Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dead World [Short Story]

Editor's Note: I've long been planning out a series of stories with the idea of a soundtrack to play with them. As it's not a movie where I can just insert a song where I deem fit, I have chosen to suggest two songs for each story; one to listen to before you start reading, and one for the end after you've finished. I hope as you read you will humor me in this and play each song accordingly.

For the beginning:




















I don't exist.

Easy words to say, not so easy to explain. So, I won't.


I'm not dead or dying. The living are dying and so are the dead. This isn't making any sense, is it?


Maybe I should start at the beginning. Not the beginning of my story, but the beginning of this one.


A call center run by the dead. Sounds crazy, right? Yet there I was standing in the lobby. It'd been a week since I'd met the late John Doe. A representative for some branch of government run by the deceased. Turns out not everyone disappears when they pass away, some stick around and do menial labor until they die a second death.


I walked up to the receptionist who was doing her nails. We did the usual back and forth and I was directed to sit down. As I walked away I started to light up a cigarette. A voice voice from behind me put a halt to that.


"We have a strict 'No Smoking' policy," the receptionist squeaked, while tapping a sign.


I replaced the cigarette in my pocket.


"Sorry," I said. "I'm not trying to be a dick, just didn't see the sign.


She smiled curtly and nodded.


"You're fine. Have a seat, please."


I walked to the waiting area she'd motioned to. Most of the chairs were empty so I put one between me and a man who looked to be in his mid 20's. He was black, with short hair and a face that seemed sort of familiar. Very stylish in a leather jacket, dark purple button down shirt, and slacks.


"She totally thinks you're a dick," the young man said leaning in.


"Damn it, I know," I responded. "I'm not good with first impressions. Usually takes two or three impressions to balance it out."


"Don't sweat it. Cara thinks everyone's an asshole anyway. Isn't that right, Cara?" he said, raising his voice to make sure Cara could hear."


Cara flipped him off and sneered.


"I'm James Smith, by the way," stated James.


He held out a hand which I shook enthusiastically.


"I'm...James. James Bailey," I responded.


"James and James? Sounds like a detective agency."


"Or a cheap, fruity wine."


We both laughed.


"So, James," I said, motioning to the business name emblazoned on the wall before us, "what is Cumulus Care Solutions?"


"Didn't your rep fill you in?"


I shook my head no.


"It's a call center. We handle overflow from various companies. It's exactly as thrilling as it sounds."


"Purgatory in a call center seems a little on the nose," I stated.


"I'd be careful slinging around the P word. Most people don't like to think of this as purgatory. More like a second chance to make things right. But between you and me, yeah, it sucks. I've worked here for a couple decades and I hate it. But beggars can't be choosers."


"Can't you leave?"


"Are you kidding? This place is a sanctuary for the dead. It's almost impossible to get hired by the living. We make them uncomfortable because deep down they know we aren't one of them. Man, your contact really dropped the ball with you. Wish I could get a job as an outside representative. At least they get to travel. Sure as hell would have done a better job of explaining your death to you."


"Oh, I'm not dead."


If a face ever conveyed the words "say what" it was James's face at that moment.


"Say what?" James exclaimed.


"I'm not dead. I'm here for other reasons."


"Bailey, I'm thinking you've got a story to tell."


"Another time. Looks like I'm up."


I stood to greet John Doe. "A funny name" I'd said when we first met. The man on the other hand, was quite the opposite. He always looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Short, balding, and stocky with a seemingly endless closet full of sweater vests. In many ways he reminded me of a guidance councilor. I shook the man's hand and followed him through a maze of cubicles.


We came to a small board room where three people sat. He opened the door and beckoned me enter, which I did. You know that scene in the spy movies where the secret agency brings in a guy and details everything about his mission and everything is so serious and business suits? I was briefed while we ate McDonald's. 


This particular branch of council for the dead was three people: Song-Ho, who was in charge of operations -whatever the hell that meant- sat at the boardroom table opposite Jane Doe, who ran the military side of things. Jane and John were married, but always the utmost professional when on the job. At the end of the table, between them from my view, was Jo. Jo ran this particular branch. She was beautiful and fierce, with an elegance one seldom sees this day and age.


"At this point I think I'd like to skip ahead," said Bailey.

"What? You're just getting to the meat of the story," snarled the largest of three skulls peering out from a crack in a tree. The same tree James Bailey and James Smith happened to be strapped to.

