What worth the coins in my pocket?

Short story inspired by https://www.blaseball.com/bulletin blaseball.

What worth the coins in my pocket? The golden slugs that ching ching ching merrily as I stride from the shop to the bookies. The solid metal disks, emblazoned on the head with the Blaseball logo, dark and writing, and on the tail with the five quartered cross representing the leagues, and on the obverse with the giant Peanut. I keep trying to see what is on the fourth side, but the coins won’t stay still long enough.

What worth the coins in my pocket? I bet them all. I blew them all. My beloved Moist Talkers fallen low, I placed my last 20 coins on them. And then I watched it happen, in the shop. I sat at the counter, nursing a cocoa Maltese, feeling the fizz in my straw as I looked at the goods on display. I was eyeing a jersey, nestled between pendants, when the person next to me mumbled.

“____, shine down on me so that I may behold your glory and partake of your peanuts!” They held their hand up, and with a glow, coins. Those blessed, cursed coins. They laughed merrily and rushed out towards the bookies to place a bet.

I glanced around and saw this repeated time and time again. I thought… this seems wrong, but.. what can it hurt. I nodded my head in prayer. One hand outstretched, the other cracking open a peanut, I placed the salty goodness in my mouth and mumbled a plea around it. I felt the glow, the cold, hollow glow, and my side slumped with the weight of several coins. I could feel them in my pocket, suddenly… there.

I thought back to my first time entering the Stadium, the empty bag that I was given, suddenly full with my first coins, so frivolously wasted away. What worth, the coins in my pocket?

I touched the pendent that hung around my neck. Earlier, it had given the same hollow glow as I watched Polkadot Patterson, my shining everything, strike out batter after batter. Seven times that game, he struck a batter out cleaning, the stick never touching the ball. And seven times, my hands came empty to my neck, and left with several coins in them. Coins that are only good for betting, buying things from the Shop that make more coins…. and Peanuts. What are they good for? What worth the coins in my pocket?

I walk now to the bookie. I have another bet to make, with these coins given to me by the Blaseball Gods. But I wonder, and fear. What worth the coins in my pocket? What purpose? The Gods drive us to bet, and grant us their coins to do so with. Why? What does it mean? What are they for? And where are the Crabs?

And the award for saving the planet goes too…..

So, after some discussions around the horrible MC job done for the Hugo’s this year, several discussions swirled around in my head, and I found myself pumping out 2000 words of real person fan fiction / pastiche about next years award ceremony.

Johnathon White sat nervously, his cloth mask tight against his face. He looked down again at the notecards that were his acceptance speech, fingers running across the tape that held two cards together, hiding the last from his view. He looked around at the crowd of faces, most keeping their attention on the stage. Many were rapt in listening to the MC, but just as many were visibly wincing and rolling their eyes at the ham-handed references and anecdotes. 

Continue reading “And the award for saving the planet goes too…..”

Fiction Snippet : Nu Yeller

Thanks to Totally Mindy on Kid’s Place live this morning, I have a horrible cyberpunk version of Old Yeller in my head… here’s a snippet of “the scene” in my head, so you can all share in my horror at my own brain.

“No pa. He’s my dog. I’ll do it.”   Tahmina pulled the old keyboard out from the rack by her desk.  “Easy Nu, easy girl.”  Yeller growled, the thin crackling from her blown speaker modulating as Tahmina slid down the access panel on her neck, slotting the old usb-c connector. The dog froze as the command line activated, the familiar floating screen popping into existence above the board.  She closed her eyes tightly, typing by touch, the clacking of the old physical keys feeling like nothing less than the loading and cocking of a shotgun.  She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Arslan standing over her, a rare tear touching his own eye as he nodded to her, knowingly.  She looked at the screen, the lines of instructions, approvals, directory searches.

 Her father coughed lightly, unable to see the screen from his angle, but not willing to move to look.  “Tahmi, darling, you need to get the subroot directory under the facial imagery as well.” 

She squeezed her eyes shut again, but the blinking prompt was seared into her retina.  “Confirm full system reformat and restory? Y/N?” 

“I know father, I did. She… she won’t recognize my face anymore.”

With a sob, she stabbed down on the y key, and then tossed the keyboard from her lap, bursting to her feet and out the door.

Telepathillogical, or Did You Hear What They Said About Our Marlene’s Telepathy? And who Grandma left the good china to?

As so often happens, a story idea gets into my head from an odd source. An online discussion of the Romance Genre, and what it means to be Romance, being talked about by Ursula Vernon ( @ursulav on Twitter) morphed into her talking about the weird way that Science Fiction and Fantasy get mixed and matched based on odd qualities. And made a comment of, “Did You Hear What They Said About Our Marlene’s Telepathy? And who Grandma left the good china to?”

Which immediately planted a story seed. Free story, since the title is shamelessly stolen.

Green. The conversation happening downstairs, the one I was intently NOT listening to, was green. Strands of red and yellow, but mostly green. Gossip.

That’s the best I can explain how thoughts FEEL.  Perhaps if I were musically inclined, and could tell you the difference by sound between a G major and a C minor third, I might describe them as pitches or octaves. If I cared more about food than, tastes great, more filling, I might talk about the sour and bitter and umami of brains as I brush across them.  Or maybe if I worked with my hands more, I’d feel thoughts as smooth, rough, gritty, oily. 

