Free short stories

#277 Where Ideas Come From

#223 Chicago

The little old man, wearing a flowing white robe with a matching turban, sold his product on the corner as long as anyone could remember. No one knew what was in those little brown paper bags that he meticulously stacked on his pushcart every morning.

His skin had a yellow translucent appearance, and his language left his lips in unintelligible muttered words.

He displayed three sizes of bags, small, medium, and large. The large ones were few and far between. They were the size of a shopping bag. The small ones were the size of a sandwich bag, and the medium were twice as big. As though by magic, every bag he had stacked in the morning disappeared by sunset. When raining or snowing he’d cover the bags with clear plastic so the bags would remain dry, but still be visible.

Every business day, from sunrise to sunset, he sold his bags, unaware that an evil thinking man now watched his every move.

. ***

Claudius awoke in the alley where he and Curtis had finished off a gallon of wine they bought yesterday with money made spitting on, and then cleaning it off of windshields of motorists stopped at red lights.

They had splurged on a good grade of wine to celebrate Claudius’s twentieth birthday and Curtis’s parole from state prison.

Claudius looked around and didn’t see any sign of Curtis. He stumbled to the nearest dumpster, leaned against it, and pissed like a horse.

Enjoying the relief, he didn’t notice he pissed on his shoes, until he felt the stream of urine soaking his socks.

“Coke sucker,” he said as he pulled his soggy shoe out of the piss stream, and half laughed at himself for saying, “coke” instead of “Cock.” The word reminded him how he’d get beat for saying any vulgar word by his father. The same man who taught him how to shoplift, burglarize, strong arm, and commit other crimes. “These are all manly things to do,” his father would say, but when Claudius let a bad word slip from between his lips, his father would beat him until he bled and say, “Swearing is a sin.”

While reminiscing, he looked up and saw the old man with the paper bags stacked neatly on his pushcart. Curiosity about what was in those little bags ran through Claudius’s head, and he figured he could easily take them from the old man, thanks to the training from his Dad. He stood in the alley watching the old man despite the annoying feeling of wearing piss soaked socks.

When Curtis returned with two bottles of wine he had heisted, Claudius told him they were going to rob the old man. They watched what he did all day for a week trying to figure when he’d have the most cash for them to take.

Some of his customers were suits, some were down and out winos, housewives, old women, and even kids. Claudius  never saw any money changing hands. Curtis shuffled out of the alley and crossed over to the old man still wearing his prison suit, and had worn it every day since his release.

“How much for a small bag?” He asked,

When Curtis’s aroma washed over him, the old man wrinkled his nose, but managed to smile, but made an unintelligible reply.

“Just give me a mother-f-ing bag,” Curtis demanded.

The old man replied with a smile.

Pissed off Curtis said, “I’m just taking a freaking bag and grabbed the biggest one he saw.

The old man smiled and mumbled in the same manner as before.

Curtis ran across to his alley holding the bag tightly, Claudius grabbed at it and said, “let’s see what the heck he’s selling” The bag tore in half as they both pulled on it, wanting to be the one to open it.

Once it ripped in half they saw, it was empty. Curtis said, “That Mother f—ing old bastard ripped us off with an empty bag.

Claudius said, “I told you to watch your language around me.”

Curtis didn’t respond.

Claudius laughed. “You were dumb enough to steal an empty bag.”

Neither one had any idea they had just let a million dollar idea float out of the bag. They threw the empty bag on the ground and watched in amazement as all the rats, roaches, and other vermin made a detour around it.

Unseen, the freed idea floated upward and breeze blew it into a third floor window where Marie sat at her computer, surrounded by so many different crawling and flying  insects she couldn’t identify half of them. The idea floated above the insects, but their mental prowess was on the level of Claudius and Curtis’s.

“Goddamn bugs,” Marie, said as she smashed the biggest roach again and again with her shoe. The bugs weren’t there because of her housekeeping. She cleaned daily and removed all garbage and trash. New York bugs are tough and when the conditions are unsanitary, bugs tell all their kin and the buildings get overrun.

The smashed roach dragged itself across the floor on its remaining legs. She stomped it hard three times. It refused to die and continued to crawl.

“I’m going to kill you bug no matter what it takes.” She grabbed a can of Raid, pushed the plunger, and held the spray on the roach for a full minute. The spray revived the roach and it vigorously ran across the floor on two legs, and hid in a baseboard crack.

“If only I had an idea how to make money, I could move to California and get away from all these filthily bugs,” Marie said to herself. As soon as she said the word, “idea” the one floating through the room entered her head and planted an eureka thought. Suddenly she knew exactly what to do.

***

A few days after they stole the empty bag, Claudius woke up in the alley with a rat gnawing on his shoe and roaches feasting on puke covering his shirt. He kicked the rat, jumped up and roughly brushed roaches off his chest.

He smashed half of them. Cockroach guts soaked through his shirt. “Damn roaches!” he swore. Then he spied the old man across the street. Remembering the empty bag he had stolen, he got pissed off thinking about it. He went over there to get something worthwhile and told the old man, “Give me a bag.” The old man smiled and mumbled something he couldn’t understand.

Claudius tried slapping the old man upside his head to let him know that Claudius didn’t play that game. Where the old man had been a second ago, Claudius’s hand hit empty air. “Now I’m really pissed,” he told the old man and waded forward with his fist spinning like a windmill.

