Monday, July 21, 2014



By Annie Evett

A tumble weed blows dramatically across the dusty main street of Mulder’s Lot. You grin at the cliched scene, taken directly out of the penny westerns stacked high in the tiny dusty room above the General Store you call both home and your control centre. You squint as grit blasts into your eyes, and untie the scarf which, until now, has sat fashionably round your neck. You’ve studied hard to fit into this town and although you’ve stayed longer than your posting normally allows, you find the inhabitants quaint and on occasions, interesting. 

Pulling your felt hat firmly over your ears, you adjust the tilt of it in the General Supply Store window and made your way to the Grand Hotel for your customary late afternoon drink in the saloon, away from the noisier public bar. On your way, you nod to the preacher who is busy painting the church steps and exchange pleasantries with his wife. She stutters a greeting, but never meets your eyes. You’ve managed to fool most of the townsfolk, but you suspect she can see past your elaborate disguises and harbours a suspicion that you are not all that you seem to be. It may of course be your initial choice of body type which makes her uncomfortable, but you decide to keep a closer eye on her, as it wouldn’t do to be discovered. 

The Grand Hotel glows with a friendly light in the fading afternoon sun. The sophisticated tinkling of the pianist’s tunes cuts through the suddenly still hot air. Crickets begin to sing alongside the musician.

Getting closer, you discover a crowd around the front entrance, all eyes entranced by the show taking place inside. As you push your way through the doors, you understand the silence, now mesmerised by the glamorous songstress slowly making her way down the staircase. Her song, simple and sweet, dripped of promise as she slithers around the room; lightly touching men’s hands or faces as she goes. She waves dramatically as she finishes her song and slips out through the swinging doors of the Saloon. You wonder if it is a good idea to drink there now. 

The pianist strikes a lively tune, the hypnotic effect the songstress has had on the town folk immediately dispells.  You nod to the barman, who fills a tumbler with a pale liquor and sends it down the wooden boards. He gestures toward the Saloon. “Doc, you’d best take your drink in there. You know some folk don’t like it when you drink here.” He slides a small folded note towards you and winks. You pocket it to read it later.

You hear galloping horses up the dusty main street with a sudden halt further down the street. You already know it’s outside our office ,and from the banging on the door, the visitor is keen to employer your services. You gulp down the fiery liquid and prepare yourself for what’s to come.  

Running feet down the street are followed by the doors of the hotel swinging open and the music stops dramatically. A bored group playing cards shift their eyes, hoping for new players, but upon seeing who it is, bury their faces behind their make-or-break, chance-driven selections from the grimy deck and try not to look up again.

The bucktoothed deputy’s eyes dart around the space and fix on you. “Doc, ya gotta come quick. We got ourselves and E - mergency"   

You push yourself away from the bar and follow him down the street towards your surgery which also doubles as the town’s pharmacy. Sheriff Rogers, red faced from the exertion of riding hard stares at you for a moment. 

“I know we don't always see eye to eye, Doc, you bein’, well, the way you are, but this here is one if your, 'erm, folk. You'd be the best to help them.”

You blush with both anger and embarrassment. You’d thought you'd managed to conceal yourself from the sheriff especially, and wonder again if it’s the body choice, or something else he means. 

Your eyes wander towards his horse and the shape covered in a blanket and tied to his pack horse. A green tentacle peeps from under the blanket. This leaves no doubt what he means with his comment on “your folk” and suddenly you have a greater level of respect for the peacemaker of the town. You nod, and between the sheriff, the bumbling efforts of the deputy, and yourself, you manage to drag the body into your office and up onto the table.

You look at the deputy and raise an eyebrow at the sheriff. He shrugs and taps his head. “Aint nothin' much up there, and we are gunna need the help.”

You stare at the sheriff. “What do you mean?”

The sheriff pulls the blanket away from the body, revealing a human form attached with a distinctly scaled tentacle, charred and battle torn.  “I don’t mind you folk mosying round the plains, but when you start to fight, it just gets dang messy.” He points to the prone figure. “And when you don’t change back properly, it just leaves questions, which I normally gotta clean up.”

You lean on the table, unable to fully comprehend how you’ve misread the sheriff.

“Now there are a few more up near the old gold mine hiding out, most likely beat up but not injured like this one. You gotta tell them to move on. It’ll come better from one of their own folk.”

