Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: April, 2015

Demolition Man

The atmosphere was first to go, rocketing into space, taking the biosphere and oceans with it. It was followed quickly by the rapidly vaporizing crust, mantle, and in seconds, core, all reduced to a rapidly expanding cloud of elementary particles.

Zurgh looked at the unfolding scene and took his finger off the button, sighing a little in relief.

Say what you like; planetary demolition’s great catharsis.

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Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Chimera 66 challenge #16 

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Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 25

Dr Joe: Agony Uncle, Bringing the winds of change*.

Hey Doctor Joe,

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma.

After publishing an article on an escort service company (yep), I received an email from a reader who shared her experience. I thanked her for sharing and we started conversing about our lives.

Then, things got a little bit… odd. She started sharing private stuffs — the way I see it, she’s lonely and in desperate need of a listening ear. So, what’s am I supposed to do? I listened.

Long story short, she soon finds herself in deep trouble. I wish I could tell you more, but I fear that this would expose her identity.

She was a sweet girl, but she started getting really vicious. She confessed to all of her bad deeds (without feeling any remorse) to me. Despite telling her to apologise to the victim (this incident happened recently) and that she’s better than that, she started attacking me.

I guess that’s wrong on my part. I had no right. Sigh, I can be a busybody sometimes.

Anyway, she apologised. But it feels like she couldn’t make up her mind. Because she started attacking me again.

That’s strike two, man. She told me she’s not going to contact me anymore, but I’m still receiving her messages. So I blocked her. I don’t like to associate myself with toxic people.

I’ll admit: it’s tempting to read her mails, but I’m not going to do that. I feel so silly that I’ve become so invested in someone’s life whom I’ve never even met.

Did I do the right thing by blocking her? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? I’m afraid that she would continue to harass me.

Fed-up

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Dear Fed-up,

To your unasked question let me answer quickly with yes, that bitch be crazy.

But I have no wish to be too disparaging to crazy people though, after all, the majority of my beloved clients are a little touched, we have to discuss what your actions have to do with this state of affairs.

It started, as you say, with an article about an escort service. This immediately rasied my concerns for as a man who has extensive experience on the front end of the escort industry I can say it has far more than its fair share of crazy. I have lost count of the number of times I have been attacked both verbally and physically by a deranged lady of the night. Ah, the memories!

By writing about the industry you have served as a lightning rod for this ‘challenged’ lady. Then by actively listening you then kept her around. These are actions that could have been avoided. But you didn’t. Why? I think it is because you like it.

Like it or not Fed-up, crazy people are interesting people. They are the chili powder rubbed in the toilet paper of life, they keep you on your toes and generate memories that last for how ever long you do, another quantity given to exhilarating uncertainty.

I know full well that every minute you have an axe-wielding maniac searching for you is a minute lived to the full. You learn what is truely important as you pack light in the middle of night and you get closer to nature as you hide on an island off the coast of South America. By bringing this crazy woman into your life, even if only remotely, you bring possibly the most interesting thing that will ever happen to you.

True. Interesting can be dangerous. All of this may end with the sound of a chainsaw in the middle of the night. But you can get better locks, a guard-dog, a gun, even a guard-dog with a gun, all to increase the odds of making it through all right.

But, so far, that hasn’t been an issue. All the contact has been through electronic means and as far as you can tell a safe, if momentarily scary, diversion. If you choose, you can keep this woman blocked and try to never think about it again. If you choose.

And if you don’t… There are always other articles to write.

Best of luck
Doctor Joe

P.S. For a good bolt-hole I personally recommend the Micronesian archipelago, as it is both fairly remote but can be reached in a reasonable time frame. The weather is nice too, which helps.

*Editors note: That is in fact a case of acute flatulence.

For more Dr Joe or to ask a question click the link here.

Picture it and Write: Infestation

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, it is from here, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy.

Infestation

“Bob’s magical pest control. Sprites and Bridge Trolls our speciality. How can I help you?”

“There has been something strange living in the tree down the back of my garden. The regular guy doesn’t know what to do with it. He told me you might know what to do.”

“Well we do have a reputation for the stranger side of this job. Tell me. Can you describe what has been happening to the tree?”

