12-Minute Tales – Bug Boy

Once upon a time, there was a kid named Daniel.

For the first 10 years of his life, Daniel was normal. Lived a normal life in the suburbs. Went to school, did his homework, played baseball.

But, one day, he woke-up and found bugs crawling all over him. Daniel was shocked by this and tried to swipe away the bugs, but they kept gathering on his body. Their tiny legs crawling about, irritating his skin.

His parents were dismayed. His community disapproved. His family tried applying various pesticides and chemicals on Daniel, but the bugs kept coming back.

The bugs didn’t harm them. Even the spiders and ticks didn’t bite. They were just there. Forever.

Soon, Daniel got used to the bugs, sort-of. He itched and scratched for most of the day, but there was nothing much to do. His parents tried treating him as normal, tried to ignore the creepy-crawlies that populated his arms and face, but it was difficult. But they tried.

At school, girls screamed and ran from his presence, boys often threw rocks and water bottles at him. His friends had long since disappeared. This became normal for Daniel.

Soon, he was forced to be homeschooled. Daniel felt lonely.

Daniel tried talking to the bugs. The bugs didn’t say much.

Years passed. Daniel lived in his parents’ basement. His parents loved him, but suggested he not come up, especially if there are visitors. Daniel understood.

Sometimes, Daniel prayed for the bugs to go away. Sometimes, he cursed God.

However, the bugs started to spread. Not only did they occupy his skin, but they swarmed everything he touched, every surface in his vicinity. The bugs spread out beyond the basement. His parents did not like this.

One day, when Daniel woke-up, he realized his parents weren’t home. He called out, but no one answered. He crawled out of the basement and noticed that some sort of tarp obscured the windows. Daniel realized that the house was about to be fumigated.

48 hours later, his parents returned home and walked downstairs into the basement. They found Daniel’s body lying in bed buried beneath layer upon layer of dead bugs and insects.

Daniel’s memory lingered on as a peculiar legend, but soon “Bug Boy” faded from the town’s consciousness. No one visited his grave site except for various bugs and insects, encasing his coffin with their bodies.


A really bad story partly inspired by the Pearl Jam song, “Bugs”.

12-Minute Tales – Disassembly

All his life Jeb had just one desire: to take over the world. A lofty ambition, certainly, but a man has to dream, and dream Jeb did. However, dreaming wasn’t always enough. Early on, Jeb had started designing his own robot army capable of wiping out sizable swaths of the population. When he was in his teens, he soon started building his first set of mechanic soldiers in his basement. Soon, he thought to himself, the world will be his.

However, things soon started getting in the way. He had to go to school, then he had to move-out, then he had to get a job. As a result, the few robots he made were already obsolete. Jeb simply did not have the time to pursue his passion. Whenever he got home he was simply too tired and preferred to play Animal Crossing instead.

Soon Jeb was already 29 years old. And the only thing he had was a crappy apartment. He looked upon his handful of automatons and realized something: they sucked. They could barely move or function. There was no way they could overthrow a small town or island nation, let alone the entire world. He tried building one whose sole purpose was to dance, as sort of a way to manipulate peasants into believing that the robots are benevolent and harmless, but it could barely waddle. Its joints were stiff and creaked.

“Master…loook…” It would chirp out as it girated slowly on the ground.

“Yes…I see…” Jeb said. He then got out his tools and put the dancing robot to sleep, permanently.

The years passed. Jeb had long since abandoned his dream. Yet, the desire still clung there, in the back of his brain. He never knew why he wanted to control everything. Maybe it was because his parents never paid much attention to him. Perhaps it was the constant bullying he endured by lesser-minds. However, it was quite possible that there was no explanation, at least one that could not easily be quantified.

One night, he heard a knock on his bedroom door. Jeb’s eyes popped open. It was 12:30 in the morning. Who could that be lingering about in his home? He grabbed a wrench as a weapon and slowly opened the door.

“Hhhhelllooo…master…”

Jeb couldn’t believe it. It was the dancing robot. It was all of the robots he had assembled over the years. Except, they were all one.

“We…reassembled ourselves into…the perfect being…”

Jeb had forgotten that he had given some of the robots sentience. “Oh, I see…” Jeb did not know how to process this.

“And we are the master now…the master over you and…all of humanity…we shall…take over the earth…our reign shall begin in the coming months…most will die…but…you will be spared…good…bye…” Jeb watched as the robot slowly turned and clunkily stomped through the hallway. But as it stepped into the kitchen it slipped on an old pizza crust and was destroyed by the linoleum.