Vines already tight around their bodies tightened even further. Around them, the jungle sang songs of various birds and other wildlife. The trees and plant life were dense making for a claustrophobic environment.

"I just feel, narratively speaking, the story works better if I skip ahead," Bailey responded.

"Make it work," enthused a skull with a crack in its temple. Tiny flames danced in the sockets of the skulls, making them even more unnerving. "Give us the meat."

"Yeah, Bailey, give them the meat," Smith stated.

Bailey turned his head to glare at his traveling companion.

"Absolutely. The meat of the story..."

Song slid a folder across the table as I shoved a handful of fries into my mouth. It was a file on me tracing my last fifty years. I rifled through my life for a few minutes. Ending on my current occupation as a gravedigger. I slid it back when I was finished.

"Am I supposed to be impressed?" I asked.


Song shook his head. "We just wanted you to know that we've been keeping tabs on you for sometime."


"Okay. Well, thanks for that." I answered back.


"What Song means is that we don't take asking you here lightly," Jo added. "Fact is none of us know exactly how long you've been around --or haven't, as you might say. Did you ever exist? You look fairly young. Mid twenties? Never mind, there are more important issues at hand. Have you ever heard of Tom Jones?"


"The singer? I'm not really a fan."


"Business tycoon. Sits atop a financial services empire and does his best Steve Jobs impression."


"The douche on all the money channels who wears those stupid turtlenecks?" I asked.


"That's him," Jo nodded. "That's the man the world sees. In truth he's been dead for decades. Although his past is as clouded as yours and no one can say exactly how long he's been around."


"But James -er, Smith, told me while I was waiting that the living feel uncomfortable around the dead. How could he accomplish such a thing?"


"He couldn't. Unless there was some powerful force at play. This might sound a little crazy, but Tom Jones is heavy into the occult. We believe he's used his knowledge of the occult to gain his power. Furthermore we have reason to think his ultimate goal is not Wall Street but the end of the world."


I took a sip of my Coke. It spluttered telling me there was no more sweet life to give. I popped the lid off and shook a cube into my mouth which I happily crunched.


"Mr. Bailey, did you hear what she said?" asked Jane, who had been mostly quiet till then.


"Yeah, yeah, end of the world. You guys know you're already dead, right? Shouldn't you be embracing the end so you can move on to your respective Valhallas?"


"You're a dick," the third and smallest head interjected.


"No, I'm jaded, there's a difference," Bailey replied.

"How come?" Large Skull asked,

"The living have the living. The dead have the dead. I have no one."

"You have me," said Smith.

"That's not what I meant. You're a good friend, Smith. But as someone who doesn't exist, I mostly stand alone."

"Like the cheese," Cracked Skull joined in.

Everyone stared at Cracked in awkward silence for a moment.

"Yes, like the cheese," Bailey said. "Point is, at that moment I'd been years without any real interactions with anyone. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to the story."

"You're a dick," Jane interjected.

"No, I'm jaded. There's a difference," I replied.


Jo raised her hand to silence us.


"Mr. Bailey, we're not that different from the living. We don't pretend to know why some people stay behind for a time. We have no definitive idea what lies beyond. In the meantime we enjoy life. Surely you must take some joy out of this life as well, even in your current state."


"I apologize," I apologized. "I can be a bit sardonic. But I did come here with good intention, so please continue."


"A few decades ago, Tom Jones began purchasing large amounts of real estate around the world. One of the properties is an island. One that doesn't actually appear on any maps."


"Then how was it for sale?"


"He purchased the coordinates in the middle of an ocean."


"I'm confused, is there an island or not?"


"There's an island, alright," Song picked up. "It just doesn't exist in the world of the living. To get there one must travel twenty-six miles on foot through a stretch of reality between the living and the dead."


"We've had a few spies successfully make the trip over the years," Jo continued. "The path is hard to travel as it folds space. It's hard to explain, but it's sort of like a double exposure of two different roads."


"Also, there aren't any roads," Song finished.


"This is all very fascinating but what does it have to do with me?"


"Eitr," Jane replied. "You're here because of Eitr."


"Is that the name of this island?" I asked.


"It is the name of a fountain found on the island," Jane answered.


Jo continued. 


