Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Test

#NoNoNovember: Day 12: Test
by TB Schmid
--

Raj groaned, knee tendons popping away as he stood up from the monitor. It was an old Klipsch Heresy that Vince refused to shit-can. Temperamental little bastard, so Raj had to get up close and personal during his sound checks.

“Shit!” He barked his shin on the - whatever the hell it was. Mitch said it was a perfectly-scaled model of the Syrian Pentagram, which he and Vince had convinced Lizzy to use as a stage prop. They’d rigged the center of it with all kinds of pyro shit, and she was supposed to emerge from the smoke and mayhem as the Goddess during the intro to their “Vortex” chart-buster.

“Whatever”, Raj grumbled, massaging his shin. Those three were into some pretty crazy shit, even when they weren’t hitting the pipe. He made sure the power feeding the pyro racks was still disconnected before moving to test the microphones.

He flipped the toggle on mic 1. “Testing...1...2-” Feedback screamed back at him.

“What the fuck, Jimmy?” he called out to the scrawny kid behind the soundboard.

“Sorry! Hang on a sec!” Jimmy unplugged a cable from one side of the board and shoved it into a different port. “Ok, give it a shot. Hey, did you check the pit? Thought I saw lights.”

Raj looked over his shoulder at the Pentagram. He could see the bundle of power cables, clearly unplugged and resting on the floor a foot or so away from the prop. Definitely no lights there.

“You saw shit, Jimmy. It’s DC’d.” He leaned back to the mic. “Testing...3...5...7…” His voice resonated through the small theatre, sounding crisp and clear. Jimmy put a thumb up as Raj moved to the next mic.

“Testing. Testing. 11...13...17…”

“Hey what’s with your count, dude?”
“Prime numbers, dumbass. Lizzy likes’em. Says they help her channel her ‘positive feminine energy’ so I-”

“WHOA!” Jimmy cut him off. “What the fuck?!”

“What now?”

“Lights, dude. I’m telling you, check the pyro plugs before you blow your ass up!”

Raj flipped him off and checked them again, even though he knew they weren’t connected. He didn’t know if Jimmy was fucking with him or seeing things, but doors would be open in about an hour so they had to wrap this shit up. He couldn’t know that one particular Door would be open well before that.

He moved to mic 3, Vince’s vintage Myrtle that he’d had modified to replace Ear Trumpet’s spring assembly with - you guessed it, folks! - a pentagram.

“Testing...19...23...29...come in Goddess. We’re ready for you - do you copy?” He chuckled to himself. Behind the soundboard, Jimmy was standing, eyes wide as subwoofers.

“MESSAGE RECEIVED,” a host of female voices thundered from seemingly everywhere, and Raj fell to his knees...

Monday, November 11, 2019

Delicious & Farmhouse

#NoNoNovember: Days 10 & 11: Delicious & Farmhouse

by TB Schmid

--

The farmhouse leaned precariously into the wind. Overhead, thin clouds slid across the sky, a veil of silver torn from the face of the moon. He could hear the house grumbling from where he stood in the swaying shadows of the orchard, but the complaints sounded more habitual than the result of any true weakness. He sniffed the night air, confirming it: her timbers were dry, but strong. The lean was deceptive, and the wind was no threat to it.

But he was.

He left the shadows and padded silently across the empty field, being careful to avoid the warm squares of light spilling from the window. He wanted to surprise them this time.

He caught a glimpse of them at the dining room table, toasting one another, wine sloshing down their pale arms like blood - like a prophecy. His stomach rumbled.

The wind gusted as he took the steps leading up to the front porch, the night's searching fingers reaching beneath his coat. He shivered in delicious anticipation, fighting to hold back the ancient song rising in his powerful throat. That would come after, when it was done, for he had no wish to share. Instead, he drew himself up, puffed up his great chest, and pounded the door. It rattled and bucked in its frame, but held. He smiled, long teeth glinting in the moonlight.

He forced his throat and tongue to form the strange sounds they called words:

"Little pigs, little pigs..."

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Address | Jump | Season | Blanket

Because I have been negligent, here are four stories in one post.

#6-9: Address | Jump | Season | Blanket
by d.f. Monk

--

6: Address

Hacking time was complex. I mean, in theory it was simple, but the actual mathematics that allowed someone to inject a message backwards in time were incredibly complex. The model was error-checked in real-time and would be confirmed over a thousand times in anything tangible happened.

