Unpack your bags, Janey


What a goddamned mess. Janey’s yellow and throwing up blood. Her eyes want to roll out of their sockets.
“Dragon,” she croaks. “Pretty dragon.”
Shit. Dragon Ride’s the worst shit out there. Your mind takes a trip to Paradise, but your body might not be there when it gets back.
I fill the needle with Knight and stab it in Janey’s heart.
“Slay the fucker!” I yell.
I check the label: “M”
Bastard sold Janey a dragon when I warned him not to.
Marco’s gonna ride his car to the bottom of the river. Tied up in the trunk.

No room at the inn


As Joseph and Mary made their way back home, Joseph seethed at the memory of all those innkeepers turning them away.
He had begged and pleaded, but none raised a finger to help in their time of need.
“I will have my revenge,” growled Joseph.
In modern days, hotels and inns have sprinkler systems and smoke detectors, but two thousand years ago? Not a chance.
Just as the Star of Bethlehem led the wise men to the manger, the trail of mysterious inn fires led back to Joseph’s pasture.
Years later, Jesus forgave him for it.
Such a good boy.

Shipping not included


What is it with people and shopping?
I never understood it when I was little. We’d go to another city and my family would go shopping at franchise stores identical to places back home. Same stuff, different place.
They’d also eat at franchise restaurants exactly like back home. Why not go local?
Seventy years later, and my grandkids visit me here at Tycho Base.
Straight to the mall they bound, Sharper Image and Macy’s. Same crap they have dirtside.
Never mind the huge fees for dropshipping this consumermass from orbit. I think shopping without consciousness or awareness is a compulsion.

Helen Handbasket


As unfortunate as Helen A. Handbasket’s name was, one should not mourn her present circumstances.
Six happy but brief marriages, each to men more successful and wealthy than the last, have left her rich in memories and assets. Not many can say they have been first lady twice, you know.
So when people in this town say they’re going to Helen A. Handbasket, it is either to pay their respects or to beg of her a favor that only her great wealth and connections can provide.
Every community should have one like her.
But only one, to avoid nasty rivalries.

Elba Asylum


I bet you that you’ll never guess what makes Elba Asylum unique.
Some people say it’s the hydrotherapy pool, but that thing hasn’t been used in years. None of our patients can swim nor have any inclination to learn.
The stables? Nice guess, but there are several institutions in upstate New York that involve equine activities to help draw out the shy and reclusive.
Ah, yes. You’ve finally noticed: every patient thinks he’s Napoleon!
The principles of mass production, applied to psychotherapy.
Okay, I haven’t cured any of them. But as long as they still pay their bills, why bother?

The Cat’s Pajamas


Fluffy glared at Steve from his nest made from shredded pajamas and hissed.
“Does Fluffy take anything besides pajamas?” asked Steve. “Towels? Socks?”
“Nope,” said Bob. “Just pajamas.”
Steve reached again.
Fluffy hissed louder.
“Fluffy doesn’t like to share,” said Bob. “He thinks those are his.”
“Well, they’re evidence,” said Steve. “Not even Fluffy can stop The Long Arm Of The Law.”
Two hours later, Steve sat in the emergency room with a heavy bandage on The Long Arm Of The Law and a patch on the Scratched Cornea Of The Law.
“You should have called for backup,” said Bob.

Language barrier


Gregory preferred “Father” but they called him “Lieutenant.”
“How’s your Arabic, Lieutenant?” asked the captain.
“Um… not good,” said Gregory. “Just two weeks during Basic.”
“More than I got,” said the captain. “HQ wants Mass for indigenous personnel at oh six hundred.”
“But, that’s in thirty min-”
“You have your orders,” said the captain. “Dismissed.”
Gregory genuflected, saluted, and left.
That afternoon, a Major-Bishop watched as Gregory stuttered and stumbled through the ceremony.
“Forgive us,” he muttered.
Later research by Papal Authorities determined that the wine and host had transformed into the body and blood of Roberto Clemente, not Jesus.

Weapon of Mass Hysteria


“Ladies and gentlemen – observe!”
Doctor Odd wheeled the patient into the gigantic auditorium and began his presentation on the Applied Healing Power Of Laughter.
As the lecture progressed into carefully-orchestrated absurdity, thousands of doctors in the audience began to laugh.
And laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
Soon, the entire audience roared with laughter… into the Sonic Focusing Array!
Doctor Odd turned a few knobs, threw switches, and yelled “Now watch this!”
The patient’s wheelchair shook, glowed blue…
And exploded.
Despite the setback, Doctor Odd still managed to get funding from the Pentagon.
Weapon of mass hysteria, they called it.

Trouble With Teddy


“How on Earth could this happen?” mumbled Arthur.
He read the brochure again:
“The Teddy 3000 is your child’s best friend. Teddy is soft and huggable. Teddy can be used as a floatation device. Teddy has GPS tracking if your child is kidnapped. Teddy is made from 100% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. Teddy can be used as a breathing mask or emergency environment-proof tent. Teddy knows all your child’s favorite songs.”
Arthur put the brochure down and looked at Teddy.
Teddy stared back.
They both watched powerlessly as Arthur’s daughter played “fort” with the box Teddy came in.

Name Your Price!


It is the middle of the twenty-first century, and the naming rights for absolutely everything in America are up for sale. Up to an including America itself.
Want to name a river after your heavy-duty laundry detergent?
Name your price!
Want to name a county in the state formerly known as Idaho after your line of extended-wear colored contact lenses? Name your price!
Want to name that snowy mountainpeak something like your kid’s breakfast cereal? Name your price!
Want to name a hurricane after your closest competitor? Name your price, but you’d better have a good trademark specialist attorney ready.