My Pet

July 19th, 2017 No comments


#picturefiction #flashfiction

“What do you mean you got a pet?”
Venkat rolled his eyes at Barry’s tone. Barry was the fussy one of the pair. His idea of proper apartment living was existing in a sterile, Better Homes and Gardens cover worthy apartment that was better suited for objects than people. The men were as polar opposite as two people could be yet they both were religious about paying bills and respecting the other’s space. Barry helped Venkat with his English and had introduced him to the joys of American movies while Venkat brought the wonder of Bollywood into Barry’s life; somehow they worked as roommates.
Venkat missed having pets. When he left his home of Kohima, India twelve years ago to work in the west he was forced to leave everything behind except what he could transport in a single suitcase. He had lost his garden and more painfully, his prized chickens. He had broached the subject of a pet in the apartment several times in the three years he had roomed with Barry but every time the prissy blonde had shuddered as if he were being attacked by the fleas of some imaginary, mangy pet and argued down the suggestion.
“Yes, I purchased a pet,” Venkat said. “I bought something that lives in a cage and can stay in my room. Since it is in my personal space you do not get to argue my choice.”
“But it’s in the apartment.” Barry’s voice flirted with whine territory.
“Bahut bura,” Venkat said.
“Too bad,” Venkat translated. “My room; we agreed that anything within our personal space was allowed so my new pet stays.”
Barry pouted and turned away and then back three times before speaking again.
“Fine. Can I at least know what it is? I’d like to know what’s going to poop on my carpet or try to eat my face.”
“It won’t-” Venkat said. “Come, I will show you. It is a very cool creature.”
Without waiting, Venkat led the way to his bedroom. After a moment’s hesitation Barry followed. He tried to give his friend the benefit of the doubt but in the back of his mind a voice kept warning that pets only led to disaster.
Barry expected Venkat’s room to be an Indian paradise. They never entered each other’s private space, part of the key to their success as roommates. When the door opened Venkat’s spacious bedroom was filled with band posters, sci-fi models and all the bric-a-brac that would be expected in a nerdy American teen’s room.
“Interesting style my man,” Barry said.
“Isn’t it great? Look at this, I got it at a con last month.”
Venkat lifted some kind of sword from its wall mount and brandished it with a toothy grin. Barry had no clue what it was. The handle was covered with buttons and lights and instead of a blade, an acrylic rod extended three feet from the handle.
“Ah, yeah,” Barry said. “How about the pet?”
“Of course,” Venkat returned the toy to its place with a reverence normally reserved for holy artifacts.
He crossed the room and, with a flourish, swept a black cloth from a suspended object. Beneath the black cloth was a large bird cage hanging from a metal stand. The occupant was not any kind of bird that Barry had ever seen. In fact, he was pretty sure it was an octopus.
“Is that an octopus?”
“The man at the shop told me it was a very rare land octopus. Unlike its water cousin it does not require a tank.”
“But, it’s a freaking octopus.” Barry jerked back as the creature extended a tentacle through the bars and waved it at him.
“See,” Venkat said. “It likes you. It’s waving.”
“It is not waving. It’s just-”
“Free me,” a bubbling voice came from the cage stopping Barry in mid sentence.
Venkat and Barry looked at each other, wide eyed.
“Are you a ventriloquist too?” Barry said.
“I said nothing,” Venkat said.
“Free me Humans.” The voice was clearly coming from the cage.
The octopus shifted behind the bars and extended more of its appendages through them. They moved as the voice came again, providing counterpoint to its words.
“I am scout leader Pthrrrrp. I have been imprisoned on your world for six of your years. Free me or there shall be consequences.”
“You’re shitting me,” Barry said.
Venkat moved toward the cage. His eyes fairly glowed with excitement. A real alien was in his house, the guys in his gaming group were going to die of envy.
“Why have you said nothing before this?”
“The Human who passed me on to you captured me when my vessel crashed. He was quite cruel the few times I attempted to communicate.”
“You are an actual alien,” Venkat said. “This is the most momentous meeting in history.”
Pthrrrrp bubbled at Venkat and waved several tentacles.
“My people approach, you shall release me or there will be consequences.”
“What do you mean, your people approach?” Barry said.
“Will you free me?”
Venkat reached for the cage lock but Barry grabbed his arm.
“No way dude. This thing is a damn alien. We have to call the authorities or someone; maybe a scientist. They need to examine it, see if it’s a danger to the world.”
“Maybe you are right,” Venkat said.
“You were given your chance,” Pthrrrrp burbled.
A deep throbbing note filled the apartment. Lights flickered and Venkat felt the floor vibrating. Two heretofore unseen antennae lifted above the alien’s eyes and it began to emit the rapid fire burbs and gurgles that were its language.
The southern wall of Venkat’s bedroom glowed for a moment and then exploded into a cloud of dust. Blinding light flooded the room and long metal tentacles reached through the walls. The cage containing Pthrrrrp was ripped open and the alien dropped to the ground and then raised itself up on the tips of its tentacles. One tentacle reshaped its tip into a round platform, the alien mounted the platform and was drawn from the apartment by the retracting tentacle. Two more tentacles shot forward and grabbed Venkat and Barry in a bruising grip. The screaming men were pulled through the opening in the wall. They saw a gigantic metal shape hanging over the apartment and they were drawn into it.
The tentacles carried the humans through a long corridor and placed each of them into a cage.
“Welcome my pets,” Pthrrrrp said from the other side of the bars.