In those old vids someone would hop through a portal or get into a ship and travel back to stop a bomb, or save a relative... But that was make believe.

He fixed things every day. Not big things, mind you. Not all at once, at least.

“Okay,” he said. “We’re good. I’ve got the absolute relative address of the juncture we want to influence.”

“Code has been cleared for execution,” the man in the dark spectacles confirmed.

The hacker picked up the handset and pushed the green button before holding it to his ear.

It took a moment, then another, before a repeating buzzing ring began, and then abruptly ended.

“Hello?” asked the voice on the other end of the phone.

“Sorry to disturb you,” the hacker said, “but I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about your choice in internet service providers.”

“Ugh, no,” the disembodied voice said before hanging up the line.

“Looks like that one did it,” the man in the dark spectacles confirmed.

“What is this even supposed to change?” the hacker asked.

“We’ll probably never know. Get ready for the next insertion.”
The hacker sighed. Time travel was tedious work.

--

7: Jump

She hung up the phone, wondering why it was she even bothered to answer it anymore. It was mostly dumb sales calls… or political polls.

She looked over at the counter, locking eyes with the little boy that was poised on his tiptoes, hoping that his stillness would make him invisible to her.

“I just polished the floor yesterday. If you jump off that counter, you’re going to break your neck,” she said, moving over in front of him, taking the cookie from his fingers before lifting him up into her arms.

“You’re lucky I was even here,” she said. “If I hadn’t heard the phone, I would have been all the way on the other side of the house.”

“My cookie,” the boy said, something between frustration and regret.

“My cookie now,” she said, taking a bite of it before setting him down on the cool kitchen floor.

“But…!”
“Cookie for you if you clean up your room,” she said.

That was the proper motivation. He scrambled off, now single minded in purpose.
Through a window she watched the snow fall. Down the hall, she heard her son starting to jam too many toys under his bed.

“Mmm. I really do make the best cookies,” she commented. Her mother had passed down that recipe to her. They always made her feel nostalgic. She had been a cookie thief, too.

“I should make them more often,” she mused, letting the warm memory nestle into her chest.

--

8: Season

The world outside the window was white. Sunlight muscled through the naked branches of the trees surrounding the cabin and failed to warm the unbroken sheet of snow surrounding it.

He smelled ginger, cinnamon and cloves. It was his mother’s recipe, and her mother’s before that. The molasses cookies had never been seasonal treats. Not until she’d become too sick to make them herself.

So he and his husband, together in the kitchen, made batches of them for the holidays. The biggest lot would go to his mom, even though she couldn’t eat them anymore... even though she couldn’t recognize him anymore.

“You’re not going to melt that snow just by staring at it,” his husband called out from the other room, where the cookies baked slowly in the oven, filling their house with the smell that would be forever associated with his mother’s failing health.

It wasn’t just the world that was frozen outside, time had crawled to a standstill. He hated feeling stuck in place… frozen by snow… mired in molasses.

“Did you think any more about the adoption?” his husband asked.

He hadn’t. Until this summer, it had been all they talked about, but then his mom…

His phone buzzed in his pocket. He answered it without thinking.

“Congratulations, you’ve been selected to…”

He hung up before it could finish.
“Enough interruptions,” he thought. “Life won’t wait forever.”

“I have thought about it,” he called out to his husband. “I think you’d make a great dad.”

--

9: Blanket

Her heart skipped several beats. She stared at the phone, that beast of an old phone, spliced and wired and rigged to several computers, each of those feeding a different screen with updated numbers and figures and reports.

“Who’s this?” he’d asked. It was his voice. Strong and vibrant, just like she’d remembered it. She’d almost forgotten to speak, almost forgotten to act her scripted line.

She didn’t even have to mention the “deluxe time-share opportunity,” before he’d hung up. In retrospect, she’d probably scripted way too much of a dialogue she knew she’d never have to use.

Her head was light, probably some from lack of sleep, a bunch from too much caffeine and just the proper amount for succeeding at something that had, until just a minute ago, been only a theoretical possibility.

Now she could tell him… warn him… stop him… from making that trip into the city. She’d proven that it was possible to reach backwards in time, to send back a message. And if she could send a warning back…

She fell onto her bed, too wired to sleep, but too exhausted to keep working. She wrapped herself in a blanket, tried to tie up all of her boundless enthusiasm. She wanted to get working right away.

