Crazed Fanboy homepage  |  Fiction homepage  |  FF back issues  |  Submission Guidelines

Flash Fantastic!

No. 20June 2005

By Pamela Karavolos

My plans awry, I stared across the room at my handsome employer and his wife. I should have been the one sitting next to him while his wife was interrogated by the police. Instead, I found everyone’s eyes fixed on me, and I was getting darned uncomfortable.  

What the heck had happened to that kid?  

The ransom call came 30 minutes later. It was for a measly 30,000 dollars (heck, I was going to ask for a cool million) and was to be delivered by the parents, together. No chance of separating them now and getting myself back into his good graces.

I sat under the steely gaze of the police while the parents paid the ransom, unmarked bills in a bright pink ballet bag. I could leave, but I’m still gambling on keeping my job as the child’s nanny. I’m innocent. I didn’t have anything to do with this disappearance. The disappearance I had planned was next week. Someone beat me to the punch line, but I wasn’t laughing.

An hour later, everyone was on their feet, cheering as the parents walked in holding their six-year-old daughter, Melissa. I stood and politely clapped.  

Melissa slid down from her father’s arms. Everyone stared as she handed me the pink ballet bag stuffed with money. “You were going to steal my daddy. But I fixed that. Here’s the money left on your contract. You’re fired.”  

Out-manipulated by a child! 

By Larri Ann Rosser

I paused in the vestibule of my office, groping for my earplugs. Behind me, the steady cadence of work music thumped, punctuated by safety reminders, special offers and minute manager messages. Ahead of me, the mall was bedlam.  I stood for a moment between the metronomic beat of productivity support and the siren song of commercial advertisement, then donned my deafeners and walked out into the fray. Proximity activated adware screamed at me. Demographic scanners took my measure and flung bots and holos at me, pitching instant endorphins, state of the art body mods, and exotic status knacks. Banner ads as big as buildings shouted and shimmied, vying for my attention with volume rather than finesse.

There was a crowd milling in front of the bank of hush booths, as there always seems to be these days. Noise flooded through the terminal, filling up synaptic spaces and negating rational thought like a magnet on a drive chip. No wonder people paid high credit to get their news and reports insulated from the blare of public life.

In front of one cabin, a woman fed actual credit coins to the lock. Odd. Most people used hush booths to track market margins, adjust online bids or follow fast time gaming – things that requires concentration and linear thinking of the sort that you just can’t do in mallspace. This woman, with her backpack and her worn out shoes didn’t look logged in at all. In fact, she looked a lot like one of the Lost – the kind of person who hides in dumpsters, eats unprocessed vegetables and tries to read print. Wonder what use she had for a hush booth?

As she searched for the right denomination to release the door, a salaribich in a purple neoprene suit slid smoothly past her with a card.

The shabby woman covered the card eye with her hand and snarled, “Slitch, this is my booth!”

“Not until you pay it isn’t,” the business-san replied, “And I can pay first.”

The woman stepped bodily in front of the security panel, eyes locked on the interloper. Shoulders back, stomach taut, she looked like an animal in a Nature Attacks sensie. “Back off,” she hissed. “This. Is. My. Booth.”

The exec’s eyes widened and then slid downward. She pocketed her card and wandered vaguely off in search of another open booth. The woman finished feeding the lock and slipped inside.  Air chuffed out as the soundproof seal activated.

I stared at the smooth reflective wall, bemused.  What urgent need required her undivided attention? When the door opened twenty minutes later, I was still there.  The mystery intrigued me. There was a panic pull in the center of the terminal, and mobile eyes everywhere. What was the worst that could happen?  I walked up to her and asked. Instead of snarling aggression, I got an ear to ear grin.

“Those things are totally sound proof, you know. When the door is closed, you can’t hear anything but your selected feed and five minutes of targeted ad.” She waved an old fashioned metal file – the kind people used on fingernails before there were inhibitors. “If you wedge this into the plug just right, it thinks it’s feeding ‘phones, and you get twenty minutes of complete, blessed silence. No ads. No klaxons. No pubic service attitude adjustment messages. Just quiet. You can hear your breath, and your heart, and your digestive system. After awhile, you get the most amazing thoughts in your head.  Pictures and stories that you’ve never seen on holo or blurb, but that you feel like are part of you. Sometimes, they’re so real you can even smell things.”

