Cardboard Jungle

Pricilla looked around her new apartment and groaned.  “I am going to die from cardboard poisoning,” she said.  She looked at the first box in the cardboard jungle and thought about opening it.  Then she turned back to the gin bottle on the table next to her freshly made tonic water and thought that would be infinitely better.

“Don’t you dare be drinking anymore before you get some unboxing done girly girl.”

Pricilla moaned, but with a smile on her face.  “Damn it Max, now you can read minds?”

Max walked out of the doorway to their bedroom.  He was dressed in his leopard print robe and black dress socks.  “Honey, I put a ring on that finger,” Max said.  “That means we are like connected, so give it up and cut loose.  Who knows what you’ll find in that treasure-trove of cardboard.”

Pricilla wondered what he had on underneath that robe.  She wondered quickly if she could get his mind off unpacking by seducing him.  She whipped took off her t-shirt, showing her lacey black bra underneath.  “Forget the treasure-trove, I want to do a different type of exploring,” she said.

“Man, it is quite hot in here,” Max said, fanning himself.  “Just means we need to find a fan in one of these boxes to cool it off while we work.”

Pricilla frowned.  “You’re no fun.  Why did I marry you again?” she asked.

Max picked up a box cutter and opened a random box.  “You wanted to live the high life girly girl.  What’s more exciting than opening up a billion birthday presents, and it’s not even your birthday,” Max said.  He pulled out a lamp and a couple of stuffed animals used to wedge the lamp inside.  “See, look at this one. “  He threw one of the stuffed animals, a bear he had won for her at the state fair the week before they were engaged.  It hit her in her pouty mouth.  “Bullseye!”

“Birthday presents?” Pricilla asked.

Max nodded.  “That’s the ticket, Honey.  Open them like you stole them,” he said.

“Then I should dress appropriately,” Pricilla said.  She unhooked her bra and let it fall to the floor.

“Girly girl, you’re making it hard for a man to do some honest work,” Max said, but he didn’t reach for another box.

Pricilla stood up and removed her shorts and panties.  “Now I’m in my birthday suit,” she said.  “Now do you still want to open presents, or should we explore our bedroom?”

Max put down his box cutter.  “Honey, are you always going to fight dirty like that?  You know we have all these boxes to unpack,” he said.

Pricilla didn’t answer.  She just walked past Max, swaying her naked hips as she went into the bedroom.  “The boxes will still be there in the morning,” she said.

Max looked at the boxes and the bedroom.  “Girly girl, I should just leave you to your own devices and get this job done.”  There were no noises from the bedroom.  Max looked at all the cardboard and shuddered.  “Okay, honey, on second thought you’re right.”

He put down his box cutter and headed into the bedroom.  There Pricilla lay in bed on her side, giving him a full view of herself.  “Of course I am,” she said with a huge smile on her face.  “That’s the real reason why you married me.”

“You’ve got me girly girl,” Max said as he climbed into bed next to her.

“I know I do,” Pricilla said as she gave Max a deep kiss.  “I know I do.”

The Black Plague (100 word post)

A pox was cast upon the land.  It was so virulent that it caught up a majority of the population.  No matter where they turned, the uninfected were exposed to those that had caught the malady.  The epidemic had an extreme social and economic impact, such that as a nation we will never be the same again.  Research and money has been thrown at the issue, but it only expanded the sickness.  This is why the plague is called “Black Friday”.

Oh, and those of you who enjoy Black Friday, I hope you found the deals you were searching for.  :>)

Soulmates

Wanted: Lost soul

Went missing twelve years ago.  Last seen at Alfonzo’s, a small Italian restaurant on the south side of Detroit.  A man there named Ronaldo with the most amazing blue eyes memorized me and convinced me that he was the one.  I didn’t realize I had given him my soul until he took it with him as he left.  While it has made life easier being soulless in the modern world, I wish now to have my soul back.  I mean, I do live in Detroit.  If you don’t have soul in Detroit…

Two weeks later

Reply: Lost Soul

I apologize for taking your soul, but I was left with little choice.  Our souls have been searching for each other for centuries, and finding you there was a dream come true.  The problem is that your current body was just not my type, so I took your soul and we have been happy for the past ten years.  My problem is that the past two years have been difficult since I have met a new woman who does not love the idea of a threesome.  Of course since I took your soul without asking, I didn’t think it was right to kick it to the curb.  Give me your address and I will send your soul back to you.

