Tag Archives: short story

Someday

The last time Rita saw Theo, he was at a red light about to make a right turn onto a busy speedway that led straight into the city.
If it hadn’t been for that damn zigzagging biker, she wouldn’t have honked her horn.
He wouldn’t have turned towards her.
Their eyes wouldn’t have met one last time.
He shrugged and blushed.
She threw her hair back and laughed, shaking her head at him with a twinkle in her eye.
He waved, made the turn, and that was that.
Of course, there’s always that instinct…
That human survival skill that kicks in around your mid-thirties that makes you want to seize whatever opportunity you have left in life because it may not come around a second time.
She fought the urge to follow him.
Besides, she was in the wrong lane.
She drove forward towards her grandparents’ beach ranch.
One intersection.
No U-turn.
Two intersections.
No U-turn.
Three intersections.
She was going for it.
‘It’s now or never,’ she thought.
Never mind the milk in her trunk that would probably spoil.
Never mind her niece she was supposed to pick up from school. She knew the way home. She was old enough to walk.
She would make a U-turn at the next intersection, just past the railroad tracks.
Then she heard the train coming.
She slipped her heel off her right foot and jammed down on the accelerator.
She passed the tracks nice and clear before the rail started to come down.
She made the U-turn and then- No.
It was too late.
The silver late-model railcars reflected the intense summer sun one by one.
Beyond the glare she imagined happy couples falling in love at first sight and dining together for the first time.
By the time they got to their destinations, they would have exchanged addresses and they’d send each other post cards until they were ready to move in together.
50 years from now they’d be celebrating the anniversary of the date they met on this very train.
Rita clenched her teeth and lay her head on the steering wheel.
What was this, the 300th car? 400th? She’d lost count after seven.
Finally, the rail started going up and she didn’t know whether to try to find Theo’s car, who by now was probably a good five minutes ahead of her, or to turn back around and go to the ranch.
“Ah, what the hell,” she said to herself. “What do I have to lose?”
But the rail came back down again.
She rolled her eyes in despair.
Was the train going to go in reverse?
Yes, the train was going to go in reverse and switch tracks.
Ludicrous engineers.
How dare they.
But it was a momentary false alarm, and the train went forward again on its way.
Rita wouldn’t have known that, having made another U-turn and taken a back alley over to the speedway.
She thought Theo would be at his brother’s house and took that exit.
She wove between faster cars down the boulevard, looking for his car, which he would have to have parked out on the street.
She went around the neighborhood three times, unable to recognize the house.
“Perhaps they painted it? Added a second story?”
She hadn’t been there in five years.
Finally, she gave up and pulled over at a gas station.
She thought she saw Theo’s car, but there was a young woman driving it.
Up until then it had never occurred to her that Theo might have moved on.
The notion had been there- the fear– but not the belief.
After all, why should he move on, if here she was daydreaming about him after all these years?
Her imagination had been enough to fuel her affection, so why shouldn’t he feel the same way?
Suddenly, it all made sense.
Why he’d stopped texting her all of a sudden.
Why he’d been so curt every time they happened to run into each other.
Of course.
He’d moved on long ago.
How could she be so dumb?
It was there before her eyes all along.
She didn’t finish filling her tank and went home.
The truth is, it wasn’t Theo’s car at the gas station that day.
Theo had been headed into the city, but after he got on the speedway, he got off at the first exit and came back around toward where he’d seen Rita.
In fact, he would have seen her were it not for a passenger train blocking his view.
When the rail finally lifted, what with the sun in his eyes and the eagerness to pull out of there, he didn’t see Rita turning her car around and Rita sure as hell didn’t see him.
He went to her grandparents’ ranch, didn’t see her car there and waited half an hour for her to show up.
A little girl passed by the gate.
“Is Rita around?”
“Aunt Rita?” said the girl. “She was supposed to pick me up. Something real important musta come up.”
“Will you tell her…”
“Huh?”
Theo saw he was making the young girl nervous.
“Never mind. Thanks.”
He drove off back into the city, where he made a decent living and lots of friends over the next couple of decades, letting time roll down his back.
Rita found the strength to move on too.
She married a real nice man whom she gets a real nice alimony check from every month, which kind of sort of makes up a little for his real nice new wife that’s taken her place.
But no one’s taken Theo’s place.
If they’re not so knuckleheaded, perhaps they’ll find that out someday.

The Girl Who Could Not Conform

Nonconformity Girl wasn’t born with superpowers.

Back in the day, next door, she was just a pipsqueak in pigtails and braces doin’ quite a lot of conformityin’.

