Category Archives: Flashers

Morphic Resonance

by Bear Jack Gebhardt

morphic resonance and reality“I’ll be out of the office tomorrow, Gladys, so here’s my monthly report. I’ve footnoted the expenditures with a copy of my receipts so you can itemize how each was necessary and what line item it references for each of our projects.”

Gladys, sitting at the front desk, was looking up at Dr. Weingarten, not aware that her mouth was hanging open. Dr. Weingarten’s wide grin made his normally thin sunken cheeks puff out. He knew he’d surprised her, again.

“Thank you, Bruce,” Gladys said, meekly.

“My pleasure,” he said. “Just doing my job.” He almost clicked his heels as he turned smoothly, went through the doors, and disappeared.

“Something’s really changed with that guy,” Gladys turned and whispered to Belinda, her co-conspirator. “You think he’s on drugs?”

“Definitely,” Belinda responded. “And whatever he’s on, I want some.”

For the seven years he had been with the department, Dr. Bruce Weinstein was notorious for missing his monthly deadlines and quarterly summaries, so necessary for grant administration and renewal. It had been Gladys’ unhappy challenge to regularly coax and pry the reports from him.

“Some of us are actually too busy doing the real work,” was always his irritated excuse.

Not only was this the second month in a row that he had turned in his reports ahead of deadline, he had also found time to repair a long faulty drawer in one of the front desk filing cabinets, fix the leaky faucet in the sink in the break room, and transplant two African violets wilting and overcrowded that had been sitting forlorn in the administrator’s waiting room.

Gladys and Belinda were not the only ones who had noticed a change in his behavior.

“Bruce, my God, what have you done to your laboratory?” asked Dr. Murphy, the department chairman, one day in passing.

“Morphic resonance,” Bruce replied with a smile. “Every form evolves towards its ideal.”

“Don’t give me that crap,” Dr. Murphy said, obviously irritated. Bruce just shrugged and grinned. “Well, whatever it is, it looks good, even slightly professional, for a change.” Dr. Murphy continued on to his office.

Bruce Weinstein’s small genetics lab had been notorious for its disarray. Old coffee cups on top of the mass spectrometer, buried under journals and loose papers in no apparent order. Last year’s test tubes and beakers shoved aside to make room for this year’s new projects.

“Morphic resonance,” Bruce repeated after Dr. Murphy had disappeared down the hallway.

“Explain it to me again,” his wife Denise had begged. They were sitting on the newly cleaned patio with a glass of wine and salmon on the grill. This was a different man than the one she had known the previous twelve years. This new man was clean, tidy, and very adept.

“The magical germ crawled out of the test tube and into my brain,” he said, raising his glass to her.

“Bruce, quit talking in riddles. You’ve used that silly phrase before and I don’t know what it means or what the hell you’re talking about. Explain it to me again. What’s happened to you?”

“Morphic resonance,” Bruce said. “That’s the germ of the magical idea that I saw in the test tube. I saw that the higher level field modifies the probability structure of the lower level field.”

“I don’t get it,” Denise said. “Talk plain English.”

“Sorry, love, I really don’t mean to be flippant. It has to do with hierarchal structures. Every form in the universe is part of a field, with an ideal form towards which it is moving, or evolving.”

“English, Bruce, English,” Denise said, taking another sip of her wine, studying him, truly wanting to understand.

“Okay, take our patio,” Bruce said. “There’s a living field here. We could call it a patio field. Our patio wants to express its own unique version of every patio that has ever existed.”

“You’ve lost me.”

Bruce drank from his own wine. “Okay, let’s simplify. Take a stuck drawer in a filing cabinet. Because of morphic resonance…”

“What’s morphic resonance?“

“It means higher form, or field, rules the lower form, or field, or at least influences it. Big fish eats the little fish.”

“Okay, go ahead, but I don’t know how this relates to a stuck filing cabinet drawer.”

“The stuck drawer is a lower field. It actually wants to become unstuck and act like the other drawers in the bigger field. Drawers are designed to function. There’s an underlying harmony in the universe.“

“The drawer wants to become unstuck?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking, yes. But we are human beings. The human being field is inherently a very high field—an incredibly higher order field. Just being present, we influence our surroundings. So all outer forms and functions want to conform to the human field, or at least are willing to conform. The higher field influences the lower field.”

“Are you taking some kind of drug?” Denise interrupted. “The germ out of the test tube thing? Gives you energy? Makes you want to fix things? Did you cook something up there in your lab?”

Bruce laughed. “No, no, love. Not at all. I just finally understood, at least a little, how things come into existence. They do it through morphic resonance.”

“Sorry, but I just don’t get it,” Denise said. She took another sip of her wine, then held her glass back, studying it. “Where’d you get this stuff? This isn’t what we generally drink, out of the box. This is really, really good.”

Bruce looked at her, somewhat frightened, but understanding perfectly how it happened.

Bear Gebhardt is a freelance writer. His seventh book, The Potless Pot High: How to Get High, Clear and Spunky without Weed, was published last year by Seven Traditions Press. His fourth and favorite book—-Practicing the Presence of Peace— was published in 2009 by Pathbinder Press. He has fiction, non-fiction and poetry credits in a wide variety of national and international publications, including The Columbia Journalism Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Jive, Fitness, Modern Maturity, and Hallmark.

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Meant To Be

by JD DeHart

old relicWhat we are is what we are meant to be, the relic always tells us. But then, the relic is always spurting out useless and incongruous information. I am told relics often do. Lucky lotto numbers, quaint musical verse from decades ago, a commercial jingle, that sort of thing. The most mindless of us gather around him and dance like birds in the bath.

