The Last Drink at Dewey’s Bar

The End To An Era

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Dewey’s Bar was a good place to get drunk and disappear.

It was located next to a unique wormhole that only allowed for time-travel to the planet earth. Life forms from throughout the solar system enjoyed visiting Dewey’s place. Things were always hopping. Good times. Sometimes romance.

The parties at Dewey’s Bar were known to inhabitants of 100 solar systems and galaxies. The owners liked to brag that whatever happened there, stayed there. It was a rogue planet only accessible by extensive criminal contacts and a safe escort through thousands of air mines.

Lonecust, a space raider from Earth, loved Dewey’s bar.

The obnoxious drunks repelled him. But he had to admit it was a good place to get hammered and meet other beings. He watched a lithesome Venusian sip her cocktail like a real lady with her delicate mandibles. Two Martians were laughing at jokes a chubby Neptunian was telling them.

A group of traveling entertainers from Zreeeren, a nearby solar system, were doing magic tricks in an effort to hit on some hot chicks from Jupiter. The background music blended with all the languages being spoken in the cavernous bar.

The thing about Dewey’s bar was that it was a haven for criminals since the earth was formed millions of years ago. Outcasts always populated the tiny dwarf planet that was home to Dewey’s.

For a moment – a zano second – Lonecust thought about backing out of his deal with the Teronnet Federation. But he knew he didn’t have a choice. The device they planted in his chest would explode if they thought he wasn’t going to go through with his agreement.

Actually, it was a fair trade, if it wasn’t for blowing himself up with the rest..

Earth was going to be spared the wrath of the Teronnet Federation if he planted the bomb behind the bar and blew up this dwarf planet. Of course, he understood that they expected him to be blown to hell with everyone else.

Still, he thought, there was hope, as he sipped a Plutonian boilermaker. If he could jump into the wormhole right after planting the bomb (that second), he’d end up somewhere in Earth’s history.

Nostalgia unexpectedly brought a tear to his eye. How long was it since he had his first drink at Dewey’s bar? At least 30 years. In one swift movement Lonecust jumped over the bar, stuck the magnetic bomb onto a keg of moon beer, and melded into the wormhole by the mirror.

The next moment Lonecust was sipping a beer at Dewey’s Bar in Scranton, Pennsylvania circa 1952. It was 2 a.m., and the owner, Mike Dewey, called for a last drink.

As It Stands, I suspect there will be a time when time travel is commonplace.

 

A Stunning Showdown at Snake Junction

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The fastest Sheriff in the Old West never got his due.

You won’t find his name written down in the history books alongside legendary gunslingers or lawmen.

He never traveled far from the tiny town of Snake Junction, living just beyond the city’s limits somewhere in the Arizona desert.

Visitors passing through would stop at the town’s only Saloon – The National – and listen to the locals talk about their Sheriff Sledge, over shots of rot gut whiskey and mugs of warm beer.

“It’s his eyes,” one old-timer told the three visitors. “They’ll freeze you. He doesn’t blink,” he warned. “He’s faster than a snake and a dead-eye shooter.”

Wyatt Earp finished his beer and called for another one. He wasn’t the kind of man easily scared by anyone. Or, reputation. He had his own.

“I’d like to meet this gent,” Doc Holiday said while sipping whiskey from a flask.

Wyatt’s brother Warren was puffing on a cigar as his eyes roamed around the room. “Make that two beers!”  he shouted.

“I just want to talk with him. We’re looking for some murderers and he might know something about them. He might have seen them recently,” Wyatt said to the old-timer, who went by Jack.

“It’s true Sheriff Sledge knows about everything in this town. Seems like he’s been here forever. I know for sure he’s been here before Snake Junction became a town ten years ago. I got to tell you he’s not much of a talker,” Jack explained. 

Doc suddenly broke out into a coughing fit. He pulled a handkerchief from his jacket and put it over his mouth. His tuberculosis was getting worse. Speckles of blood tinted the white handkerchief.

Wyatt and Warren looked at one another. They both knew he was dying. Yet here he was, at their side helping them seek vengeance against The Cowboys. When his frail body ceased fighting for breath he reached inside his jacket and pulled out his flask and took a shot.

Doc stood beside them at the O.K. Corral. Regardless of what most foks thought about him, Doc was a gentleman and a loyal friend.

“How can we find him, Jack?” Doc asked, as he poured himself another shot.

