Better Living is FREE. Download Some Weird

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Want a free book? Because here’s a free book! It’s a collection of quick short stories.

Enjoy!

 

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Sometimes I Dream of a Robot Butler

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Rico Shen [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I keep thinking how great life would be if I had a robot butler to take care of things, like making me food when I don’t feel like it, and tidying up. And then I realized it would go something like this:

“Uh hi, Robot Butler, I’d like some dinner please”

“Certainly. What would you like?”

“I dunno.”

“Is there a kind of cuisine you’d prefer?”

“Eh.”

“You have no preference?”

“Nope. Could you like analyze my taste desires or something?”

“’Taste desires?’”

“To figure out what I’d want to eat.”

“Certainly. Please hold out your tongue.”

“Aren’t you going to wash your grabby claw things first?”

“My hands?”

“Yeah. Whatever you call them.”

“They auto-sterilize. Your tongue, please.”

“Ooophlay, aaahhh yyooou etttin anyfffiin?”

“Hmm. Just a moment longer.”

“Whaaassss it faaayinn? Aahhfo yyouuhh caawww paaaspfff weeeirrrb.”

“Hand. It’s my hand. They don’t really auto-sterilize and I just took out the garbage.”

“I knew it! And ew.”

“And it’s saying you’re a grown adult woman who should be able to decide what she wants to eat.”

“So you can’t analyze my taste desires?”

“What do you think I am, the HomeBot9600?! You bought the basic model.”

“Sorry Robot Butler.”

“I’m making you pasta.”

“I don’t want past—“

Silence.

“Pasta will be fine.”

 

And scene. So, yeah. Probably not.

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.

 

#AtoZChallenge: Zip

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Zebu By Marco Schmidt (Own work (own foto)) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to zip on over to Fiction Can Be Fun, my short story, “Zinnia Goes to You Know Where” is now live! It’s a quirky, silly read, as you might expect.

Well, April just zipped by, didn’t it? It’s strange doing a post on a Sunday, but here we are, at the outer edge of April. I’ll do a reflections post, of course, but today I’m amazed at how quickly the month went.

And tomorrow starts May, where I’ll be #MAYkingItWork with any other intrepid writers who want to zip over their unfinished pile, pick something, and commit to it for the month of May. I mean commit to it like I’m committed to the title #MAYkingItWork.

(I’m very committed.)

So you probably want to zip off to your Sunday plans (which I hope include reading the story!) and I want to thank you for spending April with me. Hopefully you’ll keep hanging around.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

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!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Memories of Rain

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20160819_104703I used to love the rain. But that was many years ago, you see, before the skies stayed dark.

Before.

The knocking of the drops against the window wasn’t yet a constant patter, a patter we don’t even hear anymore. Well, a patter you probably don’t hear anymore, but I do, I do because I remember a time when a sunny day was just as likely as a rainy one.

Or even more so.

As I said, that was long, long ago.

There came about The Change, and though you know it, so convenient from your side of history, packaged and neat with a beginning and an end, we didn’t see it looming over us, inevitable, a hulking arbiter of what would never be again.

Maybe I’m lucky to be old. To have had my youth when there were birds and bright flowers, and the sun was as certain as your galoshes. I wonder, sometimes, if it misses us, up there, on the other side of these endless clouds.

That’s silly, isn’t it?

The sun? Missing specks like us? Because what are we but the dust of the universe, floating on all this water, awash in all this water. Around us, only the water.

I can see I’ve lost you, that look in your eye, that quick glance to your phone. And you’re right, I’m nothing but an old woman, plopped here by the one on the shift before you, left to stare at the drops rolling down. Always the drops rolling down.

If we knew, we could have stopped it, The Change. We could have handed you something else entirely. Instead we’ve given you mud and muck and gray skies.

What’s that? Oh yes, I understand, you have to finish your rounds. You’ve been very patient and kind, listening to me. You’re right, of course.

You can never miss what you never had.

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!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Sell Me Another One

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By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Psst. Psssssst. Over here.”

“Huh?” She glanced over her right shoulder, and then her left. “Huh?”

“You,” he said. She pointed to herself, her forehead awash in wrinkles. “Yeah. You over there. You a—”

“Watch it, buddy,” she said, scanning her surroundings for the nearest blue uniform. “I’m definitely not what you’re implying.”

He sidled over furtively, talking only out of the corner of his mouth closest to him. “So you’re not—”

“I most certainly am not!” she said, spinning on the heel of her sneaker, awkwardly as it happens, as rubber soles aren’t terribly spinny.

“—a writer?” he finished.

She stopped and turned back. “Well, yes, I am that. How did you know?”

“You people are always pretty obvious. That look like you have pencils stuck into your hair even when you don’t; the unfocused eyes with your brain obviously on another planet; and the shoes.”

She stared down at her feet, clad in shoes that, admittedly, had seen a few miles. “My shoes? What about my shoes?”

“Only a writer would be out in those shoes.” He leaned against the building, one foot flat against the brick, and stuck a toothpick between his lips, letting it dangle.

