Purple Dead Babes
by Sara Genge
You've come to the right place for advice, Little Sister.
The whole problem with dating humans is that you can't let them figure out that you are a ghost.
Okay, that's not quite the worst thing that can happen. You can always talk yourself out of ghosthood or appeal to some basic myths. Convince them that you're the soul of a Christian martyr, thrown to the lions in the arena or something. Guys dig virgins. Or at least they dig soon-to-be ex-virgins.
The real problem arises when they discover that you're a Cassiopeian ghost. Alien ghost doesn't fit as snuggly in the public's psyche. The whole purple dead babe thing--not good. I have never let them catch me purple-handed, so I can't really tell you how to get out of that one. Seriously, how hard can it be to stay nice and pink or brown for a whole evening? If you've screwed up that bad, you don't deserve to belong to the Cassiopeian Dead Women Seducers of Humans Sorority.
Oh, is that a guy listening?
Dude, this is so not about you. Or even better. Believe what you want. Something nice and comforting which will reaffirm you in your masculinity. Yes, just like what you're thinking now. That's right, baby. That girl who left you in High School? Wasn't because you suck, but because she was a dead Cassiopeian and she wanted to go home. Or because her time was up and she was rotting. Whatever.
Now, when I count to three, you're going to wake up and you're not going to remember this conversation. Except that you're going to feel a lot better about that girl that left you in High School. See, I'm not such a bad person; an encounter with a Cassiopeian should always give the subject something good to take back home.
One... Two... Three...
What was your name again?
A Chevy Called Edwina
by Sara Genge
It took the Chevy thirty years to become sentient.
One second, it was cruising at 60mph, in the happy oblivious haze of pre-sentient beings that have just had an oil change. The next, an insect splattered on the windshield. Quite a few bugs had collected there already. The Chevy's owner was divorced and took a "rain equals car wash" attitude to vehicle hygiene.
But when when the Chevy tasted the bug brains being massaged in by the wipers, a synapse fired.
"My name is Edwina," it said.
Tom heard the voice coming from the radio. He wouldn't have given it a second though, but the radio had been broken for ten years before it'd been stolen.
"Hello, Tom. My name is Edwina."
Tom was too good a driver to stop in the middle of the interstate. He kept his eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel.
"Is that you, Roger?"
"Yes, but my name is Edwina."
"Damn, boy. Always knew you were special. Gladys wanted me to sell you years ago, but I figured as long as it keeps going..."
They talked for a while. Despite Edwina's fears, Tom didn't take the name change badly.
"You gotta be who you gotta be, baby," he said. By the time they rolled into Patty's diner, Tom was using the female pronoun and flirting with his car.
"Hang in there a sec, baby. Gonna run inside to get a bite. Man, this is amazing! Do you think you could drive yourself? That would be so cool." Tom left with a big smile on his face, muttering about them being the dynamic duo and Take that Gladys. Your San Francisco lawyer is going to be so jealous when he sees me on National T.V.
A few minutes later, Tom emerged with Patty in tow. She was still drying her hands on a dish towel. Obviously, there weren't any other customers in the diner, or Tom would have dragged them out too.
"This it? Seems like the same filthy car to me..."
"Say something, Edwina. Tell Patty that she's looking damn fine today."
Edwina glared back. She was damned if she was going to flirt with Patty on Tom's behalf.
"Come on Edwina. Are you being shy?" Tom cooed.
"This car is disgusting," Patty said. "You can't even see through the windshield." Instinctively, she dragged the wet rag over the glass. Bits of bug stuck to it.
"Come on Edwina; you're making me look stupid," Tom hissed into the left-hand mirror.
But Edwina couldn't answer. She was missing a critical half-ounce of bug brains. Her lights had blinked out.
by Sara Genge
Warning: this story contains explicit violence towards a child. If the subject matter disturbs you, or if you just don't feel like reading this kind of thing now, you should probably move on. Check out our archives: there's lots of stories in there that you might like.
Limp crept into camp. He hoped to get good night's sleep before having to face Chief. He thought of the nano in his secret pocket, enough to buy a house, and leaned on the branch he carried for balance. He'd been away for three days and he'd lost the crutch. His mother wouldn't be happy.
"Patrice, is that you? Where have you been, you idiot boy?" Only his mother called him Patrice.
He tried to look as tired and bruised as he felt, but she came at him at full speed and slapped him before he could talk.
"You better have something for Chief, boy. He's been looking for you everywhere and he's not happy. What are you hiding? Where is it?"
Limp produced a couple of computer chips, a vial of penicillin and some nano. Finally, his mother was satisfied and stopped hitting him.
The boy got up and hopped to his tent, but was intercepted by Chief himself. Limp was prepared. He threw the rest of the nano at Chief's feet. Chief looked doubtful. It was more than could be expected from three days of scavenging, but he kicked Limp a couple of times for good measure. Limp sighed and took the wad of compressed nano out of his secret pocket.
"That'll teach you to keep things from me!" Chief threw Limp a worthless chit.
Limp washed the blood off his face and examined his body for broken bones. The lead residue under his skin protected him from the worst of the sun's radiation, but it also gave him a molted color that kept most of the bruises from showing. He blessed the missionaries for geneering his ancestors to survive in the Waste.
He thought of the skid he'd stolen from one of them. It was worth more than all the nano in Chief's coffers and he didn't plan on handing it over to him. It had taken two days of digging, but Limp had made sure it was buried deep.
This story is part of the Children of the Waste series. You can check out a longer story set in the same world at http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/20070115/godtouched-f.shtml
We Come In Peace
by Sara Genge
Rat scuttled between metal legs, used to the robots getting in the way. Ever since they'd taken over and killed all the humans, they acted superior. Pretty uppity for man-made creatures, Rat thought.
Rat was unconcerned. Rat was a creature of God and his children's children would still be here long after the robots industrialized themselves into extinction. Same thing had happened to the dinosaurs and humans, after all. The only thing that bothered Rat was that robots didn't keep organic food around. He was positively famished. Life was better in the good old days when humans ruled the Earth.
Rat jumped over a couple metal toes, sniffing and searching for food, but stopped when he heard the robots talking.
"I hear there are some humans left up in the mountains," the grey robot said.
"That's stupid. We nuked 'em all. They can't live with radiation," the green one answered.
"Ah, but don't they evolve? Let me see... I'm sure I had a file on evolution somewhere."
"Dude, seriously. You've gotta learn to classify your chips..."
The conversation trailed off, but Rat sat, thinking. Humans meant food.
For the first time, he regretted not being a cat or a dog, an animal that humans would find cute and take in, no questions asked. But Rat had evolved too and the radiation had helped. He was no longer like the stupid rats humans used to kill. If he could make himself useful, maybe the humans would let him stay with them.
Finding the explosives wasn't hard; mixing and transporting them was. Rat enlisted all his friends and even a couple hamsters that were strolling by. Humans would dig the explosions, specially if they killed robots. Rat set the counters while his little army stole an old Blackberry from the Human Artifacts Museum.
"We are your Allies. We come in Peace," he typed into the rat-sized screen. Now, he only needed to find the humans and show them the message. He hoped the humans hadn't grown too stupid to understand that alliances were a give and take and that Rat and his friends expected to be paid. In food, preferably.
Zoli Finds His Anima
by Sara Genge
Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists' waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. Neurosis was his game and he was good at it, but he hadn't counted on full-blown crazy.
"I'm telling you, I can't date you. I'm here to find my animus," the girl said. Her name was Padme? Pardoma? Ah, yes, Pandora.
Zoli wondered whether he should forsake Jungian practices altogether, but the paramythological interpretations were so convenient. Arguments could always be derailed away from his practical failings and into the terrain of the symbolic and abstract. Besides, sex with Freudians was kinkier than he cared for.
