My 101-word short story, The Sticky Drunk, was a runner up in the Monterey Weekly’s recent short fiction contest. And they used a sentence from another entry in another section, which I found pretty cool. Read all the stories here!
Looking for a little adult fun in the beatnik superhero genre? “Stare and Get Off” is focused on just that, with a sprinkle of nihilism thrown in for good measure. Check out the story over on Spec Fics. It’s a little NSFW…
Read it here!
“The cutest thing we’ve seen all day!” Social media said.
“But wait a minute,” Uploader said. “How can we top baby sea otters?”
Social media screamed in orgasmic bliss. “Oh my God, they’re so darn cute! Sharing, liking, trending!”
“Got it. How about baby sea otters with fluffy white kittens? Put them in a plastic pool together or something. Feed them all fish.”
Social media’s eyes grew as big as saucers. “Fluffy kittens with baby sea otters? Love, happy emojis, liking, sharing, trending!”
Uploader’s shoulders slumped with disappointment. “There is no way in hell we can top that. Our metrics can only go down from here. Engagement will drop.”
“One of the kittens licked the baby sea otter! SQUEE!”
Uploader’s face lit up with excitement. “I know. Koko the gorilla, baby sea otters, and kittens. Get Koko and put her in the pool. She’ll pet them and stuff. We’ll film it.”
Uploader exploded with the best idea yet. “But wait, instead of the pool, throw them in a flood zone, like in Louisiana or something. Have them get rescued from the flood waters by some dudes in a raft.”
Social media could barely contain its indignation. “Terrible. What brave men to rescue these poor creatures. Sad face emojis, hearts, liking, trending!”
Uploader’s face grew dark. “There’s nothing left. Nothing at all. Except… maybe…”
Social media climaxed. “Firefighters? Baby sea otters? Fluffy white kittens? Koko? All dancing together to a mix of David Bowie and Prince songs? Have I died and gone to heaven?! LOL! SQUEE! Liking till my finger breaks! Love emojis till there’s a cure for cancer! Trending till even George Stephanopoulos sheds a tear of joy. Sharing every day of the rest of my life.”
Uploader had no words. It was over. The Internet broke.
We all love stick figures – to the point our hearts will explode in our chests and kill us. So I doodled a few to illustrate each chapter in my upcoming collection of rants, In Curmudgeon (taken from my blog posts over the years), and wanted to share them here. The Saint offered up the best stick figures. Simon Templar’s little halo always looked just right. Mine are just like that. Only worse.
I’m celebrating the release of “Mantula: Have some discord” today! This weird little book started as a handful of blog posts and quickly turned into a full-blown multimedia project. I was having too much fun to stop writing the story of Doug and his curse. When I finally did come to the end, I decided to collect the comics, the chapters, and the fake news stories into this single volume.
I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did making it.
Check out the book on Amazon (PRINT COPY)
Check it out here for e-book (KINDLE)
Read the blurb:
Curses, addiction, despair. Add in a couple of Catholic saints and a meth addict-turned quail and you’ve got the makings of Doug’s new life. It isn’t one he wanted. He never asked to wake up in the body of a tarantula, but that’s what happened. And it’s up to him to break the curse. Or die trying. Told in written form, comic form, through emails and news stories; Mantula is part super hero and part monster, and a unique multimedia experience.
His finger hovered over the download button. Sweat trickled down his forehead, just a single line, but enough to make someone notice. Morris didn’t press the button. He turned his attention back to the sea of tents placed four feet apart from one another. Two people per tent, he was told. Only the tents were always empty. They’d been empty since he was stationed there five years ago.
“So this Pokemon Go thing?” he asked the sentry nearest him. “This is the one? It’s the distraction?”
His coworker shrugged. “It could be.”
“Wasn’t the primary election supposed to be the distraction?”
Another shrug. “I guess it didn’t work.”
“What about the last fad? What was that one again? I don’t remember.”
“Snapchat? Facebook? The ice bucket challenge?”
Morris sighed and stared at the empty tents. “I don’t even remember why anymore, John.”
“Why are we distracting them?”
“Um, to take their guns. But it’s not us distracting them. It’s our bosses.”
“It doesn’t appear to be working.” Morris looked at his phone and rolled his eyes. “Hell with it. I’m downloading Pokemon Go. This place is boring.”
