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Frisbee War by Désirée Matlock

For Brandon –

“My father, if you’ll believe it, was killed by a frisbee.”

“Not just any Frisbee, neither, the original. And definitely not in the way you’d think. Not conked in the brain bin or nothing.” Jack rubbed absently at his overalls, years of habit from keeping the grease at bay, while he watched my eyes. “So?”

“Sounds like it might make a good story,” I chewed my lip and considered, “but I’m not sure it’ll get you an invite.”

“Don’t you worry,  mister. I didn’t come out here to fix studio cars forever. I’ll make it a good one.”

“Great. I didn’t say so, but there’s a writer’s room job for whoever wins this. But it’s no shoo in you’ll win it.”

“Now, that’s just you haven’t heard it yet. I’ll tell you the whole yarn, mind you, then you’ll decide.”

Now, my grandfather Clyde, he was a big fan of pie. When he married Bessie, he wore out her interested in baking within the first few years, long before they got sick and tired of eachother, so Clyde would pack the whole brood, himself, grandma Bessie, the boys – who would grow up into my uncle CJ and my dad but were just squealing balls of puppy dog tails and pepper at that point – into their Woody and they’d travel everywhere that good pie was made. Now, since there weren’t no Yelp yet, nor any freeways for that matter, one depended on the authority of strangers.”

“You mean kindness of strangers?” I blurted out, interrupting without thinking, while scratching notes onto an index card.

“No sir. Kind of unkind, what he depended on was that they knew their neck of the woods well enough to firstly indicate a good pie location, and secondly, know how to get there. Don’t look at me so funny.  The authority of strangers is what y’all depend entirely  too much upon now. Even more than then. Except now they call it ‘aggregate, anonymized data’ and so people trust it, because it looks pretty. But once, it was a guy who looked a lot like me, stepping out of a small repair shop a lot like this one to pump your gas, and he was expected to be a one man Encyclopedia, Atlas and Zagat’s guide all in one. Your GoogleWikiYelpMap all rolled into one. And he did a damn fine job. He could tell you the best place in five counties to get a shoe shine, or where the closest decent hoagie was on a weekday.  It gave the corner mechanic as much clout as city councilman. It evened the field a bit. Now you’re lucky if the guy manning the pumps exists, and if he does, luckier still if he can find his own ass with two hands.

“Anyhow, I digress,” he continued, pulling a red cloth out of his pocket, wiping his lip, and putting it back. Faint smudges of grease marred his already decent five o’clock shadow, but I didn’t feel like it was right to stop Jack any more than I already had.

“So, one day, Jack and CJ get it into their heads they can get their dad to stay home for a vacation instead, and they buy a huge stack of ready-made pies, asking their dad to stay at home with them. They bring him one, all cooked up and pretty, and they all eat it together, right down to the inscription on the bottom of the time, before their dad still loads them up into the car, and makes them all go on yet another one of these little excursions. This time, one of these random mechanics somewhere in the desert leads Clyde and his kin to a little out of the way pie shop in a little one stoplight town that barely showed on the map, and Clyde was so impressed with the pies, he up and bought the place on the spot, for next to nothing. They were glad to be rid of it, seeing as no one else saw the virtue in that particular corner of nowhere.

Now, Bessie wasn’t having none of that. She left Clyde there to manage his pie shop, and went home to Galveston. Now, they might not have had much, but what they had was in Galveston, as was her family. It almost broke them up, but he stayed there almost all of that year. But, boy what a year. He bought up all the billboard space that suddenly became available alongside a new kind of road that was getting cut through that particular patch of nowhere. And so, when the freeway came through, Clyde became suddenly rich. That pie shop went from a little known nothing, to a short swoop off the road, a quick slice, and you’re back on your way to California, or Florida, or what have you.

Clyde brought his money home to Bessie and the boys, meanwhile, buying up neighboring space and turning that pie shop into a whole truck stop with curiosities, amenities, a motel and of course, pies. Clyde made himself quite the little empire in the sand.

