On day one my cat catches a mouse. On day two my cat catches a second mouse. On day three my cat catches a third mouse. On day four he skins them. On day five he leaves them in front of my bedroom door, but retrieves them before i can claim them as my prize. On day six i look for my cat, who i haven't seen all day. On day seven i hear sounds under the floorboards, so i look, and i find my cat with his three skinned mice. The mice are all miraculously alive. I catch them in a tableau, and it is immediately clear that the three mice are enacting a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. On day eight i hear a noise in the attic, and i go up there and find the three skinned mice once again mid-scene, this time from The Glass Menagerie. My cat is there, standing on hind legs, wearing a bow tie. He has always been obsessed with Tennessee Williams but this time he has gone too far. I tell the mice they can go free, but they don't want to leave. My cat calls me a tyrant and a chauvinist, and scratches one of my eyes out. On day nine i watch TV with my one good eye and my cat licks himself
Ziggy played guitar in the death metal band Penile Hacksaw. Wonk Magazine had labeled them the heaviest band in the world for two years running. At shows Ziggy would throw his infamous guitar picks into the audience. They played the Toledo Portuguese Community Center to a crowd of thirty-two people. During the song Extra Virgin Blood Oil, Hana Fyst stood headbanging in front of the stage, and headbanged so hard she hit her head on the barrier and split her skull open. Ziggy noticed the incident when a modest spurt of blood hit him on the nose. After the show Ziggy went to the hospital to see Hana. You are an exceptional headbanger, he said. The best i've ever seen. My cousin Boyd runs a headbanging academy. He could use a junior instructor like you. Hana said i'm no good, look, as she pointed to the stitches in her forehead. That is a mark of talent and dignity, Ziggy said. She smiled, and said thank you. Ziggy reached into his pocket and handed her a bag of his infamous guitar picks. They were shaped like penises and had silly-looking blood flowing down them. Here, he said, you can have all of these, for your headbanging efforts. You're giving me this bag of dick picks? she said. He nodded. She was so happy that she cried, and a little bit of blood seeped out of her wound. Ziggy left, for he had obligations, and Hana played air guitar with his dick picks all night long
I'm telling you, i can't deal with Aanders anymore. You wanna know what he pulled the other day? We left the Penile Hacksaw show and then went to shoot pool at Sadie's. There were these two girls playing 9-ball at the table next to us and one of them, the blonde one, was wearing this Jean-Michel Basquiat shirt, the one with the crown on it. Aanders interrupted their game and said, Excuse me, but do you even know who that is? The girls just looked at each other all confused, and Aanders went ballistic! He screamed You don't even know who Basquiat is! Have you ever even seen an artwork of his? Have you ever even been in an art gallery before? and the girl is just yelling Dude, get away from me! Get away from me! I'm like trying to tell Aanders to chill, and then this huge black guy comes over and asks what the problem is, and the girl says This guy is freaking out at me! The guy turns to Aanders and tells him to calm down, and Aanders says Well she doesn't even know what a commodity is, so tell her to calm down! The big guy says Hey man back up, that's my girlfriend, and fucking Aanders says Well your girlfriend is a moron. The guy smashes Aanders in one shot, and then kicks him twice in the face while he's down. The guy and the two girls are running out of there, and all Aanders can say is She can't even spell Basquiat! Like two of his teeth are on the floor in front of him, and he's still giving this girl shit! I help him up and hand him his teeth and there's blood all over his shirt. That moron, she can't even spell commodity! he says. I say Dude! You're holding your own teeth right now! Who cares if she's wearing that shirt! Who cares! And he just spits out blood and says Moron. I can't deal with him. I just can't
Beth stared in shock at Valentine's Day. She read the artist's name on the placard: Shonda Williams. She looked around the exhibit, but she was alone. Beth had seen many famous, challenging works at The Beringen Contemporary Art Collection in her 75 years. She would save up money for a month to pay the entry fee, even though it meant she'd eat less. Here she'd met Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol when Basquiat premiered his Irony of the Negro Policeman. She'd come here and marvelled at the works of Damien Hirst and Francis Bacon, and the performances of Marina Abramovic. But Valentine's Day made her uncomfortable. The hands were grasping one another in such a way that suggested that they were the hands of two people deeply in love. And yet they were identical-looking, except that the left ring finger bore a gold