Suddenly the old man appeared behind him mumbling something he couldn’t understand. Claudius kicked backwards hoping to kick the old man in the balls. When he looked up the old man now stood in front of him with a smile on his face.

Claudius looked up and down the street to see if any one observed him making a fool of himself. He saw the street empty, so he grabbed a handful of bags and carried them back to the alley.

The bags weren’t heavy and felt empty. Can’t be he thought. Why would he come here every day with a bunch of empty bags. Sitting beside a dumpster, he ripped the bags open one by one and found each one to be empty. The idea in each bag floated right through his empty head.

All he wanted was money to buy some wine. The newly freed ideas floated until the wind blowing south picked them up and eventually dropped them on Washington D.C.

This is where all those wrong idea’s come from because they don’t belong in Washington; they’re supposed to be in N.Y.

Artists know that the best ideas have come out of N.Y. for years and that’s why there are so many writers, painters, poets, and other creative types settled there. The financial houses are always coming up with new ideas on how to make more money.

Anyone in the loop knows if you need a new idea, just find the old man on 8th Avenue, and buy one of his bags. They also know the price to pay for these ideas. And it’s not cash, it’s a piece of them to be collected at a later date. However, when you’re desperate and can’t write another line or can’t meet this month’s sales quota, price doesn’t matter any longer.

Some of the best ideas ever came off that little pushcart and no one had a problem as long as the ideas price got paid for.

With Claudius and Curtis stealing and unknowingly releasing ideas absorbed by just anyone looking for an idea upset the equilibrium. Ideas were popping up all over and the old man had to tighten security.

The next day, Claudius and Curtis decided to take the entire pushcart, tear it apart and find the old man’s money wherever he had it hidden. They went to where the old man stood. Claudius grabbed the handles of his cart, and Curtis took hold of the front to carry off the cart. Once they both had hold a buzzing electrical sound came from the cart and both men lit up like incandescent light bulbs. Unable to let go they yelled at the old man to shut off the juice, he smiled and said something they couldn’t understand.

The energy flowing through them doubled minute by minute. They soon shone as brightly as sunshine. In five minutes, they melted down to the size and shape of a light bulb, “the idea symbol” which the old man then attached one to each end of the cart. Most thought these were decorations, but those who knew, recognized it as a warning not to hijack any ideas.

Marie who had gotten the first free idea moved to Silicon Valley California and she had a cart set up with her very own idea business. Before long, she was doing as much daily business as the N.Y. cart.

Her free idea had given her access to the old man’s boss who decided to make a franchise business so there would be an idea cart in every city.

Now ideas are popping up all in many cities and N.Y. has lost the edge it once had.

 

#276 Shelia

 

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Sheila was late again. The thirty-minute haircut had turned into an hour, and now she was going to be late getting back to the park. She had left her kids there with her mom, so Jack, her ex could pick them up for his monthly visit. She always had him get the kids at the park since the time he tried to rape her. She remembered how bad she’d beat him with Jasper’s baseball bat.

Now she was worried about getting back to the park, she didn’t want to hear the same old lecture her mother gave her every time she was late.

She wasn’t paying attention when backing out of her parking spot, she smashed into the car parked behind her. She wanted to just drive away, but noticed several people looking her way. She knew if she just drove off someone would get her license number. She got out of her car with paper and pen in hand, walked over to the smashed car and started writing. She finished and put the large white page under the wiper blade and drove off. This worked every time; people seeing her writing assumed she was leaving her contact information. She laughed when she thought how pissed the owner was going to be when he read her note that said, “People are watching so I’m writing this note to say sorry I smashed your car.”

Looking at her watch she realized how late it was, and worrying about being reprimanded by her mother, she sped up. Before she knew it she was going at least twenty-five MPH over the speed limit, and that’s when it happened. She didn’t even see the kid on his skateboard until she hit him. She heard the thump, and the rear wheels had already rolled over him before she could stop. God dam she thought, “Stupid little shit, jumping in front of me like that.”  The kid was lying in the middle of the crosswalk, not moving. Shelia felt for a pulse, but there was none. The kid was about nine, the same age as her son Jasper. She knew if she waited around to make out an accident report she’d be so late she’d probably get hell from her mother, and she’d refuse to baby sit the next time.

She looked up and down the street. It was clear; she picked up the small body and placed it in her car trunk. The street where he had been lying was covered with blood, and she had it all over her hands. She almost wiped her runny nose with her bloodstained hand until the smell of the blood made her stop in mid motion. “Dam she thought, I’ve got to be careful.” She grabbed the part of the boy’s shirt that had no blood on it, and used it to wipe her hands clean. She picked up the skateboard he had been riding, and thought her son Jasper would like a new skateboard. She threw it in the trunk.

Sam lived in an old cardboard box that he had set up in a corner of the alley. He knew,” this was only a temporary situation, because opportunity always knocked when things got rough.” Sam has been waiting for opportunity to knock for three years now. He had cut what he called windows by cutting three lines in the cardboard so he could open and close his little windows. He put them on all four side of the box, so he could see around it. He

When he heard the squeal of brakes, and looked out his window facing the street he saw opportunity. Shelia never saw him watching through a peephole in the cardboard box, that to him was home. He saw it all, and saw when she had opened the car door, one of her business cards fell to the ground. Unfortunately for her the business card had her picture on it along with home address and phone number because that was her business address, her business, selling junk on E-Bay.  After she left, Sam walked over to the bloodstained pavement and picked up the card.

