That Stupid Question

Photo by: J Hardy Carroll

The two girlfriends walked down the sidewalk, studiously ignoring the stares of people passing them. They turned a corner and saw a building being prepared for demolition. On the sidewalk a sign read: “Sidewalk closed. Please use other side.”

Henrietta stopped dead in her tracks, eyes bulging.

“Are you okay?” asked Hennesey.

Henrietta pointed at the sign. “That’s it! That’s the answer I can finally give!”

“Answer to what?”

“That STUPID QUESTION!”

“What question?”

Henrietta took a deep breath. “Whenever people learn that I talk, what should the next logical question be?”

“Why did the…?”

“No! They should ask, ‘Why can you talk?’ Right? It’s logical.”

“I guess.”

“THEN, they can ask the stupid question. Anyway, it’s self-explanatory isn’t it? There might be a movie theater over there. The market. Anything!”

“That’s true,” murmured Hennesey. “Still, you can’t let if ruffle your feathers…”

Henrietta pulled out her cell phone. “I’m taking a picture of that sign.”

“What for?”

“So when people ask me that STUPID QUESTION, I can show them.”

“Seems over-dramatic,” said Hennesey. She shrugged her chicken feathers and clucked. “I just say, ‘I crossed the road to get a taco!’ ”
______________________________________
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/sunday-photo-fiction-august-6th-2017/

Author’s Notes:

Just in case folks aren’t familiar, the age-old, waaaaay over-used joke is: Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!

A few years back someone published how historical figures would answer “Why did the chicken cross the road?” These are some of my faves:

Ernest Hemingway:
To die. In the rain.

H.P. Lovecraft:
To futilely attempt escape from the dark powers which even then pursued it, hungering after the stuff of its soul!

Tom Clancy:
The Mark 84 gargleblaster that the chicken
carried, at the heart of which was an inferior ex-Soviet
excimer laser system, had insufficient range to
allow the chicken to carry out its mission from
this side of the road.

Howard Cosell:
It may very well have been one of the most astonishing
events to grace the annals of history. An historic,
unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt
such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo
sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurrence.

Robert Heinlein:
The more widely dispersed chickens are throughout
the Universe, the better the long-term prospects for
the survival of the chicken species.

John F. Kennedy:
The chicken chose to cross the road in
this decade not because it was
easy, but because it was hard.

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Class Project

Aliens were no longer unusual. They visited Earth’s touristy spots as much as anyone. If aliens visited Earth previously, then traveled elsewhere faster/at/near the speed of light, they experienced far less time passing than Earthers. This Time Dilation effect produced some curious conversations.

Dawud saw the two aliens at the Nabatean Theatre in Petra, Jordan. He recognized the rabbit-like faces and moth antennae of Arbuti.

“Friends!” called Dawud. “Tell me of your travels!”

“Hello!” said Anchunikala. “It’s good to be back.”

“You were here?” said Dawud.

“Yes!” said Allubintaloo. “This was our class project in Xeno-Education.” He gestured to the carved stone dwellings characteristic of Petra.

“Interesting!” grinned Dawud. “What were you teaching?”

“We taught Earth locals how to carve stone with only Earth tools available,” explained Anchunikala. “We got an ‘A’ on the project!”

“You helped make ancient Petra?”

“Yes! I remember it like it was yesterday,” sighed Anchunikala.

“Actually,” corrected Allubintaloo. “It was last week.”
____________________________________
Written for What Pegman Saw: https://whatpegmansaw.com/2017/08/05/petra-jordan/

Author’s Notes:

Xeno: definition is: “other; different in origin.” Thus, anyone specializing in teaching people alien to them would be a specialist in Xeno-Education.

Time Dilation: “Special relativity indicates that, for an observer in an inertial frame of reference, a clock that is moving relative to him will be measured to tick slower than a clock that is at rest in his frame of reference. This case is sometimes called special relativistic time dilation. The faster the relative velocity, the greater the time dilation between one [person and] another, with the rate of time reaching zero as one approaches the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s).”

Petra, Jordan: “…originally known to the Nabataeans as Raqmu, is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan. The city is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. Another name for Petra is the Rose City due to the color of the stone out of which it is carved. Petra is one of the New7Wonders of the World.”

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Of Cats and Androids

Photo by: pixabay.com

The AS-14 was the latest in android servant technology. Experts claimed it would last, forever. Unique systems within its carbon-fiber chest guaranteed components were constantly replaced, well before the parts wore out. A wonderful feature to be sure. Of course, there’s always a flip side to any coin.

Little Tommy was five-years old and still learning about life. He learned about cats and why it’s important not to pull Winchester’s tail. There was much to learn about cats, and also the Wilson family’s AS-14 android. Tommy felt it was unreasonable that he couldn’t order the android to take him to the zoo…at 11PM on Tuesday. Still, the boy endeavored to apply his life lessons as quickly as possible.

“Ack!”

Tommy heard the curious sound. He looked in the kitchen. Nothing there.

“Ack!”

He looked in the living room. His toys were still scattered uniformly across the entire floor. Nothing unusual.

He found it on his father’s work table. Little nuts and bolts and electronic components rested in a neat pile of purple lubricant.

“Ew! Gross!” grimaced Tommy. He’d learned his lessons well, and he knew what this was.

