If you are a fast reader, anyway. Here is a new batch of micro-fiction, in the tradition of
Just Boring Enough
Valerie spent a lot of her time bored. If something wasn’t happening, no one around her was talking or dancing, or nothing around her was on fire or falling over, she was bored. Some days she was so excruciatingly bored she thought her boredom might tear a hole in reality. One sunny day in March—a Tuesday if you must know—that’s exactly what it did.
Valerie was lying in her bed starting at the ceiling when she heard it. It sounded kind of like ripping fabric and kind of like a light bulb shattering against the sidewalk. She sat up. She looked around for the source of the noise.
And there it was. A hole, the size of a large pizza, floated in the air next to the window. She dropped off the bed to her feet and walked up to it. The edges were frayed. Inside the hole was…she couldn’t quite say what it was. She could see it. That was no trouble. She just couldn’t figure it out. It was like looking at nonsense. Not something that was nonsensical. Just nonsense itself. She reached out to try to squeeze it closed, then pulled her hand back. If the hole closed, it would be gone.. She did not know what in the world this thing was, but she certainly knew what it wasn’t. It most definitely was not boring.
A rumbling noise reverberated from deep inside the hole. Valerie leaned forward to listen. A head popped out. Valerie gasped and leapt back. The head was colored green, only if green was actually purple. It had three heads for eyes, and a large eye for a personality.
“Hey!” said the head. “What is so this now?”
“It’s a hole,” said Valerie. “I think I ripped it.”
“What did you un that for?”
“I didn’t mean to!” Valerie protested. “Well, maybe I did. I was just so bored.”
“Well, knock it up! You can’t be loopings holes in our commensurate. We need that to coexpectorate.”
“Whating holes in your what?”
“Just strop it off!”
“Um…okay. Only…I don’t know if I can. I mean, it might happen if I get bored again.”
“Hmm, that is a pickled,” said the head. “Give me of minute.” It disappeared into the hole. Less than a parsec later, it reappeared. “Here you go.” It tossed her something. She grabbed it by the missing end. Her eyes widened. It was kind of like a stick, only it whirled moonlighting and threw off nanometers.
“What is it?” Valerie said in a tone she had never used before. She figured out later it was awe.
“Not is,” said the creature. “It isn’t.”
“Isn’t what?” said Valerie.
“Boring,” said the creature. Valerie grinned. The creature turned and ducked back into the hole. Then, with a sound like water zipping topwise to the left, the hole closed up, and was gone.
“Ms. McCoy,” said the client in a deep, chocolate coated voiced as he walked through the door to my office. “Nice to make your acquaintance.”
He made with the polite talk, but I recognized that hard look in his eyes. With some clients, you lean forward and act flirtatious. With some clients you put on sympathetic airs to ease them into proposing what they are about to propose. People with the look he had in his eyes are here to talk business.
“Never mind the niceties,” I said. “Tell me why you are here.”
“Very well. I have a problem that is right up your alley.”
I leaned back in my chair. “Who’s the target?”
“Anxiety,” he said. He heard the quick intake of my breath, and smirked. “I thought you might like that.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “That’s a dangerous target. Just because it is personal doesn’t mean it is cheap.”
“I know. I’m prepared.”
He slammed a heavy briefcase on the table, followed by an even heavier duffel bag.
“Half now,” he opened the briefcase. “Half on completion.” He opened the bag.
The briefcase was packed with prima materia, cut with White Esthesia. By the clarity of the sheen it looked at least 70% pure. The bag was stuffed with cash.
“Do we have a deal?”
I nodded. “It’s done.”
When your pipes are leaking, you go to a plumber. When someone breaks into your house, you call a private security firm. My name is Willow McCoy. When you need an abstract concept bleeding, face down in the dirt and the obsolescence, you come to me.
You can’t use just any old shovel to dig a star out of the sky. You needed a special kind, with a polished white oak handle, and a head made of a metal you can only find in a certain place, at a certain time. It takes skill, and craftsmanship, and a few whispered secrets. If you want to do any midnight gardening, you need a proper star shovel. And old Artie Dustman makes the best.
Artie’s real last name is Sandovsky. His family’s made star shovels for as far back as they went. And all that time, they’ve been the Dustmen to all the world. It is a dying art. Artie knows it. It was a dying art when his mother took up the hammer and the plane, and so with her father, and his father before him. Artie never thought of doing anything else, though. This is his secret, and this is his love.
The whole field of midnight gardening is dying out. It’s been dying out for hundreds of years. Ever since some far-too-clever fool put two ground glasses lenses into a tube and called it a telescope, the number of midnight gardeners has dwindled. With all of those people looking at the sky, climbing up in the night and digging out a star just no longer made any sense.
Artie’s daughter wanted nothing to do with the trade, when he offered to train her. She’s a Sandovsky, but she’s no Dustman. He has no one to pass along his secret. When he goes, the Dustman goes with him. The end of an age. Sure, there are others out there making star shovels. But it won’t be the same. If you’ve never taken one of old Artie’s shovels, pressed all your weight up against it to wedge it into a dense plot of sky… If you’ve never pulled up a gleaming star, planted it in your very own patch of midnight soil, and watched what bloomed forth…well, then you can’t really understand.
