One Job

The following is a story based on this reddit word prompt:

“What job?” Rick said, frantically searching the android for its power supply. The chest was the most common place to hide it, but the device wasn’t there. He checked the android’s feet, hands, and only found it by cracking open the base of its skull. The head was the most dangerous place to put a power supply, although the ease of wiring from the top down made it the most efficient.

“Who puts the battery in the head?” James said, scratching his head. He wanted to help, but knew that Rick’s was a one man job.

“We don’t have time for that.” Rick pulled a tool from his pocket that sparked electricity at one end and applied it to various components of the android’s complicated battery.

It was dark and difficult to see, for the pair were miners in a cave three miles under the Pacific Ocean’s surface. Undersea mining was the last place to extract resources from Earth herself. Although asteroids promised richer rewards, the cost was that much more expensive to retrieve them. Only the Five, the five major corporations of the world, were involved in that business.

“We need that thing to get out of here,” James said. His arms were crossed in a lazy manner and he thought of smoking a cigarette, but the poor ventilation meant he couldn’t. Water sloshed around his feet and up to his knees, and the salt made it that much more uncomfortable. There was some other sound, almost like static or the sound of rushing water, that hinted to his ears that something was out of place.

Rick turned around and shined his weak flashlight in his partner’s face. “Do you think I don’t know that? What the fuck do you think I’m trying to do!”

“Alright, alright, you’re the engineer, I’m the surveyor, it’s fine. But don’t you fix these things all the time?”

“Of course I do, but they have definable errors!” As Rick spoke, he frantically adjusted the wiring in the skull of the android. His hands were a blur. “I mean, what job? That doesn’t even make sense, dammit!”

“Chill, we’ll be fine. We have like two days of air left.”

“Doesn’t matter if I can’t get this thing working.”

James thought, fuck it, and lit a cigarette. The sound of Rick moving around in the water and the strange shadows that formed from his flashlight spooked the surveyor. The smoke clouded about his head, but that was the price for stress relief. The buzz, the static, the rushing sound that James had heard earlier was now getting louder and more persistent. “Hey, Rick,” he said. “You hear that?”

Rick stopped what he was doing, shook his head, and then went back to work. A few moments later, he said, “There, that should do it. Now tell us, what job?”

The android lit up, but its eyes remained closed. “To protect Richard Friedman and James McDonald.”

“But we’re still in the mine. We’re still alive. You haven’t done your job.”

“It is not possible now to fulfill my function. Therefore, my job is done.”

“What do you mean?”

The rushing sound grew louder and louder and soon a part of the roof collapsed. Water rushed into the dark cave.

“Oh, fuck.”

Alien Abduction

Ten little, dreadful things
crawled all up my insides.

Nine ugly, fat machines
prodded me from all my sides.

Eight buggers wiped me clean.
My naked body, lacking pride.

Seven nights it was, it seems.
Yet through time, nothing hides.

Six punctures to my spleen,
I couldn’t believe my own eyes.

Five thousand feet in air
or we maybe higher flew.

Four knives shaved all my hair,
‘gainst my protest, loud though few.

Three cold probes were stuck in there,
And now I am afraid to poo

Two big black eyes showed no care
and their hands lacked feeling too.

Once more, I’ll my protest air
simply to say, next could be you.

Jimmy the ice cream man

Jimmy was a hump back with dental issues. The bores on his back broke the skin, pushing puss from pores. Hair stringy and grease-covered slacked down a fat left shoulder. An exhale exhumed a bit of spittle that landed on the hot sidewalk. “Can I get…can I get some ice cream?” he asked the ice cream man, his sad eyes drilling holes in souls.

“I…um…” the ice cream man hesitated, wondering what the way was with this wary fellow. “I don’t really have any ice cream? This is, uh…it’s a front…for like, drugs?”

“I….I….I…….” Jimmy was hard of breathing. His chest tightened thick with the tension of the ticking time. “Got any…popped corn?”

“NO!” The ice cream man jumped out of his truck with a bat, swinging it this way and that. “GO!”

Jimmy tried to run, but his legs could only be pushed so much.

Only real data

I only use real words in my writing because I think it sounds better when things are real. Like, you can’t have a meal out of plastic food. There has to be actual food there for you to eat. Frankly, if it’s not real, like rally real, then how can you tell if something even exists?

It’s like…come on, it’s just so frustrating having to describe these simple concepts that are like, so totally ingrained in our nature. I mean, if poverty really exists, then why am I not impoverished, you know? So that’s not real data that I can use for my writing.

Another word that’s real that I like is “pizza.” It’s a real word that means food that’s in a circle with some cheese on top of bread on top of sauce, in that order. It’s very good, but I don’t like to eat too much because I have to watch my waistline. A waistline is something you get when you’re older and your legs have sprouted. Yeah, my legs didn’t sprout until I was seven, a little later than most, but oh well.

Another thing I like to do in my writing is to repeat things that mean stuff to me. If it doesn’t mean something, then I’ll like only say it once, but sometimes I’ll say it two times because of my bad memory. But anyone who knows me knows I have a bad memory, so if I say something three or four times, they know it’s really important.

Another thing I like to do in my writing is repeat things that are important to me. Cause then I’m able to remember it more and like where I left off, I can start again. Like a cycle of rebirth, drifting ever outward from the center of my creation, always molding and changing like the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season.

Sometimes people tell me that my ideas aren’t good and stuff, but I tell them just look at Mark, and his ideas, and then they do that and come back to me and say what good ideas I have. Yeah, totally. Mark is like second rate, and I’m maybe like…not like first rate, but close to first rate. I think that’s why Mark gets jealous sometimes.

