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.

A Living History – Part Deuce

The cockpit of the shuttle is bathed in red light, and our panels are dim to reduce the damage the light may cause to our vision. “You got some of that coffee?” Deng asks me. I picked up a bucket before we left. We’re near weightless and our harnesses are the only thing keeping us in our seats. The coffee is in a thermos with a straw.

“Yeah, quite a bit left, want some?” I ask, unable to lie or else awkwardly drink my cup full of coffee while he stared at me with an envious brow. “We’re only a few clicks away now, see anything on the radar?”

Deng grabs my thermos of coffee and slurps a generous amount before answering. “Nothing. It might have been just a rock or something.”

“Pretty large rock to get nothing on visual. I mean, this close? If there had been anything at all, we would’ve seen it.”

“Yeah, well, drift a moment, then we’ll see.”

I cut the engines and we float in space. Jupiter’s cheek covers a portion of the right side of the cockpit window. We see Ganymede, but no other moons from our position. The planet is impossibly large. That always unsettles me, how it seems to loom over us like some giant devil. I’ve had dreams where I’m spinning, uncontrollably falling into its surface.

“A few minutes,” Deng says, sipping at my coffee. “Then we turn back and report we found nothing.”

I nod and try to forget about it and just think that soon I’ll be off shift and able to relax. I can leave, I guess, go off the station and make my way elsewhere, but where? Cryonox freaks me out, not the actual procedure, but just the idea that my body would be frozen for thousands of years, only to wake up and think that Earth is still dead, and Mars probably is too, and that we’re all that’s left of humanity.

An alarm sounds. Deng keys the radio and says, “What, what’s that? What’s going on?”

The tinny version of Beal’s voice says, “We’re hit! A meteoroid strike!”

“Lock the hold!”

“It went straight through the center of the station! We’re evacuating, but if it isn’t repaired soon, the whole place is fucked!”

“What about the other shuttle?”

I’ve already started the engines and set our course back home.

“It’s in service, god damnit!” Beal’s voice becomes shrieks. “Just get back here and do the fucking repairs, now!”

“Right,” Deng replies. He cuts the radio and drinks the rest of my coffee.

***

“I’m suited up,” I tell Beal. I’m standing in the airlock waiting for the word go.

“Go,” she says. “I’m tracking, there’s no other objects.”

“You missed that one,” I say. I don’t know why I’m challenging her, but I’m about to patch up the outside of the space station on thirty minutes of air, so fuck it.

“We were distracted with that ship you didn’t find. Now get out there and fix us up, before this place implodes. We’d all really appreciate it, Jack.”

“Let’s roll,” I say, and Deng hits the switch on the airlock’s outer door. I drift out and kick my jetpack up a notch. The station is shaped like a series of concentric circles that vary in size, with a thin needle poking through. The needle houses the nuclear core, which powers everything from life support to pron sims.

“I’m at the first hole,” I said, holding back a grin and thinking of dirty jokes. Spit rolls down my cheek as focus sharpens my mind. The sheet of metal is thick enough. Fit it over, gently now, not too rough, there we go. “Ha! First one!”

“Weld it tight,” Deng commands.

I’ll command him from now on, the creep, always stealing and taking from me. Then Beal might even respect me.

“We’re about hitting critical mass, here, jack,” Beal crackles over the radio.

I’m almost to the second one when a window cracks and the chain reaction that follows spreads through the station like a wildfire in high winds. It just straight collapses, and the nuclear core goes. I’m just able to get a few clicks out ahead of it, but now my fuel is gone. The shuttle is gone. Everyone is dead.

I’m almost to the second hole and I weld the sheet metal down in a matter of seconds. “Nice work!” Beal says. “I respect you now!”

No, she wouldn’t really say that.

I reach the exit wound of the station and place the sheet of scrap over the hole and weld it down as quickly as you can say my name.

“Nice work!” Deng says over the radio.

“We’re good,” Beal says, all calm, sighing into the microphone with the relief that can only be measured in life, or perhaps death. “Everything is stabilizing, nice work Jack.”

“Thanks,” I say and wonder what happened. The same thing, three times. Four times? How many times did I just live through, how many outcomes?

***

“So are we all set on the repair work inside, too?” I ask Beal.

“Just about,” she replied. ” I wouldn’t want any customers to meet us like this, though.”

“Are any on their way?”

“Just one.” She drags her cigarette and exhales a few rings of smoke. “While you too were out there, looking for our ghost, we picked up another signal from that same area as the first.”

“What?” I ask, sipping my coffee. “We couldn’t find a damn thing out there.”

“Maybe we weren’t looking in the right places. Or time.”

