All That Remains – Part 5

The rocket was ten by four by six meters and shaped like a stubby airplane.  The rear held seven large engines in a hexagon and the nose had a half-extended ramp to match the half-buckled supports on two of the three landing skids.  As Pez watched, leaning against a boulder in the shade of the parasol, a steady stream of bent parts and curses poured down the ramp.

“Not that it isn’t lovely out here, but how are you doing in there?”

Another bent piece of metal rang out as it flew down the ramp and joined the pile.

“It looks like the robos were actually fixing it after a fashion. I mean, all the guts are all over the place, but the computer still works. They fixed the power reactor – having previously shot it out from under me – and the anti-grav…” Mixie’s head popped down upside down, her short hair fanning out below her.  “Maybe they were trying to make a friend?” She grinned.

“Ah, again, levity. You humans are much more about levity than my people. I like it.”

Mixie retreated into the ship but continued to talk.  “Yeah well, it’s either laugh or cry.  And…’Your people?’ You mean, you’re not human?”

“Nope. I just look like this to keep you from being … thoroughly unhappy, though the Neplax are not so different from you, though. Bipedal, big head, scrawny.”

“Now who is making jokes.” Mixie started to squeeze through the partially open ramp to join Pez.

“Yeah. I believe you humans make jokes about things you find too painful to talk about directly. Ironic… your pain makes you funny. You touch things without actually … touching them this way, feeling the softness of the skin of a thing without confronting the …” Pez smiled at Mixie as she joined in the parasol’s shade. “…The fact that my metaphor has run off a cliff. Sorry.”

“Look, I know this is a sore subject, but you realize that I don’t actually believe much of your story, right?  I mean, what’s the most logical thing – explorer comes here, gets stranded, figures out how to live but loses their mind … OR you are god.”

“A god.  The Neplax were polytheistic.”  Pez sniffed.  “Is it possible that you have such a hard time with this because you, yourself don’t believe yourself worthy of love?”

“You are dodging the issue.”

“Yes, but it’s a brilliant dodge.”  Pez grinned, then pressed on.  “Why are you so resistant to possibilities?  You have been out in the universe and seen it’s wonders.  Why is this so challenging?”

The question hung for a moment.  Mixie showed new interest in her boot print in the sand. Finally, she sighed and said, “Your assertion is extraordinary, and you are putting it on me to justify my unwillingness to just take it on your word?  Come on.”  She walked around and scuffed at the sand.  “And besides, I’m a spy, Pez.  I kill people.  We’re in a war and my job is to gather intelligence that will get people killed and sometimes kill them myself.  And they are not all robots.  The only god I’m aware of frowns upon that shit.”

“So, you think that there are actions that make you less deserving of love?”

“Yes!  No!”  She kicked a rock “I don’t know!  You know, Pez, I am thoroughly uncomfortable talking so explicitly about this stuff.  Not to mention that I’m not at all convinced that you are not completely nuts.”

“Nuts?  Nuts!?  Of the residents of this conversation, there is exactly one who travels lightyears across space, bypassing the wonders of the spirit and the physical while armed and ready to murder people and destroy walking trashcans.  I tell you that I love you, without expectations, because that is what I do and how I feel and instead of that being warm and reassuring it gives you the willies and makes you barf up your every shortcoming and doubt.”

“Well, what do you want from me?”

“Nothing!  That’s the point!  I want you to be happy!  This murdering thing clearly isn’t doing it for you, now is it?  So stop.  And beating yourself up for what you’ve been told you must do to keep people you might one day love, because no one in their right mind goes out and kills strangers for no reason.  I’ve looked into your soul.  You aren’t the type.  Every one of those people haunts you.  You are … human for lack of a better word in your language.”  Pez trailed off with a mumbled, “Little ethnocentricity in that language choice, by the way.”

“Look, I’m sorry for not immediately buying your delusion.  I… I just… proof would help me.”

“But proof destroys the divinity of the divine.  Turns it into a tow truck.” Pez smiled. “I’m sorry, I’m not doing parlor tricks.  I do not want this to get in the way of our friendship, for I do believe you are my friend, Mixie.” Pez smiled and Mixie found herself smiling back.  “And the nice thing about my divinity is that I do not need you to believe me for me to continue to be” Pez posed with a flourish of the hand, “divine.”

Mixie snorted.  “Quite!  And Pez, you… you are my friend, as much as these few days at any rate… I just don’t know… And maybe, if you’ve got this delusion from some kind of trauma, I can maybe get you help.”

Pez sighed.  “Is it so bad a delusion?  I mean, if I’m truly mad and delusional, would this particular delusion be all that bad?  For me?  For you?  Would believing it really cause you any great harm?”

They sat in silence for a while.  Mixie drank from the canteen while Pez rifled through the backpack and brought out some toasted gecko and some roots cut into long sticks.

“That lunch?”

Pez smiled up.  “A picnic!”

“More gecko? I’d think with all your godness that you’d be a vegan.”

“I am not wasteful, nor do I delight in the killing, but food is important to you.  These beings are hearty and easy to trap.  And the greens of the roots here make a decent rub with the ever so plentiful salt.”

The two ate in silence for a while with Mixie taking heavy swigs from the canteen.

Finally, she asked, “So, what happened to them? Your people?

“Oh, a mix of things. Many of them fled this world. Too few… And not enough who would accept the old teachings enough to … let me go with them. I let them go with the love of a mother for her wayward child.” Pez sniffled, then added, “That’s one of my many aspects, you understand.”

“Of course,” Mixie smiled. “But I was more interested in why this world is so… dead. It’s got the ability to sustain life, but it just doesn’t.  Not the way it should.  It’s fucked up how much salt is everywhere.  You would think it would … I don’t know… migrate with rain or something?”

Pez packed up the rations and dusted one hand on the other. “Ah. Well. That’s both a simple and a complex story that’s best shown, not told. You said the ship was mobile, at least a little, any chance we can take it somewhere?”

“Actually yeah. I can anti-grav the thing and just throw the computer inside.  Won’t go much faster than walking, but… I don’t see much of a point. Rebuilding the rocket from scratch will take forever…”

“Well, I’m sure I could help you pass the time. I am the god of love after all. Billions of creatures have coupled in my name.”

A laugh erupted out of Mixie.  “That’s your pick-up line?” Pez continued to smile, which should have been unnerving, but it wasn’t.  “Yeah, and don’t think I don’t appreciate the offer, but … Pez? Are you male or female? I haven’t figured it out yet.”

Slinging the backpack over a shoulder, Pez said, “You humans are so cute! All ‘detail oriented.’ But suit yourself, the offer still stands to lie with a God. But come… Not all things on this planet are ruin.”

[Author’s note: Hi.  Trying to get this out before NaNoWriMo hits next week.  Please like if you care to spread the word of the site and my work (I could use it).  And feel free to look around.

Come November 1, I’ll be posting my daily NaNoWriMo output under the “Minions of the Orange Overlord” page.  With any luck it won’t be a total dumpster fire but I’ve probably only got about 5K worth of story in my head for it.  Luckily, those parts are the beginning, the middle, and the end, so I got that.

Hope you like the story so far.  It’s not that much longer but I’m doing a fair bit of editing, as with everything these days.

