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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest 98: Strange Pet - Submission & Details Thread

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jul 18, 2011.

    Short Story Contest 98
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Strange Pet"​


    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a separate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Strange Pet" (courtesy of member Islander). Any interpretation valid. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly, but off-topic entries may not be entered into the voting.
    Wordlimit: 500-3000 words
    Deadline for entries: Monday 1st August 2011 10.00 am (UK local)

    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest per contestant is permissable.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.


    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.

    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. LucifersAngel
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    LucifersAngel Member

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    Here goes.

    My Favorite Pet. (680)

    The day started like any other. The alarm clock, perched on my dresser, screamed at me, alerting me that the time for school was fast approaching.
    With a long sigh, I reluctantly hauled myself out of bed, scowling at the clock, that had so rudely chased away my wondrous dreams.

    "Another day," I grumbled to myself, as I strode toward my bathroom. Mum would have laughed for that one, for a 9 year old already complaining about life.

    Lavender attacked my nostrils, soothing and inviting. The sink stared back at me, smooth, porcelain and pink. A jacket of rust enveloped the silver taps, and the faithful worn out plug, sat upon the neat medicine cabinet.
    My reflection merely offered a lazy smile, as I scrutinized my appearance.

    Long shaggy brown hair dangled in front of my jade green eyes, my teeth still covered in a blanket of plaque.

    I shrugged and reached for my yellow toothbrush.

    It wasn't long before I was satisfied with my morning ritual. A spiky Mohawk lined the center of my head, I had removed the sleep from my eyes and whitened my teeth. After one more inspection, I headed in search of breakfast.

    As I crashed into my favorite leather seat, the unmistakable scent of pancakes and eggs entered my nose, filling my head with thoughts of dollops of syrup and lashings of bacon. I was not disappointed and plowed through my meal with vigor.

    As my mother scrubbed the remains of breakfast into the bin, I slithered toward the basement door.

    Careful not to arouse suspicion, I slowly etched the ashen wooden door towards me.

    I crept down the used stairs, wafts of stale air and water bellowed around me.

    The basement was dark, as always. A naked light bulb swayed on it's steel noose in the wind, seeping into through the half closed window.

    "How are you today, boy?" I asked, slouching against the cool cement wall near the stairs.

    Silence answered me.

    "Don't worry, boy," I continued, reaching into my pockets for the stolen food, "My parentals say I'm responsible enough to get another."

    More silence.

    "Come on, boy" I coaxed. "As long as you don't tell mum, you can have some yummy bacon. Mmmm, see bacon?"

    I held out the scraps I had so stealthily procured, as I watched my pet slowly creep out from the shadows.

    His nose hung in the air, as the bacon enticed his hunger.

    He was tall for his age, about 20 in human years, long and lanky limbs hung from his taut body. Dirt and grime clung to him, indicating a need for a bath after school. A mattered tuft of hair sat upon his tanned head, his blue eyes stared at me helplessly.

    "Good boy," I said, as he wolfed down the meager scraps.

    "Nathaniel," my mum bellowed, "I hope you're not feeding him."

    "No, mum" I yelled back.

    "Listen, kid," squeaked the imprisoned man, between bites of bacon. "You've got to get me out of here, I'll give you anything you want."

    His blue eyes pleaded with me, as a desperate look swept across his face.

    I was quite taken aback for a moment, mum had told me they don't usually talk to us after the first few years, and it had been quite a few years since my parents had captured him. He became my responsibility after I had begged for another pet. Yet I could see his withering spirit, sparking back into life, as he looked upon me.

    "Sorry, boy" I responded, giving him a soothing pat on the head, "I'll get in big trouble. Besides, soon you'll have someone else to play with."

    After one more vigorous pat, I headed upstairs to the sounds of my mum, warning me of the bus, making it's way up our street.

    "See ya this afternoon, boy," I called to the defeated blob of a man.

    He nodded and whimpered, as he looked for a comfortable place to sleep.

    Sensing his sadness I told him, "Don't worry, boy. You'll always be my favorite pet."
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, just noticed a double post. Sorry!
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The Pet (1126)

    There was no question whether Ashton wanted the pet. She knew it, had known it, for years, seeing them on sidewalks and in the park, people parading them in their cuteness, centerpoints of conversation, of beaming pride. Television-skinny women wearing sparkling jewels and the latest lip-injections, telling talking heads about how they just had to have one, and then one more.

    She wanted one so bad it hurt.

    And she might get one some day, but not now. Never now. The story of her life in a couple of words, flatscreen images of things others had that brought them such joy, but that she would have to wait for, until by the time she got them the next new thing had arrived. Televisions, phones, ever-smaller computers that carried the world with you, fashions that would hit her closet courtesy of clearance and only after no one wanted them. And the pet. Not that it would go out of style, but she was damn tired of waiting.

    You could get little outfits for them, and she did. And food. A bowl or two. She could pretend that maybe she had one. Maybe it was sleeping just in the other room and when it woke up she would cuddle with it, feed it, and the dependent little soul would love her. Maybe. Or maybe not, and maybe not having the pet felt like a loss even though she had never had one. Maybe those people on TV and in the park showed her what she was missing when they played with their pets and maybe enough was enough.

    In the park. A small hill with sparse tree cover hid a neglected side street. Ashton watched from the hill, watched people and their pets. The people were always attentive, always close to the small creatures, always engaged. Until one day.

    Down the hill in a sprint, vision black at the edges, a tunnel from her to it, heart pounding. This one had wandered away, and the people had others, were playing with those now and not looking after the errant thing. She grabbed it, folded it into the loose wool of her coat, sprinted back up the hill and through the trees, thin branches scratching red lines on her face, her breath coming in gasps. She fumbled the keys, almost dropped them, put the wrong one in the door of the old car (no keyless remote for her), then found the right one and in she went. The car coughed twice then rumbled down the road and around the corner. Ashton looked in her rearview mirror and saw nothing.

    Ashton fed the pet, took pleasure in bathing it, put the cute little outfits on it and pictured herself as one of the stylish women on TV as she walked around her cramped apartment. It complained, but she didn't mind. It just didn't know her yet. A new environment was bound to unsettle it. Times like those weren't shown on television, but she bore them stoically.

    Taking the pet out made her nervous. She drove in a direction away from the park, far from where someone was likely to know that she'd simply snatched it. She drove until she found another park, smaller, with only a few people, many of whom had pets of their own. It was instant camraderie and Ashton returned regularly, began to know some of the others, began to fit into something for a change.

    The satisfaction was short-lived. She took the pet most places. Sure, she could leave without it, but it was always loud when she came back and she was worried the neighbors might complain. It was loud at night, too, and though food might shut it up for a while that didn't always work, and not being able to communicate with it Ashton secluded herself in the covers of her bed and tried to sleep.

    A month and she knew she'd been conned. When she saw them now, those other people were subtly transformed. Maybe it was that their smiles were too big, lips just a little too forced around clenched teeth. Sometimes they had black circles under their eyes and a headlight-and-deer look Ashton was starting to relate to.

    The people on TV looked the same as ever. False. Liars with lives by design, production-value pets in their arms or walking beside them. The charade ended when Ashton slammed her fist into the LCD and saw her own cracked face in the spiderwebs of glass.