Her 22 brothers and half-brothers and stepbrothers would order her around like she’d been a Godsend to slave for ’em.

Sure, they bought her dolls and dresses, tea sets imported straight from China. There was plenty of that.

None but one ever looked out for her. His name was Robin. And just like a robin, he was meant for the skies. Became a pilot at the age of 16. You may remember him. Dropped outta school, joined the Air Force, back in ’05.

Mira- that’s Nonconformity Girl’s real name, mind you- Mira really felt his goneness.

Grades dropped. Got pregnant at 15. Neighbor said, “No daughter of mine is gonna make me no grandmother, nah-uh, not while you’s still in high school, not this year, not in this lifetime!”

And next thing you know, Mira’s a runned away from home.

Ain’t nobody knows what she’s done next.

But I can tell you; Robin and my boy- they was bestest friends. My boy kept tabs on that family even after Robin went MIA.

Mira gone and have that kid in Las Vegas. Hear that? Las Vegas.

She ain’t have one kid either. After 22 brothers, that’d be too easy.

She went and had twins? Nah-uh. Not Mira. She gone and have triplets.

All girls.

That’s where the nonconformity started.

She worked that Fremont street in that little white feather dress- you know the one I’m talkin’ about- like she’d been doin’ it since she was one. She worked it right up until the seventh month. Then the girls was a born.

Her boyfriend from back home went a lookin’ for her. Word on the street was she wasn’t livin’ the straight life. He wanted to help her out.

She bought him  a one-way ticket back home. Ain’t never filed for child support either. Those kids are as hers as the tits on her chest.

I seen him at the bar some months back. He still cryin’. I says, “Boy, you gotta get over it. She’s a superhero now. Just look at the T.V.” There was our Mira, in a hot pink skin-tight leopard print leotard, flyin’ with her rocket pack in and out of a burnin’ 16-story hotel. “You can’t hold a woman like that down.”

“I just don’t see myself with any other woman.”

“OK, you keep dreamin’ then.”

Poor kid. Became a doctor. Never even practiced. Waste of gray matter, if you ask me.

Mira, on the other hand- you give that girl a match, she’ll build you the most spectacular fireworks show you seen from Dubai to Shanghai.

After the girls was born, you’d think any girl at her age would’a just given ’em up for adoption. Well she got ’em an agent. Made models out of ’em. You may remember them from those Spearmint and Twix commercials. That was them. I also seen ’em up on Baby Gap posters. I know it was them. They have her face. I’d know that face anywhere.

Lots of people wanted her business. You know, a place like that, she could stay busy if she wanted. She did a men’s magazine shoot once herself but threatened to sue if they published after they paid her 20% of what they’d originally offered. Said they’d get back to her with the rest. ‘Course, they didn’t care. Lots o’ women threaten things like that then back off when they start gettin’ hate messages from strangers. Legend has it she hacked their cloud storage, for she’d been goin’ to adult school. She deleted her pictures- over 500.

But she didn’t stop there. Nah-uh. That wasn’t good enough for her. She deleted all the shoots that were pendin’ publishing so the magazine would have to pay the girls to shoot again. But that wasn’t good enough for her.

She’d topple down the sex trade empire if she could and if anyone could, I supposed it’d be her. But ain’t no one can do that, you and I both know that. Why, without that, I s’pose heaven would fill up too full and there’d be too much idleness in hell.

So she’d gone and done the next best thing. She photoshopped the original untouched images with superhero costumes and replaced all the images on the magazine’s website. That’s when she got the brilliant idea to become a superhero herself.

Now a girl who grows up the way she did- a girl like that knows how to defend herself. She knows when to strike and when to run. You can’t teach someone things like that. They gotta pick it up in their prime. It’s like a second languages.

So she bought herself a police radio and started rescuin’ folks she knew the cops ain’t ever gonna come there. Or in some cases, the cops is already there. Yeah they pulled guns on her. But her daughters helped her video the whole ordeals and then they’d sell them to the media, you know, like that Peter Parker character, only this was in real life. And it wasn’t no sissy town. This was Vegas.

Then Robin went MIA and that’s the last and only time I seen her come ’round here. My boy invited her out to drink. Of course, nobody knew Mira was Nonconformity Girl. Except we did. We’d know that face anywhere.

And Mira tells my boy she’s gonna disappear from all the thunder for a while. Gotta find her brother. That was 6 months ago. She swore he wasn’t dead. My boy told her to be careful. Kinda redundant to a girl like that.

“Yeah. I’m careful,” she said. “But every now and then I gotta be a little reckless.”