By the time old Clyde died, that pie money had been funneled into two college degrees for my father and my uncle, nice houses all around, and steady, good lives for his boys. But, Bessie had wanted more kids, but hadn’t much of a husband left to father them. So, the boys had been her only children, grown up barely knowing their father, but spoiled and rich.  The woody had become a towncar, which had then become sleek luxury sedans.

After Clyde’s funeral, the boys, now grown with wives and kids of their own, and who had idolized Clyde as one can only manage with an absentee father, decided to take a trip out to the pie stand their father had devoted his life to. When they got there, they were both stunned to learn that he hadn’t left it to them. No part of it. Not the pie stand, not the truck stop, not the motel. Hadn’t left any of it to Bessie neither. He’d left it to the gal behind the counter who’d been baking the pies since before Clyde had walked in to try his first pie. They’d never thought to find out, but learned right then and there that her name was Sadie.

Now, on the wall of Clyde’s office, which Sadie was busy moving her things into, was a pie plate that was mounted to a board, and it said, “THIS TERRIBLE PIE INSPIRED THE TRIP THAT LED CLYDE HERE.” And on it was the pie plate from the pie the boys had made their father so many years earlier, the inscription on the bottom reading “FRISBEE’S PIES.”

A’course, CJ and Jack were both fuming, and with no outlet for their anger. Couldn’t rightly be angry with their dead father, nor with the waitress who’d worked so hard, couldn’t even be angry with each other. They stared up at the pie they’d made their father and realized that nothing else in that office could rightfully be claimed by them as theirs.  Sadie nodded and told them politely that they could keep it, and CJ impolitely told her to stuff it.

CJ stormed off, came back with a sturdy chair, and Jack climbed on it and reached to pull down the plaque commemorating their childhood failure.  At this point, as he grabbed hold of the plaque, it made him top heavy enough that the chair toppled, but he landed safely on his feet. It was a close call. CJ pulled the tin off the backboard, and they played frisbee with it in the desert beside the pie shop, between the truck stop and the hotel, and then, pressure released, they tromped home in a state.

Every year after that, on the anniversary of their father’s death, they got together for a game of frisbee. Eventually, the kids got involved, and myself and my cousins would all get together for a reunion on that date, without really knowing why, and we’d all head out to a  park somewhere outside of Galveston and we’d have us a little frisbee war. The tin got battered up something awful, so eventually plastic ones were bought, and the pie association was lost.

“Anyhow, just recently, my father died holding that tin frisbee.”

“…But, how did it kill him?”

“It got him with old age. He died clutching it because it reminded him that there was no way he and my uncle would have stayed in touch so long if they hadn’t decided to turn their dad’s shit inheritance into a game of frisbee. It kept them both alive longer, and the whole family better connected but that’s a double edged sword. What keeps you alive is also a little bit responsible when you do eventually die.”

I laughed.

“All right, fine.” I handed him a back door pass to the exclusive club. “It’s up in the hills, at that address on the back. Feel free to embellish and improve that story by another, um, hundred and thirty percent before then. Especially a few more close calls for your doomed father. Like when he fell off the chair. But more.”

“But they didn’t really happen.”

I stared incredulously, “Jack, if a good yarn ever had to try to stretch to fit the truth into it, it’d lose all shape.”

Jack looked down at his pass, rubbed it thoughtfully, getting a bit of grease on it. “See you tonight, Mister,” he turned and shuffled back into the shop to finish up his day’s work.

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Inky Spells by Lisa Barry

For my dear friend, Court – May we ever be pleasantly surprised. Heart you.

“There were too many pens to choose from…”

“So, you didn’t get any? How am I supposed to write down the spell without a pen?” Dan asked.

Lorna’s shoulders shrunk lower. “A pencil?” she smiled hopefully, being about the size of his hand, it was a little hard to tell.

“Do you have a pencil?”