band. Beth stared at the bones that jutted out of the severed wrists. Some blood had leaked onto the white slab. At the base of the slab, Beth read the words: "hands donated by a willing subject. She lived and loved without them, for a time." Beth felt a drip on her head, and looked up just as another drip hit her eye. Suspended several feet above her was a human heart, still beating, attached to some kind of special pacemaker. It dripped blood onto the floor and onto the slab on which the hands rested. She walked around the slab and read the other note, "heart also donated by our willing subject, at the very end, while she was alive." Beth felt faint, looking up at the bleeding, pumping organ, and rested heavily on her cane. She let the blood continue to drip on her forehead
Beth lined up to purchase a ham and cheese sandwich in The Beringen's cafeteria. When she attempted to hand the cashier some money, the cashier said We don't take money anymore. You have to use photos you took of the artworks on your smart phone. If you've published them on social media they are worth more. Beth said But my phone doesn't have a camera. It's an older one. The cashier shrugged her shoulders and said You'll have to buy a new phone i guess. Beth asked for a cup of water and the cashier filled a plastic cup and set it down hard on the counter, spilling a little. Beth drank her water and then explored the gift shop. She found a book about the life of Shonda Williams, the artist of Valentine's Day. In the opening blurb it explained that Shonda never had a husband or a lover, and lived alone until her death. Beth was surprised, as she assumed Shonda was still alive. She read about an older work of Shonda's, entitled Through Pain We Learn To Live, where she took several dead dogs, all of which she had owned at one point, and all of which she had killed herself, and stacked them on top of the other, in order of age with the most recently dead at the top. The dog on the bottom was nothing but a pile of bones. In the section about Valentine's Day, Beth read that the severed hands belonged to Shonda herself. She had had them removed the year before for the piece. When Shonda was alive she would grasp her own hands when she lay in bed, imagining that one hand belonged to someone else, so she could experience intimacy. The heart also belonged to Shonda. She had had it removed the day before it was included in the piece by her assistants. Beth took the book to the counter and asked if she had to pay using smart-phone photos. The clerk nodded. Beth took the twenty dollars out of her pocket; it was what she had remaining after she had paid the entry fee. Do you think this is enough money to buy a smart phone? she asked. The clerk shook his head no. She leaned in on her cane and motioned for the clerk to come closer. I'll give you this twenty dollars if i can use your phone to take some pictures in the gallery, she said. The clerk looked unimpressed by the offer. And i'll give you this, she said, showing him her cellular phone. Ha! he said, that's like a relic. Ok lady, deal. How many pictures do i need to take to buy this book? she asked. Twenty pictures, he said, but only ten if you are uploading to social media. Since you're doing it on my phone i'll give you a deal; upload five and you can buy the book. All right, she said, that's a good deal. Now you hold on to that book for me. I'll be back in a few moments. She walked into the gallery, looking at this strange device in her hand, wondering how to use it. She looked at the gallery exit, which was only a few feet away, and she looked down the hall, toward the exhibit which housed Valentine's Day. She looked one way and then she looked the other way, deciding
They opened the door to the cellar and told me it was time i went to an art show. They told me i needed some culture, plus seeing the artworks might inspire me to write. I asked them if i had a choice which gallery they took me to and they laughed. They said Do you know any art galleries? I thought for a minute and then i said Beringen? They looked at each other, unnerved. Where did you hear that name? one of them asked. I said i didn't know, that for some reason it was in my head. One of them whispered something in the other's ear. They said they needed a minute to consult about something, and brought me back down to the cellar. After some time, maybe an hour or so, they opened the cellar door. Now's not a good time after all, they said. We'll try again some other time. But you keep writing, they said, and they closed the door