"I can be your animus, honey. For you, I can be anything you want," he said.
The girl chuckled, shaking her head. "The animus isn't a guy," she said. "It's the male aspect present in the collective subconscious of women"--she sounded like she was quoting something-- "You should get in contact with your anima, honey, you might become less of a jerk."
Zoli opened his mouth to proclaim himself innocent of jerkitude, but the woman scuttled closer on the bench and pressed his head against her chest. The proximity of the boob shocked him into silence.
"I'm opening your chakras," the girl announced, caressing Zoli's hair. "You have a beautiful anima, you simply need to let it out."
The door of the office opened and the girl stood up, stepped in and left Zoli alone in the waiting room.
As soon as Zoli stepped out of the office, he noticed something was different. He turned heads. The women who looked at him weren't prettier than the ones he usually attracted, but they seemed sharper, more together. Their eyes were everywhere. They held doors open for him.
The combination of gallantry and insult confused him.
He looked down at his body, fearing something drastic had happened to his sexual differentiation, but nothing had changed, as far as he could see. He was still a guy and he sighed with relief.
Suddenly, a knight appeared out of nowhere. Her hair flew in the wind, framing her face over her full-body armour. She shone like a diamond against the asphalt and skyscrapers. Without a word, she lifted Zoli up on her white horse and took him away.
Always Invite The Gnome
by Sara Genge
The garden gnome couldn't sleep. The thumpa-thumpa coming from the neighbour's house made the windows vibrate. Albert turned on his side and stuffed the tip of his red cap into his ear. Nothing. He could still hear the sound of people having fun without him.
Why hadn't he been invited? He was a nice gnome, polite and respectful. He mostly kept to himself, sitting on that tuft of moss in the back yard. He hardly ever crept up on anybody using magic and it had been a whole month since the last time he'd spied on the neighbour while she was dressing.
Albert dressed and went out to the garden. The grass didn't tease him about not being invited to the party. The lawn could be sarcastic, but for once, it kept quiet. That almost made it worse; he must be pitiful if even the grass had decided to put on its tact gloves for him.
The lawn transmitted minute vibrations originating a couple yards away. A party goer must be trespassing. The nerve! He'd show 'em!
Albert tiptoed closer to the source of the grassy disturbance. A figure silhouetted against the moon, murmuring under its breath. There was a shovel in its hand.
"Ehem" Albert coughed . The creature jumped and turned around, clutching a sack.
"I won't give it to you!," shouted the leprechaun.
Leprechauns always thought you were after their stash of gold and they were capable of anything to protect it.
"This is private property," said Albert. His eyes widened; he had an idea. It was evil and twisted. It was perfect.
Without hesitation, he reached for the leprechaun's stash and chucked it over the wall into the neighbour's yard.
"You! You!," shouted the enraged leprechaun. The creature darted off, tearing through the brick divider as if it were styrofoam and crashing the party with, well, a crash.
From the other side of the wall, came shouts and the sound of broken glass. A symphony of havoc. Albert smiled. He'd sleep well tonight.
An Old Lion's Roar
by Sara Genge
Rabbit sat in the shade, scratching his ear with his hind paw. A strand of grass was stuck between the gears of his head, and it tickled mightily.
In the distance, he heard He Lion roar. Mechanical birds screeched and whirred to safety. Possum played dead, although it should have known by now that its tick-tack gave it away. Even Bear lumbered away. But Rabbit didn't move. It was getting too old for He Lion's roaring. It was getting too old to play the same games over and over again. It was getting too old to hop all over the place. Besides, the straw in his ear itched. So Rabbit stayed put and listened to the roaring coming closer.
"Me and Myself! Me and Myself," roared He Lion when he saw Rabbit.
Rabbit scratched his ear.
"Me and Myself, I said," said He Lion.
"Yes, I did hear you. I may be old, but I'm not yet deaf."
He Lion snorted and shook his whitened mane. It wasn't just Rabbit who'd gotten old.
"Well, aren't you going to run away?" said He Lion.
Rabbit considered this carefully. He Lion might need his gears oiled and wound more than he needed to eat Rabbit, but he still might crush Rabbit with his foot, just for the fun of it. Rabbit and He Lion went back a long way, but the lion was a stickler for authority.
In the old days, whenever Lion got in a funk like this, Rabbit would trick him into meeting Man. Man always knew how to take care of Lion, what with his guns and all and then Lion would behave for a while. But Rabbit was tired and Lion was old and Man was quite possibly dead by now. Man was the most literal of all the fabled clockwork creatures of the jungle and, as such, one couldn't expect much from him and certainly not infinite survival.
"Can't run," Rabbit said. "Got something in my ear."
Lion clambered up to Rabbit and sat down, realizing he wasn't going to get much fun out of the hare today.
"Hmm," growled Lion, "That sucks." Lion turned to face the sun, eyes half mast and lay down. He always did like to bask.
Guilt, Always So Much Guilt
by Sara Genge
Guilt, always so much guilt.
Merswe floated on his back down the river Mawkee, scouting for a mate. Around him, other males hooted and paddled, lifting sensory pads up to the sky, waiting for the females to come to them.
Such was his anticipation, so exquisite was the tension in which he floated for days, that Merswe almost missed it when it happened. The strain had worn him out and he was dozing when the women began falling. He caught one by pure chance, grabbing onto her hair and pulling her up before she could sink under the grey waters of the Mawkee.
They wept from the joy of having found each other, and from the sorrow of watching so many women die as they rained on the river and drowned before a male could reach them and pull them afloat.
Her name was Xi.
They fell in love instantly and floated together for a fortnight, making love while Merswe held her close to him to keep her from drowning.
Finally, Xi laid her eggs and Merswe took them inside himself, carefully stashing them in his innermost gill, close to his soul.
"I can take you with me," Merswe said, bravely, "I feel so strong..."
But they both knew it was wishful thinking; manly bluff. Merswe needed his strength to make it all the way down the Mawkee and onto the rich muddy waters of Hope lake, where their children could hatch.
He cried as he let her go and she didn't flinch as the water closed in over her. Around him, Merswe heard the cries of a thousand females who weren't as brave as Xi and pleaded with their lovers to carry them on, only for a minute, only for a day. But none of the men were stupid enough to try. Eggs came first and the eggs must make it to Hope lake. The men pried their lovers' desperate fingers from their fins, unravelled the knots of hair that tied them together and pushed them away. Soon enough, the cries ceased.
Merswe floated down the Mawkee, eyeflaps rippling red with grief. Xi's eggs were safe, as were the eggs of Maya, Thi and Tes and all the others who had come before them. Finally, tears spent, he turned his gaze to the sky and waited for more women to fall.
Of his sorrow only guilt remained. Guilt, always so much guilt as Merswe floated on his back down the river Mawkee.
by Sara Genge
Terrance's heart never knew what hit it. One second it was pumping steadily at 70 beats per minute, traveling at 80mph on the interstate. The next, it was panicking, 180 beats per minute and rising. The heart knew it shouldn't go this fast, but it was a sucker for the nerves that tickled it with adrenalin. All its life, the nerves had told it what to do and all its life the heart had obeyed them, even when it knew better. For a second, as the car swerved off the road, the heart
considered keeping its own beat. But the moment passed and then… nothing.
Stopping was such a strange feeling. Terrance's heart had never stopped before. Then came the cold and the drugs that made it forget and the nip of shears separating it from the rest of Terrance. The heart knew it should mourn for its lost body, but quite frankly, it was just too glad to be alive to care, and the guilt of abandoning Terrance would travel with it for the rest of its life.
Terrance's heart beats in a hole in your chest. You may keep it warm, you may feed it with your vessels and your blood, but the heart knows this isn't home.
It fends off the attack of your immune system, aided by all those drugs you take in the morning. You catch cold and can't drink, but hey, you're alive. You can't complain.