Step away from the relic, there is the wall. I enter my name into the doorway pod five times each day for good measure, hoping for entry each time. … Nutt, E.M.

The door sounds like it is clicking, but ultimately, this is a ruse. Again and again. I hear the relic laughing over my shoulder. Try again, sweetheart, it says, then spits out a ribbon of horoscope symbols, which are supposed to mean something. They never do.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

We are out here, on the outside, and the doorway will never open. Yet we still try. The relic is the last piece of what life used to be, a stone statue of a man with a beard and top hat with an honest look about him. Someone put a speaker in his mouth so he could recite code to us and taunt us with his nothings.

Jay-Jay Albus Nutt, my stepfather, is always busy scratching runes in the dirt and chanting. He says he saw this done in a movie once and it worked, opening up new portals, so why not? I am not one to disagree. I do not even know what movies are.

My real mother, I am told, is somewhere on the inside, which may mean that she has departed to the pearly gates and no one has the decency to tell me. Her name was Irene or Inez, depending on who tells the story and how drunk they are. My step-brother Daniel is a tale better left untold. He had an unfortunate run-in with a roaming beast and the rest is a bit of decapitated history.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

I walk among the outcast people, wondering how I became an outcast. There are stories, but we never trust history. I do not even trust my memory of yesterday. It is said that our race goes back and back to a time when there were slaves. We held chains firmly on all creatures and so this is our punishment. It is said that we have always been outcasts and that the fat happy little campers inside the walls of the city are the true heroes. If we submit to them, we may gain entry.

I do not know anyone who has gained a passport from them, but you can almost always hear the wild party going on inside.

Still, another story holds that there is one who will rise among us and overthrow the rulers of that great city, allowing us to stampede inside like so many elephants. That story is too trite and overdone to believe. It is also a nuisance story, giving some of us messiah complexes when we begin to lose our minds.

What we are is what we are meant to be, the relic says again. My thoughts become abstract and urgent. I picture my step-father becoming older and older, still scratching in the dirt. I picture the men and women inside laughing big belly laughs at all of us out here, watching us somehow and laughing.

Maybe if I break open the relic, there will be a key inside or a code so that I can gain entry. Maybe this is the test. So, I pick up the largest piece of metal that I can find and swing at the statue, but the effort is too little or the statue is too much, because the face just looks at me, unfazed.

Desperate, I enter my name into the pad again, and this time the click sounds real. Oh, my God, it is real. I scramble inside as the door opens and then my world crashes down because what is in front of me is another door, another pad. This door moves toward me like an usher, pushing me back out. I dig my heels into the dirt, but it keeps pushing until I am outside the first door again.

The relic is over my shoulder again and I sink down.

Try again, little princess, the relic says, then comes that harsh laugh again. Them’s the breaks, the statue adds. A party cup comes flying over the wall at that moment, spilling some strong beverage, adding insult to my latest injury. This is not my day.

As Jonah said, Oh, whale.

JD DeHart is the author of two collections, Decaf Days and Sunrise of Tomorrow, available on Amazon. His work has appeared in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah and the Garden of Eden anthology.

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An Old Homeless Monologue

by Robert S. King

If mistakes were dollars, I’d still be filthy rich, instead of just filthy. A mistake is dirty as a shadow and follows you around. I’ve got more shadows than I can scare away, and every one of them looks counterfeit. I guess my whole life’s a mistake, but at least I’ve learned where it hurts.

I’ve loved others about as well as they’ve loved me. I used to be hopeful about my kind.

Kind? Now there’s some irony to iron out. Now I think law, force, and guilt are the only reasons for charity. I’m only gums now, but those other kind that I used to smile at–their pearly white, perfect teeth bite hard. I wouldn’t hold out my hand.

Nothing dangerous or sharp about me now. I’d have to pinch you to death, but I can still get mad enough to try. Wipe that grin off your piehole!

Poor ol’ sour rag, nobody gives me a damn. They think I need snort money, but I’d settle for used gum, or even a frowning nod that I exist. Yet at my age desire has set hard as that gum or any wall that stops my passage to nowhere. Now, I’d say I don’t want anything, except something different. Truth is, I guess I want everything. That’s probably why I’m here in this scenic alley.

You’ll get a kick out of this. On school-day mornings I used to go to bus stops and steal lunch boxes. I’ve lost a lot of weight since then because I can’t run as fast.

Don’t look at me like that! I was nothing then. I had nothing but holes in my pockets. Now I’ve got shadows. Come to think of it, every shadow is ash, the child of greed.

Someone with really bad breath tried to steal from me the other night. He lifted the flaps of my cardboard mansion and started to frisk me for money, or at least I think that‘s what he was feeling for. I struck a match and burned the damn house down. I’m not sure if he was still in it.

He and I are more likely to be friends than you and me, boy. It’s easier for me to feel warm toward an enemy than someone I have to care for. The enemy is someone I’d invite for poker and find a way to make him play his credit card. So why does your momma let you hang around a trash barrel like me?

She’d hold her nose around me. But to my nose-hole, everything smells the same, and I don’t surprise myself anymore. You won’t catch me off-guard because I’m not trying to hide a bleeping thing.

You know, on casual Fridays I used to wear a designer noose with dollar signs around my neck, a green suit making a fine figure on Wall Street. I didn’t put much stock into those I stole from. Before those towers came all the way down, I was making calls to buy the lots at discount. Got Trumped, though.

