March 20, 2007
Dave: A Simple Procedure
“Now hold very still, Mr. Donne. This won’t hurt at all.”
“Good to know. You’re gonna use ether or something?”
“No. It’s just that, when I am done, you will feel no pain whatsoever.”
Roger paused. The ropes had been given a bit of juice and held him tightly. “Maybe I should struggle a bit anyway.”
“If you do, I’ll have to rescind my promise about it not hurting.”
“Feeling no pain, no matter how you slice it, is gonna hurt.”
“Not if you’re ordered not to worry about it.”
A snort. “I don’t take well to orders.”
March 21, 2007
Dave: A Very Lost Art
“So what’s in there?” Roger asked. Wen Chi stiffened, then slowly set the violet-hued ceramic bell jar down on the table, carefully before turning.
“It is a secret,” he hissed. “A very large, very dark, very terrible secret.”
“You’d just as soon not let it out, I assume,” Roger replied. His voice remained calm, the automatic unwavering.
“It would be horrible,” Wen Chi said, “It would destroy many lives.”
Roger nodded. The automatic roared. The jar shattered.
The secret spread its wings to either wall. Wen Chi screamed just once as it consumed him.
"Guess so," Roger said, backing away.
March 22, 2007
Dave: Another Satisfied Customer
They pecked away at Graham for hours, throwing barbs and taunts, pointing out in excruciating, horrifying, piercing detail all of his failings, flaws, follies, frets, and faults, flaying him with words as he sat there, on a hard wooden chair under the spotlight.
At first he protested. Then he raged. Pled. Wept. Ultimately, he sat, silent and still, eyes staring off, breathing in quiet, fitful gasps.
When it was complete, and the had others filed out, Mr. Grey walked over, stopping just outside the spotlight. He smiled, softly, and tossed the pistol into Graham’s lap. “You’ll probably be wanting that.”
March 23, 2007
Dave: The Deadline
“Help Desk.” The voice sounded dead on the line.
“My computer’s all messed up,” Bob shouted. “I need someone here, right away.”
“I’ve opened a ticket. Someone will be by before lunch.”
“I need someone here now – this spreadsheet’s got to go out by 9. Without that bottom line, I’m dead.”
“What's the problem?”
“I don’t know – if I knew, I’d be in IT, wouldn’t I? Look, the computer has rebooted itself three times today, and now the monitor’s not showing anything. I –”
The line went dead. The wall clock ticked to 9 and stopped.
Bob was out of time.
March 26, 2007
Dave: What's in a name?
Lightning crackled around Ms. Ina’s fingers. “And now,” she said, childish voice thrumming like a hundred bumblebees, “you die, Roger Donne.”
Donne looked up from his newspaper. Chrys had done some research on this one, and he was lucky Chrys knew English better than he did. “23 Across – Against ending official state church.”
“Big word – 28 letters.” He gestured as casually as he could. “Crossword puzzle?”
She laughed. “Simple dolt. ‘Antidisestablishmentarianism.’”
With a mint-scented howl, she vanished.
He folded the paper. He hated crosswords. And fairies with reverse-name tricks. “Maybe simple, but who’s the dolt?” he asked empty air.
March 27, 2007
Dave: Ain't no power
They made a statue of him. It was sculpted by a man who owed him his life. It was paid for – in materials used, tempering, coating – by a thousand contributors across the System: farmers and ranchers, smugglers and thieves, whores and just plain folk.
They didn’t do it because he was some sort of mythic hero, or civic idol. They did it because he did what was right for his people, and he kept his word, and he delivered the goods. He kept on flying. And those are gorram rare qualities in the ‘Verse.
And that metal-polycrilic statue was shiny.
March 28, 2007
Dave: All the time in the world
Folks talk about “faster than a speeding bullet.” Bullets do move pretty fast, and the lag time between the hammer hitting the back of the cartridge and the impact of the slug in a body three feet away is exceedingly small.
But it still exists. A blink of an eye – but not faster than, say, the reaction time of faeries. Or angels. Or a prepared warding. Or certain technologies not on the market in 1950, but still available to those who had enough money (or a soul) to spare.
In that interval, something can happen.
And, that afternoon, it did.
March 29, 2007
Dave: Lead Us Not into Temptation
Nearly nobody noticed at first. When all the potable ethanol in the world was transformed into an innocuous, non-intoxicating liquid, as midnight rolled across the planet, the only folks who would have noticed were already drunk.
It wasn’t until the next day that the news got out, followed by claims of government conspiracies, aliens, angelic intervention, demonic intervention, global warming, and a host of other frantic explanations.
Within a few weeks, though, concerns had mellowed. Folks realized that loss of booze was, in fact, a good thing.
Now, when all the genitalia disappeared – that’s when the terrestrial mood got ugly.
March 30, 2007
Dave: A Working Relationship
“Sweety,” Chrys said, suddenly frozen. “If I said there was an enchanted Yao Ren scorpion on your shoulder, what would you say?”
“Um –” Roger was still. “I’d hope it was a punchline to an old family joke?”
“Don’t – move –” Her left hand slowly dipped into a slacks pocket. The scorpion twitched.
“Bad angle,” Chrys muttered, then her hand snapped forward. The thrown blade took the scorpion dead-center. It vanished in a green flash and a whiff of copper.
Roger exhaled in a slow shudder. “I love you, honey.”
She smiled, thinly, a gleam in her eyes. “You better.”
April 4, 2007
Dave: It works both ways
"Gods," the large, burly gent in a toga intoned thick-tongued, swaying slightly, "do not drink alcohol while pregnant."
"So no problem for you," Roger said, conversationally.
"You'd be surprised." The deity belched, profoundly. "Nothin' much beyond our powers."
The bronze krator smashed into the laurel-crowned back of his head. The deity toppled over and crashed to the floor, out like a light.
"What took you?" Roger asked.
Chrys snorted. "Finally figured out he’s the kiddie murderer. Jerk's so plastered, he didn't even get the saying right. It's 'Gods shouldn't kill babies while drunk.'"
Roger shuddered, and started dialing the cops.