Stay Weird

-SC]

All That Remains – Part 4

Morning broke as a red haze above the planet. Mixie watched the local star split the horizon and light the ever-present dust clouds.  Her quick calculation told her that days here would be longer than Earth standard, but not so much as to completely goof up her sense of time.  Morning was still morning and noon was still fast approaching.  They burned this crimson daylight at their peril.  Night on this planet rivaled space for darkness.

As she scanned the motley landscape for any sign of threats or pitfalls, Pez plodded past her carrying a parasol. Despite herself, Mixie grinned at her companion. “You know, Pez, you really didn’t need to come out with me. This could be dangerous.”

“Well, I couldn’t let you roam out here by yourself!  I’m both touched by your concern and unconcerned about my wellbeing. And even if I was, I wouldn’t be. … Concerned that is. Sorry if that’s a bit of a tangle.” Pez waved and stared into the distance.

“No, I get it. And that is…”

“Because I am the selfless embodiment of love.”

Mixie pointed at Pez.  “Yeah, gotcha. That’s how you roll. Ship should be over that way, I think.”

“Yes, good.  Dead reckoning and all that.”  Pez looked over at Mixie as they walked side by side.  “You know, there is the not insignificant matter of your not giving yourself adequate time to heal from your injuries.  I can’t believe you didn’t tell me right away how hurt you were.”

Mixie shrugged.  “Didn’t really know until I took off the suit.  Got hit in the thigh and the hip.  Didn’t really want you gawking.”

“How…“ Pez shook with the effort of finding the word. “…Puritanical!  Really!  And here I thought you were this practical soldier and all and you couldn’t let someone help you with your wounds without being all shy.  Be glad that silliness didn’t kill you.  There are still infectious organisms on this planet that I highly doubt you’ve had your shots for.”

Rolling her eyes, Mixie said, “Yes mother.”

“I am not your mother.” Pez smirked.  “If I were, you’d still be convalescing not hopping about the dunes after only a few days.”

“Yeah but… I thought you said that the geckos were a top predator here.”

“Predator yes, but a rockslide or a cave-in or a bad storm will make you just as dead.”

Mixie pressed her side.  “I’m fine.  I’m as mobile as I ever am, even if I’m not happy about it.”

They pressed on in silence, passing the edge of the plains and the strange rock columns.  The frozen bodies of the robos could be seen already being steadily eroded and covered by the sticky red dust and the corrosive white sand.  Past the pillars lay the shallow canyons and broken landscape in which she took refuge immediately following the crash.  Compared to that time of hiding from cover to cover, they made excellent time.

They came to a box at the end of one of the canyons and decided to climb up the dozen-odd meters to higher ground.  Mixie learned two things upon standing on this strange plateau.  One is that it was noon.  The other was that she was not the only thing the Robos had troubled on this planet.

“Well, there she is. Fuck!” She dropped her binoculars. “I sorta figured the robos would mess with the old girl, but this…”

“Is not entirely space-worthy,” Pez finished for her.  The ship was still a good way off but it was obviously partially disassembled.

Mixie shook her head.  “To say the least.  Fucking Flange!”

For a moment the two just stood, surveying the damage from afar, and then Pez used the folded parasol as a cane and precariously started across the precarious landscape to the ship.

“Come on, bitching will not help. You may as well see exactly how bad it is.”

“Is that some sort of love thing?”

Pez smiled up at her as she continued to pout.  “I believe you’d call it tough love, but not really. I just understand that if you didn’t work on the ship you’d be simply miserable company. Intolerable!”

All That Remains – Part 5

[Author’s note: I had a “great idea” for a piece that went before this one that, upon reflection, sucked with the power of a supermassive black hole.  Sorry it broke the string of posts for the people following this in real time.

Please like or follow to help grow the site if you enjoyed this.  It helps get the attention of the robots out there.  Nice robots, not Robos.  Also, check out the other things I’ve offered up on the site.  I definitely do weird fiction, but I try to hit diverse topics.

And most of all, Stay Weird

-SC]

All That Remains – Part 3

Through the curtain and down a hall, a much brighter and utilitarian room opened up.  In contrast to the high ceilings and echo of the front room, this room had human dimensions.  More important, in the center of the room held a large table adorned with big dishes of different foods and pitchers of drink.  Mixie dug into it with abandon.

“I take it the food is to your liking?” Pez said with a smile and just a hint of revulsion.

“Yeah!”  Mixie said through a mouth full of something starchy.  “This is great! A real lifesaver. I’ve been going on rations for a while. It’s…”

“A miracle?”

“I was going to say wonderful, but I guess it’s that too.”

Pez sauntered around the kitchen.  “I am so glad you like it. I get so very few opportunities to entertain, you understand.”

Mixie cast a wary eye while continuing to eat.  “I don’t want to sound ungrateful or nothing, but, what are you doing here?”

“I’m feeding the hungry.”  The tall man made a display of looking off into the distance.  “I believe it’s called a form of charity where you come from.”

“No, I mean, you’re out here in the middle of nowhere with enough power to take out a robo pursuit pack. And let me tell you, we could really use what you’ve got.”

“Yes. Yes, you could.”

“So, what gives?”

“Why I do. I give without the expectation of repayment. It’s one of the things I do.”

“No, I mean, why are you here with enough firepower to save my behind?”

“I’m…” Pez started to say with a grand air and then stopped.  He eyed the eating woman and sat down on an adjacent stool.  “Mixie, you are not likely to believe me.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. For you would like the truth, but it runs counter to your beliefs.”

Mixie frowned.  “I’ve only been here an hour and you think you know what I’d believe?  I believe what I can see and I saw you, or something you did, save me.  Why do you think I wouldn’t believe you?”

“Because I know your heart, Mixie.”  He stood up and struck a grand and dramatic pose. “You see, I am the god of love.”

The last word hung in the air and dropped into silence as Pez retained an exagerated pose.  Inspite of herself, Mixie started to giggle.  When he broke his pose by glancing sideways at her the tension of the past days broke out in full out laughter.

“Ah! Levity!” He became once again friendly and happy. “I Adore levity! Yes, you’ve found an incongruity and as such you laugh. I’m most pleased!”

“And mad as a hatter.  You? You’re the god of love?”

“Well,” Pez became defensive. “A god of love, yes. More specifically the god of love to the people of this world.”

Mixie looked around.  “But Pez, this world… It’s a rock. No one lives here.  I did scans before I lande… Ok, so I crashed, really. And I was under fire, but … I’ve been here a couple of days and all I’ve run into are little gecko-looking things.”

“Yes. So, you can see why I haven’t had much company lately, and I do so enjoy entertaining.”

“You’re mad.” she said, still chuckling. “But fine. Keep your secrets.”

“I assure you that I have no secrets, only mysteries.”

“Oh, yeah, of course, because …” She waved a fork in the air.  “yeah.”

Pez continued to be a gracious host, but became short and miffed.  “I told you you would not believe me. Regardless, I am who I am and you are welcome to stay and heal. I grant you the sanctuary of my altar.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks.” Mixie scraped a fork across her plate, but noticed the sudden chill in the room.  “Hey.  It’s.  I didn’t mean to be … It just … I’m sorry.  Your pronouncement just hit me funny.  I didn’t mean to laugh.”  She looked up.  “That is, I didn’t mean to laugh at you.  That was wrong.”

Pez started to clean the empty dishes and take them over to a sink set into the stone of the wall. “Apology accepted,” came from the turned back in a way that meant that it wasn’t, at least not fully.