The figure stirs and groans. Apart from some laser burns which you know will heal within a few hours, the alien is in good shape and will just need time to regenerate and reform into human shape. 

You have some choices to make?

Monday, July 7, 2014


It’s been too long, hasn’t it? You thought we’d forgotten you, right? Wrong. After two long years, season 5 is nearly upon us. The only thing left to do is for you, our adoring and long-suffering (not to mention patient) fans and readers to pick the story you want us to write.

Read through the following story lines and then pick your favourite. It’s as simple as playing Candy Crush ad infinitum. We’ve all done this, right? Now it’s time to put us writers to the test. Choose wisely, people. Your species depends on making the right choice.

Polls close next MondayBe nice.


1. You are the town’s only medical practitioner in the deepest west in the early 1800s. Your ramshackle office doubles as the pharmacy and outpost general store. You hear galloping horses up the dusty main street with a sudden halt outside your veranda. The door flings open and the sheriff, red faced pleads with you to come help with a patient.
 “I know we don't always see eye to eye Doc, you bein’, well, the way you are, but this here is one if your 'erm, folk. You'd be the best to help them.”
 You blush with both anger and embarrassment. You've worked hard for years to fit into the town and had thought you'd managed to hide your difference. You follow the Sheriff out to his horse to see a shape covered in a blanket and tied to his pack horse. A green tentacle peeps from under the blanket. You nod, and both you and the Sheriff go to bring the body in to your office.

2. You are at the cutting edge of Victorian science, insomuch as you like to cut people up… you, know, FOR SCIENCE! Today is the day you unveil you latest abomination, but first you need the parts. Was it the legs of a fashion model and the arms of a body builder, or vice-versa? Did you lay in a fresh supply of brains? One false move and you’ll have the local peasantry at your gates wanting to offer you an excellent deal on used farm implements and torches.  What’s their problem, you’re only playing God! FOOLS! Have your best maniacal laugh ready and sharpen your scalpels, Doctor, they don’t call it Mad Science for nothing …

3. You've been cast as an extra on a new sci-fi series on a major television network. Your cousin, one of the writers for the show, lets it slip that you’ve impressed the director. He casually mentions that if a more significant role were to become available, you might be considered for the part. He also leaks another project he is working on—a revolutionary reality series that tests the boundaries of human behavior with the promise of fame and glory, as well as the coveted lead in a project that’s in-the-works. It’s all great news, and you’re willing to do just about anything for a role—even if it means eliminating your competition, hijacking the script, or blindly signing on to a kill-or-be-killed dating show.

4. You write erotic fiction, nonsense fuck stories about chiseled abs, and romance, and dowdy women finding themselves sexually when they discover chiseled abs. Sometimes there's also a whip. It's all very silly. You write a lot of it. You sell even more. It pays for your car, and your second car, and the golf cart you drive to the guest house when you want to "get away from it all."

Your life is perfect.

Until your "greatest fan" arrives.

5. You and you friend, Tony, decide to go to the circus. As you sit under the tent, the clowns run into the ring. You've never liked clowns and these look scarier than all the clowns you've ever seen. You look for a way to leave but Tony won't let you go anywhere. During all the chaos with the scary clowns an elephant knocks over the post holding the tent up, sending the big top crashing down. Worse than that, the huge wooden pillar is falling toward you. Suddenly a trap door opens in the sawdust at your feet and a clown tries to pull you down a tunnel . . .

6. You dive over the hood of the car as the building explodes. Yelling in your radio for your partner, you risk a glance at the street and discover-to your horror-the explosion has not contained the zombie epidemic. The animated corpses of Girl Scouts begin to surround you. You never signed up for this, you were quite content riding out your life slugging free Slurpees at work. How could you know the nacho cheese you poured onto customers nachos would be the perfect chemical cocktail for the apocalypse. You shake your head to clear the thought and realize you are now surrounded by the Scouts.

7. In the not too distant future, only one telecommunication company has survived to provide the world with television, Internet and phone service.

It is the day before the series finale of Fancy Chair Gambit, a fantasy program in which ten thousand different families have vied with one another to rule the kingdom. Over the past twenty years fans have watched in rapt attention as person after person has been killed off until there are literally only two people left in the kingdom and everyone must know, will it be a Barren or a Sanmix who sits upon the fancy chair.

   Suddenly, every screen in the world goes blank. A man, driven mad over the ridiculous seventy three hour window of time someone needing service or installation must wait without leaving his home, has taken over the broadcast and will not release television to the people.