I’m not an artist though, and thoughts are colors, with a few specific exceptions. Green is gossip, that odd combination of greedy longing for what others have and do, and scandalized relief that it didn’t happen to you. Red is anger, yellow concern.  Happiness is a bright pink and purple streak, and it wasn’t until I was taught the birds and the bees via random memories running through my mother’s mind when I was seven that I realized what the bright white bursts that would sometimes come from my parent’s side of the house at night were. The memories were bad enough, I’m just glad that my room was far enough away from theirs that I never heard them. To be clear, I wasn’t feeling the actual emotion. I’m not a telempath. It was more like body language, but of thoughts. I could still hear TONE at a distance

Distance being exactly what was being discussed below me, in conversation that I was failing badly at NOT listening.  Because those exceptions I mentioned? One of them kept coming up.  Me. I can tell you exactly what it feels like when someone is thinking or talking about me. Maybe if I was a bit more self absorbed, it would be pleasant.  But I’m not, and it’s not. Ever walk into a room at the wrong moment, and dozens of eyes are staring at you? Or sit on a park bench, no one else around, but you could SWEAR that someone was staring at you? Every hear your name called out from a distance by a voice you ALMOST recognize.  Or feel a twitch in your leg like your phone was in your pocket, vibrating, even if it’s not in your pocket, with the absolute certainty that someone just texted you?

All of it.  All those feelings and more, when people are thinking about me. Or talking about me. And Aunt Patty just couldn’t stop talking about me.

“Distance? Really. They made the determination based on DISTANCE?”  Aunt Patty’s red words broadcast from her mind just as surely as her voice boomed from her mouth, an Irish Whisper my Mom calls it.  Four people all talking together acted as amplifiers, their own words in their minds being rebroadcast a moment later by the other three hearing and processing.  Impossible to ignore, I finally decided, rolling over and stuffing a pillow over my eyes and ears to minimize stimulation.

Blue came her husband, my uncle Jeffrey. The sparkling blue of a bucket of water, drawn from a ‘Well, actually’.  “It’s the cube square law, love. Very scientific.”   I found myself wishing telekinesis was real so I could throw a cucumber sandwich at him.

“No Jeffrey, that’s volume. You’re thinking the inverse square law, like gravity.”  Deeper blue, my mother educating.  It still amazes me that depth of shade can tell me so much, whether someone is passing information along because they want the information to be known, or telling someone something in order to prove they know it .  “And yes, exactly.  Marlene can’t hear more than 20 feet away, and words appear to her suddenly as soon as she’s in range, as strong as if she was next to the person.” There was a pause, and a tinge of pink and silver that let me know she was taking a deep sip of her tea.  Even being gossiped about as if I wasn’t the telepathic equivalent of sitting at the table being talked about I third person, I still smiled into my pillow. I worked hard on finding that tea blend for Mom, and I was very happy that she took so much pleasure from the chocolatey Earl Grey. I just had to rebox it when it arrived before giving it to her, she’d never drink it if she knew it was named after a fictional telempath.

That was a word they taught me at CI. Empath means able to read emotions from signals. Like empathy. Almost everyone is empathic. Being able to sense emotions, through your mind, at a distance, is TELEMPATHY. Telempathy of course, since emotions aren’t proper brainwaves, is magic, not science. And I’m not a telempath. I swear. The colors I feel aren’t truly emotions, more like, tone of voice, but of thoughts.

Yellow and red tinged the returning blue, her mind focusing on the conversation. “According to the Cricket Institute, if her telepathy was science based, she would have a, a strong signal, as it were, when next to someone, and the feeling of their words would weaken with distance, a measurable decrease that follows the inverse square law.”

A wash of mishmash colors, confusion warring with set beliefs.  “So, as the distance doubles, the strength is three times weaker?”

“Almost love.” Pumpkin orange. I could almost feel her desire to pat her husband patronizingly on the head. Almost. I’m not an telempath. “As the distance is squared, the strength is unsquared.  De squared? Square rooted?”  

“That works Patty, square rooted. But Marlene’s ability doesn’t follow that law.”  Red flared brighter in my mother’s mind. “So CI says she’s not a scientific telepath, but a magical one.”

I screamed into the pillow, and chucked it across the room.  I popped up to sitting, done with being spoken about. Also, I wanted a cup of that tea.

 I looked over at where the pillow landed, and at the ears flickering in irritation a few feet away.  “Oh come off it Skeeve, I knew you were there, it was nowhere near close.”   He languidly opened and closed his one good eye, then went back to licking his paw, wiping it over it ears. I pulled on boots, grabbed my purse and phone.  The one bright side to moving limbs is that it makes it easier to not focus on a conversation, so I missed the next few moments as I skipped out of my room and down the stairs. 

“I mean, being a magical telepath isn’t a BAD thing. There’s nothing wrong with magic, it’s just, she can’t…”  I heard Mom’s voice echoing up the stairs, a Pollock of colors, sadness, resignation.

“It means I can’t get a job using my abilities.”  The four jumped as I came hopping around the bend in the stairs, looking down on them.  “Only ‘scientific telepaths’ with provable and measurable limits can get Cricket certification. If it’s not hard science, than it might as well be a fantasy, is what they told me.”

I stopped at the table and let them collect themselves a minute.  I curtseyed to each in turn.  “Good afternoon Aunt Betty, Uncle Jeffrey, Grandma Joane.”  I bent over and kissed my mother on the forehead, the tea in her cup wafting into my nose.  “Good afternoon Mom.  May I have some tea?”

She smiled, and poured a cup.  Grandma Joane spoke up for the first time, the muted tones of brown and green brightening.  “So, you’re not disappointed about the loss of guaranteed job?”