Two weeks later

Reply: Lost Soul

I read your reply and it wouldn’t be fair to separate those souls again.  Why don’t you send me both of the souls since you obviously would prefer to be soulless and in a physical relationship than be in the beautiful  harmony of two souls finally finding each other after cascading through space and time looking for centuries.  Send them to me here: XXXXXX

Two weeks later

Reply: Lost Soul

I hope you received the souls safely.  I felt so free when I sent them to you, but now I regret my decision.  My lady friend does not like the new soulless me and has left me for another old soul.  Do you like your new arrangement, or would you like to send them back?  I’m just curious.

Two months later

Reply: Lost Soul

Ever since I have not one soul, but two, I have not been the business woman I once was.  As a matter of fact I am now almost homeless, but the love I feel makes it all worth while.  While I will not give back the souls, would you have a room I can live in temporarily until I can get back on my feet?

Two days later

Reply: Lost Soul

Depends, what do you look like now days?

Thanksgiving Prayer

Timmy wondered what he would be thankful for this year.  Every Thanksgiving Grandpa would say a prayer over the meal and ask everyone, one at a time, to say one thing they were grateful for.  Last year he had said he was thankful for his toy car.  Grandpa was fine with that, but his mother later explained that he should have said something that wasn’t toy related.  Now they were pulling into the village that Grandpa lived in and Timmy was worried.  What would he say this year?

“You’re being awfully quiet back there,” Dad said.  “Is everything all right?”

“I’m trying to decide what to be thankful,” Timmy said.

Dad twisted the rear view mirror around and gave Timmy a quick smile.  “Me too.  It’s been a tough year.”

Timmy nodded, not sure how to describe what he felt.  His dad fixed the mirror and continued.  “Your mom would have been proud at all the thought you’re putting into it.”

Timmy stared out the window, tears falling silently down his face.

Dad pulled into Grandpa’s driveway and Grandpa poked his head out the front door.  Grandpa had such a big smile on his face that it immediately banished the gloom that Timmy felt.  Timmy quickly wiped the tears from his face with his shirt sleeve.  He didn’t want to make Grandpa sad.

Grandpa opened Timmy’s door and helped him out of his car seat.  “How is my little man?” asked Grandpa.

“I’m hungry,” said Timmy.

His dad laughed.  “You are a bottomless pit,” Dad said.  “I can’t keep that kid full.”

“He’s a growing man,” said Grandpa.

“No Grandpa,” Timmy said.  “I’m seven.”

Grandpa gave him a big hug and then swung Timmy onto his shoulders.  “Yes you are, but not for long,” Grandpa said as he carried Timmy to the house.  “Pretty soon you will be away in college trying to keep all the girls away.”

“Eww, girls are yucky,” Timmy said.

Dad took the suitcase out of the trunk.  “You keep thinking that, Timmy,” Dad said.

“Except for Mom,” Timmy continued.

That brought Grandpa up short.  He swung Timmy down and gave him a strong hug.  “Well, keep thinking that too, Timmy,” Grandpa said.  “Your mom, was pretty special.”

“Do you miss her too?” asked Timmy.

Grandpa stood up and opened the door.  “Every day, but I still have you, and that’s like having her here,” Grandpa said.

Dad came up behind Grandpa and gave him a pat on the shoulder.  “Agreed.”

Timmy thought about what Grandpa had said, but it didn’t quite make sense to him.  Then his tummy grumbled.  “My tummy is getting angry,” Timmy said.

Grandpa smiled weakly.  “Well then go inside.  Dinner is just about ready.  It isn’t as nice as, well it just isn’t,” Grandpa said.  “But it is food and family and”

“Thanksgiving!” shouted Timmy as he entered the house and saw the plastic cornucopia on the table.  The scent of turkey surrounded Timmy and seemed to give his nose a high five.  “I can’t wait!” he said.

“Go wash your hands, and I’ll get the bird ready,” Grandpa said.

