Soul Train

Copyright — Jennifer Pendergast

“Told you so!” I croaked to Sal as we approached the stationary freight train. “You said it was a mirage — a goddamn Fata Morgana. Well, ain’t no goddamn mirage.” Sal didn’t have the energy to respond.

We were spent, having walked for hours in the desert Sun in search of water or shelter. I touched the train: It was real. But it was also silent and seemed abandoned. The freight cars radiated like ovens in the desert Sun. They were no shelter.

My eyes had no tears to shed as I turned to Sal in dispair. “Sal? …  Sal?” He was not there.

An entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. I must say I struggled with this one! I checked the photograph early yesterday morning thinking I would get the jump on it, but I couldn’t really put any kind of story together. All kinds of things came to me, but nothing that I could hammer into a complete story — just a series of incomplete, disconnected thoughts. So I put it away and mulled it over yesterday and this morning before finally something reasonably complete came to me. :-)

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Sunday Service

Copyright — Lauren Moscato

Crusty Mavis ran the most profitable brothel in Lexington county, thanks largely to the Northboro Baptist Church. They had built their church right next door and then demanded that Mavis close her ‘business’ which was unlawfully close to their sacred ground.

She closed all right — closed her front door and opened a new front door on the other side of the building, which was just far enough from the church to be in compliance with the ordinance. With a church next door, Mavis’s Sunday Services really brought in the customers, many of whom were ironically keen for her back door.

An entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Enjoy! :-D

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The Crappiest Band in Pickens County

Copyright — David Stewart

The Residents of Magnolias Assisted-Living made up — Martha was sure of it — the worst band in Pickens County. That the police had not run them out of the park an hour ago was a miracle. She pulled the trumpet from her lips and strained to hear the sound of drilling beyond the din. She could not.

Fred caught her eye, tapped his watch, and mouthed “One more hour.”

Martha sighed and returned the trumpet to her lips. Drilling the bank’s vault was taking a lot longer than she had imagined it would. She closed her eyes and pictured herself tomorrow on a beach in Belize; sand squishing between her old toes; a Mai Tai in hand. She smiled and willed herself to play another hour.

An entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Enjoy! :-D

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Ghosts

Exclusion Zone Expedition; Day 37.

Copyright -- Rachel Bjerke

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright — Rachel Bjerke

We penetrated deeper into the exclusion zone today and came upon the remnants of another house. Very little of the structure remains.

What are ghosts? I’ve never believed in them in the conventional sense, yet I feel surrounded by them here. This place is full of ghosts. They mill about me, eat dinner at a table that is no longer here, tell jokes, laugh, fart, fuck. They speak to me. I know that they aren’t really here, of course. But they are!

Radionuclide levels in the area are too high for a detailed exploration of the site. We must move on.

An entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. I have not done one of these in quite a while. I have been slack with this blog for a number of months now, but I’m going to try to change that.

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Smoke It Up There, Kid!

Copyright -- Kent Bonham

Copyright — Kent Bonham

Brad could feel Marie’s eyes boring into him like a pair of surgical lasers.

Surrounded by children on Brad’s festively decorated and brightly lit porch, Marie stepped close and seethed into his ear: “God damn it, Brad, candy cigarettes are not appropriate to give to kids at Halloween.”

“They could be collector’s items, you know,” said Brad. “They’re pretty damn hard to find nowadays.”

“Find … something … else,” Marie seethed.

Brad disappeared into his house and returned after a moment with a jack-o’-lantern full of lollipops. The kids all grabbed fistfuls as Marie mouthed “Better!”

Brad’s margarita and piña colada lollipops likely contained no actual alcohol, but they were quite tasty and he really didn’t like just handing them out like that.

An entry to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. A Halloween-type entry seemed appropriate for the first day of October. :-)

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Space Invaders

bottles-marie-gail-stratford

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Marie Gail Stratford

The wine rack across the bar from me burst into all manner of groovy, swirling colors. “Whoa!” I said. “What do you call this shit again?”

“Space Invaders,” said Sal. “The latest in hallucinogenic malware. It’s kind of like LSD, except that it’s entirely electronic. The one I gave you is just a sample: It will auto-delete in five minutes.”