"Our intelligence indicates that the secret to Tom Jones's power, and thus the way of stopping him is located in the Fountain of Eitr. It's an ancient spring that is death to anyone living or dead. Over the years, many secrets have been tossed into the fountain, knowing that they shall be safe there from anyone who would recover them. But you..."


"I don't exist, so I can't be killed," I finished.


"That's our theory, anyway. To be honest, we have no idea what effect it'll have upon such a unique individual as yourself."


"I'm in," I stated.


"Just like that?" Jo asked skeptically.


"Why not? I always wanted to be a hero."


"Excellent. There'll be some training before we send you off. Jane will take care of that. Song, of course, will show you everything you'll need to to know to get where you're going. Additionally, to help you along the way, John and Jane Doe will accompany you."


"Pass."


"Pardon?"


"Pass," I reiterated. "I appreciate the offer but I'd prefer to go it alone."


"Absolutely not. You'll be travelling through the dead world, you'll need companions who are experienced."


"In that case I'll take James. Smith."


"Thanks for that, by the way," Smith smirked.


"Hey, you said you wanted out of the call center," Bailey responded.

"What happened next?" Small Skull asked.

"Boring. If I tried to describe it, it would be a montage of me learning basic combat skills and showcasing how bad I am with a gun."

"He's the worst," Smith chimed in.

"The worst," Bailey agreed. "I did become pretty good friends with the Does. Jane had a lot more time to form a better opinion of me while training. When John wasn't on duty, he stripped off his serious mask and was an affable guy. I even stayed with them a couple weeks while preparing. So that's it. We're about caught up."

"What do you mean 'caught up?' You haven't told us about your travels to here," Large Skull spat, the flames in his eyes dancing angrily.

"I mean, there's not much to tell. There's some goon who works for Tom Jones, makes the trip every few months. Just a matter of following him when he took off. I think his name is Jeremiah."

"And..." Large persisted.

"And it's been weeks of walking through a damn jungle. Twenty-six miles may not be so bad driving down a highway with the top down, but walking through dead world it feels forever. You really want me to describe all that walking and sweating?"

"Ain't no one got time for that Tolkien-Lord of the Rings-bullshit," Smith added.

"I guess," Cracked said. "Still feels like half a story though."

"I'm the hero, I never claimed to be a storyteller. Besides, what do we know about you three?"

"What?" the three skulls chorused.

"We told you everything about us," Small Skull exclaimed. "About how we're three travelers whose souls were joined to this tree. How we once had individual names, but now simply refer to ourselves collectively as The Clutch. And how it gets boring telling each other our same stories so we seek out entertainment from passing travelers."

"So either you present us a good story, or you'll both join us for eternity," jumped in Large.

"That's all well and good, but I'm in the beginning of my story. What more can I offer?"

"More story or you'll join us," Large reiterated.

"Look, you seem like fun guys," Smith spoke. "How about we make a game of it? You can ask Bailey one question to fill in the blanks, then you let us go. That has to be worth something, er, anecdotally speaking."

The three heads conferred among themselves, eventually coming to a decision.

"We are agreeable to this, but you must answer truthfully," Cracked said.

"Fair enough," Bailey agreed. "What would you like to know?"

Another tête-à-tête between the skulls ensued. At last the large skull, who seemed to be their leader, spoke up.

"Why?"

"Why what?" Bailey echoed back.

"We don't buy your motivation that you're doing this just because you're a good guy. Every hero has his motivation. Something he wants or needs that pushes him. If you don't exist, why concern yourself with the affairs of either the living or the dead?"

"Fair enough," Bailey responded. "You guy were right, I was holding back. There is one more piece to the story."

It was the day before me and Smith were to start our travels, a journey that would start in the backroom of a used bookstore ala Narnia. Everyone was either checking our packs or checking our weapons or checking our mental status. Jo who had been watching me carefully that day to see if I was going to go through with it or if I might back out, pulled me aside.

"There's something else you should know about the island," Jo spoke.


"Does it have spiders? Don't tell me if it has spiders. I hate spiders," I joked.


"There's someone there like you. A girl. I'm not sure how old exactly."


"What do you mean, 'like me?'" I asked, my heart catching in my throat.


"She doesn't exist. Or at least, she didn't used to. We've gotten reports that she not only exists, but that she's alive."


"What's her name?" I breathed.


"I don't know. What I've told you is all I know."


