Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil, Part 7

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I’m taking a badly-needed technology break! To keep you entertained without my daily nonsense, I’m posting the complete stories of Jane Storegoer, a character who sprang to being during the #AtoZChallenge in 2016.  During my break, I’ll post the installments daily. Can’t wait? Catch the rest of the posts here. They start from the bottom. Hope you enjoy!

“Don’t move,” whispered a damp voice just above her ear. It was Iris, the one with the pimento eyes.

“Let go of me,” said Jane, struggling against the bouncy sauciness surrounding her.

“Seriously, don’t move,” Iris said.

“Excellent.” The Grand Fermenter glopped close enough to Jane for her to see the flecks of pepper in his coating. “Now, Iris, take her to the Composter.”

“The Composter?” said Barry, its voice muffled a bit by the upside-down position, “that doesn’t sound good.”

“And take that monstrosity as well,” the Grand Fermenter said, waving in Barry’s general direction. “As it melts, it will really help pack everything down.”

“As it MELTS?!” said Barry. “I’m not OK with that!”

“Stop squirming!” Iris said, gripping Jane by each arm and depositing a glistening, oily layer. “Stay exactly where you are.”

“I don’t know what you think you’re trying to do–” is as far as Jane got before Iris bounded off of the bottom of the box, and horizontal, knocked the Grand Fermenter sideways. She spun, using Jane as the center pole, gliding smoothly over the sauce as her bottom tofu square bonked each of the other Tofurati, sending them sprawling and chunks of tofu flying.

With the last leg of her circular rotation, she bumped Barry right at the tip of its cone, sending Barry twirling upward, head over end, and back down again, perfectly balanced once more.

“Iris!” roared the Grand Fermenter, trying to reclaim his scrambled bits.

“Hurry,” said Iris. We’ve got to get out of here now.” She ushered Jane and Barry toward the back of the box, where a bar of faint light flickered under the flap.

Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

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Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil, Part 4

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I’m taking a badly-needed technology break! To keep you entertained without my daily nonsense, I’m posting the complete stories of Jane Storegoer, a character who sprang to being during the #AtoZChallenge in 2016.  During my break, I’ll post the installments daily. Can’t wait? Catch the rest of the posts here. They start from the bottom. Hope you enjoy!

“The what?” Jane said, trying to gather her haphazard limbs into some semblance of decency. With her palm, she rubbed at the gloppy coating on the right side of her face, smearing it more than anything else.

“We ask the questions,” said the one who appeared to be the leader, as his hat — a stovepipe made of macaroni noodles, a wholewheat spaghetti ribbon and a carrot brim — had a fancy red pepper flourish.

“Mwaahhh haaaa haaa,” taunted the cone, whose name we recently learned was Barry. “Wait, what? What’s going on down there? I can’t quite see.” It shifted over the hole, blocking the light, narrowing the light, blocking the light, and narrowing it again.

“I said we ask the questions,” said the leader, jabbing his spear up in a wobbling arc as his hands were rather jiggly. “And will you stop doing that, because it’s kind of annoying.” His head landed back into a neutral position with a squelch, and he fixed his olive-slice eyes on Jane. “I will not ask you again. As the Grand Fermenter of the Tufurati, I demand you explain yourself.”

Jane flipped herself over and sat up, her hands behind her, the left one now in the puddle, the sauce oozing over to the back sides of her fingers. The leader’s lackeys loomed above her, appraising her coolly with their own olive slices. Except for the one in the in the corner. Jane got a glimpse of those pimento pupils and shivered.

“Hey,” said Barry, trying to maintain a tricky angle for a pointed cone, “I shrank her, so technically she’s mine.”

“Your what?” said Jane.

The leader straightened his non-shoulders and tightened his black bean lips. The growing rage floated from him, along with the tang of tamarind. “Pardon me, sir–”

“Uh, I would like to point out that I, like all ice cream cones, do not have a gender.”

“Fine,” said the leader, a flush of red pepper rising to his tofu cheeks, “Pardon me, Cone–”

“That’s better. But you can just call me Barry.”

“Berry?” said the Grand Fermenter of the Tufurati.

“BA-rry. Sheesh, why is this so hard?”

“Uh, hello?” said Jane. “Remember me? I just want to get out of this freezer.”

“That will not be possible,” said the Grand Fermenter. “As you have illegally crossed the border into Vegania, and from here there is no return.”

Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil, Part 2

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I’m taking a badly-needed technology break! To keep you entertained without my daily nonsense, I’m posting the complete stories of Jane Storegoer, a character who sprang to being during the #AtoZChallenge in 2016.  During my break, I’ll post the installments daily. Can’t wait? Catch the rest of the posts here. They start from the bottom. Hope you enjoy!

