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. 

Short Story Sunday: Radio Waves

Tangled Tales

 

Radio Waves

“Why did they keep a vault box of old diseases?”

“For research purposes. It was a point of reference.”

“Then why didn’t they just eradicate them again? They had the knowledge. They had the vaccines.”

“No they’d didn’t have the vaccines. The box had been sealed for over a thousand years. They had no need for vaccines.  The contamination and speculation on the outcome was too overwhelming for them. Maybe for them but wewould have survived. We would have beaten it.”

“Wait, Nessie, that can’t be right. You’re saying there were no new germs, bacteria, or virus strains in a thousand years.”

“That is what the records say.”

“That can’t be right.”

“Stop questioning everything.”

“Why? Your ideas are based on something that happened almost 20,000 years ago. We’re here now and we’re happy. We’re safe. You’ve seen what happens to other species when they get sick.”

“Considering suicide is our main cause of death living in the risk of an occasional physical illness doesn’t sound that bad.“

He ran his hand up my thigh and leaned closer. “Suicide isn’t that bad.”

I pushed his hand away. “Bird shit. No other society does that.  No other society spends an eternity fleeing Armageddon because they’re too pretty and too delicate to deal with it.  Screw that. I’m ready to deal with it.  I’m ready to have a real home. I’m ready to fight.”

He rolled his eyes at me. “You’re getting emotional over something that’s never going to happen. Stop acting like a crazy woman.”

I broke up with my green-eyed boyfriend that night and started working on my escape.

 

 

I went home and pulled out the charts and old pictures I’d been collecting since I was a teenager.

There was a man. Damn he was handsome with turquoise eyes, white hair pulled back in a long braid.  There was a female. I guess I could say a woman of her species. Her head reached his shoulder. She was different without what others call magic.

I thought about that again. Other intelligent species around the universe admit we’re the best at almost any technology but we’re also magic. Seriously I feel sorry for them. They can’t read each other’s thoughts on their own. They have to rely on communication devices for any long distance conversations. When I think of all of the time and energy they waste on construction it boggles my mind. We can move things, and when there are a lot of us we can move extremely heavy objects. Nobody can build a city as fast as we can, no matter what building materials we use.  Those are beautiful cities too, not some slapped together ugly abominations.

I looked at the woman with the plain brown eyes, and odd waving brown hair. I couldn’t imagine being so drab, but there she was, radiant despite her coloring. They were all drab, the species we called Talkers. They ranged from the color of a fish belly to solid black with every shade of brown in-between. The hair color was all the color of dirt and rocks; brown, black, gray, yellow, and orange. Some had blue eyes they’d inherited from the Hummers. As far as I know all of the Hummers and Dancers had died off.

 

 

“Hello?”

I was so into my thoughts I didn’t hear my friend Arie come through the door.

“What are you doing Nessie?”

I didn’t hide my materials away like I usually do. “I’m looking into the reason why we left our original planet. I’d discovered some old documents. The story wasn’t as simple as some girl spreading diseases and genetic abnormalities across the land.”

Aries looked at the papers. Damn he was cute with his lavender eyes and dimples. “Tell me what you found out.”

First I poured us some wine, and then I told him the real story.

His skin was golden, his hair white with silver streaks, and his eyes lavender with specks of a darker purple. She was pale like a cloud with a blush of pink, her brown hair fell in ripples down her back, and her eyes were brown. Her kind were the colors of the earth in which they toiled.

Arie smiled in an amused curious way. “Toiled? They had agriculture?”

“Of course they did.  Just listen to the story will you.”

“I already know the story.”

“Not this version.”

“The Talkers were so primitive. Wouldn’t it be like falling in love with an animal?”

“No.  They weren’t animals. We interbred with them all the time. Any children were left with them.”

“That was pretty rare, you know, us doing the deed with them.”

“We did it enough that I’m sure some of our genetic shit is still with them.”

I continued my story.

She kept a wolf as a companion the way we kept birds, as a pet.  The animal was going to give birth soon and she promised him one of the pups.  That sounds like a bad romance but it’s the truth.

“A wolf? Really? She kept a large carnivorous animal as a companion? It would have eaten her.”

“They were friends. The wolf considered the woman part of her pack.”

“Wolves are too smart and too deadly and too organized to ever be domesticated.”

“The wolf doesn’t matter.  Arie let me finish.”

The man’s name was Snow, like my last name. Nobody knew why he wanted to be alone in that research station at first. Snow was popular with everyone. He was never in need of company. He chose to work at a research station outside of the city.  It was because of her. It was because of Eleora.

She was one of the Talkers, the only subspecies of people who survived the cut, along with us.  Sure we could breed with them but we didn’t. Our DNA isn’t the same, obviously.

At first he thought Eleora came around out of curiosity. Snow thought she was pretty. Sure her eyes were small in comparison to his and her color was drab, but she got his attention. Let’s say she was simple but elegant. Actually she was beautiful. Just look at her picture here.

So he dressed her up, then undressed her. He did a lot of that. She became his little sex toy.

One night while he was asleep she became curious about his work. He didn’t think she would understand what he we doing because of his closed mind towards other peoples.

He’d believe all of the bigots and thought she was stupid. There was nothing stupid about her kind. She figured out the code and opened his research vault. Then she found the inner box containing five thousand years of viruses, bacteria, genetic nightmares, and other diseases. So what did she do? She opened it and let everything out.

“She had no idea what was in the box,” said Arie.

“Obviously not. For some dumb ass reason the box was a thing of beauty, covered in images of flowers. She probably thought it was full of seeds or jewelry.”

Snow’s little love puppet poisoned the planet. Thousands of years full of work gone to waste.

Thousands of our people died in the first three weeks. She vanished back into the woods with her wolf. Snow took the easy way out and killed himself.

We had the technology to leave so we did. Our planet was too poisoned to live on. It beyond repair.

Some said to bring a few of the Talkers with us but we left them all behind to deal with their mess. From all accounts they’re extinct and the planet is a place that all intelligent beings avoid.

I poured another glass of wine and topped off Arie’s glass. “We’ve been wandering around the universe for 20,000 years. It is time to stop.”

“I’ll go wherever you go.”

“What?”

“We’ve been friends forever. I share your dream.”

“You might be exposed to sickness.”

“I might stay and kill myself. Think about it.  But seriously I’ve been seriously thinking about the same thing for years. I’m tired of always being the guest. We’ve lived on three different planets since we were kids. I’m done with it. Lets do this. Let’s go home.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. I’ll take my chances with you.”

 

 

My ship was in a hanger owned by Mac Devine a long tailed blue skinned guy from a planet with a name I couldn’t even pronounce. The day before we left I talked to my Mac who’d taught me everything I knew about flying and the unsafe universe.