That motivated Timmy to run upstairs to the bathroom and pull out his stool.  He pumped soap into his hand and turned on the faucet.  As he rubbed his hand under the falling water that fear came back.  What was he going to be thankful for?  He slowly shut off the water, now dreading going back downstairs.  His stomach rumbled again.  “Just be quiet,” Timmy said.  “I don’t know what to say yet.”

“Are you coming?” asked Dad from downstairs.

Timmy just wanted to hide in the bathroom.  He didn’t want to be thankful for a toy.  He couldn’t say Dad or Grandpa since that would leave the other one out.  He could say his family, but that seemed lame.  He wanted to ask his mom what he should do, but that wasn’t possible.  Timmy just sat on his stool not knowing what he was going to do.

Footsteps coming up the stairs made Timmy just seize up.  He needed more time.  Someone knocked at the door.  “Timmy?” Grandpa asked.  “Are you okay?”

“I’m not done yet,” said Timmy.

“Do you need some help?” asked Grandpa.

“I don’t know,” said Timmy.

It was quiet for a moment, then Grandpa asked, “May I come in?”

Timmy waited for a moment, but decided he really needed the help.  “Sure,” Timmy said.

Grandpa opened the door and nodded seeing Timmy there.  “I was wondering if you were okay,” Grandpa said.  Grandpa came into the bathroom and sat on the closed toilet.  “Want to talk about it?”

“I don’t know what to be thankful for this year,” Timmy said.  “I don’t want to ruin Thanksgiving.”

“Timmy, you won’t ruin Thanksgiving.  You’re being too hard on yourself,” Grandpa said.

Timmy was not convinced.  “But Mom didn’t like it when last year I was thankful for my car.  She told me I should think of something else.  But I don’t know what to say.  I don’t want to Mom to be sad because I did something stupid.  I want to make her proud of me,” Timmy said through a new fountain of tears.

Grandpa twisted on the toilet and put his hands on Timmy’s shoulders.  Tears were welling up in his eyes as well.  “My daughter did some amazing things in her life, but her most amazing thing was having you.  She was proud of you before you were born and proud of you when she breathed her last.  Always remember that,” Grandpa said.  “Just try your best, that’s all she, or anyone else, can ask.”

“But I still don’t know what to be thankful for,” Timmy said.

“Then I won’t ask you this year,” said Grandpa.  “It’s as simple as that.”

Timmy shook his head.  “No Grandpa.  I want to do it.”

Grandpa pulled Timmy to him and gave him another strong hug. “Just speak from your heart then.  Everything will be fine.”

Timmy nodded and pulled back.  “Okay then, I think I know now.”

Grandpa smiled and wiped away his tears with a towel.  “Good, because that bird is getting cold, and we don’t want that,” he said.

“Until tomorrow,” Timmy said.  “That’s when we have sandwiches!”  Timmy’s stomach growled in agreement.

Grandpa laughed at that.  “You are right there, Timmy.  Right there.  Let’s go get something to eat.”

Down on the table all the food was out.  The three people brought together by one woman sat around the table, heads bowed in prayer.  Grandpa continued, “Thank you Lord for this meal and the ability for our little family to come together.  You give us so much every day that we take most of it for granted.  On this day set aside for thanks giving, hear our prayer and know that we are truly thankful for…”

There was a short silence and Dad spoke up, “I thank you for Timmy.  I am proud to be his dad and am thankful for the person he is.”

Another little bit went by and Grandpa spoke up again, “I am thankful for David bringing Timmy here.  He could have easily gone to his family, but he honored his father in law by sharing this day and time and my grandson.  For that I am extremely thankful.”

Now the silence ate at Timmy.  He knew it was his turn.  He looked at his heart and knew what he had to say.  “God, I am thankful that you took my mom home to be with you.  Not only is she not in pain anymore, but I know she is with me all the time now and not many kids can say that.”

There was a little more silence and then Grandpa choked out, “Amen.”  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, but smiles blossomed as turkey was doled out with extra helpings of stuffing and gravy. In between bites Timmy asked, “Did I do good Grandpa?”

Grandpa looked at Dad and then back to Timmy.  “You did great, Timmy,” Grandpa said.  Dad nodded his head and Timmy smiled knowing his mom was nodding as well.  It made Timmy happy knowing all his family was there.

