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Flash Fantastic!

No. 14December 2004

By Pamela Karavolos

I called Kyle Marsh’s family to the desk with a feeling of foreboding. Kyle’s injuries from the car accident had been beyond my surgical skills. I now had to brief his family about his demise.

Anxious faces surrounded me, too many to fit in the surgical consultation room. So, I took them to the resident’s classroom. Everyone took seats facing the front of the room from where the anatomy skeleton grinned down on us all.

I outlined the extent of Kyle’s injuries and finished by telling them that Kyle hadn’t survived.

At this point, I noticed that everyone in the room seemed uncomfortable, especially the two women in the front row.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked.

“Yes,” One woman from the front row said. “Who are all these other people?”

“Oh,” I turned to the other woman in the front row. “Are you not related to Kyle Marsh?”

“Of course I’m related, I’ve been married to him for 8 years.” She replied.

“That’s not possible, I’m his wife. We’ve been married for 12 years.” The first woman snapped.

“Maybe it’s a different Kyle Marsh?” I suggested.

Each woman reached into her purse and pulled out their wallet to display a family portrait. The same man smiled out of each picture.

During the pandemonium that ensued, I slipped out of the room and made my way back to my patient. I looked down at his body and remarked, “Good thing dead men don’t tell tales, ‘cause you’d have some explaining to do.”

Pamela Karavolos lives with her husband, daughter, and a menagerie of animals in Rosamond CA. Pamela is a technical writer who, despite living in "Pam"demonium, still finds the time to write short fiction. Her stories have appeared in various publications including the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

by Paul Cronin

The small leaves on the tree outside the balcony had turned yellow, but still the sun scorched. Its track had moved; clearly no longer summer, the malicious heat toyed with the fair city.

Popped into his mouth–a fine, translucent green grape spurted over his tongue. The grapes had been well washed, iced, and were seedless. The man doused refrigerated, “Sensitive Eyes-Plus” saline upon his eye sockets.

“Fucking smog!” He shouted, then, “Shut up, get out of my neighborhood!”

Haze and the sound of those buses were killing him. Even in the nicer areas of the city, where trees put up a static defense, and hopelessness was only a temporary resident, acrid air smothered him and those roaring buses penetrated his calm avenue.

Excitement and hip attitude and nighttime experiences could only lead so far in the city, if all the former country boy craved was a beach or a river or a mountain range.

He tried getting out. He tried getting over the bridge and towards the sea. He tried patience and soothing classical music.

He tried the opposite of road rage.

The young man had a full tank of gas, cold drinks, and chilled grapes on the passenger seat. Blankets, extra clothes, water, all filled the trunk–even basketball sneakers, in case of a pick up game somewhere. It was packed everywhere; every street, every highway, every connector ramp was jammed.

But he had his plan. He needed the water, the rough, cold Pacific. He knew he needed the breeze and the brief banishment of contamination.

So the man sat and inched forward, sometimes zoomed forward. He was making it further and further. He had a plan and kept going.

“Not bad progress,” he said, sitting in line for the toll over the San Mateo bridge. He tossed green grapes into his mouth, smiled at his patient fortitude. “At least, soon, I’ll be closer to the ocean.”

So he had a plan.

So another had his own plan, and the man's patient fortitude played no role.

Sweltering heat in October, overflowing freeways, corrosive smog, and the random, calm, clear thinking lunatic with the automatic pistol.

Popping grapes coincided with the “Pop, Pop, Pop!” of a gun and the shattering of windows. Next, came the screams and the chaos. No one could move their cars, so some got out to start running. Others cowered inside their vehicles.

He did neither. He was listening to Debussy’s “Prelude to an Afternoon with a Faun.” He had his plan. He was sitting straight up, waiting to cross the Bay.

His car was right next to the slow moving destroyer, who shot him point blank in the head, halfway through chewing a delicious, chilled California green grape.

By C. Allen Reed

A searing pain ripped through Grog’s midsection as he ran for the bathroom. He pushed his pants down in a frenzy, plopped down on the waste receptacle, and relinquished the contents of his bowels.

He scolded himself for eating the food on that wretched planet. It was notorious for causing stomach aches, but the taste of those little critters was unlike anything in the galaxy. Not only were they tasty, but they were fun to catch! Grog loved the way they squirmed and squealed as he shoveled them up in rapacious handfuls. But he had eaten until he could barely move, and now he was paying for it.

He pushed out the final remnants of stool and wiped his rump thoroughly before pulling up his pants. As he was about to flush, he cast a glance into the bowl at the logs of waste that floated there like a fleet of star cruisers jammed into port. He bent down, ignoring the stench, to get a closer view of what had passed through his system and noticed that small kernels of undigested food were embedded in the dung. One was wearing a suit and still clutched his briefcase in his rigor mortis grip. Another wore a long skirt and a blouse, though part of her top had been torn away during her tempestuous journey through Grog’s innards, revealing a plump, dung-smeared breast. Still another was imprisoned in the excrement with a yellow hard hat still clinging tenaciously to his head.

I’ll be damned, Grog thought. They’re just like peanuts.

He pushed the metal lever and the receptacle became a whirlpool, sucking down its contents in one thirsty gulp.