After a few moments of awkward silence Mixie tried again. “Hey, listen. I am going to need to get to my rocket so I can at least try to get out of here. Not that you don’t have a very nice… altar, but there is a war on out there in the galaxy.”

“I’m aware of your wars.” Pez said coldly, still cleaning the dishes.

“Really?  This place just seems… remote.  Do you have some kind of hyperspace uplink or something?”

“I have no need for your technology so I do not possess it.”

“Yet you have stores, can lay out this kind of spread.  How can you do that without technology?”

“In the face of love, all things are known. Plus, I’m a God remember? It does come with a few… perks.”

Mixie shrugged.  “Whatever you say. You don’t happen to have a perk that will just grab my space ship and drag it here, do you?”

“I’m afraid I’m a bit weak at the moment. After centuries with nothing but my pets, it’s been quite the busy morning. Exhilarating!”

“I’m glad I could get you warmed up… Look, Pez, that thing you used to make the robos self-destruct, that’s a damned handy thing. Can you at least consider telling me how it works?”

“You are unconvinced of the reality of my being. However, I am pleased that you do not find me to be a threat to you, because I am not. You amuse me. But you will find that I am not good with your technology nor am I a fitting replacement for it. Love is not a tow truck.”

“Shame. I’d love a tow truck right about now.”

“Ah, more levity!  That one I get!” A smile stretched across Pez’s face and for the first time, Mixie had the presence of mind to examine it.  Pretty, with eyes that were a little sunk and a nose slightly too big, but not so much that it made the face unfriendly.  If anything, the imperfections made the whole more relatable and endearing.  In the face of that draw, Mixie became more curious.

“So, you know of the war going on, yet remain here?  In a place not exactly rich in resources?  You must trade.  Who are you allied with?  The Alien Federation?  The Floon Empire?  The Bakag Holding?  You aren’t allied with the Terran Colonies or else you’d have been marked on my navigation map and you clearly aren’t with the Robo Central Collective.”

“I am with them all.  And none.  Well, all except for maybe the purely synthetic ones. Those are as rocks to me.” Pez waved a hand.  “You are curious, cautious, likely paranoid and distrustful.  Fortune placed you within my influence and you are rightly wary of fortune.  I will not judge as that is not in my nature.   But I have no place in your war and will take no sides, even yours.”

“But the Robos…”

“… have no love and no life. I will not betray you but I do beg you not to bring your conflict to my world.  Now, as I mentioned, it’s been a long day.  I will leave you now. You will find quarters including a bath through that door. My chambers are through that door. I would be pleased if you would join me, for levity is not the only thing that gladdens my heart. You are very lovely, Mixie. I would like you to lie with me.”

“Um. thanks? I’m flattered and all but … I think I’ll just … turn in, if that’s OK.”

“Of course. The invite is open and there is no obligation. Overcome your caution and suspicion.  Love is patient and I have nothing but time.”

All That Remains – Part 4

All That Remains – Part 2

It was too good to be true.  Whatever it was knocked all of the robos totally dead, frozen in mid step.  After a moments rest, a few minutes from the first aid kit in her flight suit cargo pocket, she was up again and able to limp through some rudimentary recon.

Hope fled with the realization that she had no water, no map, no food and was injured.  No one knew where she was and she had set out in such a panic from the crash of the ship into the dust storm, neither did she.

“Time to pick a direction,” She said, just to hear something besides the wind.  Regarding the direction where the energy wave originated, she pointed and said, “Might as well be that way.”

 

The cliff was a surprise.  It rose across the desert like a wall and extended as far as the eye could see through the haze in both directions.  The door was an even bigger surprise.  It was high, wide and massive, made of stone and pitted with age.  When she touched it, it swayed effortlessly, but betraying its mass.  With one last look at the cliff face, impossible to climb, and the certain dry death of the desert, she readied her blaster and stepped into the darkness beyond the door.

“Hello?”  She felt stupid.  Nothing but trouble in here, but maybe there was water.

To keep the dust out, she turned and pushed the massive door shut again.

“Ah, you are house trained. Good!” a flippant voice said from the dark.

Mixie fired her blaster near but not at the voice and the report echoed off unseen walls.

The voice was unconcerned.  “But not so well mannered as to refrain from threatening your host. Ah well, Kids these days. So impetuous!”

“I’m…” Mixie caught herself.  She wasn’t sorry.  She had followed her training.  “Who are you? You don’t have the Robo voice.”

“Then I clearly am not a… what did you call them? ’Robos?’ Yes, definitely not one of those.”

Mixie hardened.  “Well then who are you?”

Soft footfalls padded in the dark.  Mixies eyes were adjusting and she could barely make out the room, a large rectangular hall made of stone.

“You see,” the voice instructed, “when one is caught breaking into a house, it is usually customary to make introductions, especially when the owner has had the grace to save you from certain unpleasantries at the hands of your ‘Robos.’

Her head swam but she kept her resolve.  “You did that?  Um… I’m Mixie. Now who are you?”  She stuck her blaster out for emphasis.

The room lightened slowly and a thin person trailing a robe stepped into better light.  “Hello Mixie,” the being said with a dramatic, unperturbed flair.  “I…  am Pez.”  The figure, draped in sheer robes and stuck in an exaggerated pose as the name echoed around the hall.

The echo died as Mixie continued to point her gun.  All at once the pose broke into an exasperated flap. “Well? Are you going to shoot? It seems a rather a curious way to say, ‘thank you for saving my life back there, with the ‘about to suicide’ and loss of limbs and all’ … But I suppose some cultures are just like that.”  The being crossed the room to a fountain and dipped a cup in, mumbling, “Seems rather rude to me, really…” The figure approached on soft feet and held out the cup.  “…or is it just that you’ve been running for so long that you no longer recognize kindness in strangers?”

Mixie considered it, then quickly lowered her weapon and slid it into her hip holster.

“Ah that’s better.  Isn’t that better?”  The being handed her the cup and she took it.

The room seemed to be much lighter now, though the corners were still lost in shadow.  The figure turned a door that had been lost in the shadows. She contemplated her hosts exposed back. “Mr. Pez…”

“Just Pez, if you please.”

“Fine, Pez.”  Her feet followed. “What are you doing here?”

The figure stopped with a hand on the doorway and half turned.  “Why, this is my home.  I putter about. What do YOU do at your home, young lady? And since it’s almost mid-day, I’m making lunch. Come,” Pez’s eyes wandered up and down Mixie. “You look like you could use some.”

All That Remains – Part 3

[Note: Thanks for reading.  Likes and follows are helpful for getting traffic flowing to the site again if you find the story amusing.  I’ll be back to my usual stories as well pretty soon.

Till then, Stay Weird

-SC]

All That Remains – Part 1

A lifeless wind pushed across an unforgiving planet.  Red iron desert and alkaline salts gave the wind grit, bite, and angry color, a color that reflexively spoke to the core of any sentient life form.  It said, you are not welcome here.

Mixie’s boots crunched over the gravel as she ran, blaster in one hand, useless infopod in the other.  She was glad for the stinging dust and its angry color but now that the wind was dying, the dust settled.  It no longer got in her eyes, but she would have cried a river of tears if it would have kept them from flying.

“Halt!” The robotic voice commanded from behind.

