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Making Divinity

The Cabbage-Patch God

The Dolls’ Crusade

*A Natural Attraction

A Remarkable Reaction

The Cabbage-Patch God decided to extend Her dominion over humans in order to protect Her future. Gods only exist as long as they have worshipers, and She was afraid that Her plush and painted congregation on the toy shelves didn’t count. Her only human worshiper was Kayla, Her creator. Friday night two of Kayla’s friends were sleeping over. This was a perfect opportunity to win the adoration of Britney and Whitney.

When the doorbell rang, Kayla ran down the stairs, shrieking with delight. She did not carry the Cabbage-Patch God with her, as she had done constantly for the past two weeks. The God felt a pang of worry. It might already be too late.

The three girls burst into the room, clattering past the Cabbage-Patch God where she lay slumped against the wall at the foot of the bed. The girls huddled in front of the desk, and the God could not see what they were looking at.

“He’s SO cute!” Whitney exclaimed, almost dancing in place. There was a faint click.

Britney giggled. “Look at this one! I love his floppy little ears.” More clicks.

Kayla squealed and leaned forward, pointing at something. “This is the cutest puppy ever! I love it SO much!”

The God suddenly felt nauseated and a pulse of weakness passed through Her. She squeezed Her eyes shut and gestured. Giant snowflakes in pastel pink and blue materialized above the girls and began to fall silently. The girls continued to laugh and talk excitedly. They didn’t notice the colored snowflakes because the flakes, which formed just below the ceiling, popped out of existence a few inches above the girls’ heads. The flurry’s intensity diminished. The flakes faded to white, shrank, and finally ceased altogether.

The God rubbed Her eyes vigorously. She needed to do better than that. The Cabbage-Patch God clenched Her fists, gathering Her powers. Let the girls ignore a full-size pink elephant! The wall beside Kayla’s bed acquired a pinkish hue. An irregular bulge suggested tusks, a trunk, and a broad forehead. Kayla’s mother called from downstairs.

“Girls! Lunch time.”

The wall snapped back to vertical and returned to a color that Sherwin-Williams had called “Ivory.”

“I’m starved!” Whitney shouted, and all three ran laughing from the room.

Kayla’s room was silent. The computer monitor on the desk showed a photograph of a dog, which wagged its tail and almost looked ready to jump right out of the screen. Elsewhere in the room, nothing moved.

The End

The RV belonging to the guy who knew everything was parked behind the old building supply place off River Road, and the line to its door already stretched halfway across the parking lot. It was just after 2:00 on a hot Thursday, and the sun blasted me as I got in line.

I was surprised at how quickly we moved, but as I got closer to the RV I figured out why: most people were being turned away. A tall Chinese guy in a cowboy hat stood at the door beneath a camera pointed at the line. Next to the camera was a loudspeaker.

The tall guy must have had an earpiece or something, because as each person came up, he’d tilt his head, then say “Sorry, he can’t see you today,” or just “Sorry,” or sometimes something like “Get out of here, you son of a bitch.” He spoke in a twangy accent.

Three people in front of me there was a skinny woman in her 50′s with red hair, and for her the tall guy just stepped aside. She went in silently. Two minutes later the door burst open and she ran off across the parking lot, crying.

The tall guy, expressionless, closed the door, then turned his attention back to the line.

“Sorry,” he said to the next lady, then to the guy after her, “No.”

The guy in front of me wasn’t having it. “I just–”

“Please clear off before we have to get rough.”

“Don’t you threaten me! I’m seeing him, God damn –”

A nondescript, midwest-accented voice blared over the speaker. “Chad MacIntyre is the one who defaced the war memorial last summer. The spray paint cans are still in his garage.”

The guy in front of me turned white as paste and began backing away across the parking lot. “That’s a lie!” he shouted. “That’s a goddamn lie!” Then he ran for his car, gunned the engine, and tore off.

I was next, and I looked up at the tall guy. He tilted his head, then looked back at me and grinned.

“Mike says go on in,” he drawled. “You get one question, so don’t ask why he’s living in an RV or anything stupid like that, OK?”

“OK,” I said, and stepped up to the door, my heart hammering. My question suddenly felt small and sad.

