Short Story Sunday: Fairies

Fairies

“Why do they call them fairy tales? I don’t see any romance around here. What a dead zone,” said the green winged fairy Daisy. “Fairy guys are clueless. Totally clueless.”

“All they want is sex, and then they fly off to who knows where,” said the yellow winged fairy Iris.

Andy listened as the group of angry female fairies, nodding his head to show his empathy for their situation.

“It is all the fault of that Berrie fool,” said the pink winged fairy Belinda.

“Berry? Like the fruit?” asked Andrew.

“NOOOOOO,” screeched Belinda. “That fucking idiot who wrote about that fucking idiot Peter Pan.”

“Fucking idiots,” yelled all of the fairies.

“Ladies, ladies, watch your language,” said Andy.

“Since then all of the fairy guys think they’re fucking Peter Pan,” said Daisy.

“Fucking Peter Pan,” yelled all of the fairies.

“And we don’t want to be stinking Wendys or stinking Tinker Bells,” yelled Belinda.

“Stinking Wendy and Tinker Bell,” yelled all of the fairies.

“Ladies,” said Andy. “The fairy men can’t ALL be like that.”

The fairies, all ten of them, scowled and crossed their little arms.

“Love and romance isn’t always so easy,” said Andy.

“Of course it is,” said a tiny white winged fairy. “You’re a Vampire. That is synonymous with sexy male romance.”

“You’ve been reading too many books and seeing too many weird movies. Do you see any women here? I haven’t been in love since… not for a long time.”

“Shawna,” the fairies all said in a hushed whisper.

“Yes, not since Shawna.”

“Tell us how you met again. Tell us again,” cried the fairies.

“We met on a beach in Patagonia. She was on an archeological dig. I was trying traveling and trying to find myself. We danced on the beach, under the moonlight. We fell in love. She was fifty two. I was a hundred and sixty two but I didn’t think the age difference would matter.”

“You look like you’re thirty,” said Daisy.

“I know. That can be a problem. I thought it was true love. Then she hesitated. Eventually she left me for a guy she could grow old with. She didn’t want to grow old with me because I don’t grow old. I loved her then, and I will love her always. You can’t imagine how much I miss her.”

“Awwwwww poor Andy,” said all of the fairies in a hushed tone, as they wiped their tiny tears from their tiny eyes.

“Since then I have had lovers, and friends, and stalkers, but nobody has touched my heart like Shawna.”

“You need to call her. Send her a message,” said Belinda.

“Text her. Tell her you love her,” said Daisy.

“Tell her you still love her,” said all of the fairies at once.

Andy gave them a sad smile, sat down at his piano and sang sad love songs. After My Funny Valentine, a group of male fairies came into the room and sat next to the female fairies. The snuggled and listened to Andy’s beautiful voice. They saw a cold tear run down his face, but none of them said a thing.

He played for two hours, until the clock struck midnight, and he heard a voice.

“Andy, you didn’t answer. The door was unlocked so I came in.”

He turned. “Shawna.”

“Andy,” she said.

“What are you doing here?”

“You texted me.”

Andy glanced up at the fairies. Belinda winked at him. She was holding his phone.

“Shawna, how did you get here so fast?”

“I live in Berkeley. I moved up from Los Angeles when… it didn’t work out and I was offered a teaching position at Cal. He left me for another woman. She was younger and… it doesn’t matter. My son is up here and so it made sense. It was a great opportunity. You know, one last big thing before I retire.”

Then her eyes moved to the top of the bookshelf. “Are those fairies?”

“Yes,” said Andy, “and it is time for them to leave.”

And with that the fairies flew out the window and closed it behind them.

He turned up the heat and offered her a glass of wine.

“We need to talk,” said Shawna.

“No, not right now. Not right now. Tonight we need to love,” Andy said, as he put his arms around her. Then he kissed her, just as he kissed her that first time under the light of the Patagonian moon.

And the fairies danced about the garden, thinking up what fun and games they’d have on this summer.

~ End

 

Tangled Tales

 

For more about how Andy met Shawna click here.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Short Story Sunday: The Alley

Taking a short cut through a downtown alley wasn’t always like it was in the movies. He’d rarely witnessed crimes, or found dumped bodies among the dumpsters and rats. The smells were close to death but not quite. Urine and sun roasted garbage were the aromas of the night. No night-blooming jasmine for this short cut.

Walking along he wasn’t afraid. There wasn’t anything to fear except maybe stepping on something disgusting he’d have to scrape off of his shoe later. But then he saw her standing at the end of the alley.

Had she been a cat he would have taken her home, or found her a forever home, but she was not.

“Hi Val,” she said in a girlish voice. She sounded like she was maybe twelve instead of twenty eight.

“Nikki. You look good.”

She looked good for Nikki. Val hadn’t seen her this clean, well, maybe ever. She’d been homeless on and off for the four years he’d known her. Tonight was the first time he’d seen her in a dress. Even through the bad teeth, unhealthy chalky skin, and the constant fidgeting he could tell she’d once been pretty.

“My cousin Josh took me shopping. Got me this dress, and the sweater. Do you like it. The sweater is sort of like lace, all light like, for the summer. First new clothes I’ve worn in maybe six years.”

“Are you living somewhere?”