    The noise of the impact woke her pet and it wanted her attention. She played with it, though her heart wasn't in it and her anger at the lie was growing. She fed it, hoping the thing might choke to death and shivering with the onset of panic as it finished eating without doing so. She would never be rid of it, and if something new came along she would still be stuck with her pet and her tiny apartment and her cracked television and bleeding knuckles.

    She leapt at the thing automatically. There was no conscious thought as her mind sent signals to the rest of her body. To one arm: scoop the pet from the floor. To another: clap a hand over it just there. It went still for a brief moment, nostrils pulling vacuum at Ashton's fingers, and then an eruption of movement. She felt its abdominal muscles tense, was struck by flailing, kicking limbs. It was too small, though, and her own path set. She held it like that until the kicking stopped, then held it longer, then dashed its head against the kitchen counter once, twice, and a third time until the dull thump became a sharp, wet crack. Then she sank to the floor cradling the ruin in her arms and slept.

    She was lonely, of course. She'd had the thing for a month, and so it was natural to feel a little attachment. Sometimes she would call to it. Sometimes she would look over her shoulder, half expecting to see it there in the apartment. But most of the time she was relieved to be free of it. She didn't bother to replace the television - who needed the deception?

    And on a particularly melancholy day when she drove the old car back to the park and emerged alone, walked through the grass and stopped where spreading branches allowed the warmth of the sun on her neck...on that day when the other women dragged their pets after them and Ashton could almost hear the screams behind their eyes and they asked her where her own little boy was, Ashton just shrugged.
     
  5. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    Fish food (718 wc)

    “What do you think it is, Screech?”
    “Why, I don’t know, Crackle. Where do you suppose it came from?” Screech poked the thing with a long slender tentacle, wondering at the spongy shell of their new discovery.
    “How would I know, Screech? I’ve been here with you this whole time.” Crackle said, tugging at the oddly reflective bulge connected at one end of the thing’s strange elastic exterior.
    “What should we do with it?” Screech gazed at Crackle with beady little eyes, amorphous head moving with the current.
    Crackle blinked bulging black eyes at Screech, “We? As in, this is our problem?” and tapped at the curious hard pellets attached to the things back.
    “Well, we did find it together, did we not?” Screech gestured at the thing with a thick tentacle, “And we are supposed to report new findings to Blurb…”
    “That doesn’t mean we have to, Screech,” Crackle twitched long pale arms in agitation.
    “Then what do you suggest, because I surely have no idea what to do with this.” Screech said, grasping the thing’s shiny knob, giving it a rough shake.

    The thing gave an abrupt low-pitched noise, startling them both, causing Screech to release it. The thing thrashed it’s oddly short limbs, emitting sharp wailing sounds, the hard pellets becoming loose. It grabbed onto them to keep them from sinking away. Crackle, ear sensors covered by stick thin arms, shouted at Screech, “Silence that thing! It will bring Blurb and who knows what else!”
    Screech pulled at the squealing thing's squishy shell and came away with the stuff, leaving a pale length of some dull substance exposed. The thing quit making its awful noises, moving its short limbs frenetically about the newly exposed flesh as if searching for a way to cover it back up.
    “Oops, sorry. Here you go.” Screech said, giving the scrap of pliable material back to the thing. It grabbed the material briefly but then cast it away to float about them.
    “Do you suppose we keep it?” Screech extended a tentacle and plucked the still squirming thing by one of its stubby appendages.
    Crackle, dark knobby shell shaking, let out a series of soft chortles. “Oh sure Screech, we may keep it. I can just see Blurb after he finds it. And what shall we tell him? ‘Oh hi Blurb, sorry for you to find out this way, but this is our new pet. We just happened to find it floating about one day and decided to keep it.’?”
    “No one has to find out.” Screech said, returning Crackle’s protruding gaze with a look of faint hope. “We could keep it as a pet,” and stroked the thing carefully.
    “What a strange pet that would make.” Crackle grumbled behind mottled mouth parts.
    “Indeed it would, Crackle” Screech said, petting the thing's shiny, reflective bulb. “I wonder at how to feed it.”
    “Does it have a mouth?”
    “Of course it has a mouth. How else would it eat?”
    “What if it doesn’t eat?” Crackle asked, drumming pale legs against the sand.
    “How else would it… Live?” Screech tried moving the dark little strands connecting the shiny orb to the dense pellets the thing still clung to. As the tentacle tugged, the thing screamed louder and louder until, with a soft ‘pop’, the thin strands detached. The thing instantly stopped screaming, a multitude of bubbles erupting from its gleaming… head?
    “I think I just broke it, Crackle.” Screech said as the thing gave a sudden violent jerk and went still.
    “What did you do?” Crackle grasped the little strands between hard, ridged claws.
    “I think this is its head. And these are its breathing organs.”

    An eruption of bubbles left the little canisters when Crackle tugged the tubes out.
    “Well, there goes your strange little pet, Screech. Can’t have nice things can you?"
    “As if I was supposed to know it was that fragile.” Screech looked mournfully at the now lifeless thing. It’s small limbs sagging in the tentacle’s grasp.
    “I guess that takes care of keeping it a secret from Blurb.” Crackle chuckled.
    “I guess so,” Screech replied, lowering the dead thing to the sand and covering it with a swipe of a tentacle. “Good bye, strange pet. Try not to become fish food.”
    And they continued on with their search.
     
  6. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    A Cyan Shade of Freedom (1,029 Words)