Hundreds of robotic soldiers emerged from the same dust storm and kept pace with the fleeing woman in her white flight suit.   With a clear target, the robots began shooting.

“Argh! Dammit!”  One blot grazed Mixie’s leg, slowing her progress as bolts flew everywhere.  The robots didn’t need good aim.  They had numbers.

“Mixie,” The voice said.  Mixie could hear the whir of it’s jet pack gaining elevation. “You are found to be guilty of espionage against the Flange. Your continued evasion proves your guilt.”

With a huff, Mixie twisted, ignoring the pain in her thigh and shot.  The graceless robot sputtered and crashed back to the ground, where the countless others walked over or around it.  Her glance back showed that very few were becoming airborne.  Not a good sign.  They wouldn’t waste energy flying if they had already calculated her capture as inevitable.  Another of the robots continued to speak.

“Destroying one of our rank will not save you. We will not tire. There are scores of us. We have your accomplices. We have your ship. We Have your data.  Soon all will be broadcast back to the Center.”

“Well then you don’t really need me, do you?”  She said between ragged breaths.  She was surprised when it answered.

“Need is irrelevant.  We have been mandated by The Center to retrieve your torso and head alive. Extraneous parts are to be left at the site of capture.”

“Great,” She said, looking across the plain.  In the distance, what looked like a forest of tall columns sprouted from the ground.  She sprinted to it as fast as she could limp.  It was good enough and she relished the feel of rocks under her boots.

From behind her, she heard the sound of the robots activating their hover units.  Maybe there was hope.  Acting on instinct, she dashed left through the odd pillars, hoping to throw off her pursuers.  A few fleeting moments gave her the impression that it might work, until a robot clumsily slid into her path.

She shot the robot full in the chest and turned back to the right.  They would know where she was.  They would all know.

And then the pillars were gone.  She ran out onto a plain every bit as flat as the one she had just left.  No time to think.  Run.

A massive bolt struck her and sent her tumbling to the ground. “Ah!” She screamed.  “No! no. Not … Not FAIR!” She considered her blaster, considered the taste of the barrel.  She was looking down that barrel when the sound of a hovering robot became louder and crunched down near her.

Looking up, the expressionless camera pods focused on her.  “You…”

She shot the robot dead center and it fell away from her.  As the rest of the robots crunched their way through the maze of pillars, Mixie tried to crawl away over the endless plain of sand. The robo she’d shot could no longer move, but it continued to talk. “Damage to one unit will not prevent your capture, Mixie.  We have been told that in times like this, you humans usually choose to genuflect to your deity.  You should do so now before you are disassembled.”

The shot tore through the crippled robot, obliterating it.  Mixie looked down the sight of the energy weapon and cursed herself for wasting time.  Flipping back over to her knees, she continued her painful crawl.  As the loping crunches grew louder, she knew she would know the taste of that barrel.

A wave of energy unexpectedly raced across the desert plain in front of her.  It looked like death, but at least a more tempting and complete death than a blaster bolt.  Mixie continued to crawl.  It washed over her like a blanket of static, loud and impressive.  Once it was gone, all the dust surrounding her stuck to her like a magnet and her wounds screamed from the sand and grit.

She clenched her teeth, but continued to crawl, and crawl, and crawl. She listened for the sound of robos crunching or flying that would be the signal to have a final meal of blaster bolt sandwich.  She listened, but nothing came.  Looking over her shoulder, she saw that her crawl had taken her only meters from the pillars, but out in the open.  Nothing came.  It was quiet, just her and the angry colored sand.

All That Remains – Part 2

[Note: This is a piece that’s not terribly long, but I’m putting it out in parts just to get back into the swing of writing.  August hasn’t been a terribly kind month and this is an attempt to break the logjam.

I’ll be back on The Strange and other projects soon. But until then, enjoy my emulation, update, and tribute to 1950’s sci-fi rendered in Liquid Wax.

Stay Weird

-SC]

Idle Hands – Episode 3 –The New Girl – Part 3

[Author’s note: This is the last of three parts and will likely not make much sense without parts one and two]

Mitch set up two drinks at the bar for Sal and Dee Dee.  The bar was deserted this late on a Monday, so he was cleaning glasses and listening in for the entertainment value.

“Hi, Sal!  I’m really glad you could meet me so we could go over this.”  Dee Dee took a sip of her Virgin Bloody Mary.

Sal felt both nervous and ungrateful.  “Yeah.  You know, I don’t want to do that job.  It just seems, and no offence to you, but it seems sort of … cruel.”

“Well, I certainly don’t want you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.  But we do want to see you out working and getting paid, so let’s see what we can do”

She opened up her lap top and pulled up the ever-changing job opportunities board.  Putting in ‘Accountant’, she was dismayed by the choices.

Beaming a plastic smile only slightly too wide for her face she said, “Ok, I want to emphasize that we one hundred percent guarantee that you will get these jobs.”

“It’s that bad a list, eh?  Well, let’s hear it.”

“We have a foreclosure specialist.”

“Keep moving.  I’m not taking away houses”

“Tax auctioneer.  Ah, here’s one!  An auditor for child protective services.  I hear that they have great Benefits!”

She beamed her too-wide smile at him, which freaked him out.

“Oh, uh, you know what?  If this is at the top of the list, we should just stop.”

“But, I’ve got a few more openings!”

“Stop,” he commanded in a quiet tone.

She started to lose her composure and gave him a glaring stare. “Look, I’m sure I can find a job that is good enough for you and your… particular tastes.  You have no idea what placing you means to me.”

“I’m sure these are fine jobs.  I’m just not so… I can’t check my heart at home.  I’m sure others can, but that’s not me.  Really, these kinds of things, selling people’s homes and taking away their babies, that kind of thing keeps you up nights.  I don’t think I’d be good at it, either.”

She glared at him with blue sparks in her eyes before finally saying “Fine! But can you please just finish out the week?  I have other candidates for the job, but I need a bit of time to transition them in.  And I really want to try to get you another job.”

“Sure, I guess.  As long as I can give notice tomorrow.  I don’t want to cause you any grief or anything, I just want out.  I can stay until Friday.  But after that… I don’t know.  These are pretty much all non-starters.”

“Yeah.  Good.”  She got up and stomped to the back of the bar, barely able to control her mounting anger. “I’ve got to go take a wiz.”

Mitch leaned over the bar after she was gone. “Man, What a bitch.  Bet she pees standing.”

“She’s just doing a crappy job, Mitch.  I can sympathize.”

“That’s your problem, Sallie.  You are too nice.”

“Well, I’d rather have that problem than be a bastard.”

Both men turned to the back of the bar as a feedback scream of frustration grew louder and more intense.  Suddenly, the wall at the back of the bar blew open as if a bomb had gone off.  Shrapnel and plaster flew out into the table area near the bar.

“Oh my god!  That girl!  She was in there!”  Sal walked toward the exploded rubble and was about to call after Dee Dee when a large, silver hand shot out and grabbed his neck.  Through the dust, a huge, shock-laden smile stretched across the hole.

Mitch threw a bottle of vodka at the monster in a panic.  It burst into flame on contact with the demon’s sparking skin.  In its surprise, the monster dropped Sal and both men ran for their lives.

“What was that?” Mitch yelled as they scrambled in to the haze of the night.

Sal looked back.  “I don’t know, but Dee Dee!…”

“Don’t even think!” the young man said, breathing hard.  He came to an exhausted stop in a nearby alley.  “Ain’t Nothing you can do, Sallie.”

