Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: O Lie Detector, O Russian Bride

It can measure your pulse, heart rate and the seven highest points of activity in your brain in any given microsecond. It can correlate this activity with astounding probabilistic accuracy to every pause and word that comes from your mouth. It can time the hesitations of every muscle in your face before they conform to expressions. It can read the directions your eyes go when they don’t look into hers.

It is the most advanced lie detection system in the world. Once, its unit took up an entire college lab. Now, through the miracle of cloud computing, it is available in the mind of every wife we sell. Standard. No charge.

It can be removed for a fee, though. Market testing found disabling it to be a premium feature.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Strange Case of East Parish

Most operate in a simple way. They shamble towards smell or sound, and they bite whatever moves. If it tastes like flesh, they keep biting. One time they broke into Westers’ pantry. The Westers are vegan, but the zombies ate every last ounce of their chicken-flavored tofu. Noise, smell, the taste of flesh, shambling slowly and biting whatever they found. Most were simple like that.

During the outbreak, parishioner Rev. Calvin was helping evacuate local elementary schools. He was on his third, Fleetwood Elementary, when a sallow, middle-aged woman bit him. He looked so scared, but held the woman away from the others until police could quarantine her. When the authorities nabbed her, he got himself as far away from the flock as he could. His parish thought he’d run into the woods and gotten eaten.

Two weeks later, with the outbreak mostly over, people returned to East Parish and began opening places back up. When they entered the church, the pair of officers heard scuffling somewhere. They stood still, and it stopped. They talked, and it started again.

The two traced it to the confessional booth. Something was pawing at the priest’s door. They asked for verbal confirmation to no reply. One lost a coin flip and the other covered him as he opened the door.

It was Rev. Calvin, shirt soiled, but collar intact. He sat in the booth, his flesh clearly rotten. After a moment he turned and reached for them, at which point the officers slammed the door shut.

The officers were Catholic and couldn’t bring themselves to shoot a priest in his own confessional. And how had he even gotten in there? What sort of zombie enters a room, then closes the door behind himself? They’d never even seen a zombie sit down before. They peeked through the sliding panel on the other side, and sure enough, he sat at peace unless they made noise.

They put a sign on his door, warning that a zombie was inside, then went back to dispatch.

They asked around. No one in the department had seen a zombie that used doors. The idea of zombies working doors scared all of them, and they considered going and re-killing Rev. Calvin just to keep him from teaching this trick to other biters.

But he wasn’t a biter. Upon the return, there were no signs of any others, live or dead, on the premises. Zombies were pack creatures, yet Rev. Calvin had apparently been alone in his church since the outbreak.

A lapsed deputy was stationed to watch him, specifically to see if Rev. Calvin would eventually open that door. If he did, she was to shoot.

Except for when the deputy checked her cell phone, the zombie never made a noise. If it rang, he scuffled. If she talked on it, he scuffled louder.

People do dumb things if left alone. For instance, unrelieved of duty by the end of the day, the deputy entered the confessional. Rev. Calvin scratched at the screen partition until she said it had been six years since her last confession. He scratched less and less as she imparted things she’d never say elsewhere. She got so carried away that at the end, confessing that she’d left somebody behind during the evacuation, that she shouldn’t have, had been too scared to think straight. She got so carried away that she asked the zombie what to do for penance.

She went quiet, realizing how absurd she was being.

After a moment of peace, Rev. Calvin scratched at the screen again. If it’s to be believed, he scratched twice, making the sign of the cross.

If it wasn’t to be believed, there were other things to believe. The dead had risen, and maybe they could work doors. A family of vegans claimed that zombies had broken into their pantry and ate all their chicken-flavored tofu. Zombieism was, supposedly, making the leap to other species, and had replaced mad cow disease as a major farm scare. That farm scares were even an issue after the dead had risen took some of its own believing. So if you didn’t believe a zombie providing absolution, there were other things to do.

Rev. Calvin got a lot of visitors. First other cops, curious. Then civilians. One-by-one, and when they came in groups, only one entered the church at a time. Any visitor could tell you, it was something you had to do alone. There’s something about loneliness. People and zombies alike are social creatures, and being alone makes them do bizarre things.

Rev. Calvin had been alone for almost two weeks before receiving his first undead confession. He still hasn’t figured out how to open up the door and get out. Nobody’s gotten rid of him, either. In a post-zombie world, he’s kind of an attraction.