She left the girls with their agent, a fine respectable woman if ever an agent was one. I woulda showed you their Snapchat ‘cept I promised my son not to disclose their birth names.

Fremont Street by Ave Valencia
© Ave Valencia 2017

Year: 7076

Year: 7076

Earth folk have decided it might be safe to crawl back to the surface after living underground for 250 years.

Auto-imposed exile was a result of the last war, which left radiation residues in over 90% of land surface.

The dwindled population’s government intends to send its top scientists to go explore the surface and then provide a report as to whether or not it is inhabitable.

These scientists, in turn, have outsourced their jobs to newly graduated scientists who don’t matter diddly squat in case something were to suddenly deprive them of oxygen on the planet’s sore surface.

This is where my team and I come in.

Dr. Jocelyn is the lead scientist. She graduated top of her class and has been working in biochemistry since she was eight. She was brought up by the government in a laboratory and has no known genetic family. She has dark olive skin, blue eyes and straight silver tresses. My brother dated her in college before his motorcycle accident. Otherwise I have never seen her show much affinity toward anyone.

Fil is an extraterrestrial from an uncharted planet whose family dropped him off on the surface when he was a baby, with nothing but a note and 6 bags of powder baby food which contained minerals no one has been able to trace. He would have died on the surface except one of the professors taking samples from the sky hole’s edge heard him crying 32 years ago. The professor raised him as his own son and was able to duplicate the minerals for his survival. There are no traces of radiation on Phil’s body, so he might be immune. He is 7’2″ and walks erect like a homo sapiens, but has ghost-like white skin, no hair and a tail he coils around his waist. His face looks otherwise human, sometimes more human than others I have seen. His intelligence spans that of several top scientists’, but he is quiet and mostly goes underappreciated. I wonder if he has a penis.

Xavier is an enthusiastic handsome lad who just graduated on a full scholarship. He comes from a large immigrant family who has worked for the underground farming industry these 250 years. If it were up to him, he’d be leading the team. (He likes to point out he has a penis).

I am just a senator’s niece who happens to have a minor in culinary arts. I graduated last year but have really just traveled the underground tunnel system since, popping my head up through an air hole every few hundred kilometers to graph air samples and then sell them to government and news agencies.

My team and a I aim to spend 60 days on the earth’s surface, photographing and taking minute samples of any plants known to be edible, as well as oxygen and radiation levels at different altitudes.

From the sky holes, I have seen blue skies and white and orange clouds, hills that to me look like mountains… but I have been denied this one privilege: I have never set my eyes on the night stars.

There are records and many computer images of beautiful star systems millions of light years away, but the stars have not been visible since the explosions that exterminated most of the land life. Some say God is punishing humanity. I think, that if God exists, he’s afraid we’ll destroy those too.

Our mission begins tomorrow at 5 AM.

______________

Log

Day 1:

Captain Jocelyn led us down a black valley between two active volcanoes. Fil offered to try my cooking before everyone else to assure them that it is palatable. I did not know Fil could eat earth food. Apparently, neither did he. Xavier insisted on pitching my tent and it feels like he didn’t entirely clear the spot of rocks. I wonder if this was on purpose or if he is just a dimwit.

Day 2:

We have found samples of Coffea plant! It turned out to be edible. That is, drinkable. There were Aloe plants nearby. We saw bird specimens of the Psittacoidea family. The earth here is an entomologist’s paradise. This was on the west side of the south volcano. No water in sight yet. I pitched my own tent tonight.

Day 3:

We found a southwest stream with a waterfall! The bugs are getting noticeably larger as we move forward- some as large as my palm. I haven’t seen any crickets, otherwise I would very much like to fry those and see if they taste like the underground crickets at fine restaurants. Fil has taken two of my food packs from off my shoulder while I made my way down the side of the waterfall. We each took turns bathing at the bottom. Xavier picked up my other backpack on the way out, without my consent. Captain Jocelyn then gave me two inflatable containers equivalent to twelve liters to carry water out. She is quite practical. Surface hot coffee tastes and smells like heaven! Still no stars.

Day 4:

Tonight we have reached a wall to a mesa and there are lots of potentially edible plants to sample. We will stay here a couple of days. There is a spring about 300 meters away. Xavier built a bonfire and I tried climbing up the mesa wall. I got stuck on a ledge and Fil, who has better balance, has climbed up to fetch me. Then he has carried me all the way to the top of the mesa on his shoulders. We had to climb through a low cloud at about 1500 meters in altitude. Oxygen levels were still good. We reached the top and there were stars everywhere. If you lie down on the grass and move your arms it feels as if you’re swimming in them. I asked Fil if there were stars on his home planet and he said there are stars across the whole universe. I wonder if he has always known this or if he just now realized it.