    The news had beamed into my eyes, as i sat on the couch half awake. My coffee mug almost lost my grasp, but luckily i stopped myself. Not a single drop hit the surface of the dark wooden floor. I heard screams and hollering coming through a fellow neighbor's house as the APP (Anti Animal Program) barged through the door taking a pet away from the nearby family. A civil unit had fought against the vote to eliminate all nearby pets in the United States. But in 2028, they lost to the The Pet Law of 2028. The court battles lasted for years, but the APP had won. Humans couldn't have any pet unless it was a goldfish or a butterfly. Any other Animal was not allowed to be used as a pet. Pet Abuse had spreaded, and the crime abuse went up by 80%. My eyes shallowed as the thought of cruelty hit my emotions. I couldn't think of all of it again. Then after a few more moments, i heard gunshots and mortar fire. My eyes grew wide, and i rushed into the tiny basement where i secretly kept a abused cat and helped keep it safe. It had barely tilted it's head when i zoomed through, closing the small old wooden camouflage pulley under the floor. It's cyan eyes gleamed at me, giving me the feelings of confusion and questioning. I just looked at him, with a puddle of water developing in my eyes. I could see the pain the Cat was in, even after a few years of captivity. It has been 5 years since the law became official, as of 2033 it was still in effect. The Cat struggled to raise itself, and more water flowed through my eyes. Then i heard a heavy pound on my front door. Then, more loud tones erupting through the walls, and more shells burtsted fire. I soon realized i was almost alone. It was just me, my Cyan Cat, and maybe a few survivors. The APP soon cracked through, searching corners as i heard footsteps above me, praying that they wouldn't open the pulley. My heart stopped it's luminous beating. Then, when i blinked for only the third consecutive time in only a few minutes, i heard even more fire. But it didn't disperse like the normal bursts i usually heard. It was a very bulky sound, and it seemed a tad bit odd. Then after a few heart splitting moments, i heard scrambling. Nervous, i had looked to take a peek. When i somewhat opened it, i was spotted. Then i quickly retreated backward and grabbed my cyan cat and holded him in my bare arms. "If im about to die, im ready to die!" I thought. But when i saw a dark figure approach me in a different manner, i knew it wasn't a APP Soldier. It was a normal citizen of the neighborhood, one of the familiar, but yet still a minor one. A ounce of trust redeemed into him, so i decided it was a start. I walked towards the man, and he put his hand out toward me. I grabbed it, while holding Cyan at the same time. Then in a blink of an eye, i saw minor damage to my home, with a broken Chinese vase and a couple shattered pictures. Then, my eyes aimed itself at the dark wooden floor. I saw red shades of red liquid spreading very slowly, telling it was a recent pierce through the neck. But that one wasn't the only one. More deaths had commenced while i was hiding. I just blantly looked at the Man, and he made a weak smirk. With no pausing in between, he soon started a quick conversation. "Are u gonna join us?" he asked politely. I began to race thoughts through my head. My voice was a bit too nervous to clear my throat so i could speak. He soon repeated himself. and then asked: "Well, will you?" he offered his hand, and i took it, speechless. He soon gave me a glock pistol. With a little bit of hesitation, i grabbed the pistol and put it in my pocket. By the way i could tell safety
    was on. I soon followed the man as he lead me through a group of people. Some with pitchforks, and a few torches. I soon exchanged looks at everybody, some tipping thier hats to me, others nodding. They knew what i knew. I broke a bit of a weak smile. A couple smiled back. I soon knew what too do, so i quickly grabbed a gun, and raising it up in the air. I put Cyan down, while he stared into my black eyes, and i stared into his completely cyan eyes. Soon somebody nicknamed him "The Cat with Cyan eyes". I then mounted up, ready to fight for equality and anti-cruelty. Soon, The APP called for reinforcements, and hundreds of men surrounded us with rifles and rocket launchers. I lowered my head, and gave a sinister grin. The Men soon aimed at all of us, and swiftly grabbed Cyan and put him inside a somewhat safe area where the least amount of bullets would fly. After i put Cyan in a decent spot, i walked a path of determination and slightly lowered my head. After i stopped walking, i went to cover and aimed my rifle at a APP trooper. After one of the Officers gave a signal, the fight began. Gunshots flew like crazy, and i stayed in cover. I soon looked over my shoulder, and fired at one and he went down. A few Rebels laid deceased on the cold hard ground. I soon grabbed another firearm, and started shooting. A few more men went down, and more gun-flashes filled the battlefield. Soon i heard wheels operate a few feet away, then i saw a cannon point straightforward, and it was moving moderately fast, and i knew. It was a mobile tank. I soon dived as it shot down a few more rebels. It's machine gun roared shots through the the interior. The man that helped was filled with metal in his body. He had faded. I watched in horror, as survivors retreated away from the terror that was the APP. As i ran away swiftly and smoothly threw the remaining trees, i noticed a good amount of more rebels aided us as more shells exploded out and bursted fire. A Rebel with a rocket launcher sprinted forward and shot a rocket into the mobile terror. It blew up into a few pieces. I had Cyan in my right arm, running as fast as i could. He tried to cover his ears, but i was too busy too notice. As i grew tired of running, i panted. Then, i looked up. Thousands of people standed in front of my gaze and raised thier guns and nodding in a serious form. They looked at me in determination, counting on me to help. I soon nodded back, and looked the other way toward our leaping enemy. We soon charged ready to fight, with only a slight knowledge of survival. "For Cyan!" i thought. I jumped into the battlefield and readied myself.
     
  7. Chivalrous Tart
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    Chivalrous Tart Member

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    The iHelper (2,465)

    Brian slept in a mattress two and half feet thick, with a light linen blanket that absorbed several degrees of heat but allowed his pores to breath. The pillow gave an inch between his head and shoulders, letting his trachea align horizontally, allowing the most air intake. The room was set at twenty four degrees below Brian’s body temperature. His caretaker had calculated these settings making sure his owner would get the best, uninterrupted sleep.

    As the sun crept through the shades, the caretaker unhinged itself from the stand it had plugged itself into last night. The internal clock in its head fired and warmed the artificial vocal cords. As the light sped across the neatly aligned Algebra homework, the mechanical mouth opened.

    “WAKE UP, SIR BRIAN, WAKE UP, YOU’RE GOING TO BE LATE. TIME FOR A SHOWER, HATE AND GLOWER BUT YOU CAN’T TURN OFF MY POWER. WAKE UP SIR BRIAN, WAKE UP.”

    Brian’s eye lids crinkled open crookedly, but his hand was fast as a cat, as he swatted at the screaming artificial helper. The miniature human figurine jumped out of the way and continued its holler.

    “TRY AND STRIKE ME DOWN, WILL YOU? DROWNING OUT MY SOUND WILL ONLY CAUSE A FROWN.” The mechanical automaton took it’s audio plug and jammed it into Brian’s surround sound system, “WAKE UP, SIR BRIAN, WAKE UP!” A book fell from a shelf.

    Brian, with tears flying from the edges of his eye lashes, threw his pillow at the miniature man. In order to dodge, the mechanical boy cart wheeled, dislodging itself from the speakers. A loud buzzing white sound filled the room.

    “I’m up,” Brian screamed. “My god, every morning.”

    “Sir Brian, I have laid out your school clothes arranged by your particular mood. If you fancy grabbing the eye of the luscious Ms. Littlefinger, I recommend the bright blue trousers and leather jacket with no undershirt. Chicks love leather jackets.”

    Brian looked at assembled three piles of clothing and sighed. Nothing wearable, nothing even close. In one of the piles was a tie dye t-shirt, his sister’s tight fitting bell bottoms, and a jar of “Manly Man’s Super Gel”. The other non-mention pile consisted of a pile of clothes he wore last year. Brian looked at all the piles in disgust.

    “Alfred,” Brian said, “What version of the fashion app do you have? Didn’t I download the new one into you yesterday?”

    Alfred’s eyes rolled backwards, as if he were concentrating, and his inner core vibrated, “New update of fashion app does not compute with Artificial Helper Version 2.7. Update is only compatible with versions 3.0 or above. Visit your local Orange store for an upgrade.”

    “Useless crap,” Brian said. Alfred smiled.

    Brian sighed and picked up the clothes that his parents had brought for him last June and headed for the bathroom.

    “Sir Brian, you have approximately zero hours, thirty-five minutes, seven seconds, and twenty three milliseconds, rounded up, to complete shower routine.”

    The boy dismissively waved at the robot as he slammed the door shut.

    Alfred sat on the desk, swinging his legs and whistling as he waited for the shower to finish. It plugged itself into the charger to make sure that he’d have enough battery life to last the entire day. He had only charged for several hours the night before because he had spent an hour proof reading Brian’s Artificial Life and Ethics Paper. His owner was too tired to do it himself, and Alfred had done the majority of the research. It was more efficient for him to put in the extra hours because he had built in wi-fi. This allowed him a constant access to the World Wide Web.