She was really late now and picked up speed while driving downtown and decided she better get rid of the body before she got stopped for speeding or some other dumb thing. Turning into the first alley she saw without slowing down, she was unable to stop in time, and hit a dog that was feasting on a pile of garbage in the middle of the alley. She liked dogs and was relieved she hadn’t killed it when she looked in her mirror and saw it crawling to safety.

She pulled up beside a dumpster, grabbed a piece of plastic that was in there, “I don’t want to get blood all over me.”

She  used it to roll his body in before picking him up, and throwing him into the dumpster. Now she stunk like the garbage that was on the plastic. She took out his skateboard, and wiped the blood from it with a tissue. Jasper was going to love his new skateboard.

Finally she got to the park stinking of blood and garbage. She parked and rushed to the area where she knew her mother would be, dreading the lecture she knew she was about to get. It turns out her ex never showed up so her mother had something else to rage about.

That night after dinner she was relaxing, watching television when the call came, “Sheila, I know what you did today.” Sheila remained silent trying to think who could know? Then the voice said, “Give me five-Hundred dollars and I’ll keep my mouth shut.”

“O.K.” She said. “Be here tonight at ten and I’ll have the money.” She wondered if he knew where she lived and the question was answered when he said, “See you then.”

She knew by asking for a measly Five-Hundred, this guy had to be a low-life, and she knew how to handle that kind. She sent all her kids to spend the night with her sister. She then purchased a large roll of plastic sheeting, and covered floor, walls, and furniture in the area where he would walk when he entered her house. She knew the plastic would collect all the blood and any blown off body parts. She had learned this from watching the Sopranos on TV. That’s where she also learned to use the two liter plastic bottle as a silencer so the neighbors wouldn’t hear the gunshot.

Sheila sat waiting for the would be blackmailer, a Colt 45 with a plastic bottle covering the muzzle in one hand, and a drink in the other. You gotta be tough to be a single mom, and this justified everything to her.

(End)

 

 

#275 Dinner

#275 Dinner

 

“You lazy son-of a-bitch, get those tomatoes planted today, or else!”

That’s how Mildred my wife talked to me when she wanted something done. “Okay, okay,” I’d say. I always agreed with her to shut off her shrill nagging voice. I got off the couch slowly; as if I was the “couch potato” she accused me of being. The couch is a warm soft spot. I loved to lie on it to watch TV, but I’m no potato. I’d exercise occasionally, like when Mildred wasn’t home and I had to get up and walk to the fridge for a cold beer every half hour. The “or else” got my attention, so I went to the tool shed, got a shovel to begin digging holes for tomato seeds. Wouldn’t you know it, my first attempt to make a hole and the shovel hit a solid rock. I dug around it so I could get a grip to pull it from the ground.

I attempted to lift the dirty gray rock that blocked my progress, but found it to be very heavy. I’d have gone around it, but Mildred insisted the rows had to be straight as an arrow. She saw me struggling and came to show me her strength exceeded mine. She grabbed the rock with one hand and attempted to lift it.

“Damn! That’s heavy,” she said. “Don’t stand there like an idiot, help me.”

Together we were able to lift it and place it in a nearby wheelbarrow.

I said, “For something that size to be so heavy it must be a chunk of lead.”

“Whatever it is, go dump it into the river so we don’t have to move it again.”

So she’d shut her trap I wheeled it past Carolyn’s house on the way to the river bank. Carolyn was sun-bathing in the back yard. I stopped to admire her as I always did. She rolled over giving me a view of her bare breasts before covering them with her halter top.

“Where’re you going?” she asked.

“Mildred told me to dump this in the river.” I nodded toward the rock in the wheelbarrow.

“Oh, can I see?”

She trotted over on her long legs with her breasts juggling and I stood at attention waiting for her to get close enough to inhale her sweet scent. She bent over to examine the rock while I examined her.

“A beautiful specimen,” She said.

I agreed, but thought she was the beautiful specimen. If only the rock was a diamond. I’d give it to her and ask her to marry me. Of course I was already married to Mildred, but a diamond that big would impress any woman.

“You can have it if you think it’s beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she said, grabbed the handles and pushed toward the rear of her house while I watched her rear moving as she pushed.

“Where’s the wheelbarrow?” Mildred screamed when I returned.

“Carolyn borrowed it to wheel the rock we found home.”

“You idiot! She’s a rock hound. She wouldn’t want it unless it was valuable. Go get it back,” Mildred said.

“You told me to dump it in the river. Now you want it back just because Carolyn wants it?”

“I told you it must be valuable or she wouldn’t want it.”

“Why would it be valuable?”

“Maybe it’s a meteorite. Those things are worth money, or maybe it’s a giant gold nugget. Just you go and get it back right now,” Mildred demanded.

I obeyed Mildred as always and went back to Carolyn’s house. I knocked on her door. No answer. I went to the workshop in back and as I approached I saw her placing the rock I gave her into a smoking vat.

She jumped when I asked what she was doing.