“I have my own room in the back of Josh’s building, out by the alley so I have, like my own private entrance. I have a bathroom too. The toilet is in the shower because it is really small. Sometimes when I take a shower I just pee on the floor over the drain. I always laugh because the toilet is right there.”

“What are you doing out here?” It was 3:00 am. He knew why she was out.

Nikki crossed her arms and leaned from one foot to the other. “Just doing some business, you know.”

“Looking for a fix?”

“Maybe, and a little romance.”

Val knew she traded sex for drugs. She kept talking.

“Um, Josh won’t let me bring guys home. I can’t do drugs, drink, or smoke at my room. Those are his rules. You know, I do stuff for him like clean up in the back, mop up, dishes, take out the garbage, and stuff. Maybe I’ll get to cook or work up front one day. He said if I work hard he’ll pay to get my teeth fixed. Ramon said if I go back to school he’ll help me too.”

Val knew Ramon, the high school kid who was headed off to U.C. Berkeley. Nice kid who wanted to get a degree in mathematics and change the world.

“You should go home Nikki. Forget the fix. You look so pretty tonight. Don’t waste it on some creeper. You don’t need to get high,” said Val.

“Maybe if you’d turn me into a Vampire I wouldn’t need it. If you turned me into a Vampire I’d stop hurting all the time. I’d be pretty again.”

“You’d die Nikki.”

“Better than living my life.”

“Don’t say that Nikki. Never say that.”

She looked down at the ground, then leaned up against a parked car. “Tell me a story Val, about when you were my age.”

He’d been telling her stories to get her mind off of getting high, or having sex with anyone she could in exchange for the next high. If he could keep her up until the sun came up then she’d be safe from the evils of the night.

“In 1886 I was twenty eight, same age as you are. My sister and I were in London. Jack the Ripper was in the news. We were at a party…”

“What was she wearing Val? Tell me what your sister was wearing.”

“A cream colored silk dress adorned with purple roses, millions of ruffles and a huge bustle in back. Her hair was piled high on her head in curls all done up with pearls and ivory combs. She danced for hours with a wealthy handsome son of a Duke.”

“Did she drink his blood?”

“Of course she did.”

“Did she make love to him?”

“In a way he would never forget, or get over. He’d never fall out of love with the mysterious woman he’d danced with all night.”

Nikki hugged herself as Val continued to tell her a half true story, embellishing it with more romance than reality.

He walked her home, and kept her talking until the first light of the morning started to show in the sky. “Be safe Nikki. Listen to Josh and Ramon. They’re looking out for you. They care. I care.”

He kissed her cheek with his cold lips.

“Why don’t you ever drink my blood Val?”

“You know why Nikki,” he said.

“I’d do you good Val. I’d make that cold blooded…” She continued with a crude and explicit, sexual description of what she would do to him if he’d only take her home to his house, or even behind one of the dumpsters in the alley behind her building. He turned and walked away from her feeling sad, and disgusted.

Two days later Nikki was found dead in her little room, wearing one of her new sundresses. She’d had unprotected sex with at least three different men that night. She’d died of an overdose of a cocktail of drugs too lethal for most people to imagine.

Before Josh opened his restaurant for breakfast Val stopped by to give him his condolences. Josh shook his head. He’d done everything he could to help Nikki.

“She was always a lost soul. So much talent. Aw man, she was so beautiful once. She just got in with the wrong guys, one right after another. They took everything from her. But she wouldn’t listen to anyone,” Josh told Val, wiping his eyes.

Ramon stood listening then said, “Nikki could have so much hope. Just yesterday she was telling me she wanted to go back to college. She wanted to live. Then she went on again about her friend who was going to turn her into a Vampire, and she’d be young and pretty again, and live forever. She said she was in love with this guy, this Vampire. It was creepy. She was nuts. Sorry Josh, but…” His voice trailed off as he wiped a tear off of his face.

Val wished them the best. That afternoon he made a large donation to a local women’s shelter. Over the past one hundred and fifty nine years he’d seen many lost souls. One slutty little druggie shouldn’t have bothered him so much. Nikki was nothing to him. Then again, she could have been everything to someone if anyone other than Josh or Ramon had cared.

Had she been a stray cat he would have taken her in. Had she been clean he might have taken her forever.

~ End.

 

Tangled Tales

 

First published here in 2016. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vlad’s Vampire Diary: Flip Flop

Dear Diary,

For the past week the days have brought hellish heat. I am a Vampire so I know what hellish is.

For three hundred years I was trapped in a crypt, only to come out five years ago. I had no idea my friends would transport me to such a place where the air is hot enough to cook eggs upon the sidewalk. It is what is called triple digits. This is all new to me. The thermometer was invented a few years after I was locked away. Sometimes it seems as though everything was invented after I was trapped away.

Where I have come to reside is considered paradise except now on the brink of summer. There shall now be months of such blistering and ungodly heat. This is no place for a Vampire.

My Vampire love Gillian and my friend from my childhood Randolpho were at my home today with gifts. Gillian presented me with shoes. She said they were shoes. I had my doubts.

“You expect me to wear these things?” I asked her that as I reluctantly took the objects from her hands.

“It’s too hot for closed toes shoes,” she said.

“But then do those in charge, politicians as you call them, wear flip flops?”

“No. At least not while they’re working,” said Randolpho.

I put the odd looking shoes on the table. “Then why do people say they flip flop. Are they on the ground like a fish out of water? Do they have medical conditions to be addressed?”