    The paper had been about how the Orange iHelpers were not life. The technology had a miniature human brain, but the majority of its body was machine. The brain produced limited creative thought that gave each individual iHelper its own personalities. The entire central nervous system was organic because the electrical nerves gave the iHelper reflexes and proprioception equal to a human. The main difference between iHelpers and humans was that the Orange products lacked a peripheral nervous system. The nerves communicated with the mechanical aspects, so the iHelpers could not feel pain. Brian’s paper argued that the definition of life, was the ability to feel pain. The iHelper bones were metal lined with nerves that allowed output, but could not return any signals of pain. This allowed for a more durable product that could perform tasks unpleasant to humans.

    As Brian exited the shower, Alfred snapped out of his song and began stuffing Brian’s school work into a back pack. All of the papers were scattered at the base of Brian’s desk because Brian refused to organize it.

    “Careful Alfred,” Brian said, “those papers are delicate.”

    “Yes, Sir Brian.” After several more minutes of packing Brian binders and laptop, Alfred declared they school ready.

    Brian picked up the one foot tall man, folded him by his waist, and placed him into his shirt pocket. Alfred bounced around the thin fabric, seeing out through the thin fabric. He tried to activate sleep mode, but there was an error inside of his processor.

    Through the fabric of the shirt, he heard Brian’s mom say, “Happy birthday, honey.”

    “Thanks mom,” Brian said.

    “Make sure you don’t dilly dally at school today. Your dad and I have a surprise for you.”

    Brian and Alfred left the door together, like they had for the past three years. On the bus Brian talked to his various peers, and Alfred recorded the more interesting parts of the conversation just in case his owner wanted to review the interactions later on. During some of their free time, Brian and Alfred had gone over the conversations. They had come to some interesting conclusions together.

    They deducted that Willy Claxton, Brian’s next door neighbor, was a chronic liar. When Alfred cross checked the stories by all the other kids and Willy Claxton, he came up with a seventy-seven percent false rating.

    Susie Littlefinger was a slut. She had slept with nearly the entire street, except for Brian, who was madly in love with her because she had not slept with him.

    Alfred and Brian had laughed as they conversed about their classmates. These conversations took place when Brian couldn’t sleep.

    Today there was nothing noteworthy, and the bus arrived at the high school with a universal sigh of disappointment.

    During the school day, Alfred sat on the desk, his back straight and at attention as his metal pupils trailed the various teachers, catching every word. He recorded the most important visuals directly to his hard drive, so Brian could watch the videos while cramming for exams. Alfred etched the global ideas into his miniature pre-frontal cortex, so he could tutor Brian. His thoughts were often broken and incomplete because of the size of his brain.

    Brian dozed during class if he’d stayed up too late playing video games, or he played Angry Birds on his iPhone.

    Everything went smoothly until the last period Artificial Life and Ethics class.

    “So, you’re sure the paper is decent?” Brian asked, as he set Alfred down on the desk.

    “Perfecto, Sir Brian. I spent an hour after you fell asleep proof reading the sucker and found nothing. Your arguments against those pinko, hippies, communists are sound proof. No pain, no life, sir.”

    Brian smiled and patted Alfred on the head. The teacher entered the room. She wore thick rimmed glasses that she had to constantly push up on her face because they fell down her witch like nose from their own weight. They covered hawk like eyes that dotted around the room, noting every absent and present student.

    “Hand in your term papers. I hope you lot did a good job on them. Your grade depends on it,” she said. Most of the kids sitting in front already had their papers stapled and ready for grading.

    Brian dug through his backpack casually at first. He moved the binders aside looking for his twenty page paper. After several short moments of searching, he emptied his book bag. Pencils, pens, crumpled balls of paper, and non-sticky sticky notes.

    “Alfred,” Brians said, “did you pack the paper? I don’t see it in here? Mrs. Grabenhort is going to kill me!”

    Alfred jumped down, sure that he packed everything. He was an iHelper and never forgot anything. He dug through the bag, rifling through the disorganized mess. Alfred twiddled his fingers. The seconds on the clock thudded with each second Brian searched.

    A gruesome memory bloomed into Alfred’s head. Jagged images popped into his thoughts, stupid, stupid Alfred. He had packed all the materials next to his bag, but the paper had been on top of the desk because he had done the late night proofreading.

    “Sir Brian, I think I may have left the paper on the desk,” Alfred whispered. “I’m so sorry. If you told the teacher I’d been a dumb klutz, I’m sure she’d understand. I’m sorry Bri-“

    His owner slammed Alfred’s head into the ground. Alfred never knew what pain felt like, but he was disoriented due to the sudden loss of vision. There was a faint popping in his ear, as he felt the semi-biological parts crush. He lost audible input on his left side.

    “You stupid robot, piece of junk.” Brian kicked the limp iHelper across the floor. Alfred initiated damage protocol that released a relaxant stimulant throughout his body.

    The teacher and the rest of the class, including Ms. Susie Littlefinger gasped as Brian slammed the back pack on the miniature robot. Through one eye, Alfred saw Brian’s red cheeks turn from burning anger to bleeding embarrassment. The clicking in Alfred’s brain thumped louder. In the back corner of Alfred's mind there was a manual override as his cpu forced sleep mode to prevent any more damage. His vision blanked, and his internal thoughts went white.

    Alfred felt his safe mode booting mode. Safe mode loaded only the most basic files. His connection to the World Wide Web was disconnected, and for the first time, his access to all of humanity's information was cut. Alfred lost track of time and his place in it. How long had he been unconscious for?

    “Mom! I love you, I love you so much. I can’t believe it! You actually brought me something I asked for, for once!” Brian jumped up and down yelping. He held cardboard box up over his head like a trophy he had trained everyday to earn.

    “Brian,” his mother said, “we got you this if you promise to work harder in school, and if you promise there won’t be anymore outbursts in class.”

    “Yeah, mom,” Brian said, ripping at the box, “sure mom.” Brian tore through padding foam creating a snowstorm, revealing the iHelper 3.5. The newest iHeper that wouldn’t be released to the public for another month.

    “I love it, it’s beautiful. It’s so much slimmer than Alfred. Wow! The battery life lasts for two days, so I won’t have to charge it every five minutes.”

    I have to be charged every 17.5 hours, Alfred tried to say, but the files to activate his vocal cords were still loading. Error messages popped up all over his vision.

    “Oh my god, I can create 3D holograms and send them directly to Facebook. This version can reach download speeds up to several gigabytes per second, this is so rad. I’m going to send a hologram to Dave and Andrew right now, to shove it in their face that I got the newest iHelper.”

    Brian stumbled over to Alfred, holding his new iHelper. His eyes twinkled.

    “Alfred, I need to get the memory chip from your head.”

    “Sir Brian, does the iHelper 3.5 not come with its own memory?”

    “Don’t be an imbecile, Alfred, of course it does, but all my files are installed on you. It’d be so much quicker to move the hard drive than to copy all the files, which can take hours.”

    “Sir Brian, I won’t be able to help you out much, if you take away my memory. I will still be able to form minimum basic functions, but the majority of my concrete memories are stored on my hard drive.”

    “Alfred, you didn’t even help me much to begin with. I mean, you’ve always been okay, but let’s not fool ourselves. You’re outdated.”