She smiled again and walked off, gliding through the crowd like a dream in a blender. I stared after her, jaw agape, ears craving something they’d never heard – silence.

By Kyle Simonsen

It was on a Tuesday night that I met an immortal. He was tactless. Not socially naïve, just intentionally tactless. Strutting about a small apartment, his, wreathed in various statuettes and idols depicting monkeys in various stances, monkeys at various tasks. He talked way too much, both in the sense that what was said was said with an intense pseudo-depth that jarred the relaxed mind and also that you just wanted him to shut the fuck up, most times.

There were other people there, other players in the evening's drama, but none of them have lines of dialogue. Two guys in small chairs in opposite corners of the room were getting high. He had a girl somewhere in a back room who never made an appearance all night. No one actually said she was in there, but when her name was mentioned, eyes flickered like fireflies towards a door in the hall.

When he shook my hand, his grip was firm.

His first words: "How you doin'? Want a beer? Wait. You don't look like you drink beer. Are you one of those straightedge pussies?"

I assured him I was not and suckled at the dark glass nipple.

"Let me tell you something." Sits down. Runs his hands through his hair, maybe tweaking. Lights and smokes a cigarette, holds it like a fucking woman. This guy, big guy, asshole, holds his cigarette like a fucking wanker. "I'm probably going to piss you off while you are here." I can see how that is becoming likely, but I avoid saying as much. Instead, he fills the void again with his own wheezings. "I want to let you know, it's not your fault. I just get personal satisfaction from degrading others."

Well. At least he was honest about it.

He talked a lot. He talked about a lot of things before he got around to his own immortality. Let me tell you this: I can't remember every arrogance uttered during this period, but suffice it to say that they were many, they were rambling, and they actually gave credit to the possibility that this guy, forearms resting across his knees, leaning forward and ashing his cigarette in a monkey ashtray, was a true blue immortal. Impervious to anything I could do. Which may  be good. Because the more shit he talks, the more interested I am in doing something.

"We own reality." He was telling me. Like the guru of suburbia. "We simply limit ourselves to the common understandings and mechanical heuristics of the so-called 'laws of nature'. All laws are man-made structures intended to keep order, and things like gravity and relativity and finitude are all simply facets of that fucking cubic zirconia, man."

I blink in his general direction.

"Didn't understand a word I said, huh, Sissy?"

This to me.

"No, I follow." I said.

"Obviously," he replied. "I can tell from those poser fucking shoes you are wearing. Way to be just like every other baggy-pants skater that smears their fucking butt-grease onto my couch."

Now, I no longer follow. He's left me well behind. I think long and hard about smashing him in the face with a monkey statue near my left hand, but then I decide not to take that path either.

"I can stop bullets. I can alter my reality. Do you hear that? Fucking shoot me."

"Shoot you?"

"Yeah. For real, for serious. Do you have a gun?"

"What makes you think I have a gun?"

"I knew you didn't. Fucking nerd. Get some sun. And a gun. Then you could shoot some bullets at me and I could stop them and show you how dumb you fuckers are."

I take a rather large drink.

I hear a soft moan from the back room and wonder what exactly is going on in there. What the girl looks like. What her favorite color is.

When I decide to open the chakra, it is opened. The concussion from my finger pulling the trigger is loud and unexpected in the tiny room. Violence leaves a third eye open, gaping and gory in the forehead of this fallen immortal. His cocky grimace as permanent now as it was in life, no more and no less. The mess is less than one would expect, however. Not as much to splash onto the walls as one would think.

And he's stopped breathing, so it appears he was wrong after all.

But however I hate to admit it, I can feel my own perspective growing, my own third eye's pupil dilating, adjusting to the darkness of neverending life. You don't even know my name, but his story is getting told.

THIS ISSUE OF FLASH FANTASTIC -- "Child's Play" is ©2005 by Pamela Karavolos.  "Hush Booth" is ©2005 by Larri Ann Rosser.  "Immortalis" is ©2005 by Kyle Simonsen.  All contents of Flash Fantastic 2005 are edited by Art Brown. Please send all submissions to 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 ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.

Crazed Fanboy homepage  |  Fiction homepage  |  FF back issues  |  Submission Guidelines