Saturday, March 28, 2020

Planet of the Sheep

A bioweapon has been unleashed. Ignore that man behind the curtain, say its shadowy authors; it's just a nasty trick from Mother Nature. A flood of harsh regulations is passed without question, and the shadow people confidently move on to Phase Two: a mandatory universal vaccine. It's an opportunity not to be mssed: it drastically lowers fertility, depresses IQ, instills compliance, and sneaks in a tracking chip.

There are a few holdouts in the inevitable resistance. Wilbur Weaver lives a precarious existence with one foot in the past, and the other in a world of nightmare conformity. As long as there is curiosity about the Before time, Wilbur's zoo keepers will help him stay one step ahead of the law, but firmly trapped in--The Twilight Zone.

Why do I go on?

At 75, Wilbur had outlived many of his friends. Former friends, because they'd squeal on him instantly if they knew he was still UV--unvaccinated. Yet the will to live won out over his nervous musings on how to end it all. He bundled his greatcoat against the chill, adopting the blank expression of others on the street.

There was a time when he'd avoided this slum, but not anymore. The State said crime was bad; ergo, there was no crime. Wilbur almost got careless by letting his gaze turn skyward, where he took solace in the play of pink and orange in the misted dawn. Quickly he took out his pad and slavishly glued eyes to it like everyone else. His didn't work, of course, because lacking the chip, his money was no good.

He took a side alley when no one was looking. The narrow canyon of age-darkened brick led him to the delivery entrance of King Cafe. There he assumed his customary spot on some pallets by a smelly dumpster.

Presently his two benefactors emerged. Chen was the head cook, a balding man with full-coverage apron. The dishwasher Ernie looked just out of school, sporting a buzz cut and cheesy mustache. He handed over a bowl of oatmeal with apple and walnuts.

Wilbur savored it. "That is so good, men. It'll hold me down 'til lunch. I hope there's more of that leftover kielbasa." A few alleys down, a garbage truck roared and banged. It wouldn't reach this side of the street for half an hour.

Chen sat on an upended stack of plastic crates. "You told us how it was in school when you were a boy. Stuff that don't happen no more. It's funny how I can't remember."

"Ah yes." Wilbur spooned in a couple of bites. "Like class singalongs. The girls would take the first chorus: 'Reuben Reuben I've been thinking, what a grand world this would be, if the boys were all transported, far beyond the Northern Sea.' Then the boys would have a turn wishing the girls a speedy trip there: 'Rachel Rachel I've been thinking. . . .'." Nostalgia took him far away for a moment.

Ernie grinned. "That's rad, man, and I still say you're makin' it up! But you promised us three songs."

"Hmm. . . .well, there's this one: Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bush is he, laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra, gay your life must be.' " He was obliged to spell the word, prompting Ernie to pull out his pad.

"Bummer." Ernie poked at the keys. "Can't find it."

"Careful," Chen said. "The State will wanna know what you're doin' on that site."

Ernie grimaced. "It says here, 'The Kookaburra song was deemed inappropriate due to perceived insult to an endangered animal.' "

"Here's the third one," Wilbur said with a pained looked at man's monumental stupidity. "Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda, you'll come a-waltzing, Matilda, with me.' Heck, I forget the rest." He sighed. "I suppose it'll die with me."

On the street, a cop car cruised by, scanning for UVs. Wilbur had developed an eye for spotting them at a distance.

Chen  noticed his apprehension. "Why don't you go ahead and get stuck? No more sneakin' around."

"I'll pass." Wilbur slowly made his way down the alley before turning back. "An old teacher once gave me an answer to that, because she always took her chances dodging the flu." Both of his friends waited. "She said, 'That'll be my ticket out.' "

Friday, March 27, 2020

Happy Friday!

Giving our great writers, artists, and readers a shout out to see how everyone is fairing with sudden changes in our worlds.  I hope you had a good week and kept busy. 

How are you fairing with the global issue?   We live in the country outside Atlanta, GA and watching our cases etch up.  We're up to 2,000 cases and just a handful here. It may have been in our house around late January/February.  My husband had a 101-102 temp, then a bad cough I did not like.  We all have asthma from colds, flu, and allergies so we keep inhalers around.  Somehow I think it has been here much longer than the news or China is mentioning.  My son and daughter are home with their online and home learning.  My daughter uses my main laptop for her school and it's been a juggling things around  She's doing great and loves homeschool. My son has Down Syndrome, and many of his therapies shifted to online sessions. He has 5 a week and usually I go with him to observe and take mental notes what they do.  Now my husband and I, as well our daughter are the therapies.  OUr son is acting out as he does not understand what is going on or why he is home for a month.

