Friday, 31 January 2014

Unsung Antiquities



As the most exclusive antiques dealer in London, I’ve seen a lot of oddities. Sure, your low market guys have to deal with fakes and worthless crap, but the peerage and the upper crust? They think the weirdest things are valuable.

Like last week, this Lord came in and placed a painting and a manuscript on the table, and asked for a price. I looked them over.

“Well, this is real van Gogh, and this is a Shakespeare original.”

“Valuable then, yes?”

“A little, if you find hardcore collectors. I mean, van Gogh texts are common and Shakespeare couldn’t paint…”

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Maintaining The Gimmick



Every week, when he came to ringside, at the end of his intro spiel, he’d claim he was a genius.

“I speak five dead languages! And I can tell it’s not butter!”

And now he was sitting in front of the singer-songwriter of the famous “Unspeakable You”. He claimed that he knew who it was about.

He got called on it.

The moment the camera crew left, he began to beg.

“Look, it’s just a gimmick, I have no idea who the song’s about, unless it’s… You? I dunno.”

Her jaw dropped. And then she begged to maintain her gimmick.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

My Friends’ Friends



As I entered the room, my Redriver counterpart was sculling back some mead.

“Ah, join me in trying this, you people make a good drop…” he exclaimed. I shook my head and looked over the map, feeling something was wrong.

“Are you sure your allies are loyal?”

He snorted.

“Of course! Fastwater has always been loyal to us, and the Elves want access to our wool, and the Dwarves? We’ve been trading with them for decades! Relax!”

“But… What if the Dwarves get a better offer?”

He went to laugh this off, but the floor gave way at that point.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Finding Its Way



I stormed onto my boss’ cloud.

“We need to sort this out.” I said with no fanfare. His wings ruffled, a sign he was annoyed, but I had to press on.

“Look, I understand why we started getting people to live in cities, it certainly made it easier to ensure their soul mates were within close proximity, and also allowed for backups to be lost in the crowd until such time as they were needed. But what about those outside the cities? They aren’t being matched quickly…”

Then Cupid tossed me a file.

‘The Internet’, it’s called. Should solve everything.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Faulty Pattern Recognition



Jack and Geoff had an agreement, Jack didn’t try to convert Geoff, and Geoff didn’t quote Dawkins at Jack. But then after yet another failed relationship, Jack saw something.

“Look buddy, the last few girls, remind me, going backwards it was...?”

“Uh, well I just got dumped by Mary, before her was Faith, then before that was Grace, Chastity, Ruth… What?

“And you don’t see a pattern here? You don’t think that maybe there’s something missing, a hole you’re trying to fill?”

“I… You may be right…”

Jack was pleased, until a week later when Geoff introduced him to Mark…

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Australian Pride



She was standing on the corner with a perplexed look on her face.

“G’day love. Need a hand?”

She turned and smiled. I could tell from her teeth she was a Yank. But hot.

“’G-Day’” she began, as I tried to hide my smile. “I was looking for the Subway station.”

“Train’s this way love, follow me. So where you headed?”

“To the Zoo, I want to see a Koala Bear, but apparently they aren’t all over the place…”

I chuckled.

“I got a pet one at home…”

Hey, what’s more Aussie then lying to get into some girl’s pants?

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Overlooking Armageddons



He entered the large crystal doors to be met by a smartly dressed Arachnoid mothertype.

“Hello, and welcome to The Facility. Please follow me to your new workplace.”

She spun around and led me to an empty crystalline cave in a wall full of them. She waved a griplimb and the wall lit up.

“We monitor 47,634,196 different beings, forces or items that have the Armageddon rating of potential damage here at The Facility. You shall assist in this.”

I looked at her.

“But there’s 47,634,197 of them.”

She looked worried till I pointed to the counter behind her rising.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Ties That Bind



Mother and daughter is supposed to be a bond that is unshakable, a love that is deeper and stronger than man can comprehend.

Kathryn and Ashley didn’t have that.