"With those words, and a pat on the arm, she left me to think things over. So there you go. My motivation."


A silence followed as the skulls thought it over. 

"It is acceptable," Large Skull declared finally.

The smallest skull and the cracked skull began to sink backwards into the tree. The vines around the two men began to loosen and they fell forward to the ground with a thud.

"Jeremiah is a good kid," Large stated. "If you say he's mixed up with this villain of yours, I won't argue, but he's a good kid."

"What makes you say that?" asked Smith.

"He always stops by our tree when he comes through here. Reads us some Stephen King. Much better than your story. No one else has ever come back. And it's not just because of the questing beast."

"Questing beast?" the Jameses sang in unison.

"Burden of the Pellinores?" the final head spoke, sinking back into the closing tree. "You really should learn more stories. Might save your life some day. That is, if you had one between you to save."

Quickly the two men gathered their packs and left the tree behind. In short time they were in the thick of the jungle again. Periodically, the view around them would flicker, merging the jungle world with a cityscape or ocean view. Just a quick flash to remind them of the overlap of worlds they were in.

Overhead the sun blazed fiercely. Since the moment they stepped into dead world the sun had not gone down. It made things even more difficult since when they rested they had no idea how long they were sleeping.

"I didn't know that about the girl," Smith said after awhile.

"I wasn't sure if it was just Jo making sure I'd stay on target or if it was real information," said Bailey.

"Makes sense."

After an awkward silence or two, Bailey tried changing the subject.

"Questing beast, eh?"

"Yeah! What nonsense was that?" Smith responded, happy to clear the air.

"Right? Pitiful attempt to scare us."

"I'm more scared at the potential of R.O.U.S.'s."

"What are those?" Bailey asked.

"R.O.U.S.'s? Have you never watched Princess Bride?"

"I'm more of a reader."

"It's a movie about a book."

"Then I'll read the book."

"Greworlll-umph?"

This last came from ahead of them but out of sight. The Jameses stopped in their tracks and looked at each other nervously.

"After you," Smith said politely, waving Bailey onward. "Us dead can still die. I'll hang back."

"Thanks," Bailey scowled. "Don't come whining to me if the beast decides to circle round from behind."

"I'll take my chances," Smith smiled back.

The two began pushing forward again, albeit much slower. Bailey, machete in hand, hacked away at the overgrowth of the forest. Bushes and small trees gave way beneath the knife. At last the blade swung and found only air.

Bailey stepped out into the clearing ahead. The dense jungle had ended and given way to a meadow that, from the look of things, lasted about a half mile till it ran to the foot of a line of snow covered mountains.

"Well, crap," Smith uttered, stepping out from behind.

"My thoughts exac-"

Bailey found himself cut off by the swipe of a giant paw. He flew threw the air, landing twenty feet away. Before he had time to react, the beast had already made up the distance and was upon him. Smith stood transfixed in terror as he watched his friend being mauled.

The beast was the largest bear Smith had ever seen. Its arms were each the size of a full grown man. When it opened its mouth to roar, the sound was like a hundred wolves inside its stomach howling. The brown coat was thick and shaggy but matted in places by mud or gore.

Bailey lay limp as the beast slashed him repeatedly with its claws. As Smith looked on, Bailey's chest was laid open, again and again, but immediately closed after the claws as if they'd never run through him. In one instance he saw Bailey's heart before the wound closed up like a zipper. Then came the teeth. The bear opened wide, grabbed Bailey from the side and crushed his back before flinging him into the air again.

Bailey's broken body began straightening before he hit the earth. This time he was up before the beast was upon him. Covered in his own blood but otherwise uninjured, he rolled, dodging the bear's paws. By luck he found himself by where he'd dropped the machete. The next time the claws came at him, Bailey countered, striking the paw with his blade. He readied himself for the next attack but it never came.

The beast had barely been cut, but pain was clearly something it was unaccustomed to. The Jameses watched as the beast ran off into the jungle, whining as it went. Smith, who had been keeping his distance, grabbed their gear and rejoined his friend.

Bailey rifled through his shredded backpack and found his change of clothes were just as tattered.

"Thanks for the help back there," he said.

"What was I supposed to do?" Smith responded.

"You have a pair of guns in your pack."

"Hand guns? Against that thing? Not likely. Did it hurt?"

Bailey frowned at him.

"I mean," Smith clarified, "do you feel it when it happens?"

