Saturday, June 18, 2011
Among the latest allegations in the lawsuit pending in Fairfax County Circuit Court:
Paragraph 10. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was going 85 miles per hour.”
Paragraph 12. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was having sex with a female.”
Paragraph13. “At the time of the collision, Defendant was driving admittedly drunk.”
Paragraph 14. “At the time of the accident, Defendant was partially or totally in the backseat of the car.”...
Charlie landed in the filth with a splash. His arms plunged into the cold waste, and he gagged at the smell. He struggled to turn before the cell door swung closed, but the guards were gone before he could pull his hands free.
“Come back! I shouldn’t be ‘ere!” shouted Charlie.
“They won’t let you out, lad.”...
“Here, Scholar Quaa, this is the permutation I was telling you about. It’s the only one that hasn’t followed the same general pattern that the others did. I think we may have found what the Scholars’ Collective was hoping for!”
“Did you use the same world-initialising parameters as you did for all the others, and calibrate the timeline to traverse the bifurcations chaotically?”...
Friday, June 17, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
ORDINARY WONDERS AND BLEAK MIRACLES
An Invitation To Disaster
Al Bruno III
Chester Bush sat on his front porch waiting for the sunset and what the sunset would bring. It was a warm spring day, cloudy with a hint of rain in the air. He had multiple windows open on his laptop and with each one he was checking for news in a city a timezone away.
Three days ago at 7 o’clock in the morning a tornado had come through the town of Drummond, Oregon destroying everything in its path. From his comfy chair Chester could read the incoming stories and watch the video feeds from local and national news sources.
The body count kept rising, it seemed that for every miraculous survival there were three lives cut short. The tornado had destroyed the firehouse but spared the police station. It had avoided the school but leveled an entire wing of the hospital.
There was booze in his free hand, expensive brandy in a cheap glass. His ex-wife Rosie would have said that was typical of him and she would have been right. He had a lousy house full of expensive toys, he had a rusty car with a high quality stereo system. That was just the way he liked it.
He opened one browser window and opened another and listened to the streaming feed from Drummond’s AM radio station. The traffic reports and right wing pundits had been replaced with constant updates. They took calls and tried their best to help people track down loved ones that had gone missing in the disaster.
Chester was two years away from sixty and he was proud of how well he handled the technology at his fingertips. Too many of his friends shied away from it all, intimidated at learning something new, afraid of looking foolish when they made a mistake. Chester had no fear of mistakes.
His cell phone rang and he dropped his drink in his fumbling to get it to his ear. He hung up almost immediately, another one of those damn idiots that kept looking for the previous owner of his cell number.
There had been a time when he would have cursed the person on the other end of the line out until they hung up, then he would have called them back and cursed at them some more. All through his life his temper had been a problem but not anymore. Had he finally mellowed or was it just that at the age of fifty-eight he didn’t have the energy for feuds and fights?
The puddle from his spilled drink had spread out across the bare wood floor. He frowned at it for a moment and then closed his laptop, there wasn’t anything new it could tell him anyway.
He knew that the house belonging to Rosalie Price, formerly Rosalie Bush, had been flattened by the tornado. Just like every other house on that unlucky street.
Chester retrieved a towel from the kitchen then got down on his knees and dabbed at the spilled brandy. The house he had shared with Rosie for seven years was gone, it seemed almost hard to believe. The last time he had seen the place was after the signing of the divorce papers.
He still remembered his last words to her, “Drop dead.”
That damn temper of his again. And hadn’t he enjoyed holding a grudge?
In the eleven years since that day his one great joy had been hearing about his ex-wife’s troubles. He still had enough friends in Drummond to keep him apprised of the gossip. He laughed when he learned her second marriage had crashed and burned. When he heard she had gotten Bells Palsy he’d joked that now the rest of the world would see the scowl he’d had to live with for far too long.
He brought the wet cloth and glass back into the kitchen, he gave the both of them a quick rinse and set them out to dry. For a moment he toyed with the idea of getting another drink but he decided he'd rather be sober.
For now anyway.
The sun had fully set, the sky was a darkening purple.
Eleven years. That was a long time to be angry but it kept his other feelings a safe distance away. Better to be angry than to look back.
That had changed three days ago. News of the disaster had set him trying to call and email friends. Within a matter of hours he knew that all his old buddies were fine, a little shaken up but otherwise untouched. Then they told him about Rosie's street, and Rosie's house.
At first he just shrugged off the news but as the day wore on it tugged at him until it became a sickening worry. It robbed him of his appetite and the ability to sleep. In the silence of his house all he heard were old conversations, when he closed his eyes they filled with twenty year-old memories.
The next morning he started making calls, he contacted all his old friends and even a few enemies, he made inquiries to the civil authorities, he even called in to the radio station to plead for information.
Headlights in the driveway stirred him from his thoughts. Chester hurried out to the porch steps. He almost didn’t recognize the woman getting out of the taxi. Her hair was short and going gray but even in the dusk he recognized her eyes. “Do you have any bags?” he asked.
“I don’t have anything,” Rosie said, she moved slowly and painfully.
“Come on inside,” Chester paid the cabbie and then helped her inside, “I’ll get you something to eat.”
She paused in the doorway, “Why are you doing this? You didn’t have to-”
“-Yes I did,” Chester smiled, “besides it’s too quiet around here.”
“Oh. Well I’ll see to that.”
“I bet you will.”
The porch door swung to a close behind them.
To streamline the American political processes elected officials became legally required to reveal their junk after being sworn in.