“It’s not that easy. He only shows up in town for supplies once a week,” Jack replied.

“When was the last time he got supplies?” Warren asked.

“Friday,” Sheriff Sledge said.

All eyes turned on him. His tall slender body was framed by the setting sun behind him. His swarthy face was beardless and his arms looked too long in proportion to the rest of his slim body.

He wore a snake-skin vest with nothing underneath it. In the distance and in the poor lighting of the saloon it appeared he was heavily tattooed. His jeans were well-worn. Snake-skin boots covered his long narrow feet.

His leather holster wasn’t fancy, but the .45 Smith and Wesson in it was in excellent condition. The gun hung low on his right side, with a leather rope tying it to his leg for stability.

“Youuth looking for me?” Sheriff Sledge asked with a noticeable lisp.

“We’re looking for some murdering scoundrels. We’ve been deputized to bring them to justice, ” Wyatt spoke up.

Sheriff Sledge’s laugh was shrill and downright creepy. “Sssscoundrels …, he hissed.”

Wyatt stood up. “Yes. Murderous scoundrels. Have you seen any shifty characters around here lately?”

Sheriff Sledge slowly slid into the center of the room. Under the massive chandelier glow they could see scales, not tattoos, on his chest and arms. His eyes were green with yellow pupils that did not blink. A tension suddenly filled the saloon.

Warren and Doc both stood up, alongside of Wyatt.

Sheriff Sledge, whose Hopi name was Situlili (after the snake god), belonged to the snake clan called Tsu’ngyam. In Native American lore snakes enforce a rough type of justice, and breaking laws could result in a person being bitten by a deadly snake.

Or, by being shot with Sledge’s .45 Smith and Wesson.

The silence that fell over the saloon hung like a funeral shroud. Before the Earp’s and Holiday could even reach for their guns, Sheriff Sledge drew his, and shot their hats off their heads!

His pistol slide back into the holster in one smooth motion. Sheriff Sledge smiled at their astonishment. None of them had ever seen such speed and accuracy before. Nor, would they ever again. The draw was too fast for the human eye…and hand.

“Yooth thay your lawmen?” he calmly asked.

All three shook their heads up and down affirmatively and shifted uncomfortably. Wyatt knew he wasn’t fast with his clumsy Buntline Special, but Doc Holiday was the fastest draw he’d ever seen… until now.

They all prepared to die.

Then Sledge smiled and they swore (afterward) that his tongue slithered out and was forked. “Juuust doing my job keeping the peasss. Ain’t no sssscoundrels been by lately,” he said.

They watched him glide over to the bar and order a shot of tequila. There was a certain reptilian smoothness that made them all uncomfortable.

Afterward, when they were miles away and camping under the clear southwestern skies, all three men agreed to never tell the story about their showdown at Snake Junction. No one would have believed them anyway.

As It Stands, I’ve always suspected there were lawmen and gunslingers whose stories never got told.

 

 

The Day Racism Died in the World

And he came to them with a vision…

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The day came when the Prezealt Nation decided to invade earth.

It was one of the few remaining planets in the solar system that the Prezealt’s hadn’t conquered.

Their space attack cruisers numbered in the thousands. Their mother ship was the size of a small planet.

The goal of the Prezealt Nation was to make every planet, galaxy, and universe united under their banner. All one race. A Master Race.

Harvey was the only human on earth who knew what was coming. He spent every day on the streets carrying a sign warning people about a Master Race that was going to subjugate them all if they didn’t unite.

He slept with his sign in alleys, behind trash cans, or closed store fronts. Sometimes when people passed him they stopped and gave him money. 

It was the dreams that drove Harvey crazy three years ago.

Once, he had a wife and two children. He was a successful ad man working on Madison Avenue in New York City. His family lived near The Met. They lived in a beautiful trendy townhouse.

Then one night Harvey dreamt something that scared the crap out of him.

When he told his wife the next morning at breakfast she laughed his nightmare off and said it was just a bad dream.

Three days later, after dreaming it again each night, Harvey insisted she take him seriously. This made her angry. They argued for days. The kids, a boy and a girl, thought he was nuts.

He moved out after a week. Just left. He had to warn the world. He took the sturdy sign he made in his shop in the garage with him. It would be all he needed. He started walking.

Sometimes small groups of people would stop and listen to Harvey.