No, I wasn’t a cynic in those days. I thought the gold-diggers smooching on me really loved my soul. Of course, I thought my soul was made of brand new money. I thought my dollars were worth more because I knew how to spend them. Some say it was the dollar that brought the towers down.

Well, it’s cold, and you’ve kept me long enough, boy. Time is money, and you’ve burned too much of it. I’m headin’ down to the tracks and the fire barrel. The people are warmer down there.

Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published four chapbooks (When Stars Fall Down as Snow, Garland Press 1976; Dream of the Electric Eel, Wolfsong Publications 1982; The Traveller’s Tale, Whistle Press 1998; and Diary of the Last Person on Earth, Sybaritic Press 2014). His full‐length collections are The Hunted River and The Gravedigger’s Roots, both in 2nd editions from FutureCycle Press, 2012; One Man’s Profit from Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013; and Developing a Photograph of God, Glass Lyre Press, 2014. His personal website is www.robertsking.com.

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The Tooth Fairy Interrogation

by Daniel J. Neumann

“My art is sustainable, healthy for the environment. My art is recycling at its finest. The medium and supplies I choose symbolize the transition between life and death, which is really more like a dance or a wave than a single point in a long continuum. Yes. It is true that most will not understand me. Label me as a madman if you must. But, please, tell me: what ought to happen to those baby teeth? Should they be thrown in the trash, to mingle with decomposing table scraps? Should they be collected by a mere simpleton who knows not the intricate architecture hidden in a child’s enamel? Or should they be separated from the mendacity and recognized as a sacred icon? It’s the mass ignorance that prevents people from seeing my genius. Yes. Ignorance is like a mouse that hides in holes, waiting for the darkness so it can indulge, but always in fear.”

The interrogating officer massaged his forehead. “You do realize that breaking and entering is a crime, don’t you, uh—” He looked down at his clipboard. “—Mr. Malwitz?”

“Your arbitrary laws dealing with principled absolutes aren’t flexible enough to take into account artistic endeavor. This is the stuff of life. The state’s legalistic framework encroaches on the very spirit of defending life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Rules strangle creativity.”

The officer’s eyes contorted in pain. “I’m going to need some coffee. Do you want a cup?” As he slid back and pushed himself up from his chair, the metal legs screeched on the tiled floor.

Mr. Malwitz flinched from the noise. “No, thank you. I don’t believe in putting chemicals like caffeine in my body. I find that, when I brush my teeth, that stimulates my morning more than any cup of Joe.”

“Of course.” The officer left the interrogation room and entered the one next over. “Damn it. I hate being stuck in a room with a nut job. I feel like they’ve got what they wanted: reality shrunk to two people—-with a seemingly even footing on what’s right and what’s wrong. This asshole thinks he’s the Tooth Fairy, yet he’s talking to me like I’m his student.” He looked at his colleague earnestly. “Frank, I need someone else in there with me when I’m talking to him.”

“Listen to me closely now, Larry. I’m your friend. I’m not fucking with you. I just got word that three little girls have been found killed, and their teeth were missing. We’ve got reason to believe it was Malwitz. This guy doesn’t just break into houses. He’s a killer, and we need to find out who and where the other victims are.”

“No… I refuse to go back in there alone with that sick motherfucker.”

“What makes you think the two of us being in there is going to solve anything? The chief assigned you this role, and you barely lasted a minute.” Frank diverted eye contact. “If we both go in there, he may feel ganged up on and he’ll lose whatever trust he’s built up with you. If that happens, we can’t reverse time to see what could have been accomplished with this approach.”

“I can’t do it right now. It was bad enough before I knew about the girls.”

Frank relaxed his posture. “I get it. You know what? Fuck it. Let him stay frosty in there for a few hours. Let’s get out of here.”

“Do you think the chief would approve of that?”

“You’ve earned it, and I’m hungry. I’m in the mood for a good hot dog, with diced onions and yellow mustard.”

“Sure. Why the hell not?” Larry got out his keys. “I’ll drive.”

A green mist poured out of the vents. It slowly descended. Time began to churn slower. Each moment was a cog locking and unlocking in a system of gears, always losing momentum.

Frank turned to see Larry was a hissing, four-foot-tall lizard with red eyes.

Larry tried to ask Frank what was going on, but only worms came out of his mouth. The floor tiles looked like television screens on static.

A bright green light emerged from the light fixture above them. It lowered itself gradually and declared: “Attention: Mr. Malwitz must be allowed to kill one more child. Release him.”

Frank shook his head. “What the hell is happening?”

“We have temporarily altered your state of consciousness so that you can hear and see us.”

Larry still couldn’t speak. Too many worms came out. He felt that, if he kept his lips sealed tight enough, maybe they’d stop generating. It didn’t help in the slightest.

Frank closed his eyes. He was frightened what else he might see. Everything moved in unnatural ways. “Please, stop.”

“You must pay attention: Free Mr. Malwitz.”

“He’s a murderer.” It was a struggle for Frank to keep his balance with his eyes shut.

“We know. If he doesn’t kill Jessica Blake, she will accidentally destroy the Earth.”

“Accidentally?”

“She’ll psychically implode the Earth. She needs to die.”

Larry swallowed the worms and stood in triumph. “No. The Tooth Fairy is a bad man. We won’t release him. I won’t let Jessica Blake or any other girl suffer that man’s cruel torture for anything: not even the fate of our planet.”