Pressing her lips together, Lorna shook her head. Her purple hair floated around her head like candy corn. Dan wanted to be angry, but he only had to look once at Lorna’s small, stooped figure as she stood on his worktable, a miserable expression on her face and it was basically impossible to exert any anger. Instead he went to his desk for the third time and rummaged for some utensil, any utensil to write with. As he came up empty handed as expected, he glanced at the clock.

There were only 45 minutes left. He stared out the window as his mind contorted thought in such a way that a solution was not evident.

He glanced Lorna once before and thought of a leaf.

“Of course!” he exclaimed. Lorna’s head whipped up. “I can’t believe I didn’t think of this an hour ago!” Dan grabbed something from the counter and rushed out to the back yard. He ran straight toward the black raspberry bush in the far corner.

A slam to his face and knees brought Dan hard to the ground. The containment spell had gotten smaller. Lorna twitted around his face, calling out frantically, her wings buzzing noisily. Dan waved a hand feebly. It held a small plastic bag.

“I’m ok. Fill this with the raspberries.” Lorna grabbed the bag and zipped away. Dan waited for the ache in his knees to subside before pulling himself up again. His nose throbbed, and he wondered if it was broken.

A blur near the raspberry bush, Lorna filled the bag quickly. She dragged it along the ground, it being too heavy for her to lift, and once she was through the invisible line that held Dan back, he lifted it and blew her a kiss.

“As promised, once this spell is broken, I will build you the best pixie house you have ever seen!”

A delighted squeak made Dan chuckle. If Lorna hadn’t come around that morning, Dan would have been perished in the ever-shrinking containment spell.

Back at his workshop, he hurried to make the ink need to create a banishment spell to counter his hidden prison. With just moments to spare, he finished the last flourish with the quill pen. The parchment sat, his calligraphy a beautiful deep purple. He looked at Lorna. She sat on the edge of a pot filled with daisies. Her hair had settled over her in thick waves. She must have felt his intention as her eyes glanced up, a sparkling gold. She gave him a meek smile.

A perfume of raspberry took over his senses. The ink on the parchment was smoking. Dan smiled at Lorna. “It’s working,” he whispered as though afraid of scaring the spell to sleep. Lorna buzzed into the air and silently clapped her hands.

When the last of the ink had vanished from the page, Dan felt a strange bout of dizziness. His body ached everywhere but his back seemed to be the most pained. The room twisted along with his stomach. He grabbed the counter and held on until the feeling passed. Then he went outside. He expected the force field to be gone. He expected to be able to continue life as usual, but things never seemed to work out that way.

Dan blinked as he looked around. He’d always been a decent wizard, maybe not the best but certainly not the worst. Today he was definitely on the lower rung. The trees were so high, he couldn’t see where they ended. The flowers were so big he could use them as umbrellas. A glint of white sparkled in his peripheral and he was pretty sure he had wings.

Motion pulled his attention to the right. He was rewarded with the most breathtaking face he’d ever seen. Perfect lavender skin, bright golden eyes and a glorious smile. And she was his size.

Lorna took his hand and Dan forgot about this new world, his new size and especially, Dan forgot about too many pens.

 

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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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Lucky Substitutions by Nicole DragonBeck

For Erika

I don’t think lizard eye is a vital ingredient in a love potion.

“It’s what it says!” Mayva protested, pointing at the old page with one hand, the other hovering over her cauldron, posed to drop an eye of Newt into the seething potion.

Well, I think it sounds fishy. You should read it again.

Mayva sighed and looked at the recipe again. “It says lizard,” she confirmed. “Hang on-” she leaned closer. “It looks like the first letter is rubbed out. Maybe blizard?

Blizard eye? You do know that word is spelled with two z’s, right?

“Hey!” Mayva barked. “If you wanted to come down here and do this, be my guest. Oh, wait, you don’t have a body. So if you have something valuable to contribute, by all means, speak up. If not, shut up!”

An ominous silence greeted her tirade. She waited for George to say something, but the silence just stretched on.

“I’m sorry,” Mayva said at last. “That was low.”