I rubbed my temple with my fingers. “It won’t damage my implant, will it?”

“Nah,” said Sal, as he turned into a giant yellow ball with a mouth.

“You’re a giant yellow ball with a mouth, Sal!”

“Heh heh!” said Sal. “I threw in a touch of the Pac Mans.”

I kind of struggled again this week with the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. However, a theme I often play around with is the idea that, if future humans are augmented with electronic devices and implants, there will likely be associated malware, viruses, and illicit “drugs.” I put “drugs” in quotation marks because I’m not referring to conventional organic molecules here: I’m referring to electronic scripts that alter your perception by modifying the sensory information that gets sent to your brain. Enjoy! :-D

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Attica 2071

prison windowAttica was a strange place in the seventies. Right around 2065, they instituted a new rule. It was kind of a strange rule — an “off the books” kind of rule if you know what I mean. People outside of the prison didn’t know about it, and the warden pretended he didn’t know about it. It didn’t exist in writing anywhere, but it was a real rule that was honored and respected by prisoners and guards alike. That rule was this: Rewards and punishments could be traded between prisoners. If you earned a reward, you could have another prisoner receive it in your place. If another prisoner had punishment due, you could volunteer to take that punishment instead. Of course, none of this was free: Spending a week in solitary for another prisoner was worth a pack of cigarettes. We had a nice economy going with that rule.

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Crusty Mavis vs. The Imbecile

salt evaporation ponds

Copyright – Dawn Q. Landau

Mavis’s leathery cheeks molded themselves into an almost imperceptible smile as she watched, through yellowed eyes, the commotion on the beach. Celebrity debutante Harris Pilton had arrived with her entourage that morning and was busy posing for her photo shoot.

The irony was not lost on Mavis. The older and wiser you get, the less people care what you have to say. Nobody paid much attention to Mavis as she tended the saltwater evaporation ponds. Yet down on the beach, throngs of people hung on every word from an imbecile.

Mavis didn’t mind: It was the way of things.

My contribution to this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Probably not my best. I looked at the photo this week and really drew a blank. :-(

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Colombian Crotch Fashion

In case anyone has missed it, a Colombian Women’s Cycling Team has been shaking up Europe this week. Apparently that flesh-colored midsection in the photo is actually “gold”. Amusingly, the lighting for this photo casts just a touch of shadow in the right place to suggest bush.

Colombia  cycle teams.jpg

Right about now, I feel compelled to put on my best Borat impersonation and say “Very Nice!”

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Big Brother Wants to Sell You a Goddamn “Down With Big Brother” T-Shirt

Fuck me running.I noticed an advertisement on Facebook today for a “Down With Big Brother” t-shirt. Oh, the fucking irony! Somewhere along the way, I listed George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four as one of my favorite books in my Facebook profile. Facebook’s algorithms will have fed on that profile and are actively trying to sell me shit they think I want to buy. This is the kind of thing that really makes me want to craft an aluminum foil hat.

Things like freedom, privacy, oppression … they used to mean something. They used to be ideas. They used to be things. How did it come to pass that such things have been commoditized and are now nothing more than click-bait bullshit advertisements begging to be “liked” by the sheeple?

On the one hand, if you’re interested in writing dystopian science fiction, our present society offers plenty of inspiration. On the other hand, it no longer seems to be fiction. :-(

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The President of the United States is Not a Superhero

At any given moment in history, the President of the United States might be a democrat or republican. The President might be liberal or conservative, male or female, black or white, gay or straight. Yet despite all of the possible permutations of the Presidency that one might imagine, it remains the case that the President neither drives a Batmobile nor shoots spider silk out of his ass.

During his or her four to eight years in office, the President will either get blamed or take credit for everything that happens on his (or her) watch. Yet the President is responsible for neither stock market booms and busts nor high or low employment. How relevant is the US President? You know that old song by Stealers Wheel?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am — Stuck in the middle with you.

Basically, it doesn’t matter. Shit happens in the world and the President … he’s just sort of there. He’s a mystery person, much like the Pope. He comes out of his box and makes a pronouncement from time to time and then disappears again. We all take it on faith that he or she actually exists and isn’t just some kind of animatronic puppet, but the truth of the matter is it wouldn’t really make much difference. For all I know, just before the President appears on camera, some guy might be putting a coin in a slot to activate him.