It is up to you, as the leader of an elite team of tv service providers, to stop this man and return television and internet to the world before it is too late!

8. You wake up to the worst hangover you can imagine.
It feels like you've got the percussion section of the London Philharmonic behind your eyes playing the 1812 overture; your tongue tastes like a donkey pissed on it and your body is in shock that you're still alive.

When you can finally move your head, you realise that you are lying on a hospital bed wrapped in bandages and there are reporters being held back from the entrance to the ward you are on. Your fellow patients appear to be looking at you as if you'd just grown horns and a tail. And going by the movement under the sheet covering you, that last one might be true.

And you can't remember what happened last night or who you are. What do you do next? Wait until you can accost some nurse and demand answers or haul your mummified arse out of bed and track down your memories?

9. Dr. William Glass gave you his new "glass heart" Artificial heart when you were dying as a baby. Your parents were told that you would need a new one every few years. Unfortunately the glass heart was a design that never caught on, and having one makes you incapable of obtaining the Newer artificial Heart.
You have about six months left on your ticker to hunt down Dr. Glass and get him to fix you up.

10. You are an award-winning baker. Your cakes, buns, cookies, and breads are the *ahem* toast of gastronomes everywhere. But your fame isn’t just global; it’s interstellar. Representatives (also known as the Invading Forces) of the Magellan System have ordered you to bake for their ailing emperor. Failure to do so will result in the instant extermination of the human race. It’s time to Bake or Die.

Friday, October 19, 2012


By Nandy Ekle

Your public execution. After all the work you did to find an answer to this crisis, they still want to kill you. And this comes directly from the President of the United States, well, the acting President of the United States. Your face feels like it is on fire while your hands and feet feel like icebergs. Worst of all, your insides have become melted wax.
            “No!” Madge screams at Sneedon. “No way! My brother might be a partying bigoted homophobe, but he’s got a huge heart. He cannot be executed.”
            “Madge,” you place your hands on her shoulders. “I don’t think you’re going to stop anything here.” Your life passes before your eyes in a split second—playing house with her when you were kids, Madge playing Daddy and you playing the baby. You sitting on the curb crying while she whips all ten bullies standing in the yard demanding lunch money. The fifteen year fight (she still hasn’t forgiven you) over her g-f, Suzi. Inventing the Environaut and the financial success that followed. Parties with Milo. Then, today’s crap. You realize what an immature jerk you’ve always been, from letting Madge fight your battles to the endless parties with Milo.
            Five words float across your brain. Five one-syllable words, but five words that bring a 180 degree turn around to your life. This one little phrase turns you into a hero. Time to be a man.
            Madge sees it in your eyes. The look on her face changes from a worried sister to a grieving sister to a proud sister. “You mean . . .”
            “Yes, Madge. I’ll let them take me. All my life I’ve done nothing but hide behind you and partay harday. But today, I’m bringing out the tights and cape and becoming a hero.”
            She throws her arms around your neck and hugs you tight enough to push all the air from your lungs. You hug her back, then you tap on her back, begging for her to release you so you can breathe long enough to do what must be done.
            She drops her arms. “Sorry. I keep forgetting how much stronger I am than you.”
            You stand up straighter and your voice drops two octaves. “It’s okay, Madge. I wouldn’t be where I am today if you weren’t stronger.” She grins as she wipes her tears and snotty nose on your shirt.
            You turn to face Sneedon. “Okay. I give up. Take me in.”
            “You’re full of crap, you know it? Just because China, Russia and the entire Arab nation are calling for your public execution doesn’t mean we’re going to give it to them. They’re not our bosses, afterall.”
            At that moment an alarm sounds with a volume so loud you nearly jump out the window. You all look toward the red phone under the glass dome and notice it bouncing up and down. Sneedon removes the dome and picks up the receiver.
            “Yes?  Yes, sir. I understand.” He replaces the receiver and the glass dome and turns back to the room. You hold your breath while he collects his composure. He looks at you, then down at the floor. He looks at Madge, then you, then down at the floor. Finally he brings his head up and appears to be looking out the window behind you.
            “That was President Gantly. Russia, China, and the entire Arab nation have threatened to launch a nuclear missile directly to your hometown if we don’t show your torture and execution in the next 24 hours. He doesn’t really want to kill you, but it appears we have no choice.”
             You throw your arms out together, hands knotted into fists, waiting for the handcuffs to snap around them. When the cold steel touches your wrists, you gasp. The metal is so hard and cold. They really intend to go through with it. Forget the noble intention, an entire world is at stake.
             Walking silently to the beat of Madge’s sobs, you, Sneedon, Madge, and Ernie march toward the door. The whole party enters the elevator and begin the trip to the ground floor where you all will walk to the front lawn of the White House in front of cameras from all over the world and a firing squad standing ready for the order to fire.
            Just as you and the rest of the parade is about to leave the front door, Madge stops and turns you toward her. Her hands reach to pluck at a potted plant on a shelf by the door.
            “You know that stuff about not forgiving you over Suzi?” You nod your head, afraid to speak. Tears would spoil the heroic music playing in your head. “I forgive you.”
            “Madge . . .” you manage to say.
            “Get moving, you two.” Sneedon does not appreciate the tender moment you and Madge are sharing.
            As you stand on the green grass, you look at Madge one final time standing far away from the line of soldiers with guns pointed directly at you. You feel your previously melted insides begin to rise as if trying to run away from the guns. The world takes on a brown tinge.
            President Arthur Gantly is speaking to the cameras. “Ladies and gentlemen of the world, I bring you this, this miscreant who nearly destroyed our world with pooh. I will give you his head on a platter.”
            You watch as Ernie leans down and whispers something in Madge’s ear. He has a leering look on his face. You laugh as she knees him so hard in the crotch he hits the wall.
            The President stands facing the line of gun-wielding soldiers with his hand in the air. You hear a scream. It’s not Madge, her voice is much lower than what you heard. You hear the noises of bedlam and look beyond the firing squad. People are running everywhere, trampling each other, climbing over cars and trees to get away from the gruesome scene about to take place. You envision your blood splatter on the ground and look down as if it already has. You do see a drop of something near your feet, but it isn’t red, it’s brown. At that moment, another drop of brown liquid falls from your eyes.
            You remember the clod of dirt Madge rubbed in your face during the tender moment in the hallway. You can still taste the mud as she suggested you even swallow some of it. It works. People everywhere are convinced you have contracted the same disease that has been turning the rest of the world into zombies. Not wanting to catch anything from you, the on-lookers, officials, gunsquad, even the news people who would withstand a hurricane or a blasting volcano for a story, drop all their equipment and run full speed away.
            It seems you will not die of a hundred gun shots today. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012