So if you see old Artie peddling his wares by some dusty street corner, pick up a shovel, will you? It won’t set you back much. Maybe you’ll use it some day. Maybe you won’t. Either way, it’ll cost you next to nothing make an old man smile.
“Thank you for calling Simple Solutions tech support. What seems to be your problem today and how can I offer a simple solution?”
“There’s…something wrong with my computer. Something terribly, terribly wrong.”
“Very well. Can you relate the nature of your computer related problem?”
“These…things. They’re in there. They are in there and they are reaching out.”
“Things? I’m sorry, ma’am, could you be more specific?”
“I feel asleep at the keyboard. My husband tells me not to, but I had so much work to do. They crawled out.”
“I’m afraid I need more detail if I am to assist you, ma’am.”
“I dream about them. I’ve always dreamed about them. It was the keyboard. It had to be. They…they crawled out of my dreams.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but if your problem is not specifically computer related…”
“Don’t you get it! They’re in there, now! My husband…they ate his desires. All he did was check his email. He was only on for five minutes. The send their tendrils through his fingertips and their echo through the monitor. They ate his desires. All he has is hate, now.”
“Ma’am, I can’t…”
“And my neighbor’s kid! He sometimes piggybacks off our wi-fi. I let him, because his father’s an asshole and he’s a sweet kid. But…his eyes. They’re gone now. They took his eyes.”
“Have you tried turning your computer off and turning it back on?”
“And my daughter! She…what?”
“I asked if you tried turning your computer off and turning it back on.”
“No, I didn’t think…okay. I’ll try it. I’ll try anything. Give me a minute while it boots.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
“It looks like…that did it. They’re gone! I can’t believe they are gone! This is amazing! You are amazing!”
“Will you be requiring any more assistance today, ma’am?”
“No, no, I’m fine! I am just brilliant! Oh my god!”
“Thank you again for calling Simple Solutions. Feel free to contact us again whenever you encounter a problem that could use a simple solution.”
When Melissa’s mommy told her that nothing rhymed with silver, it broke the little girl’s heart.
“Silver must be ever so lonely,” said Melissa. “With no one to rhyme. Are there really no words, mommy? No words at all?”
“There might be some, lost and forgotten,” said her mother with a smile. “Maybe in the Babbling Mountain. That’s where the lost and forgotten words go, when no one needs them anymore.”
“Can I go there? Can I go there and find orange and silver’s friends?”
“Only on the back of a unicorn, when the day is the night, and chicken soup rains from the sky. Now go to sleep.” She kissed Melissa on the forehead, and turned the light off as she walked out of the room.
Melissa didn’t go to sleep. How could she? There was so much to do. She walked over to where her stuffed animals lived and pulled out Jennifer. Jennifer was her unicorn. Jennifer could take her to the Babbling Mountain. Of course, Jennifer was only a stuffed unicorn. Melissa was small, but she wasn’t stupid.
It took her almost the whole night to teach Jennifer to wake up. When the sun rose, Melissa was exhausted. But she couldn’t go to sleep. She had work to do.
“Mommy, how many black markers do we have in the house?”
“Only a few. Why?”
“I’m going to need more. Oh, and can you make chicken soup for dinner?”
All that week, Melissa went around to all of the neighbor’s houses and borrowed all of their black markers and all of their bottles of ink. And every evening she asked for chicken soup, but she only ate the crackers. On Thursday night, she slept. Tomorrow would be a big day.
And it was. No one seems to remember that day in the middle of summer, when the day was night, chicken soup rained from the sky, and a little girl rode a unicorn all the way to the Babbling Mountain. But it happened. We know, because if we want to say female lamb, we can now say chilver. Few people use the word, of course.
Melissa doesn’t care. She is just happy that silver has a friend. Now and forever.
You should have seen Dion’s face after the prank I pulled on him the other day. Seriously, you wouldn’t even recognize him.
When he woke up to find that fake man in his bed with him, he threw off the covers and shrieked.
I literally fell to the floor laughing.
“Steve!” he yelled at me when he saw me. “What the hell, dude?”
“Oh man, it’s too bad you were facing away from me. I wish I could have seen the expression on your face. You should have heard the scream you made, like a little girl. Priceless.”
“What is that? A body?”
“Nah, it’s a dummy,” I knocked on the plastic head. It made a dull thud.
“Not cool man, not cool.” Steve pulled his pants on. “I could kill you for this.”
“What? You want to kill me.”
“Yeah, Steve. I think I do.”
“Damn,” I said. I pulled the .45 out of the back of my belt and shot him in the head. His face exploded into a hot mess.
I know he probably wasn’t serious when he said he wanted to kill me. But you can never be too careful. If he went ahead and did it and I could have prevented it, I would have felt like an idiot.
The wind speaks to me. It whispers secrets not spoken in a thousand generations. It tells me of the vast vistas of gray, when life was nothing but a dirty stain in a deep patch of ocean floor. It spins tales of the great behemoths who crushed the earth beneath their feet, and of the language they spoke, the songs they sang, and the arts they mastered, all of which mankind will rise from the muck and fall into dust without suspecting in the slightest were ever there.
The wind weaves a tale in my ear, over and over again, how for the first time in its existence it felt awe and rapture, as it carried the words of the Prophet outwards to the minds and hearts of unbelievers. I think it is trying to convert me to Islam. It’s making me uncomfortable, because I don’t know how to tell it that I’m not interested.