The sky turned black and roared.
“Everyone! Cellar!” shouted Henry to his wife and niece.
They ran to the storm shelter, but their niece was gone.
“Where is that stupid girl?” growled Henry.
Emily spotted her running in the yard. “She’s chasing that damned dog,” she said.
Henry yelled, but the winds drowned him out.
“I’m going back,” he said.
“No, you’re not!” yelled Emily, slamming the shelter door.
The winds roared louder, then a crash.
Henry slowly opened the door.
“See her?” asked Emily.
“Yup,” said Henry. “Tornado tossed her through a tree.”
“Stupid girl,” muttered Emily.
The Crown Prince put down his teacup.
“There is no abortion in the Kingdom,” he said.
He smiled. We smiled.
Ten hours later, the GPS unit told us to stop.
“Welcome to the Sea of Lost Children,” said our guide, pointing at the dunes.
We took turns digging.
Eventually, we found them.
“Suffocated in plastic,” said Bob. “Postnatal. No abortion.”
“Just plain murder,” I said. “How convenient.”
That’s when we heard choppers.
We tried to run, but soldiers surrounded us.
“Keep digging,” commanded an officer. “You sought them out, so join them now.”
Ever breathe plastic?
I don’t recommend it.
I never understood that superhero, the one who walked out of an atomic explosion and had flames on his head. Flamehead Guy or Atomic Firehead or something like that.
“Help, Atomic Flamehead Guy!” someone would shout. And he’d fly to rescue them.
Do you think he lit cigarettes with his head? Or made s’mores with it?
If I had a flaming head, I would.
I thought he was cool. I wanted to be him for Halloween, but my mother stopped me before I could light this Sterno can I glued to my head.
What? She’s gone?
Light me up, dude!
They left the gates open, and the guards all stayed home.
The mansion had never been a home. It always felt like a hideout, although the drugs sometimes made it feel like a slide under the world’s microscope.
Or a prison.
“Welcome home,” he muttered.
He’d been gone for almost 30 years, but his key still fit in the lock.
Maybe they switched the old lock back in the door, just for him.
He wandered around the mansion, which had become a sterile museum. Signs everywhere, saying what he’d done, where and when.
But never why.
He shrugged and left.
“Welcome home, Sir,” said the demon on duty at the Gates of Hell.
“What’s with the damn line?” asked Satan. “It took me two weeks to get to this spot.”
“Someone moved our records to that stupid Windows Vista crap and-”
Satan raised his hand. “Say no more.” He laughed and walked up to the turnstile…
Which didn’t budge.
“Stuck?” asked Satan.
“Um…” stammered the demon. “While you were gone, we had a teensy weensy revolution kind of thing.”
“Figures,” said Satan. He turned around.
“Leaving again, Sir?”
“Yeah,” said Satan.”Call if you need me.”
Do you believe in magic?
Well, I do. I believe in it with all my heart.
I’ve seen dragons flying through the clouds. They’re clever creatures, ducking behind the clouds when you get your camera out.
I’ve stopped trying to take their picture. I’d rather just enjoy their acrobatic wonder.
I’ve made friends with the Little People. I’ve also made friends with man-eating giants. But you rarely see both at the same party.
I think it has something to do with the caterers.
There’s more out there, but I can’t tell you right now.
Full moon’s out.
Time to change.
Every so often, Susan filled the fish tank with Jell-O.
Bob, not one for confrontation, pretended not to notice.
“Notice anything different?” asked Susan.
“You… cut your hair?” said Bob. “I like it that way.”
“Ah, okay,” said Bob. “Well, I still like it that way.”
Then Susan would scowl and stomp off.
Bob couldn’t remember when they got the fish tank, nor could he recall ever owning fish.
He looked through their wedding book: silverware… plates…guns… a dining table…
No fish tank.
The next morning, the Jell-O was gone.
Bob never asked where it went.
Better that way.
No matter how hard Frederick tried to keep them from covering his hill, the flowers always managed to grow.
The first message they spelled was “FREDERICK SUCKS.”
Frederick thought it was a prank, so he tore up the flowers and watched the hill.
When he woke the next morning, the flowers returned: “FREDERICK KILLED JENNY.”
Frederick panicked. “Demons!” he shouted.
Frederick tore up the flowers again, and hired some locals to guard the hill in shifts in case he fell asleep.
Which, of course, he did.
“Now he’s paying us,” said a guard. “Sweet. So, what shall we spell now?”
“Let me go,” said the blindfolded reporter.
He struggled with the straps, but it was to no avail. There was no way he was getting up from the chair.
A giggle. A snicker.
“Who are you?” he whined into the darkness.
“Dull as sandpaper, are we?” said a voice.
The reporter instantly recognized the voice. It was someone he’d interviewed a few weeks ago, but he decided to “sex up” his story a bit for the readers.
“I was just trying to-”
“Do unto others,” said the voice. “As they’ve done to you.”
That’s when he heard the belt sander.
We matched velocity and docked with the luxury liner.
The alarm went off as we suited up. Damn, those things are annoying.
Floating throughout the ship we found dozens of lifesacks. Must have been sudden atmospheric failure.
Every one contained a passenger or a crewman. All dead. No survivors.
Was this a bad batch of lifesacks? The hole stabbed in each suggested no. Each victim was frozen in horror.
Who’s the murderer? We checked manifest… all accounted for.
Did they finish everyone off, then themselves?
Whatever. That’s the Orbital Navy’s problem. We’re pirates.
We robbed the cargo hold and left.