Lana Lark Argona got herself into Rice on the medical school track, coming all the way from Canada, knew within a day she couldn't cut it with all the other smarties, got herself a transfer to UT in Austin, knew within a week she couldn't cut it there either, and got herself a transfer to Baylor. Waco was nice but she had to pretend to be one with Jesus, and she was half-decent at pretending, but then her biology professor Guildwood Car tried to slip it to her in his office, crucifix around his neck, and she said no thank you to the whole endeavor. Moved back to Austin for a day, decided she wasn't hip enough for it, joined the fire school in College Station, had to compete with the boys, ended up swinging the steel end of a firehose at Gribs Collinsworth's eye socket after he told her girls can't rescue no one nor put out fires, and had to find herself another new thing. Canada wanted her back and the US wanted her out but she liked the non-winter so she went west to Midland and met the young dentist Hardsy Toke but he pronounced it 'dennist' and she had thought he upholstered dens for the first two weeks they dated. Got married, and he put one in her, but she lost it before the big belly stage and said that's it, no more. He said yes more and tried to force the issue and she put a knife on him down there and then there was no more dennist. Moved across the pond to Odessa and worked under the table chopping onions for fifty bucks cash a week in a taqueria, since she couldn't work legally, but Hardsy was still trying to haul her back, Odessa being so close, so she hopped further upwards to Lubbock. Tended bar for only tips and met Diane O'toole who had stopped in for an afternoon beer on her way to Colorado for a vacation. Diane, an infamous rancher down near Corpus Christi, owned one of the biggest ranches in the state, and legend was she'd killed a man with a steer's severed horn. She was 40 years older than Lana but they fell in love right there at the bar. Diane brought her to Corpus to live on the ranch and taught her about raising cattle. Within a year Diane was a goner from a heart attack and the ranch was left to Lana, giant and too hollow for one person. She tended to those cattle for one more day after Diane's passing, and then left the gate open on he way out, letting the beef decide for themselves if they wanted freedom. She walked thirty miles to a gas station and looked at a map of Texas. She closed her eyes and waived her thumb in the air and then poked it down on the map. She did it three times but couldn't land that thumb on a city. She walked outside and stood by that deserted road, sweating buckets from the heat, and stuck her map-poking thumb high in the air
So tell us about your trip to Africa! Janie said, sitting down at the dinner table. The roast was almost ready. Her sister, Amanda, was playing with the cat in the living room, avoiding the conversation. Papa Morris sunk into his chair at the head of the table with a nice cold beer in his hand. It was great, he said. Wild animals and safaris, mmm mmm mmm. Mama Joan took the roast out of the oven; she lifted the tinfoil and revealed the gigantic zebra head. The fur still smoldered; the stripes were still discernable, despite being cooked. Joan began to carve. What a great trip, she said. Your papa here got us this zebra with his own two hands and a machete. What nice people those park rangers are. From the living room, Amanda said what countries were you in? The African ones, Morris said. Amanda got up and shouted You don’t even know which countries you were in?? Morris said Silly girl and Joan said Silly girl and Janie said Silly girl and they all patted Amanda on the head. Once they were all seated they said a prayer and began to eat. Amanda took a bite that was covered in burnt fur. She chewed for several minutes but couldn’t seem to chew through it. Everyone else around the table appeared to be doing just fine with the meat. She kept chewing and pretended everything was okay
Young people: Facebook is cool
Old people: Facebook IS cool! Let's try it!
Young people: Fuck. Ok, Instagram is cool
Old people: Haha Instagram most definitely IS cool! We love the pictures
Young people: FUCK! all right, Snapchat is cool
Old people: Haha we don't necessarily get it but sure, this is fun! Snapchat IS cool, come on everyone!
Young people: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!! Memes!
Old people: Already there with you! we look at the memes on the smartphone. Lol, what's with the gorilla?
Young people: Alright you wanna know what's cool? You wanna know what's cool?? Eating fucking poisonous laundry detergent!
Old people: This is the death of society. The decline of civilization. Our children have betrayed us *a shift of eyes, and slow, mincing bite of a Tide pod* it's actually not that bad if you eat it slowly, over the course of a week. There's not as much poison that way, and the flavor could be worse. I might use it in the roast next Sunday
Young people: This has gone far enough. We have no choice but to self-terminate en masse. Coordinate via Finsta and meme pages and whatever routes we can. The method is irrelevant. Bullets, blades, blunt force trauma, jumping in front of freight trains, playing dangle-the-bacon with rattlesnakes, skydiving without parachutes, whatever. As long as we coordinate the timing so that we all take ourselves out of this stupid existence at the same time
Old people: Um, you know we monitor your Finsta, and we understand your memes, right? Ok, so no, no mass suicide, and you're grounded!
