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a cure for the common block

Archive for the month “May, 2016”

There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb

The crew had successfully piloted the craft into orbit over T’raat, their planet’s second largest moon. Oon was designated to remain behind and maintain status while Fis and Afa boarded the Lander to depart on their mission. The Lander ejected and the two carefully guided its descent to the surface. Their comms would be active for the final moments before they landed and their first comments after, and aside from a 60-second delay the entire planet would hear everything they said. Countless hours were dedicated to training for any eventuality, preparing them to remain calm no matter what. As Afa stepped off the ladder and placed his boot on the powdery terrain of T’raat he said “Pbar f’tet, tet A’pbar”, meaning “One for all, all are one”. Oon swam through the cabin as he listened in; even though the comment was part of the script and he had heard it rehearsed dozens of times, in that moment he felt a powerful connection to everyone on his planet and a rogue tear escaped from his duct and floated off. He looked out one window to the moon, then drifted to another to look at his planet and contemplate his situation. Oon realized that he was the most isolated being in his entire – he was going to think galaxy when he paused upon a second revelation. Out loud he wondered if somewhere out in the Universe at that very moment was another being on a craft not unsimilar to his own, their home planet on one side and a moon on the other side, with crew not unsimilar to Afa and Fis landing on it for the first time? What made him feel simultaneously insignificant and super-significant was the possibility that this being could be having the same revelations.

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That Vision Thing

Laka placed the headphones over his ears and closed his eyes as he sank into the cushions of his couch. He listened to the strumming guitar chords of “Wild Horses” for the first time in over a decade. He got goosebumps as the song triggered a memory from high school, Prom to be exact: he could see his date’s face clearly. The bumps began to tickle almost like an effervescent tingle beneath his skin and Laka saw Shayna’s face in his mind’s eye more vividly than anything he had ever imagined. He felt wrists resting on his shoulders causing his eyes to jolt open and witness Shayna smiling at him. He was a passive audience, unable to say or do anything differently, but this was the first of many fond memories he had the pleasure to literally re-live.

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Dead End

Dasch had been devising a way to kill Mr. Benedict for weeks; what made it so difficult was that a perfect murder would look innocent. The mob wouldn’t look into the accidental death of one of their own even if it was Orson Benedict, one of the “Three Kings” of Bentam Harbor. It would be a waste of the grease they send to the pigs, and it would raise suspicion on their legitimate businesses. Daschel’s other dilemma was the matter of witnesses and evidence. He had to leave enough of a trail for astute readers to get ahead, but if it was too oblique he risked leaving the less observant unsatisfied when they reached the end. The solution to everything came as a flight to Tuscon to visit his in-laws began its descent and he peered clearly into dozens of backyards, a lone witness hundreds of feet in the sky.

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The Price

Samat carefully trimmed the dead flowers of his jasmine plant. He snipped for a few minutes and then gathered the aromatic buds and added them to his bowl of potpourri. He grabbed his mop from the closet and methodically mopped all 500 square feet of tile and floorboard in his apartment with newly-purchased, extra-strength, lemon-scented cleaner. Samat took a deep breath through his nose while looking around for more to do before dealing with the trash. He lit candles and incense arranged indiscriminately around the living room, but he couldn’t put it off any longer he had to carry out the chore he loathed most. He had been tightly tying up the bags then placing them in another bag which he also sealed securely; most of his neighbors lacked this foresight and others still weren’t showing such consideration. The waste collectors were into their third week on strike. Samat held his breath and sprinted outside, down to the end of the lot where he tossed his bag onto the heap and hoped it wouldn’t cause an avalanche.

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Hero

Tabitha Snodgrass sat at her desk to compose the latest review for her weekly food column. She had never intended to review the sister-city sub shop “Bub’s Dubbed Subs”; while she had no opinion about the states decision to legalize marijuana, she was appalled by the shop’s crude allusions to the substance and its pandering to potheads. Unfortunately, when it gained local attention for a roving food truck she was overwhelmed with requests and forced to patronize the mobile eatery. While mentally crafting a scathing takedown of the establishment before she even ordered her food, she was surprised by how good some of the sandwiches sounded. Eager readers, especially fans of the vicious verbal evaluations for which Ms. Snodgrass gained loyal followers, were taken aback by the delightful tone of her review. She all but demanded everyone do themselves a favor and experience the delicious subs for themselves, exalting the Maui-Wauie and Yellow Submarine especially.

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In the Dark

When Toby was a child his brother told him about a local ghost story, The Whistler. It hit all the familiar beats about such legends: a man torturing and killing his family, dying in a house fire, mysterious disappearances, and an eerie whistling accompanying an unidentified scraping sound. Although his brother’s attempt to frighten Toby wasn’t particularly successful there was something unnerving about the story he couldn’t quite place. Years later he was recounting the tale to his friends at college when he finally identified what bothered him so much: the source of the scraping sound was never revealed – the punchline to every scary story ever – identifying the sound moments before the victims demise, was denied. Toby was visiting his hometown for his mother’s funeral, staying in a hotel when he jolted awake to the sound of scraping coming from the bathroom. He had always imagined the whistling and scraping to be monotonous, but in fact it was one long drawn out hooooo alongside several short scrape-scrape-scrapes. This continued for almost an hour as cold sweat soaked Toby’s bed, until the sounds suddenly stopped. Toby’s sweaty palm clasped the handle of the hotel door and turned it carefully, trying to make a silent escape. He opened the door to reveal a pitch black hallway; the haunting sounds resumed as a figure in the shadows rose, whistling and

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Judgment

The Dictator dismissed the guards and allowed the girl to speak at his side; it was necessary to occasionally challenge the image of an oppressive regime. The fair-skinned child spoke and the Dictator entertained her pleas up to a point. When she entreated him to release her father from the mines his patronizing half-smile melted into disgust as he realized he had been duped. His guards immediately seized her, while assistants took to removing any garments she had touched, and vigorously cleaning everything else. He was angered that his security had allowed a Worm – however deceptive its appearance – into his palace. He did quickly release her father from the limestone mines, but only long enough to witness her public execution.

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Sense and Sensitivity

Tycho strolled through the halls running his fingers along the painted concrete cinder blocks and intermittently pausing to listen to the music emanating from the rooms. He could see the chords as they were plucked; beats pounded; notes chirped; floating and vibrating in the air before him, a colorful array of sheet music only he could see. Tycho was a synesthete, what he saw was not a reality, but merely the confusing of aural and visual senses creating an hallucinatory effect. He slid onto a bench and his head cocked to one side, his ears picking up a rapturous melody. Rather than notes or words usually formed when he listened to a song, her voice formed one of the most beautiful faces Tycho had ever seen. While it didn’t resemble her at all, when he lifted his head to peek through the window, it was all he could see; he was in love.

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Through the Looking Glass

Zalthea Galford’s debut novel, “Pygmalion’s Lament”, focused on the concept of physically manifesting fictional characters. However, where other authors simply used it for wish fulfillment or a means to raise the stakes for battle, Zalthea took a sharp turn toward hard sci-fi; a niche based in actual science without inventing jargon and simplistic analogies to handwave anti-gravity, cryonics, and other staples of science fiction far out of reach of even hypothetical physics. She laid the groundwork of the multiverse, including universes which would inevitably abide by different laws of physics – physics that could allow for the psychic projection of the imagination into the material world. The exposition in the book used a brilliant professor writing a series of calculations with foreign notations and delved into their intricacies. What bored casual readers but intrigued some physicists were the extensive footnotes explaining what undiscovered particles and formulas the notations referred to, and hypothesizing the actual science required for such a feat.

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