White Cats, interlude

..When I was young, my grandfather never liked cats. He didn’t mind me having a dog though. But I was more fond of cats. I asked him one day why he felt the way he did.

“…Because dogs keep the mad scientists away,” he said.

..It took a few minutes to get him to explain what he said…

“..When I was young, I thought I could go into the state park at night. I didn’t fear the dark, didn’t know the danger that stalks…

“You’ll never see the white fur which seems to glow in the dark, or the eyes that reflect your flashlight,” he said, “You will hear neither the purring that comes down from his perch, nor smell the ammonia stench of his white lab coat flowing.. You won’t feel the prick of the blow dart or be aware of where you land…

“You won’t recall the taste of dead leaves upon hitting the ground, or see Dr.Winter, the large green eyes, watching and making his plans…

“So don’t find yourself in his laboratory. Be careful when you venture at night. Always be watching the trees. For you don’t know when Dr. Winter is watching. Be careful when you hear the breeze…

“He’s always looking for new test subjects, he watches, waits for the unwary…

“So get a dog, get a dog, grandson, and keep Dr. Winter at bay.”

–from “The White Cat of the Labyrinthine Woods” by Tyger G. Caterwauling, Summer Sunny Squashmare Publishers, Topeka, Kansas 1985.

It hungers, interlude

black swampflat

“Maybe I can contain it,” June said to herself, “The police will never believe me.”

The portal generator wasn’t through transporting and its small size meant it wasn’t built for something so massive. The creature in June’s utility room slowly crept toward her. It would never be satisfied with a single meal and viewed June as fair game.

June remembered she kept a gun in her hall closet. How long did she have? The thing wasn’t giving chase so far. June found the box and opened it. The gun was missing.

The portal generator kept processing. The creature’s body flowed through like black honey with various luminescent colors here and there. Perhaps it was a mistake to go this way? The creature was stuck where it was until all of it was through the portal. It turned around and examined the machine. Oh, fairly simple; you just press here to speed it up.

June searched in her room for the gun. It was on her night stand but unloaded. She just liked the security while alone in the house. Now with loaded gun in hand, she ran to the utility room.

The creature was about through the portal. The portal generator was now moving faster. Just a little more.

June saw the creature concentrating on the portal generator.

BLAM BLAM

Two shots were fired and hit the creature in the head and chest. They passed harmlessly through it and into the wall. The creature ignored her, it was so fixed on getting fully out. What if she destroyed the portal generator? Whartleburg would not be able to come home.

BLAM BLAM

The portal generator blew apart and immediately stopped its work. The remainder of the creature would stay on the other side forever. It was like a faucet was turned off. June had the creature’s full attention.  That faceless head slowly turned toward her.

The lights in the hallway flickered and went out. Then the lights in the utility room started to flicker. In the renewed darkness could be seen two points of faint white light from deep within the creature’s face.

June stared at the creature and immediately regretted having destroyed the one thing it that might have saved her life. She could still see the remains of the portal generator spew sparks.

June saw the thing move this way and that to evade any sparks. Sparks. She had an idea and ran for the pantry in the kitchen.

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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Something Creeped In, Interlude

June wandered from her bedroom to investigate the noise.

Cat calls and fox whistles heralded June when she reached the laundry room.

Three sharply dressed men were in the laundry room. They were inspecting the washer and dryer, taking measurements of the walls and ceiling, inspecting every corner. The men had embroidered on their sleeves a letter S in yellowish green thread.

“Hey there, Pajama Mama!” said one of the men. He was a particularly slick young man in a grey silk business suit. “This is a nice place ya got,” he said as he eyed June.

June was not amused.

“Um, can I help you?” June said finally.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said smiling and offered his hand. It had many rings. “Name’s Ray. Here’s my card.”

The card read: Rayford Dusk; Pest Control Investigator.

“Hello, Ray,” said June, “Please tell me why you’re here?”

“Yeah, we’re lookin’ for someone,” said Ray, “Ya know, it’s been all over the news? About new bug peoples? ‘Enzecto-whatevas.'”

The other men laughed.

“Yeah… We’re here to catch it. Our sensors say it was sent though this here portal generator.”

June’s first thought was to yell at the men to return from whence they came. Then she noticed the suits looked the exact same. Like a dress code. Her heart told her they would not leave so easily.

“I’m sorry, boys. My house only has regular bugs,” said June.

“That so? We heard you are related to the Enzecto we’re tracking. She’s  especially dangerous and may return here.”

A light suddenly turned on in June’s mind. These men were authorized to hunt Enzectozoids. June remembered the news talking about that new bill addressing the new Enzectozoid threat. She needed to get them away from the portal generator.