I shrugged, and took the cup from Mom.  “Thank you Mom.”  I took a sip, rolling the deep velvet on my tongue.  I wonder what it be like to taste thoughts as types of tea. “Not really Grandma. I didn’t have a certification and guarantee before, so I didn’t lose anything.  And besides, the kind of jobs you can get as a Cricket certified telepath? Tricking people into thinking of hidden information, acting as a spy for a company looking for disloyalty and waste?  No thank you. I don’t know what I want to do after college yet, but it’s not THAT.”

Everyone nodded approvingly, although colors and random splashes of words made it clear not everyone agreed.  Waste. So sad. Poor dear doesn’t know what she wants. The random thoughts floated, less powerful for not being vocalized.

I delicately took a bacon fluffin from the plates arrayed on the Lazy Katey, Ladies Don’t GRAB, I could hear Mom say in her mind as I mentally repeated the oft drilled lesson myself. Our eyes met for a moment, the sparkle in hers showing she knew I knew.

I took a bite, letting the colors of thoughts slow their swirling around me.  “Honestly, the part that upsets me is the inconsistency.  I met almost every other test for being scientific, but they get stuck on this one.” I took another, larger bite of fluffin, letting the pancake and meat mingle.

Jeffrey raised a finger. “Wait, what other tests?”

I chewed hurriedly, trying to swallow so I could answer, when I stopped dead. Grandma Joane lit up in the darkest blue I had ever seen. Yes, I understand that lit up in dark sounds weird. It’s my brain, deal with it. She raised a fist, popping out fingers one by one, dark red nail polish and rings flashing.

“One, distance. We already discussed that. Two, detectable waves. A scientific telepath will show changes to their brainwaves that partially mimic the person they are listening to. A magical one won’t. In addition, there are areas of the brain that show activity while the telepath is, well, telepathing, meaning physical structures are involved. ” She paused, and glanced up at me.

I remembered the testing, the graphs showing my mind matching the technician, the bright flares on the scanner as specific wrinkles in my brain caught fire, electromagnetically speaking. “Yes Grandma, my brain does the wave.” Mom snorted in laughter.

Grandma nodded curtly. “Three, languages. A scientific telepath will hear words thought in other languages as the sounds the person would have spoken. If they don’t know the language, they won’t understand. Many magical telepaths translate automatically.”

She paused, and looked at me again. I swallowed. She knew more about telepathy than I knew she did. That was, unsettling. Sprechen sie Deutsch? “No Grandma, I don’t sprechen the Deutsch, although everyone knows what that means, c’mon.”

She nodded, smiling, and continued. Nothing in her head but the words she said. She had the kind of control the technicians at Cricket did. I realized suddenly that while I felt her colors, I hadn’t really heard her earlier.

“Four, emotions. Emotional response is a function of more than just brainwaves, so a telempath is magical by definition.”

“And I’m not a telempath.” Okay, I said that really firmly. Defensively even.

” Five, shielding. Since they work with waves of some kind, certain materials will block their ability, and certain devices can provide a hum that makes it harder to hear.”

Blue faded to a bright grey, her face paling to match. Her counting fingers went limp and her free hand clutch her hair. “Which is the other test you failed…”

Everyone else was staring hard at me now. “Yes, you could say I failed it. Their blocking material didn’t work for me. How… wait, that’s right, you wear wigs. Is…” I started to laugh, half nervously, half from real humor, as she tugged her hair, shifting it slightly in place. “You have thought shielding in your rug? Seriously?”

“RUG! How dare you.. how did you know! I wasn’t thinking about it, you couldn’t have known I wear a wig” WHO DOESNT KNOW! The thought hit me from three directions in unison.

I took a long slow sip of tea and smiled. “Grandma Dee told me last summer when I spent a week with her. She told me LOTS of things she thought I should know.” I finished the last nibble of fluffin. “Thank you for the tea Mom.” I kissed her on the forehead again, and walked towards the kitchen with my cup. A flurry of thoughts swung my way, a kaleidoscope of colors. Hell, of emotions. Maybe I am a telempath. Magical is just a codeword for, we can’t control. I stopped, and turned.

“Actually, now that I think about it, distance is just a red herring.” Grandma Joane looked at me with a touch of fear, purple tinging her presence. She definitely knew way too much about telepathy. I found myself wondering for the first time just what she used to do before retiring. “It’s the shielding that really damned me getting a certification.” LANGUAGE! I threw Mom a hairy eyeball, then looked back at Grandma Joane. “Like I said, it’s provable and measurable LIMITS. If you don’t have them, if they can’t defend against you, they won’t certify you. Interesting. Well. Mom? I’m going to head over to Jamal’s, okay?”

Mom nodded weakly. I turned, stopped, and spun again, looking at Aunt Patty. “Why yes, Grandma Dee DID in fact tell me who she was leaving the good china to!” The bright flashes of color followed me nearly halfway down the block.

The Rose Queen of Crime

Due to joking about the wildly talented Rebecca Rose’s handsome husband dressing in a Harley Quinn esque uniform, and her playing the Joker, I have this stuck in my head.  (Work in progress)


She strolled into the bank to the sound of organ music, no one sure where the sound came from.  A purple dinner jacket flapped like a cloak, matching slacks perfectly tailored, falling to just above a pair of shiny black and white spats. Her face drew the most attention, half in a painted smile, white foundation under lips the color of roses left in the stands on valentines day, the dark blooms passed over by all for brighter, happier shades.  The other half of her face was bare of pigment, yet the eye that pierced out from natural colored flesh bore all the testament needed by the left side of her face.  One glance into that orb of marble and jade left one disassembled and put back together in a heart beat, the unbearable feeling that with a glance she knew all of you. The clown eye shone in joy and extravaganza. The other glinted with madness.

