Fragments from books that don’t exist

facetime_with_martha

“My dear Clem,” said the dog-bot, “we do need a shower, now, don’t we?”

Clem snorted and gobbled another jujubee. She didn’t want to move away from the grate where the steam was pouring out like lilac in July.

“Dearest Clem,” the dog-bot tried again, “I have heard of the most wonderful elixir, a beverage sure to delight even the most plebian tastes. It is a veritable nectar of the gods, or so I’m told.”

Clem grumbled and kicked out from beneath her blankets, hoping to knock her public assistance companion into the gutter, or better yet, off a freaking cliff. She poked her head out to double-check, just in case there was a cliff nearby, but no, she was still in the alley off Seventeenth and Pine.

“It’s no use, my dear,” the dog-bot said. “I am always at your service, happy to oblige. May I fetch you another vino?”

“Gimme,” Clem muttered.

“Why certainly, of course,” said the dog-bot, as it rummaged through its supplies, which contained everything a bag lady could ever want. At your service, muttered the dog-bot, as it helped itself to another string of those tasty Cajun sausages.

Fragments from books that don’t exist

thewayofhtefox

On her way to the Arctic, Professor Agatha Rumrock heard a story about a young girl who’d been raised to believe she was special. This young girl, whose name was something like Aubrey or Audrey or Audie or Amy or Ondella Dumont, had been born in one century, died in another, and lived most of her life in a different one entirely. This was not what made her special, because, of course, how could she have been raised to know that she would live to the age of a hundred and four? What was special about this young girl (or old woman, or just woman for much of her life) was something she never knew. No one had ever quite explicitly spelled it out for her, and so she always wondered. All her life she wondered, what is so special about me?

The person who told this story to Professor Agatha Rumrock was a former neighbor of that somehow special person. More precisely, he had once been a bartender working at a nightclub in a neighborhood in which Ms. Dumont had once resided. She only lived there for a short time, a matter of weeks as the professor found out once did some more digging around. The former bartender, who had also been a former Marine, a former maritime commissioner, a former used boat salesman and a former fisherman, had heard a story about Aubrey or Audrey or Audie or Amy or Ondella once, on his way to the arctic.

Fragments from books that don’t exist

jimbo1

“Did you even think about it?” Grace asked. She was certain the answer would be “no”. When had Myriam ever really thought about anything? It was always spur of the moment with her, spontaneous. “I have to be true to myself” was the familiar excuse for not wanting to do anything that was originally Grace’s idea. Even this, which she was sure would be right up Myriam’s alley. So she was shocked when Myriam agreed.

I would love to,” she smiled her famous European smile, and Grace instantly felt that she had never been so happy in her entire life.

“So where do we find these frogs?” Myriam asked, “and what will we use to cut their little heads off with?”

Fragments from books that don’t exist

morgan1

“If it’s not on the menu, we don’t have it,” Clara declared, but the customer was not mollified.

“You have eggs, right?” the incredibly tiny woman asked. Clara had to lean over the counter even to see the diminutive pest.

“We have eggs,” Clara stated as blandly as she could.

“So you could theoretically boil ’em am I right?”

“If it’s not on the menu, we don’t have it,” Clara repeated herself. If there was one thing Clara hated, it was repeating herself. If there were two things Clara hated, the second would have been customers who insisted on ordering things that were not on the menu. As it was, there were far more things that Clara hated. These two items were not even in the top one hundred. Residing at number one, for the umpteenth week in a row, was the way her sister (Mary, a.k.a. Magma) brushed her teeth every half hour on the half hour. Even though they were no longer living in the same house, or even in the same city, this remained Clara’s top pet peeve, and would, in the end, outlive the sister herself. On her last dying day, Clara would still hang on to that somehow visceral hatred.

It had all begun the day their father set foot on the moon Europa.