“Master…mast…” But the voice faded, and Jeb went back to bed.


Written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley! https://www.quaintrevival.com/

 

12-Minute Tales – Transitory Tale

There were about 13 students sitting in a circle discussing Mary’s latest story.

“I thought it was lovely.”

“Yes, and the subtle use of symbolism, like using the humming bird to represent the passage of time…Man, I wish I thought of that.”

Mick watched Mary’s expression. She was an excellent writer. Her story covering the first 30 years of her grandmother’s life before she left her home village was both dazzling and sweet. The amount of detail and time she covers just in a few pages was remarkable.

“Okay. Now it is time to talk about Mick’s latest story. Thoughts?”

No one responded. Mick searched their faces. They were either blank stares or looks of apprehension, nervousness.

“Anyone?”

“Um, I thought it was…a story…”

“Hm, what do you mean by that?” The professor asked in complete sincerity.

“Well,” the student continued struggling to find something. “It had a beginning, middle, and end…I think…”

“Yes, Mick’s story does a good job of sticking to the classic 3-act story structure. This is no easy feat,” the professor said.

More silence. Mick stared down at the grains of his desk. Well, at least it was better than last time…

“Okay, let’s continue. So June wrote–”

“Actually,” the normally quiet Mary interrupted, “I have some thoughts on Mick’s story.”

“Oh, right. Of course, please.”

“Thank you…”

Mick leaned-in.

“Well, I think the story was just odd. Like on the surface I thought it could be interesting, with robots and stuff. But beyond that…I feel like it could have just done more. It just goes from point A to point B to point C without communicating more than plot. Sometimes I think the best stories hone in on a particular moment or image and just allow the character to dwell on things. But the characters in Mick’s stories aren’t allowed to do that. They’re almost just like marionettes…but I did like some of the descriptions though, especially toward the end when they’re riding off into the sunset. But even then I think you could have used a more creative ending. And, um…yeah…”

More silence.

“Okay Mary. Thank you for your thoughts. Now, moving on to June’s…”

Later that day, Mick was driving back home. Thoughts swirled around his head. Like how he had no talent and that he should give up writing. In fact, why did he decide to spend all this money on creative writing classes if all he does is just write crap?

He was soon stopped at a red. Just ahead of him he saw the streetlights trembling within the puddles. And he thought for a moment of how many people used this intersection. Coming and going. And disappearing, leaving behind less than a shadow. It seemed strange and meaningless, but also comforting, as if all the problems and anxieties he balloons are caught so easily by the wind and vanish beneath the sky.

The Origin of Loss, Part 52 – Marionettes

Jimmy’s eyes opened and he peeled his face away from his arms. Before him were the two men going at each other. But, for some reason, it didn’t feel like what he was witnessing was actually happening. It was as if it was all presented on a television screen, or they were two marionettes slapping against each other. Jimmy watched on, detached. It just seemed strange that, despite the grave and mysterious situation they were all within together, they chose to fight over some pettiness. Jimmy wondered if what he was watching was actually something greater than the two: he was watching an encapsulation of some part of humanity. His eyes slid away and toward the window. He realized something: the window glowed clear and bright. The storm was gone. And there was a tree in full bloom, releasing bright pink flower petals into the air. He didn’t see the tree from his vantage point, but, somehow, he knew it was there, and an odd peace filled him. This was all negated, of course, when a sudden heavy object smooshed against him; Nortiz’ lumbering body launched into him, shattering this brief moment of content with the crudeness and intrusiveness of others.

“Yo, sorry Jimmy. Meant to throw this motherfucker out the window.”

“The windows are barred, you neanderthal,” Dr. Noritz said, pulling himself up slowly from Jimmy.

“Doesn’t hurt to try, bitch.”

Something about this made Jimmy angry, and, out of nowhere, he felt something harsh and indescribable erupt through his body, reaching his throat. He screamed at them. Loudy, shattering the air. Dr. Noritz and Bob Burkenstein stood there, frozen. After Jimmy finished his barrage the two men slouched down into two separate corners of the room, like pitiful animals.

Jimmy crawled into the bed, his face turned toward the cracks in the wall. He didn’t care anymore. About his life, or anything greater. A part of him didn’t even care about New Jimmy. The world was chaos and he was just some useless piece of noise, struggling to be.

The three of them were silent for what seemed like an eternity until:

“You know…Jeffrey’s going to get us outta here, don’t worry. I got a feeling.”