Young people: … fuck
Old people: And stop swearing so much or you're double grounded
Young people: *eye roll*
Old people: Ha! That looks fun! Let's do that together. *all eyes are collectively rolled, which become stuck up inside their heads, because they did it wrong. They are unable to see, and the panic, which following the sudden blindness, results in mass hysteria. They accidentally run off of buildings, run through plate glass windows, run into traffic, run into freight trains, run into rattlesnakes, run into Niagara falls, run into the sun, until there are none. The majority of the population is eliminated. Older generations are completely decimated
Young person, retired, Bitcoin-rich, sitting in a rocking chair, smiling triumphantly: what will younger generations enjoy in the future?
Young person's unborn child: *eye roll*
Dirkwood Gleebs, 117 years young, hacked up a storm and rose at 6 AM. He walked to his little rickety office, still wearing pajamas, and sat at the typewriter. He heard a sound coming from the doorway and spun around to see a young man standing there. Who'n the hell'r you? he said. You know who I am, Dirkwood. It's time; let's go, the young man said. Wot? I ain't goin nowhere's. I gots a write my memoirs. I dunno how in the hell ye got in here, but git! The young man smiled and said Come on Dirkwood, make this easy for yourself. Don't make my whip out my scythe. Dirkwood typed on his rickety typewriter and said ye best git the hell on outta here 'fore ye git hurt. The young man rolled his eyes and touched Dirkwood on the shoulder. Dirkwood jerked out of his chair and stood up, hunched and wobbly. Well that's weird, the young man said, and Dirkwood punched him hard in the nose, and then he kicked him in the balls. The young man went down like a bag of hammers and lay there moaning for a while. Ye git the hell outta my house! If i see y'around here again i'm on' kill ya! The young man crawled out of the room and coughed. You old son of a bitch! I'm coming back tomorrow. Sure y'are, sure y'are, Dirkwood said, shaking his fist. That's what they all say
I'm at the gym four times a week but i saw some crazy shit the other day that i've never seen before. Skinny Greg Mallard was in the squat rack, loading up that tiny amount of weight that his skinny little legs can barely even handle, like 95 pounds or something, and he's chatting away while he's doing it with anyone around him that will listen. One of those gym talkers. Some people hate that, but me, i don't mind. Hard enough to make friends as it is. Outta nowhere this big, mean looking juice-head comes along and throws him, and i mean literally throws him out of the squat rack. Skinny Greg must have flew five feet. This jacked up shithead says something like Get your puny ass out of my squat rack! Everybody was stunned, just standing there, looking. Skinny Greg picked himself up and walked right out the front door. The juice-head was so terrifying no one even said anything. But you won't believe what happened the next week. Skinny Greg came into the gym but he didn't put his duffel bag in his locker, just brought it with him into the weight room. And there was the juice-head, already in his rack. Skinny Greg waited till he had the bar on his back, and there must have been over 400 pounds on that bar, and then Skinny Greg unzipped that duffel bag and whipped out a big honking 12-gauge. Everybody froze solid. The juice-head could see the shotgun pointing at him in the mirror, but the fear didn't register till Skinny Greg pumped it and said Squat! The juice-head went down and came up like there was nothing on that bar, like angels helped him lift in up. Skinny Greg yelled it again, Squat! and the juice-head, sweating and shaking, squatted again. And he did it again and again and again. After twelve or thirteen reps the juice-head was weak, grinding up the weight with all his might. I could see Greg's finger tightening on that trigger. The juice-head had nothing left but Greg yelled Squat! and the juice-head went down with no strength left to come back, and Greg levelled that shotgun right for the bullseye. That's when those slow-ass security guards charged in and put the kibosh on the whole murder thing. Haven't seen Skinny Greg or the juice-head since. Probably won't again. Goddamn security, always gotta ruin everything