The green orb brightened. “Doesn’t that seem irrational to you? There are billions of humans who live meaningful lives. Would you sacrifice all of them—-including Jessica—-for one?”

Frank’s eyes widened. He hadn’t expected to hear Larry’s voice, and he was pleasantly surprised to see he wasn’t a lizard-man any more. “Larry is right. No girl should be made to suffer that way. If the universe is going to back us into this corner, then I choose the dignified route. The Earth imploding sounds pretty quick and painless anyway.” He grinned. “Besides, maybe you’re wrong and my partner and I are just tripping on some psychedelic smoke bomb.”

“Yeah!” Larry raised a finger in accusation. “How do we know this isn’t a break-out attempt? Who did you say you were again?”

The orb altered from green to a yellow hue, then transformed into a pyramid. “We are a hyper-intelligent, multi-dimensional collective that polices many space-time matrices. It is in everybody’s self-interest if the human race was not destroyed yet.”

“And why is that?”

“And why should we trust you that you are what you say you are?” Frank added.

The yellow pyramid shape-shifted into a doughnut of gold. “Humanity has such a rich diversity of pain and beauty that it’s a universally appreciated art.” The doughnut divided into three, creating a triquetrous knot. Its color became a dark red.

“You didn’t answer why we should trust you.” Frank, crossing his arms, looked at Larry.

“I have no way of proving what I had to say. The council of nineteen voted that only you two should have the capability of stopping the Earth’s demise-—and only in this way.”

“It seems to me,” Larry said, “that this council of nineteen is full of shit, and so are you. Now stop releasing your noxious fumes. I’ve made my decision.”

The triple-doughnut returned to being a sphere. “Do you agree with him, Frank?”

“I do.” He patted his belly. “And I’m still hungry for a hot dog with diced onions and yellow mustard.”

Larry smiled and nodded.

Daniel J. Neumann is a science fiction novelist and poet as well as a freelance writer, editor, and social media specialist. You can check out more of his ideas at danieljneumann.com.

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Pacifier

by Stephen V. Ramey

baby pacifier

Photo Pacifier – © Pahham | Dreamstime.com

Flame burst from the ground after baby Adam’s first word.

“Fuck!” baby Adam said, and Whoosh! the backyard lit up. Even through the windowpane, Miriam felt its heat.

She turned from the window, frown imprinted upon her face. “You taught him that, Joe. You and your foul mouth.”

Joe chuckled. “I think it’s cute. Wait ’til I tell the guys at the mill.”

“This is not funny!” Miriam shouted. She jabbed her hand toward the window. “Do you think that’s a laughing matter?”

Joe’s smile scrunched down but did not entirely disappear. “Well, it’s kind of impressive.”

“What it is,” Miriam said, “is a sign from Hell. You’ve cursed Baby Adam, Joe. You’ve cursed us all.”

“Oh, crank it down a notch, would you?” Joe pushed the pacifier into Adam’s mouth. “It’s obviously from the fracking down by the apple orchard.”

Baby Adam spat the pacifier out. “Fuck! Fuck ooh!” He watched the towering flame, eyes glistening with reflection.

Joe looked sheepish. “I’ll call the fracking company in the morning, okay?”

Miriam sniffed. “You do that, Joe. You do that if there’s still a world tomorrow.”

“Oh, come on, Miriam. Just because Baby Adam says an off-color word does not mean the world is coming to an end.”

Miriam glared. She turned and marched down the carpeted hallway. The bedroom door slammed.

Joe sighed. “Fuck. It’s going to be a long night, Baby Adam. She’s really pissed.”

Baby Adam looked up, lips forming an oval. Joe rubbed the pacifier on his pants, pushed it into that baby mouth, and held it firmly in place. I should’ve done that sooner.

Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania, a rust belt city on the edge of resurrection. His work has appeared in various places, and he edits the Triangulation anthologies from Parsec Ink as well as the twitterzine, trapeze. Find him at http://www.stephenvramey.com.

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In the Office of the Tooth Fairy

by John Vicary

tooth fairy bureaucrat

Photo Tooth fairy exchange – © Caraman | Dreamstime.com

“Yeah, so they says to me, they says, ‘Barry, you look like you could use a drink,’ and I say, ‘What, do I look like an—”

Jenny paused and checked her card. This was the correct place. Despite the unprofessional language and cigar smoke she could see drifting out from the door, the numbers on the office placard didn’t lie. It didn’t much look like any claims agency she’d ever been associated with, but it wasn’t her business to judge. Maybe years of being in billing made folks coarse or something. Perhaps it was the bad lighting wreaking havoc on their nerves. Whatever it was, so long as she had a job, she didn’t care what the place looked like. Or smelled like. Jenny wrinkled her nose as another cloud of smoke wafted by her. She straightened her hemline and knocked.

“Oh, for the love of … I gotta call you back, Mike. Temp’s here. Yeah, yeah, another one. Sure, Thursday, you’re on. Your turn to bring the beer. Yeah it is, you schmuck. See you then.”

Jenny heard the click of the phone being slammed down in its cradle, followed by a sigh.

“You gonna stand out there all day or what? You here for the job?”

“Yes, sir.” Jenny rounded the corner and saw exactly what she expected to: a middle-aged balding man behind a desk. “I’m here about the acquisitions position from the—”

“Yeah, I know. It’s the busy season, so let’s get this show on the road. I’m Barry. Pull up a chair and lemme go through the files with you,” Barry said.