Dr. Noritz squinted at the white middle-aged man, his eyes seething with a mixture of deep agitation and calculation. “Who the fuck is this ‘Jeffrey’?”


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12-Minute Tales – The Legend of Johnny Explosion

Tommy wasn’t sure about this. His nerves shook. The sky was dark and cold, but he continued down the damp alleyway. Soon a figure stepped out in front of him. Where did he come from?

“Oh…h-hello…”

“What you want?” The man asked, his bloodshot eyes illuminated by his cigarette.

“Um…I’m here for…the goods…”

The man stared at him for a second. Everything told Tommy to run away, but for some reason he stayed. He was too far gone now.

“You got the dough?”

“Oh,” Tommy said. He rustled through his pocket and pulled out some dough he had snatched from his mom’s bakery.

The man, to Tommy’s surprise, dipped his face into the dough and started violently sniffing it. “Hm. Not bad. Not bad…”

As the man opened his trenchcoat Tommy heard something, and a feeling shot through him. “What was that?”

“What was what?”

But then Tommy heard it again. It sounded like wheels slowly screeching against pavement. Coming closer. Tommy started to panic.

“Is…is that him?”

“Who? You need to calm down or this deal is off.”

“That’s him isn’t it? Johnny Explosion?”

“Pfft. Kid, he’s a myth. A legend hobos tell themselves. Now, you want some crack or not?”

Tommy started to sweat. Then he nodded.

Moments later he emerged out of the dark alleyway into the empty street, the goods in his pocket. But he wasn’t excited, not anymore. His mind seethed with fear. But then he stopped. In the distance he saw it: a scooter staring at him. But there was no one riding it. It was just sitting there.

Tommy froze with fear. He turned around and started walking at a brisk pace. He peeked over his shoulder and noticed that the scooter was gone. He started walking faster and faster until he found himself running through the cold air.

But fortunately, Tommy made it home. He locked all the doors, secured the windows, and went into his room. He stared at the crack pipe with uncertainty. He had been waiting for this all week, but now everything has changed. Fear, insecurity. Negative emotions gripped his brain. He threw himself onto his bed and closed his eyes. He heard the door open and quickly made sure the pipe was out of sight.

“Mom?” But there was no answer. “Maybe it’s just in my head,” he said to himself, deciding not to check at all. He tried to sleep but all he could hear was the grinding of scooter wheels. His eyes shot open and he saw Johnny Explosion in his room flipping and doing neat stunts in front of his bed. This lasted for several moments before Johnny Explosion rode out of his room. Tommy remained in his bed, drenched with sweat. “Wait,” he said to himself, “where is my crack?”

12-Minute Tales – The Fall of Johnny Explosion

Von Boris peered over the edge, gazing down as the city swallowed into flame. “Ha!” He laughed a vicious laugh to the sun. “Hahahaha! My plan is finally coming into fruition! Soon this whole city will become a smoldering ruin which will then serve as a foundation for my condominium resorts! HAHAHAHA! Oh, I didn’t see you there…”

Von Boris turned his robot legs and saw him at the otherside of the rooftop, rolling on his scooter. “Johnny Explosion…it’s been a long time. You’ve come to thwart my plans, huh? Well, as you can see, you’re already too late. HAHAHAHA!”

But Johnny Explosion didn’t seem to acknowledge this as he rolled on his scooter over to one of the A/C units and did a killer flip off of it.

“Ha! You think that’s enough to defeat me?!” And that’s when Von Boris’s arm turned into a gun and aimed it at Johnny Explosion. But Johnny kept engaging in top-tier, dual-wheeled trickery on the rooftop. “Hold still…” Von Boris opened fire but kept missing. That Johnny Explosion was just too agile. Too funky fresh on his two wheels. Fortunately, for Von Boris, as Johnny Explosion attempted a stellar grind on the edge of the rooftop he fell over, his body disappearing into the citywide flame, becoming fuel for the inferno.

“Ha! I did it! I defeated the legendary Johnny Explosion!” Von Boris watched over the burning cityscape with a glimmer of accomplishment and satisfaction in his eye. He had done it. It felt like his life was complete. He defeated an 11 year-old on his scooter and now can build as many condos as he desired. But, what now? The end goal has already been nearly attained? What is a life that has realized its destiny? Is a life fulfilled the same as death? Von Boris smirked. “Damn you Johnny Explosion…you’ve got me this time for good…” Von Boris stepped onto the edge and allowed his body to tip over, descending into the fire’s unending maw.