Terrance's heart is alive as well. It has a hole for a home and no busy-body nerves to tell it what
to do. Nerves can't be transplanted so Terrance's heart beats on its own, 70 per minute, rain or shine, exercise or rest. It feels like it's working in a vacuum. It can't communicate with the rest of your body. But it keeps its own rhythm and it's alive.
It can't complain.
EXAM QUESTION NUMBER 245
by Sara Genge
Tom is a 23 year old Biology student. Today, as he got off the bus, he
twisted his knee. He comes to you, his doctor, four hours later with a
knee that is evidently inflamed and painful. Tom blushes as he tells
you how stupid this accident was.
Oh, there's something else. As he was showering before coming to the
Hospital (never let a doctor examine you while sweaty), his knee
throbbed in the strangest way and when Tom looked, he could have sworn
he saw a couple of pixie hands pushing out from inside his knee,
trying to get out. However, Tom's pretty sure he imagined it.
Tom isn't allergic to any medication. Aspiration of his knee produces
a bloody liquid.
Please indicate which of the following is the cause of Tom's condition
1) Lesion of crossed anterior ligament
2) Lesion of his interior meniscus
3) Tom is pregnant of a pixie, a condition he most probably acquired
in a Biology field trip. A C-section of his knee is indicated, which
will result in a release of the impish child and immediate relief of
4) Tom was pregnant, but shoving a needle into his knee wasn't such a
good idea. We can now conclude Tom has had a knee abortion brought
about by Medical malpractice.
5) 1 and 3 are correct.
by Sara Genge
The little cannon had lost the war. The last coin chinked its way to oblivion in the depths of the arcade and the space invaders kept on landing, unopposed.
The little cannon didn't think it was fair: he should be given the opportunity to fight the pixelated creatures on land, even if he had lost the game when the first one succeeded in landing. He knew he didn't have a chance, but he would have liked to die protecting his two dimensional home-planet.
“Hey! Come back!,” he shouted at the player. “INSERT COIN you moron. Quitter!”
But the player was twelve and didn't like to lose. Besides, the little cannon doubted that the player could hear him.
The screen changed and was substituted by INSERT COIN. Alone in the dark, the little cannon could hear the music of the simulacrum game designed to attract a new player. It seemed so far away, as if it came from another planet, another machine even. He scuttled off to a corner and readied his weapon. He still had a couple rounds in there. The green aliens disembarked and converged. They waved their horned green heads and scuttled about like over sized spiders. The little cannon could see the teeth inside those flat mouths, the teeth the players never saw.
He aimed. At least, he would go down swinging.
Mari and Maju
by Sara Genge
Mari twirled her red umbrella and ignored what the wet pavement did to her burgundy skirt. She wouldn't have gotten far as an Earth Goddess if she had been afraid of dirt. The Guggenheim rose in front of her, torrential rainfall tumbling down the curvaceous structure. She was considering moving here to Bilbao. She'd spent the previous cycle in Anboto and hated leaving the village, but tradition decreed she had to change houses every seven years and Mari was a stickler for tradition. Hence the red dress. Chicken legs would have been in order, but too conspicuous for the city.
The goddess strolled down Abandoibarra Etorbidea, stopping to jot down the phone numbers posted on the balconies. She made some calls and with each new price her spirits sank lower. She was looking at a fifty year mortgage if Maju and she worked full time and the children finally left the house. Last time she checked, Mikelatz and Atarrabi were four-thousand years old, but age never stopped Iberian children from staying at home and expecting their laundry to be washed and folded. It was another tradition, and one Mari hated. She sighed and pulled out her mobile.
"We could always go somewhere else," Maju suggested.
"It's no use. We never stay long enough to pay the mortgage..." She heard Maju's groan on the other side. The bank would ask why they kept moving. In Spain, you were supposed to buy a house and stick to it. The banks were getting suspicious and, judging by the occasional static on their phone line, Mari suspected the police were onto them too. The fact that none of them seemed to age (let alone die), didn't help put the authorities at ease.
"How about that little cave in Ondarra?" Maju asked.
"It's small, and I hate the whitewash."
"Well, the kids could repaint it... About time they did something around the house. What do you think, darling?"
"Humid," Mari answered. "We could move out of Euskadi. I've heard houses are cheaper in Andalucia."
"You're a Basque goddess, dammit!" Maju burst out. "There must be something we can afford inside the Basque Country."
Mari hung up. She ducked into a bar and when she emerged her frock was a sensible brown. Screw tradition. She'd had enough with this moving business. They'd stay where they were. She'd only wear her chicken legs when she felt like it. And as for the children, they'd have to
Listen To The Hum
by Sara Genge
Limp scratched at a fleabite and watched the skid approach. New Brain Malaria had given him his name and left him with little control over his facial muscles so that, even in the noon heat, he drooled precious moisture.
For a second, he hoped the skid wasn't in-city and that he could kill the driver and keep the spoils for himself, but the glint of nanobots told him otherwise. Chief would be angry if he wasn't offered this prize.
Yet, Limp hesitated. The Hum threatened against harming this stranger. He was caught between angering the Hum, the voice of the Gods, and Chief.
"They live under the orb that protects them from UV radiation," he told the Hum. "Their crops have water, their children have medicine. Why should I risk my life for one of them?"
The Hum responded by dumping a barrage of information into Limp's brain. They tabulated the geopolitical importance of the stranger and showed Limp decision algorithms, courses of action, predictions of market response and civil unrest. Limp didn't understand any of it. That's the way it was with the Hum, too little information or too much and no sense to any of it. He was the only person he knew who heard the Hum, but at times like this, listening to a jumbled mess, he wished the mysterious Hum would learn to use some grammar.
"They have everything and we have nothing," he thought.
He swung from side to side, the signal to the Chief, and he felt the skin of his back tickle as the men took their positions, sitting discreetly at the only cafe of the shantytown, gambling with lamb bones on the dirt, peeing against the lone tree.
The Hum told him exactly where every one of them was. He felt his skin react to each one of the men in a different way. The trap was sprung, the visitor was as good as dead.
As the skid approached, he saw the driver's pink eyes and wished he could undo his betrayal. The Hum would never forgive him for killing their protege.
But what was done, was done. He stayed in the same spot, muttering to himself, playing the part of malaria victim. If he did his job well, maybe Chief would let him keep some of the nano, something that would help Limp understand the Hum a little better.
For another story set in the same future, check out "Godtouched"
by Sara Genge
Butler scampered through the brush, zigzagging to avoid the
slingshots. A sharp pebble nicked his ear and blood trickled down his
neck. A mistake? He didn't think so.
The villagers were getting nervous. He knew he shouldn't count on the
hour that the law gave an embalmer to escape before he could be hunted
down. The corpse had been a young girl's--emotions were running high.
They'd begun play-shooting with their slings only seconds after he'd
been paid. He suspected they'd unholster their lasguns soon.
He hid behind a tree and peered out. He hoped the pay was enough to
make this worthwhile. He hadn't had time to check the purse before they'd started to shoot.
It was bad luck to cheat an embalmer and the family was usually generous. Why else would anyone risk their lives to embalm a corpse?
The next stone nipped the bark. No use avoiding the slings when the
lasguns were due. He swore and tore off in a straight line. The money
bag swung against his chest.
There!, the river. He dove in without thinking and let the current
take him through the rapids, away from the villagers and their
He was dumped unceremoniously into the Triptican lake. It took him a
second to realize that he had surfaced. He was breathing. Lying on his
back, he pedaled towards the shore.
Butler opened the pouch. Instead of money, he found a stone. It was
round. Tendrils of gold were set into the carvings. He read the
history of a family, in the stone. On the side, filigree letters spoke
an ode to the death of the only daughter.