Hair spilled from under her broad fedora, golden strands stained verdigris, like a statue of brass that had just begin to age in the rain. All eyes drew to her, and the figure behind her slipped in unnoticed, a feat considering the bright white and red uniform he wore, and the cartwheels he turned in place of walking.  As he worked his way around the outside of the lobby, bells jangling, she walked to the middle of the room.


“GOOD MORNING TO ALL!”  Her voice rang to every corner, and she paused a minute, arms outstretched, basking in the glow of several dozen eyeballs glued to her every movement.  “This, is an art installation.  I call it, Trickle Up Theory.  And you lucky people are audience, artist, and patron, all in one!  Isn’t that great folks?”

Security started to move towards her.  Some of the crowd stared in apprehension, but quite a few whipped out phones and started filming. A couple of the bored customers, standing in line for the next teller, clapped in delight, taking her words at face value.

” I am, as I am sure most of you know, the renowned performance artist and creative genius known far and wide as The Joker, The Rose Queen of Crime! And we shall start today’s entertainment by filling my hat.”  Bowing, she took her hat off and pressed it to the white pinstriped shirt under her jacket. Tossing it to the ground, it landed a few feet away and wavered for a moment, as if untucking itself, and grew nearly a foot larger across.  “Wallets, jewelry, watches, no digital watches, real watches.  No phones, keep your phones, I’m not heartless!”



Across the room, one of the tellers reached for the hidden button under his desk.  As his hand darted out, a blur of motion intersected it, and pain erupted from his hand as it slammed into his knee.  “Now now, none of that Freddy!”


The teller looked up at the source of the voice.  Thick eyebrows and a goatee that screamed Evil Twin framed a loose smile and eyes that seemed kind and caring, yet still filled him with terror. They peeked out over a nose that pointed like a hunting dog sighting it’s master’s prey, and wriggled like a cat about to pounce on it’s own.  A white and red uniform plastered itself to the man, diamonds down the legs matching a marching Sargent’s hat that perched at an obscenely loose angle, as if ready to fall at any moment. The uniform was piped in a bright green that matched the hair of the woman in the lobby.  Against his shoulder lay the head of a croquet mallet.  The shaft was painted a barber pole of red and blue, leading to a handle that was cradled lovingly in the jester’s hand. The teller blinked, the absurdity and incongruity of the handle sticking out even among what was already absurdity, pushing surreal.


“Is that.. a lightsaber handle?”


The jester smiled, and swung the mallet up to show off the handle.  It was indeed a steel lighstaber, the blue and red appearing out of it as if a beam.  “I have a purple one as well, but I’m not allowed to use it in public.” He put a hand to his lips and mock whispered, “It says, ‘Bad Motherfucker’ on the side.”  He tapped the side of the mallet, where the teller could see words engraved in the painted wood.


Focusing, still confused and trying to make sense of the world, he read them aloud. “Croquet. A game for just one player.” He looked up at the jester in confusion.  The jester brought the handle up to his face, his nose and eyes peeking over the top like a living “Kilroy was here”.  “It’s a pun, my dear Mr…”  He glanced at the desk. “Greene.  Really? A banker named Greene.  How gauche. As I was saying, it’s a pun.  Sadly, while it’s quite clever, no one on THIS side of the invisible wall will get it. ”

Self preservation finally made it’s voice known in the gibbering clatter of the teller’s brain as realization dawned that the kind eyed jester was mad, stark, raving, barking mad.  He turned in his office chair, shoving himself back against the thin wall separating him from the next teller over. The motion caused pain to blossom fresh in his hand, and he glanced at it, a bright red mark already starting to purple. “You.. you hit me!”


The mallet swung, showing a bright yellow face on one of the striking surfaces, dark black Xs in place of eyes.  “Mr. Ouchy hit you.  Do anything stupid like go for that alarm again, and he’ll hit you again. And if you really piss me off…”  The mallet twisted a hundred and eighty degrees.  The opposite striking surface held a raised brown poo emoji.   “And Mr. Poop will half to talk to you.  Trust me, you don’t want to talk to Mr. Poop.  It’s a sure fire way to have a shitty day. ”


The jester stood suddenly.  “Ta ta! Be Good!”   He started to  walk back into the office behind the bank counter, then whirled and pointed at the teller, who froze in fear, hands up to show he wasn’t touching anything. The jester crouched there, pointing for a long moment, then his hand darted forward and tapped the teller on the nose.  “BOOP!”

At that moment, both men looked up at the loud ringing pop of a gun going off.



The guards were advancing on the Joker, both with sidearms drawn.  The closest guard was armed with a snub nosed revolver, trained steadily at the Joker’s chest.  “My good man!  I normally don’t traffic in guns, but if that’s all you have, I scorn no man’s contribution to the arts! Please, toss it in! ”  With that, she motioned towards the hat.


“Sorry Miss, I would, but it belongs to the company.  Can’t donate what isn’t mine, ya know? Now put your hands up!”

The Joker grinned and flourished in his direction. “Well, company loyalty AND a good come back joke.  I appreciate it, really I do.”  She took a quick step towards him and put one elbow on the gun as if leaning on it.  Head propped against fist, she grinned at him from inches away as he pulled the trigger over and over again. Click. Click. Click.