“You know you’ll be close when you start getting the radio signals.  Remember, they’ve been isolated. They don’t even know about YOU, much less everyone else out here.  They’d have the technology but they’re too busy having wars, jacking with religion, and fighting off pandemics. I didn’t even mention the natural disasters they deal with on a daily basis.”

“They’re still alive?”

“Thriving.”

“Is it safe?”

“Hell no.  Nobody goes near that poison planet.”

“Then how do you know they’re thriving?”

“We’re keeping tabs on them.  At least we were. Nobody has been in that part of the galaxy for ages. Listen, they get going strong, then something wipes most of them out, and then they just repeat the pattern. They’re not advanced enough to stop it.  Add to that the fact they’re incredibly violent. It’s a lost cause. Totally hopeless.”

“My people came from there too. We’re practically genetic twins with them.”

Honey, it ain’t your planet anymore. The folks who are there aren’t your people.”

“I’m tired of not having a home.”

“Your home is where you find love. Hey, sweetie, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of some nasty and deadly diseases.  Listen, I was on Torex-87 a few years back and got a cold. “

“What was it like to be sick?”

“It was horrible. I couldn’t’ get off my couch for a week.  I couldn’t breath. I had a headache that wouldn’t stop. My throat felt like I’d swallowed fire. My wife suddenly turned into a monster and told me to stop being such a baby.”

“You survived.”

“Barely. My wife should be feeling sorry for me but she is still pissed off. She said I had something called a man flu.Can you fucking believe it? Man flu.“

I had to laugh. I’d miss Mac.

 

 

I couldn’t’ promise anything because I was going to go. Nothing could stop me.

With my crew of eighty, including fifteen children, we left in secret bound for that blue planet on an outer spiral of the galaxy. It was so isolated but I’d take my chances. The ship was in good working order and ready to go.

Our technology was more advanced than just about any in the entire universe. Yes, we’re that smart. We can jump through space without the usual lifetimes between planets. It is awesome what we can do.

We’d been gone about a week (our time) when the nightmares began.

I had dreams of disease invading my body. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. My toes turned into liquid leaving me with only bones sticking out of my feet. I went blind. Everything in my body hurt. My bowels let loose as I vomited up the entire contents of my stomach for hours on end. My heart started to beat unevenly. Worms crawled into my ears. My lover spread sickness through my body with his touch. Sores covered my body.

I woke up catching my breath and checking my arms for scabs.  Nothing.  I was fine. Arie was sleeping peacefully next to me no doubt dreaming his usual sweet dreams of better things to come.

 

 

We were traveling at a semi leisurely but lightning fast speed for a while, and coming sort of close to our home planet when it happened.

Izzy, my communications lead came running into my office.

“Captain we’ve picked up signals.”

I ran down the hall with him to see and hear the first messages from our home planet.

“Look. 23 73,” said Izzy, hardly able to contain his excitement.

“Blips.” I said. “These aren’t random.”

“Look at the pattern.”

“It looks like a child’s puzzle. “

Izzy squinted. “Some guy named Carl made it.”

“Interesting.”

Then the flood of signals came.

There was sound. Not just blips and pings. It was real sound.

It was music.

We’d never heard anything like it.

Beautiful music.

“But how? How could such beautiful sounds come from such a poisoned planet?” said Arie.

“Magic. I mean, a different kind of magic. They have their own magic,” I said savoring the wonder.  “Izzy does it have a name?”

“I think so,” said Izzy. “I don’t know what it means but I made out Brandenburg Concertos by Johann Sebastian Bach, Number 3, G major.”

“How old are these signals?”

“Maybe a hundred years, but you never know once signals get into space.”

I looked at Izzy and sent him a suggestion. “Turn on the translation. We need to know what they’re saying.”

Izzy smiled and flipped the switch.

We listened to fuzzy sounding music for a few hours then before we knew it clear voices started to come through.

“Those are our people,” I said.

“Sort of our people,” said Arie.

 

 

The music came in all varieties. Some was fast and frantic. Others were slow. Voices sang about love, heartbreak, loss, and addiction.

They spoke of airplanes and breaking flight records. Yes, they could fly. Finally they could fly. How many years did it take them? Over twenty thousand. They’d been slow with technology but all of the sudden they were catching up with the rest of the universe.

There was more music. Always more music.

An air machine called a Zeppelin exploded.  It was called the Hindenburg.  A male voice called out in anguish about the humanity. Humanity. They called themselves humans. Humans.  The Talkers had their own name. Humans or Homo sapiens. The Hummers, now extinct, were known as Neanderthals. The Dancers, also now extinct, were known as Denisovans.

A man’s voice screamed about the motherland. Next reports of a horrible and violent war came through the radio waves. Thousands were dead. Then it was over. The music changed again, but they continued to play music by Bach.

The real game changer was for us when the news of a polio vaccine came out. They had vaccines, apparently for quite a while. Polio was a disease that took away the ability to walk or even breath. News of other vaccines came through the radio waves.

“Honestly I thought they’d all be dead by now,” said Izzy. “They’re thriving.”

“They’re incredibly creative,” said Arie.

“Listen to this,” said Izzy. He turned on a song that made us all want to just leap up and dance.

“What is it?” I asked in wonder.

Izzy smiled. “Buddy Holly.”

A few hours later Izzy wasn’t looking so good. “What happened?” I asked.

“Buddy Holly died.”

We didn’t have much time to mourn the death of Buddy Holly. Pictures started coming in.

We watched silly grotesque puppets called Howdy Doodies. There were news programs where people were told of event from all over the world. The variety was astonishing.

Arie squinted his eyes at the images. “Where is the color?” The color would come soon enough.

Some of the most interesting news was about medical advances.

“They have a pill that prevents pregnancy,” I said in astonishment.

“Can’t they control it?” Izzy asked.

“No, that is one of the differences between us and them. It’s the difference between us and most intelligent life forms.”

“They just get pregnant by accident?”

“Apparently, but now they have pills to control their own fertility.”

“Wow. I can’t even imagine.”

 

 

Over the days we heard more of medical advancements including a heart transplant.

Arie and I were having a glass of wine and looking out a window to the stars. I expressed some apprehension about our visit. “We will be exposed to every disease on that planet. Sure they have vaccines. Even their animals have vaccines.  Will those vaccines work on us?”

“We’re genetically 99.8% the same as them,” Arie said taking my hand.

“Point two zero percent different.”

“This is your dream Nessie.”

“I thought I had it all figured out,” I said.

“What if we expose them to something that we’re carrying?”

“We’re the squeakiest clean beings in the universe.”

“Clean slates ready for every vile thing in the universe to attach to.”