 

 

 

 

 

Jalapeño Dental Instruments

Once upon a time there was a young woman who worked packing dental instruments.
One day she didn’t have time to get breakfast or lunch so I she snuck a bag of jalapeño chips in her purse under her desk.
She started packing dental instruments and eating jalapeño chips at the same time (!!!)
They were supposed to be sterilized before use but then everyone realized how good they tasted and the woman kept eating jalapeño chips forever as the product’s popularity grew and grew.

Supplemental information:
Ironically the reason she didn’t get a chance to eat lunch was because she herself had a dental appointment.
But those instruments didn’t taste good at all.

A Short Story About a Tool

Husband: “I’m going to buy a wrench at the 99¢ store.”

Wife: “But there’s a tool store right next to it.”

_______(25 minutes later…)________

…Wife is still in the car and she sees the husband walk from the 99¢ store into the tool store.

Flash Fiction: Ruby Mothers a Claw-Child

Ruby tilted her head as she felt her stomach turn in the opposite direction inside her.

Her captor unlocked the cold metal cuffs around her wrists only to tighten them further.

She coughed a few drops of blood on his shoulder.

“That’s not very nice,” he grumbled, putting on a pair of latex gloves.
“You’re not allergic to latex, are you?”

Ruby clenched her fists and bit her tongue.

She really was allergic, but refused to address this sorry excuse for a man that had betrayed her.

She had fallen for Dr. Reynaldo two months earlier while interning at the clinic’s lab.

Another phlebotomist had introduced them on a rainy spring afternoon.

He took the blame for her when she mixed up two urine samples two weeks into the job.

Little had she suspected that Dr. Reynaldo was really a mad scientist hired by a South American socialist party to conduct evil experiments on cute white American middle class redheads.

Dr. Reynaldo put a pin sized flask on the tip of a screw-shaped set of rubber tonsils.

Ruby tried to kick her legs up but couldn’t move from the waist down.

She still cringed however as he flapped her robe up and put his cold bony hands between her hips.

“Don’t worry!” he snickered. “It’s nothing you haven’t felt before.”

She let out a cry as he jolted the device inside her.

She was, in fact, a virgin, though the experience brought back a repressed memory from her childhood… Something to do with her uncle Dale, perhaps?

Ruby fainted.

Seven months later, in the basement of an undisclosed location, she gave birth to three baby boys, all with football-shaped heads and scales along the spines of their backs.

The Russian midwife placed two on Ruby’s bosom while holding a syringe up to the third.

“No good,” she said, pointing to a claw growing out of the babe’s left leg. “Baby X.”

Then she made a hand gesture indicating some type of induced suffocation.

“No!” screamed Ruby, putting both infants into a glass crib and reaching out for the third. “Don’t touch him! Leave him alone!”

The midwife sounded the alarm.

Red flashes filled the dark operating room.

Ruby clutched the boy in her arms as the sirens induced all three into wailing.

The midwife turned around for the phone and Ruby stealthily reached for the syringe.

“Ruby? Are you ready to go home so fast? Stay and you can watch your sons’ contributions to science through a two-way mirror.”

It was Dr. Reynaldo- his dark stringy hair swept up and under his goggles as he pushed them over his head.

“Look Reynaldo! Look what we have made! You have made me a mother.”

She reached out her hand toward him beckoning an embrace.

As he reached for the claw-child, she pressed herself against his unsuspecting chest, emptying the contents of the syringe into it.

“Durak! What have you done?” exclaimed the midwife.

Dr. Reynaldo’s falling body coughed up blood on Ruby’s face.
She drew his pistol from inside his lab coat and pointed it at the angry woman.

As if collating her every move, the robust Russian drew her own gun, cocked it, and pointed it toward the cradle.

“Let us go,” Ruby pleaded, trembling. “You have done your job. The children are born.”

“Leave,” demanded the midwife. “Leave or I shoot!”

Ruby took two steps back.
She looked at her two children- the ones that were out of her reach- the ones she had feared loathing and for whom she would now do anything for.

She stood there like a headlight dear, holding on to the one child- the one she had saved, sacrificing the other two.

From outside that undisclosed location, some passing radioactive hamsters heard a demanding voice shake the structure.

“Leave!” shouted the voice, immediately followed by three deaf bangs.

The hamsters scurried along, leaving a streak of tiny red glowing footprints behind.