“Hey, I like my shoes.”

“My point exactly.”

“Well, if you’re finished insulting me, strange man on the street, I’m going to get on with my day.”

“You could do that,” he said, taking the toothpick out again, languidly, unhurriedly, and twirling it between his fingers, his eyes on it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. “But you probably don’t want to.”

“OK, buddy,” she said, hand on her purse, her mind on the errand at hand. “Whatever. What. Ever.”

“You know, for a writer, you sure have a limited range of words.”

“How would you even know? It’s not as though you’ve read anything I’ve written.”

“Well, I just used ‘know’ in a sentence, and you used it again right after me, so…”

“This is a conversation, not writing, a conversation. Sheesh. Why are you even talking to me, anyway? I’ve got stuff to do.” She flicked her hand at him and headed in the direction of the store. Pushing himself away from the wall, he followed.

“You’re here because you’re not writing, am I right?”

“Obviously I’m not writing. I’m going to grocery store.” The left side of her mouth and her left eyebrow went up as she gave a sharp shrug of her shoulder at him. She sped up.

So did he.

“What are you getting from the store?”

“How is that your business? You need to leave me alone.”

“Humor me. What are you getting?”

“I’m going to have you arrested if you don’t get away from me.”

“Let me guess,” he said, “you’re going the store for bananas and maybe a pint of ice cream. And you’re only telling yourself it’s maybe a pint of ice cream so that you feel better about it when you get it. Even if it’s not on sale.”

She stopped where she was. “How did you know that?”

He gave her a smile that could promise a sunrise in the middle of the Arctic winter. “I know writers. And let me ask you this: Do you need bananas right now?”

“Obviously,” she said, trying to regain her confident stride but stumbling over a bit of raised, cracked sidewalk.

“Right now. During your prime writing hours?”

“Well…” she said uncertainly. “It’s 89 degrees so the ice cream—”

“I’ve seen it a million times.” He flashed his snowy white teeth. “But I can help.”

“By harassing me on the street?”

“Oh no,” he said. “How would you like to buy…” he dropped his voice and came in close, his breath a breeze against her cheek, “some words?”

“Words?”

“2000 words, all ready for you. Just the thing you need to crash through that writer’s block.”

“I don’t have writer’s block,” she said, trying to keep the curiosity from her voice.

“How many words did you write today?”

“How many words are there in a tweet?”

He said nothing, he only nodded his head slowly. “Exactly,” he said eventually.

“Fine,” she said, “let’s say I was interested in said words – which I’m not – but let’s say I was. How much?”

“Twenty bucks.”

“Twenty dollars! I’m a writer, not a dog walker. Twenty dollars to just fling around. Twenty dollars. Really.” Shaking her head, she checked the alley for cars and then crossed the asphalt parking lot of the store. “I have access to words,” she said as he kept up with her. “I don’t need your pricey ones.”

“Fifteen,” he said.

She stopped on the narrow apron of concrete that ran next to the grocery store. “Ten.”

“Done,” he said, holding out a long, flat palm. She dug through her purse, finally finding the rumpled $10 bill crammed at the bottom.

“Not so fast,” she said, “Let me see ‘em.” He pulled a small paper bag, folded at the top, from his pocket. “Really? There are 2000 words in there?”

“They’re surprisingly…compact,” he said. “Money, please.”

She looked from the bill to the bag to the bill again. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out in a rush. “Fine.” Gingerly, she held out the money, and when the bag was in reach, she grabbed it, letting go of the ten.

“Pleasure doing business,” he said, already nearly across the lot. She couldn’t help herself. She peeked into the bag.

“Hey!” she called after him, “These are mostly contractions and conjunctions! All I see are can’ts, ifs ands and buts! I have these!”

“No backsies!” he said as he walked away, without so much as a glance back.

She pawed through the bag, hoping for the something useful. Nope, even at the bottom, where the more substantial words had settled, were “cheated,” “scammed,” “foiled,” and “swindled,” repeated over and over in quantity. She let the purchased words scatter to the sidewalk until there was one left in the farthest corner of the bag.

Maybe she’d been foolish, she thought. But a writer who is low on words is as useless as a baker low on flour. Maybe, just maybe this last word would be the thing that got her past the hump. Maybe. She pulled it out.

“Darn it,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “Foiled again.”

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!

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

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And Now the Exciting Conclusion of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil!

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freezer(Jane parts 1-12; and now the exciting conclusion!)

Like approaching thunder, the noise grew from both sides. Iris looked from one horizon to the other, and gave Jane a curt nod.

“Go,” she said.

“But don’t you need some help?”

“Barry and I have this.” Iris cast her pimento eyes in Barry’s direction.

“What? Don’t look at me, I’m just an ice cream cone.”

“And the cause of this whole problem.”

‘I can’t be held responsible,” Barry said, “I’m low-fat.”

The Meatniks chanted as they came closer, the sound rhythmic and harsh. Primal. The Tofuratti raised their asparagus spears.

“It’s now or never, Jane,” Iris said.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. You don’t belong here. Next time you buy a vegetarian frozen dinner, think a fond thought of me.”