“Yeah, poor girl.”  Sal walked over and slumped against the brick wall.  He looked back at the now smoking bar, rubbed his throat, and tried hard to make sense of what just happened.

“Who are you calling ‘poor’?”  A voice from farther in the alley startled the men.  Dee Dee appeared from the shadows, dirty but seemingly alive.

“Hey Lady!  You OK?  We thought…”

“Well you thought wrong,” she snapped.  “Look, we need the Police or the army or something here.  Some kind of monster.  Can you call for help?”

Sal looked at his phone.  “Strange, no.  My cell phone is dead.”

Dee Dee walked up to Mitch and put a hand on his shoulder.  “Why don’t you find a pay phone or something and call the cops?”  Her words dripped with fake sweetness.

“Why me?” he shrieked.

“Because Sal’s old, I’m a frightened little girl, and it’s your bar that’s on fire.  Now go!”  She pushed him into the street and he sprinted off into the night.  She smiled a smile that was uncomfortably wide and said softly, “Besides, Sal and I need to have a little chat.”

She turned around and faced Sal.  Her hand went to her hip and she tapped her foot.  The light from the street poured over her shoulder into the dark alley. All Sal could see was her clearly annoyed outline.

“Do you know how hot it is in hell?  I mean really?  You people think that this summer heat wave is hot, but where I used to work, now that was hot!”

Sal looked at her outline and couldn’t comprehend what he was hearing.  “Wha… HUH?”

“Oh, come on, Sal.”  She spoke sweetly but he could now see her spark-filled eyes in the dark, recessed shadow of her head. “You don’t think I’d go through all of this trouble just for a commission, do you?  You see, you are my ticket to a job working on the earth.  There are certain… fringe benefits… that I really like about working here.  The weather is just the beginning.”

She began to walk slowly towards Sal.  He could see the outline of her legs beneath her skirt suit.  They walked toward him in a smooth, sexy fashion, one leg slightly crossing the other.  But when her feet hit the pavement there was a crunching sound.  It was as if the pavement was complaining about having to support her.  Her smile, which was always a little freaky, now stretched to the very bottoms of her ears and her teeth shot sparks at each other.

“You!  You are the monster from the bar!” Sal started to back away from the woman who seemed to grow taller and less human with each passing step.

“Duh!”  Her voice now had a hint of the feedback-scream. “You really aren’t that smart, Sal. But since you brilliantly figured that out, I’m going to give you one last chance.”

Dee Dee’s right hand stretched out, becoming huge and metallic with sparks arcing between the fingers.  Her thin arms became long flexible.  The hand grew as it came toward him, fingers stretching out like knives. It snatched him up off the ground. “Take the job.  Any job. I really don’t care.” The hand made a cage around him and dragged him close.  “I’ll pay you a ridiculous amount of money.  I’ll send your kids to college.  Hell, I’ll even suck your putrid dick. Just take the job.  It really does mean quite a lot to me, Sal.”

His thin hair stood on end and he cried out in terror. “Ah!  Ah!  So, what if I still don’t take the job?”

“Well, that’s easy.”  Her huge mouth curled at the ends in a perversion of a smile. “Do that and I go back to plan ‘A’ and kill you.  Not as advantageous, I’ll admit, but it will make me feel better about going back home.”

Her spark-filled eyes gleamed as she held him above the ground in a strong, vice-like grasp.  She opened her mouth wide and he screamed “Oh God!”

“Not quite.  The boy-scouts stay out of our little game.”  It was a new voice, a man with the hint of a smile under his voice.  Dark red smoke filled the alley.  One rope of smoke formed around the arm that held Sal.  As he watched, it became a pair of sheers which closed and severed the hand that held him.  An inhuman scream erupted from Dee Dee as she turned around to try to find the source of this attack.

Sal dropped to the ground, still in the hand’s unyielding grasp. He kicked at the metallic fingers. They wouldn’t budge, but they no longer squeezed or sparked.  Whatever happened next, he was helpless to do anything but watch.

Dee Dee twirled around as the smoke quickly gathered in one place.  She shrank down to her human form as sparks re-grew her missing hand.  Clutching her wounded forearm, she looked at the man who formed from the billow of red smoke.  His suit was impeccable, and though it was a dark night, he wore yellow-reflective sunglasses.  With his blood red suit, black shit and black tie, he looked like a pimp or a rock star.

The wounded woman looked at him.  “Fuck!  You know how much that hurts, you dick?”

“Dee Dee!  Is that any way to talk to your Boss?  And here I thought we were becoming friends!”

“Friends, my ass!  You stuck me with a self-righteous loser that doesn’t want to work for shit.”

“So, you attack him?” He clasped his hands in front and looked at the ground.  “I suppose you might call that a bargaining technique, but I had asked you not to abuse the clients.  In fact, it’s a dismissible offense.”

Dee Dee snarled. “You won’t do that!  I’ve got the man himself backing me and that trumps your bullshit rules any day.”

He moved around and talked to the air, gesturing with his hands.  “You know, you’re right.  The Big D likes you and he really wants you to fit in and learn the ropes here.  Quite frankly, that is enough to overcome some infractions of the code of conduct.”

Dee Dee’s grin was spark-filled, wild and six inches too long for her face.  “Good, so fuck off!”

The man in the suit walked calmly with his hands clasped behind his back. “On the other hand, your employment was contingent on the successful placement of a certain ‘self-righteous loser’ for a period of five weeks.  And it seems to me that our little test is not exactly going well.”

Her crazy smile started to droop at the corners.  “We were dealing with that when you showed up and fucked it up.  Go back to playing your little games, doomed man.”

“Well, you see, it’s my duty to follow up with our clients and placement employees to gauge their satisfaction.  So, excuse me while I talk to our friend here.”

“What? Wait!”

He quickly became a cloud of smoke and swarmed around Dee Dee.  Re-forming on the other side, he walked over to Sal, still trapped in Dee Dee’s severed hand “Hi!  I’m here to enquire about your satisfaction with our placement services.  Do you have a second, or is this not a good time?”  He smiled a genuine smile which confused Sal all the more.

“What?”  The prone man was wide-eyed in disbelief.

“I’d like to know if you are happy with our placement services.  So, tell me, do you feel that you are in a position where all the elements are in place for you to succeed?”

“Huh?  No!  The job’s a nightmare.” Sal saw Dee Dee approach the man from behind, growing in height, strength and power as she did. He struggled furiously against the constraining, severed metal hand.  “Get me out of here!”

“This is stupid.  I’m being railroaded.” Dee Dee powered up her right hand to swipe at both the struggling Sal and his interrogator.  Her hand came across like a crane boom with talons, but smoke quickly formed around both men and hardened into a curved wall.  Her blow glanced off the wall, throwing her off balance.

The structure dissipated into smoke as quickly as it had formed.  From that smoke, the man in his sharp dark-red suit and tie emerged and walked towards Dee Dee.  She was quickly regaining her composure and was readying for another strike.  He raised his hand.  “That’s enough.”  The smoke rushed at Dee Dee.  She swiped at it with both spark-filled hands but to no avail.  A brick-red crust started to form around her wrists. Once it was thick enough to hold her, it pulled her arms behind her back.

