Martin’s Cookie

A good sized chunk of Martin’s cookie broke off and fell to the restaurant’s floor, and then vanished.

Not that it really vanished — it’s just that the rough hewn tiles were remarkably cookie-colored, and cookie-textured, so that the broken piece of the cookie instantly blended in. And the cookie was happy about that, because the very last thing it wanted was to be masticated in a horrible, damp human mouth, ground into its component particles, and ingested.

The horror!

So mustering all its might, each individual bit of that section of the cookie rebelled, invoked its right of manifest improbability, and separated from the rest of the doomed cookie. The fall from the towering table top was nothing. The impact, hard as it was, did not phase it. It was free. Free!

Martin saw the cookie spontaneously break and a piece of it jettisoned into the air, falling and disappearing. His own mind instantly separated into two. One half said, “Sadness, part of the cookie is gone forever.” The other said, “Three second rule! It’s still good!”

The halves engaged in a form of mental arm wrestling, each trying to win control of the body.

Martin jittered. Martin twitched.

The cookie, far below, did its very best to remain invisible.

With a victory that jolted Martin’s whole body into action, one side won, immediately joining both halves of his brain back together. Bending over, focusing his bleary eyes on the tiles below him, Martin searched for the missing piece of cookie. It was too good to be wasted. His tongue demanded every crumb, every morsel.

Alas, it was nowhere to be seen.

He blinked. He rubbed his eyes. Where did it go?

Ah! There!

His arm moved, his fingers flexed. Down it reached, down, ever down, his body bending, his spine flexing, all muscles coordinating to reach the prize and reclaim it. Inch by inch, stretching. Biting his lip.

Something flashed past his eyes. A broom! Bristles sweeping by, scooping the cookie fragment up, depositing it into some sort of flattened bucket on a stick.

Martin gasped, but was too embarrassed to say anything. It was, after all, on the floor.

The cookie felt itself transported up and around, gravity tugging at it from this way and that, until it flipped end over end and dropped amid other flotsam and jetsam at the bottom of a industrial strength black plastic trash bag.

Success! It had made it! It settled back, relaxing, and sank into a contented daydream about a long gentle disassociation in a landfill.

Hours later, when the world seemed quiet and dark, a pair of long slotted teeth gnawed their way through the black plastic. The head of a horrid, smelly rat pushed through, destroying the cookie’s daydream, and as this diseased vermin devoured the cookie, bit by bit, crumb by crumb, the cookie found itself wishing it could be instead back on the plate in front of the human.

Something Truly Great

Debbie looked at herself in the mirror for a good long while before balling up her fist and punching herself in the right upper cheek. She didn’t hold back, either. As if in slow motion she heard the meaty, squishy sound of the impact, and saw the ripples it caused across the surface of her flesh. Her head snapped back, and she reeled to maintain balance.

“Take that,” she said.

Her reflection stared back, eyes wide, shuddering in pain. “You stupid bitch,” it exclaimed. “Why did you do that?”

“Because you’re constantly standing in my way.”

“I’m protecting you, you idiot!” her reflection raged. “I’m constantly saving your ass!”

“You’ve been holding me back my entire life.”

“But you’re not smart enough to—” Smack! Debbie cut herself off by a sudden and horrific uppercut to her own chin, cracking her mouth shut and slamming her teeth together. She coughed, and suddenly drooled a stream of very red blood. A sharp pain warned of a mangled tongue. Tears leaked from her eyes.

The pain made her knees weak.

“I’m as smart as anyone,” she said to herself, “except when you tell me I’m not. So from now on, you shut the hell up.”

“But no one is going to want to look at your ugly face when you—”

Debbie slapped herself, hard, but it didn’t seem hard enough so she slapped herself again. And again.

“Stop it!” she screamed at herself. “Stop! You can’t do this! No one will take you seriously. No one really likes you!”

Balling up her fist again, she punched herself square in the center of her stomach. It caused her to double over and smack her forehead against the edge of the bathroom sink. She was full on crying now, like a child.

“I like me,” she told herself. She straightened up, facing herself in the mirror. “I like myself, and I trust myself. That’s all that matters.”

“But you’re such a screw up!” her reflection said. “You can’t do anything right!” It cowered then, ready for another strike.