“Flip flop also means someone is changing their mind. The shoes are called flip flops because of the sound they make when you walk in them,” said Randolpho.

“Like a fish out of water,” I said.

“Sort of,” said Randolpho.

I could not imagine putting something between my toes and expecting it to stay on my feet. Then Gillian took out a pair of shoes made of straps and something that looked like leather but was not leather.

“What is this?” I asked. “You want me to wear sandals like a Roman or those people you who were once called beatniks. I know what a beatnik is.”

“These are Tevas. They’re waterproof and comfortable. You can walk in water with them,” said Gillian.

“Why would I want to do that?” I asked.

“I don’t know. If we go to the lake and you don’t want to step on rocks…” Gillian started to say.

“I do not go into the water out of doors,” I reminded her.

“If it’s hot we can for for night swims,” she said.

“I do not go into the water,” I said again.

“Why? It’s not like you’re going to shrink,” said Randolpho.

“I do not understand. Why would I shrink?”

“It’s a joke,” said Randolpho. Everything with him is a joke.

I said nothing. I would not ask the to explain it to me. It is frustrating to be thrust into fashions and ideas about entertainment that are completely foreign to me.

“Why don’t you like the water?” Gillian asked.

“I never learned to swim,” I said.

Both of my friends stood in silence as if I’d told them that I never learned to ride a horse.

“I will wear the flip flops today if that will make you happy.”

“You can’t swim?” Randolph said with a strange look on his face as if in pain.

“No,” I said.

“Vlad, you’re a Vampire. You’re the Vampire King,” said Randolpho

“I am aware of that fact,” I said.

Gillian put a pretty hand on my shoulder. “In 676 years you never learned to swim?”

“No, I never learned to swim. There was no reason for me to ever swim. Do either of you ever remember me swimming?”

Randolpho smiled. “Wait, you’re telling me that with your body, and your face you never had the inclination to come out of the water, with your gorgeous well muscled body wet, glistening in the moonlight, your golden hair slicked back, your blue eyes shining, and just a hint of fang in your come hither smile, while your admirers swooned at the sight of you?”

“That never once crossed my mind Randolpho. Never once,” I said.

For the rest of the day I wore the flip flops. I did not fall or trip as I expected to. I would rather go barefoot but I did not.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Randolpho told me today that if I wear flip flops on my feet nobody will suspect I am a Vampire. I told him that I appreciated the sage information. He told me not to be sarcastic.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

My cats do not like to swim. They are reasonable creatures. Why should I be expected to swim for I am also a reasonable creature.

~ Vlad

 

Dear Diary,

Today it was hotter than Hell, or so I was told. Gillian complained that she did not like this weather because necks would be hot and sweaty and taste like dirty salt. She pulled a packet of some sort out of her purse. She said they were called wipes.

“Take these to wipe off necks next time you go out to feed,” she told me. I appreciate her concern.

That night the air continued to be hot. Gillian led me up to the bathroom with the large shower and undressed me. Then we both stood under the cold water.

“You remind me of Randolpho’s description the other day,” she said as she ran her hands over my wet body.

In this new modern world there are things which will always confuse me, but then again there are things which will always come naturally without effort.

I said nothing as I kissed her, and banished the thoughts of Randolpho from my mind.

~ Vlad

 

 

Kissed by a Vampire

Kissed by a Vampire

 

This has been the 59th installment of Vlad’s Vampire Diary. To read Vlad’s story from the confusing and cute beginning CLICK HERE.

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Ask Juliette: Disgusting Creepers, Twilight, and Fun Movies

Welcome to “Ask Juliette” aka “Ask a Vampire” a not so regular semi-regular feature here at vampiremaman.com. I answer all sorts of questions about life, love, Vampires, parenting, pets, possums, paranormal, wine, cheese, art, and anything else YOU need answers for or help with.

If you have a question leave it in the comment section below or send me an email message at juliettevampiremom @ gmail.com.

So here we go.

 

crowletter

The Rude Party Guest

Dear Juliette,

A few months ago while attending a dinner party at a friend’s home I sat next to a man I’d met at previous parties. I’ll call him Mr. D We talked for a while about parenting, social issues, and food. It was nothing but nice polite talk. Later that evening Mr. D told me we had a connection and that he knew we’d been lovers in another life. I smiled politely and went to find my husband. Sure the guy might have been charmed by me, but he was also full of shit. I’m a married woman in my late 50’s. I love my husband, who by the way is sexy and still hot, not that it makes a difference. I wasn’t looking for attention.

My husband had to leave early and Mr. D watched as I kissed my man goodbye. While in the kitchen talking to friends Mr. D came into the room and started rubbing my back. When I stepped away he would step closer again and touch me again. Juliette, this guy is adored by everyone in my friend’s friend group. I wasn’t going to turn around and yell “knock it off.” I was just shocked.

Later when everyone was leaving he  hugged me, kissed me, and grabbed my ass. I was shocked, again. I felt so violated. I made sure he didn’t walk me to my car. When I got home I told my husband about it. He said I should let it go unless it happens again.

I told my grown children and their spouses. They were all shocked. There reaction was shock. It said a lot about how younger generations take this kind of information. I was going to tell my friend who hosted the party but then social distancing started. She works for a hospital on the front line so I didn’t want to bother her. When things get back to normal, as in more parties, do I tell her? If this man ever touches me again I will tell him loudly and clearly that it is NOT acceptable. My husband said he’d also tell the guy it is unacceptable. But, should I tell my friend?