“I’m using acid to clean off the accumulated crud,” she said. “This is my ticket home.”

Isn’t this your home?”

“No, it’s up there.”

She pointed toward the sun. I thought maybe she had been in the sun too long but turning to see what made a screeching sound I saw the hunk of rock was some sort of engine and sucked the liquid in and spat it out at an accelerating rate making the screeching noise.

“You can come with me if you’d like,” she smiled and my heart sank.

Then I heard Mildred yelling for me to hurry up so I could plant her tomatoes.

Looking at Carolyn’s fabulous body I blurted out, “Yes, yes, take me with you.”

Carolyn, bare handed, lifted the pulsating rock and carried it to a work area in the rear of her workshop where a saucer shaped craft rested on the ground. She placed the rock, or engine as she called it in the center and the craft lit up. Before long the light was so bright I could hardly see. Trepidations about going with her crossed my mind. Did I want to go to an alien planet? Then I heard Mildred’s shrill voice calling me. That convinced me and if the women on her home planet looked like Carolyn, I sure wanted to be there. I followed her into the craft and instantly we flew to the sky.

“Thanks for taking me with you. I can hardly wait to see your home world.”

“Sorry, you’re not going to see it.”

“Why did you invite me then?”

I noticed the acid had burned the skin off Carolyn’s hands and exposed her true snakelike skin and long sharp nails.

“I needed something to eat on the long flight home.”

 

 

#274 Promises

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During a visit to the Long Beach Aquarium, I stopped to watch what was billed as a female octopus swimming around and to my utmost amazement, I became sexually aroused picturing the octopus’s tentacles wrapping around my brain. I didn’t believe thoughts like wanting to have sex with a fish was possible! But, there they were, irrational thoughts filled my consciousness.

Eyeballing attractive girls visiting the aquarium didn’t diminish my desire for fish. Every girl I fantasized about sprouted eight appendages. I needed help. Help to stop fantasizing. I spoke to Siri, “Find a good psychiatrist,” She answered with a list of names and phone numbers of psychiatrists. Scrolling down the list I saw Dr. Octopoda. The name grabbed me. I called and got a receptionist. “I need to see the doctor right away.”

“There’s an opening in two months.”

“This is an emergency. I may do something I’ll regret.”

“Have you called the suicide hotline?”

“Listen lady! This isn’t about suicide. It’s worse. Much worse.” What would she think if I told her I had an urge to rape a fish?

She set an appointment for the next day.

***

Arriving a half hour early I had plenty of time to browse the office walls which were covered with giant fish tanks that had many species of tropical fish swimming in them. When I saw how gracefully the fish moved their tails as they swam, sexual urges flooded my mind. I quickly turned away from the tanks, but the thoughts remained.

I noticed the office had a fishy aroma just before a rotund woman wearing a white coat called my name. I turned toward the door in an attempt to leave. The woman blocked my way.

“I know what your problem is,” she said.

“How do you know?”

“OCD” is written all over you face,” Dr. Octopoda said.

“What’s that?”

“Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, approximately 90% of humans have thoughts like yours.”

“Do they think of fucking fish like I do?”

“You have to recognize that though you think your thoughts are irrational, they’re perfectly normal.”

“No way. I never had these thoughts before, and I don’t know anybody else who has had the desire to have sex with any kind of fish.”

“You’re forgetting your origins,” she said.

“I never lived in the sea. That’s scientific bull-shit.”

She took her coat off and exposed her tendrils. Instead of fear, I became aroused and wanted her tendrils wrapped around me. I grabbed her by the shoulders, pulled her to me and wrapped my arms around her. The fishy smell only excited me more as her eight appendages coiled around my body and began to squeeze and suck. Instead of fear, I experienced ecstasy. The harder she sucked the better it felt. I went limp and felt as though I floated through space.

I rolled across a hard steel floor when all the arms holding me straightened out and the suction turned off. There were dozens of other men flopping around in the zero oxygen atmosphere. The ones who already died were being fileted by creatures wearing aprons and using eight fileting knives at the same time. Hundreds and hundreds of floating creatures surrounding the area waiting for dinner it seemed.

Dr. Octopoda addressed the crowd of fisher creatures. “I told you humans would take the bait. Sex is their strongest urge. Promise them that, and they’ll follow you anywhere.”

 

#273 Aug. 26, 2032, Fire in the Sky

#273 Aug. 26, 2032,   Fire in the Sky

Joe stood in Central Park and watched the fireworks as nations of Earth attempted to nuke an alien spaceship orbiting Earth. After the explosions stopped, ear shattering sound filled the air. Then the spaceship disintegrated, and the sky lit up with meteorites as pieces rained onto the planet.

A foot long piece, shaped like a cylinder landed on the grass an arm’s length from Joe. He watched as the heated surface cooled and turned white. He picked it up as a souvenir of the night’s event. To his surprise, it popped open like a clam and exposed a flashlight inside. He picked it up. Bright light poured through the lens when he pressed the on switch and bathed a park bench in light. He switched it off and there were now two benches side by side.

How’d that happen?  Was he seeing things? Joe aimed the beam onto a French Poodle out for a walk with its master. In an eye-blink there were two dogs. Joe pressed the button and there were four dogs attached to one leash.

“Fluffy, Fluffy,” the owner screamed as she tried to decide which dog was her. All the dogs answered to Fluffy.

