Friday, December 16, 2011
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The Outpost was a squat stone structure that was ringed on all sides by high thick walls that were honeycombed with stairways, arrow loops and topped with crenellations festooned with ancient barbed wire. There were dozens of Outposts scattered along the Verge, marking the point of demarcation between the nurturing safety of the Protectorate and the madness of the Barrens. Each Outpost was similar in design but always ended up being different in execution...
THE NICK OF TIME
Jason Magwier and his friends are always on the lookout for strange treasures, blasphemous manuscripts and impossible devices. But in a world tainted by mad gods and alien minds sometimes they find the wrong thing at the exactly the wrong time...
THE LOCAL HEROES
The somewhat true story of how I barely lost my virginity, almost missed out on true love and nearly lost my mind!
The continuing somewhat true story of how I barely lost my virginity, almost missed out on true love and nearly lost my mind!
Star Wars Fans vs Zombies! No matter who wins, we all lose!
Al Bruno III
The call center was subdued at night, the noise of a roomful of people all talking at once was replaced by the murmurs of just a few. Occasionally Mike would hear the rumble of the trucks that came and went from the loading docks at all hours. Semis and vans were queued up sometimes three deep to drop off and pick up materials from the research and deployment center. Mike had never seen the labs but Cosmos had told him that they were three levels below the first floor. He wasn’t sure he believed her because none of the stairwells or elevators seemed to have any access to a sub basement level.
Mike’s phone bleeped, his computer screen filled with data, he knew instantly this was the accounting department for a hospital in Los Angeles, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Michael your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“Hi Michael, my account number is eight one nine six nine six eight eight one five. I have a little question about this bill we received.”
“Of course sir. Let me look over that information now.” Usually Mike never got calls from the West coast but the overnight team’s job was to handle any overflow of calls the Seattle call center might be experiencing.
There was an LED readout screen suspended on each corner of the call center, it gave workers a constant tally of the number of calls holding and for how long. It also had the time on the East coast and West coast. It was almost eleven o’clock.
One hour and I can go home, he thought as he explained the bill to his caller. Five hours of overtime had seemed like a good way to replenish his savings after paying several hundred dollars to replace the front end suspension of his car. Now he was starting to feel worn out, he couldn’t wait to get home and get to sleep.
And then get up in seven hours to start the whole thing over again.
Well it’s not like I have anyone waiting for me at home. He thought glumly as he concluded the call and moved on to the next one. The whole Christine thing hadn’t worked out. She had made three dates with him and stood him up each time. The first time Mike had assumed it was a mix up, the second time he was bemused but by the third time he’d been too angry to see straight. If she didn’t want to go out with him why didn’t she just say so? Rejection he could handle, being made to feel like an inept junior high school kid he couldn’t.
Mike wrapped up another billing call and waited for the next call to come through. He heard the familiar warning beep on his phone but his computer screen stayed blank, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Mike your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“Hi Mike. Are you in the Seattle call center?”
“Uh, no.” Mike checked his phone, sure enough it read EXECUTIVE SUPPORT, “This is the Schenectady call center.”
“Is it Walpurgis night there? Can you tell?”
“I don’t… I’m sorry I don’t know. This is the wrong department. I can’t really help you.” Mike explained.
“Ah. Well these things happen. I’ll try to call back.”
Mike heard the phone clatter down but his caller neglected to actually hang up. Mike heard muffled voices talking, “That was a waste of time. Now hold still, the orifice is weeping in anticipation...”
The Hell? Mike thought as he disconnected the call himself. Another call came hot on the heels of that one, once again his computer’s screen failed to show any data and his phone read EXECUTIVE SUPPORT.
“Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Mike your Sales and Billing Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
The line was alive with squawking and howls. Mike waited for someone to say something and when they didn’t he repeated his greeting. A fresh chorus of piercing cries, growls and the occasional wet slopping sound was the only reply he got.
“I’m sorry,” Mike said, “you’re going to have to call back.”
He disconnected the call and another one beeped through, “Thank you for calling Trinity Advance Corporation, I am Mike your sales Technologist. How may I be of service to you today?”
“Machina improba! Vel mihi ede potum vel mihi redde nummos meos!”
Mike stood up and peered over to the other cubicles and found he wasn’t the only person in his department looking around helplessly. The evening supervisor was shaking his head and talking on the phone to someone. The stats on the call board had been reduced to a nonsense of letters and numbers that flicked and fluttered.
“I’m sorry,” Mike said, “but you have the wrong department. Please call back sir.”
Another call came in, Mike repeated his standard greeting. His screen stayed empty, his phone still read EXECUTIVE SUPPORT.
“Please,” the voice was desperate and furtive, “which fork is the salad fork?”
Mike rolled his eyes.
The rest of his final hour was one bizarre call after another. At midnight he logged out of the SIGIL system got on his coat.
He decided to make a quick pit stop before he headed out to his car. The main bathroom was elegant and sterile looking but no amount of air freshener could ever really conceal that strange sulfurous odor.
