Nothing actually happened for a solid fifteen minutes after Eddie drank the formula. He turned to us (once again) with a forlorn look and asked, “Any change yet? How do I look?”
We knew he was crazy. He was one of those people: perpetually dissatisfied, determined to prove that he was ‘special’. He wanted fame, popularity, success (despite being an already brilliant scientist) and he was driven…you know, crazy…AND he had full use of the company’s laboratory. He had access to all the good stuff too; plasma reactor, laser diffractional transmogrifier, crazy glue – not to mention ebola, thermite and flu vaccine…and I think our awkward, mild mannered (crazy) Eddie used all of it.
By the sixteenth minute, everything changed and Eddie’s fondest wish was realized. He began mutating wildly, spreading outward in every direction, emitting the strangest squeaking moan. He shook, twisted and bloated. He grew tendrils, sprouted claws and screeched Latin gibberish from three of his seven worm-haired monkey faces as horns emerged from his leathery spine. He puffed a sweet yellow smoke, shed tufts of pink fur and dribbled buckets of gooey puss. He was a frightful sight…but he was just sooooo excited we didn’t have the heart to terminate him.
When he finally slowed and stabilized, he turned all of his seventeen eyes-on-a-stalk to us and in a clever series of musical farts, he asked, “Okay!…How do I look now?”
***This brings me right back to my days writing side-effects disclaimers for big Pharma…and Eddie helped me come up with some doozies. He’s still alive and well and the subject of great intrigue at a secret government laboratory in Nevada. I think the locals refer to it as “a sighting” every time he manages to get out for a stroll. John’s image was his very first cover for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (Jan. 2003). -Marsha
He was lonely. He saw her on a crisp Tuesday morning as he got on the train. She gave him just a fleeting glance…but he was lonely and it was enough. She was attractive. His mind wandered after her all day….no, it raced!
He saw her the following Thursday. She smiled at him (he thought) and he lost himself again in sweet daydreams full of romance. He was lonely.
Two days later, in a light snow, he saw her drop a glove without noticing. He got there first and took it to her…she thanked him in a voice like pure milk chocolate. He was SO lonely. He dreamed of them holding hands on the beach, of spooning by the fire, of marriage and contentment. She was so nice…so perfect…
Monday night was a late night at work – a late train home – a late walk through the park toward his lonely apartment building. He saw her standing in the cold. She greeted him with a warm smile. They spoke together quietly. His fatigue melted into a pool of elation…anticipation…happiness. This was his moment! She was so much more wonderful than he ever dreamed. He asked her to join him for a drink – perhaps dinner – sometime? She smiled as she reached elegantly into her purse…pulled out an exotic handgun and forcibly inserted the barrel into his left nostril. And as she fleeced him of his wallet, cash and remaining self esteem, she melted into a screaming demon harpy…..and shot him in both kneecaps before she walked away.
He never saw her again but his loneliness wasn’t much of an issue for a long while after.
***Aaaaaaaah! There’s nothing like a bit of romance to soothe those lonely winter nights. This little piece sums it all up neatly for most people in our modern society. Some writers waste volumes to essentially come to the same conclusion (though I have been known to be pretty cynical). John’s image was first published in the November 2013 issue of Analog Magazine. -Marsha
We stood at the intersection looking down on the body – hit by a bus…how ridiculous! After all the times I’d stopped people on their stupid phone gadgets from walking into traffic…now this? I must have been daydreaming…what an idiot!
Cars were still swishing through the scene while a small crowd of cynical bystanders gathered to make snarky comments in hushed voices (as if they might offend me). The police arrived to push the crowd away and redirect traffic. One of them walked right through me…uugh! Weird!! I shuddered. My companion just grinned.
I felt some regret. It was a good body for a middle aged clown. I’d kept it fit and healthy – not too bad looking, either…but now it was broken and mangled. There were scattered bits of gristle and a thick dark liquid splashed across the asphalt. One of my eyes hung by a thread down my cheek and my skull was split wide open like a busted watermelon – but hey, I always wondered what my own brains looked like….Eeeeew!!!…(Cool!)
My companion stepped over to me with a ‘we should go soon’ attitude. I must say, for a scythe wielding hippy weirdo in a medieval bathrobe, he seemed like a decent chap. He was good enough to give me time to adjust. Finally, with a friendly clap on the shoulder he whispered, “Come along, son. You can’t take it with you…” We turned away and began walking off into the ether.
“Hey Grim!” I said, “You think I’ll come back as a sea slug or a tapeworm? I hope not…maybe I could be a hockey puck! Yeah!…That’s where all the action is…” He shook his head and rolled his eye sockets. “Hey, can you introduce me to Jesus? No…ELVIS!!!…..Yeaaaah!”
***My little fiction aside, Liam the Clown did his best work squashed like a bug. Not much of a song-and-dance guy, Liam’s twitchings had an artsy aesthetic. Anybody who knows anything about Clowns, knows they’re incredibly hard to kill, so Liam never met Jesus – or Elvis but he and Grim became pretty close. -Marsha
Jonny Bot 5 got horny and hot for a high fashion mannequin girl (who did NOT!). Classy and fine, Jonny loved her a lot, she turned up her nose…a high minded snot. He brought wild flow’rs by the bunch, by the pot, tried candy, tried gems, read poems – what ROT! But kindness in turn Jonny 5 never got, not an ounce, not a peck, not even a jot. Tried…..and tried ’till his brains were quite shot until finally…Jonny went cold……and forgot.
***Thought we’d start 2016 on a cheery high note with this post. When we met Jonny Bot 5 he was retired from the department store and past his bad marriage with the mannequin…but was engaged in a sordid online sex thing with Siri the phone chick…it was…well, lets just say ‘I wish I could un-see some things.’ I think John got some good sketches but our publisher (EEW Books) censored them. -Marsha