“Some very odd things. The branches wave on a still day, there is bright green glow coming off it at night, and if you go there at anytime you can hear giggling and see tiny little people-like things.”

“Hmmmm. Yeah! That could be one of several things. Tell me. Did your regular guy spray for leaf sprites?”

“Yes. And it didn’t have an effect.”

“So it it not that. Do you have a photograph by any chance?”

“My son took a picture of one.”

“Was it on a phone?”

“Yes.”

“Good! Get him to send it to this number. We can look at it while talking to you.”

……….

“Hi. Are you there? I got my son to send the picture.”

“Yep we just got it. Opening now….. Hmmmmm. Yeah! I know what it is. That is your Asian Wood Fairy.”

“Asian? How did it get here?”

“Did any lumber arrive recently?”

“Our neighbours are having renovations done. They had some outside.”

“Yeah! That is how they come over here. A queen can get transported if they don’t spray properly. It is rare but it happens.”

“Is there anything that can be done?”

“Well; I can bring you a poisoned bait that is guaranteed to get all of them. But that would be expensive. Thankfully you don’t actually need to do that.”

“I don’t?”

“Sure. The Asian Wood Fairy stays in and around the same tree for the whole Summer then in autumn the whole colony goes into a hole in the main trunk to bed down for the winter. All you need to do is.. Do you have any builder’s putty?”

“No.”

“Get some. You spread that over the opening of every hole in the trunk and that will suffocate the lot of them.”

“But what about them now? What should I do?”

“The Asian Wood Fairy is really not that bad. They only generate a minor magical field and are not ones to do that many mischievous tricks. I wouldn’t go to sleep under the tree, they might whisk you away to a mysterious realm, but other than that, harmless. It would be expensive to get us involved. I would say bare with it until winter then you can deal with them.”

“Uhhh, Ok! But if I find it too much to put up with?”

“Then I’ll be over in a jiffy and sort them out. It wouldn’t be necessary though. I don’t want you to waste your money.”

“Right! Thank you very much for your help.”

“It was my pleasure.”

“Goodbye.”

“Bye!” 

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I’ve been busy

I have gotten some pieces of microfiction published on the website of an old friend they are It Seemed Right, The Witch, and Unintended. The site is run by an old writing buddy, I’d recommend submitting stories to it.

Picture it and Write: One Chance

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write for Ermilia’s blog https://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/__picture-it-write-105/. Once again the picture is not mine, it is by Gustav Johansson, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

One Chance

I met met her in the morning, fell in love with her over the afternoon, and had to say goodbye as the sun slowly set.

She was a tourist on a day trip to our lovely city and seemed very lost. I had very little to do that day and wished to help. It would be remiss of me to say that had she not looked quite as well as she did I may not have been so willing to lend my time but that is much of a muchness.

There is much to see but surprisingly little space in which to see it. You can peruse the top five sights well within the ten hours that Megan, that was her name by the way, had until she needed to catch her train. I know a lot of the ins and outs of the place and everywhere we went I was able to tell a little story about it. I strongly believe that I would have made an excellent tour guide if the fates had not decided otherwise. Either way, I was happy to see some of the sights I had ignored for so long and she was delighted to have her own private guide through the city At every bad joke I made her face would light up in a way that put the summer sun to shame.

We shared a late lunch at a cafe close to the Cathedral, we had climbed to the top of the bell tower, the effort had given use both a great hunger. Until then I had done most of the talking so I asked her why she was on her odyssey. She was vague, something had happened, old life had lost its flavour, looking for something new. I asked her if she had found something worthwhile. She looked at me for a second, a faint smile on her lips, “Maybe”.

The last two sights, the art gallery and the history museum seemed to fly by. I’d like to think I kept up my sterling performance throughout but I couldn’t be sure. My mind seemed to stay on those final words, on what they actually meant.

Finally the blue sky was turning dark as we made our way to the train station and the next step on her journey. As we crossed a bridge She stopped and placed her hand on the ornate wall looking out over the city lights just now coming to life. “I had a good time here. The best I have had so far. I’ll be sad to go.”