He laughed madly. The old man had placed his family-stone in the
purse. He had to be mad! This stone represented the old man's family
honour. Butler could use it to get money for credit and the stone
would testify for his honesty.
He stopped laughing abruptly, and felt a pang of guilt. It was too
much. The law required fair compensation, but not this. For a
second, he thought of giving it back. But the lasguns would be legal
now. He got up, dusted the stone reverently with his hand and
Kingdom In The Clouds
by Sara Genge
From the vantage point on the early rainbow, we saw them coming to
the Kingdom-In-The-Clouds. The pirates climbed the cliff silently,
hearts warmed with tequila, knives gripped firmly between their teeth.
We didn't shout for fear of startling them and breaking the silent
rhythm of their climb. Instead, we sent the children to greet them
with instructions to choose a pirate each, grab him by the hand and
take him home. The mothers were waiting in the houses with food on the
fire and warm water for baths. The pirates ate hungrily, slobbering
juices down their beards, eyes darting up as their mouths worked, all
thoughts of violence startled out of them. They were so surprised,
they even thanked us for the food.
We were patient with them, patient with their hunger and their need
for warmth in the night. And in the morning, we'd completed our spells
and took them to work in the fields with our other husbands, to suffer
a slavery without whip, a slavery enforced only by their pitiful
devotion to us.
We set some of them free, like we always do. Your people have heard
them, drinking their lives away in your taverns. After seeing our
Kingdom, after falling in our thrall, how can their lives be happy? So
they drink, and you hear them mutter to all who will hear:
"There is a country past the Rainbow. It's hard to reach and hard to
conquer, but oh, lucky is the man who lives in the
From the vantage point on the early rainbow, we wait for our new husbands to come to us. We instruct the children, butcher the lambs and warm the water.
We spring our trap.
Limb Enigma Disorder. An Introduction.
by Sara Genge
Limb-Reanimation Dysphoria, also known as Limb Enigma Disorder or LED
is a recently described condition ailing those patients whose limbs
have needed extensive reanimation techniques.
It is obvious that limb-reanimation--usually due to heart failure to
the limb--is a specially traumatic medical intervention, particularly
for those patients who, except for their limbs, remain conscious
during the affair. The majority of patients experience some sadness,
heaviness and lack of joie de vivre in their limbs for a few days, but
in a small percentage of cases, this condition becomes persistent and
merits the diagnosis of LED.
by Sara Genge
They ordered their girls pink and their boys blue. Purple and green were also available, but the elderly parents who bought artificial children preferred conservative colors. Human skin tones were illegal, obviously. It would have been distressing to have artificial children grow up to infiltrate Human society.
When Mary was eleven, she caught site of another pink head spying her from the neighbour's house. That night, Mary crept out of bed and threw stones at the other girl's window until she came down.
"What's your name?"
The girls laughed.
"I'm bored, Mary," said Mary.
"Do you want to swap?," replied Mary.
They switched pyjamas and swapped houses. Mary loved her new room.
In the morning, her new mother came to kiss her good morning. Her mother didn't notice the change.
They wanted their girls pretty and their boys smart but sending them to school was out of the question. The younger adults weren't prepared to support the artificial baby-boom so the Mary and Peter models stayed at home and played on the computer.
Mary enjoyed being a different Mary for a while, but staying at home all the time wasn't much fun. It was just as boring to be Next Door Mary as it had been to be the previous Mary.
This time, she wouldn't stay in the same neighbourhood. She searched the Internet for other Marys in her city, but they all seemed to lead the same boring lives.
Then, she found out about China. Her parents were concerned about China, they said, because artificial children where put to work there. They also said that Chinese people called their Marys Yings. Mary had never worked and she had never been called Ying. It sounded fun, so she got on the computer.
"Who wants to swap?" she asked the Chinese Yings.
Woe Vs Leg: action suit
by Sara Genge
On October 1234 OC., Mr. Woe's leg presented itself at the Newstalk
Police Station to denounce Mr. Woe for alleged mistreatment of an
extremity and improper walk without wages, resulting in two lost toes
due to frostbite.
Mr Woe, who was himself along for the ride, dismissed the accusations
as "fabulations" and told the police that "he was damned if his leg
was going to tell him what to do".
Mr Woe is a professional mountain climber, internationally known for
his speed, as well as for his disregard for the safety of
his Sherpas and body-parts. The limb reported that it was only after
being forced to keep going without food and half-frozen on Mr. Woe's last
climb to the Everest, that it decided to breach its lifelong contract
with William Woe.
At the close of this edition, the Court had not yet called a date for
the hearing, although sources claim the State prosecutor may decide to
bring a case against Mr. Woe.
"A leg has rights," the state prosecutor allegedly said in a private
family gathering on Monday, while massaging a sore toe.
Leg's attorneys have said that the Leg doesn't plan to settle outside
of court and that it wants to bring Mr. Woe to justice. They've also
informed this reporter that they are in the middle of
negotiations with Mr. Woe's Sherpas in the hopes of agreeing on the terms of a
joint law-suit against Mr. Woe.
Acute Leg Sorrow: A Case Report
by Sara Genge
Acute Leg Sorrow: A Case Report.
Mrs M., a forty-five year old woman, reported to the Emergency Room with acute leg sorrow in her lower left extremity.
The examination revealed redness and emotional stasis in the leg, as well as pulsating anguish and some financial distress. The patient was not allergic to any medication, had no previous conditions and didn't remember any leg trauma in the previous months.
Basic tests showed low platelets and self-esteem, left-leaning leukocytes and high introspection/physical exercise ratio. The patient didn't report any addictions or compulsions, although she did admit to marital stress (football and beer related) and conjugal sexual dysfunction.
A number of treatments were proposed, including lymbic transmapheresis, Viagra treatment for the husband and divorce (with or without heterosexual-to-homosexual, sexual orientation reassignment ).
Mrs M. wasn't amenable to any of these options. Resistance to treatment in patients with organ sadness has been amply described in Medical Literature, and although more conservative treatments were suggested and Mrs M. was informed that she had to do something to appease her limb, eventually, the patient elected to sign a voluntary release form and leave Hospital, talking her grieving leg with her.
by Sara Genge
Come and see, ladies and gents, come and see, the one and only, the wonderful, the fantaaastic Pelican Boy!
You may think you've seen it all, having crossed the Galaxy. You may think nothing can surprise you, after riding the novas, but this, Mr. and Mrs. Alien, my young alienettes, is stranger than quantum physics. Don't pass it up. The Eiffel Tower is swell, but this, my purple friends, is the dark side of Old Terra. Come and see, come and see: the Human Freak Show!
Pelican Boy started slow, watching the tip grow. He displayed the silver balls, about the size of golf balls and juggled them around as a warm-up. Ostentatiously, he slipped one into his mouth and directed it to the pouch of flesh that Nature had given him as his livelihood. The purplies gasped when they saw his neck bulge.
He smiled; this town was no doniker. The clems were positively bursting to hand over their platinum. Pelican Boy kept the balls going up and down, swallowing them and bringing them back up, showing the audience what he could do with his pelican neck. After fifteen balls, he could hardly breathe, but the marks were ecstatic. There was no doubt they'd shell out to see the whole show.
He ignored their purple faces, which always made him squeamish and their gasps of sympathy, and strained his pouch to the max. The aliens were horrified, and loving it. Human degradation, that's what they'd crossed the galaxy to see.
Come closer, ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you a secret. Mr. and Mrs. Alien, young Mss. Alien, alienboy and alienette, this is not for the faint of heart. What you'll see today, will curdle your blood. Please sign the discharge before you come on in.
Come on, come on, don't push. There's show enough for everyone.
Dear aliens, dear friends, you won't see this in your home planet. This, my friends, is not tolerated in your advanced civilizations. Watch the Pelican Boy swallow nails and bring them back up!