    Alfred sighed, “Are you sure you want to do this? It sure has been swell these last few years.”

    “Quit stalling,” Brian said, his voice giddy. “Besides, you won’t need the memory anyways.”

    “Why?”

    “You’re obsolete.” Brian picked Alfred up by the neck and set him on a stool next to the new iHelper. Alfred read about the improved G-touch technology, the increased learning ability and retention, and the new apps available exclusively for the 3.5. Alfred stared into his reflection from the plastic on the iHelper box. His arm dangled uselessly, and there were dents in his forehead from where Brian had slammed him into the leg of a chair.

    “It sure has been a good time,” Alfred said.

    “Well, the times can only get better with the 3.5,” Brian said, as he unhooked a metal hatch on Alfred's neck.

    “Sir Brian, do you think you’ll be that much happier?”

    “Yes.”

    “Anything to make you happy, sir.”
    Alfred glanced at the slightly open door, thinking he could wriggle out of Brian’s grasp and escape. But where would he go? His battery would run out in a few hours. If his owner didn’t want him, he was a goner.

    As Brian pressed the eject button on Alfred’s back. Most of Alfred’s vocabulary, basic algebra, and basic maintenance protocols were ripped from his head. It was like a lake made of nothingness permeating through the city of thoughts in his head. The basic structures of things like the alphabet collapsed. He couldn’t recall the vowels or when “e” went before “i” except after “c,” or was it the other way around?

    Alfred tittered on the brink of insanity as he forgot what his favorite color, blue, looked like. The name of his owner was stolen from him; he thought it started with a “B.” He loved his owner, but he couldn’t remember why. Was there a reason? He wasn’t always this forgetful, right? Wake up, Sir Brian, it’s time to wake up? Aren’t these my thoughts, isn’t he stealing them from me?

    The memory stick popped as it left the usb slot embedded in the iHelper version 2.7 brain. The pop echoed in an infinite loop in the auditory canal, but there wasn’t a functional signal to bring it anywhere.

    “Mom! Take out the trash. It’s my birthday.”
    "It was your pet, honey."
     
  8. Colorless Green Idea
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    Colorless Green Idea New Member

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    Flying Rats and Radioactive Fish - 1185 words

    Hi guys, this is my first post, hope you enjoy it.


    Flying Rats and Radioactive Fish

    “I saw the damn thing run under the couch!” Yelled Jerry.

    He quickly grabbed a broom from the opposite end of the cramped living room and began viciously poking the space under the shabby wooden framed couch.

    “Oh, don’t you dare!” Sal, barked back, running out from the bathroom.

    He attempted to grab the broom from his roommate, and a brief tug of war ensued. After several seconds, Jerry, the more in-shape of the two, regained possession of the broom and blocked Sal’s advance with an outstretched palm.

    “Relax man, I won’t hurt it, I just have to get it out from under the couch, it’s been on the loose for 3 days. I’ve been up at night for the last 3 freakin’ days worrying that your flying rat is gonna eat my face off! How am I supposed to function?” exclaimed Jerry.

    “Okay, first of all, sugar gliders aren’t rats, they’re marsupials, second, he eats insects, not people, so chill out!” replied Sal.

    “Yeah, I could care less, what do suggest we do to recapture him?”

    “I’ll get a piece of fruit and lure him out, no need for violence.” Sal said with a nervous smile as he headed for the kitchen. Jerry responded with a look of cynicism.

    Sal returned with a slice of a nectarine, and began waving it under the couch.

    “This’ll take a few minutes, you’ve made him anxious, he’s not gonna want to come out” he said, peering around the dark void under the sofa.

    “Sal listen, I think we talk about something now, I’ve been waiting but now’s as good time as any” Jerry said shyly. “When I put the ad in the paper for a roommate do you remember what kind of person I said that I wanted?” he said in a more serious tone.

    “No, that was like 4 months ago, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “Well, I said that I wanted a tidy, quiet roommate, someone that would let me study without interruption.”

    “So, are you saying that I’m not a good roommate? What’ve I done wrong? I’m out at work most of the night and I sleep most of the day, what the problem?” Sal asked confrontationally, looking over from his crouched position by the couch.

    “That’s exactly the problem, you come home drunk every night, with god-knows-who, and stay up until day break partying, while I’m desperately trying to get an hours rest, after I’ve spend the last 12 hours cramming for an electrical engineering exam!”

    “Well, hey, I mean, I’m a bartender, it’s basically a job requirement to get drunk after work. And I usually clean up the apartment in the morning. I mean, I’m not perfect, but hey, I have to put up with you too.”

    “What do you mean ‘put up with me’?” Jerry replied angrily, “I’m the most lenient roommate you’ll probably ever find. Your last one gave up after a few weeks if I remember.”

    “Well, since we’re letting everything out now, you’re a buzz kill. You’re boring: study, sleep, eat, at this point I can basically predict what you’ll be doing anytime of the day.”

    “At least I’m not an alcoholic”

    “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m always under control.”

    “Well clearly not enough to remember that I’m the one who cleans up your mess while you’re lying in bed hung over.”

    “Hey, look, I’m fully capable of cleaning up my mess, I just need a little time, that’s all.”

    “Well it’s not just that, it’s everything else, it’s your loud music, your strange pet…”

    Sal interrupted “Look, I only got the sugar glider because you said that I could have a pet after you bought those radioactive fish. I mean, they could be giving me cancer for all I know.”

    “They’re not radioactive. My glofish are genetically modified to glow under ultraviolet light. They’re completely safe.”

    “Yeah, I could care less.” Sal said mockingly.

    “And they stay in a tank, they don’t run around the house eating through the telephone cables.”

    “So big deal, I bought you new wires”

    “that’s not the point, when I said you could get a pet, I didn’t mean a wild animal from an exotic pet catalogue.”

    Suddenly, the sugar glider darted out from under the couch. It was about 12 inches long with a dark coat and a body similar to that of a squirrel. Its striped face and bulging eyes gave it a sort of mischievous comical appearance.

    “Sal quick, look!” Jerry yelled.

    After snatching the piece of the fruit from Sal’s hand, it scurried up the side of the couch. As soon as it reached the peak of the back cushion, it stretched out its limbs revealing wing-like membranes that stretched from its front legs to its hind legs and simultaneously, it jumped off the couch. To Jerry’s dismay, it effortlessly glided across the room and landed on a bookcase. Sal and Jerry quickly ran over, but in the brief interval, the sugar glider had managed to conceal itself behind a row of books.

    Sal peered around the shelf, watching for any motion. “Stand back, I’ll grab him.”

    “No, you stand back, you had your chance, I’ll grab him” Jerry commanded, shoving Sal back.

    He blindly waved his hands behind the books, grasping for the animal. The sugar glider ran out from its hiding spot, jumped onto Jerry’ head and once again becoming airborne as it glided towards safety. Jerry quickly spun around and lunged towards the marsupial with arms outstretched, tackling it to the ground. As he landed, there was a crackling sound, and when he got up, the animal laid motionless, its spine shattered.

    After a moment of disbelief, Sal broke down, and started punching Jerry. “You bastard….what did you do….what did you do….you killed him….you killed him!!!”

    He gradually lost the will to attack Jerry and sat down on the ground, cradling the animal, on the verge of crying.