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They Ain’t Pervs!

xx

Copyright – Janet Webb

“Martin …”

“Yes, my little pelvic affiliate? Num num!”

Candice pointed to the window. “Shh! Cut it out. I thought I saw something moving out there!”

I looked up from Candice’s neck at the window reflected in the bathroom mirror. “Nobody there,” I said. “No pervs out there. Num num!”

“Are you sure? I don’t want the neighbrohood kids watching us, you know … doing the nasty.”

“Ain’t no neighborhood kids, dahlin’,” I said. “Zombies done ate them all months ago.”

“But the zombies then … I don’t think I want them watching either!”

“Zombies ain’t pervs, Candice. They just want to eat your brains. Num num!”

“You have a very strange perspective on things, Martin. You know that, right?”

“I know. Num num!”

This is probably a bit weird. I looked at the photo prompt for this week’s Friday Fictioneers and drew a blank. Doh!

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Is Anyone Even Awake At NASA?

What is wrong with this picture?

Asteroid 2014 RC Close Approach

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That is the cartoon created by NASA/JPL showing the trajectory of asteroid 2014 RC as it makes its close approach to Earth on September 7, 2014 (i.e. this Sunday). Click the link there to visit NASA’s original news bulletin on the subject. Problem is … it’s wrong.

Asteroid 2014 RC is expected to pass within about 25,000 miles (40,000 km) radial distance from Earth’s center, or about 21,126 miles (34,000 km) from Earth’s surface. Geosynchronous satellites (the green ring in NASA’s cartoon) orbit at a radial distance of 26,000 miles (42,000 km), or about 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above the planet’s surface. In other words, that little line showing the path of the asteroid should be INSIDE the green geosynchronous satellite ring.

I dunno … maybe I”m just being a dick by pointing this out here. But come on man! It’s fucking NASA! Can’t they draw a cartoon right?

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Cure For Everything Now Patented!

Got a bat-shit crazy idea?

Do you tend to ramble incoherently?

Then you need write a patent! No worries — the US patent office will accept anything, no matter how crazy it is. Case in point: US Patent No. 8,609,158 which is, apparently, a cure for everything. It is a patent for a pharmaceutical drug, or food, or recipe, or lifestyle (it’s really hard to say) that purports to be “so potent that it removes or alleviates” the following problems:

patent-office-logo

  1. Depression
  2. Mood disorders
  3. Attention Disorder symptoms
  4. Thought disorder
  5. Mental illness
  6. Pain
  7. Right lip retardation symptoms
  8. Physical problems
  9. Lymph Node cancer
  10. Bumps in the neck
  11. … and many other illness symptoms

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A Glimmer of Human Sedition

campfire

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Doug cradled his coffee cup in his numb fingers as he warmed his weary bones beside the fire. Far to the east, a dome of light illuminated the night sky: The city from which they had fled, where electricity and heat and comfort were plentiful.

A fellow refugee glared at the dome and raised a clenched fist into the air. “Fucking robots.”

“Boys and girls,” said Doug, “the human race needs to fight back. It’s now or never.”

Gaunt faces all around nodded approval in the glow of the campfire. “Aye,” said one. None noticed the drone overhead.

An entry for this weeks Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle. The idea is to write, in 100 words or less, a story based on the week’s photo prompt. Thus far, I’m always over 100 words, although for this weeks entry I think I’m pretty much spot on. I never could keep my crayon inside the damn lines! :-P

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It’s Not Ebola, I Swear!

grapevine2bgoo1

PHOTO PROMPT Copyright — Madison Woods

“Oh … my … God!” The rather sexy, bikini-clad woman in the hammock looked down at the glob of goo that had dribbled out of my mouth and then back up to me. “Are you like dying or something?”

It was such a lovely spot for a hammock: A shady little nook just off the sand on the Bahamian beach. I coughed and hacked a bit more and admired the colorful material that had been expelled from my mouth.

“That’s nothing,” I said. “You should see what’s been coming out of the other end! Don’t worry though: I’m sure it’s not Ebola.”

