Mittwoch, 30. Juni 2010

The one that got away

Man, that girl got me. I'd never have thought it would end like this. We were like, you know, one of these disgusting couples. Holding hands, kissing in public, smiling at each other. A lot. Our friends used to joke about us all the time. We loved it. You know, that's exactly the behavior that makes every sane person want to puke. I wonder why we did it in the first place. I mean, we knew each other, what, six months?

Back then, we were convinced this was forever. Nothing could come between us. Lydia used to say we were like Bonnie and Clyde, or sun and moon; no one could imagine one without the other.

It was a beautiful night when she said this. We had been celebrating my new job. Superstitious Lydia had completely ignored the fact that I had finally landed on my feet until I came back from my first big business trip. That special night, she had fixed dinner just the way I love it, with spicey chicken and ice-cold beer. She had dressed up, looking lovelier than ever, and boy did she make sure it was a night to remember.

A few weeks later, Lydia told me she was pregnant. You mus know, I had been there before. Once, a tramp almost tricked me into playing father to the changeling she wound up with. As soon as I heard the rumors, I ran. Faster than you can say "action for support", I was gone. Don't know what happened to her.

See, I was nervous. And I tried hard, and without much success, not to show it on the outside. My reply to Lydia's good news was as lame as you can imagine, "You're sure?"

"No, but that little strip is." She smiled, but when she saw my expression, the smile went away.

We never talked much about it. I tried to be happy, looking forward to it. We bought all the stuff a kid needs. Lydia insisted on paying. Her paintings, although she was far from famous, somehow produced enough money for her to get by. "You know, I don't want anybody thinking I tricked you into this." Stupid that I am, I was relieved and appreciated her concern.

It took some convincing, however, to get her to agree to a paternity test. Laureena was so tiny, and as beautiful as her mother. I wanted her to be mine, but I had to be sure. Lydia looked at me with her huge black eyes. "You really want this test?"

Although I lost the staring competition, I refused to back down. "It's just to make it official. You know, we get to sign all these papers, and..."

"It's okay", she interrupted me, "if it's this important to you."

I knew the result. The envelope remained unopened. And Lydia walked out of the doctor's office, out of the building, and I never saw her again. Sometimes I wonder what she tells Laureena about her father.

Donnerstag, 24. Juni 2010

Balance

"Jonessss, you - you have to tell me."

"Tell you what?"

"Howd - howd - how do you do it?" My speech is slurred around the edges, and I can't seem to help it. And - are the chairs moving? I know what the people think, but I am NOT drunk. Nor am I a loser. Out of luck, maybe, but that will surely change soon enough.

Jones - good old Jones. He has the sweetest wife in the world. We used to work together, and lived in houses less than a spit apart from each other. I must have known him all my life. We met in the street while I was on my way back to the place where I am staying - it's only temporary - and he was heading home. And he invited me. "Come on, just a drink or two. For the good times."

And we drank. And we talked. And we drank some more.

Strange, isn't it; two guys, two lives, and how everything can turn out so different. I'll admit - these thoughts stagger through my head while I am drinking my beer - I'll admit I was a bit jealous. He always seemed to have everything. Married his highschool sweatheart. Drove a new car. I married Sarah when she got pregnant, and the kids drained all our money away. We both went to work - we thought we were happy at the time - and got by not too bad.

When you have so much in common, you can't help but becoming friends. Sometimes it was awkward (especially when we were doing things together as couples), but I didn't mind too much. I had Sarah, he had Jessica - well... I never told him. No good might come from it anyway.

Anyway, one day all our money was gone. Sarah must have stashed it away. We fought, we got a divorce. These days, the kid crosses the street to avoid me when she sees me coming. I bet she told her friends that her Dad is... well, dead. Never mind. It's all just temporary. I'll get back on my feet, pay our debts, everything will be alright. Maybe we'll move to another town, start over again.

Jones looks as me as if he expects something more. He has this soft smile on his face that women can't get enough of. It looks a little bit sad.

"You really do want to know." It's not a question, it's a statement.

I nod.

