Category Archives: Light

Chad

FF215 CEayr

copyright CEAyr

“So, who else should be in the club?”

“What about Chad?” I suggested.

Marcus choked.

“Chad?” he shouted. “Chad Shermanburger? Investigated-by-the-FBI Chad? Started-a-forest-fire-testing-his-homemade-rocket-fuel Chad? Brought-a-baby-cougar-to-school Chad? Sold-his-own-version-of-the-Nobel-Prize-online-sparking-outcry Chad? You want Chad freaking Shermanburgar, who somehow sneaked aboard Air Force Two and met the vice president to join the Adventurers’ Club?”

I gulped. “Not at all. I meant Chad . . . Parsons.”

“Oh. Okay.”

Looking back, I should have stuck to my guns. Chad Parsons was boring.


Bear Meets Absorbed Nurse

bear hall

Credit to Gomerblog for the unauthorized use of this Photoshopped picture

 

The doors of the hospital slid apart with a cheery ding as the bear walked in, a small cub lying unconscious on its back. The emergency room waiting room went quiet as only the sudden appearance of a bear can cause. A quick-thinking woman with a head injury tried to call 911 but instead called 822. A teenager with a broken arm tried to turn on the video camera on his phone. The clatter of the phone falling to the linoleum tiles and a strangled scream of pain were the only sounds besides the bear’s heavy tread as it approached the reception desk.

The nurse on duty was as harried as the new patient was hairy. Two of her co-workers had called in sick and another one had gone on a five-minute smoke break twenty minutes ago. She sensed the approach of someone at the window as she worked away frantically at the computer.

“Here, fill this out,” she said, pushing a clipboard of papers at the bear.

The bear searched its memory, but the closest thing in its experience to a clipboard were the flat rocks under which ants and beetles and other delicious insects lived. It nosed the clipboard up a few inches experimentally, but the underside was clean.

“Do you have insurance?” the nurse asked as she kept typing, sensing that the presence at the window had not moved. “I’ll need to see your insurance card. Do you have a copay?”

The bear gave a tentative growl.

“Good. We’ll need payment up front.”

It was probably just as well that the bear was unaware of how much it did not know about the healthcare system. All it knew was that its cub had eaten some bad berries and was very sick. It had seen one of the humans eat those same berries the year before and after a while a vehicle with a colorful cross on the side had come and gotten him. So the bear had put the cub on its back and started walking until it saw a building with that same cross on it. For all it knew, this was the Go-When-You-Eat-Bad-Berries place.

The nurse kept typing, trying to get through the backlog of notes on the last dozen patients. They just kept pouring in. She gritted her teeth as she saw out of the corner of her eye that whoever was at the window still had not taken the clipboard. The last thing she needed was a high maintenance patient she’d have to handhold through the ten-page intake form.

It was at that moment that Dr. Elizabeth Gauss walked into the emergency room. She took in the scene in a glance: the frozen expressions of the waiting room patients, the bear standing patiently at the reception desk window, the cub lying motionless on its back, the nurse typing madly at the computer.

This was new, but Dr. Gauss worked the night shift in an emergency room, so it was not the most surprising thing she had ever seen. She walked over to the bear, who turned expectantly. Seeing the cub’s half-open eyes and the color of its protruding tongue, she guessed what had happened. She motioned for the bear to follow her and it did, with the innocence of a toddler trying to make a withdrawal from Fort Knox.

Dr. Gauss got the bears settled in the extra-large examination room and came back to the reception desk. “Jane,” she said. She repeated it three times before the nurse looked up.

“What did you think of that last person who came in?” Dr. Gauss asked.

Jane looked at the blank forms on the clipboard and gave a noise of disgust. “He didn’t fill out the paperwork. Probably wasn’t more than a sore throat anyway. He sounded like he had a growl.”

“Just put him down as John Doe,” Dr. Gauss said. “Actually, no, not that. Say John Ursine.” She looked kindly at Jane, noticing how tired her eyes looked and just how frazzled she was. “Why don’t you go take a break for half an hour.” She handed the nurse a twenty-dollar bill. “Get a snack and coffee, on me. Don’t worry,” she added at Jane’s protests, “you need a break. I’ll get someone to cover.”

“And Jane,” she said as the nurse gratefully accepted the money and started to walk away. “Don’t go into Examination Room 3.”


Team Sisyphus

FF214 Linda Kreger

copyright Linda Kreger

“Come on, team!” Larry bellowed. “There’s no “I” in Sisyphean!”

“There’s a ‘y’ though,” I said, ignoring the fact that there obviously was an “i”. “As in, why should we try?”

“I’ve got a good feeling about today,” he said, just like every day.

We sighed and started shoving the rock. “That’s it!” Larry screamed as we approached the top. “You’re almost there. Three more feet!”

Ryan slipped. The rock crashed back down.

“Good effort, team,” Larry said. “Let’s break for lunch and try again this afternoon. Just stay positive. At least we’re out here getting exercise, unlike Team Prometheus.”

 

 

The Mythological Punishment Olympics is a pretty depressing spectacle. Here are some of the teams in contention:

Team Sisyphus

Team Prometheus

Team Ixion

Team Erysichthon

Team Tantalus

Team Danaïdes


Arraignment

FF213 Dale Rogerson

copyright Dale Rogerson

“How do you plead?”

“Not guilty, your Honor.”

“You were caught stealing 200 feet of wiring from a house.”