There was a man passed out on the bathroom floor, he was scrawny with his long dark coat wrapped around him like a cocoon, his face twitched as he dreamed. His mouth hung open revealing a chipped tooth and flecks of vomit. Mike recognized him. It was Raymond from the Executive Support team...
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
An artist in Mozambique has drawn four superheroines -- Wonder Woman (above), She-Hulk, Storm and Catwoman -- giving themselves breast exams to check for breast cancer. While they were commissioned by the DDB Mozambique advertising agency, I don't believe these are official...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The list is below, click the links to re-read any of the stories you like.
The Man That Ate Newborns
In the Pit
Deus Ex Machina
Apocalypse Jones And The Race Against Time (Serial Story)
Jason Magwier Winds Up In Cleveland
The Piglet Of Tybaldt
Abner Deggent’s Christmas Hits
A Penny Earned
An Invitation To Disaster
A Son's Duty
The Sultan's Challenge
Waiting For Zachary
Holding For A Hero
Single Celled Vigilante
Good Knight Claire
Smack My Witch Up
Everything Must Go
Well the votest have been talied and here are the results from my poll question Which incarnation of the Doctor would you like to travel with?
Here are the votes
The Third and Fifth Doctors got 1%
The First, Second, Sixth and Seventh Doctors got 2%
The Eight Doctor got 4%
The Ninth Doctor got 11%
The Fourth Doctor got 15%
The Eleventh Doctor got 23%
And the clear winner with 31% of the vote was the Tenth Doctor. Take a bow!
THE COLD INSIDE
By AL BRUNO III
Tuesday November 8, 1994
The loading dock of the Carvale Home was dark and empty in the early evenings. It was the perfect place to grab a smoke. Frustrated and annoyed Tristam had stolen the pack of Marlboros from his mother’s desk and retreated there to relax. Huddling in the gloom he inhaled the smoke greedily. He wondered how much more he could take. School, his mom and his psychiatrist were all hammering away at him like he was a block of stone they were trying to fashion into a statue. The problem was that each of them had a different idea of what that statue was supposed to be.
In the end he wondered to himself if there would be anything left at all when they were done chipping away. Expelling a mouthful of smoke he leaned against the cool wall and slid down into a crouch. He would just be glad when this day was over, any day that started out with a wet dream could only go downhill. Part of him was terrified over what had happened last night, part of him couldn’t wait to try it again.
No. No. He thought to himself, Gotta ration this out. Just like cigarettes, otherwise you loose the kick you get. No titties except for the weekends or special occasions.
The problem was that he still didn’t know if it was all real or not. How could he be sure? Maybe he was crazy after all. Most people thought he was. Heck for the first few weeks after his arrest the local AM radio shock jock had obsessed over him and called him a ‘ticking time bomb’ and ‘a serial killer in the making’ for four hours a day, every day.
That’ll look great on a college application. Oughta get me right into Harvard.
He took another drag on the cigarette, wondering how much tar and nicotine he was getting, wondering how much closer to cancer he was. Sometimes he wondered why he didn’t just get it over with and kill himself. It wasn’t like he had a future anymore.
“Got another one of those?”
Tristam gasped, half-choking on a mouthful of smoke. An old man stepped out onto the loading dock, he was lantern-jawed and clean shaven. He wore a battered baseball cap.
“I said do you have another one of those cigarettes? I’m fresh out.”
Tristam stood and looked around for one of the orderlies, the residents weren’t allowed to go wandering off unsupervised. “How did you get outside?”
“Christ!” The old man hissed “Do I look like one of the walking dead in there? My wife is here- just until she gets back on her feet.”
“Oh,” Tristam hoped it was too dark for his scowl to be noticeable, he slipped the pack from his jacket pocket, “I just see you around a lot.”
The old man pulled a cigarette from the crinkled cellophane and lit it with a tarnished silver lighter “My name is Phil, Mr. Dowd to young punks like you. I think your Mom does my wife’s physical therapy.”
“Occupational therapy,” Tristam finished off his own cigarette and crushed the remains beneath his heel.
“Hmm?” Mr. Dowd asked.
“My Mom does Occupational Therapy. Physical therapy is different.”
“Whatever.” He glanced out into the darkened parking lot, “Does she know you’re stealing her smokes? Does she know you smoke?”
“I- I mean she- they’re-”
“Thought so,” he laughed a little. “Tell you what, give me the rest of the pack and it’ll be our secret.”
“But my Mom will notice,” Tristam looked to the door, wondering if he should just make a run for it.
“If she does notice she’ll just think that either one of the lowlife fucks that works here stole them or one of the senile fucks ate them or some goddamn thing,” The old man held out his hand, “Now do I get my smokes or do I have to pay Carol a visit?”
With a groan of resignation Tristam handed over the Marlboro pack.
Mr. Dowd pocketed it with a smug little smile, “You just learned an important lesson kiddo, people are scum. Remember it and live well.”