“I really wish you’d stop doing that,” Jane said, crisscrossing her forearms to rub her goose-pimpled flesh with her numbing fingers. She shouldn’t have left her jacket in the car. But it was a warm day, and she was only running in for an ice cream cone.

“I’ve been practicing my laugh for centuries,” the cone said, one sprinkled eyebrow arched high, “and I’m going to make the most of it.”

“You’ve been in this freezer?” Jane leaned against the freezer wall, but as the ice bit into her back, thought better of it.

“Yep.” The ice cream cone nodded, which looked mainly like the ice cream trying to wobble its way off the soggy waffle base.

Eyes narrowed, Jane angled her head. “For centuries?”

“Yah-huh.” With scrunched frosty lips, the ice cream cone leaned menacingly toward Jane. “Got a problem with that?”

“Yeah. Freezers have only been around for like, a hundred years or something.”

“I’ll have you know the first ice-making machine was invented in 1854!” the cone roared, close enough to Jane to cast her in a cloud of his chilly vanilla-scented breath.

She stepped a tad closer to the cone to get another whiff of a delicious exhale, the box under her bowing a little more. “But that’s not a freezer. And it’s not even enough to say ‘centuries.’ One-and-a-half, tops.”

“It’s called hyperbole!” Like a simmering volcano of frozen confection, a flow of chocolate fudge started at the top of his swirly peak and ran slowly down, gliding lumpily over the sprinkles. Jane couldn’t take her eyes off it. “Do not underestimate powers of my creamy magic!”

Without even thinking, Jane took another step nearer, reaching out with curved fingers for a swipe of that enticing chocolate rivulet.

“Do you have to yell everything? We’re in a closed freezer, I can totally hear–” is as far she got, as the frozen breakfast box buckled beneath her. Down, down she plunged. She clawed at the remains of the box, trying desperately to slow her descent, the soggy cardboard tearing away in her hands.

Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil: The Complete Stories, Part 1

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I’m taking a badly-needed technology break! To keep you entertained without my daily nonsense, I’m posting the complete stories of Jane Storegoer, a character who sprang to being during the #AtoZChallenge in 2016. Hope you enjoy!

NOTE: This series started as an A to Z Blogging Challenge post (V for Villain) last year, and morphed into an entire saga! During my break, I’ll post the installments daily. Can’t wait? Catch the rest of the posts here. They start from the bottom.

Couldn’t resist bringing Jane to you for J!

You can’t have a story without conflict. I mean, I guess you could, but I’m not sure how far it would go or how interesting it would be. Let’s try it:

Jane went to the store. Jane dug an ice cream cone out of the deepest corner of the chest freezer, loosening the ice around it to pry it out. Jane paid for the ice cream cone, got in her car, and drove home.

Whew. I don’t know about you, but that had me on the edge of my seat. So how do you get conflict?

Add a villain:

Jane went to the store. Jane dug an ice cream cone out of the deepest corner of the freezer, loosening the ice around it to pry it out.

“How dare you disturb my frozen rest!” the ice cream cone bellowed, shooting a barrage of sprinkles at Jane. She felt herself growing cold. “I curse you, I curse you, Jane Storegoer, and all of your descendants. My expiration date, long since past, earned me eternal freezitude, and you have defrosted it.”

Jane tried to loosen her grip on the cone, but like a tongue on a cold fence pole, her hand stayed put. The shelves around her wavered and dissolved into a crystal white, extending far beyond her sight and high above her. The ice cream cone grew and grew until it towered, glaring down at her with its peanut eyes. Walled in on all sides, ice clumped like boulders along the vertical expanse, she felt a smooth surface beneath her feet. It gave slightly.

“Where are we?” she said. She bent, brushing the fallen ice beneath her shoes. Was that…an Amy’s frozen Breakfast Scramble box? “Is this the freezer? Am I in the freezer?”

“Mwaahhh haaaa haaa,” laughed the ice cream cone evilly.

“But if I’m in the freezer, how can you curse my descendants? I don’t have any, unless you count my parakeet. You wouldn’t count a parakeet, would you? I think there’s something wrong with this plan here.”

“Mwaahhh haaaa haaa,” said the ice cream cone again, mainly for emphasis.

***

So I think we can all agree I’m having a weird morning ((Update: Still true. I must have a lot of weird mornings) Update to the update: YEP.) That aside, without an antagonist, your protagonist has nothing to do. Enter the villain. In this case, an ice cream cone. And here’s the thing about villains: they need to have their own agendas.