It’s fine.

The curt reply wasn’t reassuring, but at least it was something.

“Okay,” Mayva said, infusing her voice with enthusiasm she didn’t feel. “Let figure out this thing, so we can get paid, and then move on.”

Wizard.

“What?”

It says wizard eye. It’s just half of the first letter that’s missing.

Mayva looked again and saw George was indeed right. Her disembodied friend had his uses. She searched through the witch’s cupboards.

“There’s no wizard eye in here,” Mayva said.

Don’t you dare start think about substitutions now.

“If I don’t get the duchess her love potion, we’ll be eating potato eyes and carrot peelings while sleeping in a doorway.”

Well, you’ll be eating peelings and sleeping in the doorway. I’ll be as comfortable or uncomfortable as I ever was.

“Thanks for the support,” Mayva muttered, already flipping to the back of the grimoire for the substitutions. “Okay, one wizard eye is equivalent to three drops of blue moonlight, the kiss of a dragon, two-sevenths of a thimbleful of ashes of a baptized witched burned on a cedarwood fire.”

Sounds like it might be simple to go find a wizard and dig out his eye with a spoon. You don’t think this hedge witch has those kinds of things here, do you?

“Actually she does,” Mayva said, holding up the moonlight and dragon’s kiss with a triumphant expression.

And the ashes?

“That’s what this is for,” Mayva said, flipping through the charts of substitutions.

She had to go back and forth quite a bit because the only listing for ashes of baptized witch was burned over a fire of oak and ironwood, so she found a substitute for cedarwood and fire, which included several more substitutions for rare ingredients like second-sight of a blind babe and shame of a broken warrior. After some fancy footwork, Mayva was left with a table of half-empty bottles and pouches and a steaming cauldron of thick, pink potion.

“Well, at least it looks like it’s supposed to,” Mayva said.

Haven’t you ever heard looks can be deceiving?

“Enough with the pessimism,” Mayva said. “We’re almost done.”

She filled a stopper with the potion and turned. She stepped on something underfoot and windmilled as she tried to steady her balance. She steadied herself on the table and managed to keep her feet, though the table wasn’t so fortunate. The ingredients and the cauldron slid to the floor with a great crash, and the essences and powders and the love potion spewed everywhere.

Mayva blinked and looked at the mess she’d made of the witch’s cottage.

“So much for getting out of here unnoticed.”

Mayva screamed in shock and spun to find someone standing next to her. “Who’re you?” she asked.

“You might not recognize the face, but don’t you know the voice?” the young man asked.

“George?” Mayva said, an incredulous expression on her face. “How…what happened?”

George shrugged his very solid shoulders. “I don’t know, but if I had to guess I’d say it had something to do with those substitutions you made.”

Mayva looked down at the vial of pink liquid she had in her hand. “So this is not a love potion then?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then what is it?”

George touched his face, his nose and lips, and his arm, then shook his head. “Something much more powerful.”

 

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Bad Decisions by Erika Lance

To my friend and dragon tamer ,Nicole DragonBeck

“ At 10:43 PM, exactly one hour and fifty two minutes before they came for him, Henry Bently changed his mind and decided he wasn’t ready to die.”

Henry Bently had decided he was going to make a difference in the world. He had spent most of his life being in the background of all activities. He was always kind and courteous. He smiled at people as he walked passed and held open doors for others. He was completely forgettable.

His job was easily forgettable as well. He filed documents at the city planner’s office. Although Henry was incredibly good at his job, very few people realized the ease they experienced in finding the required information they were looking for regarding projects and inspections was attributed solely to Henry.

It was late on a Friday when he first saw the plans. At first, it looked like a simple zoo, if you could say there was something as simple as a zoo.

The name of this animal preserve was to be called Up Close Animal Adventures. The park would even feature rides and other attractions. It seems you need to have roller-coasters of some kind to really ensure people show up. Animals, no matter how exotic, no longer had the drawing power they once did.

