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:
“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.”
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)
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.
Grandmama was as colorful as her house, but instead of flowers adorning her steps, she had pictures covering her arms and neck. Maybe other places too. She’d been in the circus, she said.
Five years after she died, I came across a book of criminal tattoos. As I read the meanings of the designs I’d grown up seeing on my grandmama’s skin, I realized I never really knew her.
“You knew her,” my mother said when I confronted her. “You knew the person she remade from the ruins of that former life. It is easier to change spirit than skin.”
copyright Susan Eames
Back Under the Sea
Eric watched every day, but Ariel was gone. Somehow, she had gotten her fish tail back and swam home.
“I could give you a tail, to go after her,” a witch said, sidling up.
“Just your . . . reproductive apparatus. You won’t need it down there.”
Finally, Eric relented. The transformation complete, he flopped down into the water.
He found the undersea kingdom, but not Ariel.
“It’s a bit awkward,” Triton said. “She went across to Sweden. Fell in love with another prince. But—” he made an expansive gesture “—there’re still plenty of fish in the sea!”
copyright J Hardy Carroll
What the Donkey Saw
The blindfolded child tottered towards the two-dimensional donkey, another victim of her uncle’s over-enthusiastic spinning.
The point of the pin swayed. Then, with a deft thrust, she skewered the animal’s eye.
In a bunker near Pyongyang, technicians watched the screen turn to static.
“Sir, camera destroyed.”
“Clearly,” the captain said. “Well, Operation Birthday Party was yielding less intelligence than anticipated.”
“Sir, I was wondering—”
“For the last time, no bouncy castle!” the captain shouted. Twelve faces drooped. “Well, maybe for the Dear Leader’s birthday. Now, switch to Operation Chucky Cheese. That mouse has some dark secrets. I guarantee it.”
I will admit, I was in kind of a weird mood when I wrote this. But it makes me laugh, so I make no apologies.
It was like a nightmare, standing before crowds of drunken fans, naked, but for a Speedo. How had he gotten here?
The gun fired. Six people dived, followed by six wet slaps.
The water was Jello.
The crowd whooped. They’d known.
He pulled himself along, wallowing like an epileptic badger. Some got in his mouth: Tropical Fusion flavor, damn them.
He woke with a start in the locker room. It was a dream.
“Harrison, there you are!” the coach said from the door. “You got your 10-meter maple syrup dive in five minutes. Come on!”
He pinched himself.
Copyright Jean L. Hays
The late Johnny White sulked. He barely had enough spirit to make the temperature dip.
“Hey, Boo!” Jessica said, sliding through the wall. “How’s the haunting?” She looked around the empty ruined house. “Oh.”
“You’re lucky,” Johnny said. “Your house gets lots of visitors. Nobody even knows I died.”
“My husband did brutally murder me,” she said sympathetically. “Look, if I ever manage to write in blood, I’ll say ‘Go down the road three miles. It’s super scary.’”
“You don’t think we could . . . co-haunt?”
Jessica looked skeptical. “That’s sweet, but I’ve only known you a few centuries. Maybe next millennium.”
copyright Roger Bultot
“I want something like Bibleman, but cooler. And for Jews.”
Jeff wasn’t sure how the rabbi had heard of Bibleman. “So, you want me to create . . . Torahman?”
“No, that’s too stereotypical. I want something original. And tougher. How about The Maccabee?”
“Okay.” Jeff didn’t know how to draw a Maccabee. “Does he throw stars of David?”
“And his sidekick could be Dreidl Boy.”
The rabbi frowned. “That seems stereotypical.”
“Does he kill people?”
“No! He just teaches kids about Judaism.”
“He teaches? So he’s basically. . . Torahman then.”
The rabbi looked deflated. “Fine, Torahman. And stick Dreidl Boy in there too.”
When I finished writing this, I did a Google search and apparently there is a Torahman already, although his sidekick is called Mitzvah Boy. It seems you can’t make this stuff up.