“Wow, this is great!” Joe’s mind at once turned to a way to profit from the replicator he had found. He yanked out his wallet and took out the one $20 bill in it, laid it on the sidewalk and turned the light beam on it. Almost as soon as he pressed the button, one bill became two. Joe did a happy dance. He turned the light onto the two, they became four. “Easier than printing my own.” Once more he pressed the button and now had 8 $20 bills.

He stacked the bills one atop the other and counted them. Skipping through the park,

happiness filled him. Joe couldn’t wait to start spending. Heck, he could probably duplicate an ATM and put it in his living room. But why would he need an ATM? All he needed was one bill that he’d reproduce over and over again.

**

!2 hours later Joe had two large suitcases filled with $20 bills. Now he could buy that Corvette he had always dreamed of owning. Walking into the show room with his suitcase full of money, Joe felt on top of the world when he dropped the case on the sales manager’s desk and said, “I want to test drive that baby over there.” Joe looked toward a baby-blue Corvette.

The sales manager eyed Joe’s shabby clothes. “If you like it, how are you going to pay for it?”

“Cash.” Joe opened the case and watched the managers eyes pop when the money was revealed. “I’ll take that baby for a ride while you count out the sale price.”

Joe grabbed the keys from the manager’s hand that held them out while he counted the 20s, and got in the car, peeled rubber out of the driveway and sped down the highway. He got an epiphany while speeding along, so he drove to his apartment building, drove into the garage, parked in his space, ran upstairs to get the flashlight.

When he returned he shone the light on the car and it duplicated. Even the license plate number was the same. He climbed into the old one and drove to the dealership to return it and pickup his suitcase full of money.

He parked, then strolled into the manager’s office.

“How’d you like driving her?” the sales manager asked without any enthusiasm.

“Okay, but I decided not to buy it.”

Joe grabbed his suitcase from the desk. As soon as he did, two men in suits grabbed him by the arms.

“You’re under arrest,” one said. The other read him his rights as they dragged him through the showroom.

“For what?” Joe cried.

“Counterfeiting,” the agent reciting Miranda said.

“Wait a minute,” Joe pled. “Every bill in there is authentic.“ Had to be, they were exactly like the original,” he thought.

“Yeah, the bills are remarkable. You did a great job of reproducing them, but you made one mistake,” the agent stopped, pulled out a handful of $20 bills and held them in front of Joe’s face. “Can you find your mistake?”

Joe stared at the bills. “No, I can’t find anything wrong.”

“Look at the serial numbers, dummy!”

Every bill he had replicated had the same serial number.

 

#272 Diamonds Diamonds Diamonds

#272 Diamonds Diamonds Diamonds

Reverend Paul Munson watched ragged children trudging through mud on their daily diamond searches. He came to Africa to do God’s work. To his surprise, he discovered that the televangelist who sponsored his ministry owned the mines where these kids worked as slave laborers.

His sponsor sent him to Africa as a ruse so he could raise more money by claiming he was helping the children. Those who donated money to his appeals didn’t know that he owned diamond mines that exposed child laborers to hazards and health risks.

One morning he was awoken by a commotion outside his tent. Munson rushed out to see a group of boys attacking a lone boy.

“”Leave him alone,” he shouted while pulling the boys off their victim. “What’s going on?” he asked the boy after the others dispersed.

The boy pointed to his boots. “They want these.” He looked down at the boy’s feet covered by a pair of cowboy boots. “My uncle sent them from America.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t wear them to work,”

“Have to! Somebody will steal them if I don’t.”

“God go with you then.

Munson prayed, “Please God, Send me a way to improve the lives of these wretched children.”

That night the sky lit up and there was a massive explosion that sent a meteor shower consisting of thousands of them flaming toward Earth. Munson watched the meteors speeding over the diamond mines. Several appeared to drop from the sky. Munson went to his tent and slept after the meteors’ stopped lighting the sky.

The next morning, he heard a ruckus outside of his tent. He rushed outside assuming the boys were trying to steal the boots again. Twenty boys wore identical boots and 30 or more stood in line.

“What’s going on?” he asked a boy trying to get his foot into a boot obviously too small for his feet.

“Get in line if you want a pair,” the boy said.

He walked to the front of the line where the boy he helped yesterday stood with a flashlight in his hand and his boots sat atop a rock. Munson watched as he pressed the switch and a beam of bright light came from the end of the flashlight, completely covering the boots. He shut it off and two pair of boots stood atop the rock. The boy at the head of the line rushed to the rock and grabbed a pair.

Munson watched as more than 30 pairs of boots appeared in half an hour.

“God has answered my prayers,” he muttered. “Can I see the flashlight,” he asked the boy.

He handed Munson the object and Munson couldn’t begin to understand how a flashlight could have reproduced fifty or more pairs of boots in one morning. “This is truly a miracle,” he said. “Where did you get this?”

“It fell from there,” The boy looked to the sky. Munson remembered the meteor shower. “Are there more of these?”

“Only that one,” the boy said.

“Can I hold onto this for you?”

“Sure, we’ve all got boots now, so they’ll protect our feet while we search for diamonds.” The boy ran to his fellow workers leaving the flashlight with Munson.