“Now you’re describing my first marriage,” said Arie.

I should have laughed at his joke, even just to be polite.

“Come on love,” I said. “Let’s see what is going on downstairs.”

In the communications room about thirty people were all dancing; even the children were there.

“What is this?” I asked Izzy.

Izzy grinned. “Soul Train.”

About an hour later there were Zeppelins again. This time is wasn’t an explosion. It was Led Zeppelin. That was the name of a group of musicians. The music was called Kashmir. I’d never even in my wildest dreams imagined music could touch me so.

The music continued. Stairway to Heaven. Time Passages. Enter the Sandman. Love Bites. Leaving on a Jet Plane. Fight for Your Right. I Will Survive. Ring of Fire. Beat It. The list of songs went on and on and on. It was insane. It was seriously insane. I had to get some sleep before my head exploded.

 

 

The next day after breakfast I couldn’t find anyone.

“Arie, where is my crew?”

“Watching Golden Girls.”

 

As I watched the images come through, in obviously random order, I wondered at the people called humans we’d left behind.

The images were now color. A woman named Jane spent a lifetime with a primate species called chimpanzees. The chimpanzees were so much like us yet so different. Why didn’t we know about chimpanzees?

The wolves had become dogs. I thought dogs were the most amazing adorable creatures I’d ever seen until I saw the obsession with cats. The humans had domesticated cats. CATS. When we started to get access to what the humans called The Internet fifty percent of it was about cats. Another quarter was pornography. Humans liked sex even more than we did.

One of the most astonishing things was that they knew other intelligent life was out side of their planet even thought they’d never had contact and only gone as far as their own moon. But the most surprising thing is that they remembered us through their myths, legends, and artwork. The girl who opened the vault was known as Pandora. I thought we’d erased all traces of our culture when we left, but there were enough foundations and things we’d helped with that they thought we must have been aliens come from another planet. I have to admit that made Arie and I laugh out loud. Aliens. Our technology was anything but alien. Our power and brainpower was from Earth.

The next message of importance that came through was about a new pandemic called Covid-19. Izzy and I decided to not tell anyone about it until we got closer. We could beat this. We would wash our hands and wear our masks and wait until we got out into the general population.

I thought about it all for a while and continued to steer my ship towards our home planet the humans called Earth.

Finally we saw the beautiful blue ball with the single gray moon. It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. None of us could stay away from the windows.

We had our safety gear. We had masks. We had safety suits. We had communication devices.

As I pulled the ship into the Earth’s orbit I tried not to feel overwhelmed with emotion.

 

 

A message came through, as I expected. A voice asked that we identify ourselves.

“This is Captain Nessie Snow of the Starship Endurance. We left Earth, our home planet twenty thousand years ago. We’re coming home. We’re here.”

Suddenly we were flanked by sleep black flying ships. A human man in a helmet looked at me right through the window. I could tell his eyes were blue. He put his thumb up.

I put my thumb up and flashed him a dazzling smile and winked my turquoise eyes at him.

He smiled. “Do you wish to land?” He said that through his radio device.

“Yes. We come in peace,” I said.

“Do you need anything?”

I didn’t expect that. “Sure, dogs, cats, and when the pandemic is over concert tickets to EVERYTHING.”

I heard him laughing and knew it would be all right.

 

We’ve been hanging out at an Air Force Base in a place called California.  The wine is amazing. The people are accepting and interesting. The general public hasn’t been told about us yet.  We have dogs and cats. Best of all none of us have become ill. None of us.

I think it’s going to work out here.  It’s good to be home.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

Remains

Remains

By Soleil Daniel

The world was ending, so I don’t really blame everyone for leaving with the Space Squids when they came to Earth and offered a new planet to live on. They’ll probably just destroy that one too. It’s whatever, people fucking suck anyway. By what I could tell, the Space Squids weren’t so special either with their weird, soft bodies, tentacles, and strange pointy heads.

Yeah, I said tentacles. I don’t call ‘em Space Squids for fun. Besides the fact that they didn’t live in water, that’s pretty much what they were.

They did moisturize . . . a lot. Like all the time. It was kind of obscene, but that’s a story for a different day.

Like I was saying, the Space Squids, yeah, assholes. That’s what they were. Just as bad as all the humans they took. Maybe they ate everyone . . . well, one could only hope, but considering the fact that they left the ‘trash’ humans behind and they wanted to only take productive, non-criminal folks, I assume they weren’t planning to eat them. Unless us ‘trash’ humans taste bad. I’ll just keep thinking they ate everyone and be happy with the fact that they didn’t want my kind to go.

I still don’t see how I fit in with the others they left behind—The Remains the Squiddies called us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they didn’t throw me into the volcanoes like they did the leaders and politicians of the world. Oh, they made sure that shit was broadcasted on live television. You ask me, some of those fuckers got out too easily and quickly for the things they got away with.

What was I saying? Oh, yeah. Those Squiddies left me behind, saying murderers weren’t welcome on their planet. Blah, blah. Yeah, I’ve killed, but I’m no murderer. I deal out justice. I take out the ‘trash’ that they accused me of being. I tried to clean up the world and rid it of the people who were making it a bad place to live. Taking out people who destroyed nature for the hell of it, who killed for the enjoyment of it, who took pleasure from the touch of a child, and those who deemed themselves better than others, making sure the lives of those they found to be lesser than them was full of hardship, grief, and sorrow.

I’m not sure how many I had the pleasure of disposing of, but I know I didn’t stop after everyone left. I didn’t even have to do as much research once they were gone, so really, they did mea favor. They made my job easier.

 

***

 

Thomas looked around at his captors. Their hair in mudded clumps. Their round cherubic faces, holding expressions of anything but innocence. No, all of the children that surrounded him looked upon him like a wolf eyeing a rabbit it wished to have for dinner.

“You tell your lies. You act as if you were doing this world a favor, killing people you decided weren’t good enough to live. Who were you to judge when you killed our parents?” one of the oldest males visible within the group said, surprising Thomas for he’d not expected such feral-looking children to be able to speak so well.

“Well, I . . . uh, shit. I didn’t know there were children still left here. At least none old enough to have been around for the Great Departure. I thought they all went with the Squiddies. Who in their right mind would’ve kept their children here?”

“People who didn’t want to be separated from their families. People who knew that once the majority left, the planet would begin to heal. People who didn’t trust the aliens, and so they didn’t go, even if they were accepted to go to the new world,” said another of the eldest as she stepped forward.

A girl and boy, who looked so similar there was no mistaking that they were brother and sister, came closer to Thomas. They appeared to be about seven, meaning they were born sometime around The Great Departure, Thomas noted.