Oh yuck. I am so sorry you have to deal with such a pig. Yes, you should tell your friend. Be calm. Just state the facts. If this man ever touches you again please immediately tell him to stop. Don’t worry about who might hear you. This is unacceptable behavior. Nobody has the right to touch you without your permission, no matter how old you are. It sounds like you have a plan. Stick with it.  

 

crowletter

And speaking of disgusting creepers…

Dear Juliette,

I know you are into Vampires, so why do you dislike Twilight so much?

Into Vampires? Yes, you could say that.

So why don’t I like Twilight. Let me count the ways.

First of all the story is fucking stupid and creepy in a gross way.

Second, and the most important reason is that Twilight is a story of an older man taking advantage of an underaged girl. Edward was born in 1901. Bella was born in 1987. Do the math. I don’t care if the guy is a Vampire or looks like he is seventeen. He is a creeper hanging out at a high school and taking advantage of girls. 

Any Vampire who has ANY self-respect would NEVER do something like that. NEVER. 

The Third reason is that Vampires and Werewolves having rumbles in the forest like they’re right out of West Side Story is fucking stupid. 

The Forth reason is obvious. Vampires don’t sparkle.

The Fifth reason, and last I’ll mention today, is the fact that Bella’s father didn’t do shit about his daughter hanging out with Vampires. Give me a break. Any dad who cared would have kicked Edward’s sorry skinny Vampire ass. 

Yes, the Twilight series got a lot of kids to read, but I just wish they’d read something that had better relationship and general life advice. No seventeen year old girl needs to feel like running away with an older man is EVER and answer. It is always the WRONG answer.

 

crowletter

Dear Juliette,

What are the best movies you’ve watched during quarantine?

Thank you for asking. I’ve been fortunate so have seen some wonderful films over the past few month. Below is the short list. These are my favorites. 1-4 are movies I’d see again and maybe again.

  1. Searching
  2. The Half of It
  3. Blow the Man Down
  4. Good Boys
  5. Peanut Butter Falcon

Thanks for asking. All are fun and unexpected. The first four are exceptional. Searching will keep you on the edge of your seat, especially if you’re a parent. It kind of ties in with some of the questions asked today.

 

crowletter

Stalker in the Making

Dear Juliette,

I went out with a guy I knew in high school. We are in our 20’s now. It wasn’t a romantic date, just catching up – so I thought. Now he leaving me long phone messages, zillions of texts, and telling me that he loves me. I wouldn’t answer him so he texted me and told me he tested positive for Covid-19. Now what?

BLOCK HIM from EVERYTHING. Block him from your phone and ALL social media. Take this seriously. BLOCK HIM. Tell your friends to block him. Tell your friends not to give him ANY information about you. His story about the Covid-19 sounds like a lie because he is mad at you for not calling him back, but don’t take any chances and GET TESTED. 

In the meantime just see people within your bubble until things start to get back to normal. Don’t take any chances. 

 

crowletter

Thanks for dropping by. If you have a question about parenting, relationships, vampires, food, books, movies, cats, or anything else leave a comment below or email me at juliettevampiremom @ gmail dot com.

To view the Ask Juliette archive CLICK here.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

In the Distance on a Hot Day – Random Thoughts from Vampire Maman

In the distance

From my street

I can see snow

On the mountains

It was a hundred degrees today

I think of creatures

In their dens

In their trees

The hummingbirds

At the feeder.

 

Then you have to wonder about the Vampires under the floorboards drying up only to be found later by someone like me because my brother Aaron said I’m the best at finding them. I remind him that we’re not like them. Then he smiles at me with a flash of fang, and I wonder why I ever helped him in the first place.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

Stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings, don’t be fucking stupid.

Hollow Heads

Hollow Heads

A Science Fiction Story by Marla Todd

Sure we all volunteered with a capitol V but we didn’t know we’d be stuck a billion miles from home with a bunch of assholes.

Our plan was to stop at Planet 2387 before we made communication with our target planet. 2387 is an uninhabited wasteland. There might have been the rudiments of life there at one time but that ship had come and gone.

So we land at what was left of the Emile Hanson Memorial Outpost, otherwise known as Hanson’s Hole. I looked up Hanson’s name before we left home. He’d been the captain of the third Mars mission. You know, the one whose head exploded when he ran into a couple of guys from Europa, but that was a long time ago. That was almost three hundred years ago, long before I was born.

On the wall of the main building of Hanson’s Hole the words, “Welcome to Hell” were scrawled in what looked like blood.

Junior Potemkin, the communications officer, if you could call him that, started to hyperventilate. I slapped him in the back and told him to stop it. Captain John Finch our leader, rolled his eyes, and told us start testing for signs of life. I called my lead science officer and went exploring.

We’d only heard of this place. Nobody was sure even who’d been here in the past, or exactly what their mission was. We were looking at a ghost. And while the rest of the crew stood shaking in their gravity boots I started to explore. I didn’t travel twenty light years away from home to pee my pants over some extraterrestrial graffiti.

I’ll tell you, when I signed up for this gig, last minute of course, I found myself with the lamest group of space travelers ever assembled. Sure they were all smart and looked good on paper. Everyone had advanced degrees and shit loads of experience. But the experience was in the lab and on paper. Nobody had field experience or people experience aside from the Captain or me.