"Easy enough. I copied your credit cards. Changed your adress. Spent all your money. Did you never wonder why you wouldn't get the bills?" He takes the time to empty his glas. The words take some time to settle in my brain in a way that makes sense.

I turn around and stare at him.

"What??" Jones puts his glas down on the counter. "It was too easy. With all the things you were buying, you never kew how much you were actually spending anyway. And I had much better use for it. Consider it a kind of...", and he stresses the word that follows,"REIMBURSEMENT."

"Rembussment?" My tongue is much slower than my brain.

"For your sleeping with Jessica. Or did you think I didn't know?" He puts some money on the table and turns to leave the bar. "I think we're even."

Dienstag, 22. Juni 2010

White

[A drabble is a story told in exactly 100 words. Including the title, this one is 101. Sorry for that.]

I am wearing white because I am a doctor. Maybe a nurse.
I am wearing white because my religion demands it to show my purity of soul.
I am wearing white to stand out.
I am wearing white because I am a bride, and I have no explanation for the fact that there are neither family nor groom present.
I am wearing white because all angels do.
I am wearing white to reflect sunlight to prevent global warming.
I am wearing white because it suits my purpose.
I don't remember why I am wearing white, and I don't really care.

Freitag, 18. Juni 2010

Officer Twearp's Logbook

Not too long ago, the "Astrocia", under the command of the highly decorated Officer Twearp, was sent on a mission to discover and study alien beings on far away planets. This is an excerpt from its logbook - 18/7/234/6 sidereal time - transmitted to the main base.

"... strange planet close to a dying source of light and heat, covered with liquid to a large extent, inhabited. Huge diversity in species, mostly limited to only a few continents. The only species so far found on all continents are small, six-legged bugs obviously called cockroaches and two-legged so-called humans who walk upright. We have not yet figured out which of them is the dominant species. Initially, we will concentrate on humans, since they have more technology. (Although it has to be mentioned in favor of the cockroaches that they are the only ones actually inhabiting ALL continents - the humans visit the coldest one only sporadically. Both have been on the planet's satellite, which they refer to as moon, several times.)
There seem to be different kinds of humans, mainly varying in color and living conditions. They are a highly spiritual life-form. Their main source of communication is a religious device called Teevee. They receive religious instructions around the clock, ranging from food processing to visions to insights into the lives of their priests and priestesses. Different kinds of humans seem devoted to different kinds of information coming from this Teevee - I assume they are divided and assigned by their leaders according to their special powers. Some watch elaborate discussions, in which they seem to take part by means of telepathic communication, since they do not interact with Teevee using their vocal cords.
Others spend all their time observing musical rituals with priestesses dancing in ecstasy or performing sacred mating rituals - sometimes with several partners at the same time. It seems that humans have achieved a way of life without shame or false morals. They perform all activities of their everyday lives like sacred rituals without hiding, in plain sight. They must be very noble individuals.
There are humans, whom we consider to be lesser individuals, who spend hardly any time in the aforementioned religious activities, and a few have no access to Teevee at all. They are designated to lesser works, providing clothes, preparing food or observing the outdoors perimeters.
As far as I understand, the less time humans have to spend outside, the more important they are. They are provided with processed food according to high technical standards by their Ministry of Nutrition, which runs by the name of Supermarket. This Supermarket, as the name already indicates, is superior to a normal market, where food is given out in its raw variation, with leaves and appendages of various kinds, and still has to be processed by the consumers themselves. It seems that Supermarket is not open to all, since some humans exclusively receive their food from normal markets and sometimes have to travel large distances to do so.
Early in the day, large groups of individuals leave their homes and travel to other locations, often in communities using means of transportation together, spend a certain amount of time in this other location and then return home. This is likely to be another spiritual experience, and not all humans are entitled to take part in this.
There are only very little priests and priestesses of super-regional importance. Everything they do seems to be of highest values, and some trusted humans are devoted to reporting on these spiritual leaders around the clock, following wherever they go. Their reports are either broadcasted on Teevee or printed in magazines, with immobile pictures. Those with the most urgent information go by the name of “yellow press” - yellow being the light of their main extraterrestrial energy source, the name emphasizes their importance. Especially younger humans, who still need spiritual guidance, worship these idols, they devote themselves to one or more of them and collect everything there is to know about these humans. The two most important spiritual leaders, according to our investigations, are a female called Britney Spears and a male by the name of Johnny Depp.
As for the cockroaches...”