Fragments from books that don’t exist

gorlock_the_contented

This is where we are. We see the fields around us, brown and dry, and recall the prophecy: “Thirteen brown and white rabbits shall pass before your eyes, and then the lights will dim”. Already the eleventh rabbit has made its way down the cold steel ramp, while the Onlookers peer out from the massive ship’s portholes. We shudder in the cold of the dawn, all of us standing back, frightened and bewildered. Some among us whisper, “where is he?” while others frown and say that he will never come. Why should he? Isn’t he safe and warm and bathing in the light of his home world. Didn’t he already try and do his best? And how did we reward him, aside from all that money, and the coupons? I can see the twelfth rabbit now, edging towards the outer flap. Our time is running out. But wait. That rabbit isn’t brown or white! That’s a black rabbit for sure. The prophecy didn’t say anything about a black rabbit!  Is there hope after all? What? Check the fine print? Hold on a sec …

Fragments from books that don’t exist

wearethechameleon

We assumed that by the end of the third week we would have arrived at Saint Bonaventure’s Mission Palace Hotel, but instead we were still knee-deep in the thickets of the Grange. The drones were unable to rise above the canopy but at least it kept the rain from reaching the ground except through the incessant drip, drip, dripping from the leaves. Maurice had not yet found the answer to his query, and kept repeating the same phrases over and over in his bleak, mechanical way. We were all more than a little sick of the little bastard, but since he had been blessed by the One True Tiger we had no choice but to take turns carrying him in his velvet sack on our shoulders. Occasionally one of us would “inadvertently” swing and bump him up against a shrub or a tree trunk just to get a change in tone. We had almost lost track of time, or maybe we had, it was difficult to know. In the morning we would agree that it was Thursday or maybe Tuesday and just go on like that. The nights were the longest. Although it was warm enough, we were hungry all the time, as there are only so many cicadas one can eat before one succumbs to a craving for jujubees. We told ourselves that the situation could only improve, but then little Georgina found the carcass, and we all had to stop and wonder.We assumed that by the end of the third week we would have arrived at Saint Bonaventure’s Mission Palace Hotel, but instead we were still knee-deep in the thickets of the Grange. The drones were unable to rise above the canopy but at least it kept the rain from reaching the ground except through the incessant drip, drip, dripping from the leaves. Maurice had not yet found the answer to his query, and kept repeating the same phrases over and over in his bleak, mechanical way. We were all more than a little sick of the little bastard, but since he had been blessed by the One True Tiger we had no choice but to take turns carrying him in his velvet sack on our shoulders. Occasionally one of us would “inadvertently” swing and bump him up against a shrub or a tree trunk just to get a change in tone. We had almost lost track of time, or maybe we had, it was difficult to know. In the morning we would agree that it was Thursday or maybe Tuesday and just go on like that. The nights were the longest. Although it was warm enough, we were hungry all the time, as there are only so many cicadas one can eat before one succumbs to a craving for jujubees. We told ourselves that the situation could only improve, but then little Georgina found the carcass, and we all had to stop and wonder.

Fragments from books that don’t exist

nydriganeatsrice

“Forget about Harry,” Ingrid advised, for the seventeenth time in the past seventeen minutes, or so it seemed to Hilda, who was, if she had to admit it, even more sick and tired of her half-sister than she was of her ex-boyfriend.

“Okay,” she said, not meaning it in any way, “Harry who?”

“That’s more like it,” Ingrid sat back and smiled. Wasn’t it enough that they were on the tropical cruise vacation they had always dreamed of? Yet here was the brat, same as always, whining about something. If she were Harry she would have dumped the girl ages ago. ‘Now, now‘, she said to herself, ‘be kind to your sister, even if she was raised by wolves or whatever.

It was true. They were riding high above the water on the luxuriest deck of the luxuriest cruise ship in the whole of the Indian Ocean, revisiting the ancient trade routes that once brought the first half-decent food to Europe after millennia of bland, tasteless cuisine, and they were gobbling it all up. Hilda was certain she’d gained fifty pounds already, and yet she still wasn’t large enough for that brute. Of course she knew he was holding out for another fifty. She could see it plain as day.

And it was foxes, anyway‘, she muttered under her breath. No matter how often she proved it, Ingrid would never believe in Hilda’s natural telepathy. What a pain in the ass it was! If it weren’t for Harry, she would ditch herself at the next deserted island and never have to deal with a stupid humanoid brain ever again.