“We were five when you killed our father,” the little girl said.

“He was all we had. Our mom didn’t make it through having us,” the boy continued where his sister left off.

“We saw you. We watched from the brush. We saw what you did.” The girl grabbed her brother’s hand and squeezed.

“We watched as you broke his legs, making escape impossible. We listened as you listed his supposed crimes. We choked back our sobs, our cries, as you drew your knife across our father’s throat.” The boy straightened his posture, standing as tall as he could.

“Then, you left him there to rot. You walked away from him like he was nothing. What you did was wasteful. You kill but for what reason? There’s no purpose in what you do.” The girl had begun to tremble, but not in fear or grief. The girl’s body shook with rage, if Thomas was correct in his thinking.

“I would’ve never killed him or any of your parents had I known they’d had children that had no one else to care for them. Know this to be the truth. Know this, as I only wish to end the suffering, hate, greed, and filthiness in this world. Know that I only wish to make things better. I never meant to cause harm. I only wished to deal out justice.” Thomas wiggled his arms, struggling against the ropes that bound him.

“Justice! Justice? There’s no need for justice in a lawless land, sir. You have no authority. You are far worse than any criminal you believe you’ve dealt your justiceto. For you think you are better than they were.” A girl, older than the rest, Thomas had not seen until that moment, walked over to him, clutching a knife in her dirt-covered hand.

“Now, just wait a second. What is it you’re planning on doing with that knife? How do you figure killing me makes you any better? It certainly won’t bring your folks back. Not that it appears you need them. The lot of you seemed to be doing just fine without them. Y’all have got to be some of the plumpest people I’ve seen in a while.”

“We do well with the gardens, and we have an excellent group of hunters. You met Ellie and Niro. They’re our absolute best. You’d agree, I’m certain, that they’d need to be top-notch to track and capture you. You who prides yourself on tracking and hunting people down. I assume as you’ve been up to these tricks since before the ‘Great Departure’, as you put it.” The teenage girl tapped him on the tip of his nose with her knife.

“Oh.” Thomas let his gaze focus more on the surrounding area. His eyes took a second to adjust to the darker places where they weren’t completely consumed by the shadows. Mounds of off-white caught his attention, and he stared at them until the bones, skulls, and other human remains became clear. “Oh! You little shits are cannibals!”

“Only when we have to be. We get more meat from a deer than we do most humans. So, unless we absolutely need the meat, we usually leave people alone, but when little Josiah and Penelope here saw you . . . when they recognized you for who you were, well, we couldn’t pass that up.”

Thomas struggled more with his bindings, not even bothering to hide his movements as he’d been doing. He squirmed. His shoulders jerked, and his body bucked, but he couldn’t get free. If anything, the ropes only became tighter on his wrists and around his waist.

“Now, Thomas—it is Thomas, right?” the elder girl with the knife said. When he didn’t answer, she continued, “What you don’t seem to get is, the more you fight your restraints, the more Little William back there will twist. And while we’ve yet to see it happen, you’d have a better chance getting loose after your hands pop off your wrists—well, like I said, we haven’t seen it yet, but I suppose it’s possible. That is, given you don’t pass out from the pressure on your abdomen first. So, by all means, keep trying to free yourself.”

A sinister smile spread across her face as several of the others worked to control fits of laughter.

“Quiet!” a male voice behind Thomas yelled. “Charlotte! Why must you play with your food? It doesn’t need to know why it’s dying. Just kill it and be done with your theatrics. I thought we were good for meat, anyway, so why the need to butcher more?”

“You’re probably right, Jonathan. We shouldn’t play with our food . . . but did you look to see who this is before you spoke?” the knife-wielding girl, Charlotte, said before turning away.

A tall man in his early twenties walked in front of Thomas. “Is this who I think it is?” He bent down, getting face to face with Thomas. “Why, yes. Yes, it is.”

“I assume I killed one of your parents too?” Thomas asked.

“Ah, but you killed both. My father before the aliens took everyone away, and then my mother two years after she’d decided to stay on this planet with the Remains. We were going to go, but when our group was called to board, she changed her mind because she had a bad feeling. I don’t know what happened to those who left, but I know what happened to my mom. And I remember what you told me when you dispatched her,” Jonathan said.

“But dear Thomas here just told us that he never would’ve killed someone had he knew they had kids to take care of. Didn’t you, friend?” Charlotte chortled, but Thomas was unable to see her past Jonathan’s tall frame.

“I wouldn’t have. I certainly wouldn’t have spoken to a child I was leaving an orphan,” he protested, knowing all too well the lies that left his mouth.

He remembered Jonathan. The boy was fifteen, maybe sixteen, when Thomas killed his mother. He’d followed her from a rundown pharmacy, where he’d seen her take dozens of prescription bottles. It was later that he’d found they were only antibiotics.

“Don’t follow in her footsteps, boy, or I’ll come back for you.” Jonathan’s words echoed the ones that ran through Thomas’ mind. The young man’s voice bringing him back to the present. “Yeah, I see it in your face. You remember. What you might not know is, the antibiotics that you killed my mom for taking, they were for my little sister. She was four. She’d gotten a cut on her foot, and it was infected. Without my mom, without those antibiotics . . . well, it got worse. Gangrene set in. By the time I found help, even the amputation of her leg didn’t save her. I had to watch her die, all because you thought my mom was a fucking junkie.”

“I didn’t know.” Thomas tried to look disgusted with himself, but somewhere along the way, he’d lost his morals, his reasoning, and he’d began killing people for the enjoyment of it. The one kid was right about it being a lawless land, and Thomas had taken advantage of that, but he’d felt far from guilty about it. He’d felt powerful . . . well, until a group of filthy, parentless kids captured him and tied him up. He met the eyes of the one named Jonathan and said, “If you feel inclined to kill me for my crimes, might I have a request granted?”

Jonathan smirked. “Well, that would depend on what it is? If it’s a request not to eat you, as much as I’d rather not, we don’t waste what can sustain us. Had we still had pigs, you’d go to them, but the entire drove became diseased a while back and died. So, that request will be denied, but you can ask, and I’ll consider anything else.”

“Jonathan!” Charlotte screeched.

“He shouldn’t be given the dignity of a request,” the young boy sibling said.

“He didn’t give our father or your mother or any of the others’ parents time to speak, let alone a request,” his sister sounded, barely letting her brother’s words end.

A mass of murmurs and angry words flew about the night air. Thomas stopped himself from smiling for the commotion he’d caused. The ropes twisted more, tightening further at his wrists and around his lower chest.

“Silence!” Jonathan bellowed. “I said the man could ask. Now, let’s let him say his, and we will decide if it will be granted. Thomas, what is it you want?”