As he read through the plans, he found something a bit odd. Within the request were plans for a series of underground buildings. As he pored over the plans, he found it was to be a network of medical spaces. It was designed like a hospital and at first glance and to a normal clerk it would appear to be for the animals. However, that was not the case.

Although the plans had already been approved, Henry knew that the clerk had not looked deep enough into them or had been bribed into simply putting his stamp on the approved line. Henry would never take a bribe, but knowing what the city actually paid its employees and how terrible the benefits were, he understood why someone would take a bribe and not feel guilty.

Henry decided to do a little more digging into the corporation that was building the epic attraction. He spent most of the weekend following stories on the web. From those that were from legitimate reporting agencies to the conspiracy theory blogs, the paths all lead to the same place.

The new “Adventure” that was being built was also going to be used to do medical testing for military uses. Not only for animals, but on humans. It read like something out of the Island of Dr. Moreau or some terrible movie from the 90’s.  It seemed that they were further along than most suspected in their efforts.

On Monday, Henry found he couldn’t concentrate. He kept being drawn back to what was going to happen when this facility was built. He finally took the issue to his supervisor. After a few minutes of speaking with her and then the department head, Henry realized that everyone was on the payroll so to speak.

He then decided there was something he could do.

If enough destruction occurred at the right time during the build, they would not easily recover. Plus, during the investigation, the right information at the right time would bring this all to light.

Although the “Park” would be insured, Henry was convinced that the underground facilities would not.

So over the next several months, Henry formed a plan.

Upon the final inspection, before the animals were brought in, Henry made sure he was the inspector. He would have access to every area of the facility. He knew he would have only one shot at this.

He had been surprised how easy it had been to acquire the C4 he needed. He knew how much he needed for each room and created small balls that he could drop or place as he went.

He had set the timer for 11:00PM. This meant the least amount of people would be at the site. He had walked the entire length of the underground facility with determination, stopping in every area and dropping his packages. When he had signed off and handed the approval on the permit to the site General Manager, he did it with a smile.

Although the authorities would wonder what had happened, perhaps a gas leak, Henry knew that the owners of the facility would find him, even if he ran. He knew he wasn’t trained to hide out.

He looked out the windshield of his car that he parked far enough from the site to be able to see it happen but not be injured and hoped he, Henry Bently, had made a difference this night and then he heard the first explosion.

 

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Physics Bent by Brandon Scott

For Paul, one of the prolific ones.

“What do you call a convergence of singularities?” That was what he asked them.

And they, all of them, did not know how to answer the question. It was an odd way to start the convention, all things considered.

One goddess raised her hand, one hand of about five. She had golden skin and about ten eyes dotting her huge forehead, though the exact number changed often and randomly.

“Yes, SAHIFT, what is it?” he asked, leveling out one of his only two fingers. His name was Rock-Oft, and as deities looked, he was short and unassuming. His three-piece suit was adorned by a neon green bow tie that was almost disgustingly bright.

“Are we debating on the word? Are we trying to make new words?” she asked.

Kellin, goddess of language, frowned at that thought. If they were, she should be the one at the front of the podium on the stage. That was her shtick, after all.

“No, no,” Rock replied, “it was just an opening thought. When was the last time all of us were in the same place, at the same time?”

The God of History—a tired-looking dwarven man with blue skin—roused from his half-sleep and pulled out his book. All heads swiveled to him as he took out a leather tome that had infinite pages between its meager, dented covers. He flipped through until he came upon the correct passage.

“It has been eight million years, in fact,” he said.

“Thank you,” Rock said, sounding a tad exasperated.

The God of History nodded, and then dropped down back into his seat and went back to sleep. Phernmo, the god of sleep, peered over the back of the chair, clicking his jet-black pincers and swirling his eyes in bliss.

“Yes, okay. So, it’s been awhile. And, now, since we are all here, I wanted to go over something a tad pressing.”

