by Trevor Creighton
Something had gone wrong. They had been warned of the curse but had purchased the bones anyway. Five coins and two sheep had been the price. They’d thought themselves pretty smart. The shaman had blessed their endeavor.
But the curse hadn’t been sedated and the bones turned black on the third night. Black with ants crawling all over them as they grew softer. Those who attended the bones were in turn cursed by the buyer when parts began to fall off. Stringy, sticky parts, not the dry, clean breaks expected when bones come apart. The attendants received rushes of energy but found it ever more difficult to stand till their eyes were left moving energetically as their bodies remained still. This was the curse, and when the buyer started tasting the sweetness, a symptom reported by his attendants, the bones were returned.
They were buried and prayed over. A hasty wooden church was erected on the site to ensure constant prayer, and the buyer became the priest. A priest who dressed in white and removed all sweet things from the diet — sweetness being cursed and dryness being exulted. Water was drank, sparingly, and the people began to adorn the church with riches, which attracted raiders, who learned of the curse after taking the gold and returned to claim the buried bones. It was a silly mistake. Their camp became the second sacred site.
The priest continued to pray with his parched tongue but refused all treasure, and slowly the church was rebuilt in stone.
Trevor Creighton is a strange little creature who creates worlds at whim, often leaving them unfinished and unprotected as it travels from here to there.
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by J.B. Pravda
In the annals of captive animals, it was unheard of–much less run in any respected publication to date.
Labeled the ‘anti-cheetah’ by the zoological community, Furilongo’s excuse for the refusal of the species in question to run, preferring to ‘play’ possum’–the zookeeper’s own words–was deemed illogical (they hastening to add that this did not necessarily imply that the creature was ‘ill’).
Famed zoologist Quentin Furilongo was unable to bring the fleet-footed West African gazelle out of its lethargic funk–it seemed, as he wrote in the scholarly journal ‘Gazelle Gazette’, that the prized beast knew it was THE speed limit for all other creatures–‘fast as a gazelle’– thereby suffering from the fastest run syndrome.
Desperate–his colleagues piling-on characterization of his tactics–Furilongo chanced upon a solution: he would summon Cezar Lyon to coax the animal from its seemingly feigned lethargy.
There to witness certain failure, the skeptical Gazette reporter, Upton Cooper, was on hand at precisely high noon.
Whispering into the lethargic gazelle’s keen twitching ear Cezar seemed to be crooning, albeit faintly heard by human ears.
Suddenly, what had been a supine four-legged mass of motionless favorite red meat for the competitive cheetah so sprang into flight as to conjure the blurry rotary leg action of cartoon animations.
As Furilongo’s smile foretold, Cezar had done what seemed impossible without cheating; when questioned later by a truly surprised Cooper, Furilongo would only hum a tune, mumbling what sounded like these lyrics: “Do not forsake me, oh my yearling, on this your running day–”, and something about being frank concerning millet and a fresh downy bed.
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by Adam Mac
In the current Journal of Statistical Probability in Law Enforcement, Viktor Schmerdloff proposes the original theory that there are two types of people: those who fold their toilet paper and those who scrunch it up.
Anticipating skeptics, Schmerdloff explains why the FBI should be interested in profiling folders and scrunchers. Folders, he maintains, are inherently dangerous since they are fastidious in their planning and methodical in execution. When combined with other threat indicators, folding can provide reliable predictive data, which more often than not results in successful intervention and apprehension of suspects.
On the other hand, scrunchers, though percentage-wise less of a threat, can be worrisome insofar as their recklessness and aversion to normative behavior makes them unpredictable and virtually impossible to combat. The very absence of orderliness frustrates traditional law enforcement professionals and warrants new and controversial techniques like chaos profiling.
A unified approach targeting both folders and scrunchers is recommended, since they are, in effect, two heads of the same monster.
Regarding the operational issue of collecting data, the agency can work closely with manufacturers to install and retrofit millions of door locks in public restrooms with tiny hidden cameras. These cameras will generate continuous and multi-synchronous CCTV feeds for the agency’s super computer in northern Nevada to analyze and prioritize.
We think Schmerdloff’s proposal is a good first step but would add that profiling should further segregate those who don’t flush from those who do and among those who do flush it should separate out those who flush with their hands from those who flush with their feet. Since both folders and scrunchers are suspect, additional data are required to distinguish between actual, probable, and possible threats.
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by Stephen V. Ramey
He-Man in the driver’s seat, She-Man by his side. The top is down, the wind a hurricane in their ears. In the back, Baby-Man drowses between liquid-sweet life and taffy-sweet dream. The car is a candy red 1969 Camaro, tires underinflated to cope with the crackle-crazed topping of this winding black road down into the valley.
The pedal on the right is pushed. Hard. Asphalt sprays up from the sudden spin, a scent-like burning licorice, lava lust, vodka in their morning mouths.
“Too fast,” She-Man proclaims from the watcher’s seat.
“Not fast enough,” He-Man yells. “We’re going to be late.” For what? For life in the valley, of course.
The car hits a hairpin curve, slews left, slews right. Rubber stretches, bites, skids. A guardrail crunches, and suddenly they are flying, the granular city melting before them like a sugar glaze. Windows wink, flat-roofed buildings stare.
In the back seat, Baby-Man giggles deep down in his chest. His naked head comes wobbling up. And for just that instant all is right in his sugar-coated world.
Stephen V. Ramey doesn’t always write about babies, but when he does he writes strange. He is the author of a previous baby story at Garden Gnome Publications titled “Pacifier“.
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By Brenda Anderson
In the waiting room elderly folk stared at the wallpaper. The elephant did a pirouette.
Keira slipped her hand into her fiance´’s.
“Let’s get married, go on a honeymoon, sing, dance … enjoy life,” Mark said.
The elephant did a somersault, landed on its hind legs and bowed. Keira squeezed Mark’s hand.
“I love you,” said Mark with an unsteady voice. “I love you so much.”
The elephant covered its eyes.
The receptionist escorted Keira and Mark into the specialist’s room. The elephant followed.
“Well, doctor?” said Keira.
The specialist shook his head.
With tears in its eyes, the elephant withdrew to the waiting room. Elderly patients looked away.
Brenda Anderson’s fiction has appeared in Andromeda Spaceways, A cappella Zoo, Punchnel’s and Penumbra. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband and two children.
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