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.

Pro Wrestlers Write Science Fiction, Interlude

Little Eddy was at a friend’s house for the day. June was in bed asleep when the radio abruptly turned on.

“Hey there, kiddos!” said a tough, grizzly sounding masculine voice, like a biker or pro wrestler.

“Do you like writing fiction? Well I love it! Did you know you can sell stories to the MOST POPULAR magazine devoted to sci fi? Fantasy? Even horror?!”

Sounds of explosions.

“I, Havage the Savage, wrestler of monsters, want to read stories sent in by you! If I approve what I read, then you’ll see your story in Scifansorer Magazine!”

Electric guitar solo plays in the background.

A much lower, more sane voice gave the web address for more details. He then spoke a fountain of legal gibberish that June did not want to hear. She got out of bed and walked over to turn the radio off.

Havage the Savage? Sounds like someone Whartleburg would fight. Her thoughts of Whartleburg led June to thinking about her sister Victoria.

Having gone through a metamorphosis into a new Enzectozoid, Victoria had become dangerous. She was a threat to herself and to others. She needed training, and no one on earth could appreciate her like another Enzectozoid. Luckily, Whartleburg had left with June a mini dimensional portal leading back to his home world.

“All Enzectozoids carry them and they’re easy to make,” she remembered him saying to her, “Keep it turned to channel 5 for your safety, so that I’m the only one who can use it.”

Victoria will get the help and training she needs with Whartleburg. Surely she will, June thought. Next Christmas will be very different.

When June finally turned off the alarm she heard beeping.

A strange blue light, followed by a whoosh sound, came from the laundry room. June had forgotten to turn the portal device back to channel 5. It had been on channel 3, a public channel, for a week and now something was coming. There’s no telling what found its way inside her house!

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

Next page: Something Creeped In

Go back to the previous chapter by visiting “Armies Underestimated.”

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Too-Grown-Up-to-Play-with-Dolls Interlude

Ticka tilly
ticka tilly
ticka tilly
ra ra ra!

The sounds of those blasted toys on the shelves kept chatting while I was in the storage room. Cutting edge, technologically advanced, motion sensors inside little statuesque chipmunks, all 1500 of them, were activating at once, red eyes blinking all at once to make the room so illuminated with red light that I didn’t need to turn the light on. I did anyway. All I needed was garbage bags. There they are. Someone had set the box of garbage bags in the dead center of the room on the ground. What kind of sick joke was this?!

Hey, nice tie, Lucy! Did your mommy dress you again?

“I told you for the last time, my name is Gabriel!” I said to the nearby jerk of a toy. I called that one Randal. All the Randals I knew growing up had been jerks, and this one was no different. I picked up the box of garbage bags, wishing I could put the toys in them and just go to town bashing them against the concrete floor.

The three shelves where the toys had been placed took up most of the room. Past the shelves was a desk large enough for a computer and printer. I moved past the shelves carefully and moved to the desk. Of the three drawers, the third one was the largest which contained myriads of files of various types. One file of which was the invoice for having ordered 1501 “Noisy Lemongrass Chipmunk” dolls.

It was advertised that one could download from their manufacturer’s website programming to make them do all sorts of tricks, sing songs, catchphrases, and respond to simple questions. My boss had ordered them last month, but not one of them had sold because of one, I say one, defect. We didn’t know when we were ordering them that a single wire malfunction had caused the downloaded material to make them act and sound malevolent. It was reported that some of them had attacked small children. Naturally the parents sued, but the company who made Noisy Lemongrass Chipmunk denied all claims. They simply fired a few people and assured the public things would be fine. But we still had to remove from the store shelves all1501 of them.

So now I had to pass by them everyday at work. There was no way to turn them off. Lately they had gotten worse. Now they flashed red eyes instead of blue. Now they would respond with wicked cursing and threats if I asked them questions. And worst of all, if I made moves to dismantle them, they would jump at me. I’m not kidding, I have to scars to prove it. A design flaw left their paws and feet with pointed claws.

They ran on battery power, thank God, but could also recharge via staying online. Our staff kept waiting for them to burn out, but after weeks of being online they just kept going. Number one was the biggest and meanest of all of them. I had long suspected it had turned on the computer in the storage room. We had to keep the wi-fi on in the store.

I rejoiced when it was reported number one was reportedly stolen. Then we found him outside the storage room in the sporting goods section next to a baseball bat. I still shudder when I remember his screaming threats of rage when we put the thick blanket over him. It was the only way to handle him without getting hurt. Seriously, who would steal a toy so annoying? Then it hit me. Our store wasn’t the only one that had ordered a shipment of Noisy Lemongrass Chipmunks. What were they doing with the faulty toys?