“I’m not talking about NAZIs here! The Master Race I’m warning you about is from another world. Aliens!” Harvey patiently tried to explain to them. They would drift away after a while. Some gave him money.

A pimp chased him off of one corner when too many people stopped to listen to him. It was bad for business. A pickup truck with Confederate flags flying from the rear, slowly went by as one of the occupants shouted out the window, “Go back to Africa you ape!”

The pimp didn’t like that and pulled out a gun.

Two skinheads stopped walking and went up to Harvey. One had Nazi SS insignia tattooed on either side of his neck.

“We’re already here. We’re the Master Race, ” one of them sneered.

“I’m talking about aliens from space,” Harvey said.

“C’mon Hans, this guy is crazy. Not worth our time,” said the one with SS tats.

“Commander, I think we found the right person to be our puppet-in-charge after we’re done with practically reducing this planet back to the stone age.”

“Is that so?” the Supreme Commander asked after he gave the order to commence firing.

“Yes, sire. His name is Harvey Merewether. I’m changing his name when I put in the control implant. Something more inspiring. Moses. I’ve also changed that wooden sign he was carrying around and replaced it with a stone tablet that has some simple rules for the human race.”

As It Stands, someday mankind will realize we are all one race, and that color or place of birth, doesn’t change that.

How Logan ‘The Last Lizard Lord’ Saved Earth

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It happened a thousand years after the nukes rained down on the world.

Most life on earth was destroyed. Humans became extinct.

Yet, some animals survived, and actually adapted to the strange new nuclear world.

Strange transformations occurred among the survivors. Lizards learned to read and talk English. Some species of birds could also sing in English.

Snakes in the eastern continents survived and learned to speak Hindu.  Cats in what was once called France, learned to speak French. Dogs from Spain spoke Spanish. Animals from all over the world had learned to speak in human tongues long after the great bang.

But there were no humans for them to talk with. Over the centuries the animals anger at man’s wanton destruction simmered down to a vague resentment. The day came when speech mysteriously snuck into their DNA.

“No accounting for mutation,” Logan the last Lizard Lord told his companion Komo San. The two; one a monitor lizard, and the other a Komodo Dragon, had been friends for two hundred years.

They could almost read each others mind. They were the last of their races. No predator had been able to kill them yet. Logan was nine-feet long. Komo San was twelve feet long. Both were fierce fighters.

Two hundred years ago Logan was being raised to succeed his father, the Lizard King. But a terrible thing happened. The royal court split because not everyone wanted Logan as their next king.

The killing went on for decades. Komo San stayed by Logan’s side throughout the battles. Then the day came and they were the only survivors. The Lizard Kingdom was no more. The two old comrades spent their days wandering and eating.

They also spent a lot of time talking. Their favorite subject was how badly man had treated the planet and the animals on it. Both agreed that man was the ultimate predator.

Somehow, only God knew, a tiny piece of human DNA got into the surviving animals and corrupted some of them. The Lizard’s suffered the worst. Lesson learned.

A Red-White-and Blue flag, was on the side of the space craft. It was the scout ship seeing if earth was safe to live on once more. The mothership hovered a galaxy away waiting for the news.

Their were two of them. They had on bulky suits and moved around awkwardly. After consulting gages on their wrists they popped their helmets open. The air appeared to be good.

The last Lizard Lord and his loyal follower knew the two humans meant trouble for earth again. They exchanged looks and stalked the slow-moving humans as they made their way across the grassy meadow.

The mother ship finally gave up after a week of waiting. It didn’t look like earth was habitable yet. No word from the scouts. The remainder of mankind headed off into another galaxy in search of another home.

As It Stands, the recipe here; a dash of Dr. Doolittle’s talking animals, a pinch of rapacious humans, and a full serving of saving the planet earth. Enough said.

 

 

 

The Mobster and The Tunnel

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Giuseppe “Three-Finger” Terranova was looking for the tunnel. The cops weren’t far behind.

Joey Adonis, in a night of wild drinking, had told him about it once. It was in upstate New York…a road that led to a tunnel in the side of a mountain.

On the other side of the tunnel was a cabin. A great place to hide. He’d never tried it because he lived in another state, but his friends all told him about it every time he was in the area.

Giuseppe drove as far as he could before the road became too dangerous to continue. It was pock-marked with deep potholes. He was exactly twenty miles south of the tiny town of Apalachin, when he pulled off the main road and purposely drove into a thicket of bushes.