Cupid Fail and Other Stupid Things I’ve Done

Have you ever had a decent bachelor friend who is also the pickiest guy on earth?

Enter Brad.*

Brad and I used to work together at one of the car dealerships where I did stock photography.

He’s very upbeat and financially responsible, never married, not even engaged, lots of mostly short-term girlfriends, great sense of humor, and had recently quit smoking.

Brad was turning 50 and was thinking it might be time to settle down.

Guys were always picking on me at that job, where picking is synonymous with hitting on me.

Brad would come in like a pelican shoos away seagulls.

He practically obligated all the other guys to respect me on his watch.

So you’re thinking, Brad sounds like a fairly decent guy, right?

We exchanged guitar picks on one occasion; I gave him my business card and he started texting me.

I was naive enough back then to think he was just being his positive flirty self, but in time it became clear this man is very bed-driven.

And by bed-driven I don’t mean driven to sleep.

It was obvious our “friendship” made my husband uncomfortable.
‘All the more reason for me to continue it,’ I thought.

One day he broke off his lunch with me because this ‘woman from out of town was coming to visit’ and he’d rather spend the weekend with someone he had a chance with.

I got very offended.
It had been very hard for me to convince my husband to let us have lunch in the first place.
I was really putting my marriage on a ledge to be his friend and here he was being this insensitive asshole (well he was) indifferent to my efforts.

I didn’t care that Brad was having lunch with another woman, (which according to his public Facebook page, was actually a guy friend from out of town).
It was his choice of words that really hurt me.

Consequently, I also chose a series of words that would hurt him, and what he intended as a gag ended up being a sore point in our relationship- the Crossroad of Dissent.

Later on, at my current job, I had an annoying single female coworker (Gail*) whom I thought would make a great match for him.

I told them about each other and he asked for Gail’s picture.
I sent him a link to her Facebook profile.
“I don’t like blondes,” he said.

Days later- “What did he say about us having a blind date?” Gail asked me.

“You know, he’s really hard to get a hold of,” I replied.

Brad and I became friends again but not like before.
I was looking for a new job and seeing as how my other ex-coworkers have an undeniable linear pattern of sending my messages to spam, I needed him as a reference.
I decided to stay on his good side, sans the flirting.

Then my current coworker’s (Liz’s*) husband passed away.
A month later she started wondering what kind of guy she could date.
Yeah. You read right. A MONTH.
That’s how long it’s gonna take for your wife to start seeing other men if you kick the can.
So put a clause in your will.

Brad had told me he likes Latina brunettes with thin bodies, and here I knew one, who in turn likes well off white men who work out.

Logical match, right?

Liz texted me a nice picture of herself to forward to him.

image
My hot coworker Liz, new on the widow scene.

“I’m just not feeling it,” texted Brad to me.
“I want a woman like you.”

:0

“But Liz and I have tons in common!” I pleaded on her behalf, “She’s even sweeter than I am!”

“When have you ever been sweet?”

“Yeah you’re right. I was hoping you wouldn’t catch that.”

I tactfully texted Liz that Brad was seemingly already in love with another woman.

That was a few months ago.
I have since blocked Brad’s number.
Liz stopped talking to me because I technically took her job, though I would argue she conceded it to me.
Last week she apologized for “being a bitch,” -her words, not mine- and things are starting to go back to normal.
(With the exception that I’ll never trust another coworker again.)

Liz and I are both being sent away on a business trip for a few days to a city where Brad happens to have a lake house.
This morning, in a very perky voice, she asked me, “Hey! Doesn’t your friend live over there where we’re going?”

Me: “Oh you mean Brad? I blocked his number.”

Liz: “Too bad your husband’s going with you, otherwise you could meet up with him.”

Me: “That’s why I’m glad my husband is going. I was afraid I’d run into Brad and he’d start hitting on me. The guy just can’t take No for an answer.”

Liz: “I thought you said he was seeing someone.”

Me: “…He’s just an idiot. That’s why I blocked his number.”

(Facepalm.)

Yes, yes, dear, avid reader!
I’m also an idiot, for trying to set up anyone with anyone else.
I wish I knew a Shakespeare who could make a comedy out of my relationship mishaps.
This is the last time I ever try to play Cupid.
My next blog post will be, “Things That Are Better Left to Chance.”

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. In this case, me.

Flash Fiction: the Day Naboo Was a Human

Ever since she was a kitten, Naboo just naturally assumed one day she would grow up to be a human like her mom, dad and grandparents.

“But you are not human,” her sister, Fifa, would insist in vain. “You are a cat, like me. You have stripes and whiskers like me.”