It appeared to be a regular flashlight made from plastic with a on-off switch. There wasn’t a way to open it and Munson couldn’t figure out where it got power from or how it replicated so many pair of boots.

How could he use it to help the children used as slaves? He took the object into his tent and thought for a long time. This object could change the world. But what if it stopped working? He had to figure it out. He began to doubt what he saw was true. He felt in his pocket for the small diamond he carried as a curiosity piece.

Pulling it out he turned it over and wondered why diamonds were so valuable when synthetic ones can be made for industrial use. He set it on top of his bunk, shined the light on it. Turning the light off, he had 2 identical diamonds. He shone the light on the 2and had 4. Shined it on 4 they turned into 8, then 8 turned into 16, and 16 into 32.  Now he knew how to stop the greedy mine owners from exploiting kids.

Two months later the market was flooded with so many diamonds they became almost worthless. All diamond mines shuttered and let their workers go.

Munson thanked God for sending him the means to stop the slavery. What should he do with the device now? He could become wealthy by getting one gold coin and replicating it over and over until he had millions. Greed filled him, but he knew getting rich wasn’t going to help anyone. He thought for another day and imagined what could be accomplished with the device. Replicate air planes, cars, and so many things. “Is that why God sent it?”

As he was thinking a helicopter swooped in and landed in a clearing. His sponsor, the television-evangelist jumped out and ran to where Munson stood on a rock overlooking the Amazon River.

“I know it was you who flooded the world with diamonds, and I’ve been told how you did it. Give me the replicator and I’ll make us both rich.” He held out his hand.

The idea of the evangelist having the device and greedily using it repulsed Munson. “Fuck you!” he said as he threw the flashlight into the Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

#271 Aug. 26, 2032,

#271 Aug. 26, 2032,

 

Bernie gazed at Shelia as she sauntered across the observatory floor. He couldn’t keep his eyes off his beautiful assistant. He tried to make headway with her, but she had said, “Bernie, you’re old enough to be my father.”

That hurt his feelings but didn’t dampen his desire. Though not a religious man, he prayed daily to meet someone just like her who’d overlook their age differences.

The phone rang, and Bernie listened, “There’s something out there. RAO´s (Radio Observatories) like Aricebo have gone online,” his boss at NASA told him. “England is online, South Africa is online, and so is Australia. All are searching for an invisible object. I think they’re looking in the wrong frequency range. You need to search in deep ultraviolet frequency.”

Bernie, an astronomer at NASA said, “Okay changing to ultra violet frequency. Holy shit!” he shouted as he read the data coming in from the probe headed for the sun.

“What?” Shelia, his assistant, asked.

“There’s a giant asteroid heading towards Earth. It’ll hit within hours. This means the end of humanity.” Bernie said. “We should have settled colonists long ago, so humanity wouldn’t have died out.”

“Can’t we stop it? Blow it up or something?” Shelia searched the data base trying to find a remedy.

“Blowing that space rock up, will make it worse.”

“It says here,” Shelia nodded toward the computer screen, “that small changes could be made to its surface to disrupt the forces keeping it together and cause it to break up in outer space.”

“Only if it was further away, with it coming out of the sun, we got no advance warning, so blowing it up or changing anything is out of the question. It’s travelling fast and it’ll hit Earth at 38,000 miles an hour. Impact will have a force of around 44,800 megaton’s of TNT, cause a huge explosion, tsunamis and change the climate of the globe.”

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” Shelia shook from fear.

“Pray,” Bernie said.

Together they recited the Lord’s Prayer as they watched the asteroid speed toward them on the screens arranged around the room that were scanning the night sky, a warning siren went off and a computer spoke, “Four minutes to impact.”

Bernie and Shelia dropped to their knees, “Please God, let us live. Don’t destroy the world,” they repeated in unison.

The computer continued to count down the seconds until impact. The asteroid was so close it filled all screens, “38 seconds, 37, 36,” It suddenly stopped counting. They saw on the screens around the room how the asteroid avoided smashing into Earth by braking with flames that appeared to be rockets firing. The object went into orbit.

“Impossible!” Bernie said. “How the hell did it do that?”

“Maybe our prayers were answered?”

“NO, it must be a space ship?” Bernie aimed the sun probe’s cameras back toward Earth to observe the asteroid from out there. “Holy shit!’ he shouted again. It is, it is.”

“Is what?”

“A fucking huge spaceship.”

The screens around the room showed the same images Bernie was seeing through his computer. They showed a huge ball with lighted portals on all sides. It rotated clockwise as it zipped around Earth every four hours.

“Aliens?” Shelia asked.

“What else?” Bernie saw observatory satellites surrounding the ship. He knew many satellites secretly were carrying destructive weapons in the event war broke out on Earth. He prayed no one would try to blow up the ship until at least communications were intact.

“Oh, oh, the Russians will probably attack,” Bernie shouted. “Fools! Can’t they see whoever is flying that craft has tech far superior to ours?”

Four Russian satellites surrounding the ship fired at it with electromagnetic guns. The waves circled around the strange craft, returned to the satellites that fired them and without a sound disintegrated all four.

The strange craft opened a clam shaped bay giving off a blinding light that disrupted all communications between Earth and satellites. Soon every communication channel became filled with a strange roaring sound that increased in intensity until anyone in hearing range had to cover their ears. Glass broke from sound waves and every satellite camera became inoperable.