Work is not always fun. Yesterday the same troop came around, the ones that always give us trouble, and they got us good this time. Chained up all the employees around the special cheese and white wine tasting display, and stole all the red wine from the store, and i mean literally all of it. The ring leader came inside the store this time. She usually waits in the car. I've made eye contact with her a few times while on the phone with the cops. Normally they run around, smash a few things, and only steal a few bottles. But this time there was more of them than usual, and one of them, the twitchy skinny kid, had a gun. And then she came inside, tall, dark eyes, towering over us. Looked like someone not to be trifled with up close. I said why the hell are you doing this? and she said Cause my best friend has cancer. We all looked at each other, the employees, and the blonde continued talking, said My best friend has cancer. She's dying. Wants to swim in a pool of red wine before she goes out of the game, and i don't plan on letting her die unfulfilled. I said You won't get a way with this! and she just shrugged her shoulders. They had a truck waiting and everything; must have been twenty of them. It all happened in a few minutes. She blew us a kiss and then they were gone. Left the chains on us too. Cops took almost an hour to arrive. After i gave the police report i went to change and my arms felt like they'd been squeezed by god himself. By the staff room a lone bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape was rolling on the floor. I picked it up and tucked it into my shirt. I brought it out to the car later, tucked it under the seat. I don't think anyone noticed
Jim sat down in his and put his coffee cup on the wood coffee table. He began to read his book. Sheryl came into the living room and glared at him. He looked up at her. Please use a coaster, she said. He nodded and said alrighty, and she walked away. Thirty minutes later she brought a laundry basket full of towels into the living room and set up to fold them on the floor. She saw that Jim still had his coffee cup directly on the wood of the coffee table. As he flipped a page of his book, Sheryl looked up at the coffee cup. She walked over and lifted it off the wood, revealing a water mark. Look, she said. Look at this mark. That's never gonna come out. I asked you to use a coaster! Jim nodded and closed his eyes. He said I'm sorry. Next time i'll use a coaster. Sheryl took the coffee cup away and went into the kitchen. Jim continued to read his book
They let me out to visit The Author. At one point he had a normal name, but he changed it legally to The Author a few years before he went prison. I had told them many times that if they let me out for anything it should be for this, despite the difficulty involved in arranging a meeting of this nature. He hasn't been in a normal prison for the last year, but rather a maximum security psychiatric facility. I heard a rumor that he keeps his Pulitzers and his Nobel Prize on a shelf he built in his cell out of some of his own books and pieces of human bone. But it didn't happen the way it was supposed to; The Author wasn't there. They opened the cell door, and they were all as shocked as i was; there was no one inside. Security scrambled; people got on their walky-talkies, spewing out codes for this and that security situation. In the confusion i entered the cell. There were words written on the wall: "My biggest fear is that the world will end during my lifetime. My greatest desire is that the world will end during my lifetime." It was written in bold, childish lettering. The words were brownish-red in color, and i started to wonder about what substances he may have used to write them. A security guard came in and pulled me out of the room, citing danger and escaped patient and other things that blurred together
Macy walked into the playroom and found Stacy messing around with a giant cardboard box.
"Sister, what are you doing?" Macy said.
"Hello sister. I have completed work on my time machine. Observe," Stacy said, pointing at her creation.
"It hardly looks like a time machine. It's simply a box with a door drawn on."
"Your skepticism shall soon come to an end. Step inside with me sister. Let us explore the temporal landscape."
"I shall not, under any circumstance, enter that hackneyed excuse for an invention. Now, tell me, where are mother and father?" Macy asked.
Stacy smiled devilishly. "Mother and Father are somewhere in revolutionary France, if my coordinates are correct. They are my first participants."
"Stop this nonsense. I need to speak to mother about preparing my Vera Rubin costume for the talent show. I require her assistance immediately. Now, foolish sister of extreme foolishness, tell me where they are."
"I told you," Stacy said. "They're gone."
Macy left the playroom and searched all over the house. She checked the garage and the barn, the basement and the attic. Both cars were still in the driveway. She stopped in the kitchen and made herself a mayonnaise sandwich, and ate it while contemplating her costume and the importance of the discovery of dark matter. She finished, wiped her mouth, and stomped back upstairs to the playroom where she found no sign of Macy.