I will never know how it could be but the three seconds that past seemed to last for hours, torturously slow hours that rebounded through my mind with possibilities. There was more to what she had just said, I could feel it, more that had passed between us over the last ten hours. But I could be wrong, I had been wrong before. It was the perfect moment and my actions could ruin it in an instant. I was torn.

It was my one chance, I did not know what I would do.

A Classic

“Why are you smiling?”

“I’ve bought a new car. Not really new, a classic.”

“Cool. Where is it?”

“Around back. Wanna see it?”

“Sure.”

“Follow me.”

“So what kind is it? Cadillac? Mustang?….. What is that?”

“Don’t you recognise a model T when you see one?”

“Yeah! But why would you want to….”

“You should hear it run. I need to you turn the crank here.

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Written for Grammar Ghoul Chimera 66 number 14

Six Word Stories 12

One word. Life changed forever. Cancer.

They planned for everything. Except that.

Romeo. Julliet. Wait a damn minute.

Said he’d die for her. Did.

The banks collapsed. World kept spinning.

“Come! Let’s go.” The noose beckoned.

Picture it and Write: The Deal

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy.

The Deal

Mark was having trouble sleeping. He had had a bad day in work, the worst in memory. One of his colleagues had falsely accused him of stealing her work and it looked like the boss was going to side with her. He was in such a bad mood when he returned home that he snapped viciously at Marion and she had stormed out to stay with her sister. He had taken a couple of heavy drafts of liquor before he hit the hay but it wasn’t doing much good. It was only when the clock showed five in the morning that he finally entered into a fitful sleep.

Mark closed his eyes and found himself in a well appointed office, in an older style. There were rows and rows of books lining the wall as well as wide windows looking out to nondescript light. It looked like a lawyers office from the TV.

There was a cough from behind and Mark turned to find a well dressed man sitting behind a desk. “Mr Williams” He gestured to a seat on the side facing Mark, “Please take a seat.” Mark accepted the offer and nervously sat down. He then looked quizzically at the man.

“My my my.” The man shifted over some papers, “You have had a very bad run of it Mr Williams. Wouldn’t you agree.”

Mark swallowed his anger at the man’s presumption but answered, “You could say that. You may well call it the worst day of my life.”

The man smiled at that “You very well may Mr Williams. But the good news about it being the worst day of your life is that everyday from now will be better.”

Mark would not stifle a snort “Forgive me Mister???”

“Azrael” The man said pleasantly.

“Ok Mr Azrael. But how can you guarantee that the next day will not simply get worse?”

“Mr Williams. The organization I represent has a considerable amount of influence in the world today. I assure you, in return for your agreement we can guarantee your life will certainly change for the better.”

Mark could smell something fishy. Over long experience he had found that if something was too good to be true, it probably wasn’t. “What could I possibly have that you would want? What would this help cost me?”

Mr Azrael put out his hands in a manner that reminded Mark of the preachers that inhabited the nether regions of basic cable “Mr Williams. That is the beauty of it. What we seek is something you are not even aware you are in possession of. Something you will have no intention of using for a long time and which we I assure you will keep in trust indefinitely. For this most meager offering, we can provide for you all the success, riches, desires that a man like yourself can want. What could possibly be wrong with such a deal.”

Mark though for a few long seconds “But if you are willing to offer so much for this. It must be very valuable in the long run. What exactly is it you are after?”

Mr Azrael sighed and looked directly at Mark “Mr Williams. You can question us if you wish but my organization has dealt with many over the years. This offer will provide all you ever want at no upfront cost to you. But it will not be on the table for long.”

Mark thought again for a minute. He thought about the day he had, he thought about how he missed Marion and wanted his words to be forgotten, he thought about the myriad of ways his life could be better. “OK Mr Azrael.” He said, “I’ll sign.”

Mr Azrael beamed. “Excellent choice Mr Williams. You will be thankful for this decision until your dying day.” He removed a number of sheets of paper from beneath his desk and a box filled with ornate pens. “Choose whatever pen you wish. They all work as well.”

