Plugs

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Archive for June, 2010

Reduction In Force

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I didn’t see any practical difference when they replaced the bus drivers with chimpanzees. When the grim ladies in the benefits office vanished and octopi took their places I thought it was an improvement. And so it went. In the end, zero human employment wasn’t such a bad thing. The factories ran smoothly staffed by giant spiders and genetically modified prairie dogs. Sylvia and I had our museums, parks, sidewalk cafés, and all the pleasures of a leisured life. I had my games and she had her tableau photography. We loved gallery openings, plays, espresso by the square. We had TIME. All that’s gone now, and I’m a hunted man.

One night I returned to our apartment after spending a couple of pleasant hours playing baseball in the park. I anticipated that Sylvia had prepared a delicious meal – gourmet cooking was a passion of hers. We would settle in at the entertainment portal and launch a beautiful milieu in which to eat our dinner. Maybe Venice before the Melting. I palmed the security pad, slipped inside, and stopped still. I sniffed the air. There was no sound; an acrid scent tickled my nose, and something else. The lights were off.

“Hi honey, I’m home?” My only answer was a faint rustling from the portal area. I flicked on the light.

“Is this a prank?” I think I already knew that it wasn’t. Something a lot like a mantis sat in Sylvia’s favorite chair. Its color matched her skin tone. Its mandibles clacked and a semblance of human speech emanated from its voder.

“This one regrets to inform that the female human has been downsized. This one will function as spouse at greatly reduced expense.”

I was already swinging the bat when the mantis lunged, jaws wide. Dense plastic met chitin-clad protoplasm, and ungodly amounts of green goo mixed with flesh-colored shards splattered everywhere. The mantis’s body jack-knifed across the room, legs thrashing. I dropped the bat and leaped to the chair. Most of Sylvia lay on the floor behind it, in front of the faux bookcase. The carpet surrounded her, wet and brown. I didn’t see her head.

The next thing I remember I was running down the street, bat in hand. I was sticky and I smelled. Everyone else was running too, perhaps for the same reason I was. I heard screams. I’m almost sure they weren’t mine.

end

The Last Log Entries at the Philadelphia Office of the Centers for Happiness Control

Friday, June 25th, 2010

+0 Days
Outbreak of Happiness, probably variant 115, reported in an insurance sales office and adjoining Ethiopian restaurant near Baltimore Avenue at Springfield. Victims have been quarantined and premises are being burned to prevent further spread. We expect full recovery of all affected individuals and an end of this incident within a few days, when the Happiness has run its course.

+1 Days
Three separate reports of Happiness in immediate vicinity, apparently contracted and spread by looters who broke into the restaurant during the early stages of the fire. Two victims have been collected and successfully quarantined, but one is still loose.

Affected individuals in quarantine are showing unusually severe symptoms, including embracing, vivacity, and in those most badly affected, dancing.

+2 Days
Fourteen confirmed reports throughout West and South Philadelphia, and numerous unconfirmed. This strain appears to be new after all and is proving especially virulent, with symptoms now including laughter until weak, cheek-kissing, acrobatic feats, and in one case spontaneous dissolution of an inoperable brain tumor. We have dubbed this new strain “variant 206.”

News reports have created a state of panic. A state of emergency has been declared and the National Guard mobilized.

+3 Days
Happiness now running rampant through Philadelphia, with confirmed cases of variant 206 as far afield as Baltimore, Detroit, and southern Connecticut. Civil order has broken down: uncountable grudges have been ended, stately areas have been decorated with flagrantly unseemly colors, and dancing is now everywhere. Epidemic control personnel have taken to the street in Happiness-proof suits and are attempting to stop the spread of the disease with flamethrowers.

+4 Days
Happiness-proof suits appear to be ineffective against 206; flamethrowers have been co-opted for marshmallow roasting. Cases now being reported throughout the United States and in 16 foreign countries. We have barricaded ourselves in the cafeteria and are holding off the pestilential carnival that has erupted outside using medical-grade automatic weapons. We may not last much longer.

+5 Days
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