"Macy? Stop these shenanigans at once! Where are you? Where are mother and father?" There was no answer. She looked inside the cardboard box and was blinded by phosphorescent glowing lights. The sound inside was deafening. The air inside the box twisted into a corkscrew, and her hair blew back. A rip in the fabric opened in front of her. She reached out to touch it
To see Kari Maaren's accompanying take on twins and time travel, check out https://wobtalk.wordpress.com/2017/12/14/over-easy/
Explore the fantastical world of Kari Maaren and her debut novel Weave A Circle Round at http://www.karimaaren.com/
Lanky, emaciated, phlegmatic Smith walked into work his usual forty-five minutes late. He sat in his cubicle for thirty more minutes and stared at his blank screen. Johnson walked by and saluted him. Smith did not react. He went to the photocopier and breathed on the screen until it was fogged up. He wrote his name in the fog. He went to the bathroom and took a shit, and then sat there for thirty more minutes without his phone. He used his canine tooth to prick his index finger until blood was drawn. He reached down behind him to the back of the toilet bowl and wrote another notch. It was number 117, and he placed it perfectly without looking. He went out with Efraim for lunch. They ate sandwiches, and Efraim took the meat out of his and said he was going to save it for later, and if he didn't eat it he might give it to his turtle. Smith nodded. When they were back at the office, Don McKey said boy would i like to give to her good, and Smith got up from his desk and threw his glove at McKey, who apologized and slumped away. Smith watched him walk back to his desk and then continued to stare for fifteen more minutes. Later, when he played FreeCell, Jim Rivers came to his desk and said Smith, i don't tell you this enough, but you are the most significant asset this company has ever had. I'd sell my own kids' vital organs to keep you here. Smith just stared at him, and Rivers nodded and walked away. When Smith was preparing to leave for the day, he overheard Jamaica and Charlene talking about him. Jamaica said That Smith is the sexiest son of a bitch that's ever worked here, by far. Charlene said that is the absolute truth. I wish my seat was his face instead of my lousy desk chair. Smith turned around and looked at both women and they scuttled away. He stood there for several hours, and went home long after everyone else had left the building
44XD and SL101 approached the intergalactic throne. Emperor Blorb sat on his ivory seat, picking his teeth. He waived them forward.
"Good evening, my bulbousness. We have returned from our galactic surveillance assignment and have finalized our report," 44XD said. SL101 made globular clicking sounds, and then used one of its tentacles to reach into its translucent mass and extract a stack of several hundred pieces of paper. It passed the papers to 44XD, who floated to the throne and handed the report to Emperor Blorb. The Emperor flipped through all the pages in a matter of 5 seconds. He put his head down and began to moan.
"My lord?" 44XD said.
"This is TERRIBLE!" Blorb said.
"I'm sorry your extreme nobleness, but our calculations are infallible. You must know this is true."
"Of course its true, that's the problem! We cannot, repeat, cannot, give Earth the award this year. This is a travesty of such gargantuan proportions that it could cause total cosmic chaos! Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! "
44XD and SL101 looked at each other and shrugged. SL101 made several gloopy clicking sounds and waived its tentacles around.
Emperor Blorb rose from his throne and slimed his way to the window, where he observed the black expanse of outer space.
"40 years ago," he began, "long before your time, we gave the award to planet Earth. The award, of course, made sense for Earth. They deserved it, based on infallible calculations of agents much like yourselves. To award the same planet twice in less than a thousand years would be an absolute outrage. Especially if you consider what a stinking hole that place has become. The Razzzingzazzands would throw such a shit fit there would be genocides and mass extinctions and all kinds of craziness. Many planets would respond violently. It would be a full scale war. And my imperial rule would come into question."
"But sir," 44XD said, "our analysis is never wrong. Earth does deserve the award."
Emperor Blorb thought for a moment. "Blah! Just destroy the damn planet and we'll give the award to the runner up. The council will never know."
"Yes my great leader. Shall we enslave humanity first? For fun?"
"No time for that! No time for that! Just blow up their sun and let it consume the whole solar system. It'll look natural."