“Nonsense, Fifa, you may grow up to be a cat if that’s what you choose to be, but I’m sure I’m gonna grow up to be a human, just like Mommy.”

image

The years went by and Fifa taunted Naboo.
“Ha! See? You still have a tail and all.”

Naboo replied aggravated, “Wait until I graduate kitten-garden! Then I can start working like a humans do.”

Fifa rolled her pearly cyan eyes while Naboo worked hard at eating up all the garden plants, believing that was the fastest way to graduate from kitten-garden.

Finally, her graduation day came and Mommy and Daddy said, “OK, Naboo, that’s enough munching on plants. No more garden for you.”

They had a two-week long graduation party in which no one ate anything but canned gourmet food and sedatives.

Naboo applied to a number of jobs but none of them called back because she didn’t have enough work experience.

“Do you think it’s ok I used Dr. Mowry as a reference?” she asked Fifa.

“Our vet? What if she tells them you had a UTI?”

“Oh. But nobody knows what that is.”

“People know, Naboo! You don’t know cause you’re a cat!”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Cat! Cat cat cat cat cat! C-A-T, CAT!”

And they’d start to wrestle on top of their mommy at three in the morning.

Naboo was beginning to lose all hope of ever going to work as a human and was beginning to think a life of sleep, play and laziness might be all she was cut out for.

Then one day her mom woke up hideously ill.

“Naboo, darling, I cannot go to work today. Please call the office and tell them I am sick.”

This was the chance Naboo had been waiting for.

While Mommy was busy emptying out the previous night’s tuna from her digestive system, Naboo cunningly swiped the green button on the cell phone and meowed that due to unforeseen circumstance, she would be filling in for her mom that day.

Of course, it didn’t matter what she was meowing.
None of the people at the office spoke Meow.

She arrived at the office and sat on her mommy’s chair.
“Hello,” said her mommy’s nearsighted boss, Mr. Galapagos.
He handed her some papers.
“Please shred this stack.”

Naboo was an experienced shredder.

Her mom’s manager called.
“I’m out today but do you need me to buy more sticky notes?”

Naboo replied, “Mrror.”

Customers came and rubbed her belly.
She told them it would give them luck, and they gave her money.
She didn’t know what money was, so she shredded that too.
She made copies of lots of papers on the paw-friendly copy machine, before shredding those as well.
When she wasn’t sure if she’d shredded enough, she decided to go ahead and shred every paper in the office, just to be on the safe side.
Then she filled stacks of empty boxes with the shredded paper and took a hard-earned nap inside.

And when the day was over, the boss came and congratulated her on her efficiency.

Naboo had worked so hard she had missed her lunch break.
When she got home that evening, she explained to her parents, “Mom? Dad? I am grateful for the opportunity but I think I’m gonna keep being a kittens for now.”

Fifa rolled her glossy Venus-shaded eyes and waited til three in the morning before picking another wrestling match against her obstinate twin sister.

The Day with No Sun

Once upon a time there was a girl trying to write a story about anything, really, but her wild imagination had once again ran dry.

Then she looked out the window and saw it was still dark outside.
It was late morning but the sun still hadn’t risen.

She wondered what could be taking it so long.
So she packed up a lunch, flashlight and two water bottles in her Hello Kitty backpack and set out on what would be the quest of a lifetime.

As she passed the dark village that was her hometown, she sat under a cypress to eat a snack, for although only five minutes had passed, she was already hungry.

A giant cat sniffed her yummy bread and crept up behind her, purring heavily.

“Good morning Mr. Meowskers, are you very hungry today?”
The giant cat did not understand English entirely well and it thought she was telling it to eat her bread.
So it ate it.

“I am on a journey to find the sun.
Do you care to come with me?”

The cat thought she was inviting it to go fishing and nodded it’s big fat spotted head.
It bent down so she could climb on its back.
Ten minutes later, the brush in the forest path grew thicker.
Mr. Meowskers grew tired and started to growl.
He found a mossy boulder and decided to roll around and around in it.

The girl took the hint and went on her way.
Almost immediately she ran into her younger brother.
“What are you doing out here all by yourself?
Come and help me look for the sun.”

“Gee I would but I am going to shoot some arrows with our cousin.
Good luck Sis!”
He grabbed one of her water bottles from her backpack and sped away on his bike.

She walked through a dark canyon and at the other end ran into two of her girlfriends.
They were wearing gym clothes.
“I am off to look for the sun.
Won’t you join me?”

“Now that you mention it, it has been rather dark today.
I gotta do zumba after this and then yoga though.”