Joey told him about a trail to take to get to the tunnel.  It was getting dark as he wandered around looking for traces of a trail. Just as he began to think he was crazy for listening to Joey (he was a real joker) he saw the trail. It was well-worn.

Giuseppe pulled out his pistol and checked it for ammunition. The 38 “snubie” had two rounds left. That was it. He fired the rest at the cops who broke into the lodge earlier, interrupting him and sixty other Capos in conference.

He didn’t really care if they were all caught. Just as long as he was safe. The cops had too much on him. Even with good lawyers it would be an uphill court battle that might end up with him frying on the chair.

No way. Not Giuseppe. He was above the law. He made monkeys out of those cops chasing him tonight. They’d never find him. He turned his attention to the trail in the dying light.

Fact. Giuseppe was a city boy who’d only gone camping once with a Boy Scout Troop and got in trouble for beating up another boy. He was no trailblazer. The sounds of the night made him nervous.

Small animals rustled around in the thick bushes and trees on either side of the trail. A traveler had no choice but to go forward on the trail, or turn around. He’d gone too far to turn around, so Giuseppe plunged on.

Geeze,” he muttered to himself, “A guy’s gotta be Davy Fricking Crockett out here in the middle of nowhere.” 

Hours passed. He was so tired that he was stumbling. Finally, totally exhausted, he laid down on the trail. It must have been the pure mountain air, because Giuseppe slept like a baby.

When he woke up the sun was overhead. He stood up. Pain racked his entire body. He wasn’t use to sleeping on the hard ground. He was stiff and hungry. There was nothing to do but keep walking.

The tunnel wasn’t even concealed. One moment he was walking along, then just around the bend, there it was! The tunnel. It was just to the right of the trail and there was a small clearing in front of it.

It was carved out of solid rock. It was about seven-feet high and six-feet wide. The ground was dry inside. So were Giuseppe’s lips. The thought of a water source on the other side gave him the courage to go into the dark interior.

He felt his way along with his hands. Stumbling at times. Then he saw a ray of light. In moments he was outside again. Fresh air and to his delight, a clean river running along a small cabin barely visible through the trees.

He was on his knees drinking water from his cupped hands when someone asked him, “Where’s Dorie May?” 

He slowly got to his feet and turned around. Three men dressed like cowboys (right down to guns and all) were mounted on horses that formed a small semi-circle around him. The speaker, a tall lean man with a big black hat and hard gray eyes, asked him one more time,

“Where’s Dorie May?

There was a shout from the cabin. “We found her Clem! She’s dead!”

Giuseppe shouted, “What’s going on Here?”

The speaker motioned to the other two riders and they got down off their horses. One had a length of rope in his hand. The hard gray eyes of the speaker were full of hate as he pointed his pistol towards a nearby oak tree.

The two riders walked him over to it. One of the cowboys threw the rope around a thick limb and tied the other end into a noose which he slipped over Giuseppe’s head. The speaker got down from his horse and grabbed the rope and pulled on it.

The other two men joined him. They pulled him up by his neck. A crazy thought went through Giuseppe’s mind before he died and he croaked “What year is it?”

As It Stands, justice has a way of being served in time when your karma is bad enough.

 

The Android’s Creation

A Very Short Story

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C’mon, “AT-6 pleaded.”

“Android to Android. Why are the authorities after you?”

MD-9 stopped tapping his stainless steel fingers on the desk and swiveled his head around 360 degrees, scanning the shop and buying time before answering AT-6.

He’d been working on the project for sixty years, painstakingly experimenting with living things he collected while hunting on earth. He had discovered many secrets in several universes.

Bringing back live specimens from other planets was strictly forbidden on Dorn. It was a well-engineered society of Robots and Androids.

They were truly a master race. The Perfect Beings, as they called themselves. They would not tolerate what he was trying to do. If they caught him he’d be exciled to the smallest, most dismal, planet in five galaxies. Forever.

“I don’t know what they want.” MD-9 lied. “Listen, we’ve been friends for nearly 900 years, and I don’t want to see something bad happen to you. You’re safer not knowing what I’ve been doing,” he assured him.

At-6 sighed, and opened the Telacar’s door with a push of a button. “Going to miss you buddy,” he said, while settling into the form-fitting seat. MD-9 watched his only friend streak into the night leaving behind a yellow glow.