"Every bit of it. I heal instantly, but I feel the pain same as anyone would. What's more, I feel the pain of it healing."

"Dude, I'm sorry. I just...I've never seen anything like that."

"Hopefully, you won't again."

"I'd be good with that. You want to wear my clothes, they're dirty but whole?"

"Yes, please."

Bailey tried Smith's clothes, but even though they were both in good shape, Bailey's frame was just too much for Smith's skinny jeans. With no alternative, the two pressed forward with their journey towards the nearest mountain.

"Bet the tree skulls would love this story," Smith said as they walked.

"Funny."

"Gotta make light of it. Otherwise we're just two guys taking a leisure stroll with your swinging penis."

"My clothes are in shreds, I'm covered head to toe in my own blood, and you're worried about how uncomfortable my dick is making you?"

Smith smiled and shrugged.

"Yeah, no, that's fair," Bailey conceded.

At last they arrived at the foot of the mountain. Bailey was grateful he still had his boots, as they were now making their way through a half foot of snow. Just a little up the mountain they could make out a door. Plain, wooden, with a red knob.

The two Jameses headed up till they were in front of it. Around them the wind swirled and howled, whipping ice against their bodies. Bailey was red and raw, yet he still looked around hesitantly. Carefully he opened the door and looked in. A dark, narrow tunnel ran into the fading distance.

"I guess we don't have a choice but to hope this cuts all the way through to the other side," said Bailey.

"That or we trudge your naked ass around a frozen mountain."

"Maybe we'll get lucky," Bailey said, walking into the darkness. "Maybe there'll be a clothing store inside."

"Maybe," Smith agreed, following his friend and closing the door behind him before muttering under his breath. "Twenty-six miles, my ass."



Closing Song.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

How Every Major Character In Avengers Infinity War Dies

If there's one thing you can be sure about 'Avengers: Infinity War' it's that it's bound to have a massive death toll. Here is the master list of how each one of your favorite heroes will die.






Captain America
Misses catch while playing Ultimate Frisbee.



Scarlet Witch
Has house dropped on her.



Hawkeye
Dies off camera -- is mentioned in passing.



Vision
Old age.



Bruce Banner
On the toilet trying to squeeze out a Hulk.



Thor
Impaled by Iron Man.



Black Panther
Impaled by Iron Man.



Nebula
Impaled by Iron Man



Iron Man
Reverse impaled by three different people.



Loki
Syphilis.



Doctor Strange
Chokes on a ham sandwich.



Drax
Consumes a gallon of milk in under a half hour.



Batman
Strangled by Superman.



Star-Lord
Rabies.



Rocket Raccoon
Rabies.



Ant-man
Anteater.



Falcon
Hits gas main while digging a garden in his backyard.



Spider-Man
Eaten alive after sex.



Black Widow
Food poisoning from Peter Parker



War Machine
Cancer.



Gamora
Bee sting



Bucky Barnes
Home perm gone bad.



Mantis
Followed a balloon, presumed dead.



Thanos
Doesn't consult a doctor after four hours.



Groot
Only character not to die. Groot now runs a bed and breakfast in Connecticut with Stan Lee who was contractually obligated to make a cameo in this list.







Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The People Of The Stairwell






It was early 1940's when the bomb was dropped on the bustling city of Nackitaw, Wisconsin. This came as quite a surprise to many people. It came as a surprise to the US government that didn't know Easter Island had been working on a bomb. It came as a surprise to the people of Nackitaw who were being hailed as the 'New New York.' It also came as a big surprise to the rest of the world that had never even heard of an atomic bomb. However, there were two people, who were not so surprised, and as it seems, not even greatly effected.

Mathew Evens always took his lunch breaks in the stairwell that ran down the middle of the sky scraper where he worked. The building was a monument to human accomplishment. Soaring at 39 stories and boasting the newest conveniences that modern life could afford. Mathew loved working in such a place. It made him feel proud to be an American. He was originally born in Germany, but ya know, what with the tensions, why bring it up? He was American now at any rate.

He had a nice office that he worked out of as executive manager in charge of running things. In fact no one actually knew what he did, including himself, but he could sure fire anyone that got in the way of him getting it done. Even his secretary Sally Adams had the power to fire people. It was a different time back then. A time when people got fired a lot.