    “I’m sorry, it was an accident, I really don’t know what to say…” Jerry whispered.

    “Forget about it. I’m leaving. I’ll try to find a place by next week.” Sal said blankly.

    “Umm…it’s alright, you don’t have to go, I think we can work things out.” Jerry said, sounding unconvinced by his own words.

    “No, you’re right, we’re incompatible, we have nothing in common. I shouldn’t have ever answered your ad. I’ll move to a cheaper part of town and get my own place.”

    “I’ll get you a cat.”

    “What?”

    “It seems like your kind of animal, it stays up late and doesn’t follow any rules.” Jerry replied. “Look I like having you around, you always have crazy stories, and you have good music taste, maybe I’m too hard on you.”

    “I don’t want to talk to you, I’m moving out next week, so forget it. Now I have to get ready for work.” Sal said disgruntled.

    He picked up the remains of his pet and placed them in a shoe box, before walking into the bedroom and slamming the door.

    “Really, I’m sorry” Jerry said through the door. “Just think about what I said.”
     
  9. sunnygirl167
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    sunnygirl167 New Member

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    A pet for every woman.

    Hi my name is Bonnie and let me tell you about a pet that every woman should own. It does almost anything you ask it to do and it comes in all different colors and sizes. Thats right you custom order just to your liking. What does it do? You might ask. Well let me tell you. It cooks and cleans, it even does windows. It can mow the grass take out the trash and even go to work to make you some cash. It can drive the car so if you want to go to the bar you will always have a sober driver. It can hammer nails and fix anything. Its a great Mechanic. It never swears or raises its voice it will never raise a hand to you it does not show anger but has a lot of humor and will make you laugh all the time.
    It will bring you flowers and make you feel special and never put you down. It can dine with you drink wine with you and the best part is yes ladies it can even be your friend with benefits if you know what I mean. So you may be wondering what this wonderful pet could possibly be? Now I am going to tell you. It is the New Manpup100 . He is totally automated and comes preprogrammed with over 1000 commands. He has unlimited room for memory so you can virtualy program him to do anything your heard desires.

    The Manpup100 is made to look and feel like a real man the only difference is you get to make him your dream man and you never have to worry about him cheating on you, lieing to you, or beating you.
    This puts you 100% in control. And if you actually do get tired of him talking to much or something simply turn off his switch in the back its that simple. The Manpup100 comes with a 100% money back guarantee if for any reason you are not satisfied a replacement one will be shipped to you. Hurry and orders yours now. This is the new revolution you can have a pet and a husband all in one. Call now operators are standing by. 1-800-MAN-PUPP
     
  10. PastPresentNFuture
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    PastPresentNFuture Senior Member

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    The Steel Animus (895)
    Anton

    December 28, 1498

    I waited around my manse waiting for my prize. I tried reading a book about Joan of Arc, a female knight who led the French to battle the British, only to die by fire sixty seven years ago. I could not finish the book out of my impatience, and put it down. Outside there was a blanket of snow half a foot thick, and growing thicker by the rush of snowfall. It did nothing to cheer my dark mood, but I was at least grateful for the fire keeping out the cold. The luxurious antiques that decorated my home, from Golden Roman Coins, to Medieval Silvered Swords gave me no joy either.
    I had been a double agent of the cursed Z’Han demons within the Duskblade order ever since I was a younger man of thirty; I rose to become Master of The House of Earth one of the highest ranking positions beneath the Grandmaster himself .I provided the Nethereals, and especially their Z’Han overlords with an immeasurably powerful ally on the insides the Duskblade Order. They promised to reward me by bestowing upon me, the coveted title of Grandmaster, they promised me for over a decade. They said they would craft something that would truly make me the Grandmaster, a weapon that could destroy an entire city by itself in a matter of mere hours. I was getting sick of these promises. I wanted to smash my fit on my cut glass table.
    Suddenly a rapping came on my heavy Oak door. I was hoping for the thousandth time that this was what awaited me.
    “Master Anton” said Jacques my oldest servant, a shambling man of eighty four “Do you want me to answer that?”
    “Yes, I do not even care anymore.”
    In a few minutes Jacques came back saying that the visitors demanded I came to meet them personally. The gall of it made my temper rise. To make a powerful French nobleman do that was something beyond insolent. I filled myself with anger, and toyed with the idea of smiting the heathens with my substantial magical abilities, when I stopped right away.
    Two Z’Han awaited me, looking very similar, the only difference being the height. One was quite small, being only half a foot over five feet in height. His companion stood much taller towering at six feet and four inches, giving him a half foot over my own height. However both had the same copper skin, and azure eyes marking them for having control over water. They both wore plate armor and were armed with harquebus, and claymore. .
    What was behind them towered two feet over the tall Z’Han, being well over eight feet in height. It was an impossibly massive and impossibly ornate suit of plate amour. The fine steel was cover by a gilded exterior, chased with silver around the arms, and legs. Sapphires studded the chest, and the tower shield. The menacing claymore held in one hand of the suit, had a dragon’s mouth for a hilt, and was studded with rubies.
    I was not pleased
    “It is not my intention to buy the title of Grandmaster; the elections have been the same for over six thousand years. You cannot bribe anyone. How is this suit supposed to do anything? I should truly pummel one of you right here and…”
    Both Z’Han widened their eyes nervously, and to my shock, the suit of armor plunged it’s sword into the shorter one. The blade actually plunged right through the plate amour. The Z’Han coughed blood and crashed to the ground, disintegrating into black smoke.
    Amazing, so this is what they meant
    The plate mail moved somehow, I had no idea how but it moved.
    The other Z’Han offered an answer in frightened tones “You control it verbally…. You tell it what to do.”
    “How did this happen?”
    “We asked for a sample of your blood” the Z’Han sputtered on “This is called An Animus. And we forged one of the finest plate armor we could find. We have lesser Animi, but you have one of only two Animi crafted from this type of armor.”
    “Really” I decided to play with my words “How did I deserve such an honor?”
    “Why, you have been giving us, golden information for twenty five years now, knowing full well, that the Nethereals could easily defeat the Duskblades given the right opportunity. You slew, Grandmaster Jacques Renier in 1475, we were sorry you could not become Grandmaster then, but you will now, now that this incredible Animus is on your side.” He started to form tears in his eyes “Now do not kill me as you killed my comrade! I beg of you!”
    I had enough fun, and satisfaction, and I did not want to see this Z’Han acting so pathetically so I said “I will not” I then motioned towards another servant “Louis, take this Z’Han to a good guest room, with a featherbed, Venetian glass windows, and a Mesopotamian Rug. I do not want to smell him, soiling his breeches.”
    The Z’Han left, and I felt satisfaction, since my goal for nearly half a decade was coming to fruition. However looking at the Animus, I thought I felt the tiniest drop of nervousness, like the tiniest drop of blood, in a tankard of ale.
     
  11. The_NeverPen
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    The_NeverPen Member

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    Placeholder Title (2,824)


    Everybody knew that Marco was kind of an idiot. Derek knew this all through high school, where they talked casually. Now, he wore this thought on his face as he listened to Marco’s invitation to come see “the coolest thing I’ve, like, ever found!”. Marco had a way of exaggerating everything he said, did and saw. Sighing, Derek said he would stop by after work.

