Posted on: April 26th, 2009 Entropy in 606 Words

or “A Fictional Exploration of Current Thinking on Localized Entropic Models and Possible Associated Unexpected Phenomena

by Derek Zumsteg

Tom wake up more dumb, bonk head on bed.

“Ow,” Tom say.

Tom blink. Tom forget where work. Also how.

“I get less smart last night,” Tom say. “Much way less smart.” Tom head hurt. Tom try to rub head. Tom put hand in eye.

“Owwwww,” Tom say. “Bad day start.” Tom think. Tom think. “Too much think. My head hurt. Time for walk.”

Sun shine. Sky blue. Each day sun shine sky blue. Not like old place. Rain rain rain rain. Tom smile. Nice town. Young girl point at Tom. Young girl laugh at Tom.

“What?” Tom ask.

“No pants!” girl say. Tom look. Girl right. Tom blush.

Tom walk to school. “Work!” Tom cry. Tom walk around. Tom see green tube sign. “Lab!” Tom yell. Tom run down stairs. Room hot. Many box whirr on many rack. Much wire. Man with giant head.

“I know you,” giant brain man say.

“I know you,” Tom say.

“I look for you.”

“What you do!” Tom yell.

“Box work last night.”

“Think box?”

Brain smile. “Real large comp crunch crunch crunch.”

Tom frown. “Box think think think?”

Brain smile. “Yes!”

“No! Box bad.”

“Box work,” brain said. “You wrong.”

“Not box work wrong. Box work is bad!” Tom jump up and down. Dish rag fall off.

“Oooooooooooh,” brain say. “What?”

“Smart box make dumb. When no box: Me, one thought. Him, one thought. Her one thought. Now box three thought!” All look at Tom. Tom jump up and down. “Box three thought! Me no thought, him no thought, you no thought.” Tom stop. Tom look at giant head guy.

“That more or less same for you.” Tom say. Big brain face go red.

“All work out. Black holes. Stuff like that. I write, you read?”

“I read! I say you write wrong.”

Brain shrug. “That you,” brain say. “You wrong.” Brain stick out tongue. “Nyah!”

“Look!” Tom shout. Crowd stare. “More of you!” Tom wave arms. “It draws for more think! More more!” Tom look. Man bonk head. Tom point. “He walk in rack hurt nose. Hey!” Head bonk guy look. Tom hold up hand. “Count?”

“Errr,” young guy say.

“No count!” Tom ask.
Giant head guy roll eyes. “So?” brain say.

“Here! I fly plane vwoosh vwoosh vwoosh me go see mom now crash plane!”


“No no here!” Tom yell. “I work in lab! What this glass thing? Take home for wife! Smell smell smell. Cough cough die. Die die die.”

“Oooooh. Bad,” brain say.

Tom look for big grey box. “Box write down, or box…” Tom grind teeth. “Box keep in head?”

Brain grin. “In head. Think fast think in head. Write slow.”

Tom find wall. Tom open big grey box. Tom pull heavy top switch. Room go dark, quiet. In the faint red glow of the emergency exit lights, Tom read the labels on the breakers and swapped the lights back on.

“Well, that should be better,” Professor Van Landingham said. He looked around to see the assembled group staring back at him. “Let me be the first to propose that as dangerous this phenomenon was, there’s going to be some outstanding papers in it and there’s no reason we can’t all have our names attached to them if we cooperate.” No one responded. He looked down. “Before we continue, though, I might propose that I would greatly appreciate it if as the first order of business, someone could produce a spare pair of pants I might wear.”

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Posted on: April 18th, 2009 Parasite

by Jeremy Shipp

The tick sucks you out of me in a matter of minutes, but it takes three months before you’re born again.

During the waiting period, I scribble down ideas, diagrams, even snippets of dialogue.  I fill an entire notebook with jagged letters and little holes where my pencils puncture the paper.

Finally, I’m standing over the tick, biting my fingernails, watching him push the embryonic sack out his tiny ass.

“Does that hurt?” I say.

“Yeah, a little,” the tick says.  “But it’s worth the $500.”

“What do you need with $500 anyway?”

“What do you need with a little man?”

You emerge, and cut your way out of the sack, coated with green pus.

“Where did he get the knife?” I say.

“It must be made of calcium deposits,” the tick says.

You’re still disoriented, swinging at the air, shouting something about the army.  I stick you in the black bag.

At dinner, my wife tells me about some non-profit organization, and I pretend to care.  She ends up crying—I’m not sure why.  Maybe I laughed when I should’ve frowned.

Later that night, I’m inside the garage, looking into the gerbil cage.  The black bag isn’t moving, and I’m terrified you’re dead.

But then, when I dump you out, you get up and yell, “What the fuck did you do?”

“This isn’t about me anymore,” I say.  Well, recite.  “You always made everything about me, but it was always about you.  Now you’re gonna pay for what you did to me.  And mom.”

You point your knife at me.  “Let me go, or I’m gonna fucking kill you.”

