Mostly sketches. Occasionally a painting. Nothing political other than caricatures reinforcing the truism "Politics is Show Business for Ugly People".
Cold JellyThe bad cold saved his life. Joe crawled under the covers after taking more anti-histamine than he'd ever used before and slept like a cadaver for 12 hours. When he woke up the surprise alien attack was close to the end. The power was off so Joe used his cell phone as a flashlight and noticed numerous messages. All of them said not to go outside. One message warned that an incredible jellyfish creature now covered the city in tentacles and anything that touched those tentacles was pulled high into an unnatural cloud. Naturally the first thing Joe wanted to do was see for himself this monstrous airborne jellyfish. But he also didn't want to be pulled in the air and possibly devoured. Joe's house just happened to feature a skylight resembling a World War II gunner’s blister that would allow him a clear view of the area. He moved the coffee table under the skylight. Then for extra height, placed the kitchen step-up ladder on top of the table. What Joe saw almost caused him to faint, he was still so weak from the drugs and his cold. Joe thought falling and breaking his neck would be preferable to the awful fate he witnessed in the sky all around him. His fellow human beings, wrapped in sticky, translucent tentacles, hoisted helpless into the air.Even through the skylight glass Joe could hear the screams and painful moans. Joe studied the cloud where the tentacles descended. Was it a jellyfish in the cloud? Perhaps some other dimension expelling a monster native to a nightmare world. One of the ropey tentacles splattered onto the skylight. Glistening with slime and toxicity. A poisonous glue that Joe wanted to avoid. Just then the cloud came alive with flashes of lightning and booming thunder claps. Joe heard an awful roar like a million tubas blasting all at once. The cloud exploded in a flash of light. Joe jumped out of the skylight just as it shattered with the shockwave’s force.All evidence of the jellyfish in the cloud was gone. The victims captured by the monster fell from the sky. Very few of them lived. Those that did live were never the same.Neither was Joe. From that day forward, Joe always looked out the new skylight before going to work.
Conversation StarterThe basement was a bit chilly for human comfort. But just right for hard-working electrical equipment. Anne reached for her coffee, sloshing it before it met her lips. The slosh came as a reflexive start to the contact alert. A beeping system chirping like a mad Bluejay. This slosh causing sound was never heard because it meant the unheard of had occurred. Logical and orderly intelligent radio signals were being received from the stars. Anne looked at the computer monitor showing the pulses. Definitely intelligence was at work producing the signals. Anne’s earnest face looked at another open window on the monitor. It was displaying waveforms. She looked at the silent speakers and back at the screen. Her computer had the sound muted! So she clicked the speaker icon to activate the sound feed. And if Anne was surprised before, now she was startled into stone. The speakers issued words, in English. Words formed carefully, and somewhat haughtily, clear and audible to her ears. “People of Earth. Attention. People of Earth. Attention.” And so on. Anne snatched up the handset microphone for the ham radio she used talking to colleagues in other countries. She jerked the dial to the frequency being used by the voice. “This is Earth.” Anne said. The repetitious message stopped. Anne wondered if she should use the ham radio conventions of conversation. After all, ‘they’ knew English. So after a few seconds passed she added “Over.” “Human. Are you authorized to surrender to the HarDernian Empire?” There was a pause and then the imperious voice said “Over.”Anne smiled and said “This isn't funny, who is this? Over.” “We will follow the beam. Prepare to receive our mighty delegate! Over.” Anne guffawed, slouched back in her chair and lifted her steamy coffee cup toward her mouth. A ’sploit’ sound came from a small splash in her hot coffee. There a fly size creature could barely be heard saying “Retreat!” before it dissolved.