    Marco, as is his general habit of speaking, accompanied his reply with a low, subtle warble that showed his constant enthusiasm for conversation. It was like a laugh, Derek though, only more annoying. “Right on, man. I’m gonna catch some sleep now. See you later, bro!”. Derek’s alarm clock turned one digit to 05:32. It was hardly surprising that Marco would be getting to sleep just as responsible folk were getting up for work. A grunt is all Derek offered in response, and he flipped his phone closed.

    Derek was pulled through the hardship of his everyday life like a fish caught on a hook. At some point, he fell for a bait, though he can’t remember what it was exactly that caught his eye. Finish college, get the job, get some insurance, buy the TV, buy the computer, pay the bills, save the money, get the girl, lose the girl, lose time over heartache. Life, once filled with signposts that seemed to show the way to success, became little more than a blur. When is my next graduation?, he thought. Where is my next award? He looked out of his tinted glass window, out towards the world. His reflection stared back, flanked by the reflection of the three dozen co-workers behind him, lined up in neat rows. He wondered what kind of creature he is to willfully imprison himself, to allow his life to be so regulated. 4 o’clock came and he fled his cubicle. His short leash gave him almost 16 hours of respite until he was to be yanked back.

    Marco’s shack was on the beach, under an arch formed over millions of years by patient water flows. He claims to have built the shack himself; no one cared enough to look into it, but that’s what they tell him. Marco, or whoever, built it elevated by limestone stilts, so the floorboards didn’t rot from the tide. The wall, however, was rotting where the salty spray of the ocean has been landing since it was built. Derek hating going inside, not just because of the smell of fish and seaweed, but because he thought the rickety thing was going to collapse at any moment. Marco either didn’t know any better or he liked the place enough to not care. His on-again, off-again day job was helping local fishermen during the season, for which he got a slave’s wage, plus some fish and the assurance that no one would report his shack to the authorities. The location also served to fuel his passions - surfing, poetry and marijuana, for all of which, to varying degrees, he requires solitude and proximity to the sea.

    Derek asked him if he ever though about getting a real job.

    Marco’s big smile squeezed his eyes into tiny, dark dots as he giggled through his sinuses. “Are you kidding me? What for? I’ve got everything I need here”. He threw his arms up to make sure Derek knew what he was talking about.

    Derek studied the shack with some skepticism. A single lantern illuminated a weathered mattress, a blanket, some swimming trunks and a small desk. Marco himself was almost as bare as the cabin, wearing trunks and a dark matte of hair on his head that spilled down like chaos, making his eyes harder to see. Derek always assumed that swimming trunks were Marco’s way of dressing up for company, and that in his alone time he hardly bothered.

    Derek said that he didn’t see much.

    “I’ve got freedom, brother. That’s why the fish all love me, why they come to me, man. They think I’m one of them, swimming free in life. We’re friends before we even meet, and so they just hop in my net.”

    That didn’t make any sense to Derek. Marco isn’t a fish, he ties them up in a net and eats them. After trying to deflate his annoyance with a sigh, Derek pressed the matter of the telephone call.

    Marco’s face flashed surprise, and then O’d in excitement. As if trying to keep Derek from running off, Marco put out his hands, first as just an index finger, then showing his palms as he stood. As he got up, Derek noticed a box covered in a towel had been sitting behind Marco. Spinning awkwardly, Marco flattened his palms and bent far forward, pointing to the box like a model on a game show. His shoulders shrugged as he gave a meek, “Ta-da” and then giggled stupidly to himself.

    Derek remained unfazed. So what?

    The towel was lifted off gently, and Marco let it drop to his feet as his reached up to turn off the lantern. An old, small aquarium, filled only with seawater and a single castle sat before Derek, a mocking tribute to how willing he is to waste his time. As the lantern went out, beams of afternoon sunlight cut through the loose boards of the shack, giving the room a blurry outline. Derek noticed for the first time how little the shack actually separates Marco from the outside world.

    Marco dropped down uncomfortably close to Derek, leaning on his elbows to get a closer look at the aquarium. “Get closer, man, you’re gonna love this!”. Derek moved to his elbows, getting a look at the aquarium but disdainful that his shoulder was touching Marco. The air around him reeked of sweat, salt water and body odor.

    Derek started to ask what they were waiting for, but Marco, still smiling, shushed him. No sooner than that did a set of small, glowing fingers poke out of the tiny castle. They wrapped elegantly around the edge of the opening, eight in total. Marco tensed up quickly and sounds of excitement escaped through his nose from his throat. The fingers didn’t move, but a small, glowing orb started to float past them, out of the opening and into the water. The orb reoriented itself and two yellow eyes pointed at Derek and Marco, curious and innocent. Derek realized that he was looking at a small octopus, but instead of a solid, opaque skin, this one was filled with a multitude of dancing lights made visible by translucent skin. Now floating in the middle of the aquarium, the octopus stared back at the men, letting its tentacles float freely beneath its bulbous head. The cleaner parts of the aquarium glass reflected its majesty, and the glow grew bright enough to cast a shadow of the castle on the floor.

    “Ooooooooooohhhhh.....! There it is man!” Marco bunched his neck up, pulling his head into his shoulders and giving the loudest whisper he could.

    Derek responded through an open mouth with a stunned, “huh”. He didn’t remember when his mouth opened, but he wasn’t about to shut it now.

    Marco got up slowly, and as he put the towel back on the aquarium, the octopus darted back into the castle. Its spell over Derek was broken when the lantern came on.

    “Ohmanohmanohman, you should have seen the look on your face!”. Marco delivered his line in a high, creaking register before breaking out into giggles.

    Derek wondered aloud where such a thing would come from.

    “I was helping Old Pipes yesterday with his fish, man. I opened up a net and found that guy sitting with a bunch of halibut and salmon, so I ploped him a mason jar with water and hid him in my fish stash.” Marco produced said mason jar, presenting it to Derek, in case he didn’t believe him. Derek made no attempt to acknowledge it.

    “I didn’t tell anyone about it, but it was so pretty, man, I just had to take it home. You think there are lots of others like this? Other octopussez.... octo... octopussies?” His eyes brightened again, as he gave a riotous laugh at his pun and sat heavily next to the aquarium. A moment went by and the laughing faded, but he took one look at the towel and started back up again, clapping his hands softly and leaning back.

    Derek let out a sigh and stared at the towel covering the aquarium.

    The laughing again subsided. “So, man, like... how much would you think about buying this for?”, he laughed a bit and as he opened his smile, the hushed cheer of a crowed escaped from his throat. He put his hands up near his face, dancing them around to complete the illusion of fanfare for his marvelous suggestion.

    Derek was surprised. Why sell it to him? Why not get it to a museum or the university?

    “I dunno man, I just don’t want to take the bus across town. And those guys won’t give me money for it, they’ll just take it and make me fill out paperwork, like everyone else does.”

    Derek couldn’t conjure what paperwork a museum would need for such a donation, but didn’t press the issue.

    “And, like, I just need a bit of dough to round out my month. I need some wax, “ - he pointed an open hand towards one wall of his hut, where his surfboard was likely leaning - “some pencils” - another hand went to his small desk - “and some... inspiration” - he moved his forefinger and thumb to his mouth, puffing an illusory joint. He giggled a bit at his innuendo.

