16 Updates Whadda You Get

The day began with a chime. Juan imagined a sunrise as the orange gels tinted the fluorescent lights. From the cot on the checkered floor, he viewed the magnificent chrome toilet. In the far corner there was a shower. Juan took a hearty whiff of himself and shrugged. Past the sink mirror and toilet, past the door, was his office. There was a desk, a chair a computer, and a hole in the checkered tiles where wires spilled into the computer. Home again, home again.

“We bought 500 liters of Man Mix that can be pumped into this bathroom. So you should be okay until next month.”

Nitrogen, oxygen, argon and marketing all in bright orange tanks that you can refill at gas stations across the galaxy. Man Mix was the “Life support with guaranteed MAXIMUM virility”. Supposedly, it had increased oxygen. However, intermittently, there were recalls where they had declined to distribute oxygen in every tank. They didn’t make 500 liter tanks and deep space doesn’t necessarily get recalls. So Juan had worries.

“Come in”

The EVA had wheels, probably a 10 horsepower engine. Dzheff was a squishy salamander thing piloting a big black ball with a periscope for a head. It’s pronounced Jeff but the russians made first contact with the calamahapa and humanity is not as intellectually curious as it aspires to be. That’s not their actual name either. But Jeff is Jeff or at least close enough.

“Sometimes I wake up and I just kinda hope that this’ll be the day the universe gets lazy with the fx. Just a dude with bumps on his head, thats all I want.”

“Bigotry aside, I’m sorry to disappoint.”

Juan stood up and stared into the mirror above the sink, pouring antiseptic on the hands. There was a little gray that wasn’t there last time.

“You shouldn’t have to put bigotry aside. That’s the job of the bigot. You’ve been as good a host as I could hope for.”


There was an update waiting. It looked good. The PA started.

“Reminder: you are all inside of me and I’m into it but I feel weird.”

“Okay Jeff, you gotta be straight with me. If I push this update, is it kinkshaming?”

La Muerte en el Indoro

Sometimes you can hear the water. Sometimes its all you can hear, as if you are trapped inside the atmosphere: the single inhabitant of a ceramic planet. It was Gloria and the tardigrades forever in the closest bathroom to C++. Two o’clock was Speech and she could go. And it wouldn’t hurt but she was playing pretend.

Gloria was a software developer, except software developers didn’t go to school. A software developer would have initiative and already know this. They’d have friends and networks and they’d have projects. And they would have done this ten years ago. And they would have been better.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

She cradled herself.

“It’s okay. I don’t need it.”

The voice sounded deep and lyrical. Gloria opened the door. For a moment she couldn’t see anything. Then something, like eyes focusing on rain that was invisible. It wasn’t a rain though, it was a skeleton standing in the front of the only sink. There was a standing skeleton and then there was the chance of being judged for not washing your hands. Gloria stood in line.

“Could you be a dear and turn on the faucet?”

Gloria turned on the faucet. The skeleton managed to push the soap dispenser. As they lathered, their hands became more and more visible. They had long thin fingers and petite palms.

“Am I dead?”

“Well I am anyways.”

“Are you Death?”

“Why would Death have a skeleton? I’m Melissa.”

Gloria felt hair touch her face as Melissa turned to grab a paper towel. They noticed Gloria staring.

“I usually use a 15 second rule. Otherwise staring is definitely rude.”

“Can I get accommodations? I’m only pretty sure I’m not dead.”

“Not ADA applicable. Which is really unfair because I have a lot of accessibility problems. My C++ teacher only barely notices I exists. I’m so behind”

“Do you want to be study partners?”

And this is how you make friends children.

Blood of My Blood, Flesh of My Stool

Plop. Then a slow annoyed hiss. It opened it’s eyes for a second and focused on Michael. The teeth were long white porcelain carpentry nails and it already rearing back preparing to lunge. Michaed slammed the lever. The sloppy stitching between the thumb and the finger on his right flushing hand reminded him to move quickly and efficiently. A mechanical pencil and composition notebook were retrieved from a cabinet under the vanity

“October 21st, 9:15pm the child seemed malevolent and angry. One flush.