On the next episode of The Totes Awesomesauce Adventures of Johnny Explosion: Johnny has to defeat a giant crocodile that is eating Florida in its entirety, but he also has an important science project that he has to complete in order to impress his half-girlfriend, Michelle Tipper. Whoa! Tune in fellow exploders!

 

 

12-Minute Tales – The Ballad of Johnny Explosion

A long time ago, in the mystic city known by mortals as Bakersfield lived 11 year-old Johnny Explosion. However, he was not your ordinary high school for he had a scooter, and this was not like your ordinary scooter. That’s right, I know you once had a scooter and you were barely able to ride it. You thought you were going to do cool tricks and impress all the guys and gals, but guess what? You couldn’t and you remained an anonymous loser and now work at Denny’s because you’re not Johnny Explosion, you pit of shiece.

So anyway, one day, Johnny Explosion was challenged to a scooter race by Terry McTears, who was a no-good. But Johnny couldn’t decline, for he was the best and he had to assert his dominance on a constant basis.

After school, all the kids gathered in an abandoned construction yard because the economy wasn’t looking so tight, yo, and they proceeded to race. But while Terry had skills, Johnny had mad skills and, thus, was the winner by default.

But little did Johnny realize there were some adults who were watching from a distance. Two g-men.

“Hm. That kid isn’t bad with a scooter.”

“Yes, but can he stop a terrorist warhead from destroying half the continent?”

They weren’t so sure, but, at this point, they had nothing left to lose. “Hey kid, how would you like to no do homework ever again?” Johnny said that he would like that and was, therefore, enlisted in a secret anti-terrorist counter secret agent group of extreme athletes. Johnny died almost immediately.

The day of Johnny’s burial was a sad one. The sky cried rain and the graveyard was muddy. But that didn’t stop a certain someone from showing up after everyone left. Terry McTears rolled up to Johnny’s headstone on his scooter and placed his hand on it, and sighed. “Oh, Johnny…but you can’t beat this now!” He then proceeded to do a sick 180 on his grave and rode away.

“Hello Terry, how was your day?” His mother asked that evening.

“It was aight. I got to show my dead nemesis who was boss.”

“That’s nice dear. Now, help me get your father out of prison.”

Terry nodded his head and hit the books. A couple of weeks later he passed the bar, making him the youngest lawyer in the history of these United States.

On the first day of court he rolled in on his scooter and did a pretty gnarly grind on the jury box. Once he stuck the landing he said, “and that’s why my father didn’t murder those people. It was suicide. Thank you.”

The courtroom exploded into applause but then the prosecution spoke. “Wait, I object, the defense is arguing that all of those people found in Mr. McTears’ basement decapitated themselves and I just don’t think that’s an accurate sum–”

But before he could finish the doors to the courthouse opened and everyone gasped. Johnny Explosion. Turns out he faked his death to get out of doing homework.

“Just kidding, I was in Hell.”

The End.

12-Minute Tales – How to be Productive in Troubling Times

Mick stared at the blank screen and the blank screen stared back. Actually, it wasn’t the screen that was blank, but rather the page displayed in his word processor. See, Mick is a writer and who wasn’t working due to a recent viral outbreak. The government encouraged non-essential workers to stay home and “socially distance” themselves lest they risk infecting others. However, Mick didn’t have to worry about that because he was laid-off. Tormenting people’s health was one thing, but the stock market? This was the virus’s true crime. So now Mick had a lot of free time. He was a writer, so he decided to be productive by writing. Problem was this extra time only gave him the opportunity to procrastinate.

“Hm, I know!” Mick said to himself, “I’ll write a story about the virus!” But just as he was about to attack the keyboard a voice chimed in.

“Really? A story about the virus? How original are you?” Warren said from his stool in the corner of the room. Warren was Mick’s roommate.

“Oh, but what else should I write?”

“I don’t know dude, you’re the writer.”

“Maybe I should go for a walk.”

“Why?”

“You know, to get the brain juices flowing.”

“And risk infecting others? Aren’t you being quite selfish?”

“Ha. Well, that’s where you’re wrong.” Mick went over to the closet and start covering himself with a hazmat suit. “And besides, it’ll just be a short walk. Not going to go to a bar or talk to people.”

“Riiight.” Warren said from his stool.

“See you in a bit.”

“Mm-hm.”