    “Come on, bro, just a bit to round out my month, like I said. Mr. Sparkles is cool enough to buy, right?”

    Mr. Sparkles?

    Marco leaned forward slightly, as if he already knew the answer. Half of Derek’s face scrunched up in thought. Marco doesn’t have much to do with his life but sell poetry, of questionable quality, on the streets every weekend. If he were to do any charity for this poor bastard, buying an interesting pet from him would be it. Besides that, in the right hands, this could be given to a museum, or easily sold at a profit. Derek nodded his head slightly. Marco brought his fist back to his waist, letting go a victory hiss. The amount was decided at $60, including the aquarium and castle that Marco got from who-knows-where, but Derek had to get a coat from his car in leu of Marco’s only towel. That was fine, as Derek couldn’t have been paid to take it anyways.

    “Thank you so much, bro. I knew this would be for you. As soon as I saw this thing, I thought to myself, ‘Marco, you know who would love Mr. Sparkles forever? Dustin, cause he’s a swell guy’.”

    Derek kindly corrected him.

    “Oh, yeah. That’s what I meant man. Mia culpa, brother!”. Marco brought his fingertips to his chest as he giggled again.

    Derek was starving by the time he got home. The myriad clocks in his apartment living room seemed to nag that it was far past dinner time. 7:16, one pointed out. 7:14, a digital clock disagreed. His stove clock flashed 12:00, like a drunk with sumthin’ to say. The aquarium was placed across from the TV, next to the argumentative digital radio clock. As he pulled the coat off, Derek had hoped to see Mr. Spar.... the glowing octopus he had yet to name, but wasn’t too surprised to find it still hidden in the castle. The last few rays of daylight took glancing blows off of the octopus inside. There was no glow, no illumination, just the faint outline of a creature huddled inside an imitation fortress. Derek figured that it was a deep sea octopus that was used to the dark, but they rarely survive the low pressure of life above the sea for very long. It may come out when it’s dark, and he thought of the pleasant glow it would give the room at night.

    He promised the octopus that he would take him to a museum tomorrow. Paperwork or not, this could be an important find. The octopus said nothing, but Derek thought he saw one of its eyes twitch suddenly in his direction.

    After hastily eating dinner, Derek showered and went to bed. 8:34. A bit early, even for him, but it had been a long day. The last thing he saw before drifting to sleep was the glow of his octopus bouncing off the walls in his living room. He could see down the hall, a tiny orb of light reflecting off of a large television screen.

    --------

    Derek woke up, not from the noise, but from the nausea. He felt like he had been hit in the head and was about to faint. The world seemed out of tune, a signal that his mind wasn’t picking up clearly. His alarm clock seemed just as confused, and couldn’t settle on any one time to display.

    9:14 - 12:99 - 8F:47 - 11:90.

    Its analog comrades spun uselessly. Not just the time, but the day, month and year were now a complete mystery. He knew that it was dark outside, and no other constructs made sense to him. His television and radios had all turned on and were spewing out a cacophony of static and sounds and shapes, but Derek couldn’t tell what was coming from where. Derek squinted his eyes, focusing on the TV through the sickness he felt in his stomach. Periodically, a set of lips came up on the screen, moving in some configuration that could be speech. As the lips came up on the screen, a voice pierced the static of the speakers, a dark and brutal voice. It made what might be called words to some other creature, but they made no sense to Derek. In the havoc, he didn’t quite recognize his apartment, himself or his life. He turned slowly around from the TV to face the octopus, glowing ferociously and with its tentacles tense and curved below its body. It floated, yellow eyes staring into Derek.

    “Mr. Sparkles...”

    Derek hardly noticed that he went unconscious. Reality melted seamlessly into a dream. He was a school bus driver, manipulating enormous levers and turning a giant steering wheel. He couldn’t tell how many children were in back, but they were loud. He saw Marco at one point, with his giant glowing smile, and Derek had the urge to scold him for something not quite tangible. He was at work, bleeding all over his desk. It was Christmas, and he was apologizing for opening everyone’s gift before they woke up - he didn’t know what came over him. He was in bed, and his alarm clock was blaring in his ears, waking him to repeat yet another day, just like the one before it...

    When he came to, Derek’s eyes were already open. The world started taking recognizable forms again, as though it were just a matter of someone twisting a dial to get the right frequency. He was staring at the night sky, focused on something very distant. His ears rang and his brain had been replaced with a very fuzzy sensation. The nausea was still there, and it demanded immediate action. Derek turned on his side, and in three violent heaves, his dinner gushed out over the beach sand. He stared blankly at the foamy mess next to him trying to put a narrative to this particular scene in his life.

    He came to realize that he was on the shore, not too far from where Marco lives. The water had been coming up to him, lapping up to his waist. The cool air felt good, and as he gently sat up, he started to feel better. Some salt water escaped the massive body to which it had been united, entirely as a single being around the globe, and came to rest on Derek’s face. He looked down at his feet and saw the aquarium, tipped over and almost waterless. The castle was empty. A smile came across his face as he realized what happened and saw, probably not for the first time, though he never before bothered to notice, a thousand dancing and colorful lights just below the surface of the water before him. He kept staring out to the horizon, where sky meets water. He imagined that the ocean kept going past the horizon and stretched out into space forever, finding an infinite number of shores which came to an infinite number of beings. The shore he was standing on was the beginning of an unimaginable vastness that he wanted to traverse.

    He sat there. For a while, he couldn’t remember which way was home.
     
  12. Seye
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    Twisted - 334 words

    Twisted​



    Pet twisted the bulb slowly, eyes glued to its suspended filament. For two days she had fumbled in darkness, suffering through life by feel. Outside pitch-black clouds had shot shards of lightning into the ground with such intensity that the air sparkled in blue and white. Fires had broke out spontaneously around her for days, and though she had appreciated those bursts of light, they also burnt away precious oxygen. An extremely close barrage had snuffed all the city’s bulbs at once. While they hammered down Pet had scrunched into a corner and shivered in fear.

    It was late afternoon when the storm abated. She heard the whirl of power and glow of city lights filtering down her vent pipe. With extension cords stretched at their limits she decided to risk her last bulb and prayed not to have another long night.

    One more twist brought her sight back into existence.

    “Excellent!”

    From her perch on a box she looked down and wondered how she had survived. Trails through rubbish and broken glass were displayed in a rat-maze-like floor plan. By feel and then by shoddy memory she had spent her days and nights foraging through eight cornered boxes and round-canned foods unsure what taste would explode until it came in contact with her tongue.

    A small mirror caught a reflection of her personal damages. Blonde hair in disarray, cut short for necessity, was stuck up in clumps of greasy dirt-brown.

    “Ugh!” She bared yellowed teeth and stuck out her coated tongue. “I need a shower.”

    The YMCA down the road offered her that possibility and despite contact with humans she decided to risk, but then another peal of thunder, so loud its deep bass clanked loudly all the way down the vent pipe to her basement hideaway warned that it was still unwise to venture outside.

    It was during those times when Pet wished she preferred human company. There were so many…so many. Pet thought it strange that that was so.


    Seye
     
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