Jenny selected a chair with the fewest stains on the upholstery and flipped open her pad to take notes. “Can you begin by telling me the exact nature of the property we are attempting to merge?”

Barry barked out a laugh. “Teeth, dollface. You kidding me? Now, like I said, it’s busy season. You wouldn’t think so, but September and October we’re slammed. And of course there’s always a spike around the holidays, ‘specially Halloween. Ever since we had to sign Murphy’s Law, that time of year is a killer …”

Jenny scribbled away. “Murphy’s Law? Where are the precedents on that? I’m not familiar with that article. Is there a case number, so I can check up on it and familiarize myself with the details?”

Barry ignored her and kept talking. “Janice, over in Polishing, has this theory that kiddie sports have something to do with the losses this time of year, but I think it’s just the competition amongst classmates and all. You don’t want your best mate to get ahead of you, do you, not when one good yank’ll get you a payoff. Right. So that’s my thought on that.”

“Sports … losses … competition …” Jenny was scrambling to get all the words written down, when she paused. “Can you clarify that for me? What company are we taking over? Something in dentistry? Or does it have to do with sports medicine?”

“Look here.” Barry leaned back in his seat. “The agency said they were sending someone who could handle this sort of thing. This is a high-pressure position. And like I just said, it’s our busy season. So are you a quick study or not?”

“I am!” Desperation crept up like a flush on Jenny’s cheeks. “I’ve worked in a legal office; I know I can handle this. It would just help to know more about the product we’re acquiring, that’s all.”

“Teeth, I told you.” Barry shook his head. “You’re not deaf, are you?”

“No! I’m just not quite sure I understand.” Jenny tried not to let her confusion show. She stared at her notes, but the words remained unhelpful. “We deal in teeth?”

“You got it, toots. Our region is only the northern mid-quadrant. Sometimes the southwest quadrangle falls off—those lazy buggers—and we have to absorb the overflow, but I try not to let that happen. What do I look like, a charity office, here?” Barry grimaced. “Anyway, we manage our region, which is fine, unless we get short-staffed, like now. You follow?”

Jenny nodded dumbly. “So, like … when you say ‘northern mid-quadrant’, you mean that we are in charge of, say, Chicago?”

Barry recoiled. “Good God, no. What a nightmare of logistics, can you imagine? I said the northern mid-quadrant, not the mid-quadrangle, northern urban unit. Big difference.”

“Yes. I can see that.” Jenny pretended to make a note of it, but she wasn’t sure if Barry was quite sane.

“So, look here. These cases are flagged as imminent. Boy, these little buggers are hanging by a thread. These are the ones you’ll be dispatched to immediately. Field agents are in place, but before they can move on these cases, they will need their allocation, and that clearance will come from you. There has been a lot of slack in the financial department lately, I’m not gonna lie. Even given the adjustment for inflation, there has to be a cap on this. You are going to be in charge of expenses and balances.” Barry gestured to the computer screen.

Jenny perked up. “Okay, so I’m in charge of making sure that agents are being truthful about how much money they need? Expense reports, as it were?”

Barry nodded, pleased. “Exactly. Red flags will happen tonight. Possibly tomorrow. You can check up on orange files. They are sure to come due in the next week or so. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, though. Yellows are just the kids who are crying wolf. Maybe there is a little wiggle, but short of them falling smack on their face, those suckers aren’t going anywhere for a month, at least.” Barry unwrapped another cigar. “Not that we haven’t had that happen, mind you. None of us like a Code Blue. Puts us in a crank for the whole day, let me tell you what.”

“Sorry, what exactly is the business that you’re in?” Jenny didn’t care if she looked foolish or not; this whole conversation was turning her brain to mush. “It sounds like you are collecting children’s teeth.” She laughed.

Barry lit his stogie and puffed a few times to get it started. “I thought you said you weren’t hard of hearing.”

Jenny swallowed.

“So, do I need to hold your hand over this, or can you figure it out? I have three code reds tonight alone, and the going rate for a molar ain’t cheap, sweetheart. Don’t let those guys try to bull you for more, though. We have budgets, just like the rest. And you don’t want to stand before The Committee and say you ran outta funds before the fiscal year is out, trust me. That’s on you now, thank the good Lord. Damn little kids won’t get outta bed for less than a dollar these days. When I was a kid—”

“Mr. … Barry …” Jenny felt the sort of sour sickness in her stomach that heralded either immediate vomiting or a contrariness that would get her branded as the office “bitch”. Jenny hoped, for the sake of her paycheck, that she’d just had a bad danish, but the words just kept spewing, and she rather feared it might be the latter. “Are you trying to tell me that you’re the … Tooth Fairy?”

“For the love of Christ.” Barry cracked his neck. “Are you trying to tell me that you can’t read? They sent me a temp who can’t read. Perfect.”

“No, I—I’m just really confused! What the hell is going on?” Jenny was aware that she had shredded her notes into confetti all over the floor.

“Honey. I’m going to say this as clearly as I can, because we are out of time. We are a division of the U.S. Government. We collect teeth. See?” Barry held up the nameplate on his desk, which read “Barry McFadden, Tooth Collection Agent Manager”.

“You’re telling me that there really is a Tooth Fairy?” Jenny stared at Barry’s combover in horror. “I always pictured her in a blue dress. With wings. And maybe some sort of tutu.”