Rock moved his arms behind him, and without a person to do the task, a thick black curtain rose and swept itself off to the side of the stage. Dust moved around in little swirls, making the ground appear to have a slight motion to it.

Behind that was a massive, truly huge, blackboard with lines and an arrow on it going straight up toward the sky. The arrow did not stay within the confines of the board and went into the air with nothing holding it.

“So, here’s the problem,” Rock said and clapped his hands together. “The population has gotten out of control here. We tried the obvious trick, scatter them across the multiverse, but damn if they do not reproduce like mad.”

A pink and fuzzy creature, with no obvious eyes or mouth, but able to emit faint bubbles and produce wavelengths that could be understood as speech, nervously floated off her seat and hid in the rows as best she could. This did not stop a few eyes from glaring at her.

“Now, now, don’t just blame Amor. This is not her fault only. Dusk and Terror, you too are just as guilty of this as anyone else is.”

Fraternal twins, Dusk and Terror, both, as one, crossed their arms over their chests. As if rolled down a slight incline in the floor, they met in slow motion.

Finally, as if this was their opening argument, Terror cleared her throat. “It’s illogical.”

“To blame you?” Rock said. “Hardly. You oversee death and desecration, terror and malice, do you not?”

“Yes,” Dusk said, lifting his hand and leaking a poisonous gas from his nails and pores. He was the taller of the two, always wearing a skin-tight robe with drawn-on bones. “But we are doing our jobs just fine. Jun is the issue.”

Jun broke his hands apart from their prayer-like position and stepped down from the air. At his back, only then appearing there, was a pair of swords with dull edges and chips and cracks. “I am only doing my job, filthy things.”

Rock held up his hands, producing a faint swirl of crimson magic in the air. “Okay, okay—that’s enough. Fine, let’s not try and throw blame at anyone then. If we can’t come to a conclusion, we can’t. But, the point is this, humans are going to bring down the whole system if we do not do something about them.”

One-half, the left half, of the split-down-the-middle Qeez, rolled his eye. “You say that all the time. It’s been fine up until now.”

“No, it really hasn’t,” Rock said, gesturing back at the arrow. “I have been trying to tell you this individually for the past while. They are going to cause the heat death of the universes as it is. Which, while not dangerous to us, will be a huge hassle. Who here wants to rebuild the atomic weight system?”

No one raised their hand; a few shuddered. It had taken forever to get those atoms organized, and then someone would come up with a new idea that seemed useful, and they would have to slot it in a place that made enough sense for it to be confusing to religious and non-religious people alike.

“Exactly,” Rock said, clapping his hands again. “And that’s why I got so many of you together. I want a creative, devious solution to this.”

A disembodied arm made of vines and red spikes flew overhead and waved.

“Yes, Plantress?” Rock said. “Did you have a question or a suggestion?”

“Both,” she said, her voice a rustle. “I was wondering if you were proposing we get started on the End?”

Rock nodded once but then shook his head. “I’d considered that option, yes. It’s something I’d considered as an option down the road, but I’d like to just cull them a bit if that is more possible. Murdering all of them, right off the bat, seems like it might make things hard for us down the road.”

“Thanks,” she said. The hand zoomed down after giving a thumbs up. It then reattached to Plantress.

“Welcome,” Rock said. “So… does anyone have any ideas? How about something truly outlandish?”

Everyone was quiet for a minute. The death gods and the war gods only had a few ideas that they could really propose, and all of them revolved around the same approach. Death and obliteration, but in the most pedestrian ways.

The chaos gods and the tricksters both pondered some options, but ultimately they were not killers—just makers of mischief and anarchy. Humans might kill indirectly because of their actions, but they were not malice-driven beings.

Then, came a single clearing of the throat from the back. A rustling of the occupants of the room sounded as various people all stepped aside to allow him to pass. None of them could look him in the eye. This being had a swagger to him and starry skin. A black canvas with the occasional starburst and supernova spawning and disappearing on his flesh. His eyes alternated between a fiery comet red and a cool icy blue. His single item of clothing was a midnight blue scarf with purple frills at the end, which was wrapped around his neck.