Villains need to be as complex as heroes. They need to have a why; that they’re just plain evil is as unsatisfying in fiction as it is in life. Our ice cream cone just wants to rest.

Or does it?

Like my political side? Read my opinion pieces here.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

 

Instant escape

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Sometimes, when things are overwhelming here on Earth, which, these days, they frequently are, I like to imagine other planets way, way out in the reaches of space. I imagine what they look like, from a distance, blends of colors, nothing more than distant marbles.

And then I try to envision their surfaces, or what it’s like to be in a planet that’s only a ball of differently-colored gasses. The color of the sky. If they have rainbows, how they change depending on the atmosphere. What a storm is like.

But those aren’t my favorites.

My favorites are the ones where I imagine life, teeming life, different than ours but still alive. What sentience might look like there; what vegetation might look like there.

It gives me comfort to know that out there in the universe, life exists. It must exist, because the numbers of stars and their halos of planets is just too too vast for there not to be life.

Way out there, in that part of the universe we’ll likely never see, we are no more than a shadow passing in front of a star, our conflicts and problems concealed by endless space.

I’m sure those faraway planets have their own issues, but the ones I flicker into existence in my mind don’t. They’re calm, serene places where everything happening now here is nothing more than the imagining of a curious alien being.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: A Cultural Crystal Ball

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Author’s note: This piece first appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is celebrated for its condemnation of censorship and groupthink, but Bradbury — a writer who has always been categorized as “science-fiction” over the tonier synonym “speculative fiction” — deserves recognition for that book’s eerie prescience of culture. What he foresaw, from six decades out, is remarkable.

Though Bradbury copyrighted “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, as described by The Big Read, it was adapted first from a short story called “Bright Phoenix” published in 1947, and then “The Fireman,” which was published in 1950. While increasing numbers of households would get televisions in that decade, at the beginning of the ’50s TVs were new. Yet not only did he foresee them in every household, he foresaw them taking over households: huge, wall-sized televisions. Bradbury imagined ear buds with his seashell radios long before the concept existed. And, in the dreaded Hound, he saw a future of robotics far out of line with the technology of the time.

But those details are prescience of technology, which, though still a neat trick, is not quite as stunning as understanding the evolution of culture if left to its natural course. With a beauty of language also often not given the credit it is due, Bradbury says: “With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” (Del Rey 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 58).

Bradbury writes of the condensation of thought from book to digest to blurb in a way strangely predictive of Twitter, where all ideas must fit within the constraints of 140 characters. He sees the rise of advertising so incessant it’s nearly ritualistic, and long before the advent of reality TV, he predicted shows that were little more than life itself, with home participants easily joining.

He even wrote about the future of attempts to erase any signs of age, of having lived a life, of a world lacking depth and texture, with his description that sounds predictive of Botox long before people decided injections of neurotoxins were preferable to wrinkles: “So do you see now why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” (pg. 83).

And then there is that beauty of language that comes from its clarity, from each word in a sentence chosen for both its overt and subtle meanings while still seeing the far-off future from quite a distance. At a time when newspapers were in nearly every home, he said “I remember them dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” (emphasis in original; pg. 89)

There are classics that are classics through some sense of tradition, and then there are books that become classics because what they tell us about ourselves is unchanging, unencumbered by movement of culture in the world around us. “Fahrenheit 451” is about so much more than censorship. With amazing insight from more than half-a-century away, it is about the willing relinquishment of critical thinking.

 

P is for Promotion (Self)

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I’ve decided to combine my laziness today with the undeniable urge to push my own work. Winning combination, no? No?

OK, fair point.

Nonetheless, today I am going to dangle a little Aunty Ida in front of you, though you might want to make sure you’re wearing your protective brain gear. On account of the likelihood that she wants to get her hands in your noggin.

Probably metaphorically speaking. Probably.

Anyway, in Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), Margaret really doesn’t have much of a choice. If she wants to keep her job as a judge after her tiny, minuscule little meltdown live on LawTV, she’s got to let Aunt Ida help her. It doesn’t matter, though, because Margaret knows none of it was her fault. She was set up, and she’s going to prove it.

Here’s the cover:

Ida1

Yes, Aunty Ida is weird. Yes, Aunty Ida is a weird book. But don’t we weirdos need a place to hang out, even if it’s only between pixelated pages? See, that’s what I thought.

And so ends our latest self-promotion bulletin. I hope that no sensibilities were injured in the making of this post.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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