This story originally appeared at Alienskin Magazine. May they rise from the grave.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Amending Spring

It was one of those early spring days. One that opens with frost on the grass and old Mrs. Paisley’s feet propped on a heater, but by noon has all her motherless grandchildren fanning themselves and whining from heat. One of those very early spring days where the river out back runs too cold to swim in without catching ill, yet the silt banks are baked and cracked. One of those days when the kittens cry no matter where you put them.

You know what? Screw that spring day.

It was one of those summer days that’s hot and stays hot and nothing much happens outside of routine. One of those days several months removed from the mysterious drowning of Mrs. Paisley’s eldest grandson. Why was it mysterious? That day was simply too intemperate to bother explaining. No, it was one of those days where the entire incident had been explained, mourned over and put behind them. Everyone was okay.

It was one of those summer days without drama or intrigue. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Fucking Genius, A Monologue

“I think we hit a language barrier there. Don’t you have idioms on Mars? When she said, ‘You’re a fucking genius, Orville Williamson,’ she didn’t actually… mean that. You know?

“Please stop doing that.

“I mean, I’m lucky to pull C’s in Chem, and I always forget to text my girl back. As far as what you thought… well, my girl can smack that one down, too. I get it, you heard her say that and she’s my girl so she’d know, and you kind of want to learn about our anatomy, but that doesn’t make me the Wise One of Humping. I don’t think there is such a thing as a ‘fucking genius.’

“Hey. Let go. I said I’m not…

“Wow, that’s warm. Kind of nice.

“No, wait, stop that. At least in public. I’m trying to explain that there are very few actual experts of this sort, and while it’s flattering you’d see me as the first man ever worthy of…
“You know, I forgot what I was saying. Show me how that tentacle works again?”

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: The Cost of Fire

Redhelm rubbed his own biceps, unable to believe that fire was finally before him. The entire camp was lit up with the stuff, pits spewing cinders straight out of the ground. The barbarians flocked around them, holding out their hands and spits of meat to cook.

"I can't believe it,” he said, clapping the shaman on his shoulders. “We'd have frozen in this winter. How much did all this fire cost?"

The wizard shrugged his bearskin. "Me? Nothing. I put it on your tab."

"You did?"

"I did."

Redhelm frowned at the old man. "How generous."

"Of you, yes."

"Who do I owe?"

The wizard inched closer to the flames. "I don't like to speak his name, but tomorrow you'll have Hell to pay."

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Adventures of Raptor Theropod


No answer.


No answer.

"What's gone with that boy, I wonder? You RAPTOR!"

No answer.

The old pachycephalosaurus pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them. She seldom or never looked THROUGH them for so small a thing as a theropod; they were her state pair, the pride of her heart, and were built for "style," not service--she could have seen through a pair of stove-lids just as well, had steel been invented in the Cretaceous period. She looked perplexed for a moment, and then said, not fiercely, but still loud enough for the furniture to hear:

"Well, I lay if I get hold of you I'll--"

She did not finish, for by this time she was bending down and punching under the bed with the broom, and so she needed breath to punctuate the punches with. She resurrected nothing but the cat.

"I never did see the beat of that dinosaur!"

She went to the open door and stood in it and looked out among the tomato vines and "jimpson" weeds that constituted the garden. No Raptor. So she lifted up her voice at an angle calculated for distance and shouted:

"Y-o-u-u RAPTOR!"

There was a slight noise behind her and she turned just in time to seize a small theropod by the slack of his roundabout and arrest his flight.

"There! I might 'a' thought of that closet. What you been doing in there?"


"Nothing! Look at your hands. And look at your mouth. What IS that truck?"

"I don't know, aunt."

"Well, I know. It's jam--that's what it is. Forty times I've said if you didn't let that jam alone I'd skin you. Hand me that switch."

The switch hovered in the air--the peril was desperate--

"My! Look behind you, aunt!"

The old pachycephalosaurus whirled round, and snatched her skirts out of danger. The lad fled on the instant, scrambled up the high board-fence, and disappeared over it.

His aunt Pachy stood surprised a moment, and then broke into a gentle laugh.