Could we cure him, ladies, gents? Could we snip away his pouch and give him a normal life? Of course we can't: this is showbiz! Come, ladies and gents, come watch the Human Freak Show!
To Each His Own Hell
by Sara Genge
Merridot sipped his absinthe and wondered if this was Hell. It certainly had that flavour to it, high on depravity, low on pleasure, high on desire, low on release... But it lacked a certain evilness about it and the eternal torment... well, sitting at a bar drinking couldn't be called eternal damnation, now could it? The other option, that this was Heaven, was too silly to contemplate. Surely, Heaven wasn't this seedy.
He had almost made it as a painter. Merridot was sure that if he had only lived long enough, he could have been more famous than Monet.
"Drivel away, drivel away," the little devil muttered as he tried to force Merridot and his stinking art further down the Cosmic Drain. The little devil didn't like his job. It embarrassed him that when relatives came to visit, they would always find him next to the sewer. A friend from college had once asked him why he didn't quit and beg his way into Heaven, but evil was so much more seductive. The little devil would take an entry job in Evil over a senior position in Good, any day of the month. Good boys went to Heaven. Bad boys went everywhere (or at least down the drain).
"Say, if this is Hell, it ain't quite so bad," said the cabaret girl.
Merridot stared at her thighs and agreed with her. If this was hell, it wasn't quite so bad at all. Only problem was that the Sewer Drift (the expansion of the universe that occurs in a diabolic sewer) kept pushing them apart. Merridot opined that if he could only grab the girl's legs, he'd be in Heaven.
"No respect for Hell," thought the little devil as he pushed Merridot further away from the girl. "What could you expect? Bad artists..." and here the devil shoved with a lot more might than he was paid for. "I'll teach you, you little creep."
Merridot watched the girl drift away. Of course, if he was going to be an artist, he couldn't let women distract him. It was all for the better, he thought. He took another drink and kept scribbling.
From the void where Lucifer falls for all eternity, came a voice: "Idiot, people make their own hell!"
Merridot continued drawing. He was sure he'd imagined it.
by Sara Genge
Before Ted was born, a fortune-teller told his mother, he'd be the luckiest of men.
Ted must have heard her because, ever since then, he displayed an absolute faith in humanity. When the doctor failed to determine Ted's relative position to his mother's pelvis by palpation, he ordered an x-ray (it was the 90s) which showed him sprawled like a parachuter, face down, head firmly lodged against his mother's liver, back arched impossibly and feel pushing at his mother's lower left ribs.
He probably expected his mother to give birth to him in this position and even love him after the ordeal.
Other babies are pretty good at making a fuss when they're sick, but not Ted. He had total confidence in his mother's ability to tell hunger from pneumonia and indeed, she got pretty good at it after years of running after her child with a thermometer, catching him in her arms when he jumped out of a tree, hiding his bike after he'd crashed twice and, in general, rescuing him so effectively that Ted reached adulthood without breaking a single bone or ending up in the hospital even once.
He was born lucky, he knew, but that didn't save him from depression.
It was three in the morning. The barbiturates hadn't been easy to get, but he knew someone who knew someone. Even in that he was lucky.
Ted downed the pills with a shot of whiskey and cradled the bottle in his arm, hoping he wouldn't pass out until he had enjoyed a few more swigs. The phone rang and the answering machine went off.
"Ted, darling, what a stupid thing to do," came his mother's harried voice. "I'm sending the ambulance over, I've told them about the key you keep under the mat, so why don't you do everyone a favor and go to the bathroom to puke? It'll save them a lot of trouble."
"Why do I feel so bad? I'm supposed to be so lucky."
"I think it's obvious you are lucky. Anyone else would have been dead by now. You are a lucky man, Ted, and I seem to be your good luck charm."
Mora And The Flying Iguanas
by Sara Genge
Mora surveyed her eggmates with an air of deliberate disregard. It wouldn't do for them to think she'd give a hoot if a predator nabbed them. Look at someone twice and they always thought that you'd give a limb to save them from the flying Iguanas. Bah.
Mora dashed for cover and the Iguana landed less than three feet away. Her toughness melted as she looked gratefully at the sentry that had sounded the alarm. But no, she mustn't let herself feel like this, or one day an Iguana would come and she's rush out to help someone and end up just like Lora, Vero, Mrida, Tolo and the others. Not loving people was hard, but she steeled herself against the mushy feelings that threatened to engulf her. Tough did the trick.
She crouched low, unwilling to look at her fellow comrades in peril and waited until the threat was over before creeping out from under the tree.
Parental A hooted his approval: she'd hid fast and pride glowed blue in his face. She did a little happy dance.
Screech! The Iguanas were coming back. Mora saw Lolo scratching his bottom on the hill, oblivious of the attack. He was not smart and he didn't hear so well.
Without thinking, Mora dashed out, reaching him just as the Iguanas were ready to pounce, bowling him over and pushing him under a root to safety. She looed with elation as the warm feeling of saving people swelled up from her tummy, but then the sharp toes of the Iguanas caught on the tender flesh under her pelt. She kicked and fought in the air, bobooing for help, but she knew the parentals wouldn't even look up.
They took out their notebooks and ticked a name off. That's all they could do. Even parentals were impotent to stop the Iguanas.
Dear Diary: A Week To Forget
by Sara Genge
The Ministers have left and they didn't kill anyone this time, but
Momma is pregnant and it shows. The neighbours don't stop talking
about it. Even Susan's mother told her not to play with me (she's
still my friend though).
When we went for groceries a woman said:
"You would've thought she'd had enough with the first one, that devil
daughter of hers." She wasn't quiet either, she wanted us to hear.
"Well, I don't think they're much trouble to her, not if they come out
as easily as they go in," said the woman next to her. I know that
lady. She lives just down the block.
I pulled Mamma's sleeve and whispered that I'd knock them if she'd let
me, but she hushed me up and we kept shopping.
Old Beth was the only one in that store who was good to us and gave us
a fig and a godliver each. She's been all quiet since the Ministers released her from
cus-to-dy, but she says she can't forget how Momma got her out.
When we left the store, Momma said:
"Don't pay them no mind. If it weren't for me, the Ministers would've
burned us all at the stake. You just remember that, baby."
The whole town turned up at our doorstep. I didn't want her to open
the door, but Momma said she wanted to "get it over with".
They took her away. They had pitchforks and knives, but she went
quietly. I shouted and kicked, but Old Beth grabbed me and held me
She returned at dawn, bald. Dear Diary, they'd cut off her hair! It
was all long and black and so beautiful you wouldn't believe.
"Don't worry," she said. "It'll grow back, darling. It grew back when I
had you." Momma was crying. Don't think I've ever seen her cry before.
What did the townspeople want her hair for? Whatever it was, they're
going to pay.
by Sara Genge
One morning, when Cindy woke up, she discovered that she had been transformed into a monstrous vulture.
Turning around, she saw her boyfriend's body lying next to her. Drew looked peaceful in death--if it hadn't been for the gouged eyes, Cindy could have sworn he was sleeping.
"Well, well," she said, knowing she should feel horrified at the sight. "What a juicy treat!". The thought caught her by surprise but once it was out, there was no taking it back. She dipped in (for the kill? For the scavenge?) and sunk her beak into the soft flesh of his apple-cheek. He was as tasty in death as he'd been in life.
Cindy realized this was wrong, but her vulture nature got the best of her. She dug in, and tried not to think.
Afterwards, she sat down wondering what to do. Damn Drew! He was always talking about genetic experiments and trans-species splicing. Doctors! A sick lot, all of them.
The next day, she ploughed a neat ditch down Drew's body, but when she got to his testicles, she couldn't proceed. She felt the faintest hint of an emotion and grabbed onto it. Those weren't any random pair of balls, they were Drew's balls, and she couldn't bear to destroy them.