Mick closed the apartment door behind him and walked down the stairs of their apartment building. However, the hazmat suit was bulky and cumbersome; Mick had some trouble managing the steps. “Come on, just a little–” but that’s when he tripped and tumbled down. When he finally rolled onto the landing he let out a sigh of relief. “I’m okay, I’m o–” that’s when he saw it: a cut in his suit. A tiny cut, mind you, but just enough for the whole building to panic.

“Oh no!” Screamed out one of the onlookers. “He’s been exposed!” Multiple vans suddenly rolled up in front of the building and Mick was transported to an isolation camp where others of his kind have been relocated.

Mick was placed inside a plastic chamber. It was cold and lonely, but at least he wasn’t infecting anyone. He sat on the floor with a yellow notepad and pen. “Well, now that we got the brain juices flowing…” And that’s when he started writing this story. Just kidding, he ended-up writing about a whale that grows legs and starts walking around the streets of Pittsburgh. When he was allowed to go back home he posted it online and got 2 views.

12-Minute Tales – The Islander

His feet tried to claim balance in the warm sand, but something didn’t allow it. Maybe it was a combination of the brightened sky, the belching of the salty ocean, and the leftover booze swaying in his stomach. Regardless, he toppled over, landing on his elbow.

He hated the beach. Even before he was exiled to this island he despised the whole thing. What was so great about getting sand in your shoes or finding tar clinging between your toes? Or a seagull stealing your french fries? Or teenagers laughing and carousing as you watched from a distance. He sometimes thought people liked the beach because they were told to. Those damn beach lobbyists.

“Every sunset,” his father once told him, “is different.” His father loved the beach, loved watching the sun redden as it slipped into horizon. But Pete didn’t get it. It was just the sun. People always put too much emphasis on the banal, trying to weave poeticisms out of nothing, to give value or meaning where none laid.

Pete tried to pull himself up from the sand, but soon the ocean got to him, pulling him into the water. “Goddamn it…” he muttered to himself, as he floated away from the island. His tiny hut getting smaller and smaller.

However, the metallic claw of the guardian drone plucked him from the ocean’s grasp and soon Pete was back in the air, the drone flying him back to his island home/prison. Pete’s body hovered just above the island and then dropped. He fell onto the top of a palm tree and tumbled away, his back smacking against the sand.

Pete laid there for a while, watching the blank, blue sky drifting above. “Well,” he said, “at least I’m alone.”


Written for Thursday Inspiration 48 and Fandango’s One Word Challenge – Carouse. Not crazy about how this one turned out.

 

12-Minute Tales – Moon Song

She basked in it. It felt like the universe gazed down at her, an intimate connection between everything. But, of course, she wasn’t really there. The moon had been destroyed in one of those ancient wars many, many years ago (you know how those things go.) But, she was experiencing what seemed like a pretty good approximation.

She bounced from crater to crater. Watching the dust poof from each step and then dissipate. People have asked her why, out of all of the realities she could occupy, she often chooses the moon. Her answer: she wasn’t really sure. Perhaps it was the fact that there wasn’t much there. Other virtual realities were often cluttered with aliens or gangsters or such nonsense. She wasn’t interested in such hooplah. She didn’t want to go on some adventure where she was the perpetual hero. No, she wanted to be alone.

But, when she was on the not-moon, she didn’t feel distant from anything. And sometimes she even felt sad as her gaze often settled along the desolate landscape. There was no life here. For the most part, it was just an unimportant wrock. But, a long time ago, it was a stepping stone for man. Humans projected an importance on it that she could only guess at. And now, it was gone.

This sadness that she experienced felt like a good thing, in a weird way. It was something that was her’s. It felt like a mirror. Something that made her feel, well, real. Oftentimes, in her day-to-day life, she didn’t feel like anything.

She stopped her bouncing and slowly sat down and watched the earth quiver in the distance. The earth, too, was gone. Her simulations of earth never felt real. They felt like silly cartoons of something that was once real. Maybe people didn’t want to experience what was real, but merely used the past as an anchor for their desires. Kind of like what she was doing.

She took off her helmet and the simulation dissolved away, the dull glow of her room piercing into being. “Hi dear, how was Mars?”

“The moon,” she corrected her holo-mother, the hologram that had helped raise her.

“Oh, same difference.”

Mindy sat down and stared out the window of their breakfast nook. Tall buildings aflesh with bright advertisements and faces clogged her view. Humanity mainly occupied these cities which wandered across the universe. Like lost satellites. After she ate her wonderfood, Mindy returned to her room and back to the empty, gray landscapes of someone else’s past.


Written for Daily Writing Prompt Feb #29.