“You got that right,” Sneedon says. “Artie is out baying for blood. Your blood.”
“What do you mean?” Madge asks before you can even formulate the question yourself.
“My man at the West Wing says China, Russia and the entire Arab nation wants your head on a platter. They’re having their own problems and the only way they can placate their citizens is to ask for your public execution.”
You gulp.

“Oh… uh… I can understand that.” You stand up. “Well in that case I’d better head over and give myself up.”
Madge stares at you. “You serious?”
“I… well… um. I did cause it…” You smile uncertainly. “I’ll pop over to the White House and do it publicly.”
Madge begins to stand up. “I’ll come with you.”
You shake your head. “No, you stay here, sis. You’re safe here and you can help get the changes rolled out. I’ll zip over in my ‘copter.”
Every one in the room stares at you and you slide out the door like a slug from a lettuce; slowly and carefully, looking around to make sure no one is following you.
As the door shuts, you hear Sneedon say: “What’s he up to?”
“I don’t know.” Madge replies. “Before today I would have said that he was going to run away, but after what I’ve seen him doing to fix this catastrophe today, I think he might just do it.”
You sigh with relief and head up to the roof.

As you take off, you try to think what you are actually going to do. You can’t go and hand yourself in, that would mean you’d end up… at best… in jail for the rest of your life. At worst, the new president (being the bastard that he is) would probably hand you over to the Middle East for execution.
“I’m too young to die.” You murmur, heading north as slowly as you can. “Why should I die for something that wasn’t my fault? It was the board’s money pinching that caused all this…”
A sudden blast of air pushes the ‘copter to one side and you see a pair of jets coming round to flank you. The radio crackles.
“ECOGen One. You are instructed to keep pace with us. We will land at the Airforce base where you will be taken into custody. Over.”
Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit! What do you do now? There’s no way this little helicopter can outrun F16’s.
Experimentally you weave a little and predictably, the radio crackles into life again.
“ECOGen One. Do not try to resist arrest. We have orders from the president to shoot if you run. Over.”
Damn. You’re dead either way. How on earth do you… an idea occurs and you take a deep breath, slapping the radio button on the joystick.
“ECOGen One to escort. I’m low on gas and I can’t keep up with you. Over.”
You let your airspeed drop and the jets slow as well. Now what speed was a stall for this helicopter? Oh, that’s right… Now if you can just bring her to rest somewhere safe and get away from the jets before they can react.
“ECOGen One. We will keep pace with you. Keep moving forward. Over.” The pilot seems more than a little pissed off.