“Yeah,” added the other one, “and I gotta finish a paper on natural disasters for my Ecology class.
But have fun!”

The girl skipped some stones to cross a creek and was about to slip when her fiance just barely caught her.
“Wow! Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes?” she asked with a dumb giant smile on her face.
“Babe! What’re you doing this far out from town?
It’s dark and you’re by yourself!”

“That is precisely why I’m out here- to figure out where the sun went.
But now I won’t have to be by myself because you can join me.”

Awkward silence.
Then they both started to giggle uncomfortably.

“What’s so funny?” she asked as she crossed her arms.

“Remember that boat race I’ve been telling you about?”

“Speak no further,” said the girl, holding her palm up.
“Be on your way. I can figure this out on my own.”

“Really? Aww thanks Babe. This is why I decided to marry you. You get me.”

The girl marched off into the thickening forest with her head pointing forward before her body.

The young man called out, “You’re not mad are you?”

A couple hours passed and the girl passed a bee meadow, a volcano, a labyrinth in a tall garden, and a cave.
She was entirely unaware of the time and thought it might be a good idea to set up camp at the cave.
She ate one of her sandwiches and fell asleep for 12 hours.

She woke up around midnight with a blanket over her body and a masked person stirring up a fire.

“Are you gonna eat me?” she asked under her breath.

“The nymph awakens. You may exit my cave now and I shall not press charges.”

The masked person had a youthful voice that could either belong to a man or a woman.

“I am on a quest to find the sun.
If you join me I will pay you.”

You are on a quest to find the sun?
If the sun were hiding it wouldn’t want to be found by a simple-minded creature such as yourself, no offense.”

The girl opened her eyes wide, bringing the pitch of her voice up.
Well then, all the more reason to join me.”

“I shall join you, but not for money.
There is one thing only that I request- that is your honesty.”

“Huh?”

“You mustn’t lie to me, not once.”

“That’s easy.”

“Very well then, it is agreed.
If you lie to me just once I will unjoin you and you will be left to your own devices.”

“Very well. Can we go now? All this talking’s made me hungry.”

She started to unzip her backpack when the mystery person picked it up, lit a torch and led her out of the cave.

For several months they traveled together like that, always in an uphill direction.
As they advanced, the darkness became less grey and more of a foggy yellow.
The girl was tired of always having to share her water bottle with this mystery person and wondered if this yellowing of the environment meant the sun was near.
The hill they were climbing kept getting steeper and steeper.
Pretty soon it’d be as vertical as a wall.

“This hill is getting too steep for me.
Perhaps we should find a way around it.”
The mystery person kept climbing forward as if she’d said nothing.
A few minutes passed.
The mystery person stopped climbing and just stood there blocking her view.
She spoke louder.
“I said, THIS HILL IS GETTING-”

“SHHH! Listen.”

Something sounded like it was moving in a nearby tree.
The girl lifted up the mystery person’s arm and stuck her head under it.
She gasped.

“It’s the sun!” she whispered excited.
“It’s stuck on the branch of that cypress tree!
Here sun! Here koochy-koochy!”

“What are you doing?
It’s the sun, not a cat.”

“It looks so helpless, dangling there all hurt n stuff.
How should we get it down?”

“You’re looking at the situation erroneously.
The question is, how should we get it up?”

The girl thought for a while.
She tried to creep up closer to the astro king but nearly tripped.
The mystery person picked her up and landed her in a head stand position.

“I think it’s working.
I can see the sun starting to come up.”

The mystery person also did a head stand.
“Ah yes. I am a genius.”

“To think this whole time the problem was us.
I feel so much lighter all of a sudden.
Like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.”

As she admired the sunrise, the mystery person was half way gone.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

The mystery person turned around but kept walking backwards.
“We had a deal, remember?
You weren’t supposed to lie.”

“What are you talking about?
I didn’t lie! You’re crazy!”

“Remember the time you said you didn’t even know what my name was..?”
The mystery person tossed the girl’s backpack to her, then turned around and kept walking with a fading voice.
“You’ve known who I am all along!”

“Wait!”
The girl ran after the mystery person but the earth seemed to be moving in an opposite direction beneath her.
“I just wanna…
I just wanted- your mask! Off!”
She broke down crying.
“I just wanted to thank you.”

She spent the night there crouched up and crying, thinking about what a lonesome long journey lay before her and how she had no idea which way home was, upset at herself for not even bringing an umbrella, even though there were no rain clouds.
She looked at the moon and fancied it snickering at her, so she threw her water bottle at it.
That proved pointless.
Finally when the morning came, she got up, dusted her clothes off, picked up her water bottle and her backpack and walked on.