"Hang the dinosaur, can't I never learn anything? Ain't he played me tricks enough like that for me to be looking out for him by this time? But old fools is the biggest fools there is. Can't learn an old dog new tricks, as the saying is. But my goodness, he never plays them alike, two days, and how is a body to know what's coming? He 'pears to know just how long he can torment me before I get my dander up, and he knows if he can make out to put me off for a minute or make me laugh, it's all down again and I can't hit him a lick. I ain't doing my duty by that theropod, and that's the Rex's truth, goodness knows. Spare the tail and spile the child, as the Good Book says. I'm a laying up sin and suffering for us both, I know. He's full of the Old Scratch, but laws-a-me! he's my own dead sister's hatchling, poor thing, and I ain't got the heart to lash him, somehow. Every time I let him off, my conscience does hurt me so, and every time I hit him my old heart most breaks. Well-a-well, dinoman that is born of din woman is of few days and full of trouble, as the Scripture says, and I reckon it's so. He'll play hookey this evening, and I'll just be obleeged to make him work, to-morrow, to punish him. It's mighty hard to make him work Saturdays, when all the boys is having holiday, but he hates work more than he hates anything else, and I've GOT to do some of my duty by him, or I'll be the ruination of the child."

Raptor did play hookey, and he had a very good time. He got back home barely in season to help Jin, the small colored jintasaurus, saw next-day's wood and split the kindlings before supper--at least he was there in time to tell his adventures to Jin while Jin did three-fourths of the work. Raptor's younger brother (or rather half-brother, for there were many eggs in that nest) Sig was already through with his part of the work (picking up chips), for he was a quiet sigilmassasaur, and had no adventurous, troublesome ways.

While Raptor was eating his supper, and stealing sugar as opportunity offered, Aunt Pachy asked him questions that were full of guile, and very deep--for she wanted to trap him into damaging revealments. Like many other simple-hearted souls, it was her pet vanity to believe she was endowed with a talent for dark and mysterious diplomacy, and she loved to contemplate her most transparent devices as marvels of low cunning. Said she:

"Raptor, it was middling warm in school, warn't it?"


"Powerful warm, warn't it?"


"Didn't you want to go in a-swimming, Raptor?"

A bit of a scare shot through Raptor--a touch of uncomfortable suspicion. He searched Aunt Pachy's face, but it told him nothing. So he said:

"No'm--well, not very much. My species is not amphibious."

The old pachycephalosaurus reached out her hand and felt Raptor's shirt, and said:

"But you ain't too warm now, though." And it flattered her to reflect that she had discovered that the shirt was dry without anybody knowing that that was what she had in her mind. But in spite of her, Raptor knew where the wind lay, now. So he forestalled what might be the next move:

"Some of us pumped on our heads--mine's damp yet. See?"

Aunt Pachy was vexed to think she had overlooked that bit of circumstantial evidence, and missed a trick. Then she had a new inspiration:

"Raptor, you didn't have to undo your shirt collar where I sewed it, to pump on your head, did you? Unbutton your jacket!"

The trouble vanished out of Raptor's face. He opened his jacket. His shirt collar was securely sewed.

"Bother! Well, go 'long with you. I'd made sure you'd played hookey and been a-swimming. But I forgive ye, Raptor. I reckon you're a kind of a singed mammal, as the saying is--better'n you look. THIS time."

She was half sorry her sagacity had miscarried, and half glad that Raptor had stumbled into obedient conduct for once.

But Sigilmassasaurus said: "Well, now, if I didn't think you sewed his collar with white thread, but it's black."

"Why, I did sew it with white! Raptor!"

But Raptor did not wait for the rest. As he went out at the door he said:

"Siggy, I'll lick you for that."

If you couldn’t tell, this story is not original. This is the opening of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer with some dinosaurs swapped in. If I hadn’t just said that, it would be blatant plagiarism. Was it blatant plagiarism until you read that? Regardless, it is Monica Marier’s fault for her comment on the #replacemanwithvelociraptor post, asking me to subvert some full-on classic with a velociraptor. I presume anyone who read this far figured it out. Please Comment with what point you figured it out. If you skipped down here in confusion, Please Comment that you cheated.

This post is in no way meant as offense to the late Mr. Twain. It’s meant as offense to Seth Grahame-Smith.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Rule for the Game - Audio Redux

This originally ran a few months ago. Since then Max Cantor sent in the following cheerful recording that I wanted to share for #spokensunday.

“Some day in the future we are all going to have microprocessors in our heads that record everything we say and do. We’re going to pay for the privilege because it’s going to do all sorts of radical stuff, like auto-friend hot girls you pass on the street and get you the best discounts on the music you just heard. It’s going to do something else, too. It’s going to log everything you say, so that when you use “qoph” in Scrabble, I can check if you’ve spoken it in the last five years, and if you haven’t, you lose those fucking points because there’s no God damned way that counts.”
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