The Thing In Ted’s TV

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Ted was 4-years old when the thing in the TV first appeared.

He was watching the roadrunner make a fool out of wily j. coyote when something that kind of looked like an octopus to Ted, appeared and grabbed the unfortunate coyote with its tentacles.

The thing then turned to Ted and asked him if he ever eaten a coyote?

A four-year olds thought process is still unencumbered with a world of facts, so he answered the things question without giving it any thought, “No. Don’t want to eat doggies.”

The things eyes glittered with mirth at Ted’s innocent response. It finally had discovered the elusive conduit it needed to go back to it’s planet…this small human named Ted. It would take time to totally control Ted, probably a lot of earth years.

That was okay with the thing because it’s lifespan was 1,000 Tomiad years-old. Earth years were just a drop in the bucket. In addition, the process would reveal human weaknesses, making it easier to invade Earth when it returned with a fleet of warships.

So the thing befriended Ted.

After Ted told his mom one day about his new friend on the TV, the thing warned him to keep their friendship a secret. She laughed it off and kissed her son. But that was the last time Ted told anyone about the thing. 

In fifth grade Ted brought his class assignments home. He would turn on the TV while doing his homework and the thing helped him. His mother would chide him about having the TV on when he was supposed to be studying, but didn’t make an issue out of it because he had great grades.

Ted was a straight A student that got scholarship offers from four major colleges when he graduated from high school. He chose the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) and entered the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The program was listed among the 10 most prestigious Engineering Schools in the nation. It was an honor to be accepted.

Throughout this time Ted stayed in daily contact with the thing. The thing only appeared when Ted was alone in the room. The thing was pleased with Ted’s progress and felt closer every day to accomplishing it’s mission.

But the thing didn’t count on the human brain’s ability to expose danger in any situation. It had no idea how complex humans really were. It assumed Ted was an easy mark. What it didn’t know was that Ted had been suspicious of it for a long time.

By the time he entered first grade he knew his relationship with the thing in the TV was odd. He suspected something wasn’t right when no one else he knew ever spoke of seeing a thing on their TV’s. And he didn’t want to be laughed at.

Ted was always a clever kid with a boundless imagination. He spent his life trying to figure out what to do about his situation. On one hand, the thing taught him a lot and was always a good listener. On the other, he knew the relationship wasn’t natural.

Eighteen months after graduated with honors, Ted was given a million dollar grant to pursue his studies on Artificial Intelligence.

Using a process that transformed the artificial intelligence field, Ted discovered an effective drug combination that optimized the eradication of roundworms, and common agricultural parasites that infect livestock.

Unknown to anyone, including his assistants, Ted was pursuing another agenda. How to get rid of the thing. He suspected for a long time it wasn’t telling him everything. He was sure it wasn’t a guardian angel. It was too damn ugly.

Ted developed a software program capable of intelligent behavior. He named it XZAR. One day he decided it was ready for the real thing. After installing XZAR in his flat screen TV, Ted turned on the evening news.

Five minutes into the broadcast, the thing appeared in the top right corner.

“Will you help me go home now that your research has taken you this far?”  the thing asked, unaware that wily j. coyote was sneaking up on it.

As It Stands, TV sets are always good science fiction material.

Moe The Manipulator, or Whatever You Want To Call Him

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In the absence of facts and truth there is a void, an alternative universe.

It’s parameters are loosely defined by physics subject to change daily. In this universe you can find Moe the Manipulator.

It’s his job to hold reality at bay. He’s the guardian of the gullible. The Gatekeeper of Gall. Nothing is too far out for Moe. He can be the Master of Disaster, or your Daddy. He’ll take up residence in your brain without pain.

Once he’s riding your cerebrum you can sit back and watch. He’ll introduce you to your frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe. It’s a wild ride when Moe hits his stride.

Some say he is the devil. It could be true, but who knows for sure? Whatever he is, he’ll try to get inside of you. If you give in to greed, hate, and power you’ll be devoured by the void.

Moe has nothing good to say. He spends his time trying to lead you astray. He’s a clever character who reads you like a book. Can’t take detours with Moe. Ya Gotta drive him out of your cranium like a NASCAR driver on his last lap.

He’s crazy with a capital C. He’ll make your brain burn like a dried-out tree. No sympathy. No hope. Moe will get you hooked on dope. You’ll be buzzing like a stoned bee bumping into eternity.

It’s best to just stay away from Moe. Ignore those little voices and don’t go there. He’s a bedbug that will burrow into your brain. He’ll happily drive you insane.

He goes by many names, and likes playing nasty games with your life. Hate, vengeance, cruelty and bigotry. He’s the harbinger of strife. His goal is to ruin your life.

Look around you. How many people do you think have Moe the Manipulator embedded in their skulls? Has Moe gotten to you yet? If not, then spread the message; Love conquers hate.

As It Stands, despite the fact that many people carry Moe around like a medal, I believe there’s more good people who aren’t afraid to stand up to him.

Moonshine Mayhem in McKinleyville

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Circa 1950, The Arcata Union Newspaper

Mystery Murders in McKinleyville Continue

“Locals say the horrific murders are happening during full moons and claim it’s an ancient Yurok curse.

This reporter was unable to get anyone in town to go on the record about the supposed curse.

All that’s known for sure is the victims were all horribly mutilated. County coroner reports have been consistent in the analysis that it was probably a wild animal attacking people.”

McKinleyville is a small town that proudly harkens back to its early pioneer days and independent citizens. A sign posted, as you come into town over the hill, says, “McKinleyville – Where Horses Have The Right of Way.”

It was a quiet unincorporated town without its own police force. The city fathers contracted with the County of Humboldt for protection.

As can be imagined, response times were often slow when an emergency happened in Mack Town (what the locals called it) because it was located 21 miles north. Residents of McKinleyville did their best to solve their own problems.

Grandpa Zeke was a moonshiner. His whiskey took the paint off metal, but was popular throughout the county. His still, set up east of the populated area of Mack Town, was a hand-me-down from his father.

The old man came into town every Sunday to sell his Hooch to the church-going husbands who bought his whiskey after church services were over, in a back alley. Children loved him because he was always telling tall tales.

Four months after the brutal murders began Zeke started showing up in town every night at the local bar. It became the talk of the small community. Old Zeke was buying commercial whiskey instead of drinking his own product.

Even more puzzling, Zeke wasn’t talking with anyone. He sat at a small table alone. After drinking steadily for an hour, or more, Zeke would start babbling gibberish about werewolves and moonshine not mixing very well.

The town fathers became concerned when the owner/bartender, Bob Goldswaith, told them about Zeke’s recent drinking habit during a town meeting. It was decided that two of them would have a talk with old Zeke the next time he came to town.

They found Zeke the next night drinking at Bob Goldswaith’s bar. The old man was well into his cups when they greeted him.

Zeke…how are you doing old friend?” one man asked.

“Are you okay? I never saw you come to this bar in my life,” the second man asked, with a touch of concern in his voice.

Zeke looked at the two town fathers. He knew them well. They were among some of his best customers. “You boys will think I’m crazy if I tell you what’s happening,” he drunkenly replied.

“No! Not, at all!” they protested.

Zeke poured some whisky from the bottle in the middle of the table and invited them to pull up a chair.

“About four months ago some fella showed up at my still. Said he was looking for a safe place to stay in the woods. I said, safe from what? Myself, he said. Well, I can tell you right now, I thought that sounded odd.

“Said his name was Walt. No last name. I told him there were plenty of places to stay. I showed him a redwood that a natural hidey hole at the base. He thanked me and I went back to my still.

“The next day, I was sampling my latest batch of moonshine when Walt showed up. He asked if he could have a snort and I handed him a cup. Then another. Pretty soon he was getting lit up and telling me stories about his life.

“I was getting tired when the moon came out and Walt jumped to his feet and howled like a wolf! For a brief moment I thought that was the damnist reaction I’d ever seen from my Hooch!

“When he started getting hairy and dropped to all fours, I got up and ran like a buck chasing a doe in heat! 

“Ran all the way to my cabin and sat there in the dark shaking like a leaf.”

Both men had skepticism edged on their faces, but one still asked, “So, what happened next?” 

Zeke picked up the bottle and took a healthy swig.

“Nothing. Nothing else happened that night. About a month later Walt showed up as I was tending my still. We stared at each other a long time before he apologized for scaring me. Said he was a werewolf, but did his best not to kill folks, just animals.

“I wasn’t sure what to do, so I offered him a drink. He gladly accepted. We talked until the full moon came out and he ran off howling again.

“It wasn’t until the third time that I saw Walt, that I suspected he was killing people. By then it had become routine. He’d come by on full moons to swig my moonshine and murder my neighbors.

“So, I did the only thing I could, and destroyed my still and my whole stash of moonshine. It was apparent Walt could’nt hold his liquor and got murderous when he drank it. That was three weeks ago.

“The next full moon is coming up tomorrow night. Recon we’ll see if my plan worked out and Walt went back to catching animals instead of humans.”

As It Stands, what could be worse than a drunk werewolf?

 

The Sage of 4th Street’s Deadly Game

 

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Psychopaths come in a variety of packages.

Some just kill their victims straight out with whatever’s handy.

Some like to play with their victims. “Cat and mouse” is a favorite game. It rings a bell among the unbalanced set.

Then there’s the more refined psychos who like to stage elaborate games with their prey.

That would be “The Juicer.” He’d forgotten his birth name years ago. One of the many street denizens in Los Angeles called him The Juicer once. He liked it, and kept the nickname.

The Juicer lived to play the Deadly Game. He invented it years ago and was still refining the rules and the roles of the participants. It took three people to play, not counting himself.

The best part of the game was that players came to him. The Juicer, also known by his business and stage name, The Sage of 4th Street, had a fortune-telling business. It was located in a nondescript neighborhood that only had a few old storefronts.

“Fortunes Told Anytime,” the sign outside The Juicer’s business read.

He looked for people who were gullible in their grief, easily hypnotized, and single. It wasn’t easy, and he often waited months before getting enough good candidates to play.

When the big day arrived and he had all three qualified gamers, the fun started. Each person was locked in a wooden box that was only three-feet high by seven-feet long. with air holes on the top.

A small speaker was inside each box. The boxes were the only thing in the tiny room with the concrete floor. One bright LED bulb dangled from the ceiling. The three unwilling gamers would still be sleeping off the effect of the drug he gave them.

The Juicer unlocked the end of each of the boxes. When they woke, they’d be able to crawl out. Then he went back up the stairs, shut the trapdoor, and went to his parlor. He could see the boxes and the room clearly, with the cameras he’d installed.

He sat down and poured himself a cup of tea from a fine China teapot one of his past victims gave him in appreciation when he contacted her dead husband the first time. He put one lump of sugar in his cup and glanced at the monitor. The room was also audio monitored and he could hear every noise.

Box number one contained, Dan Wrightwood, a thirty-three year-old vegan nature boy. In box number two, he had Linda Lunquist, a single 22-year old woman. Box number three contained, Elton Eisenberg, a 20-year old college freshman at UCLA.

He listened as they woke up, one by one, and realized they were in a box. The screams always provided a great prelude to what would soon come. He finally spoke to them, “There’s a little ring just behind your head. Pull it and you can get out.”  

The three wood boxes shook and all three of them slithered out on their backs at about the same time. Dan was the first to stand up and inspect the room. Linda and Elton slowly got to their feet by supporting one another.

They’d all been unconscious for over 24 hours and were thirsty and hungry. The Juicer savored their confusion for a few minutes before he announced, “I’m going to give you an apple. Enjoy!”

The basement door opened and he tossed the apple in. The three looked down at the bruised apple. Elton bent down and picked it up. “We can each take a bite” he suggested.

That was Day One, and The Juicer smiled in anticipation. Seven days later he announced that he was going to give them an apple again, “Enjoy,” he called out as he lobbed it down.

Now was time to make his bet. Who would be the last person standing? He figured Dan, being the biggest and strongest, would be the sure bet. But after watching them on the monitor another week, he wasn’t so sure.

Week three was a bloodbath as they clawed, bit, and hit each other until passing out. The combination of Elton and Linda versus Dan kept the game interesting. When he tossed the last apple down on week four, Linda was the only one alive. She died the next day.

The Juicer cleaned up all the evidence, until not even Sherlock Holmes could find a clue.

As It Stands, I’ve always been uneasy with fortune teller types.

How a Bounty Hunter Saved America

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Prologue – 2022 in Earth’s Timeline.

An Inter-Galactic Wanted Poster was displayed in two Solar Systems:

Rogue Scientist, Dr. Ki, wanted for stealing secret technology from two planets. Shoot upon contact! Proof of kill needed for reward.

2099 – Earth.

“There is no beginning and there is no end. Just the here and now.”

“How’s that sound X-249? Can you help me out with this new app message? the Director asked, already knowing the answer.

X-249, his personal robot, sat down behind a computer and went to work right away. From a distance, and if you had some sight problems, X-249 looked like a human. A silver human.

“It shouldn’t take me too long to build the construct you request Director.”

The new app was an immediate hit. They always were. It worked seamlessly with people’s personal mobile communication device implants. The Director and his political staff made sure everyone had one, and that they regularly downloaded the Director’s messages.

If they didn’t, they’d be subject to a government fine resulting in five years in solitary, on the third of the sixty-two moons of Saturn.

Americans needed to be programed once a week. The Director’s apps provided them with inspirational messages while they awaited his commands. It was just one in a variety of ways he used to control the country.

There wasn’t any need for brute force since the last rebellion in 2093. That’s when the Director employed killer Cyborgs that butchered the rebel forces. Resistance faded away. The dream of justice and freedom was turned into a nightmare again.

Despite that, every decade or two, men and women gathered secretly to oppose the draconian laws imposed by the Director. The constitution was a sacred book that gave them hope. They kept their history alive by orally sharing it with each generation.

People no longer spoke aloud. Instead they used sign language to communicate. Americans had lost their voices. Talking meant they could be recorded and subjected to some obscure law resulting in punishment.

For generations baby’s were shushed and taught basic sign language. It was the one thing about the people the Director didn’t know about. He thought they were born mute, for whatever obscure reason.

A simple blinking-eye Morris Code was also taught at an early age. The fires of resistance were hardwired into their collective DNA. Everyone looked forward to the day when they would be free.

When it happened, it was anti-climatic. No one got a message from the Director one day. Then the next. A week went by and no messages, or demands! It took a month for someone to finally find the Director’s body, sans head, in his secret headquarters.

Directly above the headless Director was a shiny photo showing a gray alien holding the Director’s head in one hand, an exotic sword in the other, and a wanted poster in his third hand.

As It Stands, a bounty-hunter saving America is the kind of irony that tickles my muse.

 

Special Holiday Price: Intergalactic Space Tour

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Prologue:

Every planet in Earth’s solar system fought the scourge of space pirates for hundreds of years before the Treaty of 2137 ended the hostilities.

Earth – Intergalactic Space Port 2237

Special Holiday Tour: 

Last call for Andromeda – Departing at 16:00

Regularly Scheduled Tours:

Black Eye Galaxy – Departing 17:00

Cartwheel Galaxy – Departing 19:30

Cigar Galaxy – Departing at 20:25

On Board the Atlas 4000 Space Cruiser To Andromeda:

“I hope you’re enjoying the trip Ladies and Gentlemen. Fun fact; Andromeda is the closest big galaxy to the Milky Way! How about that?” the ship’s captain asked via intercom.

Two-hundred passengers made an affirmative buzz.

“Not so fun fact: Andromeda is expected to collide with the Milky Way about four billion years from now. They’ll merge into a single new galaxy we’re calling Milkomeda. Enjoy your trip, and thanks for flying with American Intergalactic Connections!”

1st Passenger – “This new Atlas 4000 model is a real improvement over those MF-900 Cruisers which have been the backbone of the fleet for 20 years.”

2nd Passenger – “This is my first time in space. I’m a little nervous.”

1st Passenger – “Not to worry. I’m an ex-space pilot, and I can assure you space travel is safer than driving the freeways in California.”

2nd Passenger – “I’m glad to hear that. I wonder if the stories I’ve heard about space pirates are true? Could we be attacked?” 

1st Passenger – “Again, not to worry. There hasn’t been any space pirates in over 100 years since the Treaty of 2137.”

2nd Passenger – “Funny, I never heard of that treaty. Then there were space pirates? I couldn’t find a thing about them in the World Main Frame. If it wasn’t for my best friend’s father,  I would have never heard of them. He was a pilot too.” 

1st Passenger – “Well, it’s just not the kind of information the company wants to share with potential customers. Why bring up the distant past? You’re in a state-of-the-art cruiser with every convenience, and you’re going to see things you never dreamed of.”

2nd Passenger – “You’re right. Can I order a drink for you?”

1st Passenger – In a low voice, “Thanks, but I can’t. I’m on duty. I’m a security guard for American Intergalactic Connections.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain. We’re going to make a temporary stop at Alphas Tendir to switch our new warp drives over in the dock. For safety reasons we’re asking you to de-board once we land, and to wait in the lounge area provided for you. It won’t take long.”

2nd Passenger – “Hey, what’s going on? There’s no scheduled layovers on the trip ticket?”

1st Passenger – “Sorry about that. You’re a nice guy. The least I can do is explain everything after we get off the ship.”

When the 200 puzzled passengers were being led to the lounge area the 1st Passenger stopped, and pulled the 2nd Passenger out of the line.

“It’s like this. We lost the war against the space pirates. That’s why every year we have to pay a tribute of 200 inhabitants from each planet as slaves. Whatever you do, don’t look them in the eyes. It really pisses them off!” 

As It Stands, throughout recorded history conquerors have demanded slaves for tribute.

Dinner At The Frankenstein’s Castle

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Daaaaling…must you wear that same drab black cape again?”

Count Dracula ignored his wife’s chatter. She was such a social butterfly that he marveled that he was still with her after all these years.

It’s going to be the first big social event for the Fall Horror season. Everyone is going to be there,” she gushed happily.

How did the Frankenstein’s manage to pull this off,” the Count asked.

“Connections deary….connections.” 

There was the usual chaos in the Zombie household as they prepared for dinner that night at the Frankenstein’s Castle.

“Doris! Tell those kids to stop biting each other!” 

You tell the little monsters! I’m preparing a gift for our hosts!”

“Darrell! Frankie! Susie! That’s enough! Go put your worst clothes on because we’re getting ready to leave.”

“Are you ready, John?” Doris asked.

“I’m always ready,” he replied with a wink from his one good eye.

Meanwhile at the Frankenstein’s Castle…

You have nothing to worry about woman. Your new hairstyle will set a trend,” Frankenstein reassured his bride.

“Boris!”

“Yes, master,” the Hunchback of Norte Dame, and the majordomo for the night, asked.

Did you order extra raw meat for the Werewolf Family? I heard their bringing some cousins.”

“Yes, master.”

Wine for the Phantom of the Opera?”

Taken care of master.”

“How about the sacred incense for the Mummy clan table?

“As you instructed, master.”

“Did you set up the separate table for the Mad Scientists? They can be such a bore at the main table.”

“Done master.”

“Did you finish that display of torture devices for the main hall?”

“I did, master.”

“How about the entertainment?”

“I was able to get Jack the Ripper to juggle knives.” 

Was that all?”

“It’s the best I could do. It’s hard finding a good act these days,” Boris apologized.

Still, Frankenstein reasoned, the guests themselves often provided the best entertainment.

As It Stands, monsters can provide the perfect forum for humor.