June tried to stay calm.

“Can I offer you any coffee?”

Ray looked at his men, who were still calculating on their devices.

“Yeah. That, uh, sounds nice.”

Fresh brewed coffee was served in June’s kitchen. The three men sat at the table drinking their coffee and eating cookies June had made two days ago.

Ray finished his coffee, took out a comb and casually slicked his hair back.
“Last week we got a call from a…uh,”

He wiped the comb down with a napkin, and returned it to a pocket inside his dress coat. Then from the same pocket he pulled out a piece of paper.

“Mr. Swanson,” he read from the paper, “Yeah, Jorge Swanson. He said his wife turned into a five-foot-two, humanoid, preying mantis. With razor sharp. Lightening fast. Retractable blades on each hand and forearm.”

Ray folded up the paper.

“He said after his wife’s transformation she tried to kill him.”

June folded her arms. She remembered Jorge. Why Victoria loved him was beyond her. June could have predicted that Jorge would sell out his own wife.

“Is Victoria the only one you’re after?” asked June.

Ray gave her a funny look.

“Yeah, Victoria Swanson is the only one we’re tracking from your house,” said Ray slowly. “We’ve been busy with other reports of killer bug people.”

Ray signaled to his men and they got up from the table. June sighed relief and cursed under her breath at the same time. Had she just turned the portal generator back to Channel 5, Victoria would not have been hunted. But they had not been able to track Whartleburg.

“One more thing, and we’ll go,” said Ray, “I admit we’ve seen a lotta things on the job. A teleportation device isn’t something we see everyday. We already know your sister escaped through it, but I doubt she’s the one who built it. I don’t think she’s the tech type. I suspect you didn’t build it. Which makes me suspicious as who did.”

June was silent.

“Jorge Swanson contacted us because the police would not believe him. Not even after showing the deep gash on his left forearm. It cost him six stitches,” said Ray. “You see, these Enzecto-things cannot be negotiated with. You can’t make peace with them.”

“My sister. Would never intentionally hurt her husband,” June managed to say, “And she loves her only nephew.”

“Victoria Swanson is no longer your sister,” said Ray. “She’s an assassin bug. In the end, she will kill you and your son. Believe me, I don’t want that. Tell us where she is, and we’ll leave you alone.”

WHUMP

Something in the back made a loud noise. Ray and his men turned their heads toward the direction of the laundry room.

“Did you leave the portal generator still on Channel 3?” asked Ray to one of his men.

“Uh, oops,” said the first man.

“The lady offered coffee,” said the second man, “Who can refuse coffee?”

…RRRREEEEEEEEEEE…

“Holy Basil,” said Ray, “Something creeped in.”

It was their job to investigate scary situations. Ray made June promise she would stay in the kitchen. He then left with his men to investigate the noise in the laundry room.

Excerpt from “Enzectozoid Chronicles: The Legacy of Whartleburg the Whalloper” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

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My Employer has Feathers, Interlude

“So tell me Mr. Bucket–”

“It’s Becket, Sir,” said Jay.

“Mr. Becket,” said the employer behind the desk, “What have you done with your life that makes you the absolute candidate for this position?”

“Well, the confidence level I have in my experience—–”

“Oo Oo Oorrrrr!” said Mr. Quarts and rolled his Rs.

Mr. Quartz appeared unaware of what happened. He looked up at Jay quizzically.

“Why’d you stop? Please continue.”

“The experience I have collected from previous employers has prepared—-”

“Hoot, hoot, hoot hoot. Hoot hoot hoot hoot, Orrrrrr!” said Mr Quartz as he spat out the now well chewed piece of legal paper.

“Uh, sir, is this a bad time, should I come back later?”

Mr. Quartz was now scratching his sideburns furiously as large brown bird feathers were rapidly growing, covering his face, hair, and his hands. His nose was growing sharp and turning orange colored. His eyes were getting wider and a strange light that wasn’t there before had appeared in them.

“Mr. Quartz, Mr. Quartz are you ok?!” shouted Jay.

“I’m just fine, Mr. Becket,” said Mr. Quartz, “But I suggest you run while you still can.”

“Should I call an ambulance?” asked Jay.

“No, that will not be necessary,” said Mr. Quartz, “But if you must help me, then run. As fast as you can.”

“Why?” asked Jay, “I just want a position at your company!”

“You may have a 90 day trial period. But only if telling you makes those lungs huff and puff,” said Mr. Quartz, “Because moving prey makes better sport!”

Excerpt from “Employment is for Birds of Prey”
from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?