She was just as surprised as I was when five minutes later she strolled into her village, an unsung heroine.
And of course, it was a typical sunny day.

Flash Fiction: the Age of Discovery

In a world similar in size to our own with a biodiversity quite as diverse as ours, there lived on an isolated continent a race of blue-green skinned people with large heads and slanted eyes.
The men shaved their heads but kept their black beards long, while the women wore their curly long hair wrapped up in buns except on special occasions.

On this day, they wore it down or in braids, wrapped up in horns they’d sawed off of unsuspecting albino reindeer, with red orchids sprinkled between the strands.

The grand ship Royale was setting sail to look for a shorter route to the nearest known land: the North West Islands of Eel-Hunt.
Eel meat was a luxury and the royal family, after sponsoring a scientific investigation that theoretically proved the world was indeed round, now wanted eel meat available on demand.
But to get anywhere near the islands, sailors had to pass through the Tides of Sirens where only one out of four ships survived.
It was rumored that naked sea-women crept onto the decks after singing them to sleep and then feasted on their hearts- but that is a story for another day.

The royal drum orchestra played while the royal choir chanted a blessing.
The sun was 15 degrees up in the east and a slight breeze flapped the ship’s sails from the west.
The king and queen rose glasses of champagne they had confiscated from an alien ship that had landed 50 years prior.
The heavy anchor was lifted and a prince’s slave untied the ropes from the pier in his name.

Six years passed and the only word of the brave sailors came from a letter in a bottle that said half the men had died of a stomach ailment and three others were eaten by the mighty 12-tentacle squid which until then had been considered to be extinct.
So in a way it was good news.
Still, no land in sight.

Finally one sunny day a crew of five came back in a modest motorized row boat.
The captain?
He had stayed on a newly discovered continent planting delicious crescent-shaped fruits that grew inside yellow peels.
He had decided to call them “capitanas” in honor of himself.
The crew of five sailors unloaded a crate of the exotic fruit and offered it to their new king.
The previous king had retired whence his son came of age.

“But the rest of the crew…” queried the young king, “Fare they well?”

“Arrrr, fare they excellent, our lord, for they have all started capitana plantations and here! They send thee applications for tax exemptions.”

“But if they all share my new land… who does the labor?”

“Arrrr, that is another detail, your majesty,” explained the tired sailors as they took out their smartphones and showed the king their social media accounts.
Images of blonde, pinkish freckled men, women and children drenched in sweat, picking different fruits from trees appeared all over the connectnet.

“What is that magic rectangle and where is mine own?”

The sailors explained that in the land of Capitana these devices were everywhere, handed out freely by the government to everyone who had an Oogle account.

“But where is mine?” asked the young king, becoming more green than blue as he lost patience.

By now a large crowd had gathered around the rowboat and they were all tasting the capitanas they had unloaded from a second crate.

“And what is this nonsense about another government? Why has the captain not declared war?”

“We were ill-prepared for war, oh highest mate, and you must be informed, they have fifty dozen trained squids, just like the ones that ate our first-mate, chef and doctor.”

A prolonged silence.

“You did get our letter, did you not? We sent it in a brown bottle.”

The king reacted from his trance.
“Fifty dozen?!? We haven’t a chance!” exclaimed the king.
“Father, what do you suggest we do?”

The retired king had a stack of capitana peels on the sand next to him.
“Don’t look at me. I just live here.”

“I’ll have no choice but to submit,” mumbled the king, bowing his head.

“Never!” exclaimed his fiancee, kicking the stack of capitana peels into a crashing wave.
“We will train our own squids! 100 dozen! We will not bow down to their oppression! We will show them we will not put up with this and teach them a lesson on civilized freedom and equality!”

One of her slaves stood up and clapped.

The king kissed her.

Ten years later, the blue-green people of Blue-Greenlandia were ready to attack the tranquil inhabitants of Capitana-land.
The war was short.
They easily overpowered them and turned every last one of them into a slave, from the pink freckled toddler to the pale beige old man.
There were exotic fruit plantations all over the new continent.
The young king and his wife were content.
The kingdom now had enough money to finance sustainable eel farms.
They even offered free college tuition to all of their blue-green citizens.
The king was at the top of his game, his legacy certain to survive him.

In time, the original sail crew that had discovered Capitana-land gradually died out.
Their heirs re-applied for tax exemptions.
The queen was not pleased.
“Who do they think they are?
Are we to feed them for all time?”

The tax exemptions were denied.
This provoked a revolt in that distant land, but that, friends, is a story for another day.