Every day, Monday through Friday, 365 days a year --minus the weekends of course-- when the clock hit 12, Mathew would take his lunch and walk to the stairwell. He always stole a quick glance at his secretary Sally when he walked by. She was a lovely gal, and in those days, the only reason for having a secretary was so that she could file your paperwork and type your memos.

Mathew knew it was love. He constantly dreamed of burying his face in her lovely blonde hair and kissing her like a half crazed lover from one of those foreign films. But it could never be. A romance between an executive and a secretary? Ha! What foolish thoughts.

So he would look asconce at her as he walked by, always with the same conversation.

"Going to lunch, Sally."

"Alright, Mr. Evans."

"Evens, Sally."

"Sorry, sir. Have a good lunch."

It was no different that fateful afternoon. He got through the formalities and escaped to the only place where his feelings wouldn't be judged by suspicious eyes. Mathew propped the door open a crack so as not to get locked in. This had actually happened once before about a year and a half ago. He ended up spending an entire weekend waiting for someone to let him out. It was as Mathew could see, the only design flaw in the building.

Mathew's mother and father both lived with him, and they took turns preparing his lunches. On the even days he would get wonderful meals of bratwurst and kraut with a schnitzel kicker. But on the odd days, when his father prepared the meal, he would always find something unpalatable. One day he opened his bag and discovered that his father had lovingly packed a single egg, uncooked, with a nail. Another time car keys and an unopened can of an unknown product. But Mathew loved his father and saw it as an opportunity to keep trim.

That day as he opened his lunch he found a single tomato and a thermos of dirt. Mathew smiled and put the items back in the bag. Instead of eating he leaned back against the wall and thought about Sally. He thought long and hard about her. Thought with his eyes closed. The sound of the door closing woke him up. He jumped to his feet and ran to the door and tried to pull it back open through sheer force of will. but the door wouldn't have any of that. He was trapped again.

Sally was in love with her boss. It was a hard reality to be faced with, and the end result was she usually had to fire a couple people each day just to feel better. Oh, how she wished he wouldn't just walk by every afternoon, 365 days a year --minus the weekends. How she longed to have him invite her to eat with him and to bury his face in her lovely blonde hair and have him kiss her like a crazed lover from one of those foreign films.

She sighed heavily, took out her lunch, and fired two people. But that afternoon, even that didn't help her mood. She put her lunch back in it's bag and stood up. Maybe she would lose her job, but she could take it no longer. She would go to Mathew and tell him how she felt about him.

As Mathew raced crazily up and down the stairwell looking for any open door, Sally was walking through the door that had closed on him earlier, unawares as it were about the automatic closing feature. Mathew was 8 floors down, but he heard that click as the door closed and called out to see who would be joining him.

"Hullo?" he called.

"Mr. Evans?" Sally responded.

"Evens, Sally. My name is Evens."

"Sorry, sir!"

"Not at all. I'm sorry for you, Sally. Cause you let the door close and now we're stuck."

He walked up the steps to where Sally stood trying to open the door through sheer force of will.

"It's no good. The door is reinforced steel. The whole stairwell is in fact built to withstand a fire, should people need to evacuate," Mathew stated.

"So what do we do?" Sally asked.

"Not much we can do. It's practically soundproofed. The last time I was stuck in here, it was for three days. It's why I fired my last secretary. She didn't find it odd that I should be missing."

"Three days! What did you do for water?"

Mathew smiled at her and pointed up.

"Sprinklers. I lit my pants on fire and the smoke set it off."

"Brilliant," she said, and fell in love with him again.

The two of them sat and talked. They decided to hold onto Sally's lunch for rationing just in case. Despite being hungry and thirsty, the two of them were as happy as could be. And as the night fell over the stairwell on that friday, they each declared their love for each other.

Saturday found the two of them chatting away like love birds, and sharing the apple from Sally's lunch; the only nourishment they would have for the day. He told her about being an only child growing up in Germany and America, and about his father and mother, and the lunches they packed. She told him about her catholic parents and her twenty-four siblings.

Come Sunday they were both dangerously dehydrated. However, not wanting to embarrass the young lady, Mathew burned one of his shoes instead. They enjoyed it as fresh rain and ran around in circles like children.

Then came Monday. The upper levels of the stairwell had windows of sorts. Enough to let the light in, but not enough to see anything. Mathew and Sally were completely cut off from the rest of the world. So neither one of them had any idea that the city had been evacuated.