“A good sense of humor aside though, I can’t let you keep the bullets. ”  She fanned her free hand in the air, several shining copper jacked rounds nestled between fingers.  With several deft flicks of the wrist, they sailed in a long arc, one at a time, into the hat, quickly joined by a flood of jewelry and wallets being tossed in by a now truly frighted crowd.

She looked back at the guard, smiling, and slipped the hand into her jacket.  He stood stock still, sweat beading on his brow, trying and failing to keep his eyes from flicking back and forth from her to his fellow guard walking up behind her.  Still staring the guard in the eyes, she whipped her hand out of her jacket and pointed it behind her, directly at the face of the second security guard.  She curled up one side of her face, the unpainted one, the guard noticed, and spoke in her worst faux gangster impression.  “Dontcha even THINK about it, copper.”


She turned her head slowly, making a CREEEEAAAAAAK noise under her breath.  All eyes were focused on her hand, an on the giant silver ring that adorned it.  The guard looked at it, eyes narrowed past the barrel of his gun.

The ring appeared to be of a single piece.  Bright silver, the band went around her pointer and middle finger, a thick piece of silver with numbers carved into it. The primary focus was a human hand, maybe two inches from finger tip to wrist, in the classic finger gun position.  The pointing forefinger was hollow, a gun barrel the size of a bb.  The disembodied mini hand was held up by two small bears, with a third, smaller bear, standing on the curve of the top of the hand.  It appeared to be trying to push the thumb backwards, like cocking a gun.


“I call it “Bearing”.  It’s a statement on way we’ve trivialized gun ownership to the point where everyone has one, like hands.  There are some deeper levels of meaning, but who has the time to go over it? Also, its a pun.  You know, to bear arms.”

“Cute, now put your hands up. ”

Without moving her hands, the Joker slowly grinned back at the guard, a wider, wilder smile than any she’d yet worn.  The guard stared at her lips, a dark pit opened into the recesses of her soul.  He couldn’t help but feel like she was pouring every ounce of disdain and hate she had through those lips, and his vision swam dark, his fingers and cheeks growing cold.


“Do you know why the baby bear is cocking the gun?”


“Because..  uh… children and guns that aren’t secure?”


“OO!  Good.  That, and , because, well.  Papa bear, he’s too hard. Mamma bear, she’s too soft. And as we all know, the baby bear?  He’s JUST RIGHT. ”


A stream of liquid shot out, clear and quick, splashing in the guard’s face.

He spluttered, blinking his eyes to

Short Story Challenge: The Thousand Doors of Olive Garden

So, saw a comment from the forward thinking Rose Eveleth ( @roseveleth on twitter, check her podcast, Flash Foward ) about a small contest being run by another writer @hels on twitter.   Write a story using this opening line, and she’ll buy you dinner at OG.  Well, im good without the dinner ,but the first line was too good to pass up.  Especially since literally minutes before reading it, I had been discussing with a coworker dopplegangers.  You know the old saw about how everyone has one?  I met mine, when I was 6, in a restaurant bathroom.  We were looking at each other in the mirror while trying to comb our hair.


There is only one Olive Garden, but it has a thousand doors.  They come in a hundred shapes, a dozen sizes.  Some have knobs, and a sign that says “Pull Me”. Some have brass plates inscribed “Push.”  Some slid open, sound waves detecting the unwary that walk by, smells of garlic and chianti enticing them to enter. One, Western themed, has handles made of cast copies of the Colt Peacemaker.  If you are reading this, though, you are unlikely to ever come across that door, as the world on the outside of it has a gravity that will snap your bones and stop your blood in your veins.


Chances are, if you’ve been to four different Olive Gardens in your life, spread around your home state, you’ve only walked through one actual door.  Maybe two. They are like holes, drilled into the shell of a vast multidimensional Nautilus.  Each leads to its own chamber. Alike, but different, growing into being as the Nautilus extends it’s shell in directions whose mere existence would decimate your mind to comprehend.  Growing larger as the Olive Garden beast grows, the door, the same door, appearing across each individual landscape as it bends and buckles in four dimensions, a hyper door, a single door for each face of hole into that particular cavernous chamber of the growing beast. Perhaps one day there shall be a thousand and one doors, but today, there are a thousand.  The shell of the Olive Garden beast keeps each chamber apart, keeps the denizens from mingling, but the back of the beast runs through them all.  It twists in those dark directions our three dimensional mind knows not.  Ana and Kata, Ceriden and Quariden. It spins and turns, passing through vast holes in what, to our small minds, seem solid walls painted in yellow tones and festooned with fake rock slabs.


It takes a determined klutz to fall in a direction he doesn’t even know exists.  And as my mother, friends, and lovers will all tell you, I am a DETERMINED klutz. (We aren’t talking about the chicken egg incident. It was as much Samantha’s fault as mine, and I hear most of her hair has grown back and the skin graft took with only minor scarring. )  Digging into some pasta dish with a dozen tiny sea creatures cooked into it, I managed to miss my mouth with the glass of Merlot. I mostly blame the fact that my mouth was a moving target, as I was mid delivery of a particularly bad brick joke when I tried to take a sip.  Excusing myself from the gaggle of coworkers who had gathered for lunch (when you’re here you’re family MY ASS), I shuffled my way in the supposed direction of the bathrooms.