“Put the tin foil hat on first.”
He did as John asked. Better to be safe than sorry. His coworker never took his off. John said the Wi-Fi and television signals doped him up with too many subliminal messages. The hats, perfected over the last fifty years to look like shiny knit beanies, itched the scalp, but were otherwise comfortable. As the game downloaded, Morris looked at his partner and asked if he planned to play it too.
“These internment camps have been here for over twenty years. Longer maybe. I found a TV Guide in the mess hall with Bob Hope on the cover. And why are we taking their guns away and putting them in these camps? It’s stupid. You may as well play Pokemon Go too, John.”
The sentry laughed. His tin foil beanie shifted just over his right eyebrow. “I’m a grown man. I’ve got better things to do than play kid’s games.”
“Says the Candy Crush junkie. Says the guy who puts pictures of his dinner on Instagram. Says the man who plays fantasy football and opens Tinder every two minutes.”
“We need to be ready. This could be the distraction.”
Morris started playing with his phone. “I doubt it.”
But two weeks later, when unmarked cargo trucks began to appear, when soldiers started escorting half dressed, terrified Americans into the tents two by two, Morris couldn’t believe it. He stayed put, just as he was trained, and turned the game off. He’d just caught a Hitmonlee and got a good photo of it doing a high kick in front of some of the internment tents.
John whistled, obviously excited. “This is it. It’s finally happened.”
“PoGo was the distraction. My God,” whispered Morris.
“And you’ve been playing it.” The sentry looked up, noticing a contingent of soldiers heading in their direction. “You’ve been playing it.”
Morris felt his face flush red. “Just playing it doesn’t…”
One of the soldiers yelled at them. “You two. Stay right there.”
The soldiers, who Morris noticed were all wearing tin foil hats, carried their rifles in front of them, ready to use them if necessary. They both froze in place. Morris prepared himself. His phone was in his pocket. There was no way he’d be able to delete the app. It would be futile anyway. They already knew.
But instead of grabbing him, the soldiers converged on John. The sentry fought back for the briefest of moments before he succumbed to the soldiers. Morris shook, but knew not to move. One of the soldiers stopped next to them as the others dragged his coworkers to the camp. He was close enough Morris could smell the vanilla nicotine on his skin. A vaper, he figured.
Morris, his voice shaking, asked, “Was it Pokemon Go?”
“Pokemon Go? No, that’s just a game. Your friend over there is a registered Independent.”
Citizens protecting themselves. Taxpayers at work, he thought.
He could see a huddled mass near an alley about a block away. There weren’t a lot of police on patrol that day. Not much they could do against a hail of gunfire, especially with only one or two on the force that day. Charlie didn’t see any law enforcement near the people, not even private security, only a lot of folks with bug eyes, terrified they might drop dead any second. Luckily a few of them were armed. They carried rifles slung over their shoulder, had pistols at their hips, and had no problem shooting anyone who looked like they might be bad news.
Charlie packed too. He’d gotten a pistol on pay day, two days before the last bombing and a week after the last school shooting. Before heading out he loaded his pockets with ammo. It wasn’t cheap, but it made him feel better. No one wanted to be a cop anymore. Bullets tore into the concrete wall near him. Looking over his shoulder, he realized there were a bunch of people on the rooftop across the plaza. Charlie thought about being a cop once, but the pay wasn’t great considering the danger. Another bullet took out a window a hundred feet from him.
Not a good day to be out, he thought. He made his way to the crowd and waited in line. They were shuffling inside, thankfully out of view of the people on the roof. An older woman held her right shoulder. Blood dripped from a wound there. One of the armed men watched her suspiciously. A shiny-headed bald man stood next to him, also armed. He flexed a cold stare in Charlie’s direction.
“Are you even registered to vote?” the man asked him.
He looks like a turkey vulture, Charlie thought. He’s like one of those birds that feed on the dead. They have no feathers from the neck up, only mottled, nasty flesh. It’s so they can stick their entire head inside dead animals. He’s looking at me like I’m a dead animal.
Charlie nodded. “Of course I am.”
“Let’s see your voter identification card then,” the turkey vulture replied.
“Are you with the elections office?”
The man laughed, “Are you?”
Charlie reached into his back pocket. “It’s fine. I’ll show you. I’m only here to vote.”
“He’s going for a gun!”
And then Charlie was dead.