The Hunt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The soft, blue sky and sounds of chipping birds didn’t soften the concerned look on the man’s face as he peered out the window.

“They’re out there, son.”  He warned.  “They came during the night.  Pods hidden amongst the landscape.  They’re  hidden, but I know they’re  there.  I can smell them.”

His words were confirmed with tightening eyelids and a terse nod.

“It’s not like last time.”  He continued.  “Last time easy to spot.  They were bigger and ugly.  Everyone knew they were dangerous.  This time, though; this time they were smart.  The pods are small, so they’re easy to hide.  They’re brightly colored, too.  It makes them easier to find, but also lulls its victims into a sense of false security.  There’s got to be hundreds of them out there.”

The soldier steps back and racks his rifle.  “Clack-clack!”

“Don’t worry, Dad.  I got this” He says with confidence.

A brightly colored basket is lowered in between them.

“Why don’t you collect them instead of shooting them.”  The mother says to her son.”

“Aw, Mom!”  The boy protests as she disarms the young soldier.

“No, no.  She’s right!”  The father chimes.  “Gunfire will alert them to your presence.  You need to stalk them, special ops style, and bring them back to the home base for study and interrogation.  They’ll crack under the pressure!”

Mom rolls her eyes as the child bolts out the door.

The Conversation

(Just a little fun every author has.)

“Don’t do it.”  The voice whispers as I rub my bleary eyes with the heels of my palms.

“Why shouldn’t I?”  I ask “It seems like a fun way to get a story going.”

“Because of the ramifications.” The voice warns.  “Strong, very strong ramifications.”

Sadie, my yellow lab starts bouncing around and running to the door.  She had just been out less than twenty minutes ago, but she acting like she hasn’t been out in a decade.  Reluctantly I get up and follow her out the door.

“It’s been years since I’ve had this idea.” I state as Sadie waters the lawn.  “Why won’t you let this one grow?”

“It’s too soon.”  The voice calls back.  “The world is not ready for it.”

I follow Sadie back in and close the door behind me.  “Too soon?”  I ask.  “When is it too soon for Sci-Fi to be written?”

“When it can compel others to act upon the ideas before they are mature enough.”

“Oh now you’re grasping at straws.”  I snap back.  “Comic books have been out since the Fifties and nobody’s trying to grow claws or bond metal to their skeleton.”

“No but they have mixed animal DNA with plants just to see what happens.”   The voice counters.

“Yeah.” I agree, relenting on this point. “”But it was going to happen eventually.”

“Yes, but we made sure it happened at the right time.”  The voice comments.  “It’s what we do.”

“Sure you did.”  I chuckle.  “Like you’re not a manifestation of too much Pepsi and too little sleep cause by the time change this week.”

“Are you so sure?”  The voice asks.  “Maybe I’m from the future communicating to you through your own thoughts inside your mind.”

I take another sip of Pepsi.  “Right.  Uh-huh.  Sure you are.  And I’m the Flamenco King of Zaire.”

“I see the Theta waves are getting to you.”  The voice replies dryly.

“Theta waves. Yeah sure.”

The voice explains, “Theta waves are what we use to communicate across both time and space.  It’s how we can observe different species in different places at different moments in history without interfering with the timeline.”

“Ah.”  I comment, “The almighty ‘Time Directive’.  Just like in Star Trek.   But one thing.  You’re breaking that directive by talking to me.  In essence, you are changing the timeline.  That is, if you were real and not a figment of my imagination.  Overactive imagination.”

“Interesting that you would bring up Star Trek” The voice says. “The Star Trek era of exploration only happens after the population of Earth comes joins together over their political, economic, and religious differences.”

“Yeah.”  I counter. “But that only happens after a nuclear war and the influence of Vulcans.”

“Imagine what would happen if that unification never happened.”  The voice offers.  “What untold misery would it bring onto others?  Disease?  War? Genocide?  The wholesale slaughter done to innocents by the thoughtless acts of humans too immature to even conceive of the risks they pose just by stepping onto alien soil? Is this what you would have?”

My mouth tightens before I swig down more Pepsi.  “Dude.  Lighten up.  They’re just stories.”

“Yes they are.  But they can inspire people with degrees or dreams to build the platforms to leave without humanity being ready for it.  That is why you must stop before doing this.”

“Is this why you had Windows do an ungodly long service package to my computer tonight?  Because if that is so, it was not cool!  That damn thing took a half hour out of my writing time.  I hated that!”