Barry rolled his eyes. “That’s the corporate logo.” He fished a card out of his pocket and handed her the embossed rectangle. There was, indeed, a blue fairy on it, complete with wings, crown, and magic scepter. “But adults usually realize that it takes more than magic to make these things happen. Next you’ll be telling me that you pictured the Easter Bunny as a six foot rabbit. Ha!” He looked at her face. “Holy shit. Wait until Charlie hears this …”

“It’s just that … I don’t understand how the government can subsidize children’s teeth. What do we have to do with it?” Jenny asked.

“It’s a bargain, you kidding?” Barry took a pull on his cigar. “We pay a dollar—less, if we can swing it, and that’s where you come in, angel— for every tooth, and look at the markup on those suckers! Where else can you get something so cheap? Except China, of course. Little bastards are always making our numbers look bad. Those Chinese kids’ll give up their teeth for a few measly yen. I can tell you, if they start outsourcing, that’s it. I told ’em, I ain’t moving to Zhāngjiākǒu, I don’t care how good the noodles are. They got the best eggrolls right over on thirty-seventh you ever had, I don’t need to go halfway around—”

Jenny rubbed her temples. “Barry, it still doesn’t explain why we want teeth. Even for an exceptional deal.”

Barry stopped mid-diatribe. “I don’t have time to explain economics to you, peaches. This ain’t college. You might have mistaken me for your prof, when in reality I’m the Tooth Fairy. Or one of them. You know, I don’t think you’re gonna work. Why don’t you go see if they can use you down on the fifth floor. I know that Phil needs someone. I really think that would be more your speed, sugar.”

Jenny stood up. “It’s a regular office? Nothing funny?”

“Nothing funny. See ya around, babe.” Barry shook his head. “Charlie, a freaking rabbit, for fuck’s sake …”

Jenny grabbed her attaché case and stepped away from Barry. As she made her way through the office, she saw things she’d missed the first time through: little toothbrushes decorating some desks, molars hanging from the ceiling, a picture of a pile of gold coins and even a jar of teeth near the elevator (she’d taken them for after-dinner mints on her way in). Jenny shuddered.

“Excuse me.” She caught the receptionist before the elevator made its way up. “I’ve been reassigned to the fifth floor. Can you tell me what to expect there?”

“Sure,” the girl said. “You’ll like it. It’s pretty small, actually, and nothing much happens there. It’s for folks who prefer a quieter workplace. I’ll phone that you’re on your way.”

“Thanks so much.” Jenny smiled. She had a much better feeling about this assignment.

The receptionist picked up the phone as Jenny got in the elevator and pressed the button for floor five. “Hey, Phil, it’s me. You have a new girl on her way. I know, St. Patrick’s Day needs its fair share of attention, too—that’s why she’s on her way, to help you organize those calls about the leprechauns from last year …”

The door slid shut before Jenny could say another word.

John Vicary began publishing poetry in the fifth grade and has been writing ever since. A contributor to many compendiums, his most recent credentials include short fiction in the collections “The Longest Hours,” “Midnight Circus,” “Something’s Brewing,” and “Temporary Skeletons.” He has stories in upcoming issues of Boktor Magazine and “Halfway Down the Stairs.” John enjoys playing piano and lives in rural Michigan with his family. You can read more of his work at keppiehed.com.

John Vicary has essays in the Garden of Eden anthology and Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah.

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The Tooth Fairy Detonation

By JD DeHart

pink cylinder - the tooth fairy

Photo Marshmallow in the form of a cylinder. – © Indigolotos | Dreamstime.com

Mouse, the unofficial leader of the group of five, sat still next to the doorway, his body anything but tense. The other members of the crew took solace in his air of calm. They knew Mouse was small, but his lack of size combined with his farm boy upbringing made him relentless. He would rather die with his hands than lose a fight.

“Almost there,” a machine said from the front of the cabin. Without further direction, Mouse stood up and strapped on his gear. The group following his movements. It was okay that nobody came with them, except this machine that ran the plane. These were dangerous times and a drone would not do the work that needed be finished.

Each man and woman in the crew tapped the pink cylinder at the back of the craft as they walked past, as was their ritual. They called it The Tooth Fairy, and it would be their saving grace.

“How long before dinner time?” Horse, a lanky man, asked, showing his buckteeth off. It was also part of the ritual; he always asked the same question.

None of the group laughed, instead approaching the door that would invite them to take a plunge. Mouse went first, of course, sailing through the air, counting in his head, unable to see much in the blanket of darkness. A quick tug and his wings were out–-the Mouse could fly.

When the night air grew thicker, approaching the trees, they could see remnants of small fires on the grounding reminding them they were in hell. Star, one of the girls, navigated down gently with The Tooth Fairy riding piggyback.

They could not just drop the bomb–-it had to be placed at the point of greatest vulnerability. Horse took out his communiqué, and they could see the small silent blips showing them the path to take, up the hill, through the trees, to what would be an underground compound. They went silently.

Within a few yards of the place they had to scramble some detection equipment and then disable a few guards with a quick, noiseless splash of rust. The doorway of the compound was obscured by some camouflage, but they found it just the same.

Deep down, there were four columns that held up the regime, four columns where The Tooth Fairy would do her magic work. The first stop was the elevator controls.

“Seems too easy,” Horse whispered, but no one answered. Those words were not part of the ritual.

With great speed, they descended, watching the rock walls blur past them, then opened up the metal to the doors to find the cavern where the columns should be. Instead of meeting face to empty air, they found a layer of dark yellow dust creeping on the floor, with sudden flashes of brilliant light–-gunfire.