A field bounded by a large wood appears and you let your airspeed drop further, feeling the craft shudder and the nose tip upward. Now, if you just…
A whoosh of air on both sides of the helicopter buffets it from side to side and the resulting turbulence  knocks the pitch of the blades awry.
“Thanks Escort, that was a great help…Not!” you snap into the radio as you fight to keep the craft level. You speed up a little, but the turbulence from the low flying, circling jets as well as the wind scrables your pitch further and…

Shit! Not  retreating blade stall, anything but that, you’re too close to the fucking ground to…

The helicopter tilts left.

Time slows.

You drop the controls hoping that the autocorrect will kick in, but the tilt continues and you watch the advacing blade bite into the soft earth of the field. It ploughs into it deeply and you fight with you harness, hoping to get free of the helicopter before…

The blade snaps.

The suddenly freed rotor spins faster and the second advancing blade follows the first. The helicopter cartwheels and the tail rotor comes into contact with the ground. The tail snaps off, there are sparks and a sudden plume of fire heralds the fact that the fuel line has bought it.
Your harness lets go and you tumble out of the craft, a sudden flare of hope making time speed up again. As you hit the grass and turn to try and run, the helicopter’s body is catapulted toward you by the fire from the tail.

“Oh shit…” you moan.

* * *

“Well that was anticlimactic.” President Gantly says having reviewed the pilot’s footage of the air accident. “I was looking forward to listening to the idiot’s explanation of his company’s antics in this matter. Besides, I wanted to shoot him myself.”
He turns to an aide. “Was there anything recovered?”
The aide nods. “We have his head. It was apparently chopped off by a stray piece of rotor, long before the helicopter actually hit him.”
Gantly smiles, a red glint showing in his eye. “Did Doctor Skin take it?”
The aide looks faintly sick. “Yes, Mr. President. He’s working on the process now.”

You wake up.

You’re vaguely aware that the sun has risen. Shades of pink paint the inside of your eyelids, while the memory of last night is a blur of fire and dirt coloured nightmare. You just want to sleep it off, but your eyes are forced open by insistant fingers.
“Welcome back. Although I’m not sure how welcome you are going to be.” A face with a surgeons mask and cap appears in your eyeline.
“Where am I?” Your voice has a vaguely artificial sound. “Why can’t I feel anything?”
“Good, he’s awake.” President Gantly’s braying baritone brings you fully awake. “Turn him so he can see me.”
You are turned and liquid swirls in front of your eyes. “What the shit?”
“Shit is right. You’re in it.” The president stands and moves up close. He looks a little green and you realise this is because you are in a glass vat of green liquid.
“I appear to be in water.”
“Shut up. You didn’t survive intact, but Dr Skin is a genius when it comes to brains and revival. You shall pay for your crimes… more than once.”
“What?” Gantly is right in front of you so you can’t see what’s behind him. “What on god’s green earth are you talking about Arthur?”
“This.” He steps aside and you blink in astonishment. Behind him, in shackles stand rows and rows of you.
“You cloned me? Why?”
“I wasn’t about to let you get away with dying cleanly in an air accident. Every single country of the world has a grievance against you…”
“What, even Taiwan?” you quip, feeling more worried by Gantly’s smile than the clones. “Wow, we’re a good looking bunch, aren’t we. Ladies beware.”
“Enough. Each Clone is wi fi’d into what is left of your nervous system,” He picnches the clone closest to him. You wince, feeling the sharp pain. “you will feel the pain that the clone is put through.”
Gantly plows on relentlessly. “As you have been sentenced to death in every single country of the world, you are going to die one hundred and ninety six times. I hope you survive, because after that, I am going to make your afterlife hell.”

Monday, October 15, 2012


By John Elrod

So in the Monopoly game of your no good, very bad, shitastic day, you’ve just managed land on “Go to Hell”; go directly from potential savior to dead man walking, and do not collect $200. You’re pretty much fucked, but you’ve come too close to solving this thing to give in, now.