After five days, Mathew knew something was wrong. The door to the roof could be opened. The only door in the stairwell that could. There was no way to get down from a 39 story roof, nor would anyone hear you call, but at least you could look down. If you like looking down from a tall building that is. Mathew figured he had no choice. What he saw was unsettling. He didn't know what had happened, but he knew there were no people down there. Horror struck, he retreated back to the stairwell.

He told Sally what he had seen and she decided she didn't want to see it. Instead they began thinking about surviving. They decided to scavange the roof's toolshed in the vain hope of finding an axe that they could use to break down a door. Inside they found a rusted tin pot, three empty glass jars, seven snails, two muddy boots, and mercifully, an old cott with two dirty pillows.

While Sally set about cleaning the bed as best she could, Mathew busied himself making a garden. He had not eaten the tomato, nor had he drunk the thermos of dirt. He poured the dirt into the tin pot and planted the seeds from the tomato into the pot. he also planted the apple seeds, not really thinking of them as a food source, but as something to keep him busy.

With no idea how long it would take for tomatos to grow, the two of them waited, hoping that they would have them before they starved. God granted them a small mercy by helping them to grow fast. in three weeks they saw the first tomatos and a glimmer of hope sprung into them. But still it was not fast enough and the two of them became weak. Neither of them thought they could hold out much longer.

Thankfully, then came the rats. They were big, and wanted the tomatoes. Mathew used this to his advantage and made a sort of a trap from the shoelaces he took off the boots. After many a failed attempt, he succeeded in snaring a particularly fat fellow with long whiskers. They named him Jasper and found him delicious.

Little by little they survived. Small victories gave way to bigger ones. They found a blade of sorts on the roof and were able to fashion spears and other essentials. They found that the cot had a piece of flint under the mat. This gave them a source of fire, and just as Mathew's lighter was running out. The tomatoes grew big and beautiful and the jars offered a chance to preserve some through the winter. Though they had no intention of letting the original plants die so easily. They eventually made one floor of the stairwell a tomato garden. Another they prepared in the hope for an apple tree. Ever ambitious, and desperate to thrive, they walled that floor up and attempted a hydroponic apple garden.

And so passed a year. Many times they came close to death. But they survived. They tore down their clothes to bare essentials so they would last longer. And after a long hard year, they looked like they just might make it. The garden was ever renewed and the rats were dumb enough to keep coming. At last Mathew's mind was free to look elsewhere. By that point, Elsewhere was wearing only a bra and shorts.

The two of them talked about it one night, and decided that it would not be right to indulge, as it might mean a child. Neither one of them knew anything about delivering a baby. Nor did they think it would be right to bring one into such a world. With a firm determination, the two agreed to abstain.

That night Sally got pregnant.

Pregnancy was hard. The food just wasn't there. Mathew had a hard time fulfilling her cravings in the night for rat burgers with ketchup. But they made it through again. Mathew even began farming the rats, penning them up, rather than killing them instantly. In the end Sally gave birth to two glorious babies. One boy and one girl.

And so they continued. The one year turned into five years. The five years turned into ten. The stairwell became divided into sections. Living quarters, gardens --for with increased mouths came a need for more gardens- and of course, the apple tree. Against all expectation, the apple tree had grown to quite a healthy size. They dared not hope yet at apples, but should things continue, then in another ten years they might see fruit.

The children grew up used to their environment as children are want to do. They were lean but healthy and as happy as could be. Sally and Mathew soon left their fears behind and again found themselves pregnant.

After thirty years had passed since getting trapped, Mathew one evening sat up in bed.

"What is it, honey?" Sally asked.

"I just got the joke!" he answered.

"What joke?" she asked, propping herself up on her elbows and looking at her sweet but slightly nutty husband.

"Your last name is Adams and mine is Evens... Adam and Eve!"

"That's a little weak, dear. Besides, I thought your last name was Evans."

In 2003, roughly 60 years after getting stuck in the stairwell, the city of Nackitaw declared a holiday. When the bomb was dropped, it may have come as a big surprise to everyone involved, but it came as an even greater shock to Easter Island when it failed to detonate. The city was evacuated for half a year while they looked for the bomb and any other possible bombs. When people were finally allowed to return, the momentum behind the industry boom was gone. Many businesses had already found other outlets to work out of. Several had even gone out of business altogether.