Creative Flex“So you guys get it?” Berkley asked, putting more muscle flex into a raised arm field goal gesture than necessary. Berkley flexed his pects as he squeezed his hands into a steeple in front of his lips and continued“Just spread out and bring back whatever you thought was interesting. Bugs, plants, rocks, then we'll vote and the winner gets the Camp Lottahwattah nature’s friend trophy.”“Good grief” Helen thought with a favorite Charlie Brownism. Apathy for the task was bad enough but the real pain was compulsory inclusion in this tribe of idiots. They were not her tribe. Helen waited until Berkley muscularly dispersed the group and picked her own untraveled route through an overgrown field. This was more to her liking. Barely able to hear the other kids and able to think quiet thoughts.She might just make up a story as she walked along. Write it down in her notebook if she deemed it high enough quality. Helen thought about Berkley with his stupid muscles. What if Berkley had a muscle cramp swimming out to the lake raft that the kids were always detaching from its anchor. Helen would swiftly realize only her fast reaction time getting a canoe in the water could save Berkley. That might make a good story. Helen pulled a cat tail grass stem to chew on. The she laughed. This cat tail would be her nature’s friend entry. That job was done. She sat on an old remnant of wooden gate, pleased that she was completely hidden from view of any of the other Lottawattah campers. Helen toed a rotten plank idly, thinking of extra details for her canoe rescue story. The plank tipped over revealing wet, fertile earth. Just as three centipedes ran up her britches and under her shirt. Berkley later found Helen in her underwear shivering on the lake raft. Mumbling to herself.
Entrance MusicKiller Miller's corner man shoved his mouthpiece into place. The Killer worked his jaw a bit and clamped the hard plastic into position around his teeth.Synchronized with the hard bite the Killer’s eyes flew open. “I’m deaf!” he said touching his ears. He looked at his cornerman. The old geezer was standing in the gate, frozen, his mouthpiece delivery hand still held eye-level to the Killer. “Hey!” Killer Miller said “What is this?” He looked at the crowd. It was row upon row of statues. Out of shape, ordinary people, wearing dumb t-shirts, frozen in various poses. The crowd’s noise disappearing so suddenly it was like a reverse gunshot.The Killer turned and walked out onto the mat with the bare feet of a champion mixed martial artist. The latex treated canvas a cushioned pad under his tough feet. Miller thought crickets would sound like lawn mowers in this silent world. Then there was sound. It was the monster Godzilla’s movie theme. Someone Killer knew used that theme for their entrance music. Gonzales. Of course. Then came a sobering thought. “I killed Gonzales in the ring. It's why they call me Killer.” Then Killer Miller saw him walking down the aisle. It was Gonzales, his eyes, hollow sockets. “You're dead. I killed you!” Miller screamed. Gonzales reached the ring and the Killer could no longer move. As paralyzed as everyone else in the arena except Gonzales. He shambled forward, his skeletal smile awful to see, drawing back his rotten arm to strike. “Get ready champ.” his old corner man said, halting the relaxing muscle massage. “Wake up champ.” the old man said, slapping Killer’s rear. “Nap time’s over.”Killer Miller never woke.
Fire WoodShe threw the stick with an involuntary jerk of her hand. Whatever had stung her went into the thicket with the stick. “Dang!” Joanne said. She squeezed the red spot on the meaty blade of her right hand. No karate chops with this hand until the pain stops. Was it going to stop? The pain became more intense. “Dang it!” Joanne said louder this time. She knew her heart was racing. The path back to the camp was a short trip. Not very far to get aspirin, alcohol, band-aids. Except she had to sit down. Her thoughts strayed to what might have stung her. Scorpion, ant, centipede, spider, wasp. Who knew.Maybe she was going to die. More people die from stings and bites than shark attacks Joanne found herself fearfully remembering. Tears had streamed from her eyes making trails in the campfire gathering grit on her face. She rocked back and forth on the trees stump where she sat. Her ears began to ring and the sound of it became so loud she cried out “I’m going to die!” And then the pain and noise quit. She jumped to her feet in relief. Heaving a sigh followed by a deep breath of pine needle fresh air. And then she gasped at the sight of her body, passed out next to the stump. She tearfully nudged her prone body’s shoulder with her toe. “Joanne don't die. I'm too young to die.” The standing Joanne closed her eyes and said “Wake up now, please” and let her knees buckle, gracefully rolling to the ground. When she opened her eyes there was only one of her. The sting still hurt but that wouldn't last.