Assassinated Love (A 200 Word Story)

The cell phone rang for the tenth time in the last five minutes, but again Graham let it go to voicemail.  Lorena had cheated on him, so he really didn’t feel like listening to her.  As he sat there though, he began to feel a bit guilty.  Graham didn’t like to act impulsively.  It was usually bad for business, and Graham was a planner.  He decided to give her a chance and play the latest voicemail.

“Graham, I screwed up, but he didn’t mean anything to me.  Would it kill you to answer your phone?”

Graham put on his ear defenders and sighted in on Lorena through her kitchen window.  She held out her cell phone then put it to her ear.  Graham’s phone began to ring again.  “He meant something to me,” he muttered, “and it won’t kill me.”  Graham breathed out and pulled the trigger.  Lorena’s head exploded sending the cell phone flying.  “But it did kill you,” he said.  He took off his ear defenders and walked calmly out of the abandoned house, dropping a match as he closed the door.

The flames climbed high into the night as Graham drove away, turning his heart to ash.

The Trial of Adam part 3

Adam was pretty sore the next day.  He really needed to stop tripping into the bars and stopping the fall with his face.  It was a bad habit to get into.  At least he had made sure that bastard Wendell had a good chance of never procreating.  Wendell had been even more pissed when Henry told him no tattling.  Henry sure was old school.

The hearing went by in a blur.  Adam had signed numerous forms and been inoculated with fifty different antibodies for a planet they had no clue what would kill you.  Soon he was in another waiting room.  He had no clue what was coming next, but he realized that Alice had been right.  The judge had told Adam he would be planetside in less than ten hours.

Justice never moved quickly unless the Federation needed to make the problem disappear.  There had been another riot on one of the homeworlds one of the idiot colonists had come from.  The guy had been a minor noble in a merchant house.  Adam could barely remember the guy’s face.  He did remember the guy had broken into a sobbing fool and had to be restrained when Adam had called from the ship with his plans.  Adam was sure that guy was the first out the door when they had run out of food, and probably not because he wanted to take the chance.

A young man dressed in the formal blue uniform of the Federation Biogenesis Corps entered the room carrying all the world’s problems on his back.  Adam would have laughed if he hadn’t been so worried about what this meant.  Adam had worked with most of the upper management of the FBC, but he had never seen this guy before.  The man didn’t make eye contact and immediately sat down at the sole table in the room and opened his tablet computer.  The holographic display awoke and a blue orb popped into existence.

“Dr. Durst, my name is Liam Harvadash.  I am your off world coordinator.  All your research will go through me for validation and conformation before being added to the master databases,” Liam said.  “The planet here is designated Penal AS-379 and colloquially named Ruckblau.  You will stationed there with three other scientists and a group of roughly one hundred thirty two inmates.”

Adam couldn’t believe his ears.  “Wait, there must be some mistake.  Where is Dr. Guy?  Dr. Antonowitz?”

Liam finally met Adam’s gaze.  “They don’t deal with isolated penal colonies,” Liam said.  Adam’s eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped.  Liam continued.  “You will still get the best equipment I can locate.  This research means a lot to me.”

Adam laughed bitterly.  “Of course it does.  A peon like you would never get work with a scientist of my caliber.  This will make your career.”

“Dr. Durst, I am a scientist in my own right.  Everyone must start someplace,” Liam said.

Adam got up and stormed to the other side of the room.  He then turned back towards Liam and jabbed his finger at him.  “You have to start somewhere?” asked Adam.  “I catalogued my first life world when I was an undergraduate.  My advisor died on the trip, but I had already surpassed the woman.  How many times have you been off world, Liam?”

“Twice,” Liam said, almost drawing his shoulders into himself.

Adam quickly crossed back to the table, but he didn’t sit down.  Instead he bent over Liam, his shadow seemingly making Liam shrink back even more.  “Let me guess,” Adam said.  “once only to orbit as a grade school student and the second when you went to university.”

Liam developed a bit of a backbone and straightened back up a bit.  “We went to Fios in grade school,” he said.

