Friday, October 30, 2015

Routine Checkup

He has many teeth.

Sept. 14, 2015

"Looks like they're coming in nicely, Mrs. Gleeks," said Dr. Bruns, as he peered into the mouth of the woman's son. The long metal instrument scraped and prodded, and the boy did a decent job of not squirming too much. Satisfied there were no obvious cavities, he gave the nod to the hygienist to start the flossing procedure.

"I'm a little concerned about the fourth row, a few there seem a little crooked, but we'll know when he loses set number two," said Bruns. "What we really want to be careful of is that the other rows that come in aren't crooked."

"Oh dear," said Mrs. Gleeks. "Is there anything we can do?"

"Has he been sucking his tentacles?" asked the dentist, looking at Mrs. Gleeks over his glasses that had many magnifying attachments.

She rubbed her appendages together and flushed a deeper shade of blue. "Yes," she said.

"Mom!" said the boy, who had paled to a rubbery shade of gray.

"Easy there, sport," said Dr. Bruns. "I just need to get the whole picture - I won't be telling your friends."

The doctor placed a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder and smiled. "I sucked my thumb until I started high school - and even then my mom had to remind me now and then if I got stressed out."
This seemed like small comfort to the boy, who cringed away from the dentist's touch, and slumped in his chair, tentacles twitching this way and that, like an annoyed cat's tail.

"If you look at the X-ray, you can see why there's a concern. If this row gets too far out of whack, it will start to push into the rows that are coming in. The longer you keep it up, the worse the problem gets," said Dr. Bruns, flicking on the light screen behind the X-rays in question. Back lit, four rows of edged teeth could be seen, and sure enough row four had a distinct kink where some of the teeth looked like they were folding in on themselves.

"What happens if he doesn't stop?" asked Mrs. Gleeks.

"Well, worst case is some of the teeth point inward and will actually in-grow. This can cause infection and necessitate removal and immediate braces to correct future rows," said Bruns. "More than likely, it won't come to that. Since it seems like an occasional issue. If you can get it under control, it could even work itself out by row seven. But that's only he if stops the habit now. Whaddya say, sport? Think you can give it up?"

"Whatever," said the kid, not looking at either of the adults in the room. "Can we go?"

"I'm all set. Good job with that brushing sport - I know how hard brushing and flossing so many teeth can be. Keep up the good work and you'll have the scariest set of chompers in your class," said Bruns. He took off the paper bib and pushed the button. The chair hummed and grunted as it sat little Master Gleek in his upright position.

As they slithered out leaving a glistening trail of mucus on the carpet, Bruns rolled his eyes at Cindy, who shook her head.

"How old is that kid, eh? 13? Yeesh, if he doesn't stop now the opinion of his dentist will be the least of his worries," he said

"Give him a break, Larry," said Cindy. "Your mom still keeps your room in order, remember?"

"You're killing me, Cinds. Remind me never to tell you anything," he said, pulling the elastic bands from the mask off from around his curved, wicked looking horns.

"Well, in better news - your one-o-clock cancelled and you get a long lunch," she said, and he could see her grinning under her mask.

"I thought this morning would never end," he said.

Friday, October 23, 2015


[WP] You always save the day, but at the last minute and in the laziest way possible. You are...The Procrastinator.

Sept.  9, 2015

There. All of the windows had been washed, laundry folded, and floors swept. Cara eyed the gunk around the edge of the sink and picked up the toothbrush and began to scrub it furiously. But the pit of her stomach still felt like an acid bath, and she glanced at the clock.

"I still have time," she muttered, and continued to scrub the sink.

She paused to turn the radio on, and caught the final seconds of a really great song. Then it cut to a news break.

"Figures," she said, rinsing the toothbrush in the sink. Reports of the alien threat were rolling in. The ships had been in the sky for nearly 12 hours. All attempts at communication had failed - the last had failed catastrophically, with a beam of lavender light destroying the envoy aircraft. There wasn't any debris, just a puff a purple smoke. No known survivors.

Then the countdown had started - it had taken the world’s most brilliant minds to determine that's what was happening. Even with that breakthrough, they hadn't been able to actually speak with any of the alien crew.

Cara opened up the cabinet that held all her plastic storage containers - three tumbled to the floor and she began to pull them all out of the cabinet.

Lids over here. Containers over there. Wait - this lid doesn't fit any of these. Why do they even make bins this size? I never use these. I swear the damn things are designed to warp after two uses to force you to buy more.

Live coverage of the countdown filtered through her thoughts and she sighed. They would not be going back to the rock music. Cara did some quick calculations on her fingers and then sighed again.
She touched her earring and a small supersonic vibration tickled her ear. A voice crackled over the line dripping with syrupy excitement.