Thomas cleared his throat, struggling to breathe with the tightened ropes around him. He wondered if Little William was trying to hurry the job along without the others knowing. “Would it be too much to ask for the ropes to be taken off? I know that most, if not all, of you feel I did your folks wrong, but I ask for just that bit of dignity and compassion.”

Jonathan took a second, giving a brief hmm. As he opened his mouth to say his answer, a mass scream sounded, and Thomas was overwhelmed by bodies hitting him from every direction.

“I’d say that’s a no, Thomas,” Jonathan shouted.

Thomas barely made out the words over the cries of the kids and the ripping sounds from his clothing being torn off him. They were scratching and clawing at his flesh, and it only dawned on him when he felt their teeth biting into his flesh and breaking the skin, they’d planned on starting their feast while his heart was still beating.

“Yep! Definitely a no!” Jonathan’s words sounded so far away. A moment later, his face hovered over Thomas’. “Come on guys, at least make sure it’s dead first. We’re not complete animals.”

Thomas got a brief glimpse of the hammer before it smashed into his face, ending the searing pain he felt as his flesh was ripped from his body.

~ end

Tangled Tales

Links & Bio

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/SoleilDanielsAuthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Brokenlyfe

Amazon Author Page:  author.to/SoleilDanielsbooks

Blog:  https://soleildaniels.blogspot.com/

Soleil Daniels is an author from the Central Florida area. She tends to write more on the darker side—including, but not limited to, blood, depravity, and gore. You can also find some sweetness and steam within her works, as well. She’s written short stories ranging from sick and twisted to heartfelt and sweet, and has longer works available and in progress, which include vampires, people in lust, a boogeyman, and a rather large extinct cat. Her works have been featured in anthologies from WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and OMP (One Million Project). All of Soleil Daniels’ works can be found on Amazon.

SoleiDaniels

Soleil Daniels

 

A note from Juliette:

Occasionally I come across an author and think it can’t get better than this. Yes, that is how I feel about Soleil Daniels. Her works always delight and amaze me. Her use of words… I have no words except to say I love her writing. I love the way she uses words. I love the way she creates stories that keep the reader RIGHT THERE. Thank you Soleil for sharing Remains with vampiremaman.com

Thank you!

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Tangled Tales

Stay safe. Social distance. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Be careful. Contact those who might need extra help or just need to know somebody cares.

Chernobyl Charlie

old dog

Chernobyl Charlie

Published in Dysfictional 3 by Mandy White

 

The old man placed another log on the campfire.

“You kids ready for a story?”

“Yes!” Kylie and Joel chorused together.

Every summer, his daughter-in-law Laura brought the grandchildren on weekends for a backyard campout. The kids got to sleep in a tent and enjoy fireside stories, just like they’d done with their father. Since loss of her husband, a Marine, Laura tried to maintain a connection with his side of the family. The old man appreciated the effort she made. The kids enjoyed his stories and he enjoyed telling them, and boy, he had a lot of stories.

“Get comfortable, ‘cause tonight I got a great story for ya. This one’s about Chernobyl Charlie.”

“Wait!” Kylie ran to the tent to grab her blanket. She returned and nestled in her lawn chair with the blanket wrapped around her shoulders. “Okay, I’m comfortable now.”

Her brother rolled his eyes. “Ok, are you ready now? I want to hear the story.”

The old man began,

“There once was a boy, we’ll call him Nathan. This boy only wanted one thing for his entire life: a dog. He didn’t want anything else, not ever.

Every year, his parents would ask him what he wanted for Christmas or his birthday, and his answer was always the same:

‘I want a dog!’ he’d say.

And every time, the answer would be the same: ‘No’.

It wasn’t that his parents were mean, or didn’t want him to have a dog. It was just that they lived in an apartment, and weren’t allowed pets in the building, other than fish or birds. Birds gave him the creeps and goldfish just weren’t the same. Fish were boring. They just sat in a bowl. You couldn’t take them for a walk or pet them or play ball with them.

But one year, the year he turned twelve, Nathan’s life changed forever.

His father had started a new job a year ago, and was making more money. Enough money that they could finally buy a house. A whole house! With its own yard and everything! Most importantly, there was a fenced area for a dog! This year, when Nathan’s parents asked what he wanted for his birthday, the answer was yes. He could have a dog.

His mother agreed to the dog on one condition: they would adopt, not shop. No pet stores or fancy breeds; they would find a shelter dog that needed a home. Nathan was fine with that. Any dog would be a great dog, and he would love it with all his heart.

They registered with the SPCA and a bunch of other rescue groups, looking for a dog that would be a good fit for their family. One day, Nathan’s mother called him to look at something.

She was sitting at the kitchen table with her laptop open to some website.

Nathan took a look over his Mom’s shoulder to see what she was looking at. The screen had a picture of a group of dogs on it.

‘What’s this?’ he asked.

‘There are puppies available for adoption, and you’ll never guess from where. Chernobyl!’ she told him.

‘Isn’t that place like, radioactive or something?’ he said.

His mother explained, ‘According to this, hundreds of dogs roam the woods in the exclusion zone near Chernobyl. They are the descendants of pets that were left behind in the evacuation. Some of the puppies are being brought to the U.S. for adoption. The adoptions will be done through the SPCA, and we’re already registered with them. We can ask to be put on a wait list for one of these puppies if you want.’

It sounded pretty cool, but Nathan had some concerns. He asked his mom, ‘Is that even safe? Like are they mutants or anything?’

‘No, not at all,’ she told him, ‘Many of the dogs are perfectly healthy. No radiation sickness, and they are carefully vetted before they are put up for adoption.’

Nathan was sold. ‘Cool! I want a radioactive puppy!’

‘And if we don’t get one, we will find another shelter pup that needs us, agreed?’ his mom said.

‘Okay!’ Nathan said.”

“What happened that they had to evacuate, Grandpa?” Kylie asked.

“It was a meltdown!” Joel said. “We learned about it in school. Some kind of power plant in Russia. It went nuclear. Like, psssh!” He made a sound that mimicked an explosion and motioned with his hands.

“Well, it didn’t actually blow up, but it was really bad. It happened back in the eighties. They used some pretty dangerous stuff to make electricity in the old days. The power plant at Chernobyl had a bad accident. All the land around it became poisoned from radiation, and the people had to evacuate. The place is still deserted today. You can see pictures on the internet of all the empty buildings. There’s even a deserted amusement park. And nobody can go there even now, because it’s still radioactive.”

“But what about all the animals?” Kylie asked.

