Tag Archives: humor

The Party by Dalia Lance

To Jen, my forever side-kick. The world would be less adventurous without you in it.

“I need tassels, lots of body glitter, and pictures, or I won’t believe it,” she exclaimed.

“Are you drunk?” Sally asked her as she peered over the mound of books and magazines in front of her friend.

“What?” Amber said, flipping to a page that had three tabs stuck to it.

“Drunk. Are you drunk?” Sally repeated, taking a sip of her hot chocolate.

“No… Wait… Why?” Amber was talking faster than normal which made Sally wonder if she had way too much sugar and caffeine, which was entirely possible since they were on their third or fourth “holiday drink” that Starbucks was offering.

“Well,” Sally tried to make eye contact, “you just described what would be an amazing start to a bachelorette party or an orgy.”

Amber’s brow furrowed. “I don’t understand what you mean.”

Sally couldn’t help but think how scary this actually was. “You know we are planning a baby shower, right?”

“What?” Amber looked very confused. This was bad.

“We are planning a BABY shower for Michelle. She is having twins… So…” Sally watched a look of horror cross Amber’s face.

“Are you OK?” Sally asked .

“I… Umm… I…” Amber leaned back, looking around her. “I… what day is it?”

“Thursday,” Sally said.

“Which Thursday?” Amber asked with a little tremor in her voice.

“The ninth,” Sally put down her coffee.

“Of?” Amber’s voice was barely a whisper.

“December,” Sally paused, “of 2017 before you ask. Are you ok?”

Amber sat for a moment, closed her eyes, and took several breaths.

When she opened her eyes again, she smiled. “Do you think we should have purple balloons? They are gender neutral, right?”

Sally rubbed her lips together before responding, “Sure?” She didn’t mean for it to come out as a question; however, since she was afraid to ask ‘WTF just happened?‘ she would settle for ‘Sure?’

 

 

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A Tiger Knows by Brandon Scott

For Hailey Marie, my favorite actress.

“She didn’t often like tigers but this one she found quite amusing.”

It had a glint in its eye, a spark of intelligence. A tigress. A female. A mother–in a cage. How fitting.

It paced, but did not paw with madness, nor hunger. It knew it had all the time it needed.

Tabitha was not as certain. She was not as calm. She wanted to scream and pry at the bars. Oh, how I wish I could. If only I could find the smallest weakness, I would be out of here and that thing would be….

But Tabitha was not strong—especially now. She stood and pressed her body against the cage walls, but could barely reach out her arms past the elbows. Her stomach pressed hard into the metal, and a kick reminded her–as if she needed reminding–that another life was also in this cage with her.

The tiger gave a soft noise, a purr from something not at all capable of a purr. A rumble, perhaps.

And Tabitha looked at it and tried to find amusement again. Curiosity instead of uncertainty. But it was hard to hold. Her eyes scanned the other cages and found no other motions. Some creatures had frozen in fear–aware of the predators, others slept from exhaustion, and still more laid in the stillest position afforded to any being: dead. Corpses. The humans all filled up the final category, and she tried for amusement yet again.

She gathered up the remains of a blanket, the structure reduced to almost nothing at all, and tossed an end out for the tigress to take. It pawed at it, playing like a house cat.

The line went taut and snapped, and Tabitha frowned. She gathered back the rest and cast it out again. The tiger repeated its action. Pulled, so it vibrated slightly, and then sliced with its teeth.

Tabitha drew it back once more, held both ends out, and pulled in opposite directions with what strength she had. And the line remained strong.

“A scissor…but not a rock,” she concluded to herself, her voice eaten by the room. Sucked away into the void of silence.

The tiger made the not-purr sound, and Tabitha gave it her full attention. The massive cat tilted its head toward the door at the end of the hallway of cages, and Tabitha followed with her gaze.

The door had a window in it, with a cloth covering to reduce any sight to only a silhouette. But this silhouette was unmistakable. Nothing else Tabitha knew looked anything like that. She wondered why it was coming here. What business does it have? Is it here to feed us again, so soon? When has it ever been kind enough for that?

Tabitha shook her head, but prepared all the same for the entrance, backing up into the corner of the cage and curling into a ball. Look feeble, she told herself. It does not like to hurt the feeble.

The door swung open with a shot of light, extinguished again like a candle’s flame. The thing lumbered into the room, a series of metal pieces jangling with each motion.

It was large, towering. Like a cyclops from the old legends on Earth, it had only one eye, set so low that its forehead made up half its face. Below the singular orb with a blue iris was a pair of curved boar’s teeth, forcing themselves out of the mouth with little regard for the race’s clarity of speech.

Up close, as it was now to her cage, Tabitha could smell the odd, strong garlic tinge that always hung on it. The ragged and stitched together covering of space suit material did not seem to have any noticeable liquids on it to produce such a scent, but did all the same.

“Woman, do you birth soon?” the thing asked, its voice a booming grumble of strained syllables.

Tabitha swallowed the saliva she found filling her throat. “No, not yet. The human birth cycle can take a while–”

“Can it be sped?” it interrupted.

“No… not if you want it alive.”

It bowed down on a knee and reached out one of its hands toward Tabitha, only not touching her by a few inches. Tabitha felt a fit of revulsion from the idea of such gnarled skin grazing her. She pushed her body as far back as she could into the bars.

“I think you are the one concerned about being alive. Can it be sped up?”

“No. Do you not understand human anatomy?”

“Your writings as a species lack…everything,” the creature said. “How you speak this…mud, is enough to confuse.”

“Then remain confused,” Tabitha spat back, cradling her stomach with one hand.

“I shall, for now. But once we know how to make more sport fast…you will breed with all males we find. And then we will have many bodies to study.”

“Breed? Not likely,” Tabitha said in a soft whisper. Her faint cockiness fell to pieces when her cage shook–with her along with it. She fell to her side and gasped at the sudden pain of impact.

“What was that you spoke?” the creature said. She could hear the tinges of humor in its voice: the same she’d heard intermingled with the screams of the man in the cage two over from her a week ago.

“Nothing,” she said in-between gulps and restrained sobs. “Nothing at all.”

“Good to listen,” it said and rose back up to walk. Not bothering to look at her, the creature trudged over to the other cage and snapped the padlock off the tigress’s container. Rather than pounce, it just looked.

The creature chuckled and reached for one of the metal leashes hanging off its body. It tugged free one and beckoned with a clawed hand to the cat.

Tabitha rose to stand, her muscles coiling, the pain pushed aside. Her mind wondered what to do with the situation. She could not stay here much longer. Not if she was going to have this child. She would not birth him or her in this place. She was sure of that. I will never let you have my baby.

Tabitha stood and looked at the rag. The strong fabric. She wondered: would it work? Was it strong enough? I can only try this once.

Tabitha walked to the closer edge of the cage and watched the proceedings. The cat refused to move, and the creature seemed to find this preferable.

“Oh, no? Not I? Well, how about with this?”

It turned toward the back wall and took three steps. A wall of tools and sharp things hung on pegs, but Tabitha was not watching that. The cat and her. The hunter and her. They made eye contact, and she tossed the cloth over to her companion.

The tigress caught it and looped it. Not biting the string. Tabitha could swear it winked at her.

And when the great cat finished, the fabric sat, practically tied—if not for lack of human hands—around the pole of the cage. Tabitha knew not if it would hold, but she knew it would make a thing stumble.

“Ready?” the creature said and turned around brandishing a stick with the end glowing electrical blue. It pressed a trigger at the bottom and the sparks flew off the tip. “Ready to go?”

The demon-like mouth turned to a frown when it saw the cat already close, beckoning out her neck for the collar.

“Oh,” it grumbled, and let the stick fall to its hip’s side, the sparks fading away. “Now you decide? Fine. Come with me. Captain wants to try something new tonight for mealtime. Human for commoners.”

Guiding the feline with one hand, it gave a glare to Tabitha–which broke to panic when it pitched forward. Both cages screamed as the metal bent and titled, but the fall was a perfect arc, its arms going out on either side and only finding the already collapsing metal.

The creature hit the floor with a thunderous slap and did not have time to rise before the tigress took her chance. And once a predator clamps on the nape of a neck, it is not deterred.

A reach forward and Tabitha found her fingers touching the dropped electrical weapon. Again, she felt amused. Hopeful too.

“Tell me puss,” she said, letting the blue power dance, the light reflecting in spilled blood, “do you think this can melt my lock?”

She was sure this time that the tigress winked at her.

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Action Heroes by JM Paquette

For Rob Whitt

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kicked the engine to life and headed in…

Well, that was what should have happened. Apparently, it took more than a simple kick to get a motorcycle running. I looked down at the sleek metal machine between my legs, recalling every action movie I’d ever seen.

First, the hero stands up on the pegs. I straightened my legs. One of the metal prongs my foot was on collapsed beneath me, and I fell, hard onto my crotch. The seat was soft enough, but still, the motion was jarring. Ok, not that peg then.

Keys were probably important, I decided, and started clicking the key back and forth, wishing I had taken the time to learn to read the alien letters before coming to the surface. Back home, safe in my room, surrounded by my books and my films and my music, all of this had seemed so easy.

Simple creatures, really. They could barely break out of their atmosphere.

Not so simple technology, though. I stood up again, this time trying to simultaneously turn the key and stamp on the pedals, wherever they were. I kicked and flipped and jiggled, and suddenly, as if conjured by the fierceness of my thoughts, the motorcycle roared to life. I sat, rotating my wrists and getting into position, hoping the bike wouldn’t shoot forward too quickly.

I wanted to have some kind of control when I rode into town. If this was my grand entrance, it had better be worthwhile. I didn’t want to launch myself over the handlebars like one of the unfortunates on those old video reels I’d spent hours watching.

The bike settled into a steady rhythm once I figured out the handlebar controllers. It was a lot easier watching these things than it was to ride them! No wonder all those videos ended with someone falling off. It took every ounce of concentration I had to keep the thing upright and going forward with me on its back. I’d ridden monsters more easily subdued, but nothing like the magnificent creatures back home lived on this planet. The biggest creature here was an underwater behemoth, hardly worth the challenge to ride.

But even the least tame monster back home paled in comparison to the way the bike skittered and jostled beneath me. I held on tight, sending up one last round of prayers to the deities of my home world before I headed into the first town of my new world.

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Pom Poms by Erika Lance

For Mandi, for being inspiring since the day we met.

“That is seriously the 6th time that truck as slowly rolled past. Should we ask if they need help?”

Claire looked over at Marci who had been one looking out the window and scowled. Marci couldn’t see the scowl which was most likely a good thing. Claire often thought that she, and she alone would survive a horror movie type situation.

Claire had joined the cheer squad when she first arrived at Jeffery M. Whitmore High School because they had no other activities that related to dance or gymnastics. Claire also understood stature and how to navigate the high school experience so that she came out on top.

Unfortunately, this meant she was usually surrounded by a bunch of girls who talked about lipstick and shopping and so many other things Clair had zero interest in. She chalked it up to being the negative parts of popularity.

“Seriously, should we go out there? They are parked down the block. They may need help.” Marci was persistent. Chrissie, who happened to be the captain of the team looked out the window along with Heather and Tanya. They had all decided to have a “little” slumber party this weekend to discuss Nationals.

Claire knew it would look good on college transcripts, so she was on board for helping make sure this wasn’t embarrassing.

“I don’t know if it is safe. Claire, what do you think?” Tanya asked.

Tanya asked about everything. She couldn’t make a decision herself about anything. Claire smiled; it was the fake smile that said “I care what you are saying” but really didn’t. “I don’t think you should go out there. This town is full of weirdos.” She was sure the others wouldn’t listen to her, so she felt safe in saying what she did.

Almost on cue Chrissie looked over, “I think we should. After all, they may be some slightly lost college guys or something.” She managed to sound condescending when she even said that. “Tanya, let’s go help out the stranded stranger,” and she headed for the door.

It was in this moment Claire decided that the fate of these three meant nothing to her. She could be worried. She could warn them. Hell, she could even manipulate them into staying inside. However, in this moment she realized that the cheer team would go on, even if all three of these girls were no longer breathing.

So she smiled again, “I understand. You should help them out.”