I canceled all my well checks till this thing blows over.  We have enough albuterol and two working nebulizers just in case one fails.  I want to thank all the contributors and the Mods for being patient with me and generating the best articles and stories since Disqus closed.  Mods are welcome to tag if I am a little tied up with a therapy session or just wait and I'll get to tagging. Current projects have been hard to keep focus on with the current situation, but with every pandemic, this one will come to an end.  A sad loss to those who lost loved ones and prayers to those in the middle of it like we are. 
Book writing has been slow, but I hope to pick it up a little bit tonight on a Friday night.  It seems being homebound for awhile could be a way to finish projects, manuscripts or master pieces.  I am an interovert to an extent. Maybe that is why an artist or writer does what they do.

What are you doing to cope with the storm?

Flame's Magic Shop


The Dockside shop bore the name of its red-haired owner, who was yet another lab worker from Earth, once having managed a blood bank. On this drizzly gray day, the shop was closed to unload fresh shipments. One of these was rare and dangerous black water from the dark realms. It tended to collect deep underground in pagan temple lavers.

Minding the counter were the two ladies of Team Dan--Bonnie and Zena--who had bought shares in the enterprise. Their contribution of specialty items from Earth did wonders for business. As for coffee, they tended to hoard that at their private villa.

Ed, another member of the Dans, noticed Wicca--hostess of her own horror show--sitting on grain sacks with a  notepad. "What are we up to, Wics?"

"Slogans for Jiffy Mart." The chain was one of the show's sponsors back in L A, among the group who didn't mind how she massacred the commercial spots. It brought plenty of name recognition from the hipsters who plastered it all over YouTube. "How about this one: Savings you deserve, quality you don't."

"Nah, I don't think so."

"Then what about this pain pill: Seventy percent less pain versus sixty-nine percent on placebo."

"I'd say that isn't what they want the public to know."

Wicca cast the notebook aside. "How do ad execs deal with the whole asterisking thing?"

"Run that by me again--"

"You know, that word all over the internet. Four asterisks followed by 'ing'. You Earth people are so lazy. Can't even make the effort to spell 'asterisking'."

Zena poured hot water into a tripod filter for the coffee. "Wow. Over here, she can like curse a sailor under the table, but on Earth she's clueless."

"That's why I let her spin," Ed said. "It's a family show."

"Fine." Wicca pooh-pooed the lot of them. "Earth people are crazier than that bird over there. . . .what do they call it. . . .Kookoo!"

The dwarf Hecabano, the show's sidekick, ambled over. "A most apt choice of avian, Fatima of Farce."

"Really, Impo? How about a little of the poetry you like so much. Facilis descensus Averno."

Hecabano eased behind Ed for protection. "Virgil, Master Ed. It means easy is descent to the  netherworld. Not that she hasn't tried to send me there many times. Heh!"

Ed held arms out to separate them. "Enough with the doomsday poetry. Let's get this stuff unpacked."

Somewhat bored by now, Wicca began mixing the day's supply of stain for doing microscopic analysis of blood slides. That was the sole province of Zena, a former lab hematologist. With it, she could diagnose ailments like anemia, high white cell count in fevers, allergies (indicated by an orange cell called eos), parasites, even sepsis (dark granules on the scavenger cells). It was a cheap alternative for folks who couldn't afford magical healing.

"Interesting." Ed shoved hands in pockets. "You're actually gonna help the girls out by doing manual labor?"

Wicca shrugged. "Just going by the directions on the wall. If it's effed up, make more."

"Wics--" She might be clueless on Earth, but viewers weren't. "Family show, remember?"

Monday, March 23, 2020

Character Portrait II

Last time the featured portrait was the daughter of Dracula, who was an unlikely ally of Team Falco. This week's entry is the sorceress Valkris. The full roster of Team Falco was Falco, Tomlok, Ironfist, Elvira, Valkris, and Dracula's daughter.

The second image shows the team's arrival in Outworld, which launched the various franchises like Team Dan, Wicca, the City of Thieves, and so forth.