“A lot of them got left behind to fend for themselves. Some died, and some just went wild. There was still a working power plant there, thirty years later. And the workers started feeding some of the wild dogs that were running around. And, as dogs do, some of them became friendly again. Eventually, some rescue organizations got wind of it and started to capture the dogs. The wilder ones got checked by vets, fixed so they couldn’t have any more puppies, and then set free again. And they started catching the puppies and finding homes for them.”

The old man took a sip of his coffee, which had gotten cold, and continued the story.

“June twenty-fifth was a date Nathan never forgot, because it was the happiest day of his life. School was out for the summer, but most importantly, the time had come to bring home the new puppy. Surprisingly, their application for a Chernobyl pup had been accepted and they were minutes away from meeting their new family member. Nathan and his mother paced the waiting room of the SPCA, too excited to sit down.

They didn’t know much about the puppy, other than it was a male, approximately four months old, and would grow to be a medium to large-sized dog. The breed was anyone’s guess, but it was said that some of the wild dogs had been running in wolf packs, so the puppy might even have had some wolf in it.

A woman came from the back room, holding a wriggling bundle of black-and-white fur in her arms. When the puppy saw the new people, he squirmed away from the woman. He ran to Nathan, slipping and sliding on the floor on huge, clumsy feet. The puppy whined and wagged his tail so hard his whole body wagged. He licked Nathan’s face, covering it with dog slobber, but Nathan didn’t mind.

‘I’m going to call you Charlie, and we’re going to be best friends!’ he told the dog.”

“Oh!” Kylie squealed. “Just like –”

“Will you shut up and stop interrupting!” her brother said.

“That’s ok. She’s just excited. Right sweetie?” The old man gave Kylie a knowing wink.

“Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. Charlie. He named the dog Charlie, and they were the best of friends from that day forward. They were inseparable.

To most people, Charlie seemed like an average puppy; he liked to chew, had boundless energy and loved Nathan more than life itself. As far as Nathan was concerned, Charlie was exceptional. He was bright and obedient, and easy to train.

Charlie loved to fetch, and his favorite toy was the Frisbee. After he had shredded several regular Frisbees, Nathan bought him a special chew-proof one designed for dogs. Every day they walked to the dog park, rain or shine, to play fetch. Charlie didn’t really need a leash, but Nathan put one on him to and from the dog park to keep the neighbors happy.

One particularly blustery autumn day, Nathan threw the Frisbee and a gust of wind caught it, sending it sailing over the fence and onto the busy street next to the park. Charlie was in hot pursuit. Without missing a beat, he leaped over the fence – a six-foot-high chain link fence it was – and dashed into the traffic. Nathan didn’t have time to wow over the amazing feat of fence-jumping he’d just witnessed – he had to get his dog.

He dashed through the gate, shouting, ‘Charlie! Stop!’ but Charlie was on a mission.

Nathan was too late. The driver of the truck couldn’t possibly have stopped in time, even if he had seen Charlie.

It happened in slow motion, to Nathan’s eyes. The big eighteen-wheeler mowed Charlie down and ran over him, first with the front wheel, and then both sets of wheels on the trailer. He watched in horror as Charlie was flung like a rag doll from one set of dual wheels into the path of the second set.”

“No!” Kylie cried. “You didn’t tell us he was going to die! I don’t like this story.” She looked like she was going to cry.

“Shh! Don’t interrupt!” Joel hissed.

“Don’t worry, it gets better,” the old man assured her.

“Anyhow, there Charlie was, lying in the road, just a limp bundle of black-and-white fur. Nathan’s knees felt weak. He wanted to collapse, but he willed himself to stay standing. He wasn’t going to leave Charlie out there in the traffic, even though he knew it was too late to save him. Tears streaming down his face, Nathan ran toward the scene of the worst horror imaginable.

He reached the edge of the road, and then the unthinkable happened.

Charlie stood up, shook himself off, and walked over to pick up the Frisbee from the street. He trotted happily over to Nathan, holding his head high in the air all proud-like. All he cared about was that he’d gotten the Frisbee. He knew he was a good boy.

Nathan checked him over, and he looked fine. Not a scratch on him, just black marks on the white part of his fur from the rubber tires. He rushed home to tell his parents, but they didn’t believe him. They thought he was exaggerating, but they brought Charlie to the vet just in case.

Dr. Michaels found nothing wrong with him. No injuries of any kind. She explained to Nathan in a condescending way that the wheels of the truck had missed Charlie when the truck passed over him.

‘But what about those black marks in his fur?’ Nathan said. ‘That’s rubber from the tires. I saw the tires run over him.’

“That’s probably grease from the underside of the truck,’ Dr Michaels said. ‘See? That reinforces what I was telling you. The truck straddled him. The tires missed him. He’s one lucky dog.’

Nathan didn’t argue further, but he knew what he’d seen. The most important thing was, his best friend was okay.

Fall turned into winter. Charlie loved the snow as much as he loved everything else. He found fun in everything he did. He learned to ride a toboggan and tried to fetch snowballs. He discovered hockey, which Nathan and his friends played on the frozen pond. Charlie was an excellent goalie.

One day in the middle of a game, they heard screams. Nathan and his friends rushed to help, with Charlie racing alongside.

A crowd of kids were gathered around, and it turned out a small child had fallen into an ice fishing hole. Usually they’ll put some kind of barrier or safety cones to let skaters know there’s a hole, you know. But this jerk, whoever the fisherman was, had just left an open hole there.

The little boy had been skating with his mother. She had already called 911, but time was running out. The poor woman was in hysterics.

Nobody could reach the kid; the hole was too small and the kid had sunk too deep. By the time someone got there with something to cut the hole bigger, it would be too late. That little boy was a goner.

Charlie pushed through the crowd and slithered into the hole like an eel. Nathan wouldn’t have believed the dog would fit, but he did. But how was he going to get out? Now they had lost Charlie as well. Nathan peered into the depths of the hole, trying to get a glimpse of Charlie or the little boy, but saw only blackness. Minute after agonizing minute passed.

They heard sirens in the distance, but Nathan knew help wouldn’t get there in time.

There was still no sign of Charlie. More than five minutes had passed since he dove through the hole in the ice. Nathan started to think that this time Charlie wouldn’t be so lucky.

And then, he saw a glow under the water. The light grew brighter, and then Charlie surfaced, holding the collar of the little boy’s jacket in his teeth. The boys pulled the child out of the water and passed him to his mother.

Nathan helped Charlie climb out of the hole. The dog shook the water from his fur nonchalantly, as though he had just taken a fun little swim.

Nathan hugged him tight and told him what a good boy he was.

The paramedics arrived and performed CPR on the little boy and wrapped him in blankets, then carried him to the ambulance.

The boy survived, thanks to Chernobyl Charlie.