[Transmission interrupted]

Mittwoch, 16. Juni 2010

Into the woods

Footsteps coming closer. The ground is soft and moist, but I can hear them – sense them. Soft vibrations dancing through the moist soil. I am startled. The sky is still dark blue, last stars sparkling, the slightest tinge of purple over the houses in the east. It is very early in the day, but my hunting time is almost over. I am a creature of the dark. And this is my hunting area. Over the years, their habitations have crept closer to the woods. There are more of them today, and they take up ever so much more space. In return, the woods have become tamer. Neater, more composed. I don’t like it, in general, I prefer my privacy – my solitude. Food, however, is obtained much more easily these days. Carefully, I creep closer to the path.

There it is, the source of the disturbance - a young woman, jogging. Blond hair, not too tall. She is not very fast, with an expression of concentration on her round face. Humans are funny beings. They have spent so much time inventing means to get from one place to the next faster, easier, with more noise, they even have huge metal birds that fly across the waters... and now they get up earlier than they need to, simply to run around the forest. Alone, sometimes in pairs, seldom more than three at once. They probably think they’re safe.

Coming closer, I realize that she is kind of chubby, in a tasty way. Her legs are enclosed in light blue sweat pants, the T-shirt is purple and green, with little black designs on it. She is very visible against the dark tree trunks. With some humans, you get the idea they are trying to hide. She is clearly not one of them. Her shoes are reflecting what little light finds its way down to the damp ground. How very careless of her, as if she had no natural enemies. They are not prepared to die, nor do they expect their lives to end suddenly. Even their warriors fight without fear because they know they will never have to face death - it will grab them by surprise, and everyathing will be over in seconds. Thinking of torture, the idea of some noble ceremony to make them pass from one shore to the next as true fighters fills them with terror.

It would be so easy to tackle her, take her to the ground, end it. Take her essence – to be honest, I am not a great meat eater. Her lifeless body might be found only a few hours later if left on the path, but it might be easily possible to drag her into the dark – just a few steps away from the path, and she will be invisible to her fellow humans, out of reach. How very odd. They won’t find her until her body is smelly and ripe in the hot summer air. Months will go by in which she will have disappeared as if by magic. They have so very, very limited perception.

The woman passes only a claw’s width from me. Her face is red, she is breathing heavily. No need to run for your life these days, I suppose. At least she is making an effort. Her breath ruffles the black fur on my shoulders as she passes the very tree I am hiding behind, and the urge grows. It would be so easy, and she is so – juicy. I can almost taste her, and she doesn’t have a clue. In the early morning forest, dark and cold and silent, she is like a blaze.

In her ears, there are these tiny plugs so many humans are fond of wearing. Music blasts from them directly into their brains, messing with their senses. This may be why she doesn’t realize the odd silence. Usually, there should be birds singing, doesn’t she know? The birds are gone. All animals have fled, they recognize me, they know how to stay alive. Humans don’t, they’re blind to the things that really matter.
The heat coming from her body remains a moment after she has passed, and I feel her steps vibrating up my spine as her legs carry her away from me. This short distance has already exhausted her, it seems. If anything, anyone came up to her, she would be too pumped to defend herself. I know that it’s not only us hunting them out here – strange enough, some of them are hunting as well. The things they do to each other are worse than everything I might come up with for her. After all, to me she would only be food. A nice bite, but food nevertheless. To them she would be… I am not quite sure.

Is she done already? At the next bend, she turns around, slower now, and jogs into my direction again. Her bouncy ponytail has become untangled, small strands interfering with her vision. She tries to blow them out of her face, unsuccessfully. Her hand comes up – it looks as if she chews her fingernails regularly – and wipes them away. She misses a step, stumbles and catches herself. Once more, I feel her warmth sweeping over my body. The soil’s vibrating becomes weaker as she runs away from me, towards the houses. The sun is barely visible over the roofs. The stars have disappeared. I sigh and retreat into the woods.