Potemkin was an expert in written communications but couldn’t carry on a conversation if his life depended on it. Our lead engineer Thomas K. Morgan was one of those insidious geeks who corrected everyone on every single word they said. Morgan’s favorite line in any conversation was, “actually” fill in the blank with his expert opinion, which was usually bullshit or worthless trivia. After we were out of the solar system Captain Finch told Morgan that he’d throw him out into space without a suit if he didn’t cut it out.

The rest of the group included a guy called Boof who thought he was channeling Flash Gordon, an antisocial hermit of a physicist who asked to be called X, and a pair of identical twins I called Satan’s Daughters. The twins, Vera and Meera, were sneaky little shits who talked at the same time and were never seen away from each other. They were brought on as some sort of geology experts, you know, dirt and rocks as they liked to remind everyone as they cackled like witches as if that was funny. They were dirt and rocks as far as I was concerned. The rest of the crew was bland, mean spirited, and aside from the Captain had no imagination what so ever.

So I’m looking at the writing on the wall and wondering what in the world, and who in the world had written it. I felt someone rub my shoulder and looked over to see Boof standing there expecting me to be Dale Arden to his Flash Gordon. Give me a break. He looks good but no. Absolutely no.

“Boof,” I said looking up at the leafy blue green canopy of plants (I assume they were maybe once plants) around the building. “Let’s take a look inside.”

He gave me a great big blinding white smile and knocked the door open with his foot. Boof wasn’t carrying a ray gun, but it wasn’t because we’re a couple of scientists with seven degrees between the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like scientists or people with degrees can’t be badass. We just didn’t have any weapons with us.

The interior was dark. Not like no lights, because there was a skylight, but because obviously the interior decorator of this forgotten outpost either had a stack of 1980’s Architectural Digest Magazines handy for inspiration, or he was into all things Gothic.

“Looks like vampires live here,” said Boof.

I gave an uncomfortable laugh and tried to be serious, that is until the music started to play. I couldn’t figure out where the music was coming from. The sound was sort of like it was coming out of a metal tunnel. A man was singing in sort of a strange high voice, but it sounded kind of nice.

You’re just a little bit of sunshine when it’s raining,

You’re just a little bit of gladness when I’m blue,

You’re just a little bit of love light that keeps shining,

And when it’s cloudy, you’re a silver lining.

“Radio Franks.You’re Just A Little Bit of Everything I Love,” said Boof.

I looked straight ahead at a slowly moving shadow. “How do you know that Boof?”

“I like early 20thCentury music,” he answered, his eyes also on the shadow.

“Sing me something from the late 21stCentury. You know the one, about the alien romance, ruby skin.”

Boof started to sing quietly in a surprisingly beautiful tenor.

Your DNA plays around,

Like a silken ghost,

Worlds apart are we.

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

Ruby skin, emerald eyes,

Heaven between

Hot alien thighs.

Flying higher

Flying higher

Flying higher

Reach the stars

“I hate that song,” I said taking a slow step forward. “You changed the lyrics.”

“Yes, I did change the lyrics, and yes I hate it too. Do you sing?”

“Only in the shower.”

“Can I join you?”

“Only in your dreams.”

“Let’s sleep then, shall we,” Boof said in almost a whisper as we slowly walked towards the shadow.

The shadow moved, in what looked like the shape of a human hand, then stupidity happened. A tremendous scraping sound, sent us turning backwards to see Garland Holbright, one the Earth’s most famous journalists, come along to document our journey for the ages. Every living Earthling knew who the man was, and Garland never let us forget.

Garland had opened the door in the wrong direction, throwing it off of it’s tracks.

“Find anything yet?” Garland called out loudly as he propped the door up against a wall.

The shadow vanished.

“God Damn you Holbright. You’re such an asshole,” said Boof, as I grabbed him by his jacket and held him back.

Garland Holbright was what we (not me, everyone else) called a Frank, short for Frankenstein. He was one of those kids who’s parents had custom ordered him from a cocktail of perfect DNA so he’d be brilliant and exceptionally good looking. Sure his IQ was off the charts and he was good at taking tests. Sure on a scale of one to ten in looks Garland was a seventeen, but where he excelled in trivia and Prince Charming handsomeness he lacked in creativity and personality. The guy was an insufferable bore with an ego the size of Jupiter.

Sure we’d all had genetic modifications for long term space travel. Our respiratory systems, muscular growth, and bone density had all been tweaked. A few of us, including me, had a few personal tweaks as well. My eyes are now a little brighter shade of hazel, and my hair is finally grows model perfect. That said, I’d like to think that you always get better babies with natural random DNA selection.

Boof and Garland had gotten into it the night before. Garland had convinced a friend to hack into the personnel logs and found out that Boof was created by a couple of teenagers one hot summer night in the back seat of a self driving solar convertible.

“Silence,” I said in one of those loud mom-like whispers. “Both of you. Garland, we are not alone.”

Garland formed an O with his mouth in surprise. I knew the guy was deathly afraid of aliens. Go figure. He goes on a space mission but he is afraid of anything that isn’t human, or maybe a dog.

While I was getting ready to rip Garland a new one Boof grabbed my arm.

“Timothy Leary is not dead,” he said right in my ear, so close I could feel his hot breath. I shook my head to get him away from me.