The Egg

July 15th, 2017 No comments

#picturefiction  #flashfiction

“Don’t they have that exact same egg in the window over at Macy’s?”

I glanced at the window display which Mary had stopped to stare at. There sat an enormous iridescent green egg amid gilded branches, smartly dressed mannequins, and products that Macy’s wished to push for the holiday weekend.

“I think I read about that,” I said. “There’s some kind of social awareness project of something. I’ve seen the eggs all over town. Just about every store has one. I think it might be some charity organization, I forget what the article said, but it’s supposed to symbolize life or something. Either way, I think they look stupid. It’s just some group managing to sucker a bunch of stores into spending money on something else that just goes into a landfill when the holidays are over.”

“Wow Brenda, you’re cynical,” Mary said, at least she added a smile.

I came to a stop in front of the window.

“Cynical? Come on Mary, think about it. Some group decided to build all these things, probably with child labor in some third world hell hole and then they show up at all these stores with some song and dance about the symbolism of the egg and how all the stores should share the same symbol for unity; it’s just a marketing ploy or possibly some group looking to suck cash from the stores because they’re too stupid to realize it’s a gimmick.”

“Well I think they’re pretty and it’s probably a nice cause,” Mary said.

Her eyes flashed and her lips thinned, daring me to naysay her. I almost did and quickly did an about face in my mind. Why was I escalating something this stupid into a fight? It was just some dumb window display; it hadn’t cost me a penny so why did I care if it was a scam or something of value? I had to do something to defuse this. I reached out and placed my hand on her upper arm and smiled.

“Yeah, you’re right. They are kind of pretty. The iridescent color does make them kind of fun to look at. Maybe I’m overthinking this.”

The bulwark of Mary’s grimace retreated into a soft, almost-smile.

“It’s just a holiday display after all,” she said.

“You’re right,” I said and pulled her in for a hug. After a moment’s hesitation she returned the embrace. I kissed her and when she enthusiastically participated I knew the stupid almost-fight had been averted.

“Tell you what,” I said, pulling back to arm’s length. “Let’s go in and do some shopping. Maybe there’s another egg inside and we can see it up close.”

An actual smile lifted the corner of Mary’s mouth. “Yeah, that would be…”

Her mouth hung open and her eyes went wide. I turned to see what had affected her and witnessed the egg, which now had a bright yellow light shining through a seam around it’s middle, spring fully open. The egg hinged open to form two halves like a flower revealing its stamen. Inside the egg, standing like Venus on her scallop shell, was another mannequin. It was dressed in a shimmering gold outfit with an outrageous headdress. Hands on hips it stood like haughty supermodel demanding our adoration.

“Now that is an attention grabber,” I said.

