Wild card


A frog-footman bows, croaks “Harlequin,” and hands me a letter.
I thank him and open it.
Wonderful. There’s another damned croquet match at the palace.
I crumple up the note from the Red Queen inviting me to stay away from the party and toss it in the footman’s green face.
He ribbits and coughs.
“You’re looking for a tip?” I ask him.
He extends a flipper. “Sir?”
I smack him in the face with a pie and slam the door.
By leaving me out, that royal bitch proves once and for all that she’s not playing with a full deck.



You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t come back to pick up their prints.
We used to call them ourselves, but now we let the computer call them.
Still, some folks just don’t care. So unclaimed prints and negatives get kept for a year before they’re tossed in the dumpster.
We really ought to shred or recycle them, but we don’t.
Every day you see someone who looks like a registered pervert go dumpster diving and pull out a box or two.
It’s disgusting, but I guess it’s better than them doing things to the actual kids.



The closer to the front, the quicker you handle support calls.
Even though it’s important to get grunts’ systems back up and running so they can fight, the real issue is purely self-preservation.
Sure, you can remote or tell the grunt to reboot. Or they’ll pull out a spare and send the damaged unit back, but some situations demand hands-on solutions.
This was one of them. And as I was racing to the front, my jeep hit a landmine. Blew everything to bits around me.
And into me. Doctors are still picking bits and pieces out of my bloody gut.

Sent for takeout


Shubblurbpop’s slave-vessel landed, quickly blackholing its shattered jumpcore before disgorging its human cargo for processing.
“Ship’s a wreck, Your Slimeness” said the spaceport administrator. “Where’s the rest of your fleet?”
“Lost it,” said Shubblurbpop. “Bad maps.”
“Good luck explaining it,” said the administrator.
Heading back home, the oozeway was busier than usual, but Shubblurbpop arrived before Mudfall.
“Announcing Shubblurbpop!” shouted the palace pages.
“Um… I wrecked the fleet, Dad,” said Shubblurbpop.
His father writhed pseudopods in annoyance, but Queen Pipblipshububble soothed his rage and welcomed her son home.
“Did you bring Chinese?” asked the Queen.
Shubblurbpop nodded.
All was forgiven.

Something in the air


That smell you’re smelling is the Sweet Smell of Success.
Today, a cold front is lowering the Success Dew Point, so it’s precipitating success out of the air. Normally, it’s less than two or three parts per billion, much less than what a human nose can sense.
Of course, at that concentration, it still drives the dogs wild, almost mad with ambition.
You can train a dug-sniffing dog or a bomb-sniffing dog. There’s even cancer-sniffing dogs in the works. But nobody trains success-sniffing dogs.
So, please, sit still, Mr. Trump. Rover’s a friendly boy.
Just no sudden moves, okay?

The Clock Be Damned


“Meow!” said Frisky, turning circles by his bowl in the kitchen.
“For the last time, it is not time for dinner!” I said.
“Meow!” said Nardo.
“Mew!” exclaimed Piper.
“Look what you’ve done,” I told Frisky. “Now you’ve got the other two all riled up.”
It’s the same thing every year when Daylight Savings Time ends.
I don’t know whether it’s their little furry bellies rumbling or the sun going down earlier every evening, but there’s no telling a cat when his or her dinner is going to be.
The clock be damned, the cats tell you that it’s suppertime.

He wore pink


Another hot night in Miami.
In the Ferrari, Crockett and Tubbs were discussing philosophy, as usual.
“It’s a fuzzy hat,” said Crockett.
“It’s a cat,” said Tubbs.
“Hat,” said Crockett.
“Cat,” said Tubbs.
Crockett and Tubbs argued all night when they should have been watching the subject.
Surveillance usually went this way.
Several days later, they got their man and headed back to the station.
“Hat,” said Crockett.
“Cat,” said Tubbs.
“What?” said The Lieutenant.
“That can’t possibly be a mustache, sir,” said Tubbs.
The Lieutenant scowled, mumbled something like “morons,” and stared as Crockett and Tubbs left the room.

The Phrasebook


“Good news, everyone!” is not the kind of thing you’d expect in a traveler’s phrasebook, but it’s right there alongside “Can you please direct me to the nearest vapor reclamation chamber?” and “Please do not consume my moltings.”
If you think it’s tough working up a list of common social situations between two vastly different species, then I’m pretty sure your mind will rattle and explode at the thought of having to construct a phrasebook for pandimensional travelers.
The truth is, it’s not hard. “How do I get home” is pretty much all you need.
Otherwise, you’re pretty much fucked.

Batting zero in the year 3000


So pretty, he had to try.
“Never in a thousand years” she answered when he asked for a date.
Travis didn’t hear rejection. Instead, he saw a challenge.
And success.
Thanks to his research in Cryostasic Neuromedicine, Travis defeated Death and opened a bridge to eternity for mankind.
He scanned the databases and looked her up.
“Have the centuries thawed your heart to me?” he asked when the last of the ice crystals melted away from her brainjar.
“Absolutely not,” her electrovoder answered. “Go away.”
Travis didn’t wait for the system to finish clonareplicating a cerebral implantation vessel for confirmation.

The Old Man and the Sea of Tranquility


Everybody’s familiar with the movies showing astronauts moon-golfing, but you’ll never any of Luke “Studs” Morgan casting his fishing reel.
In the lesser lunar gravity. he could cast a mile.
Reeling it back in with those thick gloves was hard, Luke said, but the worst part was spearing a vacuum-exposed, subzero-frozen worm on the hook.
His crewmate “Tank” Washington hid behind a boulder and planned on sticking a frozen salmon on the hook, but there’s a scream and that’s where the tape ends.
He came back as cargo and got buried at Arlington.
Hence the tape label: “Fishing Tank Accident.”