“What the hell do you think you are doing!” She shouted.  Her mouth grew bigger and the sparks that made up her teeth arced out like crazy lightning.  Her voice boomed like thunder.  “LET ME GO!”

With his hand still raised, the man in the suit now pointed a finger and a large, constrictive gag went over her mouth.  He materialized a binder with the Idle Hands logo on the cover and calmly flipped through it as he strolled up to her.  “You see?”  He showed her a page in the book.  “Paragraph 4 of the agreement you signed.  ‘Third party satisfaction surveys are routinely conducted two weeks after an initial placement and every month after.’  You aren’t being railroaded.  It’s in your contract.  Plus, check out paragraph 7.  I can use whatever means necessary to carry out my survey.  You really should have read through the employee handbook instead of just blazing through to the signature page.  Your loss.  So, I’m not going to let you go.  You are interfering with my evaluation.” He snapped the binder closed and it instantly turned into red smoke.  “So, hang out while I finish this satisfaction survey.  Who needs a spell book when you can have an employee handbook?”

Dee Dee glared at him with sparking eyes and fought against her bonds as soon as he turned back to Sal.  “Sorry for the interruption.  So, where were we?  Ah yes. You had problems with your current placement.  Did you bring them up with your Idle Hands representative?”

“Yeah, I called.”  Sal looked down at the now disembodied and immobile, giant, metal hand that held him.  “Hey, can you do something about this?  It’s really uncomfortable.”

“Oh, of course.  How rude of me.”  Smoke swirled around the confining metal cocoon and it slowly relaxed its grip on the middle-aged accountant.  “So, what happened next?”

“What happened next is she tried to kill me.”  Sal dusted himself off and looked at the man.  Fire from the bar lit him from the side, the flams making jumpy patterns on the brick wall behind him.  And those mirrored shades held the flame. “I looked over the jobs she had and I didn’t want any of them.  She lured us out here, got me alone, and threatened to kill me if I didn’t take a job.”

“You know, we have strict rules about that sort of thing.”

Sal shot an angry look at Dee Dee.  The fire dancing off of the shining metal facets of her demonic form.  “I’d hope so.  And why am I not scared?  I should be terrified of you two, but I’m not.”

“Oh, I find I have a calming influence when I get involved in HR matters.  And on that point, are you sure I can’t place you anywhere?  Based upon your experience here at Idle Hands, with Ms. Dee Dee, you are sure you want to sever your relationship here?”

Sal nodded and said, “Absolutely.”  The word carried forever, as if it had broken some sort of spell.

Dee Dee fought wildly against her restraints and finally managed to slip free.  She used this free hand to tear free the gag that held her mouth shut.  “This guy is full of shit.  You set me up!”

“You can think what you want Dee Dee, but he just quit, your contingency came up and now…”  He grinned an evil grin that seemed right at home on his face. “I believe that you are dismissed.”

Dee Dee screamed a feedback scream of utter contempt as she lunged at the two men.  As she attacked, a great burst of hellfire surrounded her.  She continued to reach for Sal even as she burned.  The hellfire yanked her back down to the pit just in time as her lunge stopped just short.   Screaming an awful metallic scream, she was sucked back into hell.

The fire went out in seconds, leaving no trace of ever having been in the alley.  Sal looked at the mysterious man who had saved him and tried to think of something to say.  He finally settled on “Thanks … I think.”

“Don’t mention it.  I’m just doing my job.”

“And what exactly is that?  I have a strong suspicion that I’m not going to remember any of this so you may as well tell me the truth.”  He tried to look the man in the eye but was blocked by his sunglasses.  “I’m right about that, aren’t I?  People don’t just have this kind of thing happen to them and get to tell about it.  You’d have heard.”

“Yeah, Sal, you aren’t going to remember anything odd about me or Dee Dee.  You’ll get paid well … extremely well … for your hours and I’ll make sure there is a bonus in there for you, because…”  He paused and faced Sal.  The man was middle aged, rumpled, and defeated by life, yet he had an air of dignity. He’d never given in to the struggle.  “Because I like you, Sal.  I deal with people all day … and they are assholes.  They just suck, but you … you have done me a favor by just giving a damn and being a good guy.  If I have one true gift of my own it’s to be able to size a guy up and know what he’s good for.  I saw you and knew you’d be able to do this for me because you are fundamentally decent.  And while you were doing that, I have done you an insulting disservice.  Think of the bonus as my way of saying sorry, you deserve better.”

“Well, that’s kind of you.  Thanks again. Money isn’t everything, but it does buy some nice stuff.”

The man chuckled behind his glasses.  “Yes, it does.”

“But I’m troubled.  You seem nice and all to me, but the things you are doing… you and that… whatever that was … They aren’t very nice, are they?” They walked out of the alley and into the stuffy night.  Mitch’s bar was now fully on fire and the two could see him wandering around outside.

“I’d like to say you don’t have the right of it.  But, you see, we didn’t come up with the postings.”

Sal stopped walking, which made the man stop as well.  “But you fill them.”

The fire from the bar lit the man’s face and glinted in his yellow-mirrored sunglasses.  “Sal, the world is a place that is filled with horrible consequences and even worse random shit-storms.  You didn’t deserve unemployment.  That Barron shit kid doesn’t deserve to fuck supermodels.  And no one deserves to be on the receiving end of a screwing, but life is risk.  That foreclosure job?  How do you know those people reached for the ring and came up short?  Actions, consequences, free will.  For instance, no one is forced to work at Idle Hands, not even me.”

“Or me.  This… I’m probably still in shock, to be this calm …”  A throaty woosh came from the bar as something inside of it gave way.  “… but really, I just want to forget all of this.”

“Yeah.  I can do that for you.  Kinda have to.”  The man avoided Sal’s gaze. “Hope you don’t mind.”

“But how do I know that I’m now done, that you won’t test me again or use me as a pawn?  Can I get your assurance that I’ll never be messed with by you or your people again?  Can you give me that?”

The man smiled.  “I give you my word and my promise.”  He raised his hand and said “We are done.”  A small puff of smoke blew out of both of Sal’s ears.  He stared blankly for a while and turned to help Mitch, having forgotten all about his dealings with Idle Hands.

“And Heaven forbid, Sal, that I would ever tell a lie!”  He chuckled, and in the street the echo of his laughter lingered.  The haunting sound stewed in the sweltering heat of the summer night, becoming one with the sound of the burning bar and the approaching sirens.  Real flames now poured out of the broken windows. And the man in the red suit, slowly turning to smoke, joined with them and drifted away.

[Author’s final note:  Sorry for leaving you hanging over the weekend.  I’m still not sure about the final edit on the last bit, but either I left it alone for a week or shoved it out on stage now with cue cards.  Hope it’s not too hackneyed.

And here again I’ll ask you for likes, to tell your friends and random people on the street about the story and the site.  Also, if you like Idle Hands, Maybe you’d like my main ongoing, “The Strange” which has a much slower burn than this, but is starting to tighten the screws.  I’m not advertizing and my social media ability is kinda crap, so word of mouth would be absolutely huge for me and help me justify continuing to write stories for you all.  I love to do it, but it is a bunch of work.  Please help me out if you can.  More than enough said.

Stay Weird.  More Strange coming this week.

-SC]

 

 

 

Idle Hands – Episode 3 –The New Girl – Part 2

[Author’s note: This is part 2 of 3 and will make not a whole lot of sense without part 1 which is here.]