“Stupid bastards shouldn’t have fired on it,” Bernie said when the sound quieted enough for them to remove their hands from aching ears.

“What now?” Shelia threw herself onto a chair and closed her eyes.

“Hope no one tries to blast the ship again.”

As the words came from his mouth they saw bright lights far out in space. “They’re using nukes now, hope they do the trick. If not we’re in trouble.”

Instead of a roaring sound, a deep voice filled all communication channels and though the language was strange, everyone understood when they heard, “Imbeciles.”

The space ship split into thousands of pieces and sped toward Earth. Anti-aircraft guns fired at the pieces, but every shell returned to the gun that fired it and exploded inside the barrel. Pieces of the disintegrating spacecraft fell in a wide area. Governments tried to gather them, but citizens got their hands on some.

Bernie ran outside and retrieved one of the containers made of a milky white plastic like substance.  Bernie picked it up and at his touch the container opened,like a clam, revealing a small device that appeared to be a flashlight Holding it in his palm, he pushed the switch and a bright beam flowed from the end of the tube shaped device. Bernie shined the light on a bush to search for other containers, almost instantly another bush grew beside the one the light shone on. Must be an optical illusion. He shone it on Shelia and it amazed him to see her become twins.

“What is it?” both Shelia’s asked.

“Some damn sort of replicator.” Bernie fumbled with the device. “Which one of you is the original?”

“I am,” Both women said.

Bernie doubted his sanity until he shone it on a bench and another instantly appeared. “Do you know what this means?” Bernie aimed the light at Shelia again.

“No what?”

“My prayers are answered.” He pressed the button, and another Shirley appeared, and then another. Four 0f them! “Hey Shelia, combined, you’re old enough to be my mother.”

 

 

 

#270 It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Think

#270  It’ll Happen Before You Have Time to Think

 

Facing us is the fact that a computer will be able to store your personal thoughts and all things in your brain, including love, hate and all your sins. Nothing will be sacred, nothing will be private. Every thought will be exposed, sexual or  not, showing your infidelity, sexuality, liabilities and don’t even think you won’t agree to have this done, because your mind will be probed and recorded unseen, and unknown to you by those in control.

It’s time you know, this came about, because we allowed cameras to watch how fast we drove our cars, and used the traffic cameras to spy on us, and watch where we went and with who, at what time and what day. After a while they didn’t care how fast we went. The fines for speeding stopped because those in charge now knew better ways to take our dough, and they discovered that by using injected light, our brains would do what they were instructed too, and soon they began recording our entire minds. If we tried to escape, they only had to read what was online, and see where we had gone.

What I’m wondering is, if they have my mind in cyberspace, will it remain after I die, and if it does, am I still alive?

 

 

#268 Bloodless

#268 Bloodless

 

“I had this weird dream last night about Maria,” I told my Suzzy-Q.

“Yeah, how weird?”

It went like this: Maria’s Mom was in the kitchen making tortillas. Ricardo sat on Maria’s living room couch, “Darling, you never have to worry. I’ll always stick by you,” he told Maria.

“You will never sleep with me, you lying sack of shit,” Maria said

“Baby, baby, how can you say that?” Ricardo asked. “I’m in love with you and I’ll do anything you want.”

“Bullshit. If I put out for you, you’d be long gone five minutes after you finished,” she said.

Ricardo walked away shaking his head.

“Why’d you send that handsome boy away so fast?” her mother asked.

“He didn’t care about me.”

“How do ya know?”

“Mom, you know what I can do.”

“Sometimes I forget.”

It turned out that Maria’s talent was for picking people’s thoughts from the air, and it increased daily. Every guy who asked her out had only one thing on his mind, until she met Harry down at the docks. She liked him right away because he didn’t give her any lewd looks like most other guys did. But she had a problem, and it bothered her, so she said, “Harry, I can’t see your thoughts, good or bad.”

“I don’t have any,” he said.

Maria laid her hands on his head as though they’d conduct his thoughts. “This is the first time I couldn’t see what someone is thinking,” Maria said. “What are you thinking about right now?”

“Nothing.” Harry glanced at the text on his phone.

“Come on, you’ve got to be thinking about something.”

“Okay, I’m thinking how great technology is.” He scanned through his email on the phone while talking to Maria.

“Do you ever see me naked in your mind?” Maria didn’t like to have her tuned body with her creamy complexion, and extra large breasts ignored.

“I’ve never imagined you nude. Why would I?” Harry looked past her without staring at her half exposed boobs. In my dream, I salivated at the mouth when she pranced around with her breasts exposed, but not Harry. He didn’t seem to notice anything but the screen on his phone.

She leaned forward to be sure Harry got a good view. “You’re a man and all men love watching these.” She cupped her breasts, and they popped out of her bra. Harry saw it happen, but he acted as though he hadn’t.

“Since I turned fourteen, five years ago, I’ve never met a man who didn’t want to have sex with me. I can’t understand why you aren’t drooling like all the other guys did when they got close to me. Do you like boys better than girls?”

“No.” Harry pulled a game up on his phone and played it.

I was inside her mind and saw that Maria felt there had to be something wrong with Harry for not responding to her advances. All she wanted was to get him to think about sex so she could read his mind and reject him. Since she first bled, her power to read minds of people in proximity grew stronger over the seven years she’s had it.