“I’m an electrician. I went there to install it, but I have this unusual problem. I sometimes get caught in a reverse time wave. I’m seeing a physicist about it.”

“You were caught trying to steal $150,000 from a bank fifteen years ago.”

“I was there to deposit it. Inheritance from a rich uncle.”

“Sure. The trial is set two weeks from today, no bail. If you’re telling the truth, you’ll walk out of the jail long before then, I’m sure.”


Death of a Reader

I heard the scream at almost the same time I heard the crash. Joan, my next-door neighbor was unusually clumsy but I wasn’t surprised to hear my phone ring a moment later. I answered it, reluctantly.

“Get over here.” Joan’s voice was full of pain and panic. “There’s been a terrible accident.”

A moment later, I was in her apartment and we were both looking down at the recently deceased lying prone on the floor. Joan was sobbing.

“She had a good life,” I said. I bent and picked up the Kindle, which Joan had named Bethany. Its screen was cracked and a jagged circle like a bullet hole was bleeding out high-tech ink into the rest of the screen.

Joan buried her face in my shoulder and shook with a pathos that rivaled the ending of Old Yeller.

“You can get another one,” I said, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder.

“But it takes . . . two days to ship with . . . Amazon Prime,” she gasped between sobs.

Joan was a reader in the same way the sun was a tad warm. She told me once she usually read over 400 books a year. Looking around her living room, I saw only one bookshelf, mostly covered in knickknacks. Her whole library had been transferred years ago to the flatlining piece of tech in my hands.

“Maybe you can read on your phone until then.”

She wiped her eyes and looked at me morosely. “The screen’s too small. It hurts my eyes.”

“You could read on the computer,” I said. She wrinkled her nose with a look of such revulsion you would think that I had suggested pooping on the welcome mat.

I helped her order a new Kindle and offered to drive her to the library. Then I remembered that it was Sunday and it was closed. I didn’t really read myself and I didn’t think that inviting her up to play Fortnite would help much. I left her clutching a dictionary and rocking back and forth slowly.

Joan and I weren’t much more than acquaintances, but I felt I should check on her after supper, just to make sure she was okay. She didn’t answer her phone, so I went next door and knocked. There was no answer, but I saw that the lights were on. Finally, I tried the door. Thirty seconds later, I called 911.

“She was just lying on her couch, staring at the ceiling,” I told the doctor at the hospital. “Maybe I panicked.”

“No, it’s good you brought her in,” the doctor said, shining a light into her eyes. “Did she have any trauma or shocks recently?”

“She broke her Kindle today,” I said.

The doctor looked pensive and puckered his lips in a way I found disconcerting. “Let me run some tests,” he said.

He left me in the waiting room wishing, ironically, that I had something to read, but he was back in twenty minutes.

“It’s a rare condition called a bibliophilic comatose state,” he said. “It’s caused by a sudden lack of reading material. We’ll try to draw her out of it. We’ve got a medical grade e-reader set up, but we need to know what she usually reads.”

“History, I think?” I usually tuned Joan out if she started talking about what she was reading. “She likes British history. I think.” She had said something about British history, I remembered.

“Okay, we’ll start her out on a regimen of historical fiction. I’ll try twenty pages of Philippa Gregory and see how it goes.”

The doctor assumed that I wanted to see Joan, so he led the way back into the newly constructed Injuries of the Arts wing to her room. I looked through the window at her lying in bed, monitors strapped to her arms. Her eyes were open and an e-reader was set up in front of her. A little robotic finger flicked at the screen every ten seconds to flip the page, making a beeping noise as it did.

I woke up in a chair in the hallway of the hospital with a nurse leaning over me.

“I thought you’d want to know about your friend’s progress,” she said. “We’ve switched to Alison Weir. If that has no effect, we’ll have to try something harder, maybe even David Starkey.”

I didn’t know what that meant, but I left my number and went home to sleep. The next day as I was returning from work, I saw that Joan’s new Kindle had been delivered and was sitting outside her door with the usual lack of security that delivery companies reserved for expensive high-tech devices. I took it to the hospital to see if she was awake.

Joan seemed responsive when I got to her room. I knocked on the window and she looked my way. I pointed at the package and her face lit up with relief. I went into the room and gave it to her.

“Thanks,” she said, “and thank God it came so fast. I’ve been reading nothing but British history for the last day. I don’t know what idiot thought I liked that stuff.”

 


Atlas Snoozed

Jimmy rushed to the airport from his night shift at the I-20 overpass. He took the architecture entrance, trying not to step on any early morning commuters in his haste.

“About friggin’ time,” Tommy muttered, the third shift A15 pillar on Concourse D. They carefully switched places. Pillaring wasn’t exciting, but it was steady work for those cursed to be 100 feet tall.

Jimmy awoke to tiny screams. He was on his knees, the roof sagging above him. He’d smashed the Gate 24 United counter. Again.

He ordered a ventimila* from Starbucks. This was going to be a long day.

 

*ventimila: 20,000 ounces (about 156 gallons)


Division of Labor

There are three of us stuck in this cabin, locked up together until spring comes.

Raymond’s fat and lazy. Heaven help us, it’s his job to cook and keep the fire going. Liam is small, hard, and lazy. He cleans and does the laundry when I can convince him to go collect snow to melt for wash water.

My job is to keep the whole operation going and give the others a whack when they need it. They should thank Providence I lost my way in that blizzard and happened to stumble on their cabin. Otherwise, nothing would get done.

 

 


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