9:15pm, 5 minutes drift towards midnight since October 10th. 20 minutes towards noon since August. There was no pattern, no logic. There was just a man shitting angry animals. But Micheal drew the lines connected the dots and saw the shapes. He had to. His documentation and the little charts he made was his bible. If was not normal, he was at the very least regular.

An old black smear sat between the shower and toilet. That was August 2nd and it was painful. Basically, it was a black hand with the mouth in the middle and purple little talons. That boy was fast and angry but there’s a hand sledge between the toilet wand and the plunger. That one had to be placed in the waste basket. Most of them flushed and just in case they weren’t dead the pipe lead to a septic tank. The septic tank was cleaned by well trusted confidantes. The nearest neighbor was an acre away and urban sprawl had Michael was eyeing new real estate. You don’t want someone to hear you scream. You don’t want to be legal precedent. You sure as hell don’t want to be scientific discovery.

Back at his bed he took off the jump boots he wore like slippers. 9:30 would give him 11 hours. 9 to 5. Eat, shit, sleep, repeat. Time enough to wake up, shower and make breakfast, pack lunch. His daughter had managed to cocoon herself on the other side. Nightmares again. Perhaps Kindergarten was taking its toll.

Bless January.


Good Neighbors Say Bless You

It’s not a necessity. It’s throwing pepper over the shoulder. It’s a braid of garlic right next to the doorway. It is perhaps a defecation but mostly its an ass being water cooled for five minutes: a meditation per chance to poop. In the two minute mark of this revery, something opened the front door, hacked and snarled. Comedy suggests, this is when you hear plonk but no time for nirvana now. There’s an sks in the corner that has a flash hider just long enough to hold toilet paper.

She stands and closes the lid and puts the 1 ply on top while pulling her lounge pants up. From the linen closet she retrieves and loads 10 from a stripper clip of russian short. She closes the door and fixes her bayonet because why the fuck not. She cautiously walks up the two steps out the garage and into the kitchen. Long fluorescent tubes buzz overhead, lighting an island of chipped and chiseled marble and mismatched appliances. This was no stainless place. There was still blue dye staining the sink and the dishes.

She moved into the dining room. On the not shaker dining room table her HP with the 15 inch screen chugged away at… facebook, just facebook. Her rifle was not shouldered, this was casual mode. Very casual, with a knife. And a gun. A knife gun. Breathe in. Breathe out. Shoulder.

Both doors were wide open. There was a 2.5 meter biped with a thick black fur on the top slowly thinning at the belly and obviously shedding legs. There was peppering on the snout but very clean, very bleached huge canines. A pair of jorts equal to John Cena’s were daisy dukes upon his frame. You could see the phablet tucked in the right pocket. There was a rubber band full of letters sitting on the table. A hankie was in his left claw.

“God damn it Tim. Knock.”

He pointed to the plywood. He pointed to the glass. He curls his slightly less wolfy right hand into a fist. Stephanie stood the rifle against the bookshelf between Skyfall and Soulplane. She did this in order to have hands free for talking.

“Then use the doorbell Tim. Next time.”

She slouched into the sofa displacing a throw pillow, a newspaper and a bunch of junk mail. There was a naked bulb dangling from the ceiling, the ceiling fan was still. A white flat extension cord snaked under the bookshelf powering the tv.

“Text me?”

On the stool between the sofa and the television, her iphone was charging. It chirped with another notification.

“Get a better neighbor Tim, this one is an idiot.”

He made a patting motion. She nodded. His palmed made a slow motion dribble on her koolaid hair, fingers extended well past where a baseball cap would have ended. He shrugged and walked away. She tossed a bag of oregano at him. No really. He caught it deftly. There would be a mason jar of marinara later. Then an oil change in exchange. Quid pro quo, mas o menos.