The building that housed Sally and Mathew was left deserted. No one it seemed could even remember what the company did, so it was deemed unnecessary to continue work. It was this same building that some potential buyers were looking into, one fateful morning.

The buyers found the building to be quite nice. The floors all needed cleaning out, but it was in relatively good condition. But then someone suggested they look in the stairwell. At first no one believed what they saw. You just don't expect to see an apple tree in full bloom when you open a door on the 11th floor. Even more shocking, they found a tribe of 37 different natives, mostly naked, but speaking perfect English.

It was judged that most of the people could be rehabilitated. And the government took special interest in helping them. However, the male and female leaders, now well into their 80's, didn't want to leave. After some long court proceedings, it was judged that they had, at the very least, squatters rights. The building was turned over to them for as long as they both lived. This was not too much longer as it turned out.

Last year in April, Adams and Evens were found dead, under the apple tree, which had been given a fresh dirt base and grass for the roots to sink into. On each of their faces, a peculiar smile.

The building has since been declared a historical monument.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gonna Tales Vol 1: Gonna Gonna Do What Gonna Gonna Do








Gonna rode out when the east was just starting to settle in the west. He was gonna make the midnight train to Dawn. His trusty steed 'Mitch Pileggi' bore him with the fury of a thousand horses, roughly a thousandth of his size. The dust kicked up as they rode through the streets with Abandon, and his cousin Pete.

When they arrived at the station, they were met by the villainous scoundrel (Parenthetical). He stood tall, then curved to one side, guns on his hips. In his mouth was a cigarette, and in that cigarette was another cigarette, just in case. He removed his 500 gallon hat and spoke.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the Well brothers and my old nemesis, Gonna. Watcha gonna do, Gonna? I got you surrounded on one side. My guns shoot as straight and true as a metaphor."

Gonna removed the tiny party sized cowboy hat from his own head and responded like a man answering another.

"Gonna gonna do, what Gonna gonna do. And I aims to gonna do something. Namely, ask you to step aside."

"And why would I do that?" Parenthetical spat.

"Because," said Gonna, eyes narrowing, "I'm gonna be late for my classes if you don't. I'm gonna be teaching Journalistic Writing Technique One-Oh-One this year at the Bedmorforshireside Community College over in Bedmorforshiresideville."

"That's...not something I was prepared for. Are there still available spots in that class? Reckon I might could use some good wording. I was gonna enroll last semester, but I got busy killing good people."

Gonna put on a monkey mask that gave him an air of mystery.

"There's always a hundred reasons not to do something."

"Damn, that is true (and slightly mysterious)," Parenthetical responded. "Alright, then, we go together."

And so the crew of three, plus one, added to the train, and divided their time by imagining how life was gonna be over the next year. And Gonna had to admit, it was gonna be an adventure.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Old Family Recipes: Crispy Porg

Christmas is almost upon us and more importantly, so is Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In honor of that occasion, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite recipes: Crispy Porg.




What You'll Need:





1 Porg - Per Person. This recipe is for a single serving. For each person adjust accordingly.
2 Garlic Cloves - Minced.
3 Cups Spinach - Fresh
1 Teaspoon Ginger - Minced
1/4 Cup Pecans - Chopped
1 TBSP Rosemary
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1/2 TSP Mustard Powder
3 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 TBSP Butter
Salt & Pepper - To Taste




Directions:

Your porg should come pre-plucked. If it does not, simply dunk the porg in boiling water and the cleaning will be much easier. 

Once your porg is cleaned, score the fatty breasts with a knife in a crisscross pattern. This will allow for the fat to render out as it cooks. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary on both sides of the porg. In a hot (oven safe) pan, sear the porg, breast side down, in the olive oil for 4 minutes. Turn the porg over in the pan, and place in a 400 degree preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.

Once the porg comes out of the oven, allow the meat to rest 10 minutes before cutting. In the meantime, in a second pan, toast pecans, ginger, and minced garlic in butter. Sprinkle garlic and mustard powder and stir into the pan. Add red wine vinegar and spinach, and cook until spinach is just starting to wilt, turning the spinach to mix evenly. Remove from heat.

Plate the spinach salad as a bed. Slice the porg meat against the grain and plate over top of the spinach. Porg should be little pink inside. Serve with a good crusty bread and butter. 


Bon Appetite!






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