“I say we show them what they were, and how they were, and what they will become.”

“What do you mean, R?”

R leaned against something that was not there, crossing his long legs. “I mean, we let them see how they will die, how they lived—and let them hash out how many survive. It will not kill them, but it will lower the population, in huge ways. It’s either that or some apocalypse or war. Zombies are overdone, for instance. Let’s not be boring.”

The right half of Qeez pursed his lips. “You want to make them able to see time?”

“Yes,” R said, cinching his scarf tighter around his neck. “I am proposing just that. I think, once they can see how their life will turn out, they will die in mass. Some to their own hands, some to vengeance. Even if they can see the unfolding versions of reality, across all of it, some will find no hope. Some will grow angry at actions no one has actually done—it will be glorious.”

Rock bounced on his heels for a moment before producing from his pockets a pair of fog watches, each ticking at a different speed and rotating their hands in different directions. He looked over both. “I mean…yes.”

“Yes, it is a good idea?” R asked, cocky.

“Yes, fine—yes.” Rock glanced off to the side. He was hoping to avoid getting involved in the actual destruction part of the job. Hence the reason for the conference in the first place—ship it off to someone else. But, he was the god of time, after all—so it fell to him.

“Okay, I’ll let them have it. If this does not work, though, it’s on your head.”

R grinned, his teeth shining white on the darkness of his void skin. The others still did not like to look at him. Even the chaos gods did not like this guy. He was the only entropy god in the whole multiverse.

“Oh, don’t worry—it will work. Just like fucking, it’s deep in the human’s nature.”

Rock, unfortunately, could not disagree. And, in one go, he unloaded the burden of time on the humans, in every version of reality. The first riots happened in under ten minutes.

Everyone saw it coming.

 

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Awkward First Dates by Dalia Lance

For Rumpy, who will always inspire me.

And in that instant, I thought to myself “Did I really just see that……?”

I looked again in the direction of her date Zach and saw that he did in fact have a lizard poking out the collar of his jacket.

“Zach… um… there is lizard in your coat.” She tried not to sound as freaked out as she was. She hated reptiles.

He smiled and reached into his jacket. “I’m sorry. This is Zeus. He was feeling a little blue today. So I thought I could bring him with.”

“Oh” was all she could say. Looking back on their conversations online and the decision to meet at a local farmer’s market/craft fair, she thought he was being sweet to her. Maybe he was; she simply couldn’t tell anymore.

He pulled Zeus out of his jacked and held him out to her. He was greenish-blue. “Would you like to hold him?” Zach asked.

“NO!” she snapped and jumped a little back.

A look played across Zach’s face and although she knew her reaction was more violent than needed, she also knew that this would be the last time she saw Zach.

They continued to walk for a bit longer through the stalls, but as they neared the end of one of the lanes, she pulled out her phone and pretended to have an emergency come up. Zach didn’t even question it as a person normally would. She could tell he was done as well.

Instead of a goodbye hug, she shook his hand not holding a lizard and walked away pulling the hand-sanitizer from her purse.

After fully cleaning her hands and her phone, she got to her car and immediately called her friend Jessica.

“Well that was quick,” Jessica answered. “I didn’t get a chance to make the obligatory call to bail you out of the date if needed. What happened?”

“A fricken lizard came out of his jacket.” Her voice was more high-pitched than needed. “A LIZARD!”

“Wow,” Jessica said and began to laugh.

“This isn’t funny. Who in the hell brings a lizard to a date?” She felt her face begin to flush.

Jessica tried to contain her laughter. “You’re right (snicker). That is terrible (laugh).”

“You are not helping.” She wanted to be more mad at her friend, but she knew she was simply frustrated at the situation.

She took a deep breath.

“Well at least he wasn’t dressed as a clown like the last one,” Jessica said before going into another bout of laughter.

The clown. She had almost blocked that horrible moment from her mind. God, she hated online dating.

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