Dabbing at my soaked shirt with the napkin in my hand, I slammed bodily into a large man in a suit coming out of the hallway to the bathroom doors.  I ricocheted off his solid bulk, hit my head on the hanging lantern behind me, which caused swears of surprise from the couple seated at the small table there, and spun widdershins on one foot trying desperately not to fall on my ass. I brought my other foot back down to support me, and stepped on… something.  If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a person while navigating a dark room during a sleep over (or whatever parties you may have gone to that involved many people on the floor, I won’t judge), you ALMOST know the sensation of squirming flesh under my foot.  It twisted, it moved, in a direction that felt WRONG.  My feet slid out from under me as the ground was suddenly off to my side somewhere, and bright lights flashed behind my eyes as I rolled up hill, down hill, the world spinning around me.  I slammed against the wall, finally, and tried to rise to my feet.  My stomach churned, the white sauce laden sea bugs in my stomach threatening to make war upon my esophagus, and I lay there trying not to vomit for a moment.


Finally rising, the world seemed to flicker in and out as I blinked my eyes, like a badly programmed video game redrawing vectors slowly.  Blinking, I stumbled down the hallway and pushed past the heavy wooden door marked “stneG”. The light was dim, and someone was already standing at the farthest sink from the door.  I grabbed a stack of paper towels and stood next to him, blotting up wine.  I looked down to wet the paper towel and looked back up at myself, but I found that no matter how I moved my hand, I kept missing the stain, just touching the pale cream of where I HADN’T spilled on myself.  This went on for a few moments before I realized that something was wrong.  I looked at my face, and saw that my eyes were pointed to the side.  I had never seen the side of my eyes in the mirror before!  There was something else wrong with my face, but it wasn’t immediately clear.

I panned my eyes to my right, and found myself staring at myself, the way a good mirror should.  There was a mark on my forehead where i had smacked into the lamp, a red mark quickly purpling into a bruise.  I slowly raised my arm to touch it, wincing, and noticed in my peripheral the man next to me doing the same.  My eyes flicked back and forth between the two images of myself.  Same clothes. The face…  the one without the mark on his forehead looked like pictures of myself. Not my face reversed in the mirror. I have a missing tooth in the front, that was the most obvious misplacement. And the stain on our shirts were almost mirror images of each other.  Not quite the same, no Rorschach blotch test could ever produce two identical stains, but close enough.  I could see his eyes flickering back and forth as well, our brains moving in unison.  Slowly, we turned and faced each other.


“Mirror world?”

“Rerrem dlrouw?”


His voice broke over my eardrums like static, obviously reversed.  From his expression, mine treated him the same.  Almost as one, we pulled the small notebook and pencil from our back pockets.  While I couldn’t HEAR backwords, I had spent lots of time as a child learning to READ backwards.  Wizard writing, it was called in several books.  Hopefully he had done the same.

We communicated slowly through writing, both easily able to read backwards. I told my story, and he nodded, understanding.  He told me that he had slammed into the same man, but avoided the lamp.  We threw out theories for a few minutes, then, flipping to a new page, he wrote out a single word.  “ANA?”


I wasn’t thinking as quickly as he, I blamed the bash to my head and getting twisted in some unknown direction.  It wasn’t until he wrote “ketchup packets” that I remembered.  A book I’d read as a boy, with people that moved in other dimensions.  Left, right. Up, down. In and out.  And for the fourth? Ana and Kata. I nodded slowly, and closing my eyes, tried to remember the feel of moving that strange direction.  He giggled a strange reversed sound at the sight of my head bobbing, then gasped as bright light and geometric shapes burst out in my eyes again.  I moved back and finally did throw up, losing my lunch into the sink next to me.  He looked a little green as the smell rose.  I can’t imagine what chirality must be doing to the smell of bile.


Grabbing his pad, he wrote, “Your head vanished!”  I almost had it.  I held out my hand and he took it, and closing my eyes, I stepped.  I felt his hand slip out of mine, and desperately hoped that he was left in his old world, and not dumped randomly somewhere, unable to step in this new direction.  Opening my eyes, i saw fragments and pieces of the bathroom, and the rest of the restaurant, panels sliding in and out of existence as I walked. In the distance I saw a great curtain of white, the only truly solid thing as I stepped around.  I suddenly felt the floor squish under me again, and jumped backwards.  Embedded into the floor was a great column of grey flesh, nearly a yard across, and raising a foot high before descending back into the ground.  It pulsed, red veins specking it, a large black cord running down the middle, just inside the translucent body.  It ran off in either direction with no end in sight.


I followed it, ducking around portions of walls, half lamps that hung in midair, and the occasional chest, head, hand, or leg.   After several minutes of walking, I came to the white curtain.  I touched it, and it was solid, but also round under my hand.  I understood that it ran solidly in this fourth dimension i could now move along, the large flesh tube running through a small hole in it.  Ducking down, I crawled over the flesh and moved Kata back the way I had twisted.  I found myself in Olive Garden, the walls solid, the curtain and tube gone.  I walked to the main dining room and saw my coworkers sitting at our table, my own spot empty.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I rushed to the table.  Marjory looked up at me and screamed in horror.  I stopped dead, looking into her one, large, green eye, flickering in the center of her forehead.  I heard the bathroom door open behind me, and I was shoved out of the way by… myself.  The rest of the restaurant had started screaming and pointing, and I watched myself lumber to a stop, and turn around slowly.  A single giant eye, a saucer sided plate of glass held by two thick bars in front of it.  I spun and watch as the walls slid away, and I could see the cord to follow again.