“Different space?”

“This one was a recording,” Beal says shyly, as though almost afraid to share this information with me. “You know that shit you read?”

I nod.

“Something along those lines. Listen.”

She touches her temple and the image of an old man’s face appears, somehow sharper and smarter than any I had ever seen. “Good job, my children. I see you have the ability to work as a team, a single unit. Does that mean you are ready to meet us, who left you so long ago on the planet that you have now destroyed? We shall see…”

(TO BE CONTINUED….What do you think should happen next? Let me know in the comments! Last time, only one person told me that they wanted something. That was for a meteoroid to strike the station. Well, that happened. What next? Come on, tell me…)

False Starts

I don’t know what I saw that night. It was a dark time for me, in emotion, spirit, and setting. The moon hung low, but it was waning.


 

The dolphin swam up the orb and poked the machismo with its snout. The bubbles from its blowhole floated and popped on the surface of the ocean’s water. The orb bobbed up and down with the waves.


 

A giant man ate the moon one day whilst I slept. I didn’t wake from the noise, nay! But from the hunger that ate at my own body, indeed my damn old soul. Traveling this world for centuries will make a man thirst for human blood.


 

He reached down for the beer and gripped the cup with his hand. Spittle dripped from his beard onto the scarred, wooden table.

“Hey, um…dude,” Rick said, sitting across from him in the tavern. “There’s like, saliva. It’s coming from your mouth?”

Henry, the spit man, stared at the table with dozen eyes. He was a drone, ready to move at the slightest suggestion.

“You…do you want a drink?”

“Yes.” Henry sipped his beer. He licked his lips and twirled his fingers in the drink. “I want to kill you.”

“Dude…why?” Rick hunched his shoulders and sighed. Henry always got like this, after a night in bed together. “It’s not my fault.”

“It is.” Henry sipped his beer, and then gulped it down with a great thirst. “You don’t have to love me.”

I still don’t know….

The father went to the island council, where all of the elders met each season to decide where they should grow which crops, or in what waters the largest fish might be caught, or who may attain the right to marry in that year. The father begged the council, “Please, do not let my child die. We know that the great Domingo will soon arrive. Surely, he will pass us without harm, so long as we do not hook him. There is no wrath he can have against us, for he cannot leave the sea. Let me work thrice as hard, and produce as such, so that our little son may live.”

“Ah,” the eldest of the council said. He spoke in a slow and old voice. “When I was a young man, I gave up my child without argument. For I knew then, as I know now, that it is for the good of the island. Fear not, for you will have a home of your choosing, and fields of your own liking, if only you lose a son.”

The father looked at the ground, and then looked at the council. “We may sit and praise the grape Domingo, but really we are harming our own selves. To become dependent on another for your own source of well-being is to sacrifice your soul. For what may we possibly learn, if we only wait for another to arrive and provide so that we may have it easy?”

“Leave now, you blasphemous fool,” the eldest of the council said. The others joined in chorus, “Leave now. Leave now. Leave now.” They jeered and pointed with spindly fingers.

The father bowed his head and left. He went home and gathered his fishing gear, his rod and his hooks and his weights and his lures. He picked up his little son and carried him out of his crib. He walked to the ocean and sat in the sand.

Soon, the sun had set and the stars had shone and the sun had risen for the new day.

“Today,” the father said, “I will catch the great Domingo.”

A story by Ricks, Fry, and A. R. Caldwell

He left me and I don’t know why.

I was in a place I didn’t recognize, although I knew it was a tomb. The gravestones spoke of centuries of death. Generations upon generations rested here. I thought of their bones, if they knew what we were doing, and what would become of us should we succeed.

It didn’t matter, when it came down to it, but it comforted me to think that I wasn’t the first to end their days here. I trudged forward, dragging my feet and sword in the dust beneath me. It seemed to swirl in the air and move before me, though the air around me was still.

And there it was, the stone I had been looking for, the stone of my Fathers. Here lay the remains of my bloodline. My cigarette began to taste bitter like plastic before I noticed it was nearly done. I padded it out in the dirt. Perhaps stamping it out wasn’t the best idea, but it was my typical move. The trap I activated with my foot made a stone wall tumble down to my right, and the ceiling crumbled down on my left.

I raised my sword, ready to fight. My handgun would be useless against these foes. The beat on my right was a lion mated with dragon, and the mechanism to my left was death made from stone. The dragon-lion ran two paces and lept into the air with a flap of its wings. I pulled myself behind a giant stone as it slid to a stop and turned to face me with the stone beast behind it.