He was an outlaw now. They destroyed his lab in the city, but not his greatest work. He looked up at the stars longingly. It was time to get off this exposed mountain ridge and back into the cave.

As he walked deeper into the cave lights started coming on, leading the way to an enormous cavern with stalactites and a full laboratory stocked with everything he needed for his research.

Two clear glass boxes were sitting on a stainless steel table. They were six-feet long and filled with fluids of his making. It was too murky to make out their contents. Cables and wires ran from the boxes to a giant generator.

MD-9 was a scholar besides being a scientist. He’d read the chronicles of two hundred planets. Their histories. Their inhabitants. Their cultures. Their customs. Their laws.

In his travels he found a species on Sirius 8, on the moons orbiting around Rathnor, and a few other planets, that looked similar to him: with a head; two arms; two hands; five fingers; a torso; two legs; two feet; and five toes.

But, unlike MD-9, the species was made of living flesh. Not all of them looked like him. Their were sub species that had interesting qualities he admired. One, was the desire to survive in spite of all odds.

His research into the building blocks of life, DNA, led him to combine the attributes of these living beings into something more marvelous than what they originally were.

He had created the first two humans, a man and a women… who he planned to put on earth. When they opened their eyes MD-9 talked with them for days. He set down simple rules for good living.

Then he sent them off in a programmed spacecraft that would land them on earth in a particularly lush part where food was readily available. They were left with a vague memory of what had transpired.

Just in time, as it turned out. The day after he parted ways with his creations the authorities tracked him down.

They tried him and found him guilty of breaking the law. And so the greatest mind on Dorn was cast away and vilified.

As It Stands, mixing myths, religion, and science fiction is a writer’s smogasborg for the hungry reader.

 

The First, and Last, Dinner

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The director was dressed in a flamboyant red cloak and cowl. He was smiling as he watched the guests arrive.

From his viewpoint he could see all the action, along with the two camera men who were filming the proceedings.

The restaurant was spacious and elegantly appointed.

Tantalizing odors wafted from the kitchen as waiters and waitresses scurried to serve the well-dressed diners. The tables were all set with Noritake China dinnerware.

The restaurant offered the finest wines in the world. Gourmet cooks staffed the huge kitchen where world-class meals were being created. The dining room was decorated with red velvet drapes framing full-sized gold-gilded mirrors.

Soft music soothed the diner’s ears. A low buzz of muffled conversations gently bounced off the walls and mingled with the subtle scent of roses.

Everyone was looking forward to the entertainment. No one knew it was going to be, but surely it was going to be classy. It was opening night, and they all knew something special was going to happen.

The diners paid a lot of money for the privilege of being the first customers in this restaurant. Only millionaires and billionaires could afford to attend this dinner show. Celebrities and CEO’s were claiming bragging rights because they got invitations.

As the evening progressed, the cooks and kitchen staff departed. Then the servers were gone. Puzzled patrons were having a hard time thinking. The odor in the room had changed from roses to something else.

At midnight the main lights dimmed and a small glass gallery came into view above the diners. In it stood a man dressed in red cloak. On either side of him, were men behind large cameras recording the event.

“Welcome! My name is Rex Brinner. What do you think about my costume? I’m the closest you’ll ever get to the devil in this world. You know why?”

It was getting harder for the diners to hear Rex. There was a roaring in their ears and they were getting increasingly angry. Seeing red. A mindless mass of growing adrenaline.

“I’m going to watch you all die! This will be the ultimate snuff film! The pinnacle of my film career! I’m even going to be sporting about it. The last person alive will get to go free!”

The diners jumped up from their chairs and fell upon each other like starving hyenas. Their unreasoning rage was all-consuming as they fought to survive in the strange fog. Men and women slashing each other with knives. Chairs flying across tables.

Screams. The entire room was soon splashed with blood. The desperate duels were being recorded by the two camera men. It lasted for hours. Beyond Rex’s expectations. Finally only one figure was left standing.

Rex went downstairs and opened a side door to the main dinning room. The gas had dissipated because he turned the fans on an hour ago.

The lone survivor was a small bald man covered in blood, and still clutching a bloody steak knife. Rex smiled at him and said,  “congratulations! You’re free!” and pulled out his gun and shot him.

No witnesses. It was an absolute rule in this movie industry.

As It Stands, this is my updated version of Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre tale, Masque of the Red Death.