The next morning Dee Dee slipped from behind a street lamppost in the middle of the town’s central park.  The grass was well watered but suffering under the summer’s heat.  The gray paving stones of the park’s walkways radiated heat back at the demon woman as she walked.  To her it seemed like a fine spring day but the people in the park were wilting under the heat and humidity.  In her pinstriped skirt-suit she stalked seductively through the park looking for her new boss.

“You are late.”  From the bench she just passed, the man in a sharp, red suit took a drink of coffee from a red ceramic mug.  The logo for Idle Hands, Inc. smiled from the side as he took a drink.

She smiled as sweet as she could, through the rough lines on her youthful looking face.  “Good morning to you too.  I was, um…”

“Sun glasses.  You should wear sun glasses, especially on the surface.”  He produced a pair of Ray Bans from a cloud of red smoke and tossed them to her. “Makes you look cool.  People like that.”

“I’m sorry,” She flipped the sunglasses back. “I already look cool, thanks.”

“No you don’t.  You look bitchy.  There’s a difference.  There’s cool, and then there’s frigid.”

“Excuse me?”

He put up his hands as an illustration.  “You are giving off two different vibes here.  One of them is ‘fuck me’ and the other is ‘I’m going to kick your ass.’  Combined, it comes out to looking bitchy.”

He stood up and his mug disappeared in another puff of red smoke.  “Let me help you out with something.  You may have been the big D’s pick for this position, but you are still my employee, and that makes me your boss.  You think that D gave you the run of the place, but you are wrong.  Use the glasses.”  She looked surprised that he was talking to her that way.  “Besides, you say way too much with your eyes.  You want to keep that you’re going to tell the big man that I’m mean to you a secret?  Use the glasses.”

She snatched back the sunglasses, put them on and said, “Yes sir!”

He looked at her and smirked “And don’t be smart.  Take a good look around.  The downtown’s screwed from unemployment.  A veritable playground.  See anyone you like?”

She looked at the men with newspapers and pens, some with briefcases in suits.  Pointing at a particularly rough looking young man, drinking from a tall boy beer, she said, “How about that guy?”

“Nah, He’s given up already.”

“Yeah, you’re right.  Taking that guy is a waste of time.  He’s already on his way to hell.”

He looked at her and raised an eyebrow.  “You still don’t understand the plan, do you?”

“I understand fine, I just think the plan is a little ‘pussy’ is all.  I mean, look at these fuckers.  You telling me any of them are good for shit?”

The man stroked his goatee, raised a finger, and pointed at the sour looking young woman.  “Hmm, well understand this.  We need workers, not slackers.  No matter how inherently evil, a slacker makes no impression on the world.  We want people to work to further the cause of misery, because through human suffering, comes human temptation.  It all has to fall out of free will.  People choose to give each other a hard time, leading to more and more desperate circumstances.  Eventually even good people turn to evil of their own free will.  It’s a domino effect, with each domino getting bigger.  And it’s working.  The big D must think so or else you wouldn’t be here.”

“Fine, we play it your way,” she added a snide, “Sir!  But I’d much rather be making some of these bastards’ nightmares come true.”

He quietly said, “This is a placement agency, not a dating service.  You can work on your love life in your own time.”

“What?”

“You heard me.  So, you got anyone you like?”

“No, they all look like desperate losers.”

“Well maybe we can take a break and see if you can score some dates instead.”

She turned on her heel and put a hand on her hip.

Ignoring her poisonous stare, he said, “Come on, I think I have your challenge.”

🙂 😦 😉

 

“God, it’s hot.”  Sal slumped into the shady park bench.  The humid breeze reminded Sal of an open oven from which there was no relief.

The truth was he had seen many of the places that were hiring already.  Every one of them had said that they would keep his resume on file, in case something showed up.

He looked around at the buildings that ringed the park and imagined his resume residing in dozens of offices, just waiting to be hooked up with a job.  “Something is bound to happen,” he mumbled.

From a place beyond the vision of mortal eyes, Dee Dee and her new boss looked at Sal.  “Him?  That old fart is my test? And what is he, like, Fifty-two?  And he’s going to heaven, so far.”

He nodded.  “Yeah, and he still might, even if he keeps one of our jobs.  It’s a strange system, getting into heaven and it’s not even our concern.  We’re spreading woe through the abstract layer of the system, not singling out our workers for damnation.”

“Yeah, but…”

He cut her off.  “Look, I thought you were the people person and the crafty manipulator.  You think this guy can beat you?  I need to give you a challenge, not just a hall-pass to torment the living.”  He waived off the thought. “You get this guy one of our jobs and keep him there? You’re in.  If not, well…”

“How long?” Dee Dee looked at her hand.  It dissolved in a shower of sparks and twisting metal until it became a cell phone attached to her wrist.

“Month.  Five weeks to be exact.”

She snarled with more venom than should be possible with her girlish human face and tiny frame.  “Fine!  Save your reverse psychology bullshit.  Not only am I going to get this guy working for us, I’ll damn his soul too.”  She pressed a button and Sal’s cell phone beeped.

“Hello?”

“Hi, this is Dee Dee from the Idle Hands employment agency.  We ran across your resume and would like to speak to you about a position we have opening up at Barron Brothers Holdings.  Do you have a moment?”

Sal looked around the park, cupping his hand to the phone.  Dee Dee watched him from her invisible vantage point.

“I guess I can take a moment.  One thing though.  What’s the pay rate?”

The small woman smiled a smile that was too wide for her face and she said, “I’m sure something can be arranged.”

🙂 😦 😉

 

Shelly came through the still un-repaired hole in the office wall and sat in a chair.  “She’s a total nightmare.”

Without taking his sunglasses up from the paper he was reading, the man behind the desk nodded. “I know”

“She’s totally botched my filing system and is an utter bitch!”

“I know”

“Did you know that she has been dating topsiders to death for sport?  Not to mention that she keeps leaving us with the bill at happy hour.”

The man looked up.  “That’s actually kind of funny.”

“Not on what you pay us it’s not.  She’s prancing around here like she runs the place.”

“I run the place.”

“Not for long and at this rate there won’t be anything left to run.  You’ve got to wonder what the Big D was thinking, sending her here.”

At that, he stopped and put down the paper.  “Ah yes, the Duke of Deceit.  I tell him we’re growing and need some help and he sends me someone to help force me out and no doubt send me back to eternal torment.”

He kicked back in his desk chair and laced his fingers.  “One thing I learned while wandering in hell’s endless desert is that a fervent devotion to deception, lying and chaos tends to make a being predictable, if you are organized and observant of its behavior.”

Shelly flipped her hand and a bit of blood oozed over her palm.  She mentally pulled it back in. “Moot point if you are sent down.  My afterlife is going to suck.”

Leaning forward, the man smiled under his sunglasses.  “Now shelly, would I make your hereafter a living hell?”

Her face brightened. “You have a plan?”

“I have better than a plan.  I have a man.”

🙂 😦 😉

 

Papers shuffled in nervous hands as Sal prepared for his first meeting at Barron Brothers Holdings.  It had taken three weeks to draw up detailed prospectus sheets on the two companies the firm was looking into and he was happy to find two solid companies.

He walked into the meeting room five minutes early to find people he didn’t know joking and talking.  “I’m sorry, I’m here for the ten o’clock meeting for Foster Inc. and Stewart Manufacturing.  Is this it?”