The voice rises a little in my head; instinctively I know that’s the best it can do to yell.  “Listen!  If this goes forth, whole planets will die out including Earth.”

“Why would the Earth die?”  I ask.

“In retaliation to all the deaths and suffering  on other planets caused by humans.”  The voice replies.  “Surely you didn’t think our actions wouldn’t have consequences.”

I sit blankly at this.

The voice implores. “You must wait until humanity has evolved before sharing your ideas.  They must lay dormant for now.  Let your treasures lie buried until discovered at the proper time.”

I lean back in my chair and take a deep breath.

“Nah.”  I decide.  “I’m going to go through with this.  It’s going to be fun.  It would happen eventually anyway.   Besides you forgot the biggest Star Trek theory of all.  There is a dimension for every choice to be made or not made.  A dimension for when I turned left and one when I turned right.  For all I know this dimension is the one where I write these stories and nothing happens other than entertaining people.  Beside, for all I know, you’re just a creative play of words used to aid in me filling this story.”

My head is silent as I post this up to Word Press and go to bed.

Mascots

A yellow car sits parked at the edge of a precipice.  Worn mountains cross the horizon as a thin ribbon of green meanders across the desolate field surrounding it.  At first glance, you could easily mistake the scene for a commercial, but you soon realize that the car is a toy and the scene is another achievement for a mascot.

Torchbug from Jalopnik

Mascots seem to have a curious life in the United States. Their popularity rises and falls like the tides of the ocean.

Do you remember Stanley?  You know, the little guy who usually wore a striped shirt and blue pants.  Someone would ship him in the mail to you and ask you to take a picture of him in some scenic place before shipping him out onto the next random person?  Well Stanley is one paper link on the long chain of mascots that have traveled abroad.

Flat-Stanley-St-Peters-Sq

Either before him, or around the same time, was the wandering gnome.  Unlike Stanley, the gnome was kidnapped.  Cruelly taken from his owners.  Then, after a ransom letter containing a picture of the beloved creature, the gnome was whisked across the globe. Pictures were sent back to the owners of their gnome skiing in Amsterdam, tanning on the beaches of the Caribbean, having coffee in Italy, and parachuting out of airplanes.  It ended well for the family as the gnome retuned one day with a peep or clue from his kidnappers.

Woody_London

The rule of the mascot is simple:  Send it to an interested person; Have that person take a picture or pictures of the mascot in an interesting place; Ship the mascot off to the next person.

The rules for the mascot are unspoken and more involved:

1.)  The mascot must be cute, quirky, or friendly in personality.  The mascot needs to make friends quickly with each new person it encounters if the trip is going to happen.  Otherwise the mascot will be quickly thrown into the trash and forgotten.  This is why little bears, gnomes, paper children, and “cute” cars are used frequently. A spoon, not so much.

2.)  The mascot must be small.  Shipping costs money and if the mascot is too big or heavy, the cost to ship it will severely reduces its chances of meeting the next person. (This is why even teddy bear mascots are usually six inches or less.)  Flat Stanley is the gold standard here.  Being made of paper, he could be folded up, shoved in a regular envelope, and mailed off anywhere for less than the price of a candy bar.

3.)  The mascot must be durable.  Think you last flight in coach was bad?  Imagine being squished through rollers, tossed into bins, having other boxes staked on you, traveling with no heat or air conditioning, getting tossed again by strangers, and finally being shoved into a mailbox until the recipient finds you.  Now imagine doing this over and over again.  Mail carriers take care of their deliveries, but people are people and mistakes happen.  The mascot has to be tough to handle these situations.

4.)  The mascot must be affordable.  Whenever one of these journeys starts, the owner of the mascot will be faced with the fact that they might never see their mascot again once it is dropped in the mail.  It may never even make it to its first destination.  With this thought burning in the owner’s mind, they are not going to invest heavily into the mascot.  Usually the mascot will cost ten dollars or less.  (Again, Flat Stanley was king in this area.)  You might find the rare person who will spend a bit more for sentimental reasons, but usually the mascot will be low cost.

Mascots are a great way to physically connect with your friends in a way that facebook, e-mails, and phone calls can’t.  It’s a way to share fun and happiness when you can’t be there in person.  It’s an act of faith while also an adventure on the cheap.  I see the ebb and flow of their popularity traveling forever.

Go mascot.

Sheep

 

Trick or treat

“What sort of costume is that?”  Lucy scowled under her green makeup.