Chrissie and Tanya checked themselves in the mirror and headed out. Claire looked at her watch: 10:35pm. She then picked back up the book she was reading and waited. Marci was switching between pacing and looking out the window. She suddenly burst out, “They are gone!”

Claire looked up from her book. “What?” she asked, sure of what the answer would be.

“They are gone.” Marci was staring to freak out. “Is the van still there?” Claire asked. She thought she should make her tone more concerned to make Marci feel better and then she shrugged. She didn’t actually care.

“Maybe you should check on them?” Claire finally said. Maybe she sounded like she cared. She didn’t.

“Will you come with me?” Marci asked.

“No,” Claire said. Maybe that was a little rough. “Umm… someone should be here if they come back.” She hoped that made her sound more caring or possibly a little scared.

“Oh,” Marci started, “That makes sense,” and she headed for the door. Claire shrugged and went back to reading.

Some time had passed before she checked her watch again; it had been an hour. She moved over and looked out the window. The van was gone. Claire pursed her lips. She knew Chrissie’s parents would at least be home by morning and wondering where their daughter was. She shook her head and pulled out her cell phone.

“911. What is your emergency?” the  concerned sounding voice answered.

“My… My… My … THEY ARE GONE!!!” The drama classes were paying off, Claire thought as she “sobbed” into the phone. The operator began to ask her questions and as she answered she wondered if being cheer captain was more work than she wanted to expend.

 

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Unraveling by Nicole DragonBeck

For my mom, love, DragonBeck

 I opened the door and couldn’t believe my eyes. 

Standing on the doorstep was Glenson. He was a medium built man, half an inch taller than I, with dark hair and blue eyes. The only problem was that Glenson had died two days ago. I’d seen it with my own eyes, the blood, the death rattle, and the burning of the body. And yet…

“What are you doing here?” I asked, too stunned to stop him as he brushed passed into my house and marched through to the study.

“Not much time, not much time,” he muttered, beginning to rifle though my effects, pulling things out of drawers and off bookshelves, glancing at them briefly and tossing them aside.

Some of the things were quite valuable, and others quite old and delicate, but his jitters were getting on my nerves, and I had little attention for that. And all this about not much time…that didn’t bode well. That didn’t bode well at all.

“Glenson, tell me what’s going on,” I demanded. “You…you died!”

That made him pause. “Oh, did I?” he wondered in an absent voice. “Yes, I suppose I did.”

“So what are you doing here?” It was taking all my will-power not to scream. “This is not part of the plan! What is happening in the Underealm? Where are the others? What about the Homestones?”

For the first time, Glenson turned to look at me. His eyes were different, the eyes of a man who had seen things he would never forget, things that got stuck inside the head and changed the way one thought about things. I didn’t want to know what those things were, but with him standing in front of me, I didn’t really have a choice.

“What about the Homestones, Glenson?” I demanded.

“They weren’t there,” his voice was heavy. “Someone moved them.”

“They were stolen!” I said, my heart leaping to my throat.

“No,” Glenson was shaking his head. “Much worse. They were moved.”

I tried to wrap my mind around what he was saying. “What does that mean?”

“It means the whole world is in danger,” Glenson said. “If the Homestones have been moved to other locations…”

“Then the fabric of the universe is no longer held in place,” I whispered, the full scope of our problem becoming clear to me. “Are there…” I could barely bring myself to say it, “…unravelings?”

Glenson rolled his eyes and gestured to himself. I felt like slapping myself. Of course. People coming back from the dead would be one of the first, and indeed, milder things that would be expected to happen.

“Alright, so what do we do?” I asked. “What are you looking for?”

“I don’t rightly know,” Glenson said, turning back to my study and continuing his dismembering of it. “I think…yes, I think we might have brought it back from one of our trips.”

Now I rolled my eyes at him. We had been on a thousand excursions and brought back many artifacts, some of which were in my study. Others were in the vaults at the University, and in others’ homes, and some of the most powerful pieces were held in secret places known only to a few.

“Aha!” Glenson exclaimed, holding something aloft.

It was a small carved piece, from some ancient society that was no longer with us, a man with two faces and no features, and four arms with no hands. I speculated it was from some board game, but Glenson was looking at it as though it were much more.

“What is that?” I asked, reaching out for it.

