30 September 2005


The Writing on the Wall

We had a good business, a nonprofit, where we collected missing souls and returned them to their owners. We often found them moored in clumps atop transmission towers, tall trees, and skyscrapers. They got disoriented as they drifted around and ended up snagged on these tall structures. The hardest part of the retrieval was getting permission from owners to climb their buildings. Last year one of us read a fascinating philosophical treatise proving conclusively that souls don’t exist. We abandoned the business immediately. Now we deliver pizza and other comfort foods to ill patients. Still a nonprofit. Still helping humanity.

29 September 2005


I Get the Point

Crabapple Smokering sharpened pencils. He spent days twirling them in his little sharpener. He lined them up in rows and invited people to his house to see his sharpened pencils. Why do you have so many? they asked. I have to, said Crabapple, because there are so many different kinds. Crabapple made out his will. I need to leave my pencils to a worthy institution that will take care of them, he said. The lawyer nodded. I can do that for you, she said. I believe in what you are doing. I use pencils myself everyday. I really like them.

28 September 2005


Good Neighbors

The alien loved our fences. We have such installations on my home world, she said, but on a much smaller scale. No one ever thought to make an art piece that takes up the entire planet. The fences aren’t an art piece, we said, they are to protect property. The alien took in this information. You aren’t suggesting, she finally said, that there is on your world the notion that pieces of your planet can be owned by its inhabitants? This was clearly a concept for a later day. Would you like to visit one of our zoos? we asked.

27 September 2005


Busman's Holiday

Pomegranate Thirdrail dug graves for a living. She used a pick and shovel until her spine started giving her problems and she had to buy a back hoe. The expense put her in the hole, but the death business was steady work so she knew if she stuck with it she would get ahead eventually. Pomegranate died while digging a grave on a slope. The back hoe rolled over, crushing her as it tumbled down the hill. At her funeral people remarked on how nice her grave looked. She would have liked that, said the mourners, we’re sure of it.

26 September 2005


Really? Yes, really.

The speech balloons began to appear above our heads whenever we said anything. They fell out of the air when we stopped talking. Piles of them started collecting everywhere. At first we gathered them up and tossed them out, but that got to be so time consuming that soon we all just ignored them, letting them pile up everywhere. We consulted cartoonists about storage. They were no help. All over the world people talked much less, just so they wouldn’t have to deal with the speech balloons. Deception became a much rarer event. A lot of us enjoyed the quiet.

25 September 2005


A Quotidian Checklist for the Benefit of Future Scholars

Woke up at eight forty-five ayem. Tossed back the quilt cover. Got out of bed. Went downstairs. Drained bladder. Washed hands with a round cake of oatmeal soap. Dried hands on towel hung on a metal rack. Went into kitchen. Filled a green glass with water from the tap. Drank it. Pulled back the curtains in the kitchen window. Noted that it was a sunny day. Listened to the fridge humming. Went upstairs to check e-mail. Nothing of interest. Skimmed an article by an anthropologist who says blogs will be a treasure trove of information for researchers. Began this post.

24 September 2005


Stop Me If You've Heard This One

Man walks into a bar; gets taken to the emergency room where a doctor treats the bruises and lacerations on his face and neck and advises him to watch where he’s going and avoid further collisions with metal posts. Musician stumbles onto a bar; notes the melody. Lawyer studies hard and qualifies for the bar; becomes the subject of a million jokes. Meteorologist predicts a much higher bar; feels the pressure. Soap maker drops a bar; makes a clean break. Chocolatier creates new bar with more sugar; sweetens the pot. Fish swims into a bar; gets sand in its mouth.

23 September 2005


Control Valve

The translators knew so many languages that at a recent conference the first day was taken up deciding which language would be the official language of the conference. For the next few days many of the translators griped that the conference had ignored their own particular favorite language. During a presentation on the sensitive issue of translating taboo words, several of the translators got into a fist fight. Words in several languages were exchanged. Blood flowed. When it was over the conference’s transcriber asked the pugilists to restage the melee so she could record an accurate description of the event.

22 September 2005


Lost in Space

On the voyage across interstellar space we lost our spirits one night as we slept. They detached from our bodies, floated in our cabins, breached the hull, and got sucked into a black hole. At our destination planet we hired a salvage ship to retrieve our ghosts. The crew traveled at maximum speed to the singularity. The salvagers deployed sensors which soon detected our apparitions, suspended in distorted space-time. We saw them on the salvager’s 3-D displays. The images showed phantoms too peaceful to disturb. We ordered the crew to abandon the operation and return to our original planet.

21 September 2005


Lost at Sea

On the voyage across the ocean we lost our spirits one night as we slept. They fell from our bodies, slipped through our cots, breached the hull, and sunk to the sea floor. At our destination port we immediately hired a salvage boat to help us retrieve our ghosts. The crew steamed at maximum speed to the approximate location. The salvagers quickly deployed sensors which soon detected our apparitions moored in mud. We saw them on the salvager’s computer screens. The images showed phantoms too peaceful to disturb. We ordered the crew to abandon the operation and return to port.