I spare her. This time.

Samstag, 12. Juni 2010

Virus

I am typing this just in case.

You know, it all began harmless enough. Now famous George Spinfas, father of modern security systems, had surgeons implant a microchip into his left palm, using which he was able to enter his high-security laboratories at any time without keys, ID cards or all that stuff. It worked like a charm. Soon everyone of his co-workers had his or her own chip - in the left hand for right-handers et vice versa. This means "the other way round". You get the picture. Those were trusted people.

They began experimenting with their new security system. Testing its limitations. One point they were concerned about - viruses. These nasty little buggers. They must have killed my hard disk at least a dozen times. And there is no antivirus software in the whole worrld to take care of all of them. One always escapes.

Yes, it happened. One of the chips got infected. But it was done on purpose, so they could see in which ways the virus would spread through the system. And they invented new security measures that prevented active programs from entering the actual laboratory system. They thought they had achieved something great, and sold the system to a huge international corporation.

Idiots.

My hand is itching, and I don't know how much longer I can take it. I'll try to keep it short. As you read this, please make sure to not touch the computer. It's for your own safety.

Soon, almost everybody in the world had their own microchips. Regular scans and check-ups were invented to prevent abuse. Of course, there were the usual scams and thefts - people would wake up in the alley with one hand less than they thought they should have, and in rare cases both hands were missing, if the thieves had been wrong the first time, but the governments agreed on high international standards for punishment. Identity theft by either copying or relocating personalized microchips was punished by immediate death. Special circuits were invented for this. You got caught with the wrong chip, you were fried. On the spot. Chip theft stopped shortly after the laws had been invented.

Check-up records from these years show that soon everyone carrying a chip was infected with one or another computer virus. Which was no problem. We had these special controls, you remember? The viruses were prevented from spreading to other electronic systems.

They spread inside the bodies instead. Mysterios deaths occurred. It took us long to realize what was going on. We searched for biological viruses, funghi, bacteria - nothing. Only by chance, when searching for a genetic disorder, did we stumble upon it. Yes, the genes had been changed. They had been - well, let's say "infected" with parts of computer codes. That's how they spread through bodies, sending out strange signals the biologic host did not understand. Major failures were the result. People died.

The first technologically induced STD. It was one giant joke. And we were the butt of it. The symptoms varied in the beginning, but soon there were only a few viruses left against which biology proved to be powerless. If you see someone with read eyes and a swollen face, run. If people start behaving strangely, avoid them. They may be infected. When the itching starts, they are close to their end. The new orders, with which their brains have been infected, force them to hide somewhere in the open, where their bodies will have served as food to various scavengers bvy the time they are found.

Special protected patrols have killed almost all the birds and most of the rats. We're trying to famish the virus, keep it from jumping from one host to the next. No unprotected - uhm, procreational activities. No kissing. No shaking hands. No pets. Chances are it's already too late, but we can't give up. Infected people are brought to special facilities, where they aid in searching medication to either cure or relieve.

They are trying to find new means of identification right this minute. I should be back at the laboratory, but I am not sure I will be of much help. And I don't want to be transferred to the facilities.

The itching is driving me mad...

Donnerstag, 10. Juni 2010

Uninspiration

Don't look at me like that. Your puppy eyes don't impress me. You're no inspiration today, for sure. I wonder why I ever thought you might help me become famous. I must have been mad to believe what they said about you folks!

Nothing happened. No streak of genius. My words are flat, uninspired. Dead. What kind of a writer *am* I? Staring at the screen for hours. I tried pen and paper, as you suggested, but - nada. Niente. Do I have to spell it out for you? Useless piece of flesh that you are. I wonder if I could trade you in for a parrot.

Repeat, please? Yes, yes, I know - you *tried*. Let me tell you something, you didn't try hard enough! You're such a lazy ass! Stop whining and come up with something! That's the only thing you know, hu? Please this, please that, I want... - you don't want anything, unless I permit it. And right now, all I want to hear from you is brilliance. You have five minutes to come up with something. I'll go make some coffee. Thank God I don't need you for that. Maybe I should put you in the machine, see if some hot caffeine does you any good.