I wondered why Boof was making a reference to the 20thCentury Philosopher. Thank goodness he didn’t start singing that song. What was that group? Moody Crew? No, I think it was Moody Blues. I’d been spending way too much time with Boof. I swore between Boof and Garland I felt like my head was going to explode.

Then I turned around and there before us stood Pilot Tim Leary from the Space Explorer 23 Dog Star Mission. According to records, and Wikipedia, he’d died years ago, before I was even born. When I was a kid he was one of my idols.

Leary held out his arms in a welcoming gesture and with a wide grin said, “Welcome to Hanson’s Hole!”

“Captain Leary?” I asked, stepping forward to introduce my team and myself. “Chief Officer Gwendolyn Ward of the Research Ship the DeGrasse Tyson. These gentlemen are Science Specialist First Class Boof Errikson, and Garland Holbright, a journalist for International Geographic.

“An award winning journalist,” said Garland holding out his hand to Leary.

I kicked Boof in the ankle to prevent him from doing anything stupid. I let Garland have his bit of ego masturbation before I found out what was going on with Leary.

Leary took me by the arm as he walked and talked me into a much larger room that resembled an intergalactic art museum with comfortable seating. “I see your ship was named after the 48thPresident of the United States. A good omen there. My ship was called “The Dog Star.” I like dogs and all, I have a couple around here somewhere, but, I’ll tell you, it was a dog of a ship. Holy space shit, that thing was as bad as 2213 GM Sasquatch. Remember those? Do you like to be called Gwendolyn or Gwen?”

“Gwendolyn please. You’re alive.”

“Yes, very much so,” he said with a dashing smile as he patted my arm.

“But your body was found. DNA matched yours. There was no mistake. There is a huge memorial in Washington D.C.”

“And I’m honored at the thought, but obviously I’m still alive. I am indeed Commander Timothy Leary of the Dog Star.”

“But…” I started

“Do you know much about clones Gwen, Gentlemen?”

“Holbrook is a clone,” said Boof.

“I am not a clone,” said Garland.

“Gentlemen…” I hissed at them.

“You’re a freak Holbrook,” said Boof.

Garland threw his shoulders back. “You’re nothing but degenerate pod shelter trash.”

I’d had enough. “Boof, Garland, NOW.” I turned back to our host, “Captain Leary, the time line wouldn’t make sense. All of your bodies were found and brought back to earth. How do you explain that?”

Leary smiled again. “None of us wanted to go back so we cloned ourselves.”

“If you cloned yourselves, wait, your bodies were found a month after you landed here. It would have taken at least twelve years to have a fully grown human body.”

Leary motioned to the plush red chairs in the room. “Sit and make yourselves comfortable. I’ll tell you all about it.” We sat, and Leary told us an extraordinary story. “Once we had the Time Machine it seemed like we could steal anything we needed. Where do you think all of this art came from? Anyway, we stole an advanced cloning lab from the Dingus V Planet Chain. Nobody there has had fertile sex in centuries. They can’t, so they clone. Sad story, but shit happens.

Listen, none of us wanted to go back to our mission or Earth. We also didn’t want anyone looking for us. With the technology from Dingus V we were able to clone fully formed human bodies in thirty-six Earth hours. Thirty-six fucking hours. Unheard of. We programmed our clones to be without working brains. We called them the hollow heads. Once our clones were grown we smashed their empty heads in and called it a day. No brains, no souls, just lab grown flesh.”

“Wait,” said Garland. “You had a time machine?”

Leary smiled and shook his head in a definite yes. “I knew you’d ask. It is an amazing machine that jumps both time and space.”

“Space portal travel I can believe, but Time Travel is illegal universally, said Garland.

“That doesn’t mean it I can’t do it. I went forward because I don’t like the people I was with. I’m only here at Hanson’s Hole because I needed an additional respite from, well, everything. What are you doing here? Space Jumping I assume, but what is your mission. Nobody stops at Hanson’s Hole.”

I explained our mission as Leary listened intently.

Holbrook held up a finger and gave an artificially inquisitive look. “Why does it say Welcome to Hell in blood on the door of the compound?”

Leary shrugged. “I have no idea. It was there when I got here a few weeks ago. I just haven’t had the time or the paint to fix it.”

After more discussions about Leary’s adventures we returned to our own ship. I knew exactly what Leary was talking about when he said he was tired of annoying people.

Vera and Meera, the evil twins, came giggling and snorting into my office.

I motioned for them to sit. They both sat down and crossed their bony legs in unison. “Do you have the updated geology reports?”

Vera was the first to respond. “The soil acidity has doubled from the last time measurements were taken fifty years ago.”

“Fifty years ago,” said Meera.

Vera continued. “We also detected new volcanic activity. Are you having sex with Boof?”

Meera then spoke again, right on the tail of her sister. “Are you having sex with Boof? Was it good? Positively volcanic?”

“Volcanic. We know you are,” said Vera.

Meera started to laugh, a high pitched crow like cackle, then she started to snort. Then Vera joined in.

“Insubordination is not to be tolerated on this ship. If you ladies continue your immature behavior I will make sure you’re dropped off at the next supply station. You will receive no letters of recommendation, and I guarantee you will have to find your own way home, at your own expense. Capiche?”

“Yes, of course,” they said in unison. It almost sounded like they had an echo to their words.