I laugh.  I laugh at your stupid little knife and your stupid little voice.  I used to be so afraid of those eyes, but now they’re mine to play with.

So I open my notebook.  “You can forget begging for mercy.  I have to do this.”

“You could’ve let me stay dead,” you say.

You’re right, of course.  I shouldn’t be here right now.  I should be in bed, holding my wife in my arms, dreaming this nightmare instead of living it.

But it’s too late now.

I reach for the ant farm.

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Posted on: April 12th, 2009 Apocalypso

by Soren Lundi

In Vegas the odds were against us.  Everyone was betting on God and his angels; they walked around like it was a done deal.  I put 10 dollars on the forces of evil and the bookie smiled and shook his head.  When the day came, everyone stayed in to watch the rapture on TV. Our television was broken.  We could have gone over to Severin’s and watched the whole thing unfold in black and white like a Goddard film, but it just didn’t seem that important.  We were damned either way.

We went to bed early, making love like nothing was happening.  The stereo up to cut down on the noise, your Joy Division records sounding more like the end of the world than the end of the world ever would.  I bit your lip and you pulled my hair and when we woke up in the morning it was like nothing had changed.

But looking out the window we saw the lake of fire, and I for one was pleasantly surprised.  From what I’ve seen of hell it’s a beautiful place, I don’t know how it got such a bad reputation.  I watched you get dressed and we drove to the bookie’s to collect my now completely useless 50,000 dollars as a souvenir.

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Posted on: April 5th, 2009 The Time-Share

By Fred Warren

They time-shared me to Chuckie Lee Wilson after he died. If you take a life, you give your life. That’s the law now. No excuses, no shades of gray.

Chuckie Lee car-jacked me at a dark intersection downtown. When he broke through my window, I stepped on the gas and dragged him for three blocks. The prosecutors told me I was lucky the upload crew got to him in time, or I would have spent the rest of my life in a cage.

“He was going to kill me,” I said.

“Nobody knows what he planned to do,” they said. “Chuckie Lee Wilson is dead, and you killed him.”

“I didn’t mean to kill him. He had a gun, and I panicked. His sleeve caught on the door.”

“You could have stopped the car. Instead, you took his life. Now you’re going to give it back.”

So, Chuckie Lee gets half my life in exchange for the life I took from him. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are mine. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are his. We trade off on Sundays. I wear a tracker locked onto my ankle.

Monday night, I ride the bus to Chuckie Lee’s apartment on the East Side. The state pays his rent and sends him an allowance so he doesn’t have to work. I clip on the wires from the upload box, lie on his bed, and press the button. It’s like getting hit in the head with a jagged rock. I go into the box, and Chuckie Lee goes into my brain. Inside the box, there’s nothing. I sleep, but I don’t dream.

Tuesday belongs to Chuckie Lee.

Wednesday morning, I wake up and deal with whatever Chuckie Lee did to my body the day before. I’m hung-over. My mouth tastes like road kill, and my clothes stink of cigarettes and weed. My face and hands are bruised and cut. I shower and take the bus to work. Anybody who talks to me stops when they notice the tracker.

I’m no good at my job anymore. I forget things. My company wants to fire me, but the court won’t let them. The judge says it would have an adverse impact on Chuckie Lee. After work, I order take-out and eat it at home in front of the TV. Then I go back to Chuckie Lee’s, and it starts all over again–Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and every other Sunday.

On my Sunday, there’s no upload that night, and I sleep in my own bed. I dream, but I don’t want to. I see Chuckie Lee’s face, pleading, twisted in agony. I hear him scream as the pavement tears him apart, over and over again.

I used to be married. Melanie was pretty, and we were happy together until I killed Chuckie Lee. When the time-share started, Melanie couldn’t handle it, knowing Chuckie Lee was inside my head. She was scared to be alone with me. Chuckie Lee came after her one Tuesday, and she fought him off with a kitchen knife. Friday morning, Melanie was gone. I think she went back to live with her folks. I don’t remember. I wear long sleeves to hide the scars.

I wonder sometimes what it’s like for Chuckie Lee. I left him a note once: “Please take better care of my body. You got a second chance. Do something good with your life.”  He didn’t reply. The hangovers just got worse. His friends sit on the apartment steps and laugh at me when I go inside to do the upload. “How’s it feel to be Chuckie Lee’s ride, Slick?  Serves you right.”

I passed another time-share on the street last week. His clothes were torn and dirty, and he staggered as he walked. He was a teenager, but his hands shook like an old man’s. When he saw the tracker, he stared at me like he was drowning, like I was the only person in the world who could understand, begging me to save him.

I turned away. Save him? I couldn’t save myself.

I want my life back, the part they stole from me and gave to Chuckie Lee, the part he beats up, and poisons, and wastes, one day at a time. I want to drive my car again and have dreams that aren’t nightmares. I want Melanie. I want to remember.

I’m tired of sharing.

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