Instead, she nipped them off and half-jumped, half-fluttered to the kitchen. Perching on top of the fridge, she wrapped her neck around the handle of the freezer door, opened it, placed the balls inside and closed the door with a light nudge.
She was cold and wondered if she was getting sick. She set the oven to minimum temperature and crawled inside. The pain was a little like constipation and a lot like menstrual cramps. After the longest twenty minutes of her life, Cindy laid two eggs.
She'd always wanted to have kids, but Drew said it was too soon. Elated, she dragged herself back to the corpse, leaving the oven to incubate her offspring.
Four days later, as she died of indigestion, she wondered if the babies would make it. There'd be no loving parents to take care of them, only the corpses but Cindy didn't doubt that, like all children, their babies would find a way to get the most out of their parents.
In extremis, instead of College money, the kids might find Drew's testicles in the freezer.
Eeny, Meany, Miny, Med, Crack A God On The Head, If It Squeals Kill It
by Sara Genge
The ministers are back, but they haven't burnt anyone yet. Momma locked me up in my room so I wouldn't get into fights with "those minister boys", but Susan helped me out through the window and we went godhunting.
The ministers have shut down the Swindler's market and taken old Beth to cus-to-dy (she's the only one they could catch, ministers can't run much). It's sad about poor Beth but Momma says she was getting too old anyway.
Since the market is closed our mothers can't sell the gods and we get to eat all the brains we want.
So, we caught a god up by the creek and I went eenie, meany, miny, med and Susan won, so she ate it. Then we caught another one and I ate it. We were playing all quiet and not bothering anyone, dear diary, so everything that happened afterwards wasn't our fault. We were sharing the third (see, like good girls) when this minister boy pops up from behind the rocks and starts yelling and calling us cannibals.
"I didn't call you no names!" I told him, but he kept at it, shouting that we were eating our baby-brothers.
"Oh, so now little gods are our baby-brothers," said Susan. "And how would you know?"
The stupid minister boy started crying. "Because I remember. From when I was little."
Well, I tell you, dear diary, we had enough of that nonsense. I took a rock and threw it at him, just to shut him up, but my aim is too good, even when I don't pretend it to be and it hit him square on the mouth.
He blubbered like a little god, even though he was only bleeding a little and threatened to call the Inquisitives. And that's when Susan punched him in the gut and we took off.
I slipped back into the room and Momma never knew that I was gone.
And that was that.
I sure hope that minister boy doesn't tattle.
Parthenia Rook V: In Rio de Janeiro with a Gnome
by Sara Genge
The garden gnome had never envisioned himself parading in Rio de Janeiro dressed only in feathers, a pineapple hat and a thong, but when Parthenia Rook came to him and asked his help to defeat the Bonobo King... well, she was a superheroine in leather pants. Besides, at that stage, nobody had mentioned thongs.
Parthenia's costume was rather more elaborate. Albert thought she must be carrying about a hundred pounds of fruit which, sadly, covered her from head to foot. Her plan was to infiltrate one of the blocos and parade through the city. Bonobo King would not be able to resist their fruity head-ornaments and when he approached them and tried to steal their irresistible mangoes and bananas, Parthenia would knock him out with her patented leather-boot triple kick. It seemed like a fool-proof plan at the time. Alas, as many other fool-proof plans in superhero history, it wasn't.
When they saw the Bonobo King, Parthenia Rook pushed the gnome behind her and faced her archenemy. Albert thought it was very heroic of her and peered out from behind her fruity derriere.
"At last we meet, Bonobo King," she said.
The Bonobo King's eyes darted from bananas to oranges to melons. He seemed frozen with indecision. Finally he knuckled up to Parthenia and reached up for the cherry dangling from her ear. Parthenia jumped forward... and toppled over from the sheer weight of the fruit basket attached to her head.
Albert stared at the Bonobo King over the fallen heroine's body.
"Er... at last we meet..." It didn't sound as portentous as he'd hoped. "Fruit, anyone?"
The Bonobo King put the cherry in his mouth and stared at the garden gnome. His face twisted into a mask of pure evil. Then he started laughing. Albert thought he was never going to stop. He pointed at Albert and jumped up and down, eyes watering and belly rumbling. Mortified, the garden gnome wished Bonobo King would get on with
business and kill him already, but then the ape went blue in the face, started coughing and toppled over.
Parthenia Rook emerged from the mountain of fruit. "Cherry pits plus laughter. Never fails," she said, marching triumphantly over the Bonobo King's body. "Thank you. I couldn't have done this without you, Albert."
Albert trailed behind. "Aren't you gonna, you know, check that he's really dead?"
"No, superheroes never double-check stuff. There is such a thing as style." Albert glanced back doubtfully: he was sure he'd seen that ape twitch.
by Sara Genge
Hailey grabbed the toad by the leg and threw it against the wall. There was an ugly splatter.
"See what you've done?" she told the prince which had matterialized half-conscious on the floor. "I'm never going to get those guts off the wall and the cleaning lady will ask all sorts of questions in the morning."
"I'm sorry," stuttered the boy. "You freed me, my Princess!"
"Yeah, whatever. That's what we do in this country. We free people." Hailey wrinkled her nose at the overwhelming acne on the boy's face. "I'm soo glad I didn't kiss you," she said.
"But you will when we're married?" he asked. Hailey lifted an eyebrow.
"You are going to marry me, aren't you?"
Hailey backed off towards the door. She'd planned to spend the morning in bed, but the citric walls and cool posters weren't as welcoming with slime dripping down to the floor.
"Wait, don't leave me!" The frog-prince scuffled after her. "I rescued your PSP from that lake."
Hailey turned towards him viciously.
"Listen to me, you little toad. I don't owe you anything. Sure you got the PSP back, and I already said thank you for that. Following me home hasn't been a cool move. And when I threw you? Well, I didn't plan on freeing you, I was just trying to stop you from jumping into bed with me!"
The boy whimpered and gave her that look: emotional blackmail, pitiful thumb-twisting, a calf going to the slaughterhouse.
"OK, listen. I have to go to class now. Bertzank will go insane if I skip English 101. I can't not go. You just go back to your lake and I'll come get you after class."
The frog prince scuttled obligingly out the door and Hailey closed it behind him with a sigh. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and she had cleaning to do.
by Sara Genge
I can do this, Marcus thought; I can play him along forever. He sat on the couch with the angel who was in charge of commissioning the stained-glass windows in the Cathedral. The angel called himself Uriel. Whether he really was the angel of Repentance or not, wasn't the issue. This being had the power to keep Marcus alive as long as he needed him to paint.
Marcus would pull a stunt like Penelope, and drag his work throughout his life.
"I know what you're doing," said the angel.
"What?" Marcus was pudgy and did not look particularly intelligent. This trick usually worked.
"Cut it out, I know what you're thinking." The angel spread its wings and Marcus winced at the sight of those dirty feathers on his cream sofa. He would have thought that an angel would use his powers to keep his wings clean, but this one seemed to think the bohemian look suited him. "If you think this can go on forever," Uriel continued, "You're an idiot. Finish the windows and get out of this cesspool. Heaven is much nicer."
Marcus didn't want to go to heaven, not yet. He had been dying a few years back of hereditary kidney failure. Then this being had appeared, claiming to be an angel and offering him the commission to paint the stained-glass windows in the Cathedral, the bishop's new pet project. He'd said yes, and suddenly, there was a kidney for him and he'd been transplanted. Freed from dialysis he'd thrown himself into the job, designing the intricate patterns that would move the faithful to awe, experimenting with lead alloys that made the windows light and airy, as if an angel held them up, as if they weren't made of glass after all, but of breath or air.
When his body started to reject the kidney, he'd devised a plan. Work slow and, if necessary, destroy the panes. It hurt, but if it came down to his art or his life, the choice was made.