Adam did a flourish with his arms and turned back around.  He began to pace back and forth feeling his new mental cage grow smaller with each step.  “Well you have so much experience.  You will be a director in no time.  Of course I turned that position down at least twelve times because it is a desk job and a xenobiologist should be in the field.”  Suddenly Adam stopped his pacing.  “And that is where I will be stuck from now to eternity.  Okay Liam, earn your keep.  What am I in for?”  With that Adam walked back to the desk, spun the chair backwards and he sat down, staring at the blue orb hanging in space in front of him.

Liam looked ta Adam, dumbstruck.  Adam motioned with his hands to have Liam continue.  “Come on Liam.  I’m done pouting for now.  If you wait too long I will move on to pissed, and you never want to see that.  You are in the calm before the storm.  Please don’t waste your opportunity.”

Liam woke from his stupor and dropped his gaze from Adam and back to the blue dot hanging between the two of them.  With a gesture of Liam’s hand the blue dot expanded and green brown continents came into view.  Liam began to narrate as the virtual planet began to rotate.  “Ruckblau has a gravity that is one point two times normal with a solar year of eleven point three three standard years.”

Adam interrupted.  “Wait, it takes a little over eleven standard years to make one solar rotation?  And yet it supports our type of life?”

Liam looked up from the hologram.  “It is a bit colder than what we would find comfortable, except in its more tolerable regions, especially near the equator.  Do not worry though, it is habitable for most of its regions.”

“When was it discovered?  I hadn’t heard of a planet like this.  And why a penal colony?  This sounds like a likely colonization site,” Adam said.

Liam zoomed out showing the planetary system with its white star anchoring the planets in its gravity well.  Laim then zoomed out even more.  The sun hung in the outer spiral arm of a nondescript galaxy.  “It was detected just a few weeks ago.  As you can see it is in the middle of nowhere, at least for now.  We managed to dial in its coordinates and set up a transport gate that seems to be stable for now.  If that gate collapses, well you know how hard it would be to get people offworld Dr. Durst,” Liam said.

Adam waved off the partial slight.  “Still, this might unlock a whole new part of the universe to explore,” Adam said.  Adam took control of the image and zoomed back in, bringing the planet back into focus.  He zoomed in to see the landmasses and selected an area off a large see where a major river dumped its water into a larger body of water.  “Oh and call me Adam.  I hate my last name.  I almost changed it to White a long time ago.”

“Why didn’t you?” asked Liam.

“Too long a story.  We can discuss it once I’m planetside,” said Adam.  “So when do I go through the gate?”

“We go through in two more hours,” said Liam.  This caused Adam to raise an eyebrow.  “Like you sarcastically pointed out, I need more experience.  And besides, I’m intrigued as well.”

Adam put his hand through the display.  “The let’s shake to commemorate a wonderful adventure,” Adam said.

Liam took Adam’s hand and shook.  “You have an amazing way of redefining exile,” Liam said.

“I know how to be delusional,” Adam said.  “It’s the only way I could live with myself.”

The Trial of Adam part 2

Alice Abernathy had graduated top of her class from law school, and that was the low point of her career.  That was why Adam had hired her.  That and they had dated a while back,  She had dumped him for a multitrillionaire playboy who thought he could get a prenup worth a damn past her.  She now was so rich she owned a few small planetoids.  Still, when Adam had called she had come running.  The publicity from defending a murderer who happened to be the federation’s foremost xenobiologist and an A list celebrity of his own right was too good to pass up.  She was even doing it pro bono.  Well, kind of.  She had first publishing rights, but Adam didn’t care about it.  He still held holograph rights.

Alice was still beautiful enough to take his breath away, but right now Adam needed that awesome brain than that rock hard body located under that dark blue suit.   “So what is the betting line?” asked Adam.

“You are dead by morning is two to one,” Alice said, no hint of a smile in her eyes at all.

“Now that would be swift miscarry of justice,” Adam said.  “We still have to go through all the appeals.”

Alice pointed at the table.  “You might not want to do that,” she said.  “They are offering you a deal.”

“Okay, Adam said.  “Lay it on me.”

“Exile to the newest penal world.  There you will work on identification and classification.  You will have some autonomy, but you would still be a prisoner,” Alice said.

Adam picked up one of the sheets of paper.  It was written in the arcane legalese that only those who had pledged their being to the system were allowed to learn.  He didn’t like that thought since that would mean the system got one step further than he did with Alice, and his ego wouldn’t accept that.  “So that should take like ten years, fifteen tops.” Adam said.  “What happens after that?”