Excerpt from “Noisy Lemongrass” from the curiously long book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?

Not Scary Interlude

“Creepy?! No way, no how. I’m an honest businessman, and my wholesaler is a professional antiques dealer. But, I get what you’re saying. My product does have that unsavory rumor.”

After his daily run, Charlie showered, shaved, got dressed, and hurried out to door to work. He knew who would be expecting him at the office, dreaded it, and therefore wanted to get a head start to prepare.

On the way to work, he noticed the sky was clouding up. He’d forgotten his umbrella. It didn’t look like rain anyway.

Charlie’s office was on the third floor. He passed by the receptionist.

“Hi, Suzette, any messages for me?”

Suzette looked more of the classic school lunch lady then a receptionist: portly, mid-fifties, thick glasses, perm. Today she seemed very glad to seem her boss.

“There’s someone by name of Owlman here to see you,” she said as she handed her boss a cup of fresh coffee.

Charlie was already expecting him. “Thank you. I’ll handle it from here.”

Upon opening the door to his office, Charlie found a tall man of refined features, sharp angles on the cheekbones, chin and nose, and sharply dressed in an Armani suit and oiled hair. Francisco Owlman sat in a chair across from Charlie’s desk. A large bulky guy in a suit stood next to Owlman with hands folded in front of him.

“Good morning, Mr. Vandyrzash,” said Owlman. “I’m sure you know why we’re here.”

“Uh, yes, look, if you are here for counseling, fine, but don’t come in here trying to sell your creepy lamps.”

Owlman immediately feigned weakness and put his hands up.

“Creepy?! No way, no how. I’m an honest businessman, and my wholesaler is a professional antiques dealer. But, I get what you’re saying. My product does have that unsavory rumor.”

“Your product has caused more grief than help!”

“But you must admit, it is good for business is it not? How many people have you heard talk about some weird little man scrambling about in their room? In the kitchen? Or even under the bed?”

“They all speak about how they, or a loved one brought home this beautifully crafted sterling silver lantern, said to be over a hundred years old, and not to open the lid—”

“–Lest they let out the ‘Dyrnak’ or the ‘Ptyphyoth’ or even the ‘Ahmn’ that may or may not live inside it, or was trapped there by powerful wizards in another dimension, or whatever they want to believe. And it isn’t silver, it’s ceramic. I mean, c’mon, seriously, do you believe this stuff? It can’t open, if it doesn’t have a lid!”

“Mr. Owlman, whatever is causing stable people to suddenly become unstable and need my services is not something I welcome.”

“C’mon, look, see?”

He showed a ceramic lamp base that looked like an urn. The whole piece from top to bottom was glazed to mimic smooth silver. It was indeed beautiful to look at, like an exaggerated hourglass.

“Does it have a lid, or secret compartment? No. There’s nothing there that suggests anything. How do these people think that there’s a way to get inside it?”

“They break it,” said Charlie.

“What?”

‘There must be an opening, it’s a lamp base,” said Charlie. “They break it, get hold of some narcotic or whatever is inside, which causes those horrific hallucinations from which they never recover. Rather simple, very maddening. And illegal. Which is why I want you to stop selling them.”

“Ok, tell you what, I’ll have Brewkin here break one and we’ll show you the product is not the culprit, ok?”

The big guy took one of the lamp bases from a carrying case and smashed it on the ground.

“There’s nothing in the center here. Only cobwebs and dust.”

Brewkin blew into the hollow part of the broken lamp base causing dust to fly out the other side.

“See?” said Owlman, “There’s nothing inside—-!”

Suddenly the doors closed shut by themselves, followed by screaming on the other side of them. Poor Suzette.

“Aaw! Get off my back! Get off my back!” came the secretary’s panicked voice.

“Quick, open the doors!” said Charlie.

All three men tried to open the doors but they would not budge.  From behind them it felt like someone had opened a window, but there were no windows in Charlie’s office.

“Free at last,” came a sudden creaky voice. “Now to awaken my children.”

The other lamp bases started to break on their own, followed by their own “Free at last” comments.

“Now, let us depart, my children, away, to reclaim our beloved home—”

STOMP

Owlman suddenly found the source of the voice, a tiny, hideously pompous little man clinging to the wall, and squashed it with his shoe.

“Well, that’s one down,” he said. ‘About thirty to go!”

Excerpt from “What’s Trapped in Ceramic Lamps” from the book of short stories, I am lettuce, who are you?