What did you say? Unchain you? Stupid, I'll never let you go. If nothing else, at least you make for a nice decoration when I have friends over. And don't forget to sparkle. Or have you forgotten how to do that as well?

Pah. Muses are overrated.

Donnerstag, 3. Juni 2010

Dietary supplements

Jacky stood in the drugstore, indecisive. She had heard all kinds of things about dietary supplements, and most of them had not been good at all. Silicon dioxide was said to cause kidney stones, too much vitamin C could cause severe diarrhea, and some people had even died from vitamin poisoning! Until now, she had been convinced that balanced nutrition would supply her body with everything she needed.

Then her knees started to hurt. The doctors couldn't find anything, and the pain didn't get worse. But it was there, and it was getting on her nerves. Then Pam had proposed she should try special dietary supplements for joints. "Sportsmen take that stuff all the time!"

"You sure?"

"Of course, I've seen it in a documentary!"

They had talked a while, and although Jacky hadn't agreed to trying it out, she had thought about it for a night, and now here she was. But there were so many choices, and she was feeling dizzy already. The chemical smell and the pale light didn't help. Finally, she grabbed a box of pills from an established dietary supplement manufacturer and headed for the exit.

"A very good choice, if I may say so", commented the elderly woman sitting behind the cash register.

Jacky smiled. She didn't want to discuss her nutritional decisions with a stranger.

The woman carried on, "I take them myself, and my hip joints are back in their twenties, if you know what I mean!" She winked, bagged the pills for Jacky and sent her on her way with a cheery "Have a nice day!"

Oh boy, Jacky thought, I hope verbal diarrhea is no regular adverse reaction. She went straight home, where the dishes were waiting for her, and dropped herself on the couch to read the intructions that came with the pills.

Take one per day, with a glass of water, after a meal.

Didn't sound too difficult. She read on - wait, were they kidding? That stuff was made from sharks! Jacky shuddered. Disgusting. Did they think she was crazy? She'd throw them away immediately and stick with her health food. The pain would probably go away all on its -

Ouch.

Getting up from the couch proved to be rather difficult. Jacky clenched her teeth. Maybe she should give those pills a try. And when the box was empty, she'd try another sort. One without endangered species. She had bought these anyway, what good would it do if she threw them away now?

She decided it hadn't been too long since breakfast and swallowed one of the pills. Then she went to get some water. And maybe she should take two pills per day, just to be sure?

The results were fantastic. Within only a few days, the pain was gone. Jacky was surprised. She hadn't expected fast results. She took up her jogging routine again, half expecting the pain to return, but - nada. Her knees were like back in college. Not the slightest hint of discomfort.

Trevor, whom she'd been seeing for a few months by now, commentet on her change in mood and energy. He complimented her on her thighs, which were getting back in shape way faster than she had expected. They had a great time.

However, Jacky made a habit out of smiling with closed lips. It was strange getting used to it, but she had discovered adverse effects that had not been listed. Her teeth were... changing. It was almost as if they had increased in numbers. Yes, that sounded foolish, hence Jacky never talked about it to anyone. Not Pam, not the doctors. They'd probably sent her to an... institution. She hardly ever thought about the strange changes. Only when she smiled - with her lips closed.

And the special night finally came. She decided to invite Trevor over for dinner *and more*. They had chicken with rosemary potatoes and young peas, and homemade tiramisu for dessert. While Trevor was opening the second bottle of wine, Jacky went into the kitchen to take her dietary supplement pill. She was a bit nervous. But things went smooth. They listened to some music, talked, started kissing, and before she knew it they were up in her bedroom. Anticipating this, she had put clean white sheets on her bed this morning. Sleeping wrapped in white linnen made her feel... innocent.

She ended up sitting on top of him, wearing nothing but her unmentionables, and stared down at his chest. He looked up at her with a knowing smile. There was no going back.

Jacky smiled, showing her two perfect rows of teeth. He looked... delicious.