Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Computer Education" in EDF Anthology

This month I was selected to appear in The Best of Every Day Fiction Three. Apparently they loved "Computer Education," my little wacky robot story, and wanted it for print posterity. I'm flattered and happy to appear in the volume.

The hardcover and paperback editions are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and other retailers. You can see the full list at EDF's site here.

I'd like to thank EDF for taking a chance on SciFi Humor, and for pushing it forward into their anthology. I'd also like to thank all of you for reading these stories - you make my work worthwhile.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: She Danced

She danced like no one I've ever seen. You ever stick your hand out the car window and wave it up and down in tune to the breeze? Like it's a wing in the wind, or part of an invisible current? You ever done that when you're tired and your defenses are down, and you find that feeling becomes more important than steering the car? No, you'd never admit it, but I do that. And watching that princess bound and dip like she didn't have a backbone, it was like watching another person perform the feeling I get in my hand. She wasn't lithe, but a girl made of wires couldn't have done all that. She made me a fan of ballet inside of one minute. It was the only real elegance I've ever seen, so in rhythm with the music that I never would have believed she was improvising, and I never could have believed anything else. I knew right then on the edge of my chair that this was the woman I was going to marry.

It's a lucky thing I fell in love with her at first sight, too, because goddamn, she was a case. Snuck into the reception and discovered my princess chewing out her horn section for being a quarter-beat off. I tried bringing her a glass of bubbly and she blew past me, spilling it all down the side of my jacket. Didn't even glance back. 

A few minutes later I sidled up and she handed me a glass. I thought it was an apology and sipped it. But as soon as I tasted the stale stuff, she laid into me. Thought I was staff and wanted me to take her old drink to the kitchen, not sip it and listen to the conversation. Even when I explained her mistake, she had this way of making it seem like I was wrong.

Should have backed down, as I didn't fare much better in conversation than I did as a waiter. Got verbally spanked on the history of dance, and then on the history of sculpture. As I slunk away she complained that she didn't want to see anymore fans, and I warned a couple of approachers on my way out. Apparently I did it too close to earshot. She peeled right between her fans, berating and jabbing me in the chest until I was up against a wall.

That I didn't throw her across the hall is evidence of love at first sight, or at least extremely patient lust. Even charging me, this woman could move, shuffling her feet like a bird. But banging my head was still too much and I stripped off my jacket, still wet with her stale drink, and tossed it in her face.

Even then, I wasn't really mad. I just wanted to see how mad she'd get at a legitimate provocation. The reaction? Angry like birds in rage, all exaggerated head turns and fluttering her arms. Any time she got tiffed for the rest of the night she'd glare at me across the floor, like I was an investor in everything that got under her skin. No doubt in my mind that's how I landed the first date.

This is a new version of an old story that ran in BURST Magazine in 2009. This version is dedicated to five people. The first four are Sonia, Mari, Catherine and Danni, who talked with me on Twitter about the lack of happy endings in flash yesterday. The fifth is Randall, who deserves one.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Wire Cutters

“The wire cutters,” Chris asked for the third time. He turned from the bomb’s ticking counter and looked at the other guy. The guy was sifting through the toolbox. Chris spat the words directly into his face. “Wire cutters. What are you, deaf?”

Rather than reach into the box, the man raised his hands and signed, “Yes.”

That didn’t feel good. Neither did the bomb going off behind him.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blurbs for the Greatest Book Never Written

“Danni La Paglia's steamy summer debut is Harry Potter meets Jurassic Park meets The Bible - but better!"

Philip Roth says, “I’m not really saying this, but holy shit, give this lady my Booker.”

“A page-turner you can’t put down. It’ll break your heart, leave you breathless and begging for more. The #2 Newspaper-You-Don’t-Read Bestseller is this season’s must-read instant classic!”

"Remember that part in Holy Grail when the Nazi drinks from the wrong cup? This book will do that to your soul. Danni La Paglia's YA novel is the real fake holy grail of YA novels."

“Sparkling vampires have never been so terrifying or profound as in Danni La Paglia’s timely and timeless e-book.”

"David Lynch to join Pixar, 'solely for privilege of adapting this masterpiece.'"

“Breaking News: Time Magazine revises Best 100 Hundred Novels list, boots Orwell and Pynchon to give La Paglia’s mind-bending blockbuster two slots.”

"Lone message board troll hunted down and beaten to death for three-star review of La Paglia's scintillating opus on the human heart."

"Christopher Hitchens announces that Danni La Paglia's masterpiece has convinced him there is a God, and that ‘GOD is pretty fucking GREAT.' The Pope has similarly announced a shocking change of mind, for this book has convinced him not only is there a God - it's Danni La Paglia."

"Breaking News: Library of Congress to receive one more book, then close permanently. Quote: 'Danni La Paglia has finished literature. English is now complete.'"

"Brazil knocks down last of its rain forests in case La Paglia wants to do a paperback copy of sequel."

"National Day of Mourning announced for the thousands who took their own lives when they realized La Paglia wouldn't have a sequel out before Fall."

"La Paglia's Novel of Mass Destruction case not to be tried at International Criminal Court. Quote: 'We don't want to fuck up her writing schedule. What happens to the ponies, Danielle?'"

"Report: Sun rising faster in anticipation of its rays sooner landing on La Paglia's unfinished pages. Millions freeze on neglected side of earth."

Stephen Hawking says, "Science has dropped the ball on this one before, but we're pretty sure the universe revolves around Danni La Paglia's novel."