"Why if it isn't Cara-who-only-calls-her-mother-when-she-needs-something?"

Cara winced.

"Hi, mom," she said. "I called on your birthday, too."

"Oh, please, honey, just get to the point," said her mom.

"Well, it's the Humphries. They decided now was a good time to invade Earth," she said.

"Those little shits" said mom. Her mother sighed and Cara felt a pang of dread. "If I get rid of them you have to come and visit me."

"MoooOOoom," Cara groaned. "You know how nauseous teleportation makes me."

"If you want to take care of it on your own, be my guest," said her mom.

The countdown continued on the radio. Just a minute to go.

"Fine, I'll visit," she said.

"Great, I'll put you down for this weekend."

"Jesus, ma - I was going to clean the apartment this weekend," she said, trying not to look at the spotless apartment she had just binge-cleaned.

"This weekend or find a new planet to slum in, young lady," said Mom.

"Fine, this weekend. Thanks," said Cara.

"Love you, Cara-bear," her mom said and the line went dead.

The countdown was under twenty seconds when the sky turned an alarming shade of beige, and every tenth ship vanished. Cara could hear the unmistakable lilt of her mother's voice over the radio as she took the Humphries to task for their unwarranted invasion in their native tongue. Mom was informing them that they should feel lucky they were only being decimated for the obscene lack of protocol when Cara flipped the radio off.

With that done, Cara flipped open her laptop to check her Facebook page.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Summer in Maine

Aug. 31, 2015 (My porch was the prompt this time)

Crickets call – so many it’s a quiet cacophony. People think of them as night creatures, but only because that’s when they quiet down to actually hear them. The air is silky warm, and a little thick. I can hear the kids playing with their toys – scraping them along the windowsill and humming as tunelessly as the crickets.

Clouds are smeared over the sky like thick frosting, with only cracks and crevices of pale blue showing through. A breeze, like cool silk passes over my skin – then gets stronger and the sun makes a languid appearance.

The guttural sound of a motorcycle rumbles by, but fades and the wind picks back up, tickling the wind chimes.

The wind pushes the frosting of clouds aside, but the sky is so pale it’s difficult to tell cloud from clarity.

My eyes keep finding the gobs of silk spun by tent caterpillars – mounds of silvery-white twisted over leaves and branches, filled with crawling larvae and rotting leaves. The could almost be pretty, but they will never be that.

The humming birds are strangely absent.  And then they are summoned by this very sentence – pausing their didgeridoo wing-noise to take sips of the syrup from the feeder. Then gone again. I’ve been out here for two hours and that was their first visit. Mind readers.

Andy, the night cat has come to call, as I sip my wine and try to focus on work. Which I do, from time to time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Laid to Rest

Aug. 28, 2015

(Note: Made a couple small changes from the original post)

"We're mostly interested in the dead," said the tall man. "But maybe you will be useful. Step into the light."

I slid my foot into the flickering circle of light thrown off by the lantern, dropping my eyes as I pulled myself into the glow. I could feel his eyes on me. And I glanced up, and they were pale, the color of skim milk with black pupils that stood out in stark contrast. He was so tall that his hat brushed the curved ceiling and he had to hunch slightly. The seconds slipped by and I could feel the blood crawling in my cheeks - I disliked being looked at. It was worse when I was caught, like a little mouse.

The woman behind him continued her work, laying out all manner of tools on the velvet cloth. Small knives, tubing, pumps, saws and gew-gaws I didn't recognize.

Usually the catacombs were empty, and made for a great place to sleep in the winter. Never too cold, never too hot. The guards didn't come down much. The bodies made them nervous. But this city had the best caretakers in land, and there was little to fear from the dead.

But I had forgotten it was execution day.

"Hector, we need to get working. The sun sets in two hours," said the woman.

"I am aware of the time, Olivia," he said, not breaking his gaze with me. "You will help us prepare their rest."

I saw the woman straighten slightly, and she gave me a look that I couldn't read. Surprise, maybe. Or relief.

"What do I do?" I asked, peering at the line of dead people laid out on slabs.

"Come," said the woman, Olivia. She reached out her hand, and after a moment's hesitation I reached back. She took my hand by the wrist and pulled me to her side. She smelled like lavender. She took my lank blonde hair in both of her hands, and twisted it into a ragged bun, tying it off with a cord she had hidden under her sleeve.

"You don't want anything to get in your hair," she said, and smiled, even as my eyes widened. Our of her pocket she produced a small jar, and when she opened it I could smell lavender and a strong whiff of camphor. She dipped a finger and put a dollop under my nose, making sure some entered my nostrils. My eyes watered.

"It will help with some of the smells. Though these are fresh, you are a green stick - and even though I'm old, I remember being the green stick. Hector doesn't even use it any more, but I do," she said, placing a smear under her own nose.