I would have to fight one or the other, and I charged between them, slashing at the lion-dragon to distract him as I garnered the stone giant’s attention. I lit a certain substance and slid it between my lips and took a deep puff. I decided it’s better to use cold steel, my sword, against a dragon-lion than a rock being born of earth.
It raised tis claws, but I held my ground and my sword was steady. I brought it down from high guard and struck the beast in its muzzle. The stone contraption rushed from behind it and slashed its blade. I rolled out of the way, and just in time, for a chunk of ground raised up from behind me from the blow of the rock guardian.

The lion-dragon was quick on the counterattack. I was quicker to grab the stone, stuffing in my pocket while extracting my flask. I took a long pull from the flask and threw the empty husk at the lion-dragon. As it slashed at the flask I swung, and hacked its paw off with one clean cut. I steadied myself, and turned just in time to catch a wailing blow from a stone fist, sending me sliding across the floor into a wall.

Blood flowed from my lip. I slouched forward only to realize my sword, cigarettes and flask were flung from my body and spread across the room. As I scrambled for my sword, the lion-dragon roared, and drew itself upward, hesitating only a moment before folding its wings and diving directly for me.

I can only thank my ancestors that I had grabbed the stone of ym Fathers in time. I used its power to block the lion-dragon, sending it back against the wall. The stone machine was close behind, but not close enough. The stone of my Fathers brought my will against its own, and proved mine own the worthier.

With a burst of fury the stone projected an energy unknown to me at the time. I turned from the blinding flash only to witness molten earth. I tucked the stone away in a small pouch along my belt as I sensed a lions eyes and dragons heaving breath closing on my back. The stone guardian was gone, but I had neglected the beast.

“Fuck you, you piece of shit!” I shouted, for it had taken my partner so many years before. I thrust the stone of my Fathers at it, only to watch the light grow dim. I shook it. Nothing. The lion growl the filled the dark silence shivered my bones.

I sighed and raised my sword. “Come on, you piece of fuck shit.” It lurked still in the darkness. It was a youthful and tacky attempt to invoke fear in me. However, I knew my Fathers would not steer me wrong like my mate of past. I stayed fast with blade in hand. However, a cigarette lay on the ground stern right to my position. It would be dangerous to grab even attempt to grab it due to the fact that a serenaded tail could whip across my path any time.
I did not hesitate what-so-ever.
The cigarette rested between my lips before the beast could blink, and my flaks was but a jump away. The lion-dragon struck with its reamaining forepaw, and I with my sword. It was no match for me, for with the power of my ancestors, I crushed through its flesh as easily as a knife slices butter. I reached my flask in no time. “Fathers be with me,” I whispered as I touched ember to fuel.

But the beast did not explode with my intentions. The lion roared and dragon breathed fire, but neither at me nor blade or stone. A crushing blow of reality swept upon us from above and washed over my proper realm.
I was left abandoned in thought, wandering in the strange lands alone. Flask in hand. For nothing appeared to me now save the desert dunes.

Scene: middle of the street

 

It’s night and I can hear people dreaming. See their thoughts float up into empty space? Out of all these houses, a thousand images drift upward. I can grab one and make it dark, or make it bright, depending on my mood.

I want to scare someone. Why? I’m fucked up like that.

In this man’s dream is a woman, one of the most beautiful that you have ever seen. I make her ugly, turning her skin to ash and her hair to webs. He wakes and the image is gone and he goes on with his night. He will not sleep again.

I have never slept, for fear of dreaming. So small am I, but look what I can do. Imagine the others in the night and what they may do to me.

Over there, a few houses down, you can see a dream of aliens, and the dreamer herself can jump ten feet high. I make the aliens evil. They rise into their ships and give her such a feeling of terror as she has never known. She stands clutching her heart to her chest, too frightened to wake.

We’ll leave it at that.

Don’t look behind you…

This is the kind of crap I write when I can’t write

It’s tearing me up inside!

From inside the man, peeled out of his skin, his heart walks out through his chest. His back is arched. His face gripped with constipation. Red, sweating, dripping down, melting into the floor. His heart walks out and runs to the door, opens it with its tiny hands.

The man opens his mouth to scream, but an arm comes out, a great arm that reaches for the heart. The door is shut now, the heart is gone. The arm leads a shoulder, a body, a head, exiting the man’s mouth.

Gurgle, gurgle, blood and spit, it rises and coughs and looks at the dead man on the floor.

It says, “That is me.” The body on the floor twitches and shakes, dries out, and is all collected from itself into a single dot that disappears into the ground.

The new man stares at this and knows he is witnessing his own death. His heart is gone and the world is gray. He opens the door and walks forth into blinding light, unsure of what is to come.