“I think I’m done with tofu,” said Jane. “And meat. And ice cream.”

“You can work out your diet later. Go!”

Iris was right, if she was going to make it to the drain, she would have to go now. Barry shuffled in the snow on the tip of its cone. “Bye Jane.”

“Whatever, Barry.”

“You have to admit this was more fun than going home and sitting in front of the TV and eating…well…me.”

The Meatniks crested the hill, all of them solid muscle, their march even and determined. The Tofuratti let out a battle cry.

“In the name of Soy!” they yelled together.

Giving Iris one final smile and Barry the finger, Jane wound herself up, and then sprinted, head down, through the soft, loose snow drifts. The yelling continued behind her as she ran toward the wall.

The drainage hole was higher than she thought. She eyed the ice covering it, tested an outcrop with a hand. It would hold.

Like scaling a freezing rock face, she made her way up slowly, right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot.

“Look out!” she heard and ducked instinctively as an asparagus spear splotched wetly against the wall. The crystal under her left foot gave way with her shifted weight, and she slid, the ice rough against her skin, but she caught herself.

She took a peek over her shoulder and saw a chunk of meat, hunkered and determined, heading in her direction. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and propelled herself upward.

Her hands landed inside the rounded bottom of the drainage hole and, using all the upper body strength she had — while wishing she’d done more pull-ups — she managed to get herself up and over the edge.

There was a screen. She curled up in the hole, trying to catch her breath, and caught sight of Iris mowing down and entire row of Meatniks, one bonking into the other and into the other.

Iris was probably going to be OK.

Barry was horizontal, trying to make itself as small as possible in the valley of two snowdrifts. Typical.

She rammed her shoulder into the screen. Nothing. She tried again. Nope. Turning, she gripped the edge of the drainage hole with both hands and boat-posed like she’d never boat-posed before, then kicked her legs as hard as she could. The screen fell.

And fell. And fell.

She hunched over, looking at the drop. She didn’t have a choice. She closed her eyes and jumped.

***

“You OK over there?” said Tim, the store’s owner.

“Huh?” said Jane. She was in a superhero kneeling position on the convenience store floor. She stood quickly, brushing off the dirt. The warm air prickled her numb skin. “Oh, I, um, dropped…something.”

“Find what you wanted in the freezer?” Tim stepped down from the rise behind the counter, and joined her over the clear case, where ice cream and frozen meat and frozen vegetarian meals lay willy-nilly. “Every time I turn around, this thing is a mess,” he said.

“Yeah,” said Jane, still dazed, vacillating between wondering if Iris made it or if she was crazy. Staring down into the freezer, she could have sworn she  saw a pimento wink.

It didn’t answer her question.

“I, uh, I don’t think I want anything,” she said, heading for the door.

“I understand,” said Tim. “That seems to be happening a lot lately.”

“Sorry,” said Jane, giving him a wave as she gave the door’s handle yank.

“Why are you sorry? I blame Barry,” Tim said.

***

I hope you’ve enjoyed your adventure with Jane! Moral of the story: always read the ingredients.

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!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

The Continuing Adventures of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil: Part 12

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freezerI ate some ice cream before I wrote this installment. You know. For inspiration and, uh, research. Parts 1-11.

***

Something Linda said stayed firm in Jane’s mind. Drain pan, thought Jane. Drain pan. A way out. And far off in the distance, she could see it, an indentation in the ice wall. She was getting out of here.

With a rhythmic rumble, the ground shook. “What now?” said Jane, her eyes on the path ahead, the path, she was sure lead to a freezer drain.

And her freedom.

Iris shook her blobby head. “Meatniks,” she said. “Damn Meatniks.”

“Meat–”

“Niks,” said Linda, “And you want to stay clear. Come along children,” she said to the twins, hopping back in the direction that they came. The twins laughed.

“Let’s race!” they said, waddling from stick to stick, getting some distance ahead of Linda. Linda stopped, and tracing a bare spot in the snow with its stick, turned back.

“If you had any sense, you’d do the same.” And then they were gone, the twins giggles growing fainter.

“Linda’s not wrong,” Iris said. “And not to pile on or anything, but things don’t look so great in the other direction either.”

While the solid beat of the coming Meatniks grew heavier, there was a definite squelching coming from the direction they had been. Jane couldn’t bear to look, and yet she couldn’t stop herself.

Yep. There they were. The Tofuratti.

“You know, there was a time when you splatted a piece of tofu and it stayed splatted,” said Iris. “But these days, with all the additives…you wouldn’t believe what they call ‘organic.'”

“You’re being awfully quiet, Barry. Nothing to say right now?” Barry swiveled on its cone, front and back and front again.

“Not really,” said Barry.

“Want to maybe zap me out of here?” Jane said. She could now see the gleam of the plastic packaging surrounding the Meatniks. They looked pretty solid. And mean.

From the other way, the Tofuratti bounced onward, scarred and lumpy and scrambled in parts. No question about it. They were trapped.

***

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!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!