“This is alright. This is fixable. I’ll just hop on a flight to D.C. and talk to this Artie character. I’m sure I can show him the new shitbox and convince him to let me fix this. I mean, I’ve given speeches to rooms full of billionaires and scientists--and billionaire scientists, of which there aren’t very many; I can convince some second-tier Jefferson Smith to--” Your spiel is interrupted.

“He’s actually on his way here.” Sneedon’s interjection is weighted heavily in condescension.

This information kind of kills your zeal for confrontation; you won’t have nearly enough time to prepare for the meeting, but that shouldn’t be a problem… because of the earlier thing about all the speeches--billionaires, etc--that really had a lot more pop when it was coming from you a few moments ago. That doesn’t matter now. What does matter now is that this jackass is coming to get you and probably plans to make use of pomp and circumstance to parade you around in front of big crowds, to make sure everyone knows “we” are committed to international diplomacy, even if it means throwing you--their potential hero--to the proverbial lions (you assume the lions would merely be proverbial, but who really knows?).

Sneedon eagerly returns to the room, after having exited toward a private conversation, “Artie is going to meet with you right upstairs. There’s a nice conference room up there for you two to try and come to some kind of an agreement, okay? I’m really pulling for you to get out of this.”

You try to slowly walk out of the room and make your way toward the elevators, but Sneedon is really pushing you along. Maybe he wants some alone time with Madge? You could tell him he’s barking up the wrong vagina, there, but it’s always more entertaining when they find out for themselves. You barely have time for parting remarks before he’s ushered you into the elevator and you’re back to the solitary confinement of one of these moving boxes. This elevator differs greatly from your own, though; it’s littered with fliers and the air is smothered by that damn Muzak… and the torturous dinging. How any of these CDC bastards can get any thinking done is beyond you.

Following your dreadful ride up 18 floors, you exit Dante’s infernal elevator to a dark, cavernous corridor, and you’re carrying an even emptier head. Sneedon rushed you out of there so quickly, and the elevator ride was so hellish, that you’ve not managed to prepare a single coercive word for this Artie fellow.

I’ll wing it; piece of cake.

Your thoughts have returned, but they aren’t quite as helpful as you would have hoped. Nevertheless.

Your feet chirp against a clearly government-issued linoleum, as you struggle to make your way toward a single light at the end of the seemingly abandoned level of this building. With every step, your knees grow weaker, your stomach churns tighter, and each breath of the cold, medicinal air reaches ever heavier heights. There’s something wrong here. Wouldn’t Artie have security guards? Shouldn’t Secret Service members be frisking you harder than a horny TSA agent, right about now? This isolation doesn’t make any sense. Then it hits you; Admiral Ackbar is screaming out from the mind of the childhood movie marathons you and Madge used to have on rainy weekends: this is a trap.

You turn for the elevator, but it’s too late. There, amidst the silence that permeates everything that isn’t you, barks the smallest crunch of splintering glass. There is to be no pageantry to your death; you will not be paraded across the world’s stage to appease the chattering crowds of a global lynch mob. Your demise is a relatively uneventful one; an assassination carried out by some Jack Bauer wannabe from the roof of some adjacent building. He’s probably not even occupying his carefully chosen perch, anymore. No, he did his duty, and now you’ve been left to ponder what could have come of your plan to save the day, as your shoe lets forth a final chirp against the cheap flooring, and you stumble into the light.