By Suzanne Nielsen

I killed the little feathered fucker. I sank my canines into his bony gray cockatiel feathers, and punctured a lung or something. He took his last two spastic steps, still squawking, and then keeled over. Just like that. A drop of blood the size of a 4mm pearl formed on top of his water resistant feathers.

The Missus swooped me up. For a minute I thought I was flying. She was mumbling “ohmygodohmygod,” over and over again while the Mister, in the kitchen sticking a needle full of insulin into his stomach, yelled, “What’s happening?” The Missus carried me under her arm in a football hold, sank down in the rocker and answered, “Poppa’s dead. The bird’s dead.” As we rocked back and forth, my stomach started to churn, and my legs started to shake. I needed to go to that bird on the floor and confirm it. He was dead. Wasn’t he? The Mister yelled out, “He moved! Poppa moved.” But then his sobs began to echo off the kitchen walls. “I loved that little guy,” he’d say every so often. Missus stopped talking, she and I just rocked—back and forth. Eventually Mister pulled himself together. He dug up a black towel, picked up Poppa’s carcass with salad prongs, wrapped him in the towel and placed him in an empty Marlboro Lights carton. It was a tight fit. Still crying, he urged the Missus to go outside with him for a ceremonial burial. That was the beginning of my decline, or should I say that was when the Missus thought a lunatic had moved from the grass to the hall into my head. This is how it happened.

The other day, two weeks ago in fact, the two of them came home with Poppa, a noise-making home wrecker. Poppa, named eight years earlier, was a humane society reject, surrendered for obvious reasons, “Too Active.” The Missus was comforted by the fact that he’d lived with dogs in the past. What never occurred to this dingbat is that we had not lived with birds. And we didn’t want to. At least I didn’t. Within an hour, the house became a screeching asylum with me locked inside.

Poppa ruled the living room; his cage was three times the size of the kennel they acquired for my puppy training several years back. They placed it by the fig tree on the left side of the antique library table, four feet high and even with the window. The Missus never intended for the bird and me to make eye contact. Years back I was kenneled overnight for chewing on the leg of that same table, but I hold no grudges.

From the beginning Poppa screamed, an unrelenting high-pitched screech that made my ears bleed inside my head. Talk about headaches—and the Missus has the nerve to never shut up about hers. That bird’s pitch wound me so tight that I began to fear my own unraveling. My partner, Nate, an overweight, over aged Pomeranian, half deaf and dumb as a ring, slept through it all. Nate’s lost his sense of smell unlike me, an astute terrier with no birdbrain. That bird smelled up the joint within 24 hours and I was the only one to notice. By day two, Poppa was cat calling to the Missus every time she left the room. “Oh, how cute,” she’d say, returning to his cage and offering him kisses through the metal bars. By day three, he was kissing her back through the bars. She never noticed the open sore I’d created on my hind leg from incessant nervous chewing. She screamed to the Mister, “look, he kisses me back,” and made him watch over and over again. Day four she decided to have his wings clipped, something she said would tame him. She told Mister that he’d be able to roam the house and return to his cage of his own free will eventually. She said that as she adorned her hands with heavy-duty workman’s gloves for protection from his constant biting while toweling him in order to capture his squawking self for a trip to the vet. While he was gone I relaxed enough to take a poop on the rug in front of his cage, my first dump in three days, and just in time. They returned unannounced with a vengeance.

The vengeance from that day until Poppa’s end included Nate and me spending an inordinate amount of time locked in the bedroom while Poppa enjoyed endless playtime with the Missus, riding around on her shoulder for hours on end. No more work gloves, he’d tamed. Who did he think he was? I had to put him in his place; his playtime was my prison sentence. The hair on my tail was starting to fall out. My nails were chewed to the quick. But my physical disturbances didn’t register until the Missus held me tight in that rocker. I had to get her attention, didn’t I? The bloody spot I left on her lap from my gnawed-to-the-bone ankle was bigger than a whole pearl necklace. After the burial the Missus dug out her headache medication and she’s been sharing it with me ever since.

I’m not sure how much time has lapsed, but I do know that when the Missus pops a Fiorinal, she breaks one up and gives me a slice. My leg is healing; I’ve got No Bite on my nails. The bald spot on my tail is growing a downy fur. But I’m not back to normal—not by a long shot. There isn’t a nap where I don’t see him; usually he’s molted his feathers for a tight-fitting leotard and swirling black cape that assists him in flight. He’s grown horns in place of ears. His beak’s transformed into two wicked bicuspids and he swoops down, trying to pierce my lung but I always wake up just in time. I look in his beady eye and there’s Poppa.

THIS ISSUE OF FLASH FANTASTIC -- "Double Vision" is ©2004 by Pamela Karavolos.  "Had a Plan" is ©2004 by Paul Cronin.  "Just Like Peanuts" is ©2004 by C. Allen Reed.  "There's Poppa" is ©2004 by Suzanne Nielsen.  All contents of Flash Fantastic 2003 & 2004 were edited by Patty G. Henderson. Please send all future submissions to new FF editor, Art Brown.  Final formatting and additional graphics by Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Crazed Fanboy dotcom and Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.

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