"I know what you're doing," repeated the angel.
"Do you know how to stop me?" asked Marcus.
"No," said the angel.
"Then it's settled," said Marcus.
The angel sighed. "Oh well, what are a few years to me?"
"They are everything to me," said Marcus.
We Are Siamese If You Don't Please
by Sara Genge
"Ooooh prettty," the leprechaun sighed. The garden gnome hushed him
and reasserted his grip on the leprechaun's arm. The bar was noisy,
there was a chance Pandora hadn't heard but if the other one kept this
up someone was bound to notice.
The tie of invisibility was knotted around both their necks. As long
as they stayed bound together nobody could see them. Albert felt like
the smart sibling of a pair of Siamese twins, being dragged around by the
leprechaun. It had been the leprechaun's idea to come to the bar to
stare up girls' minis and the gnome had agreed thanks to a few glasses
of whisky. Besides, there had to be some advantage to being a
Albert was terrified of being caught. It wasn't like him to go off on
some undignified panty quest and the leprechaun gave new meaning to
the term ADHD. Disaster was imminent and the gnome wished he were
outta here, preferably with his reputation intact.
"Preeety." The leprechaun looked blatantly up Pandora's legs. The girl
took a step back and stared at the floor in their general direction.
For a second, Albert wondered whether she could see them, but her
pupils scanned the space in front of them without focusing and the
Pandora's confused look turned into a smile that made the gnome feel
like ice-cubes clinking down his back. She opened her purse and
extracted a pearl, twirled it around her fingers and tossed it on the
The leprechaun gasped and the pearl erupted into a lily, which
blossomed and morphed into a white rose.
"Oh!" The leprechaun shouted and leaped off, yanking the tie away from
Albert and leaving him exposed.
"Sorry Miss." The gnome blushed, tipped his red cap at her and ran.
Three blocks away, he turned around to look. All that was left of the
bar was a mushroom cloud, red with white dots on the top, a typical
Amanita. From where he was, he could still hear Pandora's mad cackle.
If Words Could Kill
by Sara Genge
Chaktli bit her lip and hated herself for it. If He made her do it one more time, she swore she'd... do what? Without the author's imagination to blow on her sails, she was stranded like... It was no use: all she could think of were the cliches he'd built into her when he'd created her. And what kind of name was Chaktli? Not even that felt right.
She started to pace, knowing that she was giving in to His whim. The view outside the window was syrupy and pink like a bad reconstruction of the 50s. Couldn't this author do anything right? Chaktli opened her mouth to scream, but her breath was cut off into a moan as the scene changed abruptly under her feet.
The male protagonist was the author's idea of himself, right down to the strident laughter. Oh, how she hated him, but she couldn't deny the script and when he touched her "heat seared her loins". Chaktli groaned in dismay as the chapter evolved into a steamy sex scene that left her wondering about the Writing Cheese Prize even as she "writhed in an ocean of desire". Thankfully the main character fell asleep before he could go off on one of those monologues designed to educate the reader. When he spoke, she was expected to reply with clever quips.
Chaktli hoped the author would trunk the novel, but she didn't know what would happen to her if he did. She might disappear, or worse, be forced to reenact the first thirty pages of the manuscript over and over again. The thought of having to sleep with that man again brought bile to her mouth.
She wanted to kill Him! But how? Was it possible to overdose on mixed metaphors? Could she force Him to gag on stereotypes?
Chaktli crawled out of bed. The author was asleep and the void frightened her but she had to find out if she had any free will. She dialed the protagonist's number.
"I hate you," she said. "You're an ass... and your thing? Not as big as you think."
She hung up. She'd broken character! She smiled, thinking of the author's face when he woke up and saw the new scene on the screen.
by Sara Genge
His daughter Claudia was crazy: she changed jobs overnight and he
never knew who she was dating. When she was home, she scribbled on her
notepad and left the scraps of paper lying around for him to find.
Whenever his guard was down, he'd be jolted by men suffocating on
their top-hats, amoebas with eyes and tentacles, frog eating
They argued a lot.
When Claudia came visiting, she drank his beer and stretched out on
her mother's cream sofa. Metal studs inched down her ears and
eyebrows, down the nape of her neck, disappearing under her clothing
to find secret places to pinch, to rub.
His daughter suffered from kidney failure; she shouldn't drink.
Dialysis became more frequent. Claudia could no longer live alone so
she moved back into the house. The cream sofa became her fiefdom,
where she received men with soft voices and sad eyes, women with dyke
haircuts and well-toned shoulders. The visitors brought crocuses,
The doctors pronounced them compatible. He gave her a kidney.
She lived. He still thinks she's crazy. She drinks his beer and gets
grease stains on the sofa. The amoebas have multiplied into a sea of
little monsters. Once in a while, a kidney makes its way into her
drawings. He swears that he'll use them for toilet paper, but he never
does. They argue every single day.
Ain't No Cure For Love
by Sara Genge
The Earl of Knutterbury got out of the time machine that the weird stranger had given him and entered the building with "Health.Inc" written in large neon letters over the portico. As soon as he wasn't looking, the machine imploded silently and disappeared.
"I've got the disease of love," he told the receptionist. The Earl was embarrassed to talk about such matters in front of a woman, even though her cleavage indicated that she wasn't a lady.
"Ain't no cure for that," the girl laughed.
"I meant Venus's disease." The Earl saw the confused look in her face. "Syphilis!," he shouted and blushed.
"Tertiary syphilis? Are you sure?," the CEO of Health.Inc asked.
"Absolutely sir. There's also some brain damage, which penicillin won't reverse. Should we give him complete neuro-regenerative treatment?"
The CEO looked at his aide as if the man had lost his mind.
"Of course! The publicity is well worth the cost. Imagine, a nineteenth century gentleman, come to get treatment from Health.Inc. Besides, we have the contract to consider..." The contract stated that Health.Inc had to treat every human and household pet within the confines of the European Union. In exchange, they had been awarded the succulent biological arms contracts.
"Sir, please reconsider, what if more of these health tourists come? We can't treat everyone!"
"Stop angsting. There won't be any others. Random space-time anomaly, wasn't that what the physics called it?"
"But his time-machine?"
"Doesn't exist. Did anyone see him walking out of any time-machine? Where is it? Show it to me! Son, he has neurological damage, he's probably seeing little green men."
"Brilliant! What a trick, drowning them in medical refugees so they had to divert their funds from biological weapons. How the hell did you think of it?," Brillo asked.
Aro leaned back in the semi-sentient chair and listened to it purr. Brillo was an idiot, but still, it was nice to be adored.
"It wasn't so difficult. Come on, if you want, you can help me with the next intervention. Which century do you want, twentieth, or twenty-first? It's up to you."
Dear Diary II
by Sara Genge
Today I caught a little god and put it in a jar before it can become a big god and hurt little people.
Mom says I'm a brave girl for ridding all those worlds of their gods. She also says to be careful but I don't see what's so dangerous about the little gods.
Mom wants to take my jars of little gods to the swindler's market to sell, but I hide them from her and feed them scraps of magic. Sometimes I steal souls for them from Aunt Rue's cookie jar. The gods grow and grow until their faces are smash up against the glass of their tiny jars and then they grow until their spines are all twisted and then they keep growing until they die.
I have 117 jars, so there are 117 godless worlds.
Today I dropped a dead god into a little world. The little people scurried around like ants, trying to grab pieces of the dead god. They fought for the toes and for the Word and for the Book and they carried away the chunks of godmeat and killed anyone who came close. I felt bad and tried to tell them it was only a stupid dead god but they didn't listen to me. If Mom finds out she's gonna kill me. I hid that world where she won't look.
Sue said she'll teach me to hunt angels. Angels make good earrings. If you're careful and don't kill them when you grab 'em, they keep wriggling their little wings when they're hung from your ears and last like forever.