Oops...Return To Chapter 6

Monday, October 8, 2012


by James McShane

Your trip to the Centre for Disease Control Headquarters allows you time to calm yourself down and indulge in a little family bonding with your sister. You and Madge never saw eye-to-eye on many things over the years, but when she brought back her first girlfriend and introduced Suzi Ching to Mom, you stormed out of the house and wouldn’t come back until they’d both left. This incident made Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays a hornets’ nest for the next fifteen years. It’s not your fault you’re a bigot; society made you that way. You wish you could turn back time and make things right again, a-la Sam Beckett and Quantum Leap. But going by your recent experience with inventions, any time machine you built would probably result in the Nazis winning World War II and the San Francisco 49ers winning Superbowl from now until Doomsday. Neither of these possible events sit well with you. You are who you are – now deal with it.
You turn to Madge and say, “Hey, sis, remember that time you and Suzi…”
“Shut the fuck up!” Madge replies into her headphone. “I’ve not yet forgiven you for that,” she continues. “However, if you can in any way make this"—she points down below at the shit- and blood-stained streets—"better, maybe this Christmas I’ll buy you something nice.”
“I always wanted a pony,” you say wistfully.
“I was thinking more of a one-way trip to fucking Jupiter.” She turns to you. “I hear it’s nice this time of year.”
Madge has mellowed over the years, you surmise.
“Are we there yet?” you ask, changing the subject. You’re the pilot, and you know how long the journey takes, but you really want to move on from all this bitterness.
“Two minutes,” Madge replies. “I rang ahead. The president’s guy at the CDC is expecting us. You better know what you’re doing.”
“It’s like we said earlier, Madge. Whoever’s lost is gone forever. The only way I can fix this is so it never happens again. I hope this joker listens to me.”
“Who else is he going to listen to? The Ayatollah?”
You grunt in mock agreement. The sooner this finishes, the better civilisation can get going again. You will make this right.
You hope.
As you bring the helicopter down on the roof of CDCHQ, you experience a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. There must be at least twenty CDC goons as your welcoming party. They have guns. Lots of guns. As you and Madge step out, a goon in a hazmat grabs you by the arm and throws you to the ground.
“So you’re the fucker who’s responsible for this eco-Apocalypse?”
You raise your hand and introduce yourself. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance,” you add. He slaps you across your face with a gloved palm. “I didn’t think I was this popular,” you mumble.
A voice from behind your assailant calls out. “Easy, Ernie. Let’s not give the CEO too hard a time. After all, amends must be made. Bring them down to the lab.” The new guy, who you assume must be the president’s eyes and ears in CDC, points to Madge, who is carrying the new and improved Environaut from the helicopter. He pulls you up and offers his hand.
 “Jack Sneedon, President’s Liaison, CDC.”
You both shake. “I take it you’re aware of what we have here?” you say. “With the improvements I made to the original design…”
“Yeah, I know,” he says as his colleagues move Madge and the devise into the roof elevator. “Your sister filled me in over the phone. Some shit about co-coolants. I don’t get it.” He fixes you with a steely glare. “But I’m hoping you do.”
Once more, you hope.
Down in the lab, you unpack all your equipment and prepare for a demonstration of the Environaut. You look around and see that the place is spotless. No blood. No shit. “You’ve been cooped up here all this time?” you ask. “No breaches of security? No Shithead Zombies?”
Sneedon shrugs. “One or two got through the main gate, but that’s all. Our guys are clean and good to go. What about you?”
Your head drops. “I lost my Mom and my best friend.”
“I’m sorry for your loss,” Sneedon replies curtly, “but we’ve no time for sentimentality. We can grieve our dead later – provided we don’t become one of them. Set her up and let’s see what she can do.”
The demonstration works like a charm. After thirty minutes of further testing, Sneedon and his cohorts are less agitated than they were when they met you on the roof. It didn’t stop Hazmat Man from slapping you once more, this time with feeling.
Sneedon takes out his phone. “Wake up the president!” he barks. “Tell him I have good news.” His face loses several shades of natural colour. “What the fuck?” he roars. “When the hell did that happen?” He finds a nearby chair and just about manages to flop into it. He rubs his hand over the top of his head. He appears to be sobbing. “Artie’s in charge? Holy sweet fuck!” He ends the call and looks at you.
You feel a hand at your shoulder. It’s Madge, getting all sisterly like. “What’s going on?” she asks.
“Turn on the TV,” is Sneedon’s response.
On the big screen there is a shot of the White House. The ticker at the bottom of the screen reads: “President and Vice-President invoke 25th Amendment. Speaker of the House, Arthur Gantly becomes President of the United States. News conference to follow shortly.”
You look at Sneedon. “They must have fallen foul of…the foulness.” Now you sound like a badly written twelve volume fantasy epic.
“You got that right,” Sneedon says. “Artie is out baying for blood. Your blood.”
“What do you mean?” Madge asks before you can even formulate the question yourself.
“My man at the West Wing says China, Russia and the entire Arab nation wants your head on a platter. They’re having their own problems and the only way they can placate their citizens is to ask for your public execution.”

Saturday, September 22, 2012


By Annie Evett

You grab Madge’s hand, realising that she was always the strong one in the family. She had been the one to teach you to ride a bike, pick you up, and put a band-aid on your scraped knee.  She’d beaten up the bullies in the school yard. Hell, her best friend had been your first conquest. You’d always suspected she had been behind that and, looking in to her eyes, you are now sure that she is the one who has been behind everything good in your life.