“After that?  There is no after that,” Alice said.  “You settle in till that long dark goodnight.”

Alice would have been a poet if she didn’t love putting people in their place.  “That’s bullshit,” Adam said.  “A life sentence?”

Alice actually stomped her foot.  He had gotten under her skin.  She still had a flame for him.  “Bullshit?” she asked.  “You murdered fifty people on that colony.”

“Allegedly,” said Adam.

“No, not allegedly anymore.  You were found guilty by a sitting jury.  You are a murderer,” Alice said.

“They committed suicide,” countered Adam.  “If they had listened to me they would all be alive and I would have won yet another Confederation Star of Science.”

“You told them to starve slowly while you took the only emergency spacecraft out of the system,” Alice said.

“And they stupidly decided to go hunting on a world I had already declared uncolonizable.  The creatures were so poisonous and borderline sentient that unless you flattened most of the forests from orbit the settlers would be overrun.  Staying in the settlement pod was their only chance.  Yes, it would have been uncomfortable, but most people can stand a two month fast and recover with little or no lasting effects,” Adam said.

Alice looked at him that told him he was crossing a line, but he had been silent about this for so long.  She never let him get on the stand to testify for himself.  He could have shown that idiotic jury and judge that he had done what was needed.  “The Federation needed to know before the next settlement ship put out.  The teleport gate had collapsed so there was no other way than to get far enough to engage a wormhole.”

Alice crossed her arms and looked him in the eye.  “You did it because you wanted to have the credit of your fiftieth world identified and classified.  You knew that Pederson was about to file and you wanted to beat him to the punch.”

“Is that what you’re writing in your version of the story?” asked Adam.

Alice didn’t even blink.  “The worst thing about it is you had room to take ten of them with you.  Ten less people to share what little food was left.”

“Ten more idiots to live with,” Adam said.  Alice looked down her nose at him in disgust.  ”You know exactly what I mean Alice.  Don’t lie to yourself, much less me.  You would have pushed the bastards out the airlock as soon as you were in vacuum.”

“But I wasn’t there to do it,” Alice said.  “I didn’t leave those people to die since help took over four months to get there.”

“It wasn’t my fault I had technical difficulties with the wormhole generator,” Adam said.  “I’m not a dumb engineer.  I’m a scientist.”

Alice poked her finger into his chest.  “It was your fault.  The jury has said so.  Now I was able to get this deal for you and I suggest you take it.”

Adam turned away from Alice and walked towards the door he had come in.  Once again he wanted to scream.  Didn’t they see what a mistake they were making.  He was worth not fifty of those settlers, but fifty thousand at least.  If he wasn’t there when they arrived they would have died in mere days.  He at least had given them a chance.  Still, here he was.  He needed more information.  “What are the alternatives?” Adam asked.

“You will be sentenced to death by scattering teleportation,” Alice said matter of factly.  “I have been told in no uncertain terms that this will be the end game for the state.  No other offers, no other possibilities.”

Adam didn’t turn around.  His thoughts scattering in the hurricane force winds whirling through his mind.  “After everything I have done for the Federation?” he asked.

“Because of those things, and the strings I pulled you are getting one last chance to work,” Alice said.  She walked up behind Adam, but didn’t not reach out to console him.  For some reason that suited him for the moment.

“Look, I can get you your own accommodations, separate from the general population.  You will still have a lab and a chance to do your magic one last time.  Who knows what might happen,” Alice said.

Adam didn’t move a muscle, the winds finally settling in his head.  He didn’t want to do anything to disturb their natural flow.  He looked for patterns, just like he did in the biomes he studied.

“Look, the populace wants you gone.  This deal was tough to get. I promise I’ll work on getting you back sometime,” Alice said.

Finally Adam saw the pattern and he shook his head in disbelief.  He turned and looked Alice in the eye.  “Tell them I’ll take it, but they are making a huge mistake,” Adam said.  Alice looked relieved.  “Oh, and just because I’m exiled doesn’t mean you get the holograph rights.”

Alice shook her head and moved to the door and pounded on it.  She called out, “Henry, the bastard’s all yours.”