Olivia began explaining the instruments and their grim uses. Hector had already begun undressing the first one. He gestured for me to help. I tugged off the worn-out boots, but hesitated when he gestured for me to take the pants.

"I'll see his man-things," I whispered.

"He won't know the difference, and will have more dignity if you help us do this than if you quibble like a child, girl. Remove his trousers," he said.

Blushing furiously, I undid the belt and began to try to remove the pants. Which was harder than I thought when the man in question was stiff as stone. Olivia helped prop up his back so I could slide them under his bum, and then it became as easy as pulling them off his legs. I peeked at his nethers, but looked away when I saw Olivia grin at me.

"They're just boxes now, Green Stick. We just put the boxes in other boxes - like a puzzle," she said.
Once all were stripped the real work began. Mostly Hector and Olivia worked in silent concert. Inserting a needle into the arms and pumping out the blood into a drain in the floor. Other fluids were pumped in.

"Removing the blood will keep most resting," she explained. "But sometimes it matters not. And with murderers and rapists even less so."

Hector sliced open the chest of a great bear of a man, his long and slender fingers holding the knife with a gentle grip, skillfully slicing through layers of fat and tissue with practiced ease. He removed the insides, popping them into jars of liquid. Olivia named each of the things he removed: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys. Olivia helped with the ropes of intestines and even with the ointment beneath my nose I was gagging from the smell."

"If you must vomit, the drain is the best place," said Hector.

Once the guts were sealed away they sawed off the head and placed it at the feet. A stake of ashwood was driven into the corpses chest. Hector had me bind and stake the ankles, wet leather was wrapped and knotted around the legs, then a smaller ash stake was shoved behind the tendons.

"This prevents them from walking," said Olivia. "The one in the chest calms their anger and stills their limbs. Most of the time."

By the time we had gotten to the last corpse it had already begun to rise. Its eyes were bright red, and its voice was gurgling groan.

Olivia grabbed the beast by the forehead, pushing it down on the slab. I moved forward to help, she grinned at me again. This time I grinned back. Hector sawed through the neck and placed the gnashing skull at the feet. Once the beast was staked, the limbs stopped thrashing and the rest of the job became considerably easier. Soon his innards were jarred, and all it could do was gnash its teeth at the air. Eventually it got tired of even doing that and closed his red eyes.

"Hector was right about you," she said, wiping her hands clean on a towel. "I wasn't sure. But you did well, Green Stick."

"Indeed," said Hector, but a small smile curved his lips. "Do you still wish to sleep with the bones, or would you like to come to the our hall?"

Olivia handed me the towel and I had to dry my eyes. It felt like coming home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Seeing Red

(NOTE: I've stopped responding to prompts in the threads of reddit)

Walls shook and shuddered and with a hideous groan, the earth tore itself asunder and Gund Galrun rose from the pits of his realm. He stood 12-feet tall, bathed in the warm blood of the fallen. His eyes were voids of darkness, and horns curled from his forehead, brushing against the lace canopy of Ellie's Hello Kitty Princess Surprise bed.

"I am Gund Galrund, lord of wounds, heart's liquor and sacrifice for grim victory. You have called and I have come," his voice shook several plastic horses from the shelves, and a pile of chapter books fell in a heap.

"Be careful! You are messing up my room," said Ellie, stopping to re-stack the books and rescue the ponies, which were various shades of lavender and pink.

"Sorry," said Gund Galrund, who bent down to assist, only to rip the canopy that had become tangled in his horns.

"Oh, no!" cried Ellie, her eyes going wide and then brimming with tears. "You ripped it?! What am I going to tell mom?"

"I..." Gund Galrund made a fumbling attempt to get the lacy thing back together. "Wait, why have you summoned me?"

She stood up straight, all of three-foot-ten-inch frame bristling with indignation. Arms filled with plastic ponies and a slight quiver to her lip, her blonde hair caught up in pig-tails.

"I am Ellie Fitzhubert, age 6 and I will win Mrs. Gibbons' Annual Spelling Bee, and Sally Higgins won't stop me," she said.

"You wish for me to spill her blood with bees?" asked Gund Galrund. "I've never done that before."

"No, Goofus, I want you to make her spell sanguine wrong. She thinks she's so smart," said Ellie popping the horses back on the shelf more forcefully than she needed to.

"My name is Gund Galrund, not Goofus." He said, peeling the lace off his head. It dripped red, and Gund frowned at the girl.

"I don't care if you're name is Mary Poppins, I summoned you by the last rite of Dane Gah'nechth and you are bound to do my bidding," said Ellie with a smile. "First, fix my bed. Second, take me to Sally's house."