The cord seems to only go in two directions, and following it back the other way seemed obvious, but past the mirror world was one where the atmosphere was thick and foggy. I’ve traveled up and down the grey cord for a year now, grabbing plates to eat when no one is looking, sleeping on empty tables.  I’ve thought about walking out the front door a hundred times, but there seems to be a safety in the Olive Garden, no matter how dangerous the outside is, it only inconvenienced me within the chambers of the great Nautilus that is the Olive Garden. I’ve tried drawing a map, but it’s useless, the cord moves in directions I still can’t perceive.


It is an interesting thought though.  Should someone ever find my notebook, and understand the words, realize.  Every time you enter this place, nine hundred and ninety nine other you’s do as well.  Some just slightly different. Some downright monstrous. But they are all you. Related through time and space, even if not truly related by blood.  A family of other yourselves.  And now I understand the true meaning of their slogan. When you’re here, you’re family.

Wicked Pens Writing Prompt Dangerous

A short writing prompt (dangerous) for a writing group I’m part of turned into a bit of a short story!  Warning, NSFW.  (im going to edit it to be even more so, later. )



Eyes closed, she breathed in, slowly, deeply.  The popping of the bubbles in the drink just under her nose tickled, bringing the various herbal odors in fits and starts, slowly filling her lungs.  Regina always enjoyed the smell of the flowery drink that was the main item served at the eponymous bar, before finally sipping it.  The taste of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing never lived up to the promise of its smell, though it certainly was a wolf as it ran howling through your system.


Raising the glass to her lips, another scent filtered into her nose. A dangerous scent. A predator’s scent, but overlaid with a soft smell, lavender, perhaps. A smell that deserved the same name as her drink. Several long slow gulps later, she lowered her cup and looked to her right.


He was scanning the room slowly, while appearing to be conversing with the bar tender. A shared laugh, and a delivered drink, a shot, not the mixed drink held by most hands in the room. He sipped it, and she felt herself flush at the flex of the muscles in his jaw as he smiled, enjoying the slow burn.  Freshly shaved, with a chin that was present without being pointed.  A Roman nose, crooked in the middle, well trimmed hair, the bare start of a receding hairline, and arms tightly bound in his shirt, a build that looked like it had more to due with regular heavy use, not time spent at the gym. She caught herself from licking her lips.  He looked as delicious, as potentially dangerous, as he smelled.


He turned and caught her staring, his eyes widening and lips curling to a slight smile. His gaze drifted slowly down and back up, and he finished his drink with a gulp.  He stood and walked, each step deliberate, like he was climbing the floor towards her.  She grinned at his stalking motion, so deliberate, so obvious, and so so effective.


Standing over her, he spoke, teeth perfectly white and polished, voice deep without being threatening, but rumbly, a roar held in restraint.  “You’re not actually drinking that fruit juice and tea masquerading as a drink, are you?”


Regina met his gaze, and deliberately sipped from her glass while holding his eyes in her own. She set the empty cup down, and slowly licked the last crimson drops from her lip, an action that brought a smile to his eyes.  Green, with webs of gold, she saw now.  Pupils taller in the middle than they were wide, a subtle difference that most people wouldn’t see, unless they were looking for it. Which, of course, she was.


“I like the way it smells. ”  She stood, taking a step closer, nose just barely between that delectably kissable chin and the pressed collar of his shirt. She took a slow breath in, the musk and flower splitting in her nose, the spice taking shape, prickling her nose like tiny claws. “I like the way YOU smell.”


He glanced down, his vision filled with her ear, sliding down into her long neck.  Her own musk filtered up, and he took a quick sniff as he watched her pulse flutter against the tightness of the skin of her neck.  The smell made him think of rabbits and snow, and he could feel his body tensing in anticipation.  “You smell quite nice yourself. That’s an odd way to say hello, however.”


She stepped back, upper teeth lightly chewing on her lower lip as she appraised him. He watched her body shift subtly, arms moving apart and away from her body, hips swiveling into a looser stance as her body language betrayed the inner decision her mind had just made.


“Hello then.  Look, lets be honest.  I’m not here to get drunk. Not on liquor, anyway.”


“To be honest, neither am I. The prices are bit much and I prefer flavors I can…. savor, on my tongue.”


“Well, shall find someplace else where we can… drink?”


He grinned broadly, and took her shoulder in hand, leading her to the door.  His fingers flexed against her flesh, the power in them evident even as he handled her softly, with care.  The feeling of strength in his hand and arm thrilled her, the quiet alarm in the back of her mind growing almost imperceptibly louder. Outside the bar,  he flagged a taxi and opened the door for her.  She slid in first, he quick after, his hand on her thigh.


The driver rolled his eyes at the display of lust behind him. “Where to folks?”


He looked hungrily at her, squeezing her thigh as her own hand grasped his wrist, slowly guiding it higher on her leg. “What is the old line, your place or mine, …”  He paused for a moment. “In all the rush, I was rude enough to not even ask for your name!”


“Regina, and you?”




Regina giggled.  Too perfect.  “Walter the wolf, are you?”  He tensed a moment at her words, but muscles softened as she stroked her fingers along his chin, drawing his face closer to hers.  “Are you hungry like the wolf, Walter?”  She drew him in, and their lips met, parted.  His tongue darted into her mouth, a pressure against her, inside her, a promise of more pleasure to come.  He tasted of rare steak and cinnamon, and his teeth were sharp against her own tongue, the alarm of danger raising another decibel in her mind as he devoured her in play.


As they slowly drew apart, he answered, the hidden rumble in his voice coming to the forefront, the roar of desire barely held back.  “You have no idea.”


“Ahem.  Lovebirds.  Address?”