Nothing Ashley did was right in her mother’s eyes, and everything Kathryn said was insulting or old-fashioned nonsense. Bob tried to keep the peace between his wife and daughter, he tried to get them to see things from each other’s view, but it was impossible to find common ground.

Hell, the only thing they had in common was that they both hated Bob’s bowties.

And bad puns, they hated them too.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

In Defence of Abcde Starflowers



“You’re mad Dr. Expolio!”

“Mad? Mad you say?” said the mad doctor, leaning down to peer at the young, handsome man strapped to the side of his command console.

“I assure you, no ‘madman’ could build a Comet Attraction Device and use it to pull Halley’s Comet towards the Earth! And now-“

The doors of the room suddenly burst, a couple of guards sprawling out across the floor as a woman calmly strode in, smoking nonchalantly.

“Who the hell are you?”

“Smith. Jane Smith.”

There was a pause, as everyone tried to work out why the moment suddenly felt wrong.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Old Man McGregor



Old Man McGregor was the terror of the neighbourhood. Kids stayed away from his corner, for fear of bills for ruined gardens. Adults hated him since any attempt to do anything, from apartments to a new park bench, he’d block it with legal arguments and disagreeable ‘negotiations’.

Sally grew up with this, but she knew there had to be something that had caused this, something in his past that had turned him into such a horrible old man. So, she worked hard, and eventually she discovered time travel.

And found out McGregor was just as disagreeable as a young man.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Soft White, Hard Black



One of them emerged from a sleek black limo, a couple of discreet bodyguards watching over the coffee shop.

The other rode up on a pushbike, leaning it against a tree with no chain.

Theoretically they were enemies. As agents of light and dark, good and evil, as an Angel and a Devil, they should be trying to destroy each other.

But after a couple thousand years, they had developed, if not friendship, an agreement.

This included the occasional coffee.

Afterwards, the Angel went back to running his cable channel, while the Devil rode off to further corrupt the Internet.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Maybe Maybe Maybe



“… till death do you part?”

She paused, and looked out across the assorted guests.

“I…”

She took a breath and sat down. After a moment, the groom joined her, looking confused.

“Honey?”

“I just… I’m not sure about this. I love you, but… I’m not the girl you think I am. I have these… Impulses.”

He considered it for a moment.

“Maybe… Maybe… Maybe we could, I dunno, explore these impulses together?”

“Really?”

“Well sure. I want you to be happy with your life.”

Ended up as the first married couple to both get the death penalty in years…

Sunday, 19 January 2014

No No No



“… till death do you part?”

She paused, and looked out across the assorted guests.

“I don’t.”

There was stunned silence, and in the moment she ran for it.

She quickly gathered what she could from home and headed for the border. Within a week, she had a new name and identity.

Her new life was full of danger, as she turned to crime to survive. She dealt drugs, ran a brothel, anything ‘illegal’ but profitable.

But after taking a bullet to the gut, as she lay there dying, one thought ran in her head.

What if she’d said yes?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Yes Yes Yes



“… till death do you part?”

She paused, and looked out across the assorted guests.

“I do.”

There was applause, and several sighs of relief.

The ceremony continued like clockwork, the cake, the dancing, the celebration. And then came the honeymoon, and then a life of wedded ‘bliss’.

And she didn’t hate it, far from it. She was content, and raised a family, and even got the hang of baking.

But every day, for a few moments, she’d wonder. She knew it was crazy, knew that she did the right, smart thing, but what if…

What if she said no?

Friday, 17 January 2014

Bridge Over Calm Waters



There should have been some drama in their surroundings. A rain storm at the very least, but gusts of wind would have been perfect.

There should have been shouting, or crying, or long monologues about love with pop culture metaphors.

There should have been a happy ending, a tearful embrace and kiss.

Or shouting and crying and angry running away, that would have been acceptable as well.

Instead, they just stared at the water beneath them, and then one mumbled the suggestion they were through. The other one agreed.