“Thank you for the report. I’ll review it thoroughly.” I said motioning with my hand for them to leave.

After they’d Holbrook put his head in the door. “Do you want to have dinner later? This isn’t romantic, of course…”

I cut him off. “No.”

“Is there something going on between you and Boof?”

“No. Jesus, Garland, I’m having dinner with Caption Finch. A working dinner.”

As soon as he left a message came on the screen from Boof.

Hey Baby, do you want to see stars tonight?

I deleted the message.

The entire trip had been like the set-up from a bad bodice ripper romance, but without any sex or bodice ripping. You know the story. The heroine is caught between two potential lovers. One is dark haired, gorgeous, with impeccable breeding, and insanely rich. The other is blond, gorgeous, insanely smart, and grew up more or less a street urchin in a block of government run shelter pods. Who should our heroine choose? One will eventually betray her as the other one rescues her, but she won’t know until it happens. Screw that. I didn’t have time for it.

I took the clip out of my hair and shook out letting it fall to my shoulders. Thank goodness for planets with normal gravity. I remember reading about the days when the idea of women being in space seemed ridiculous. The excuse was always something about hair, periods, sex, temptations, strength and peeing. Seriously, one does not need a penis, or a hairy chest to travel in space. Thank goodness for Nichelle Nichols. I was so glad to see her on the one-dollar coin last year. I remember reading the emails of my great-great-grandmother telling my father about when she met Sally Ride. I can’t even imagine.

Over the next few days Captain Finch and I tasked our crew with collecting data, and ship maintenance. Our engineer Morgan questioned everything we asked him to do. He claimed inspections were not necessary. He went on about how his qualifications were better than anyone on the ship, and bragged about his superior intelligence whenever I requested a progress report.

Our physics team, headed up by a guy named Dex Harland, who insisted on being called just “X” decided that we were all going to be eaten by mutant aliens and refused to leave the ship. They spread the word through the crew that Timothy Leary was going to drug them and feed them to giant spiders or some sort of shit along those lines. It was as if the entire crew had gone insane.

I asked one of our two our medical officers about it and he told me that he was writing a screenplay about a murder on a space barge couldn’t give a rat’s ass about our mission. His name was Dr. Charles Young. He only took the job to get out of paying child support for four different women and six kids on three planets. Our sane medical crew member, Dr. Sashie Vern, took my arm and asked if I wanted to get coffee. In the empty crew lounge she begged me to keep Dr. Jay away from her due to his incompetence and creepiness.

On our last supply stop, Hawk Donaldson, a popular member of our Engineering group had a one night stand with a Trasidain female. Trasidian’s are beautiful human like creatures with iridescent pink skin, and several more pleasure seeking orifices than Earthlings. Unfortunately Trasidains also have horrible parasites, which there is no cure for except the death of the host.

Hawk contracted a large number of the parasites and was in excruciating pain as the bugs ate him from the inside out. On his request Dr. Sashie put him into a medically induced coma until his death thirty four hours later. His body, along with the bugs, was cremated and blasted into space.

After Hawk’s death Dr. Sashie wondered why most of the crew members refused to see her for regular check ups or even acknowledge her existence. I should have guessed what Dr. Sashie told me. Dr. Jay had told everyone that Dr. Sashie was incompetent and had caused Hawk’s death.

I went back to confront Dr. Jay and he just smirked.

“I’m entitled to my opinion,” he said with a shit eating grin. I wrote him up for spreading false information and confined him to his room when he was not on duty. The following day rumors spread that I was sleeping with Captain Finch, which was odd considering Finch is gay. I knew it was Dr. Jay.

As I made my rounds that day I realized that our crew, due to the nasty mix of passive aggressive cockroaches and over inflated egos was completely shutting down as a functional team.

The Engineering Group all shaved their heads and wore goggles because they decided that they did not want Garland Holbrook writing about them. Their reasoning was that if they all looked alike then Holbrook would get confused and leave them alone.

Poor Junior Potemkin, our painfully shy communications officer was being bullied by a Data Wrangler named Bambi Von Grob. She would sit next to Potemkin and make snorting noises, suck up snot in her nose, cough, loudly chew crunchy food hours on end, pound on her work station. In retaliation to his complaints she innocently told everyone on board that she was a victim of Junior Potemkin’s bullying.

I could go on for hours about the adolescent behavior of the crew. It seemed that most of my day was spent listening to complaints, breaking up fights, and telling crew members to act like adults.

With six months into our mission, and five years to go, I didn’t know how Captain Finch and I were going to handle this. I loved my job. I loved exploration. I loved the science, but I hated almost everyone on board of our ship.

Boof and I continued to visit Tim Leary. He told us a lot of tall tales but was stingy with any technical information. He said he’d always been more of a manager rather than a scientist. He’d joke that he should have been a stand-up-comic, even thought he didn’t really say anything funny.

One night at dinner, with a nice view of the three aligned moons of the planet, the Captain vented for about an hour about the crew. Boof, Garland, and Dr. Sashie Vern had joined us as the highest ranking crewmembers.

Captain Finch had an announcement for us. “I’ve done some research and come to a realization that we were given a crew of rejects of the highest order.”

“You think?” Boof said with a disgusted look.

“Our mission is longer than usual with extensive isolated periods and difficult Space Jumps. I asked for an experienced crew of individuals with solid science experience, and technical expertise. What I ended up with was a crew of people that nobody else wanted,” said Finch.