I also like to use opinions sometimes, like other people’s opinions from the newspaper. The newspaper doesn’t really use real facts all the time, so sometimes I have to get it from magazines. Tabloids are generally good cause I like the feel of them and the crust of the paper. It’s like a texture that my fingers like when they start thinking for me.

 

A Tired Monkey

The wingbat stared at the sky and pondered what might be in another era. Thousands of years had passed and the gubers lived strong. These beasts, with horns that reached hundreds of feet high and trunks like the elephants that you had nightmares of as a child, destroyed the homes of the wingbats, who flitted of to Mars to live the rest of their sols.

The gubers ruled the Earth for millions, if not many millions of years. Decades? Centuries? Millenniums? They were nothing to the gubers, who wanted only production and evolution, management and organization, peace and brutal warfare.

The moon was home to an old species…you guessed it, humans. They were tall and thin and light from Luna’s light tug, but had little food to subsist on. More water evaporated into space than could be replenished. The humans were to die, and the gubars only waited.

A new type of wingbat was born one day, on Christmas Eve in the year 86,723,148 A.D. He flitted about and felt the wind of Mars and was ever happy and proud. All the other wingbats were in awe of his speed, his dexterity, and his abilities in the game of poker.

One day, an old wingbat approached Maximus and said, “My crapson, you are the fucking chosen one that our goddamn, dumbass people have spoken of for like three years. You know your shit and that’s why we’re fucking sending you to the worst kind of shit your ass has ever witnessed.”

“Just tell me what to fucking do,” Maximus said to the old wingbat.

“Go kill the shit. On the thing.”

“What the hell? You speak of Crappy the Crap, the crappiest crap who ever crapped?”

“Fuck yeah.”

“I’ll fucking go to Earth and fuck some shit up.”

Maximus, the crapperson of Plentimus, flew off to Earth to face Crappy the Crap in battle. When the young wingbat arrived there, however, he witnessed something that disgusted him: All of the gubers were ugly, lazy, and malcontent. It would be an easy battle, but there would be no honor in it.

“You there,” Crappy the Crap said, the biggest guber said. “You are Maximus? I hear you play a good poker game. How about we play a round and whoever wins shall inherit the Earth?”

“I can fucking deal,” Maximus said. Winning in poker against one of the greatest gamblers in the universe would certainly be a greater honor than slaughtering the pathetic creatures.

THe first hand was the wingbat’s, but the guber came back around in the second. The battle tipped up and down for each combatant and there was the ever flowing sound of chips being transferred back and forth as each other one gained the upperhand. Finally, Maximus landed the best hand imaginable.

“No,” Crappy muttered. Hands of sludge covered his eyes as tears poured forth like Niagara Falls expels water during spring. “It can’t be!”

“Oh, but it can, bitch,” Maximus said, the wingbat’s eyes gleaming with the shining light of righteous victory. “It can, bitch.”

“Five kings! Five of a kind! Why, this hasn’t happened since Bleepy destroyed Gappy in the Great Poker Tournament of 24,565,019 A.D.!”

“Give us our home back.”

And so the wingbats returned to Earth from their temporary shelter on Mars. The humans left the moon at the urging of the wingbats and returned to Earth, where they crossbred to become something like angels.

The gubers, on the other hand, were left with a Mars that was already rusting over. The radiation set in after three hours.

1st person, present

If people insist on writing in the first person, present tense, then how about they write steam-of-consciousness works? This crap where it’s the MC just observing what’s happening and reporting to the reader feels more impersonal and broken than writing in the third person.

“I walk down a hall. I see a dragon. Then I run away from the dragon.”

This is boring. I mean, I’m falling asleep here! Let’s jazz that up:

“The hallway is too dark, but there’s a little bright light that I see and I’m not sure if it’s just my eyes tricking me when I find a beast. Its jaws are going to destroy me, shit! Run, run, run, damnit, run!”

Anyone who wants to write in this style should be required to read James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Does your mind ever take a break? Are there times when you find that others have been talking, but you have not been listening? Of course! It happens all the time! So if you’re going to write in this style, don’t have the MC be a damned omnipotent god. In third person, it’s okay to reveal everything.

Just make it real. Put me in the person’s head. Their thoughts should be their actions.

The Martian does a pretty good job of it.

Page One – Cemetery Demons

This is page one of the first novella I am writing with the express intent of self-publishing it. I’m gearing for around sixty pages, and kind of winging it.

__________________________________

I wait outside the cemetery, watching the fog curl above the ground. The glow of the moon turns everything silver. The branches of the winter-dead trees hang over me like scepters in the night.

“Come on come on, already,” Frisky says, the little red demon that hides in my coat pocket, his horned head poking out like a turtle. “So hungry!”

“Relax,” I say, pushing him back down into my pocket. I feel his wings flutter and his tail whip back and forth against the side of my stomach. Frisky sometimes reminds me of the lizard I had for a pet, when I was a child. “The dead will rise.”

“You gonna have extra, right? Need food!” For such a little demon, Frisky eats a lot. Dead human flesh is his favorite, but he more often settles for small mammals. Blood stains the inside of my pocket.

“I’ll give you an arm. That’s all.” I don’t like giving Frisky too much. After all, I don’t want him to become addicted, to get that feeling or idea that human flesh is the only thing he must consume.

I start to get nervous and I do my best to ignore the cold sweat that trickles down my spine. The candles are all laid out in the appropriate pattern. The night shadows, the near invisible beasts that lurk on the edge of reality, slowly circle the inside of the pattern, searching for some way to escape. They are vaguely human-shaped, and that similarity reminds me of some nightmare. They lack eyes, but I know they are staring at me, aware that I am their captor.

My watch says it’s been only sixty seconds since I have read the incantation, offering libations of my own blood to the dead. It must soon be time. I quiet Frisky.