Two of their group dropped quickly, followed by Star, who died saving the bomb. Mouse cried for them to put masks on, and he and Horse did so, quickly sliding out the way and pulling the bomb after them.

Now it was just the pair, the bomb, and the open doors. They crouched, not sure what to do. Horse took out his communiqué, checking the number of signatures. It looked like most of the guards were on this level.

The answer occurred to both of them at the same time. Mouse gestured for Horse to flip the switches on the elevator while he shoved out the bomb. With bullets still pinging on the elevator wall, they had to move quickly.

The Tooth Fairy slid a good ten feet across the compound floor and Horse quickly flipped the switches, shutting the door. This just before the guards tossed their own bomb, which wound up detonating the Fairy, but also damaging the cage of the elevator.

Above the plumage of flame, the small metal box rose, coming to a crash with sparks, and the two survivors leapt free, scrambled up and out of the base, leaving a sinking crater behind them.

“Next time,” Horse muttered, though fighting for air, completing the night raid ritual.

JD DeHart is the author of two collections, Decaf Days and Sunrise of Tomorrow, available on Amazon. His work has appeared in the Garden of Eden anthology, among other publications.

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A Prescription for Guns

by Christopher Holmes Nixon

doctor prescribes guns“Gilbert,” said Doctor Mallet. “You’re a loser.”

Gilbert blinked once. He was unable to discern what he was hearing.
“I see. Is that your official diagnosis?”

“Yes, you’re a loser,” answered Doctor Mallet. “But the good news is, it’s not terminal.”

“Well, that’s good to hear,” said Gilbert, slouching his shoulders and looking at the floor.

“You don’t sound excited, Gilbert. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.”

“I know, doc. It’s just–” Gilbert stared at his clenched fists. “It’s just that people have been telling me that my entire life.”

“Exactly!” Doctor Mallet extended his arm and pointed at Gilbert. “People have been telling you that you’re entire life!”

“Yes, doctor. That’s what I just said.”

“But don’t you see, Gilbert? You’re not the problem!”

“But you said I have a problem. You called me a loser.”

“Yes Gilbert!” said Doctor Mallet, gripping his head with his hands. “You have a loser problem, but you’re not the cause.”

“I’m not?”

“You said it yourself. People have been calling you a loser your whole life,” Doctor Mallet folded his hands on top of the desk. “You’re not a loser. It’s other people who are the problem!”

“Other people?” Gilbert raised an eyebrow.

“Yes,” said Doctor Mallet. “Other people are the problem.”

“Well, now that you mention it, I’ve had nothing but problems with my neighbor Brett,” said Gilbert. “He’s a jerk, and a bully. He’s a jully.”

“It’s not just Brett, your horrible neighbor, is it?” asked Doctor Mallet as if he knew what Gilbert was going to say next. “It’s also your high school guidance counselor, who told you the fax machine was the career wave of the future, and your friend who tried convincing you that you had cancer, and the girl who pretends she can’t read her own watch rather than give you the time of day. Am I correct?”

Gilbert leaned back in his seat and stared at Doctor Mallet.

“This is all starting to make sense,” he said, pressing his fingertips together.

“Trust me, I know, Gilbert!” shouted Doctor Mallet, pointing to the wall lined with framed professional certifications. “I’m a doctor!”

“Well, what can I do, doctor? Can you help me solve my problem?”

“Gilbert, we’ve been through a lot together, so I do want to help you,” said Doctor Mallet, slowing to speak in low deliberate tones. “I can write you a prescription.”

“A prescription? I thought you said there wasn’t anything wrong with me?”

“Exactly, Gilbert, exactly,” said Doctor Mallet as he rummaged through the drawers of his desk. “There is nothing wrong with you.”

Gilbert watched Doctor Mallet go through his desk, finally retrieving a sheet of paper.

“Here you go, Gilbert,” said Doctor Mallet as he harshly annotated the paper with red ink. “Here is the solution to all of your problems.”

Doctor Mallet stood and leaned forward, extending the piece of paper across his desk in the palm of his outstretched hand. Gilbert rose from his seat and took the paper from Doctor Mallet.

“I can’t believe it!” he yelled, his face exploding with excitement as he lowered the paper to his side. “A prescription for guns!”

“A prescription for guns, Gilbert!” repeated Doctor Mallet, lifting his clenched fists toward the ceiling. “And everyone wants to get high!”

Christopher Holmes Nixon is originally from Calgary, Canada and has degrees in Economics and Political Science. He has served as an Infantry Officer with the Canadian Armed Forces for the last nine years, with one operational tour to Afghanistan. He is currently employed as the Training Officer for the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, in Edmonton, Alberta. He enjoys all types of fiction as well as an addiction to writing.

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Holy Sun-Tanned Left Forearm,
or, ‘How’s My Driving? Call Thee 800-HOLYJOE’

by Joseph Pravda

priest former truckerThe Brotherhood of Overland Haulers annual convention packed the bedecked hotel ballroom to hear a special guest, the beloved Father O’Hanley, himself a former trucker, who had just ‘hauled-in’ the vaunted Mack Truckster Prize for his bravery and quite incidental discoveries in biblical archaeology whilst serving as a private contractor in the Middle East.