"Yes my great Sage of the Roundness," 44XD said. 44XD and SL101 left the intergalactic throne room and floated out into space, heading toward Earth
I was at the party when the drunk blonde girl lit her own hair on fire. They poured wine on her to put it out and she laughed, drenched and stained red. She danced while her friends held her up, with half her hair now short and burnt. She held a bottle of wine in each hand, and slowly danced her way toward Stan and me. I half wanted her very badly to come talk to us and half totally dreaded the thought of her being near us. She said wanna see a fuckin party trick? I'm a psychic, but i need booze, watch. She chugged back several gulps and then pointed at Stan and said your birthday is...... June 16th! Stan said Holy shit! and i laughed. Stan's girlfriend Geraldine came up behind us and put her arm around Stan. The drunk girl stared at her with a very concerned expression. She took another huge swig of her wine and dropped the empty bottle. She looked Geraldine right in the eyes and subtly shook her head. Stan didn't catch it, but i sure did. Geraldine said do i know you? and the drunk girl shook her head again. She had a look of horror on her face that i'll never forget. Geraldine caught it, but stupid Stan was too wasted to pick up on anything. Soon her friends came to her and said come on, we gotta get going, and they escorted their drunk psychic friend, and she looked at Geraldine intensely as she was led away
Henrietta was reading her book at Groucho's Coffee, occasionally picking her head up to stare at the handsome barista with the manicured moustache. The woman at the table beside her leaned over and said do you mind watching my laptop while I use the bathroom? Henrietta looked at her and nodded, and the woman got up and went to do her thing. Henrietta analyzed the computer, and the iPhone charger that was also plugged into the outlet near the table. She waited a few seconds, and then she climbed up and stood on her table, her shoes scuffing the marble. People turned to look at her, confused. She cupped her hands to her mouth and made the announcement. I need everyone's attention, she began. I've been tasked with guarding this computer. Anyone who feels the urge to steal it, be warned; i will guard this at all costs. Until death. The other patrons in the cafe looked around at each other. Two men stood up; they were both huge, nearly as tall as Henrietta even from her vantage point on the table. One of them grabbed a porcelain saucer and through it at her head like a frisbee. She ducked and both men lunged at her. She kicked one hard in the temple and he went down. The other tackled her, and they flew to the ground with a thud. As they grappled with each other, a young woman made a jump for the computer, but the short woman behind her grabbed her by the hair, broke the glass water bottle from her table, and stabbed her repeatedly. Henrietta got on top of the large man and twisted his head with her muscular thighs until she heard his spinal chord snap. The short woman with the broken bottle got in front of her like a rabid wolverine, covered in blood and foaming at the mouth. She lunged at Henrietta, but was too slow, and Henrietta kicked the bottle with perfect precision, and it went right up into the short woman's eye. Suddenly Henrietta couldn't breathe; an electrical chord was being squeezed around her neck by the barista. He wrenched the chord as hard as he could, and Henrietta started to go unconscious. There was a loud bang, and Henrietta could breathe again. She was covered in blood, brains, and skull bits, and the barista slumped to the ground. The woman who had asked Henrietta to watch her laptop stood there with a smoking pistol in her hand. I asked you for one thing, she said. One. Simple. Thing. She shook her head, put her gun away, and scooped up her computer. Henrietta watched her step carefully around the bodies and exit the coffee shop. She noticed that the woman had forgotten her iPhone charger; she unplugged it and slipped it in her purse, and then she got up and left, catching the sound of sirens in the distance
They brought a new person down to the cellar. We couldn't see each other because of the darkness. For two days we didn't speak to one another, we just sat alone in the dark. On the third day he asked me to tell him a story. I said i didn't have any because i was suffering from writer's block, so there were no stories available, and he said okay then tell me something about telling stories. I told him about a young writer i once knew, who was obsessed with making it as a professional, and liked to write about dark, bad things, but he struggled to find inspiration because he had lived such a pleasant, trouble-free life. He was raised by good parents in a nice town, and had a respectable upbringing. He was convinced that good writing had to be dark, and could only come from experiences of trauma, violence, terror, and death. He sought out these things in his nice suburban town, but they were hard to find. He visited morgues and cemeteries, hospitals and prisons, he looked for conflict wherever he could. He tried to get himself hit by a car when crossing the street, but everyone avoided him. He tried to goad people into assaulting him, but people simply ran from him. I lost touch with him, but last i heard he had killed a man and was in jail. I don't know if he has ever written anything. I stopped speaking, and my new mate in the cellar was quiet. I asked him if he wanted me to talk more, but he didn't respond, so i went back to thinking about stories