“You should take those off,” Ophelia told me for the hundredth time as we walked to the cafe. She liked to ride me about my vidglasses every week or so.

A simulated herd of some kind of bird-like dinosaurs leaped over our heads and charged across the street, threading their way through the backed-up traffic. Ornithomimus? I eye-moused one of them to get a pop-up. Sinornithomimus dongi, it turned out. Never heard of them.

“They’re educational,” I said. “They make things more interesting.”

“You know what’s interesting?” she said. “Real life, that’s what’s interesting!”

I nodded and thumbed the advanced features control in my pocket until I got to the simulated mods menu. I eye-selected Ophelia and eye-clicked her clothes off. After a second, her eyes narrowed.

“What are you looking at?” she said, snatching at the glasses. I jerked my head away.

“None of your business!”

A passing businessman frowned at me.

“If you’re tarting me up again, that’s just it, you hear me?” Ophelia said.

I popped up the menu again and switched the option to “naughty schoolgirl,” one of the presets. Ophelia was a little on the scrawny side, but she still had the stuff to fill out a naughty schoolgirl costume.

“OK, I put you back to normal,” I said, mostly not staring.

“You better,” she said. We got to the café and walked in, got swallowed up by the stuffy dark coffee-stained air, and waited for a table behind a huge, tall guy. All of a sudden, I saw her: that girl Magdalena Birch, leaning over a tiny table and laughing with her mousy friend Lisa or Lisolette or whatever her name was.
“Gotcha!” Ophelia shouted, taking advantage of my stop-and-gape moment to grab at my vidglasses. I flinched away, accidentally knocking the glasses off and into a potted plant.

“Now look what you made me do,” I muttered, not looking, feeling in the plant for my glasses.

“Who’re you talking to?” the huge, tall guy said. I didn’t answer. The huge, tall guy stepped closer, right through where my glasses had been projecting Ophelia. “There’s nobody there, dorkwad. Don’t come in here if you’re going to talk to your imaginary friends the whole time.”

I found the glasses, pulled them out, wiped the dirt away. One lens was cracked. The error light was blinking.

Great, Ophelia, I thought. Now are you happy?

Our story today is a classic piece of flash from Howard Phillips Lovecraft, starting what we hope will be a tradition of every now and then mixing our spanking new stories with much less spanking, older pieces. We should probably mention that this story isn’t covered by our usual creative commons license, as it’s actually in the public domain. A technicality, true, but we do not relish the idea of Mr. Lovecraft becoming wrathful with us from beyond the grave.

In the valley of Nis the accursed waning moon shines thinly, tearing a path for its light with feeble horns through the lethal foliage of a great upas-tree. And within the depths of the valley, where the light reaches not, move forms not meant to be beheld. Rank is the herbage on each slope, where evil vines and creeping plants crawl amidst the stones of ruined palaces, twining tightly about broken columns and strange monoliths, and heaving up marble pavements laid by forgotten hands. And in trees that grow gigantic in crumbling courtyards leap little apes, while in and out of deep treasure-vaults writhe poison serpents and scaly things without a name. Vast are the stones which sleep beneath coverlets of dank moss, and mighty were the walls from which they fell. For all time did their builders erect them, and in sooth they yet serve nobly, for beneath them the grey toad makes his habitation.

At the very bottom of the valley lies the river Than, whose waters are slimy and filled with weeds. From hidden springs it rises, and to subterranean grottoes it flows, so that the Daemon of the Valley knows not why its waters are red, nor whither they are bound.

The Genie that haunts the moonbeams spake to the Daemon of the Valley, saying, “I am old, and forget much. Tell me the deeds and aspect and name of them who built these things of Stone.” And the Daemon replied, “I am Memory, and am wise in lore of the past, but I too am old. These beings were like the waters of the river Than, not to be understood. Their deeds I recall not, for they were but of the moment. Their aspect I recall dimly, it was like to that of the little apes in the trees. Their name I recall clearly, for it rhymed with that of the river. These beings of yesterday were called Man.”

So the Genie flew back to the thin horned moon, and the Daemon looked intently at a little ape in a tree that grew in a crumbling courtyard.

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