And the river of life just kept quietly flowing around them.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Aesop 2.0: 7. The Warthog And The Elephant



The warthog was fresh from under his mother’s nose, and had decided to enjoy himself. He chased female warthogs, ate garbage, and wallowed in muck just because it felt good. During one wallowing, he looked up and saw an elephant staring. The warthog stuck out his tongue and ran away laughing. Years later, the warthog was looking for bugs when it found itself in the path of some running elephants. It cried out, but the head elephant looked down and said “I remember you…” as it crushed the warthog.

“Be careful what you do and say, it will be remembered.”

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Ice Breaking 101



“Get over your social anxiety!” said the cheap flyers. At the appointed time, slowly but surely guys and girls began to sheepishly head in and take seats quietly, most pulling out phones and staring at them.

Near the front the reception was bad, apparently, as a guy and girl made eye contact.

“Oh… Hi…” managed the male, his soft voice drifting across the seats.

“Hi…” came the sheepish reply.

“I uh… I’m not really sure about this…” he eventually squeaked out.

“Me neither… Coffee?”

“OK.”

The two stood and then turned around.

“See, achievable, and we’ll help you get there…”

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Wartime Experimentation



He had been caught behind enemy lines, and after some beatings he awoke to find himself secured by the arms to the floor, spread eagle. Above him stood two men in lab coats, and a large funnel.

“Water torture? Really? That desperate?” he spat.

The older ‘scientist’ smiled.

“No, experiment.” he said in accented English. He turned a knob, and the funnel began to drip liquid onto the subject’s arm. Every drop burnt just a little. The doctors left.

When they came back, they learned that it wasn’t wise to burn off the limb you were holding someone down with.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Under Rainbow Skies



He had been under a hundred skies, seen thousands of lands. He had seen a triple sun rise, and watched moons break apart, supernovas form. He had met almost every type of life in the universe. Some were customers, some were commodities, and some were conquests.

His life had been an almost constant adventure, every cycle brought new excitements, new wonders, new experiences, many of them never before experienced by humanity. Life on the edge of the galaxy was never dull. Not a moment.

But right now, as he bled out under a rainbow sky, none of that really mattered.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Aesop 2.0: 6. The Spider And Its Web



The Spider was proud of its web, which covered a whole tree. The spider could feel the web, and instantly know anything it could want to know, from the weather to what animals were passing by, any information no matter how trivial, it could find out via its web. But although the web was huge, it wasn’t able to catch any insects, and the spider didn’t know how to do so, just how to get more information. And so it eventually died, hungry and lost in a sea of useless information

“Access to information is not the same as knowledge.”

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Playing The Game



For as long as the four of them had been married, it had been The Game, worthy of the capitalisation. Every Tuesday night, they all kissed their wives on the cheek, drove over to Pete’s house and played a friendly few hours of poker. Texas Hold ‘Em, usually. Phones were turned off, only Pete’s landline remained on as they had their fun. Certainly it was tamer than what they could be getting up to, their wives agreed.

Except that it wasn’t a five handed poker game. It was a four handed game. Every fourth week, each guy saw their mistress…

Friday, 10 January 2014

Beat Extraction



Yeah, a busy nightclub isn’t the ideal location for a raid, but the target, while being just another spoilt rich kid, was a spoilt rich kid who hired a damn good bodyguard team. This was the best place to try.

So, my team got into position, and then as the club DJ began to play another drum heavy song, we went in, our charges blowing the huge statue overlooking the dance floor onto said floor.

My guys quickly surrounded his guys, but in the confusion they got their weapons out, we were in a stand-off.

And then the base dropped.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Thank You Orson Welles…



It had taken decades, but finally all the legal issues were sorted out, and time travel tourist packages were sold, albeit for huge sums of money.

Business was slow, given that every major event in history was on the blacklist and off limits. But luckily for Mr and Mrs Borden, the ‘War of the Worlds’ Radio Scare wasn’t mentioned. So they went back, expecting to see panic and mayhem like their grandparents told them about.

Turns out it was mostly a beat up in the papers.

And that’s why they got beat up, and time travel suddenly got ‘discovered’ early…

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Pep Talk



She sat me down over a coffee.

“Look, it’s time you stopped moping, and-“

“Who’s moping?”

“You.