Mark looked at the document. The print was tiny, hard to make out even from his seated position. He took a gold pen from the box and looked at it. Its glass insides were empty. He moved to ask Mr Azrael for some ink when he felt a prickling sensation in his fingers he then looked again at the pen to find it filling with a red liquid. “Is that…” He quivered.

“Don’t worry Mr Williams. I assure you it is quite safe. We are somewhat antiquated in our method here I am afraid but everything is perfectly legal and effective.”

Following Mr Azrael’s advice he signed his name in dark red on several dotted lines amongst the dense text. One the final swirl of his hand he could hear a buzzing sound and he woke to find himself lying back in his own bed, the morning sun breaking through the half closed curtains.

The buzzing was coming from his phone. There were two notifications. The first was an email from his colleague at work, sent to his boss but cc’d to everyone, stating that she was mistaken in the accusation and asking for Mark to get the praise and promotion the work warrented. The second was from Marion, saying that if he would talk, she would listen.

Mark was overjoyed. It was everything he had wanted, his life was turning around. He rubbed his hands in glee but was paused as he felt a prickling sensation in his fingers.

‘It was only a dream’ he thought to himself, ‘It couldn’t have been real’.

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Picture it and Write: Budget Projections

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write by Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine it is by Juanfer Penagos, I am only using it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

Budget Projection

So what would be your lunar wish list for the next ten years?

Some more orbiters would be nice. Maybe a lander/rover too.

Are you sure you don’t want something a little more ambitious?

Like what?

Anything manned?

Well sure. I would want a whole series of manned missions. Expeditions to multiple sites, as many science objectives as we can, from the seas to the poles. Not to mention a permanent base.

Are the cosmology guys still interested in the observatory on the dark side?

You mean far side? They’d give their left nut for one. Cuts out all that interference from here.

Why don’t you ask for that?

What? You mean the observatory?

No. I mean all of it. Manned. Unmanned. Base. Everything.

Are you kidding? The cost would be immense.

Give me a figure.

Off the top of my head. 500 Billion over the ten years. And that is a conservative figure.

Are you including using the private companies as much as possible?

Not sure if it would be appropriate but I guess they could only shave five to ten billion off that figure at most. We’ll be using most of that money developing the new hardware we’re going to need.

Hmmmmmm. Fine. We’ll ask for that.

You’re mad. You’re seriously Mad. There is no way that congress will agree to that much money.

They will if you frame it right.

What do you mean?

How is the Chinese program coming along?

You know as well as I do that everything they do is under tight security.

They landed a rover on the Moon didn’t they?  

Yes.

They announced plans for another one as well didn’t they?

They did.

So it would be reasonable to assume that they have further plans for the moon, manned program, base, all that stuff?

Reasonable… But by no means certain.

Keep certainty out of this. Isn’t it reasonable?

Yes.

Well that is what you tell people then.

Why should I do that?

Think about it. You just ask for the science package what do you get? Nothing but hmmms and hawwwws about how we “Cherish Science” But all the time cutting the budget. But if you say “Oh my God! The Chinese are going to be on the moon within the decade!” What do you think we will do. They’ll barely open the purse strings for science but if you start talking about beating those godless heathens. Well, that is a completely different story. They might as well sign a blank cheque.

But. But. It feels like lying.

What are you lying about? You said it was reasonable. You said the Chinese program was very secretive. If we supercharge our program we may very well beat them. Not to mention getting all of this good science and infrastructure built. Won’t it be worth it?

I guess.

Good! You should get some of your guys to write online about the “Chinese Threat” and what it will take to beat them quickly. Make sure they clear it with the press office first though.

Ummmm. Okay.

Good! Now if you will excuse me, I have to talk to the Mars guys next, then the gas giant people. If we share the heavy lift programs we might be able to get this all done for less than a Trillion. Won’t that be a thing?

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The Delivery

There was excitement amongst zoo staff as the trailer backed into the paddock.

The last wildebeest in the zoo had died, they needed more.

The door opened, two animals came out.

They were scrawny, with thin pallid hides, so incredibly pathetic.

A keeper turned to the delivery driver, still holding the tranquillizer gun.

“You’re lucky” he said “That we don’t shoot the bearer of bad gnus.”

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Written for Grammar Ghoul Press Chimera 66 #12