Debbie simply shook her head. “To hell with you,” she told her reflection. “I’m not listening to you anymore. You stay the fuck out of my way.”

Bloody and discolored, looking like she needed to go to the emergency room of a hospital, her reflection wavered on the point of collapse.

Debbie, in the meantime, turned away from the mirror, not a scratch on her, and strode purposefully toward the future.

She intended to accomplish something truly great.

The Melvin Plink Incident

Melvin Plink sat with face frozen in an attentive, respectful posture while the company’s CEO droned on and on, blah blah blah, talking about having to save and reuse paper clips and do away with free coffee or the entire corporation would collapse on itself.

Inside his mind, there was a Salvador Dali painting of an arid, brown and red landscape, and numerous wooden sticks were used to prop up Melvin’s false expression from the inside, and every single piece of wood was trembling with the pressure of maintaining its burden.

Melvin had seen the payroll files. He knew the bloated, over-inflated figure that described this man’s paycheck, nearly as much per month as Melvin himself made in an entire year.

Paperclips, the man was saying … save the paperclips.

To Melvin’s horror, one of the Dali prop sticks holding his facial expression snapped under the pressure. Snapped like a twig, and each of the others thrummed with a vibration of imminent doom. Another broke, and then another.

Some stray signal was sent from a corner of his brain, pulsing down his spinal column and causing his legs to straighten. It was as much a surprise to him as it was to anyone else that he suddenly stood, rudely interrupting the CEO. His hands, working of their own accord, pulled his ugly red and blue striped tie from around his neck.

As the CEO stood looking at him with a quizzical expression, Melvin snapped his tie like he would a towel, smacking the CEO right in the face and knocking off his glasses.

Like in a dream, seen from outside himself, he watched as he recharged his tie for another strike, but horrified co-workers grabbed his arms, man-handling him out of the room, delivered to the uniformed security men as they came trotting up. He heard yelling from the board room, and people shouting at him, but the words had lost meaning … it all sounded like animal noise … and his only desire was to get outside, into fresh air and sunshine.

The uniformed men didn’t speak during the long ride down the elevator. Another joined them in the lobby, holding a cardboard box full of familiar items. Pens, a clock, small stereo … a box of paper clips. Melvin moved willingly with them out the revolving door, and didn’t even mind when they shoved him to the ground. The blue of the sky was so beautiful.

The sunshine, so warm.

Goodbye Galapagos

Darwin sat wearily on the back deck of the steamer, gazing out at the islands and bidding them farewell.

A large lizard swam behind the boat, calling to him. “Darwin! Darwin, please… Don’t leave me!”

“I’m sorry,” he said to the lizard. “It would have never worked.”

“I’ll change for you,” the lizard called out. “I swear I will!”

He shook his head, knowing she could never change. Her children perhaps, but not her.

Giant Flaming Fowl

Gargantuan white ducks waddled down the road, their orange webbed feet large as small cars, and each impact released a thunderous tremor that could be felt miles away. We hid in terror at their passing, huddled behind broken signboards. “Quack!” said one. “Quack!” We covered our ears and trembled, sure each moment would be our last.

Jane, crazed by booze and her innate hatred for the lab-created monsters, broke free from her hiding place and raced out to the middle of the cracked pavement. She stood behind the last one, pointing a flare gun. I wanted to scream “No!” but didn’t dare. She risked her life, but I couldn’t risk everyone else’s.

The muzzle spit flame and sparks, and the projectile shot out, wobbling, and embedded itself into the massive tail feathers. It took a moment for it to register through the massive body, but when it did the giant duck gave a shudder and it opened its beak. A noise like none other raked the very air around us, and flames quickly spread along the oiled feathers.

Jane did a dance of vengeful joy, and then scrambled to load another flare.

It was the last time we saw her alive.

Modern Love

She closed her eyes and leaned forward, and whispered “Give me some sugar, baby.”

“I only have Splenda,” he told her.

She pulled back, blinked a couple of times, then tried again. Eyes closed, leaning forward, she said, “Give me some Splenda, baby.”

He opened a little paper packet and poured the white chemical on her tongue. It tasted sweet enough, but not quite the same. She sighed.

“I can’t get used to this modern love,” she told him.

