked with the wrong guy’s mailbox!”

Bonus: Someone uses the egg nog as a lethal weapon.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mother Goose Knows Best

A banana, an apple, went walking one day
Two merrier souls were never
The apple, so dapple, all smiles and shines
The banana thought himself so clever
They happened upon Mister Apricot,
And they both stood just out of reach
The Banana called out, 'Hey there, you lout!
You look like the son of a peach!'
Now the Apricot, a lonesome chap
Decided to show them their places
'You ignorant fruit, I don't give a toot,
But I warn you, don't be such a racist!'
After the teasing occurred more and more
Mister Apricot caved to his ire
He kicked down the door, and planted C4
And brought his s'mores for the fire
And this is where our story ends
Banana and Apple were caught unaware
The resulting explosion, like poetry in motion
A flaming fruit salad in air!

Story Type: A Mother Goose Tale

Must include: a mistaken identity, a talking food item, and it must end with something exploding into flames

Must use the phrase: “Don’t be such a racist!”

Bonus: Make mostly everything rhyme or pun