“Do you think I’m ugly?” Maria pushed her breasts close to Harry and stared into his shining eyes.

“No. Ugliness is relative. I believe all humans are beautiful,” Harry said as he measured the circumference of his iphone.

Maria wrapped her arms around Harry, kissed him on the lips to arouse him

He broke away. “I’d rather you didn’t do that.” He took out a handkerchief and patted his lips dry. “It’s dangerous.”

She couldn’t read his mind, but when he said that, Maria thought; now I’ve got him. “A little danger excites me.”

“You’re very fragile, so you should be careful.” Harry glued his eyes to the screen on his phone.

Maria surveyed the area to see if anyone else was near. They weren’t. She peeled her dress off, dropped it to the ground and said, “Harry, look at me.”

“Oh, I see you’re wearing matching bra and panties. That’s nice.” Harry returned to playing Angry Birds.

Maria stripped off her undergarments. “Look again, Harry.”

He raised his head, glanced at her and said, “You’re violating the law. Put your clothes back on.”

No man had ever turned her down before. “What’s the matter with me? Why don’t you like me?” Maria asked as she dressed.

“I like you as much as I do anyone else.”

“You’re a cold-blooded bastard.”

“You’re wrong; Harry said. “I can’t be cold blooded because robots don’t run on blood.”

“Weird fucking dream,” Suzzy-Q said. “But it’s true, robots don’t run on blood. We all use hydraulic fluids. I wish you’d remember that every time you want to have sex with me.”

 

#269 Glassbreaker.

#269  Glassbreaker.

While growing up, comic books were my life. Superman, Spiderman, Batman, they were the best. I always wanted a power so I could be a crime fighter like them. Every kid had that dream. Mine carried on until I started college. Taking an art class, I made a bird from clay, and before I could fire it, a wing fell off. Seems the clay got much stronger after being fired. I wondered if I built up my tolerance to heat; I’d be able to bake for a while to get toughened up like the clay did. I started by holding the fired sculptures while hot. Then I put my arms in the hot oven. I got blisters at first, but if I left them in long enough for my blood to boil, my arms became much stronger. The first time I stepped completely into the kiln, all my clothes burned away.

I spent two weeks in the hospital, but as soon as I got out, I went and tried it again. This time the heat caused my blood’s chemicals to react, and I became as hard as a ceramic piece. I stepped into a tub of Tomato Red glazing liquid and then stayed in the oven for three hours. When I stepped out, my skin had a great red sheen to it. My muscles all showed, and I could pose as a statue because of my color and sheen.

Becoming a superhero had always been my dream, and now I was on my way. I spent weeks going in and out of ceramic kilns to build up my endurance. Once I did, I’d follow any fire truck that roared by to the blaze and rush into a burning building to save any occupants. After a while I became known as, “Red, The Glassman.” I could endure almost any heat. The mayor, fire chief and city council all honored me for my heroic deeds. Saving people from burning buildings was all right, but I wanted to fight crime too. I patrolled the city during the early morning hours looking for miscreants. I didn’t find any for a week, but one night I came across two burglars breaking into a Denny’s Restaurant. They couldn’t have been very smart because Denny’s is open 24 hours a day.

My hard as glass hand practically gripped them, but they spotted me and ran. Being solid as I was, I could hardly run. Next time I’d be more careful. Three days later a robber had an older gentleman in an alley with a gun pointed at him. I threw a rock, knocked the gun from his hand and took him to jail. After that, I practiced throwing rocks and became a marksman with them. I always carried a pocketful of rocks when I went crime fighting after that. Anyone who tried to flee from me would get a rock to the back of the head. Never failed to stop them in their tracks.

Fan mail came in all the time and some from people who wanted to become like me. I began a training program for those who could take the heat. I foresaw me leading an army of Glass-men on crime fighting sprees. One night I came upon the burglars who were trying to break into Denny’s. I threw a rock, hit one and knocked him down. While fishing for another rock to throw, the other burglar picked up the rock that had hit his partner and threw it with such force that when it hit me, my chest shattered into bits of glass.

I fell to the ground, and both burglars stood over me laughing. “Let’s find a boulder to drop on Glassman,” one of them said.

My arms continued to function, so I threw glass shards that came from my shattered chest at them. Cut up and bleeding, the police took them away. One cop gave me a tube of superglue. “Get yourself together,” he said before driving his prisoners to jail. It took most of the day, but I managed the repair, returned to the glass house where I gave classes. Twenty students waited for me. I emptied all rocks from my pocket.

“Why are you doing that?” one student asked.

“I found out last night that men made of glass shouldn’t throw rocks.”

“Why not?”

I picked up a rock I had emptied from my pocket, threw it at him, and he shattered into a thousand pieces. “That’s why.”

“Is he dead?” another asked.

“Here,” I handed him the tube of superglue I used to rebuild my chest. “He’ll be good as new once you put him together again.” I walked upstairs to go to the lounge and relax, but when I reached the top stair, a girl waited for me.

“That was my boyfriend you just shattered.” She pushed me, and I fell backward down the steep flight of stairs and shattered more than her boyfriend had. “When you finish with the superglue, give it to me,” I told the student I had hit with the rock.”Your girlfriend’s a real glass breaker.”