There is no record of space vixens kidnapping men from lonely roads for breeding purposes but Matt kept walking and kept hoping.
The council of wizards soon realized the mechanical unicorn population was directly influenced by the number of technical virgins.
The other superheroes felt that after becoming completely intangible Mr. Cellophane had really lost touch.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
IN THIS TWILIGHT
By AL BRUNO III
Three months in
By now work had become routine but it had yet to become drudgery. Every day Mike Carter sat down in a cubicle that he shared with two other co-workers, logged into his computer, put on his headset and took calls. Working in the Billing and Sales department meant he took calls from doctors, hospitals and nursing homes. Some calls were to pay or dispute bills; others were purchase orders for artificial limbs, CT scanners and medical sundries. There were account numbers to be checked and shipping addresses to be confirmed or changed. Mike was surprised at how much of the work the computer did for him, most of the time all the customer’s data just flashed up on his screen and all he had to do was talk and click the mouse.
“Come on. Look how quiet it is. Sometimes there’s ten minutes between calls.” One of the people he shared his cubicle with was named Cosmos. At first Mike had thought it was some kind of Greek name that happened to sound like the word ‘Cosmos’, but he soon learned that her parents had chosen to name her after the universe itself. She was just married and just out of college and was finding herself disillusioned about both. She seemed to take every call from her husband and every memo from corporate as a personal affront. “They’re going to move the whole damn operation offshore in a year, just you mark my words.”
The red haired man who sat directly opposite her rolled his eyes, “The company can’t do that. They have roots in the community,” his name was Jimmy and he'd just gotten out of the Army. He'd joined the service in hopes of acquiring computer skills but in the end all he'd gained for his six years was a bit of inoperable shrapnel and an obsession with Star Trek. The walls of his work space were cluttered with pictures of different girls from the different Star Trek shows. “Besides we’re the most productive of the three regional call centers.”
“Oh yeah,” Cosmos said, “I bet they say the same thing to the people working at the other call centers.”
Mike shared her cynicism but he hoped she was wrong, he enjoying himself here. It was nice to not spend all day Sunday dreading going in to work on Monday.
“You know just because-” Jimmy’s phone bleeped, he turned his attention to his computer screen as it filled with information, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am James your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“And anyway,” Cosmos continued, “if they’re all so gung ho for this this place then why haven’t they fixed that leak in the ladies room?”
“There’s a leak?” Mike asked.
“They’re always a leak. They fix it and it comes right back and no matter what they do it always reeks of-” Her phone bleeped, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Cosmos your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today? Cosmos…no really.”
There wasn’t a leak in the men’s room but Mike had to admit there was a strange, almost salty, odor, and it was always a few degrees too warm in there. Actually they kept the whole darn building a little too warm for his tastes. His phone bleeped. “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Michael your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“Why is toaster?” The voice on the other end of the line choked and gurgled, “What is the referent?”
“What?” Mike turned the volume of his headset up, certain he’d misheard, “I’m sorry could you repeat that?”
“Clamo, clamatis, omnes clamamus pro glace lactis!” The voice continued, “I can see the Husk Worlds when I close the eyes. Aegri somnia!”
“I'm sorry…” Mike looked around to see his co-workers bent over their keyboards. The SIGIL system hadn't brought any information to his screen, all he saw was a cursor blinking mindlessly, “I'm sorry but I don't understand what you want. This is the Trinity Advance Corporation.”
“Tell me where it plugs in damn you. The port is clogged with heterogeneous matter.”
“Sir I don't understand,” Mike looked to his phone. It was a notebook-sized mass of buttons with a long wide Caller ID screen at the top. The LCD readout however didn't give him any other information except for the words EXECUTIVE SUPPORT along with the time of day and date.
“Just hang up,” Cosmos was standing beside him unwrapping a pack of cigarettes. “It’s a call for upstairs.”
Mike pressed the mute button, “Couldn't I just transfer the call?”
Cosmos explained with an exasperated shrug, “There's no way to transfer calls between here and there.”
For a moment Mike sat there in silence staring at her while the caller sputtered gibberish, “There's no way to transfer calls within the building? That's crazy.”
“That's Trinity Advance,” Cosmos smiled, she only really smiled when she was being sarcastic. “The mighty SIGIL system sometimes routes the calls incorrectly. Just hang up and they'll call back and hopefully get sent to the right place. I'm going for a smoke break. Later.”
Mike un-muted the call and said, “Sir?”
“...meaty psychotronic guise, like love only terrifying. Est deus in nobis.”
“Sir, it looks like you got through to the wrong team, I'm not sure how it happened but I'm not going to be able to help you. I need to ask you to call back.”
“Oh. Ok.” And the line went dead.
A cigarette sounded pretty good after a call like that, Mike punched in the codes for a break and headed out after Cosmos. He snapped his fingers and doubled back, making sure he pocketed his ID card. He thought to himself, If that's the worst this job can throw at me I've got it made.
Jimmy looked up from his keyboard, “You going to the Christmas party next week?”
If not for his advanced thumb wrestling skills Abner Deggent might never have survived the night of the pygmy nymphomaniacs.
Grant Mandelbrot considered himself a Post Modern Shaman. In other words he did a acid, a lot of it really.
Cheap Rich's strip club watered down the drinks and forced the girls to rub their asses on his kids' art projects for free glitter.
It came as a surprise to no one that after the zombie apocalypse FOX NEWS viewing figures actually went up.
Decal-Man explained to his adoring fans that they could be just like him as long as they applied themselves.