20 September 2005


Steam of Consciousness

The snowstorm settled over our town and would not move on for days. The snow accumulated steadily. In less than a week we had depths exceeding eight feet everywhere. People were trapped in their houses. Some neighborhoods were nothing but chimneys dotting a white expanse. Smoke chugged out of the chimneys, telling us there was life still in the houses. Then the storm passed, the sun came out, and the snow started melting. Great clouds of fog rose up and away. People crawled out from their houses. They looked shocked and empty, like something vital had been taken from them.

19 September 2005


A Brief History of Slavery

Fishtail Morningstar spent many years in prison. Upon his release he was sold to a construction company that put him to work installing roofs. Fishtail preferred his previous life. In prison he didn’t have to work. As a slave he worked all his waking hours with only half a day off each week. During his idle hours he decorated his skin with tattoos and plotted ways to return to jail. A traveling salesman came by one day and offered Fishtail a set of encyclopedias. Fishtail showed the salesman his many tattoos. This is all the learning I need, he said.

18 September 2005


Goodbye Hello

On our journey we encountered a city in which a rare virus, temporius reversus, had infected the inhabitants, causing them to misread the direction of time. They greeted us by saying goodbye. We sure hope you liked our sights, they said, just before they took us on a tour of the city. They seemed especially proud of their many towers, which we found both beautiful and amazing. We only hope, they said, that the reality will be half as marvelous as the models. When we left we thanked them for their hospitality. Hello, they answered, welcome to our fair city.

17 September 2005


A Disturbance in the Field

Openwound Barkdust kept his feet warm on cold days by sprinkling cayenne pepper in his only pair of shoes. This worked well until his shoes began to wear so thin that holes appeared in the soles. Openwound sprinkled in more generous helpings of cayenne pepper and set out for the cobbler’s shop, taking a shortcut through the cemetery. As he walked, red clouds of cayenne pepper billowed out of his shoes and settled on the grass. Openwound heard a chorus of sneezes from the graves. Oh hush, said Openwound. Go back to sleep all of you. I’m just passing through.

16 September 2005



Papercut Steamengine lived in a cabin in the woods and comforted herself by making origami self portraits. One morning she discovered she had run out of paper. It was winter. Papercut had food and water for a couple of months, but without paper she feared she would not keep her sanity until spring. She put on her warmest clothes, and, with snowshoes securely attached to her boots, set out for civilization. Halfway there, she realized she could use the pages from her books. Papercut turned around. By the end of winter all her self portraits had bible verses on them.

15 September 2005


Friendly Advice

Cucumber Sawbuck sat at the bottom of the mountain and offered maps to climbers to help them get to the top. Have you climbed to the top? asked the climbers. No, said Cucumber, but you should follow the path on my map. Is the glacier on your map? they asked. Is the wide crevasse near the peak on your map? Is the talus field? No, no, and no, said Cucumber. Why should we believe you? said the climbers. Cucumber leaned toward the mountain. The mountain bent closer to Cucumber and hugged him. Okay, said the climbers, we’ll take your map.

14 September 2005


Told You

The broom maker had no customers. Her brooms were beautiful works of art, but to survive she had to price them beyond the means of local folks. The broom maker was stubborn. She continued making brooms no one bought. Every house needs a broom, she said. People will buy mine when the ugly ones they get from the stores fall apart on them. When the broom maker died her house was stuffed with thousands of brooms. Townspeople came to pay their respects and each one left with a broom. They all agreed the broom maker made the best brooms ever.

13 September 2005


Selected Nature

We woke to our city disappeared. Where houses and high rises once stood we found only rectangular holes marking the locations of lower levels and basements. Torrential rains arrived and filled the holes. Powerful winds from the sea blew in unobstructed and deposited tiny sea creatures in the newly created pools. We saw what was coming and got out of town before evolution got into high gear. Years later, after we had built lives elsewhere, we returned to our city for a visit. The water creatures had attained significant mass. They spent much of their time squabbling about living arrangements.

12 September 2005



We went deep into the woods to see the dance troupe perform their show near a creek studded with rocks. The troupe danced without music. We strained to hear an accompaniment that was not forthcoming. While we were occupied by this fruitless endeavor the troupe gradually slipped into the ground. By the end of the performance all the dancers had been absorbed by the Earth. We were stunned. We stomped our feet on the ground where they had danced. Hello! we said. Come back! We held hands and lifted our voices. Rise, we said, rise and return to us, please.

11 September 2005


Tired of Eating Pikas

Bigfoot went into town to the local pizzeria. Elvis sat at one of the booths, across from an alien. They were devouring a large double cheese pepperoni. Hey Sask, said the owner, haven’t seen you in ages. Where you been? Bigfoot unleashed several grunts and hisses. Yeah, said the owner, been a long winter. One meat lover’s special coming right up. Bigfoot sat beside Elvis. You’re just in time, said Elvis. A photographer from the National Enquirer will be here any minute. The alien glowed. Bigfoot grunted at the counter. OK, said the owner, we’ll make that pie to go.