“Yes!  You must be Sal.”  The young man in a well pressed shirt offered his hand, but did not stand.  “I’m Duncan Barron.  Bill told me you have been going over the Foster and Stewart records with a microscope.  I appreciate the attention to detail.  But can you nutshell it for me?”

“Well, they both are medium manufacturing outfits with reasonable profit margins.  They are solid corporate citizens and both are in reasonable shape with no hidden bombs on the books…”

The smirking young man put up his hand.  “Just tell me, where’s the fat?”

“Excuse me?”  Sal still hadn’t sat down and everyone who had been in the meeting room were now looking at him with half smiles.

“Is there anything in these companies that is doing worse than other pieces?  Less profitable?”

“Well, the Medical Products Division of Foster has operated at a loss for the last two years, weighed down by R&D spending, but is working on a promising new material.  And Stewart’s Auto Parts Section has been hit hard by changes in the auto industry.”

“Ah, well, there you go.  We buy these companies, close down the crappy divisions and sell them off when their stock prices jump up.  Three years, max, make our money back tenfold and wash our hands of the whole thing.”

“But the R&D is what gave Foster the growth in the other sectors, and Stewart has a very good plan to modernize …”

“That’s great and all, but in the now, the companies are weak and our plan is a solid win for our shareholders.”

“But there are four thousand people working in those divisions!”

The room went quiet.  Everyone looked nervously at the seated young man in the crisp shirt and the standing older man in his rumpled brown suit.

The young man smiled. “Well they weren’t working hard enough to be profitable, now were they?  Maybe we can find someone who will want to buy them, but that’s not my concern.”

“Not our concern?  What do those four thousand people do?”

“Look for jobs.”  The room erupted in laughter.  “You are new, so here’s the deal.  It’s all about the quick flip here.  My only concern is to put lipstick on these pigs, make them all sexy looking and sell them to the highest bidder.  If I lop off a few limbs from them, fine.  Thanks for the reports, Sal.  I appreciate the quick turn around.”

The tall blonde man took the two binders from Sal and left him standing in the conference room.  He had the rude impression that he was being dismissed in all possible ways.

Sal looked around the room for a moment and couldn’t believe the apathy of the collected executives.  He turned on his heel and walked out of the meeting room.  As he walked, he could hear the room once again erupt in laughter and understood that he was probably the butt of the joke.

🙂 😦 😉

 

The rhythmic pumping under the railroad overpass came to a climactic stop.  In the pale blue light of an almost full moon, a large man rolled over and revealed a much smaller woman pulling down her miniskirt.  They laid side by side on the railroad tracks, using the hard steel as a pillow.  The smell of cheap happy hour drinks and sweat floated around the pair.

“Wow, you sure are a special kind of woman!”

“You know it, babe.”  She lit a cigarette with a spark from the tip of her finger and straightened her blonde bob cut wig.  “They don’t make them like you every day, either.”  Though there was a bit of sarcasm in her voice, he was much too drunk to hear it.  “It’s been so long for me, Stud.”

He had a goofy grin on his face, which increased the magnitude of his dough-like double chin. “I tell you what, this is the wildest thing I’ve done in … forever.”  He looked over at her, still grinning. “I mean it.  You really are something special.  I’ve got to get your number.”

She smiled a grin that was just ever so slightly wider than it should be.  “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to stop by so we can relive this night forever.”

“You mean it?”

“Sure I do.  Now lean over here.  I’ve got something to tell you.”  He leaned over onto his elbow and she cuddled up close to his ear.  She sweetly breathed into his ear, “train” and dissolved into a shocking mass of writhing metal that escaped under the oncoming locomotive.

The train passed in a loud, hot rush.  Squealing wheels trampled and crushed the lecherous drunk into man-cobbler.  Minutes passed as the train spread the gore for the better part of a mile before obliviously sliding around the bend and back into the night.

A shower of blue sparks and silver wire coalesced into the form of the woman wearing the blonde wig.  She stood looking at the tracks and watched the last remains of the lecher’s soul slip slowly down into the earth.

Her smile was just slightly too wide, as she said “Oh, we definitely will have to do this again.  But next time, I’ll be on top.”

A few Yards away, a door opened in a solid concrete wall, revealing a bland office corridor.  A man in a dark suit, colored black by the pale blue of the moonlight, came through the door.  She only barely acknowledged the man as she took off the blonde wig.  Her straight black hair, now free, fell to the middle of her back.

“Do you think this wig makes me look bitchy?”

“Uh, No.  It’s not the wig that makes you look bitchy.”

She looked over her shoulder with her hand on her hip.  “I suppose you are here to chastise my choice of dating activities.”

He put his hands up in the air as if in mock surrender.  “Hey, what you do on your own time is none of my business.  Just don’t drag it into the office.  Actually you have someone on hold, waiting for you at your desk.”

“Oh really?”  She smirked.  “They must be important for you to make a new door.  So who is it?”

He smiled. “It’s Sal.”

Her face went white and her smile disappeared as she ran through the door in the concrete slab.  The limbo workers were knocked off their feet by Dee Dee as she passed at a full sprint.  She threw herself into her office.  Straightening her skirt and putting her headset in her ear, she slammed at the phone to get Sal’s call.

“Hi Sal!”  She greeted him with a fake smile and saccharine sweetness in her voice.  “What can I do for you?”

Her face became white, then angry and finally started to crack while listening to the man ramble.  “So, Barron Brothers isn’t what you expected?”  She listened. “It’s really so bad you can’t work it out?  I mean…”  White hot sparks came from the small fissures, metal wires started to snake from the cracks and wind around her face, both binding and breaking.  “Sure, sure.  I understand.  Listen, um, can I possibly meet you somewhere where we can talk about this?  You know, I’d like to be your friend in this.  Maybe you just had a bad day or…”

She continued to nod and reveal more of her monstrous true appearance as a blank-eyed, limbo-bound soul came in carrying some paperwork.  “Sure, Sal, that sounds great.  I know that bar.  It really means a lot to me to see an – uh – upstanding man like yourself up and working.  So, let’s see if we can’t work this out.”  Her face was twisted in a demonic mask of metal wires, spikes and sparks as the last remains of her perky voice chirped “Ok!  See you there!  Bye!”

The man carrying the paperwork said in a limp voice, “Shelly wanted to make sure you filled out all the proper forms for Sal’s change in job status.  She’s a real stickler for that kind of thing.”

Dee Dee suddenly grew a mouth larger across than her desk and lunged at the man.  His eyes bolted wide with panic as she bit his head off with one sadistic “Chomp!”

🙂 😦 😉

Idle Hands – Episode 3 –The New Girl – Part 3

[Another Author’s Note: This is part 2.  Things get a touch nastier here, so … uh … hi mom! 🙂  Part 3 is coming up soon.

I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going Crabtree, Idle Hands or something else after I’m done with “The Strange” so if you like this, please hit the like button or if you have a comment, I’m up for those too.  By the way, “The Strange” is about to get a lot nastier too, so maybe, check that out?  Thanks.

And please spread the word!  I’m trying not to be a self-aggrandizing and pushy bore to people, but it’s tough to let potential readers know that any of this stuff is here.  I’m not advertising so any word of mouth is extremely helpful to me.

Thanks for reading and Stay Weird

-SC]