Hard HatsThe crane strained with The weight of the 20 ton rock. A bigger crane would have been better but a bigger crane would have been more difficult to get into this remote area of Venezuela. The load sunk the tires into the moist ground 2 inches. The flat bed pressed down almost to the tires. Gil sprang up to the rock to unhook the cables. “Make sure that thing doesn’t roll. Chock it good.” Morton yelled from the crane’s cab. “Right” Gil said, smoldering at the suggestion he’d neglect something that basic. Morton condescending that he needed to be told. Gil and Morton did not get along and had come close to blows in the past. This job for the Museum transporting a suspected ancient meteorite didn't pay much money. Neither man wanted to be there. Working together made it that much worse. Gil put a woodblock under the rock, dropping low, out of Morton’s sight. Gil suddenly felt faint, pitching into the rock, his face smearing along the iron flecked surface. His yellow hardhat was knocked from his head and bounced off the truck. “Hey! Genius! You lost your hat. Did you hit yourself in the head?” Morton needled Gil when he saw the plastic hat. Gil was not worried about the hat. Gil had stopped all worry. He was no longer just Gil.After millennia, the intelligence trapped in the crystal deep in the meteorite stirred. It had found a compatible life form to possess. Alien / Gil stood slowly, his head and shoulders just visible to Morton. He placed his hand on the iron rock and it began to glow. The massive meteorite shrank to the size of a ping-pong ball that hovered above Gil’s palm. “Hey, Gil, what?” Morton managed to say before the dense ball shot from Gil’s hand, into Morton’s mouth and out the back of his head. Alien / Gil turned to look at the sunset and breathe with his wonderful new senses. Just as Morton's body landed on the crane controls, releasing heavy cables smashing the million year old alien mind to a lifeless pulp.
HonestI'm not dishonest. I always tell cashiers when they give me too much change. That's just one example. There are others. I try not to lie. I'm never thought myself capable of being a criminal. But I just broke into a good friend's bookstore and did costly damage to his property. But now I'm here, the window is broken and can't be unbroken. Just as I can't stop myself from stealing the book I am here to steal. Why do I need to steal the book you wonder? Because I fear the book wants me to steal it. I experienced a flush of pleasure lifting the book from its broken glass display. Like a compliment deserved might flush the recipient. The book itself seeming to congratulate me for my criminal industry. The lights are on in the store. I don't mind that law enforcement might notice. I'll be done here soon enough. The book is a trap you see. Ready to be sprung on unfortunates that have read other books. I have read those other books. A casual page turn in this unclean book hooked me as deeply as a fisherman's gaffe. Imagine yourself, as the avid reader I assume you are, suddenly faced with words that don't impart meaning, but instead fall like tumblers, opening a lock deep in your mind. That is my mind, now unlocked. These next words must be said aloud. I write this note before I say those words because after their utterance I will be insane. Insane because my mind will no longer be attached to this world. Your world.I bid you an honest farewell.