“And in those days a young carpenter of the House of Joseph was wont to make deliveries of sundry household necessities, hand-carved, some swore, by the young man himself; in the fullness of time, it came to pass that, on one such occasion, not far from the village of the Nazarenes, a very large crowd had gathered to witness the feats of manipulation—called by the elders thereof ’miracles’—that seemed to accompany him: and, as the young man began unloading an especially heavy, valuable table, destined for the upper room of a dwelling for a ceremony involving what was rumored to be the ’last supper’ of some local worthy, the people were in awe of the hand-truck he used to do so, not to mention the powerful hydraulic ramp of the eighteen wheeler.”

Joseph Pravda is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and was recruited to serve as a lawyer with the federal government during the Watergate scandal where he immediately “Felt” something was amiss. He has also worked as a lobbyist and a private businessman. Since retiring he has written in many genres. He is also an artist. He writes a column for And Magazine.

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Flush

by Rich Young

scary creatureOnce upon a time, there was a smell. It emanated from an apartment on the first floor of the complex. The tenants that lived in the rundown apartment complex simply accepted its rottenness as a part of their lives, but no one ever really got used to it being there. Mr. Alex tried to stay away from the apartment, but the mystery of what could be inside kept him returning to the door of the abandoned first floor apartment that would never be rented out.

The door to the apartment did not lock, and did not need to–there was nothing of value in there for anyone to take.

Being the resident gossiper, Mrs. Giovanni loved to tell the story that the apartment had belonged to an unusual traveler many years ago. When the man suddenly disappeared, the Super received a note stating that he would continue to receive the rent, plus any required increase in rent, forever. The Super went into the apartment to find it empty and, although it did not make any sense, decided not to rent it out to anyone else. The apartment remained empty, but there was something that captivated people to gather outside the door. Mrs. Giovanni was often seen standing around the downstairs hallway near the apartment, but she had never ventured inside.

Mr. Alex was minding his own business one minute, and the next he was standing in the bathroom, staring down at the disgusting toilet. He did not even realize that he had gone inside. He had passed by the door to the empty apartment and then was pulled inside by an unseen force–a beautiful voice singing to him.

The next thing he noticed was the smell, like vinegar and swiss cheese, and that there was something inside the bowl of the dirty toilet–a fetus covered in slime and blood. He reached his hand down into the thick, red-brown water and touched it.

He instantly felt like a hole in his world was filled. As he held the tiny, misshapen body close to him, the creature’s eye holes lit up with joy. Mr. Alex heard the being sing its perfect song inside of his head. The words were foreign, but the message was of love. This was to be the only god that Mr. Alex would worship from now on. On that first day, he set the god back down in its water, murmured a short prayer, and left the apartment. And the god was happy.

He could not stay away; he visited his god to pray and receive the blessing of its presence. When he was not in the bathroom, he felt empty and alone. Mr. Alex could never get the acrid smell off of his hands. People started noticing the smell and staying away from him, thinking that he had lost his mind. He started staying for longer periods of time.

Mr. Alex was not the only tenant that visited the toilet in the abandoned apartment on the first floor. The being that lived in that toilet called others to it. It gathered a following of worshipers that started visiting daily to hold it. They were special, chosen followers. Some would hold the body close to their face and shower kisses on its wet, undulating skin. Their lips would carry the smell on them out into the world and spread the feeling of completeness to chosen people outside of the apartment complex.

Slowly, there began a buzzing world circulating around the empty apartment and the entity that lived in the toilet inside. The people were peaceful but jealous as they wanted the god to only favor them. They vied for more time with it, and as their jealousy grew, people became more passionate in their expressions of love for their god.
They began to remove their clothes and rub the holy secretions from the being on more parts of their exposed skin. The people became aroused, and while they waited for their next turn with their god, they would congregate in the other areas of the crowded apartment, writhing around, over and under one another, like mad snakes in a dirty pit. And the god was happy.

Mrs. Giovanni was not happy with the traffic in and out of the apartment complex. Not being a chosen one, she thought that the followers were mindless and sick. She decided to wait until all was quiet and pay the toilet a visit. With her crucifix held tightly in the palm of her hand, she walked up to the door of the abandoned apartment and pushed it open.

Inside, hundreds of naked, fowl-smelling, emaciated people were piled up everywhere. They were sleeping, and their chests were rising and falling in unison. There was a low murmur among them–a hollow, vibrating excitement just under the surface of their skin–where Mrs. Giovanni could see glowing orbs pulsating. There was no way for her to get through to the bathroom of the apartment without stepping on bodies, but she was determined to see the toilet and end this circus.
She steadied herself and started stepping on the sick bodies. Her feet found solid ground in torsos and thighs. She took one careful step after another from one body to the next. Some of the bodies that she stepped on moved slightly, but none awoke. She took another step and looked down to see the face of her friend, Mr. Alex, on a frail body next to the one she was standing on. This caused her to gasp and lose focus on her steps.

She slipped, put her foot down without looking, and heard a grisly pop.

From underneath her shoe, she saw a gray-green substance ooze. She fell onto the pile of pulsing, stinking bodies. The vibration in the apartment became faster, louder. She picked up her foot and a tiny body was crawling from one of the glowing orbs underneath the skin of the person below her.

She now realized what they were. The eggs started hatching all around the room. The smell was unbearable, as small grotesque bodies, covered in blood and fluids started ripping through flesh and crawling towards her. She held the cross in her hand but knew that her god wouldn’t be able to help her.

Rich Young is a writer, guitar-player, business analyst, father, and husband from Michigan. He has completed one novel, Letters From Tomorrow, and several short stories ranging from horror to science fiction. He is currently working on a new novel that sums up all the experiences of his life in some odd fashion or another.

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