"Breaking News: Physicists fear composition of sequel to Danni La Paglia's masterpiece will give universe two centers, thus tearing space/time fabric. Reading public still more concerned if Vlad and the Pony Keeper hook up."

Jesus Christ says, "I heard fears of global catstrophe might convince Danielle not to write the second novel, so I figured I'd show up and talk her into it. Hold on."

"The mere rumor of this sequel causes world to end. 99% of respondents say, 'worth it.' Pre-order now!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bathroom Monologue: Possible Origins for Him. 15.

Riddle me this.

What caped crusader once carried a gun?

What dark knight now swears never to kill?

Who would be better at removing evidence and covering his trail than the world’s greatest detective?

Now riddle me this.

Who is as pale as a sheet?

Who does not seem to age across decades?

Whose laugh penetrates the mortal psyche?

Who vengefully torments one troubled soul?

Who is unable to be restrained in this asylum, moving from cell to cell to office to lobby to the front gate, all too often without detection or rational explanation?

Lastly, riddle me this.

Was it never to kill? Or never to kill again?

Haunting questions.

More lastly, riddle me this.

Why does Eddie talk this way?

Is it defensive?

Is it productive?

Is it annoying when I do it, too?

So many questions.

But seriously, Eddie. Shut up.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Let Another One In at Every Day Fiction

Today's story is over at Every Day Fiction. They've purchased and published "Let Another One In," a vampire comedy flash of mine about seeking a safe place to hide for the day. Bonus points to everyone who gets the title.

You can comment on the story here or at EDF. EDF also has a ratings system, and any votes would be appreciated. You can read "Let Another One In" for free by clicking this link.

Thanks to everyone for their support. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Not For a Doomsday Weapon as recorded by Max Cantor

Today I'm happy to bring you an audio recording of one of my stories by Max Cantor. This is "Not For a Doomsday Weapon, which popped up a few months ago.

This is all your fault.

So Nothning was running away. You know his name, right? That's the little guy whose soul you hid your doomsday weapon in, or whatever the hell is actually going on there. That's one of the two loose ends I don't understand yet. But you scared the crap out of Nothning, and he ran away, and to the best of my knowledge, you have shadowy goons chasing him.

Nothning has two very dear friends. I'm one of them, and I certainly wouldn't have the brass to talk to you if I wasn't. There's me and Furnhang. The three of us have always been very loyal, so when he ran with assassins at his back, we tailed to protect him. In that horse chase, it was Furnhang that brained your guys with a yoke. In case that story's reached here, that was him. Not me. Yes.

Your eyes tell me the stories haven't reached here. Okay. We're little people, except Furnhang. He's the big guy, flowing golden hair. Obscenely attractive. He's in one of your cells. Was captured protecting Nothning.

You don't care. Why would you? You're evil. You’re powerful. You do things.

You should care because of these two ladies. When a guy is that charismatic, love interests follow. The first was this shopkeeper girl. Don't know her name. She never talks to me. Honestly, she's kind of a bitch. She was bent on following the golden-haired guy on his big adventure, which chaffed Pandling. Commander Pandling.

See, the shopkeeping bitch is in a rivalry with Pandling over who's going to bang/marry/live-happily-ever-after with Furnhang. So when Pandling hears that shopkeeper girl is following him to certain death, she's all, "Let me die for him too, and more tragically! Then he'll love me."

A commander doesn't follow somebody into contested territories alone. She is followed by her command, in this case some five hundred highly trained foot soldiers who unquestioningly followed her highly questionable lead. They crossed over and even your army shrank back. Which we appreciated, because you totally would have had us that night if you kept going.

It was pretty startling on our side, too. So startling that Pandling's fellow commanders thought she was making a power play and moved their forces in to steal the glory. That's why you had three hulking commands bouncing into the contested territories instead of one. None of these people were coming to help Nothning. They didn't even know he existed.

Too late. They do now. I told them.

The next part is entirely your fault. I assume it's you, or some paranoid admiral. Because no sooner are Nothning and I kicking back and relaxing, no longer fearing death amongst the thousand-plus heroes around us, then your freaking Serpent Fleet comes sailing up the coast. So now three commands are looking at dozens of corsairs and cannons. Were those warning shots? Because I thought so, but the commanders did not agree. You fired in the vicinity of three overachieving commanders and immediately they called in the aquatic cavalry. That is seriously the only reason you've got an oceanic stalemate right now.

I don't know what brought on the sky-whales. Didn't think those were real until they swooped through the clouds and started eating people. From the number of ogre skeletons in their droppings, I'm presuming your side doesn't have a much better handle on them. We have no idea what they're after. Commander Pandling thinks your cannonfire woke them up. Nothning thinks they're after your weapon.

Good damned luck finding my buddy, by the way. Thanks to everyone overreacting he's got the biggest, bloodiest crowd in creation in which to hide. And if the commands retreat, he’s going with them and letting them have your stupid weapon, even though as I’ve just described, these people are nuts.

But Nothning extends you this offer: if Furnhang and I go back to him alive before sunset, we’re going underground. Permanent style. Your enemy does not get the big doomsday weapon. You don’t, they don’t, and everybody deals with the sky-whales in their own way.

Up to you how this goes. That’s only how it’s unfolded so far. How it’s actually unfolded. Maybe you can team up with the commands and we’ll all survive this mess. I doubt it - I mean, I'll survive. Providing you don't kill me, I'm digging the deepest hole possible and staying down there until the smell of whale droppings fades. I just presume you're going to charge and get everyone killed, because that's the kind of stupid drama this situation seems intent on heading toward.
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