He snatched it back, cradling it in his hands, shaking his head. The strange light in his eyes flared up again, making me cold inside. I knew then that it might look like Glenson, but it was no longer completely my friend. I withdrew my hand and waited for him to explain.

“I cannot tell you accurately what it is like to travel the deep, dark rivers between here and the Underealm. The Ferrymen are silent, and their eyes…” he shuddered. “I was on my way to the Underealm when the Ferryman disappeared. The creature that replaced him was unthinkable, unimaginable, not seen above ground. It told me that the Homestones were gone, and that if I did not put them back, then everything goes poof.” His hands came together illustrating the world collapsing in on itself.

“How did you get out?” I wondered.

“I dove into the water,” he said, as if that were something similar to going out for tea. “And swam upstream.”

He smiled a haunted smile in response to the expression on my face. He was always so dedicated, so headstrong, so certain of what he was doing. I was suddenly struck by the thought that there was a reason Glenson had been the one to die that day, some strange cosmic logic too big for mortal minds to fully understand. I shook off the feeling.

“So what do we do with that?” I nodded at the figurine.

“I don’t know,” Glenson said, turning it over and over in his hands. “I think we have to find them all, and put them together, and then something will happen.”

There was that cosmic logic, I thought, but what else did we have to go on?

“I’ll get the others,” I said, making to grab my coat and my bag.

Glenson shook his head. “No. There can only be two. You, from the Upperland, and me, from Underealm. Perfect balance.” He smiled sadly. “We are the last Homestone, holding the world together and apart.”

The responsibility hung heavily in my chest, and I didn’t like it one bit. It made me feel very alone and inexplicably doomed because of Fate’s terrible sense of irony. I imagined the ground tipping under me, sending everything into chaos and darkness.

“Let’s get this over with,” I told Glenson. “I’d like the world to go on for a little while longer.”

 

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Mystery Man by Nicole DragonBeck

Searching the corners of her mind, she could not shake the feeling that she knew this mysterious stranger.

Or perhaps Clara’s mind was playing tricks on her, trying to come up with a way to entertain her so she made it through this agony of boredom with some of her sanity intact.

Her father, Lord of Westin, was an important figure in the court, and as such, his family was obligated to attend such functions as this ball. With lavish decoration and scrumptious food, it could have been Clara Westin was simply a jaded, over-privileged young woman who had never known anything but her ostentatious life.

But if one could look past the disdainful eyes into the thoughts behind them, one might see a keen sense of balance of right and wrong, and an astute shrewdness that belied the smooth skin and rosy cheeks of youth.

Clara tried to figure out what it was about the man without staring outright at him. It took some study, but she finally decided it was something in the pleasing yet serious lines of his face, and the way his eyes watched the whole room, somehow seeing more than what was simply there. I do know this man, perhaps from somewhere long ago, but I know him.

It was disconcerting, knowing and not knowing at once. It bothered her, which irritated her. She was the daughter of a Lord, and she was above standing here being tormented by it.

As Clara made her way across the crowded foyer of the wealthy patronage of some artist who had their latest masterpiece on show, the man turned and disappeared. Clara walked through the rooms of the ostentatious home, trying to find him, but he was well and truly gone.

He may have been gone, but his face would not leave her mind. It turned up in her dreams. She thought she saw him in other men, but when she looked again, it had changed to less appealing countenances. She doodled his face on pieces of parchment and in the fog on the mirror after a hot bath.

And then he reappeared in the most unexpected way. Clara was browsing through the library and found a tome so old the pages were made of brown cotton instead of parchment, and the binding was frayed. Intrigued by the ancient runes of the title, which she could not quite make out, but thought they looked familiar, Clara pulled it out and went to sit by the window. The pages were heavy and resisted her wish that they turn. In thick ink made in the days when days things were made to last for ages, family names, details, and portraits filled the pages.

Clara was lost in the history of the realms of Westin and Hortford and Bellmast and Slatemore on the Sea, her eyes moving over the events written in the dry wordage of bookish historians and the precisely depicted faces in the pictures, until she had gone back through a ten of thousands of years and reached the Time of Flame and Frost, the earliest of the known histories, and then he was there.