And then there was the time when Nathan was sixteen, and he took a camping trip with a few of his friends. And Charlie, of course. Charlie was a great camping buddy because he was also a night light. You see, he glowed with a soft greenish light when he was happy. All it took was a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears to turn the light on. Or telling him he was a good boy; that worked too.

So, on this camping trip, the boys hiked a ways into the wilderness, to a spot beside a nice little lake. They planned stay a couple of days and do some fishing. The first day, they caught a nice bunch of trout. They cooked a few over the fire for dinner, and packed the rest in ice in the cooler.

Well, it turned out, a bear had caught the scent of their fish. Late at night after the campfire had died down, the bear came into the camp to steal the fish. It was a big bear, too. A Grizzly. The boys had hung all their food in a tree, the way you’re supposed to when you’re camping, but this bear was determined. Mr. Grizzly smelled that food and wasn’t leaving until he found it.”

Kylie shivered and pulled the blanket more tightly around her. “This is scary.” She glanced over at the tent, where she and her brother would be sleeping that night.

“Don’t be a fraidy-cat. There aren’t any Grizzlies around here. Right Grandpa?” Joel said.

“Right. Don’t worry, you’re perfectly safe. I promise there are no Grizzlies here. Remember, the boys were high in the mountains, out in the wilderness.”

“What happened next?” Kylie asked.

“Well, the boys woke to the sound of the bear rampaging through the camp. And I’m not gonna lie, they were plenty scared. They had hung up the food, but not all of it. They had snack foods in the tent with them. A bear’s nose is sensitive enough to detect even a small amount of food. They didn’t have anything to use as a weapon. All they had was an axe, and it was beside the fire.

Charlie started growling. Nathan tried to shush him, but he wanted out of that tent something awful. He started tearing at the door of the tent until he found an opening in the zipper and forced his way through. He charged at the bear, barking and snarling like he’d lost his mind.

He chased the bear away from camp, and in the distance the boys could hear the sounds of a horrible fight – snarls, roars, branches breaking. Once again, Nathan thought his dog was done for.

A while later, Charlie returned. He was covered in blood but otherwise just fine. The boys were pretty shook up. They cut their trip short, packed up the camp and left as soon as it got light. On the hike back, they came across a gruesome sight on the trail. The remains of a large Grizzly bear. The bear had been ripped to shreds. Like it had gone through a meat grinder or something. One of the boys commented how lucky they were that the marauding bear had killed another bear instead of them.

Nathan knew that the bear hadn’t been killed by another bear.

Chernobyl Charlie just panted and smiled. He knew he was a good boy.”

“Time for bed, kids! Say goodnight to Grandpa!” Laura had joined them sometime during the part about the bear.

“But Mom! He’s not done the story yet!”

“I’m done for tonight. We’ll tell more stories about Chernobyl Charlie tomorrow.”

“Give Grandpa a hug.”

Kylie and Joel hugged their grandfather.

“Goodnight, Grandpa. Thanks for the story,” Joel said.

“What happened to Charlie? Like, did he live with Nathan forever?” Kylie asked.

“Well, you know, sweetie, dogs don’t live as long as we do, but I’m sure he had a good long life. Charlie was pretty special.”

After the children were tucked into their sleeping bags, Laura returned and sat next to the fire.

“You know, Nate, I wish you wouldn’t tell them scary stories before bed. Grizzly bears? Can’t you make up something a little, I don’t know… nicer?”

“What’s nicer than a dog that saves the day? Besides, it’s all true.”

“I mean, I know you believe it’s true, but seriously. It’s pretty far-fetched.”

“I promise I’ll tell them a ‘nice’ story next time, ok?”

“OK. Thank you.” She stood and gave him a hug. “You’re a good grandfather. I appreciate all you do for them.” With that she went into the house.

“Don’t mind her, Charlie,” Nate said to the old black-and-white dog that lay at his feet. “I know how special you are.”

Charlie thumped his tail on the ground and a soft greenish glow emanated from his body. He knew he was a good boy.

 

Copyright © 2018 Mandy White

 

 

Mandy White photo

Mandy White

Mandy White is a Canadian writer from Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

A recluse by nature and avid fan of the outdoors, Mandy can often be found lurking in the forest, daydreaming dark thoughts that inevitably come to life in print. Her work often features Canadian characters and locations; she delights in twisting her everyday surroundings into weird and disturbing tales.

Caution: if you happen to cross her path, you may find yourself in an upcoming story.

Author of several published books, Mandy is particularly fond of short stories. She is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets and Deviants),a group of writers known for publishing multi-genre charity anthologies.

She has published a series of short story collections calledDysfictional(Dysfunctional Fiction)

You can read many of her short stories on her blog: Dysfictional (Dysfunctional Fiction)

To learn more about Mandy White’s books, visit her website: http://mandywrite.weebly.com/

 

Cat-Writing-1

A note from Juliette

I wouldn’t be blogging today if I hadn’t had the much needed support from Mandy White. Mandy is my writing cohort and friend. We’ve worked on many projects over the years with WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and worked together supporting and mentoring fellow writers.

Over the years I’ve featured quite a few of her stories on this blog.

  1. Heart Shaped Box by Mandy White
  2. We’re Not So Different by Mandy White
  3. Beneath the Bed by Mandy White
  4. Just One Kiss by Mandy White

This is how I feel when Mandy White sends me a story to share:

giphy

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Story Sunday Romance Marathon: I’ve Got Your Number (An Intergalactic Romance)

Tangled Tales

I’ve Got Your Number (An Intergalactic Romance)

She’d found him on Planet 5309. His call out number was 867. She liked that. Not too many people knew about 20th Century music outside of the big classics like The Beatles, Queen, Pink Floyd, and The Cars.

In the 23rd Century they had their own music, which was OK but she liked the old stuff.

When you run a luxury transport service there is a lot of free time, even when you are on super-hyper-speed mode. There is a lot of free time to go onto chat lines and dark space groups to find other lonely hearts, or at least someone who is interesting.

His name was Tommy. Her name was Jenny. It was meant to be. Old fashioned names with a twist of fate that brought them together with an old song they both loved.

He’d found her number on one of the lines and called her up. That was half an Earth year ago and light years away. They’d talked non-stop almost the entire time.

After landing on the new landing pad, she exited the plane with her eyes wide open. She’d pulled her brown hair up on her head in a mass of curls set with crystal flowers. With gold tipped lashes to match her gold jumpsuit she knew she would turn heads – in a good way. Good looks and a killer figure never hurt in any luxury transport business. It wasn’t always right, but it was the truth.

She saw him, a history professor on a far away planet, standing by the reception structure. Wavy blonde hair framed a handsome face of copper hued skin. Damn, it was good to see another human again, especially a human male.