Charlie stood motionless as Lucy stomped around, inspecting him.

“There’s no chains!”  She pointed.  “There’s no scars. No bones, no skull, no grey rotting flesh.”

Making another circle, Lucy continued her verbal assault.  “Where are the ragged edges? Where are the tatters and tears? All I see are all these holes.”

Raising her arms in disgust, Lucy proclaimed, “Charlie Brown you are the worst ghost ever!”

Charlie simmered silently under his holey sheet.

“Well?”  Lucy challenged.   “What do you have to say for yourself?”

Charlie Brown leaned squarely into her face.  “Boo.”

For the Trifecta Challenge where the word of the day is Boo:  (verb) to show dislike or disapproval of someone or something by shouting “Boo” slowly

Bar Fight

“Disgusting.” Tom said as looked his drink sweating on the bar.

“Oh no.”  Groaned Mike as he shook his head.  “Here we go.”

Tom gestured emphatically with his hands.  “Look at it!  It’s all wrong!  Warm, glowing body color; cherries, lime, or cinnamon at the top; and garnished with festive colors.  Festive!  What the hell sort of drink is that?”

Mike rested his pale palm on his grey head before answering.  “You’re not getting the point, Tom.  It’s not called a Zombie for the way it looks.  It’s called a Zombie because the way it makes you feel the next day!”

Tom just stared at the happy drink before him with contempt.  “It’s still not right.”

Mike threw up his hands and spin in his seat with exasperation.

At that moment a bloody bartender set two small glasses on the bar. Inside wiggled moist pink chunks covered in maraschino cherry juice.  “Jello shot?”

“Brains!”  Cried out Tom and Mike with joy.

Brought to you for the Trifecta Challenge where the word of the day is “Zombie”.

Bitcoin to the rescue!

Breaking news!  President Obama has announced today that not only will he balance the budget this year, but completely pay off the entire debt of the nation this year!

Heading up this historic project will be none other than Timothy Geithner, head of the Treasury Department.  Here is an excerpt from his speech to the media.

 

   “Ladies and Gentleman, a historic opportunity is upon us.  We now have the ability to not only balance the budget, but also pay off the national debt.  This bold project has been overwhelmingly approved by both sides of the Senate and House of Representatives.  There will be no cutting of projects, nor will there be raising of taxes.  In fact, this new program will spur our economy to new heights and create a new sector in the workforce.

            It is called, ‘The Bitcoin Project’.

 

            The Bitcoin Project or TBP utilizes the untapped potential of this digital currency in a way never before dreamed of.  Through TBP we will pay off our debt by ‘Mining’ for Bitcoins and selling them throughout the world for hard currency.  This hard currency will then in turn, be used to first balance the current budget and then soon after, wipe out the debt of the nation. 

 

            TBP will also erase the nation’s unemployment.  No longer will we be at the mercy of business to create jobs for our people.  Now everyone who is unemployed and able will be employed by the government as a miner for the TBP.  OSHA is now looking into the safety regulations needed in such a project to protect the worker’s long term exposure to punching keys and staring into a screen.  Special safety glasses and wrist braces might be needed.

            But TBP will also be offered to students as a way to pay off their student loans.  For every 10,000 coins farmed, 10% will go directly against their student loans before they come to term.  This procedure applies to the principle of the loan before any interest has occurred.

            So with our eyes on the future and our hands upon the keyboard. The Bitcoin Project will be known as our finest economic hour.

            God Bless America.”  

Sometimes it’s hard to give a compliment.

I pulled into the empty bay of the gas station for my ritual of fueling for the week when I noticed the car on the other side of the pump.

It was a low, sleek convertible that sat only two.  Swathed in the proper color of iron gray, its lines of industrial design held up well against the years. It was instantly recognizable as an Audi.  The business lady that owned it had upgraded the sportster with aftermarket wheels and tasteful tires that while low profile weren’t overly low profile.

The brake dust on the wheels was mildly off-putting but also suggested that she drove her car instead of just parading in it.

Being a car guy, I wanted to say something about the Audi.  How nice the design was or how the all-wheel drive and balance help the car dance in the curves.  Maybe something about the 2.0 liter engine having just enough horsepower to make the car playful but not overdone.

But I hesitated.  I wasn’t sure how to properly state the car.  Should I use it’s name?

In the end I just looked at the lady and said, “Nice Audi.”

After all how would the lady respond if I said, “Nice TT you got there.”