In TouchThe X-Box controller was starting to feel a bit scabby on the top option buttons. Evidence of too many food particles migrating from oily fingers while opening up submenus on Scott's favorite game, World of Evil. A massive multiplayer game of course. Was there any other kind in this day and age? Scott flattered himself that he had a number of good ideas to improve the game’s experience. He occasionally shared these know-it-all notions on forums. Scott was also quite the bird dog for glitches. He loved better than anything discovering flaws in games. Especially if he could use them to his advantage. Scott's term for the glitches then became exploits. That's why World of Evil was his favorite game. He used a set of exploits that enabled him to take shortcuts and acquire goodies that he hadn't really earned by playing. The point of the game was to save your soul in a world that was damned, haunted by demonic forces. You became a demon yourself, ghostlike, if your health dropped below a certain level. He was using an exploit to monitor the movement of the demon ghost now threatening him. This exploit allowed him to trick the game camera that ordinarily tracked his avatar into a position instead tracking his enemies. This was quite a strategic advantage. Scott choked on a potato chip in surprise. The game landscape on his TV looked bizarre but familiar. It was his neighborhood! Someone that did art for the game had used his middle class, unexciting neighborhood, as a game backdrop. “How bogus.” Scott said, wondering if he knew the guy. Then the soul stealing ghost on the TV arrived at his front door and instantly burned through it with supernatural fire-balls. Scott's last human thought was “What's that smell?”
Out Of PlaceIt happened because the hole looked out of place, a black circle in the otherwise unbroken pine needle blanket covering the ground. Inga walked downhill studying the hole being brought into high contrast by the sunlight breaking through the leaf canopy. Inga used her walking stick and prodded at the edges of the hole. No bigger than the top of a coffee can. The hole’s dirt walls had regular indentations, like the threads of a screw. Spiraling down into the crumbly rich soil. “Someone must have had a reason to drill in the ground here.” Inga supposed. Inga commenced to resume her usual nature walk when the voice spoke. Startled, as all people are when they assume they are alone and a voice speaks, Inga quickly looked all around her for the speaker. No one there. Just as her eyes were again drawn to the hole she clearly heard the voice. It came from the hole. Was it a voice or was it her imagination turning a sound into a voice? It certainly sounded like someone saying “Down here.” Guilty about pausing so long when someone might need help, Inga took a quick two steps to the hole and called out “Is someone there?” “Yes” the voice was quick to answer. “I need help.” “What can I do?” “Do you have any water?” The voice croaked. “Yes, yes.” Inga said kneeling and bringing out her water bottle, holding it over the hole.“Can you see it?” Inga could see nothing but blackness herself. “I see it.” the raspy voice replied. “My arms are trapped. Can you tip the water. My mouth is close by.” “I’ll try.” She dribbled some water. “Ahhh! I got some, thank you. Can you reach the bottle down closer please?” “Yes.” Inga said, even as she felt an uncontrollable dread connected to sticking her arm into that inky unknown. Inga’s scream caused a merry laugh to come from the hole. There were now lots of voices. Lots of little hands, holding her captive, gripping her arm.
Preserved For Study“This is the brain of a maniac.” The students pushed in close to look at the thick sided glass jar with the gray mass floating inside. “Is the brain… was the brain the cause of the madness?” a curious female student asked. “We hope so.” The professor answered. “Certainly enough has been written about the anomalies of this brain that it would be a shame if the insanity was based on psychological causation.” “What did he do that was crazy?” Asked a male student. “Aha. You leap to a conclusion don't you? Gender assignments for insanity. No. This was a woman's brain.” “How was the insanity manifest.” asked the clever female student. But really just restating the other student’s question. “This brain believed in witchcraft. Motivated and sustained the thoughts and actions of a person who believed they were a witch.” Murmurs of interest and approval came from the easily bored students. A witch. Now that was interesting. The pudgy professor tapped the jar with a fountain pen. Like he was trying to get the brain’s attention. “Belief in magic and supernatural forces, so focused and unshakable, she never screamed as she was burned alive.” “Whoa!” Said one of the slower students. “When was this?” asked the female student. “1694. Her head was cut off and, fortunately for science, preserved by a clinician of the time.” Tapping the jar absently as he spoke. “Did she curse anyone? They always curse people.” The ‘whoa’ fellow asked. The professor began to answer and stopped “Is that smoke?” he asked. The students stared at him with wide eyes, transfixed by the smoke pouring from the professor’s clothes. The professor’s remains were later scrupulously studied as the only known, mass witnessed, case of spontaneous combustion.
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