He smiled and held out his hands, and said, “I need to make you mine.”

And in a galaxy far far away, two history buffs lived happily ever after.

~ end

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

Short Story Sunday: There Would Always Be Cats

Everyone was surprised when the first bombs went off in the Southern Hemisphere. Who would have thought? So much for going to Machu Picchu for Bill’s retirement. Then again, she didn’t really think Bill would ever retire? His fans demanded more and more each year in a time when one would think he’d be too old to be considered sexy anymore.

After that nobody could have even imagined those people from God knows where, from some other universe or galaxy, or even Hell, coming along and causing even more problems.

Apparently they, the purple people, been watching the Earth for a while like a bunch of creepy stalkers. Ellie knew all about stalkers. She’d been a movie star (under another name) for decades. She’d had perverts with cameras trying to climb over her fence and bothering her when she took her kids to the beach, to school, or anywhere else they went. She knew all about stalkers.

Fortunately for humanity the strangely attractive, but violent purple humanoids were allergic, to of all things, cats. Yes, cats did them in. First of all, in all of their travels through the universe they had never seen anything so adorable and appealing. Second, and most important, even their highly super advanced space suits couldn’t keep out whatever it was about cats that finally killed them.

It was like a drug. The purple aliens had to have cats. They craved the soft fur, and the sound of purring. They swooned at the sight of a tiny triangular nose, and the child like mewing. Then they died.

Cat dander. Who would have thought?

All of the aliens died. That was a good thing because the governments of The United States of America, Canada, and Mexico were able to get the technology off of their spaceships. Nobody was quite sure what was done with said technology, but the humans of North America had it ALL.

Then the weather changed, again, and some sort of weird pressure system clamped off the radioactive and other poisons from the south. By then the poisons and aliens had also killed off half of the population of the Northern Hemisphere. North America, Most of Europe, the Pacific Rim, and most of North Africa were spared, but it was carnage in between. The purple aliens came through Asia like the ancient Huns, only sparing the lands along the Himalayas. They also crept into Florida but were killed off by all of the cats in Key West.

Ellie poured a glass of wine and thought about how sad it was that the Argentinian and Australian vineyards had been all but destroyed. It was a good thing that the California vineyards had been untouched.

She looked at the gray green pelt stretched out in her back yard, then at the ocean view beyond her infinity pool. The gray green aliens had come next. They were especially violent but there had been fewer of them. They’d discovered beer and meth. It didn’t take long before all of them died, but not without causing a lot of damage and hate among the California locals. The folks in Silicone Valley had taken the gray green technology. There again, it was too soon to know if anyone was going to do anything with it.

She thought of her husband and how sad he had been lately. He was from Australia. He’d come over thirty years ago to do just one movie and stayed. His ability to do any accent, along with his good looks had kept him working. Even now, after the wars, and alien invasions, and a prosthetic leg (blown off while fighting purple aliens) he was still working. His most recent movie was about lovers separated by the pressure system that separated the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Too bad it couldn’t be filmed on location. Ellie was glad the movie had finished shooting. Bill had been so sad through all of it.

As a formation of jet fighters flew over Ellie thought of their eldest son. He was a pilot. He might even be up there right now looking out for aliens to blast out of the sky.  Her daughter had spent time seeking out the war criminals who’d set the bombs off. Now war had been banned.  Most primitive social structures had been more or less disbanded. Unfortunately after the bombs, and the opening up of holes for aliens to get in, people were just fed up with aggression and assholes. Just fed up.

The only advantage was that now Ellie could have as many cats as she wanted. There were seven of them right now. Edward (gray tabby), Olie (orange tabby), Mitzi (calico), Jen (black), Rick (black and white tuxedo), Pixy (gray and white tabby), Jasper (gray).

Out of the sky came a fireball followed by the formation of jet fighters. The fireball crashed down on the beach, and showed itself to be a golden sphere with a large protrusion that looked like an old fashioned TV antenna. Ellie put her wine down and grabbed her binoculars to get a better look.  A door popped open on the top of the sphere and out of it emerged an orange man in a silver jump suit.  His ears were pointed like an elf.

“Not on my fucking shelf you don’t,” Ellie said to herself.

“Ellie, what in the world are you talking about.”

She turned to see Bill had come out on the deck to join her.

“An orange alien in a gold ball with an old fashioned TV antenna. It looks like an elf.”

The jets flew over and bombed the gold ball and the orange alien to oblivion.

“We’ll go down tomorrow and check out the debris, said Bill. “We might find something interesting.”

“I wonder where it was from,” said Ellie.

“I don’t care at this point dear. We’re nothing but food for them.”

“These ones are orange, like those creatures from Willy Wonka.”

Oompa Loompas.”

“With elf ears.”

As Bill put his arm around his wife’s waist they both turned to the sound of someone running across the yard.

Soot and blue blood covered orange alien in a half burned silver jumpsuit ran towards them, followed by seven snarling, hissing, screaming cats. As the cats grew closer, the alien stopped and looked around. It opened its mouth to show rows of tiny sharp teeth. Bright blue eyes the size of teacups opened wide. No sound came out.

“Get out of my yard,” Ellie yelled at it, picking a Meyer lemon off of a nearby tree and throwing it as hard as she could, hitting the orange alien on the head. As she grabbed another lemon the cats attacked clawing up the silver jumpsuit covered legs. The alien then dove into the infinity pool.

“Oh for God’s sake,” said Bill. “Not in the pool.”

The cats stood together by the edge of the pool. Along with Ellie and Bill they watched the orange alien fizz like a bath bomb and disintegrated leaving nothing but a bubbling orange scum on the surface of the pool and a charred silver jumpsuit.

“It must have been the chlorine,” said Ellie.

“Maybe,” said Bill. “I’ll call the authorities to come clean up the mess and take a report.”

“Just in case,” said Ellie, “we should call the pool service for an extra cleaning.”

“Good idea,” said Bill.

Later after the authorities had taken a report, and the toxic waste crew and scientists had cleaned up the mess, Ellie opened a bottle of wine.

She and Bill, the love of her life, watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

Their cats gathered around and purred.

“You know Bill, we’re living in weird times. I always thought the 1980’s when we were young were weird, but these times are really weird.”

“Weirder than extreme shoulder pads and Xanadu?”

“Well, maybe not,” Ellie said laughing.

Then they clinked their glasses together, and watched the sunset, not daring to speculate what the future might bring. All they knew was that it was their own crazy romantic story to tell; like a strange underground cult movie that turned out to be their life story. And of course along with their love and their children, they had their cats. That was the one thing they could always be certain of. There would always be cats.

 

~ end

Tangled Tales

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

2019 Nano Pablano Cheer Peppers.