But she didn’t have to.
She could make time. She could change time.

She had all the time she would ever need. At least enough to save him. And who knows…

...maybe even the world.


Blanket

#NoNoNovember: Day 9: Blanket
by TB Schmid

--

They fell from the heavens, plummeting towards the planet - a host of millions, mindlessly hurling themselves into the dark void below. They had waited months for the assault, and now that the weather had finally turned in their favor, they were relentless.

The surface dwellers did what they could to prepare for the onslaught, scurrying to and fro across the planet's surface seeking shelter, or making last-minute repairs to shore up what defenses they had. Some simply stood, staring up, mouths agape. They were dragged inside just as the host struck.

The onslaught raged for hours, and nothing was spared their fury. No tree, stone or structure escaped unscathed.

When it was over, the world lay silently beneath the host, her ugly scars and blemishes erased by the thick, pristine blanket of snow.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Pickle

#NoNoNovember: Day 5: Pickle
by d.f.Monk
--

Batman and Robin bound and bottled?

Is this the end of our Dynamic Duo?

In a jar filled to the brim with brine, will our heroes be able to prevent the ferment?

Or will the Condiment King’s Perfidious Pickle Predicament perfectly preserve Gotham’s Caped Crusaders?

Tune in tomorrow to find out!

Same Bat-Time!

Same Bat-Channel!

--

I'm really sorry, but this was stuck in my head all day.

Apologies to anyone not familiar with the Batman TV show from the 60s and perhaps the most eccentric member of his Rogues Gallery outside of Calendar Man.

Spoilers for those that were worried: Batman & Robin do indeed escape using a Bat-Baking Soda dispenser and some applied comic book physics to propel themselves out of the giant vinegar jar before it seals shut.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Nothing

#NoNoNovember: Day 4: Nothing
by TB Schmid
--

Becca used to love birthdays, especially the wishing part right before blowing out the candles on her cake.

She was older now, though, and didn't really want anything. It used to be so easy - a new bat, new cleats, a boyfriend, a puppy instead of that stupid boyfriend, Nana to get better... all the things she knew she really wanted. She took those wishes seriously, and even though part of her felt silly, most of her believed there was some kind of magic in the whole birthday wishing ritual, and if she did it Just Right, her wish would come true. That was the way she saw most of the world back then - if you did things just right, your dreams would come true.

She looked at the cake in front her her, big fat green and white numbers leaning drunkenly in the custard frosting because, let's face it, putting 48 individual candles on there was way more work than Rick would ever put into something, even with her mother's help.

It used to be so easy. Do things just right, and your dreams would come true. She wasn't even sure what those dreams were anymore.

She chided herself for being such a downer. Her life was good, and it was a good thing not to really need or want anything, wasn't it? She nodded to herself, closed her eyes and wished for nothing.

When she blew the candles out, her dreams went too.

Nothing

#NoNoNovember: Day 4: Nothing
by d.f.Monk
--

“They say you are a wizard.” The town sheriff was intentionally trying to make the word sound like lizard, curling his mouth down into a scowl as he did so.

“I make no such claim. It is a title forced upon me, like when you make these people call you ‘my Lord,’” the sandy haired youth replied. The boy certainly didn’t look like one. He barely had the start of a scratchy beard on his chin, much less the requisite wide brimmed wizard style hat he’d read about in stories.

“But the bag…” The sheriff flicked his finger at it, a bulging sack that moved and rumbled like an upset stomach.

“Please don’t bother that. Just let me take it away.”

“What’s in there?”

“Nothing.”

“Sure does a lot of squirming for nothing.” 

“Well, if you knew as much about Nothing as I did, you’d know that is quite normal.”

“Are you calling me an idiot, boy?” The sheriff did that curling mouth scowl again.

“I should think that’s unnecessary at this point.”

“Open it!” the sheriff yelled. One of his deputies fumbled with the drawstrings.

“Oh no.” With a quick motion of his hand, and a step forward, the boy found himself on a hill overlooking the town.

In the blink of an eye, the village, its people, their pets and even the scowly faced sheriff simply ceased to be.

“Well that’s a bother,” the wizard said. “Now I’m going to need a new Nothing. And a new bag.”