“Madge , You go. Get the unit over to the CDC. You’re the best one for the job. I belong here. I should never have been the president of this dumb company. You should have.  You would never have gotten us into all this.”

“Shit.” she smiled.  “No I wouldn't have, but them’s the breaks, huh?”

You fiddle with the unit and make some unnecessary adjustments, unsure of what to say. Sharing emotions had never been one of the family’s strong points. 

“Well?” Madge taps the table next to the control box of the unit. “You coming or what?”

“I’ll stay. The unit is good to go, as good as I can get it right now. I’ll keep making adjustments and try and work out how to speed up the process. Something. I dunno. You better go. The President is waiting for us. For you. Go and save what's left of humanity, huh?”  You flick on the security camera system and pan around the hallway.

“Looks like any of the zombies that were here have moved on,” you snigger, attempting to stifle your own bad joke, but then break down into fits of hysterical laughter.

Madge slaps you across the face—except it's an oversized mitt thumping your fishbowl face helmet.

 “Oh, grow up. What is it about shit and farts that boys never grow out of?”

You collapse with more laughter, gasping for air in your hazmat suit.

“Later. Keep your hazmat suit on. The place is contaminated. Lord knows when or if the cleanup will start. Keep on geeking.”

You knock ham sized fists together, repeating your childhood motto.

She saunters out of the lab door. You watch her till the suit disappears up the hallway. The silence buzzes in your ears as the light in the corner of the room continues to blink. You see her helicopter make its way across the sky. 

The hazmat suit is cumbersome as you attempt to perch on the lab stool. Your oversized fingers are clumsy, and it's not long before you consider taking the whole lot off so you can start to pull one of the Environauts apart and explore every component. You have no idea what else to do. Here seems as safe a place to hang out and wait until the shit storm  blows over. 

A buzzer sounds as the corner light slows its blink. You stare at it and as moments pass; the blink eventually fades to a continual beam. The buzzer stops and a door unlatches. You stand and go over to the door, not remembering having seen it before. As you approach you realise that it had been concealed within the texture of the wall, and only as it opens that the outline reveals its position. 

You flush with anger and indignation. This was your lab, damn it. Who the hell had hidden doors leading off into the unknown in your own lab?  You turn the door handle. The space behind it is lit with floor lights and appears to be a large storage room. As you step inside, general lighting is automatically turned on to reveal rows of cages of now deceased, rotting animals. You are glad you hadn’t taken the hazmat suit off, but gag at the thought of what the smell might be like.

Dogs, cats, rats and squirrels slump inside their cages. Most are surrounded by puke and shit. Your heart squeezes at the sight of these helpless creatures, who have obviously died in a great amount of pain and suffering.  Your head spins, wondering where in the process animal testing had a place in your facility. You sadly realise you have been disconnected from the research unit for over a year, and anything could have been passed by you to sign and you’d not really taken any notice—another reason Madge should have been the CEO and not you. She would never have allowed animal testing.

A rattle in the corner shakes you from your depression. Your heart skips. Something is still alive. Perhaps you can do some sort of good today.

Crouched in one of the larger cages sits an emaciated orangutan. Its orange hair sticks out at right angles from its bony body. It looks up at you with its intelligent, pleading eyes. He gingerly puts out his hand through the bars. You hold back a tear and reach over to touch it, entranced by the gentle moment of trust. 

The ape quickly grasps your wrist and pulls you toward the cage. Its other limbs thrust out of the cage and grab hold of your suit. Your feet scrap against the metal flooring, sliding and finding no purchase as you are pulled in.

The ape grins and peels your helmet off. You try to hold your breath, but are at last forced to take a deep breath, gagging at the putrid smell of death and feces. The orangutan's lips pucker towards you as a dribble of brown trickles down its face. Your struggle renews as you realise that it is dying from the same virus affecting all the zombies. It bares its teeth. You scream, “But you’re a vegetarian! Everyone knows that.” 

The orangutan's mouth covers your scream. A mixture of vomit and shit warmed by the body gushes from the ape's mouth into yours. You feel its arms and legs tighten around you and your are slowly crushed against the bars of the cage. You feel your organs bursting as blood pours from your ears and eyes. You die screaming, clutched in the strong arms of a giant orange ape.