Archive for November, 2011

30th November
2011
written by amber

Jonah No Longer Alone

I’m floating, not in water, not in air, but in a state that ought to frighten me, it’s so similar to the way I felt after my accident. I don’t remember the accident. The guys told me about it, the blue Camaro that barrelled around the corner and hit me, hurled me across the street and against a parked car. Andy said I looked like a rag doll without enough stuffing. They thought I was dead.

Meanwhile, I was floating in a timeless, painless place where the sounds of them screaming slowed down to whale music, spread across the sky like pastel soap bubbles. My own personal acid trip, years after the 60′s. I didn’t come down until I was wheeled out of the operating room. Reality sucked. The hospital smell. My mother crying. The pain in my head and arms, the alarming deadness in my lower body.

The floating this time is similar, but there’s a big difference. Like last time, there’s no glowing tunnel, no offer to choose to go toward the light or return to my life, but I feel that the choice is mine and there’s no doubt what I’ll choose. Just before the psychic lava lamp swallowed me, I heard something, I had a notion, I asked a question. In exactly the way dreams evaporate when you wake up too quickly, the sound and the notion and the question have faded. But I retain one image. The image of Jessie.

She is a promise. Life has sucked a lot since I’ve been in the wheelchair but she’s made me look forward to a future. I can see the future. I just can’t figure out where I am now, or why I’m in this floating, near-death state.

But now there’s a feeling. Gentle hands patting me softly. Now there’s a sound, pushing back the unreal peacefulness cocooning me. A voice, “Jonah, are you all right?” Suddenly I’m as alert as a dog who hears the word, “Walk.” It’s Jessie’s voice and I detect a sharp edge of panic. I need to reassure her that I have no intention of floating away from her.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

To see all the Jessie and Jonah stories, click on the category tag at the bottom of this story.

29th November
2011
written by amber

Mellow Yellow

Rick tripped and punched a comic. He stumbled on the steps outside the Laugh ‘Til You Die Club, put out a hand to stop his fall, and the hand connected to the chin of a departing yuckster.

Well, of course, he didn’t really trip but overt violence was not in his repertoire. Accidental assault was more his style. He was a comic himself, a comic of good humour, ironic observation of this modern world, self-deprecating homilies, mild complaint and faint praise.

The comic he punched was one of the new breed of Brutalists whose schtick was to tight-focus on one single unwitting victim, cyber-stalking the poor schmuck, exposing all their foibles and all-too-human failings to very public and completely unwarranted ridicule and caricature. But this particular comic, this WikiPunker, had picked the wrong patsy.

Rick’s little sister, Patsy, a blameless girl who managed a homeless shelter and ran fund-raisers for autistic cats, had attracted the internet humour-hound merely by winning an award. “Edmonton’s Jewel of Caring.”

WikiPunker had not known that Patsy’s brother Rick was a superhero of sorts, an easy-going stand-up comedian by night, a noble avenger of the down-trodden by day.

Thus Mellow Yellow did smite WikiPunker and it was good.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

Thank you to Rick LeBlanc for this first line. Hope the arm heals soon, Rick!

28th November
2011
written by amber

On the Galactic Phoenix

There is nothing so calming on a stressful day than sitting in a darkened lounge watching the stars fly by, Wendy mused. Especially calming was the knowledge that she wouldn’t be disturbed. The Pleiades Lounge was a passenger lounge. The staff lounge didn’t have a view, didn’t have formfit lounge chairs, didn’t have dial-a-drink. But no one – no passenger, no other staff member – would find her here. She was the only one awake.

The Galactic Phoenix carried 100 passengers and 80 staff, all but one slumbering in their cocoons now that the excitement of departure from Oberon Station had ended. That Wendy had been given the first one week shift was an indication of her reliability, first shift was always the busiest, dealing with lots of cocoon problems (most due to the passengers not following the rules) as well as running the regular system checks and inventories.

She’d been on her feet all day and still had a weight anomaly to look into. Phoenix Mind had told her the likely source was in this very lounge. She’d done a quick look-see, then surrendered to the siren call of the formfit chairs and the streaming stars on the other side of the viewing port. She’d dealt with problems like this on other voyages. Once, a passenger had paid the Station crew to secrete a cache of precious metals inside the walls of his cocoon. Not only had the weight discrepancy been detected, but his cocoon malfunctioned, nearly costing the man his life. Every other incident had been what she expected to discover this time – a wonky sensor.

But as she lay in the formfit chair and relaxed deeply, a movement in the corner of the lounge snagged the corner of her eye. Turning to look directly at the source, she saw nothing, but sensed something. Reluctantly levering herself to her feet before the chair was ready to release her, Wendy strode over to the corner, where nothing but shadows could be seen. She reached out and grabbed a shadow made solid, dark air with substance. It struggled in her grasp.

“What are you?” she cried.

The form shimmied, and became visible. A young man in a plated suit. “My name is McCormack. I guess I’m a stowaway,” he told her.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This story is dedicated to Wendy McCormack, who was the successful bidder at a charity auction at Pure Spec. Watch for further episodes of this story, under the category ‘Phoenix.’

27th November
2011
written by amber

Day of the Rutabaga

Everyone told me I was wasting my time playing Plants vs Zombies, little knowing that I was acquiring skills destined to save mankind. Oh – zombies didn’t attack us. The plants did.

The best theory our few remaining scientists have been able to come up with is that some hidden genetic code, possibly installed by an ancient intelligence, was triggered when humankind pushed the environment to the brink, when global warming and species extinctions and soil depletion and ocean acidification had nearly passed the tipping point into planetary death.

The plants fought back. They fought back against us. Gardens uprooted themselves and crawled into our homes at night and strangled us. Many people were murdered by their houseplants. Condo towers were toppled by rampaging tree roots. Undigested salad clawed out of people’s stomachs by the shortest route.

That’s when I had to recall all the zombie tactics I’d learned while playing that silly game and teach my little group how to survive. There are nearly 5000 of us still – for all we know, we’re the last. We exist beneath the shelter of a turncoat mega-philodendron with a taste for pilfered whisky.

But we don’t know what we’ll do when the Scotch runs out.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

Thank you to Barb Galler-Smith for suggesting this first line. It was great fun!

26th November
2011
written by amber

Occupy

My wife found out I’d lost my job over a year ago. I never told her what I’d been doing every day – going downtown to collect bottles to maintain a shred of an income and some occupation for my time. The divorce, uncontested, happened quickly and I found myself truly homeless, living downtown all day instead of nine to five.

It was autumn, and the rough parts of downtown were a hive of activity, much busier than they’d been all summer. All the bottle sources were taken, and defended vigorously. I’d been assuming I could earn enough to pay for a flop hotel and a little food to supplement what the soup kitchens give. I’d been assuming wrong.

Life was difficult until all the young people moved into the park. My wife graciously let me have our tent – she’d never enjoyed camping – and I joined the throngs, contributing a few freeze-dried meals I’d snagged when I went to get the tent. There was a lot I could tell my fellow occupiers about the evils of capitalism and corporate greed. Other homeless came too, bringing front line accounts of broken social safety nets and the criminalisation of mental illness and addictions.

None of my fellow occupiers ever found out I’d been among the one percent. It took 16 months of no income, bad investments and my wife living her accustomed lifestyle to reduce me to join the 99 per cent. I can’t say that I prefer it.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This tale is a sequel to story 167.

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