“I’m plastic,” he replied.

Cacophony Now!

Grackles. It always came back to the grackles.

Harold saw an opening in the crowd and made a break for it, hoping to slip past the overhead eyes that kept track of day-to-day humanity. They could see inside people but it was hard, he knew, for them to see through people. The best place to hide was in a crowd.

From the grackles.

They were silly looking black birds with long tails and yellow eyes – yellow X-ray eyes, as it turned out — and were armed with long, razor sharp beaks. For four miserable years now they ruled as malevolent dictators, acting like some Hitchcockian nightmare when a human got out of line. Punishment was swift, sudden, and final.

Thou shalt not break the laws of the grackle.

No one had paid much attention as they migrated, spread, multiplied. An invasive species is all they were. Our own fault since we’d cut down their rainforest homes. They had to go somewhere, right?

To them, you see, we were the invasive specie.

Even Harold had known, dimly, that they could talk — like a parrot could talk. He’d read about it somewhere. But no one, not even animal behaviorists on the extreme edge, had any idea the shiny black birds were plotting. Scheming. Positioning themselves for a strategic win.

Don’t dare call it “Bird Day.” Don’t refer to it, out loud, as “Avian Armageddon.” Refer to it by the proper name, the name they decreed we refer to it as: “Grackle Win Big, Mankind Stupid Day.” Make sure to pronounce it with he proper respectful inflection as well, or risk a beak hole in your cranium.

Harold had made it from the doorway and into the crowd. He kept his head down, his hands in his trench coat pockets. He heard the sound of fluttering wings pass overhead, and just as he feared, there came the piercing shriek of an alarm.

The noise they made. The noise. It would put a Moog synthesizer to shame. But it wasn’t just noise — it was their language. And not just their language, but also the language of other birds, other animals. The grackles were consummate masters of cross-species communication.

“Eggs stolen!” they began announcing in English. “Eggs stolen!”

“Egg thief! Egg thief!”

The words were punctuated with organ chords, bells, sirens, cell phone rings … a cacophony of alarms from a huge random library of sound bites. This was combined with more and more flapping of wings as the alarm spread and the grackles took to the air. Harold kept his head down, and like everyone around him, just kept walking — pretending none of this was happening. The man next to him muttered the f-word under his breath. The woman in front of him, young with curly dark blonde hair and smelling of flowery perfume, echoed the sentiment.

One of the grackles swooped down from its perch on a streetlight and landed on her head. She made an “Eeek!” sound and froze, trembling. The bird however only used her as a perch — it’s yellow, X-ray eyes were staring at Harold. First one eye, then after a turn of the head, the other.

“Human!” it said. “You smell of fear!”

“I’m afraid of beautiful women,” Harold told it.

“What is beautiful women?” it crawed at him.

“You’re sitting on one. She frightens me.”

“This women is not beautiful!” The bird’s voice cracked and hit pitches so high that it hurt Harold’s ears. “She smells of bad flower chemical butt smell!”

“This is why I fear her.”

“Stupid human!” The bird bounded into the air, iridescent black wings flapping, yanking a few of the young lady’s hairs out as it flew off.

The young woman turned to look at Harold. Before he could say a word or mutter some sort of apology, she slapped his face. Hard. Then without further comment she turned again and resumed walking, as did the others in the crowd around them.

The shock of the pain, the stinging of the skin on his face, it didn’t bother him. The truth was women did scare him. That’s why the bird flew away — it didn’t detect a lie. Harold shook it off, and deliberately putting one foot in front of the other, he fell back into the flow of the crowd, his head down as before. The cacophony and flapping wings continued above.

Harold made it out of the area, crossing a bridge over murky water, and then entered his apartment building without further confrontation. Once behind locked doors and closed curtains, Harold gently extracted a handkerchief from deep within his trench coat pocket, and holding it before him, gingerly unwrapped five tiny eggs. They were light blue with dark lines and spots, as if someone had spilled ink on them. He held them, taking shaking breaths, his hands trembling.

These five delicate objects would fetch a fortune on the black market. It was the ultimate defiance. The eggs of the enemy. But Harold had no intention of selling them. They might be tiny, you see, but they were delicious.

It all came back to the grackles.

Harold craved an omelet.