Regina looked up and snapped out an address, and the cab went into motion as the pair dove back into each other.  Walter drew his teeth slowly across her neck, drawing a gasp from Regina as she wrapped one arm around his back and buried the fingers of her other hand into his short black hair.


The kissed and teased, Walter turned so that he faced her, one leg between hers, a hand pushing on her shoulder, crushing her against the seat. Again, she could feel more strength in him than his physique should allow, and knew she was in trouble. She delighted in that feeling, the tenseness across the back of her neck as his wet lips traced across the front.

The taxi stopped suddenly, the driver honking and swearing. The couple came forward away from the seat, then Walter pushed  without thought, slamming her roughly back into the fake leather bench.

The driver peeked in the rear view. “Hey, Samson, you break it, you buy it.”

Worry filled his eyes. “Sorry Regina, you okay?”  He looked to where his hand caught her shoulder, and realized he was gripping hard enough that her skin between her fingers was turning white.  She struggled for a moment against the hand, failing to free herself from his grip, before he loosened it.  Her face fought between panic and ecstasy before devolving to disappointment as her shoulder came free.


“I’m fine.  You’ll have to try harder to break me.”


He smiled, bringing his lips lower on her chest, nuzzling at the line between dress and skin.  She caught something mumbled, ending with, “by the pound.”


The cab stopped, and Walter fumbled with his wallet, the pocket obviously held tightly closed by the straining of his erection. Sliding it free, he threw several bills at the cab, and slid out backwards, pulling Regina with him and popping her out of the car.  The door slammed, the cab peeled away, and Regina looked around.



Walter stopped, his hand already dragging upwards at her dress hem. “What’s wrong?”


“That bastard dropped us off a block away.  C’mon. ”  She dragged at his hand, pulling him into an alley leading between the two rows of small houses.


“Where are we going?”




He stumbled along behind her, amused.  “I would follow that delightful ass anywhere, but is this safe?”


She came to a cross roads of alleys, and darted left, then right.

“Damnit!” She tried a door, and it failed to open, latched from the inside.  “Okay, this way. And of course it’s safe!  I’ve got Walter the wolf with me. ”


She pulled him close for a kiss, her hand popping a button of his shirt, sliding against his chest in the newly made hole.  He pulled away briefly, looking around at the alcove of cinder block walls that hid them from view. “Pretty private place right here, come to think of it, my delightful little snack.”  His tone slowly changed as he spoke, and the warning bells in the back of her mind turned to claxons.  DANGER DANGER!


She smiled hesitantly, looking around.  “Yes, well, I want you in my bed. Lets…  go?”  Her voice turned to a squeak as his hand slowly wrapped around her throat. He slammed her back into the wall, and she saw stars as her head bounced off the cinder blocks.


His voice burst out in the promised roar, long held back. “I think I want you right here.  Every last morsel. ”  His face shifted slightly, nose lengthening, teeth growing.  His skin changed hue, the lightly tan Mediterranean skin turning into rings of light and dark.  His hand slid from her neck down her arm, his other hand grabbing the opposite wrist.  He lifted her, the cinder block scraping against her back, her arms held out wide.


She could feel the needle like claws he now had puncturing her skin.  Her heart pounded in her chest, her breath came hot and fast as her mind convulsed with fear.  She could feel the adrenaline rising with a host of other neurotransmitters, the fight or flight response pegged on the far end of flight.  She struggled against him, but his fingers were like iron bands.  In the dim back of mind, she thought to scream, but as her mouth opened wide to breath, he clamped his muzzle over her mouth, long tongue now raspy and scraping across her tongue and teeth. She felt herself drowning in fear, the danger facing her palpable, pulsing, thudding in her ears.

And she reveled in it.  She could barely keep from pissing herself, and she never felt more alive. The cocktail of homemade drugs in her system eeked sweat out of every pore, and Walter’s nose expanded rhythmically as he smelled the fear leaching out of her. He let go of her mouth, and pulled back to look her in the eyes.  Glass eyed and cowed, she looked up into his own, the slight peaks now full blown oval pupils, the gold streaks glowing in the darkness.  The panic rose to a fever pitch, and she felt her body tense in pleasure, as the world darkened around her, grey mist filling in everything she saw but his eyes.  And just when she couldn’t stand any more, as gasps of panic fought her throat with moans of pleasure, the orgasm racked through her body, and every switch in her set to flight, flipped.  Endorphins rushed to opposing settings, the fear evaporated.


With a flip of her arms, the hands that had pinned her to the wall crashed together.  She swung her fingers around, talons piercing his wrists. Even as her feet hit the ground, she lifted, and a turn and step reversed their positions. Her steel claws pushed through his flesh, into the cinder block wall, and Walter screamed hoarsely.


“Thank you Walter!  You are quite the frightening brute.  I haven’t been scared like that in years. ”  Her own elongated jaws nipped at his neck, drawing drops of blood.  She licked them from her lips, a parody of the motion she had made to lure him in, earlier in the evening.


“I am a bit peckish as well, but, I DID go to that bar to get laid.”  She kicked off one pump, and with her leg now twisted and furry, joints moving in ways no human leg could, she brought up a clawed paw to his crotch, slicing denim like it was tissue paper.  As she pulled away his clothes, she kissed him, chewing on his tongue until blood ran like wine. Pulling back from his mangle face, she pushed her body up against his, still pinned to the wall.

In a low tone, she whispered into his pointed ear. “By morning, you will fill my belly, but lets see of you can’t fill anything else before I kill you. “