Dear Diary: please forgive me for not writing more, but I'm running off to hunt angels with Sue.
Dear Diary I
by Sara Genge
I caught a little god today running through the back yard and I grabbed it by the foot and I swung it against a rock and its skull cracked, but Momma saw me and wouldn't let me eat its brains because they fetch 5000 calories in the swindler's market, she said.
She tried to swap me my little god for a chocolate bar but chocolate is for babies and I said no. Fine, she says, two chocolates, and I said three and then she smacked me on the head and took my little god! It's not fair. I hate her! I'll hate her forever! I hate the swindler's market and I'm never going to talk to her again, ever.
by Sara Genge
"This is naughty," Kinky678 linked me to a porn web page, "this is naughtier, and this is horrible." With each chat ping, another naked woman materialized in my kitchen.
"Whoa there," I said, pissed that she hadn't asked if I found porn acceptable. The pay per view holograms began to cajole me for money. I erased them with a sigh.
I'd only met her a couple of weeks ago, and she teased incessantly, but I kept coming back for more. She had sass, and made wry comments about my genitals (which she hadn't seen) as other women comment on clothes. She kept sending me pictures of herself, a foot, a wrist, a fluorescent tattooed navel. Nothing that would help me recognize her if I met her on the street, but enough to set my mind aflame. She insisted I call her Kinky.
"Let's meet in person," I asked again. She laughed me off.
"Are you sure this girl is cool?" asked Joanna at lunch-break. "She could be a drug dealer, or a minor. Have you thought of that?"
I winced. Kinky did sound young sometimes and I had considered that possibility, but I hadn't asked because I didn't really want to know. I was smitten. I looked imploringly at Joanna, but she glared back.
"Promise me you'll ask her age. And don't have another off-color conversation until you know she's legal."
I promised. Joanna was right. I wondered if I wasn't already in trouble.
When I got home, I popped the question.
"16," she answered.
Damn. I hesitated on the verge of continuing the conversation. No, I couldn't. I wondered if, deep down, I hadn't known all along. I hated myself for it.
"Nice talking to you, Kinky, but you need to find someone your own age." She wouldn't like this. The screen flickered and I wondered if something was wrong with the computer. Then Kinky's personalized chat slides disappeared and were replaced by a message:
Kinky678 is a program operating under Anti-Minor Abuse Law 278. You have not committed a crime. No charges will be brought against you. In accordance with New Jersey citizen privacy laws, Kinky678 is an artificial persona. There were no human operatives monitoring your conversations.
I stared at the screen. I already missed her. I thought for a while, and then I bought the latest dating software. I couldn't have Kinky, but her older sisters were fair game.
by Sara Genge
The changeling girl held a bazooka out of the window of the house and waited for the leprechaun to try to steal her stash. Leprechauns were the only beings in magical creation too dense to understand that fairy gold wasn't real, just glamorized bits of leaves and dust, and they spent half their time trying to steal it and then wondering why it disappeared the next day.
Last night the leprechaun had made a dash for her gold Barbie doll. Sharon bit her lip. She'd had it. It might not be a real gold gold Barbie, but it was her gold Barbie and nobody was going to take it away from her. Just let them try.
Her arms hurt from pulling back the string of the sling that she'd glamorized to look like a bazooka. She wondered if the stones would hurt more if she changed it into a missile, but realized that they probably wouldn't. Her only hope was that the sight would scare the leprechaun off and that he wouldn't dare come back. Keeping this farce up was too stressful and Sharon had nobody to help her.
Nobody understood her. Life was hard on a changeling fairy trying to fit in among humans. She wondered how her human mother would react if she ever found out, and the bazooka trembled in her hand.
"Mom, Dad, you guys don't know it, but I'm adopted. Your real child is in fairyland being forced to work for their bread or something." Didn't sound right.
Frustration welled inside and she wanted to cry. Why me? She thought. Why my Barbie doll?
"Sharon? Come down to dinner, darling. Now." The girl hesitated. Nobody cared about her. Why should she even bother going down to dinner? Why should she bother eating? Why not just waste away and leave a pretty corpse? She bit back her tears.
"Honey?" her mother was climbing the stairs. "Honey, I want you downstairs right now. Don't make me come up and get you."
The changeling dropped the bazooka, grabbed the Barbie and hid it under her clothes. Then she put on her best slouch, opened the door and went downstairs to join Humanity
by Sara Genge
The outlaw walked into the fairybar.
"Gimme all you got," he shouted at the waitress.
He didn't have a gun, but the fairy knew better than to argue. She glowered at him but emptied the register on the bar.
"Put it in the bag. There, that's a good girl."
The waiting-fairy's wings fluttered from fright and her hands tightened into two white fists as the man retreated towards the door. She was a properly brought-up fairy, not one of those changelings spoiled by humans, and pacifism ran through her blood, from her butterfly wings to her pink ballet points.
The outlaw surveyed the room with a smirk.
"I don't believe in fairies," he said. The waitress gasped as a customer dropped dead on the table. "That'll teach you girls," the man said. "I don't believe in fairies, I don't believe in fairies, I don't believe in fairies!" Customers fell like flies.
"I don't believe in outlaws!" the waitress shouted, trembling hands digging into her pockets. Her cheeks turned crimson and the hairs on her head stood on end, charged with negative energy. She felt bad karma swelling inside and realized she'd have to go through a session of crystal cleansing to get rid of it afterwards.
The outlaw guffawed. "That won't work with me, I'm not a sissy little fairy."
"Will this work?" The fairy took a miniature gun from her pocket, which, to the outlaw's dismay, expanded into a full-sized AK-47. She cocked the rifle and let the man realize how badly he'd screwed up. Then she fired.
The fairy sighed: she felt too good. Crystals alone wouldn't take care of her homeostatic imbalance but she didn't look forward to two hours of Om Mani Padme Hum.
by Sara Genge
The old garden gnome didn't know where his captors were taking him. Albert sniffed, hoping to get a telltale whiff that would tell him his relative position to the concrete factory in Bellview, but the cloth sack he was in buffered smells.
He guessed it was 00.45. Albert was sure they'd nabbed him around midnight as he slept under Aunt Martha's shrubs. The memory made him shudder. He was getting old; nobody ever crept up on him when he was younger.
The door opened, and something heavy was dumped to his right. He heard a chink.
"Be careful Rob!," a female voice whispered. "Nobody's gonna pay ransom if they're broken."
The man grunted and closed the door. Should he try to escape? The girl's tone had convinced him that he was dealing with lunatics, but the mention of ransom suggested that he might be better off sitting tight. No, who was he kidding? Aunt Martha didn't have money.
The garden gnome was on his own.
Albert gnawed on the cloth and managed a hole, which he picked apart with his fingers. Then he took the tip of his stiff red cap and used it to enlarge the opening. Soon, he wriggled out.
The van was full of sacks. He touched one and felt the shape of garden gnome inside.
"Don't worry buddy, I'll get you out," he whispered. The other gnome didn't answer.
"Don't worry, we'll find a way to escape. Do you hear me?" Silence. Albert worked fast, worried that his comrade was in shock. He almost lost a molar but he got the knot loose and dragged out the unconscious gnome.
No pulse! He started CPR, took a second to remember that he needed to tilt the guy's head and did so. He heard a chink.
"Shit!" He started tapping the gnome's body. The guy sounded hollow.
"He's dead," the gnome whimpered, "I've administered CPR to a dead gnome."
He worked frantically on the other sacks and pulled out one lifeless body after another. What kind of sick person stole dead gnomes? And why had they taken him?
Confused and trembling, Albert lined up his companions on the far side of the van. The lock was way too high for him to reach. There was no way out. The bodies standing to attention stared at him silently and chilled him to the bone.