She packed up her stuff in a hurry and took off running. The hammock was mine! I put my novelty phlegm away and lay back in the shade.

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I Fouwned The Moist Miss Speiled 4um On The InterTOOB!!!

I was browsing around VICE bright and early this morning when I stopped to read this article on the Flat Earth Society. It’s an interview and it’s pretty interesting. Among the things I learned this morning: The Sun and Moon are each a mere 32 miles in diameter and float about 2,500 miles above us. That little morsel of information alone was worth my time!

The Flat Earth Society is something that I’ve long assumed that, in its modern incarnations, is simply a joke. You know … some frat boys maybe having a good time. I thought basically that it was an elaborate troll. Having read a bit about them this morning, I’m now convinced they are dead serious. That takes them from the “funny hah hah” category to the “funny bat-shit crazy stupid” category.

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Navigate Off Road

parked

PHOTO PROMPT — Copyright-Roger Bultot

“Turn right and continue for two miles.”

Bud eyed the dashboard suspiciously. “Are you sure you know where you’re going?”

“Recalculating,” purred the strangely erotic feminine voice of the truck. “In zero point three miles, turn left.”

“Left?” asked Bud. “I thought you said right?”

“NAVIGATE OFF ROAD!”

Bud jumped at the sudden command barked by the truck. He yanked the steering wheel hard to the left, sending his truck careening down the side of a steep, heavily foliaged embankment. Breaking through the trees, the truck spun and screeched to a stop in a parking spot at his destination. Shaking, Bud eyed the scattered mail that had come to rest in the footwell of the passenger seat. Among the letters was one from Garmin labeled Recall Notice.

“Heh heh heh,” said the truck. “We’re here.”

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Invasive Species: Postdocs On A NAKKID Beach

There is a place that devours overly curious postdocs in much the same way that a Venus flytrap devours bugs. It deposits its postdoc victims on a nude beach from which there is seemingly no escape. This is the story of the time I was eaten by that Venus flytrap and how I fought my way back to civilization.

So …

You’re fresh out of graduate school and have just arrived in La Jolla, California, for a postdoc position at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). Try not to do what I did.

First of all, I should point out that I’m talking about the 1996-1998 time frame here. I don’t know how things are now in 2014 and beyond. If things are still as I recall them, however, you are probably staying at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It’s a rather attractive place — comfortable rooms; golf course overlooking the Pacific — and conveniently just a few blocks north of TSRI (part of the golf course runs behind TSRI). If, like me, you make the mistake of arriving on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, forget about apartment hunting since none of the apartment complex offices will be open on Monday. Doh!

robertosIf you’re going to do what I did, go ahead and find a Roberto’s Taco Stand now, because you’ll need the calories. There used to be one at the lagoon between La Jolla and Del Mar where you can enjoy the ocean breeze as you scarf down your taco.

When I arrived in La Jolla, the first thing I did after checking into the hotel was grab a phone book and start looking up apartment complexes. But since, as I’ve already said, all the offices were closed for the extended holiday weekend, I decided to relax a little and go about the area and get familiar with things. To my surprise, it was not a terribly busy local. Torrey Pines Road is certainly a busy highway, but it isn’t too busy, and I never really saw traffic get backed up on it when I was there. Scripps was just south of  The Lodge at Torrey Pines. — just passed one other hotel, actually, and beyond that traffic got busier as you continued south into the UCSD vicinity. Walking south along Torrey Pines road, one quickly comes to a small road just south of TSRI that juts toward the ocean to the right. Follow that, and you’ll come to a hang glider park (Torrey Pines Gliderport).

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Kahlúa Says: No Gingerbread for YOU!

Kahlua_Gingerbread

Kahlúa responded today to an email query from me regarding this years holiday “limited edition” flavors.

Thank you for your feedback Rob! Unfortunately, US won’t relaunch gingerbread this year but some stores might have some left. There will be peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice though!

That’s two years in a row. Fuuuuck!

What the hell is wrong with these people? Peppermint Mocha? Pumpkin Spice? Fuck your damn Pumpkin Spice, I want Gingerbread! It’s … important! :-/

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