Look, OK, Vanessa dumped you. That hurts, sure. But as your sister I have to be the one to tell you, you’ve gotta get back on the horse, as it were.”

“I honestly don’t get where you’re coming from here.”

She rubbed her temples.

“You haven’t met anyone since Vanessa, you barely go out, you’re not making any effort to socialise… You expect a girl to just fall into your lap?”

“Sure. Vanessa did.”

“Oh, I give up.”

Deep down, so had I.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Truly, An Epic Battle



Atop The Celeste Peak, the tallest point in all of Tovakia, the two mages battled. The fate of the world surely rested on this battle. As the storm clouds spun above them, Sanstonus paced, his eyes not leaving Colgin’s form.

“Come now, what are you waiting for? The great Sanstonus, afraid? You cannot hope to get past my amulets and magical armor!”

Colgin pounded the heavy steel breastplate of his full armor, magical amulets clinking.

“True, my power is not enough to bypass your defences. But the Gods have provided.”

Colgin looked confused until the lightning bolt hit him, hard.

Monday, 6 January 2014

A Critical Eye



It was the opening of a new collection. The two critics looked at the canvas, bare except for a few stray flicks of paint.

“Such a powerful piece. With so few brushstrokes, the artist is able to capture your imagination, make you reconsider the futility of life itself.”

“With all due respect, I don’t think that’s what this piece represents at all. Clearly this is about man’s inhumanity to man, how the quest for enlightenment is marred by the violent world.”

At that point the artist strode over and muttered something before flipping the canvas around to show the painting.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

30 Seconds of El Comediante Mask’s Act



But I tell you, my valet is a bit of ditz. She thought the booker was calling her Apple Computing made chocolate.

She also got real upset after I did my last time limit draw. She had wanted to see the Spiderman musical.

Of course, that was after I finally got her to get to ringside in front of women. She’s scared of mice.

But she’s always there to slide me weapons. Even if she keeps buying cheap Chinese crap to use…

And don’t get her started on shoot names. She’s still trying to work out which diva is Kay…

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Mining Information



It was set up to help educate people. Every week, an expert would come along in some field, and they’d give a short speech on said field and then answer emailed questions. This week it was an expert in economic theory.

He seemed bemused by some of the questions, but did his best to answer why America still had pennies, how much new gold would sink gold prices, and if it was true that gay marriage would stimulate the economy.

He didn’t make the connection when the new gold mine was shockingly discovered that produced just shy of his estimate…

Friday, 3 January 2014

“I Want A Lawyer…”



“I want a lawyer…”

“Oh, so you want a lawyer, do you? I thought you did nothing wrong, I thought you were just an innocent bystander?”

“I want a lawyer…”

“Well I guess that we’d have to honor that request… Oh wait, we don’t! After all, this is just a friendly conversation! Nothing we need to bother lawyers about, right Captain?”

“I want a lawyer…”

“But why? You said that it wasn’t your drugs, that you just found everyone like that? Why would you need a lawyer?”

“Fine, you’ll do.”

He let the monster inside feast on the cops instead.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lazy Susan



Lazy Susan.

Ever since she was a kid, when her Uncle had called her that, she had certainly lived up to the name. She never showed an interest in sports, or nature, or even in going out and playing with other children.

And as she grew up she just got lazier. She’d get up just early enough to catch the school bus, just early enough to make her lectures, just early enough for her job.

Eventually she had to change, her parents thought. She’d meet a guy (or girl) and she’d gain some motivation.

They didn’t count on Idle Handel…

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Haiku Discovery



The softness of light,
Playing on the cherry blossom,
Peace and good will all.

All day, every day, it was all he did.

Babbling water,
Flowing over the cracking rock,
All must change some day.

Stuck outside, sitting under a tree, no matter the weather, hail, rain or shine.

Buzzing Butterfly,
How do you stay so beautiful?
Unanswerable.

Ten new haikus a day, or he was beaten. Severely.

Snowy mountaintops,
Off so far in the distant sky,
Perfect but lonely.

Could wear a guy down.

Screw all this nonsense,
I fucking hate nature and Sir,
Time for blade to cut.