“Dad!” he called. “The android spit up a hairball!”
_________________________________
Written for FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2017-week-30/

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Plenty To Eat

Photo by: Dale Rogerson

Camile was a Botanical Engineer. Experts believed her bioengineered rice would soon end world hunger. She made this rice public domain. Anyone could grow it. This angered several giant agricultural companies who complained vehemently about the profits they’d lose.

Thereafter, she was continuously under surveillance by nanotech drones. After her third move in five years, Camile found a bouquet in her kitchen. On the flowers, her sharp eye noted the artificial fruit fly (Nanodyne FS-234).

Camile just smiled. She had a plan.

Two months later, her neighbor noted. “You certainly like carnivorous plants.”

Camile shrugged. “They’ve got plenty to eat.”
__________________________________
Written for the Friday Fictioneers: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/08/02/4-august-2017/

Author’s Notes:

We all need to be aware of unethical business practices by large agricultural companies:
“Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear”
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/05/monsanto200805

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Wonder Powers

Photo by: TJ Paris

On a beach in Florida, Stephen and Shiloh, wore the new WonderPower ™ lifeguard vests. With a press of a button, the literal body of the lifeguards could change into almost any form needed.

A desperate call arrived at the lifeguard station. Heavy waves had capsized a sailboat.

Stephen and Shiloh leaped into the water and pressed the buttons on their chests. Each said “Shape of Black Marlin!” In an instant each became sea’s fastest marine animal.

At the swimmers, the shape of a Black Marlin was no longer so practical. They slapped their buttons with pectoral fins and said, “Shape of Zodiac Boat!” Instantly, they became inflatable boats with a powerful motors. Their charges safely above water, the two raced back to shore.

At the beach, EMTs were waiting. They hustled the rescuees away. The boats were soon alone.

“Mission accomplished!” crowed Stephen/boat.

“Ah, there’s a problem,” said Shiloh/boat. “Some help!” he called.

“Whaddya mean?”

“Boats don’t have arms or hands.”

“So?”

“I can’t reach my button to change form!”
_____________________________________
Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers: https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/fffaw-challenge-week-of-8-01-2017/

Author’s Notes:

Black Marlin: “It is one of the fastest fish species as well, having been recorded unwinding fishing line at 129 km/h (80 mph).”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_marlin

Wonder Twin Powers Activate!

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

The Missing

Photo by: Al Forbes

The wax museum in New Mexico was full of the most life-like sculptures. Each case glowed with green lighting. At the alien head case young Annette screamed and began to cry.

Bryan hugged her close. “It’s okay sweety. It’s not real, it’s just made of wax.”

The Pullman family moved on and finished their tour. When they left, the lights turned on and the strange green fields in the cases dissipated. The creatures no longer looked waxy and they became animated. The Chupacabra banged against its case and the Jackalope munched on a cactus.

The alien head began to wail. “Come back! Help me. I’m being held captive!”

“Settle down,” said a feminine voice. “They’re long gone. The aliens who built this place won’t leave anything to chance.”

“How are they doing this? And where’s my body?”

“I don’t know about your body. Perhaps it was damaged when your ship crashed? These green fields temporarily paralyze us and make us look like wax. Nobody knows we’re real and alive.”

“No one will ever find me?”

“I’m sorry, no,” said Amelia Earhart. “But that’s okay. You got me and Elvis for company.”
___________________________________
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/07/30/sunday-photo-fiction-july-30th-2017/

Author’s Notes:

Amelia Earhart: “Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.” Lost over the Pacific in 1937.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart

Elvis Presley: “…an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century.” After his death, rumors of Elvis sightings grew, and are still claimed today.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elvis_Presley

Chupacabra: “…is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chupacabra

Jackalope: “…is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a fearsome critter) described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackalope

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

The Testing

During the time of slavery pseudo-scientific tests matched white men against slaves in 100-meter sprints. The slaves were beaten, malnourished, and forced to run in chains. Predictably, the wholly unmotivated slaves performed poorly.

It’s little-known that the tests were originally planned somewhat fairly.

That was before time travelers arrived with their own sprinter.

Mr. McGillicuddy, slave-owner and financier of the “scientific” testing, sat in the upper veranda of a ritzy hotel. He growled, “Why didn’t you just arrest these time travelers?”

Mr. Warmbier, wannabe scientist, said, “Couldn’t. They had twenty huge men armed with fast-firing guns. These soldiers called themselves SEALs. Terrifying men!”

“Was the race result that bad? Our sprinter is the fastest man in the state!”

“The time traveler’s free-man made him look like a crippled turtle. I never seen nobody run that fast!”

McGillicuddy face-palmed. “What was this free-man’s name?”

“They called him, Usain Bolt.”
________________________________________
Written for What Pegman Saw: https://whatpegmansaw.com/2017/07/29/cape-town-south-africa/

Author’s Notes:

Usain Bolt: “…is a Jamaican sprinter and currently the fastest human in the world. He is the first person to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic time became mandatory. He also holds the world record as a part of the 4 × 100 metres relay. He is the reigning world and Olympic champion in these three events. Because of his unprecedented dominance and achievements in sprint competition, he is widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usain_Bolt

Posted in Short Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments