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.

The Drunken StormTroopers Punishment

lehmann-joerg-bacchus-roman-god-of-wine-painted-wooden-figure1 Headquarters for the 37th Solar Stormtroopers, Circa 4588, Mercury

“You stand accused of Section 2115 – Drunk on Duty,  Private Bar12 Bacc. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I hope I have a good lawyer!”

The three judge jury looked down at the squat, ungainly, figure of Private Bar12 Bacc and simultaneously wondered how he ever got into the Solar Stormtroopers. His slovenly appearance was an affront to the fleet.

He was short, even by Mercurian standards. Bar12 wasn’t recruiting poster material in anyone’s army. He enjoyed playing pranks, drinking, telling jokes, and chasing females. His ability to down great quanties of liquor made from Neptunian grapes, was legendary throughout the fleet.

So how did a slob like Bar12 Bacc get into the Imperial Star Fleet? The answer was stunningly unimpressive; his wealthy parents bribed the Supreme Commander to take their wayward son into military service for 20 years.

It was only a year into the arrangement when Bar12 was busted for drinking on duty. He was lectured, fined, and told to never do it again. The said that the second time too. And the third.

Now, as the jury of three looked at him they were faced with a tough decision, the penalty for defying the rules was death. But when the star fleet lawyer told them they couldn’t kill Bar12 because the Supreme Commander said so, they sought a creative way out of the situation.

Bar12 had to be made an example of. Military disipline demanded it. It took the judges three days to come up with a solution. They would exile Bar12 for life to another planet in the solar system.

They picked earth at the time mankind was beginning to emerge from mud huts to building great mounds. The primitive planet would be a safe place to send him. When the verdict was given to Bar12 he blinked stupidly.

He was allowed to bring a small memento with him to his new home. After the spacecraft dropped him off in a country called Italy, he pulled out his momento. A dozen seeds from his favorite Neptunian vineyards.

He quickly planted them in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace. His new earth name was Bacchus, and his vineyards soon become the stuff of legends. So did he. His ability to drink any wine and party hearty was seen as a good thing among his Roman followers.

At some point in time they called him a god.

To underscore the influence of Bar12’s amazing evolutionary leap in wine making, the techniques used to make the earliest Neptunian/Languedoc wine in the first century A.D. did not change until the 1970’s.

As It Stands, this is my myth about the creation of Bacchus, the God Of Wine.

The Secret Life of Preston Smith

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“But I lived in a world where you could never want what you wanted out in the open.” –Tayari Jones

At a very early age, Preston Smith (an only child), learned not to tell his parents the truth about everything.

It was pointedly apparent that he not talk about the animals he killed, and how much fun he had when doing it.

When he did, he got into lots of trouble.

That set the stage for the other Preston who was allowed to think or do whatever he wanted – no rules – no lectures. Total freedom. The older he got, the other Preston demanded more time.

Preston was always a good student and got great grades. College came easy for him. He lived on campus, but had no interest in fraternities. Not that he wasn’t social. He had a girlfriend.

She, Laura Lee, even fell in love with him. The other Preston didn’t like her however.

Still, they dated until he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. To celebrate this accomplishment, the other Preston took over and viciously murdered her a week after graduation.

It took Preston two years before he had his own successful practice. His reputation for helping people grew every year. Former patient referrals and word-of-mouth kept him very busy.

At first, both Prestons settled into a comfortable routine working like a well-oiled machine. They delved into patients inner fears like miners in search of gold. It was refreshing to Preston to know he had an excellent reputation.

No one ever linked the bad things that happened to some of the patients to Preston. Why should anyone have reason to be suspicious if one of the nuts killed themselves? If, on a rare occasion police did come by seeking information on a deceased client, Preston always cooperated.

One thing troubled Preston; the other Preston had established complete control when nightfall fell four years into the practice. During the day it was still a joint arrangement. This slow dawning of facts (unequal hours) told him the other Preston was making a move for complete control 24-hours a day.

He knew he was going to die soon.

His father and mother always wanted him to tell the truth. He reflected on his 34-years and what goals he accomplished. Preston wanted to be like normal people, even after he slaughtered his parents, two aunts, and a friend in a night of horror.

It was about freedom. Wasn’t it?

As It Stands, I was shocked at the carnage that one man, Stephen Paddock, created in Las Vegas recently. It made me wonder how many other people are leading “secret lives.”

‘And The Alien of the Year is…’

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Coming to you live from Alien Arena in downtown Mars City is the 2,386th annual Alien of the Year Awards.

“Hi! I’m your host, Jet Tomay, and have I got an exciting list of candidates for you this year! 

“Oh look! the first contestant is coming down the Golden Path already. Meet Babba Hunz, a journalist for Star Sight newspapers in Jupiter’s capital city of Zeenz. Hunz’s scathing editorials against racism has him in the running for the top award this year.”

Suddenly there was a loud roar of approval as the next contestant ambled out on eight legs, carrying the flag of Pluto in one of his four tentacles. Guta Humda was a crowd favorite because of his vibrant personality and ability to make people laugh.

“This is Guta Humda’s third nomination in three years. He’s considered the funniest comedian on Pluto and is known for his philanthropy,” Jet announced.

Loud ominous music broke out as the next contestant slowly, imperiously, walked out on the runway. He was dressed in a black uniform with silver and uranium medals decorating his chest. A silver Death’s Head medallion glittered on his shiny black helmet.

Lord Huntoon, lifetime dictator of Uranus, is a contestant every year. The citizens of Uranus always unanimously nominate him for the Alien of the Year. As he walked down the Golden Pathway there were loud hisses and boos.

“Our next contestant, Alo-Ha is from the great planet of Venus. She’s here today for her healing powers and social karma. Alo-Ha didn’t want the recognition, but her followers insisted she come.”

The lights went dim for a moment, then loud rap music flooded the airways as the contestant from Neptune, Junz Iona, broke out into some fancy dance moves without twisting his three legs up.

He was the most famous entertainer on Neptune, and this was his first appearance at the awards ceremony. His positive energy kept Neptunians dancing, even in the hardest of times.

The judges, who are from a different solar system, are totally unbiased. Their picks have never been disputed.

From the planet Earth, we have Ernie E. Einstein (a distant relative of the great Albert Einstein) for his work on wormholes, teleportation, and social constructs leading to lasting peace on Earth,” Jet announced.

“And finally, we have Mercury’s nominee, Sa Sa Bem, the most famous actress on the planet. Sa Sa spends her spare time helping out the homeless in the streets of Mercury’s capital, Arn Hem-Do.”

Sa Sa Ben waved her flippers in acknowledgement of the cheers that broke out when she slithered down the Golden Pathway.

It took the judges two hours to agree upon a winner and to give Jet the results.

“And the Alien of the Year is…”

As It Stands, who do you think should have won?

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

Moonshining

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.