The mannequin moved. It pivoted its torso slightly to face us and the headdress began to glow with a greenish light. The light grew brighter and like a spotlight it projected a beam of light through the window toward us. I heard Mary gasp.

The light cut off and I saw that the window glass was missing in a ragged oval in front of the mannequin. Screams reached me from both directions and I turned toward Mary, hoping for some input. She was no longer standing beside me. The ground next to me was scorched and deformed as if it had melted. In the middle of the heat scar lay a charred skeleton.

“Mary,” my scream joined the chorus of agony echoing through the shopping district.

Smashing glass jolted me from my pain. The mannequin, it clearly was no mere mannequin, had smashed the remainder of the window and was stepping through to the sidewalk. Its headdress began to glow once more and it pointed at me. I ran.

I joined the frantic masses running in every direction on the boulevard. Beams of green death lanced out from a hundred windows. We didn’t stand a chance.


The Outsiders

July 11th, 2017 No comments

I want to do a little public world building in today’s post.

I’m currently working on a new book set in the modern world. It’s a ‘world beneath the world’ concept with a hidden layer beneath our daily existence that we are protected from by our ignorance and the efforts of certain groups to protect us.

I’m approaching this as my homage to Lovecraftian mythology although with a lot less slime and frothing biology. Think of it, if you will, as Harry Dresden vs Cthulhu but not a magician like Harry, just a hero with some magical effects.  I want to talk a bit about the centerpiece of my mythos: The Outsiders.

The Outsiders are creatures much like the Cthulhu creatures, vast and unknowable who don’t really care about humans, we’re inconsequential to them much like single celled organisms are inconsequential to us.
The Outsiders just happen to be fatal to us and the actions of their cultists make the outsiders dangerous when they channel their powers.

Imagine that the big bang WAS initiated by a force, a prime mover. This ‘god’ is not some sentient omniscient thing, it’s basically the equivalent of a bug that happened to set off the reaction that created this universe from its place outside of all the multiverses. These forces are the Outsiders.
They’re not actually bugs, that’s just a metaphor for an instinctual mindless creature which just kicked the universe into existence by, for example, rolling over in its burrow.

Outsiders are extradimensional beings who, much like the Cthulhu Mythos, are greater than us and consider us not at all. They are unknowable and untouchable. Even in defeat the actual Outsiders are never harmed, merely their vessels and constructs. There are groups of humans in existence trying to bring them through or at least access their dimension as a power source. These cultists have found a way to reach through the planes of the universe through ancient hidden knowledge.

The multiverse  is composed of layers. The best known is our physical reality. Surrounding our reality, like an onion skin is the In-between. This area is much like the fluid in the disks in your spine. It acts like a cushion between realities and keeps them from crashing together and creating damage. The next layer beyond the In-between is the Outside.

On those rare occasions where through ritual or mad science (I want a lot of mad scientist, steampunk-like, feel to the cultists) the Outsiders manifest a portion of their being in our world they appear like writhing bluish-white tentacles of electricity. They appear as pure energy creatures to those in our dimension as we are incapable of properly perceiving their forms in our limited 3 dimensional universe. Of course  what manifests is the merest portion of an Outsider’s being. They could never enter our universe fully without apocalyptic effect. The vast electrical manifestation that is an Outsider is basically the equivalent of their pinky toe peeking through.Outsider manifesting
Beside the cultists, the Outsiders power is brought to bear in our reality through the use of Abominations. The abominations are the tiniest portion of an Outsider which becomes attached to a cultist. This human has been taken over much like demonic possession and their goal becomes the fanatic need to merge once more with the powers of the Outside. This may mean they try to open the way to return or try to bring the Outside through into this reality. They have no logic behind their actions, it’s totally instinctual. They can’t grasp that the result would be the possible destruction of the universe and themselves.

The Abominations tend to become a mad scientist sort. They create machines powered by links to the Outside powers, channeled through the In-between usually via sacrifices and death. The machines are usually either automatons that do their bidding or engines trying to open the way for them. Both of these concepts threaten everyone near them.
There is a secret society called the Irin that hunts them down, and defeats their creations and minions to safeguard humanity.