10 September 2005


The Creative Life

We took jobs in the dream factory. They had nice little rooms with comfortable beds for us. They gave us pills that had us sleeping and dreaming for fifteen hours straight. Their dream harvesters took the images from our brains and their designers and editors examined them for quality and originality. They posted the better ones on their website where people downloaded them for a fee. When we woke up they gave us royalty checks based on the popularity of our dreams. Most of us just went back to sleep. It was tough work, but someone had to do it.

09 September 2005



Beachfront Happenstance welcomed the visitors that oozed out of the bathroom mirror. She made a cozy corner for them in her house. The visitors were red-haired, short, kind of ugly, and short-tempered. Beachfront appreciated their blunt personalities. They lived blissfully with her for a week. When Beachfront returned from work one day the visitors were gone. Beachfront was so disappointed that she tried to step into the bathroom mirror. It had looked so easy. How did they do it? Beachfront smashed the mirror with a hammer. The pieces fell to the floor. She heard pained cries and shed many tears.

08 September 2005


Rapid Eye Movement

Styrene Humbleweed designed fake waterfalls for the lobbies of hospitals and corporate headquarters. His falls came to him in dreams. Styrene’s work was respected around the world. One day he stopped dreaming and had to rely on his talent for his designs. He spent days and days thinking up waterfall projects, but none of them were worthy of presenting to any client. This sent Styrene into a depression from which he never fully recovered. He gave up the waterfall business and went on the speaking circuit. All Styrene’s speeches had the same theme: Don’t lose your dreams under any circumstances.

07 September 2005


Perfect Bound

Openpit Eardrum found a pen with an infinite supply of ink and a notebook with an infinite number of pages. She decided to fill the notebook with an infinite diary. For the first billion years or so Openpit enjoyed her project. Along about the death of the sun she started feeling like she was running out of material. Several trillion years later, as protons were decaying all around her, Openpit transferred her project to a younger universe and just kept going. She hesitated once, her pen poised above the page for several eons, and all of existence waited for her.

06 September 2005


Glad to Hear it

The archaeologists asked to do a dig on Mainspring Homebody’s skull. It seemed like a fun idea, so Mainspring agreed. The archaeologists secured his head, roped off plots, tapped in stakes, and began excavating material. How’s it going up there? asked Mainspring. Find anything yet? A cache of memories from when you were two months old, they answered. Also some fossilized grudges you’ve kept for a while. A baseball glove you lost when you were nine. Nothing too exciting yet. Well, said Mainspring, something’s not right. I’m very lightheaded. That’s completely normal, said the archaeologists. That’s a perfectly normal reaction.

05 September 2005


We Would Have Returned Them if We Knew Who Owned Them

We found feathers littering the front yard. We made wings from them, put them on, climbed onto the roof, assumed a crouching position, then remained frozen for some time while we mulled over our next step. The ground was quite a distance down. The sun set, then rose, then set again. We did not move. Days went by. The feathers began to rot away. After several months we were back to our featherless selves, stepped off the roof, and hovered there for longer than seemed possible. The sky was an impossible blue, and blades of grass grew to immense proportions.

04 September 2005


The Method

Cablecar Lemonroll read for the part of Gilligan in his local community theater company’s production of Gilligan’s Island. The audition went reasonably well, but he did not get the part. Instead he got the part of a much older castaway who had been on the island for many years. The passengers of The Minnow find him and scare the bejeepers out of him. Cablecar spent many evenings practicing both of his lines. On opening night he was so consumed by stagefright that he fainted before his first words. The reviews mentioned Cablecar’s very convincing portrayal of a heart attack victim.

03 September 2005



The cat caught a fairy and brought her into the house where he held her under his paw. We put the cat in another room and offered the fairy some first aid. She looked terribly bruised. Just help me find a way out of here, she said. We opened the front door. The fairy vibrated her wings and became airborne, but could only spiral around the room. She landed on the table and looked at us like she wanted to kill. Put out the call, she said. I need my friends now. I need more help than you can give.

02 September 2005


Slice of Life

Spindrift Seaweed brought a patch of cloth to the quilting bee which she said was cut from a sail that had powered the ship which deposited the invaders on our land. That’s impossible, said the other members of the bee. That was hundreds of years ago. Spindrift nodded. I know, she said, but it’s true. My grandmother saved it. Our family has had it for generations. She offered the fraying and yellowed cloth to her friends. No one wanted to touch it or look at it. We can’t let the invaders see it, said Spindrift. They’ll go crazy on us.

01 September 2005



We plucked stars from the sky like they were berries on a bush. Eventually the sky was bare except for the moon and some planets. We stored the stars in the freezer and took them out when we needed them for muffins. We invited friends over for our star muffins. Our guests talked about how weird it was that the sky was so dark now. We murmured agreement then served the muffins. After the first bite, with the stars melting in their mouths, our guests didn’t talk about the sky anymore. Suddenly the sky could get by on its own.

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