I added to his thoughts, “I asked around and was given memos stating that the reason was have the crew we have is because somebody wanted to get rid of them. We asked for the best of the best, and in turn, present company aside, we got the worst of the worst.”

“Exactly,” said Finch.

“Now what? Behavior modification or bull shit team building at the next supply spot isn’t going to fix anything,” said Sashie.

Garland Holbrook poured another glass of wine and smiled. “Clone the crew and leave them there. Then we can have a perfect crew. They have the facilities right here for high speed clone creation.”

“How would that work?” Asked Dr. Sashie.

“Leary and his crew stole the technology from the Glanidians who use semi-brainless clones for off planet mining and prostitution. It’s cheaper than robots, and biological clones are more reliable,” said Garland.

“But you have to feed them,” said Boof. “How can that be more reliable?”

Garland smiled. “No, they eat themselves. They don’t even know it. You know, Clone Nuggets.”

“That is horrible,” said Sashie.

“Yes it is but it isn’t what Leary and his crew did,” said Garland.

“Eventually we’d have to land somewhere and we’d be found out,” said Captain Finch.

“You don’t get it. We will clone the crew, but tweak the genetic codes so that they’ll have more pleasant personalities. We’ll make them brilliant but downright sweet, and completely bland. I know Gwendolyn and Boof could do it,” said Garland. “You both have studied genetics and personality modifications for violent and anti social prisoners on off planet penal colonies.”

I had to speak up. “It will take an extra week depending on how many clones we’re going to make. I spoke with the Evil Twins today and they estimated a major volcanic explosion within the next month. If it blows it will take out all life within five hundred miles of Leary’s clubhouse.”

Then we all sat, nobody asking the questions we all wanted the answer for.

There was a knock on the door. Tim Leary stood there in a black tuxedo, holding three bottles of wine in his arms.  “Your mission reminds me of a story my Great Great Grammy used to tell me. A long time ago when she was a little girl there used to be a huge store called Ickyah. People would flock to it to be unassembled furniture because it felt good if you built stuff yourself. The buyer would get home with instructions that said it would take two hours to build your bed frame and nightstand. Fifty hours later maybe the bed would be done and the nightstand drawer assembled. Another twenty hours everything would be complete with the help of additional duck tape and a lot of swearing.”

“Leary,” I said. “What does that have to do with your mission?”

“That’s what it is like living here. Everything was supposed to be easy. Self contained they said.  But it wasn’t. Fortunately I have a lot of duck tape. I still have that fast acting cloning machine. I’ll let you use it.”

“That is out of the question. We all took ethics oaths to protect our crew,” said Captain Finch.

“I didn’t,” said Holbrook.

We spend the rest of the night bitching about the rest of the crew. After everyone realized that we had more shit-for-brains stories than we could tell in one night. My brain was so agitated that there was no way I could get any sleep so I took a stroll under the three moons of Planet 2387.

“You need a real name,” I said aloud as I scanned the horizon.

“It has a name. Atropos.” I turned to see Garland Holbrook standing next to me. I didn’t even hear him coming. “She was one of the three Fates. Atropos was the one who would decide how long one’s life line was. She’d also choose how one died,”

“Why’d you come on this mission? You could have any job you wanted,” I said.

“Captain Finch is the best. None of us could have predicted the bait and switch with the crew. Think about it. If we had the original crew this would be a perfect science mission.”

This was new to me. “Original crew? Garland, what are you talking about?”

“You don’t know do you? They were finishing up in Florida on their last mission. You and Boof were later additions.”

I was almost in shock. My entire body went numb. Over a thousand souls were lost in a terrorist attack at the National Space Science Research compound. Religious fundamentalists fire bombed the place. No wonder Captain Finch took what crew was assigned him. The man must have been in deep mourning. Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t I figure it out?”

“Garland, could we get Tim Leary to go back in time and…”

“You know it doesn’t work that way. When you go back in time you can change whatever you want but it won’t change the future. Your changes spin off into an alternate thread of time that eventually fades away.”

“Sure, I forgot. I knew some of the people who died. I had no idea they were signed up with Finch’s next mission. No idea.”

I turned and headed off towards the Welcome to Hell door. I wanted to talk to Leary.

As I took my first step Garland grabbed my hand, twirled me around and kissed me. If I thought my head was spinning before, it was spinning even more now.

“I know you’re attracted to me. I know you’re attracted to Boof. May the best man win, and you know I’m the best man,” said Garland as he kissed me again.

“Let’s go talk to Leary,” I said as I tried to catch my breath.

Three weeks later we left Planet 2387. Leary took off in his time machine a week before we blasted off. From our ship we watched (at a great distance) the massive volcano blow up a good portion of the planet’s crust.

Junior Potemkin came into my office and thanked me for helping him out. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about.

“Everyone is so nice now,” he said slowly choosing the words. “It is as if they were all replaced with clones, or something.” Then he laughed uncomfortably. “That would have been weird.”

I smiled and told him that I was glad he was happy now. I truly was.

~ End

Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe – WPAD Science Fiction.

This story is featured in Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe, W.P.A.D. Science Fiction Anthology. Available with most fine online book dealers (including Amazon and B&N) in electronic and paperback versions. Part of proceeds from all WPaD books go to support or fellow authors who have MS.