She blinked and forgot how to breathe. Peering closer, she looked twice and then again, to ascertain she was seeing what she thought she was seeing. The same intense eyes, the same chiseled face, looked back at her from the ancient page. It was him.

Clara read the facts of this picture, still holding her breath, and somehow not noticing that the ancient semantics and inflection that made the language almost unrecognizable in the present did not hinder her in the least. His family name was Ir’Morgon. They owned estates up in the flatlands beneath the Hedran Mountains before they were carved up into the lands of Hortford and Bellmast. After assimilating all the dry information which told Clara precisely nothing, she turned her eyes back to what must be a family portrait.

An older man with a beard and the same eyes as the mystery man and a woman with grey curls and crows feet at her eyes sat in the middle. Two younger women with features like the older woman stood to the left, and each had a man beside them, hands clasped between them, obviously husbands.

On the right was the mystery man. Clara spent many long moments memorizing every line before she noticed there was one more in the picture.

Standing slightly behind the man, with her chin on his shoulder and her arms around him was a woman with wide eyes and dimple in her chin from her mysterious smile.

Clara stared at the woman who had her face and let out the breath she was holding.

 

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Rabbit Poop by Désirée Matlock

For Nermina Krneta

 It smelled like rabbit poop.

It was bedtime, and I was tucking Tasha into bed at her Grandma’s house before heading out on my date night with her father. Her little arms popped out from under the blanket, and she pinned them to her sides, tightening the blanket around herself..

“What did, sweetie?”

“The hole in the wall.” She pointed, and I looked. The wallpaper still looked the same, tiny wildflowers scattered across the surface of the wall, one of many girlish touches this room still had from when I was young, and I had lived here.

“There’s no hole, sweetie.”

“No, the rabbit hole. I got up close to it. It smelled like rabbit poop and dirt and sunshine.”

My blood ran cold. Her words triggered something I hadn’t thought about in decades. I remembered a dream I had up until I was about twelve, a recurring dream, with Mr. Whiskers the Rabbit. He’d visit my room by burrowing into the wall right exactly there. It was too great a coincidence. Were dreams genetic? Could you inherit a dream?

“Well, I hope he comes back tonight. I liked talking to the rabbit man.”

I felt ridiculous, but I remembered one thing about those dreams. One thing came up now, flooding back to me. Mr. Whiskers, the mischievous rabbit, had tried every night before he left to get me to come through the burrow with him. And I had always refused. I had had a baby brother to watch over. And I couldn’t leave him alone. But that was decades ago, and Tasha had no little brother to keep her here.

“Sure, honey, talk to your dream friend. But, do one thing for me.”

“What is it, momma?”

“Just… “ I felt silly. I was pandering. There was no Mr. Whiskers inside the wall. But I needed to say it anyway. If I didn’t, and she went missing, I’d feel terrible if I hadn’t said this first. “Just, no matter what Mr. Whiskers says to you, you stay right here in your room, okay? On this side of the wall. Okay?”

“Okay, momma.” She gave me one last peck on the hand, and then rolled over on her side. I hummed her favorite lullaby while I rubbed her back. That was our thing. She was soon fast asleep. I stayed in the room a little longer than maybe I ought to have. Jack was a touch impatient, but holding her and rubbing her back had calmed me down, gotten the chill out of my blood.

We said our goodbyes to my mother, who promised to check in on Tasha at least once an hour and told me not to worry. My mother held me, pushed my hair away from my face, and said, “Moms have a hard time with the first sleepover. Tasha will be fine.”

As we pulled away from the curb for our date, Jack looked at me, “What’s wrong honey?”

“Tasha said something that scared me a little, about her dreams.”

“If you’re worried she’ll have bad dreams, that’s why your mom will be there, right?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I’m just worried. I’ll shake it off.”

“Tasha is a big girl now, and brave. She’ll be fine.” Brave. Brave enough to walk into a wall maybe, where I hadn’t been brave enough. I’d been scared, under the need to care for my brother. I sighed deeply.

My mother’s beautiful Victorian painted lady grew smaller and smaller in the rear view, and I wondered whether I was making the biggest mistake of my life, leaving Tasha in the bedroom I grew up in.

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