Tag Archives: prose

1968. Planet of Flowers

(This is the seventh and final Science Faction story in Science Faction Weak).

Floranarcissus was known on earth as “The Planet of the Flowers”. Space travellers had landed on Floranarcissus and taken photographs. Of course no one was permitted to take seeds or cuttings as it was forbidden by interplanetary law. Introduced flora could create problems for the host planet. It was best to keep flora on the planet where it had evolved. But Floranarcissus! Oh goodness me! The flowers were unbelievable.

“Seeing them in the real is nothing like the photographs,” said Barbara Cheesebrick, one of the last astronauts to have visited Floranarcissus. “The flowers are a million times more spectacular. That is because Floranarcissus is an unspoilt planet. There are no intelligent beings to mess things up. The flowers simply evolved lovelier and lovelier over tens of thousands of years.”

There came a time when Planet Earth began preparing to celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of that systemic racist, Captain James Cook, getting stabbed to death in the neck in Hawaii. It was a special occasion. Could Planet Earth perhaps gather some particularly special flowers from Planet Floranarcissus? The cosmic committee decided it could. The committee was after all, in that particular year, chaired by an Earthling. But no plants must be taken.

A special craft visited Floranarcissus. Tens of millions of flowers were gathered, hastily shoved into vases, and speeded back to Earth. Not a flower was left. But the plants on Floranarcissus would rejuvenate. Flower plants do that. Every country on Earth, especially the country once known as Hawaii, were festooned with blooms.

By morning all flowers were dead; dead, dowdy, and frizzled up. It was so disappointing.

It was years later that Earthlings learnt the bitter truth: they had exterminated all forms of intelligent life on Floranarcissus. The planet’s extinct intelligent life had evolved as flowers.

1967. Introduced species

(This is the sixth of seven days of Science Faction. Like most photographs of alien things the above photograph is decidedly fuzzy).

When the pair of polluxes escaped from the zoo no one minded too much. After all, they were harmless creatures. What people missed of course was being able to see them. They were the only creatures so far that the government had allowed into Planet Earth from Planet Alioth. Planet Earth was doing its bit to save species endangered throughout the Milky Way – of which there were many. There were a mere seven polluxes known to exist. When Earth was asked if they could take part in a breeding program – Earth seems to have the ideal conditions for polluxes – Earth said “Yes!” No one could deny that Earth wasn’t carrying its weight in the cosmic preservation process.

And now the pair of polluxes had escaped. Advertisements appeared everywhere, with both photographs and descriptions. They were small creatures, no bigger than an average cat. They had feathers. (Actually, they weren’t feathers, but they looked like feathers). They had a bright blue chest and the rest was shocking purple-pink. If you saw one you couldn’t mistake it. And no tail – I forgot to mention that.

Over time there were no reports of sightings. Then suddenly, there was a Pollux plague. Polluxes appeared everywhere. They had bred like flies. They were in trees, under houses, infesting drains. One of the worst problems was that they would crawl underneath a car and climb up to nest on the engine. It was believed to be the warmth that attracted them. Such a thing meant that the polluxes spread quickly where ever there was a road. Sometimes they would chew through the wiring in a vehicle.

They most definitively had to be exterminated. Earth’s government shipped seventeen breeding pairs back to Planet Alioth. Earth had done its bit for the environment. Now was the time to get out the traps and shotguns and poison. The whole world joined in on the extermination process – except for three or four mad people who thought the polluxes were cute.

No matter how hard they tried, the polluxes could not be wiped out. They ate the same as many Earth creatures. Dozens of species became extinct when it came to competition with the pollux.

It was a salient lesson. But… too little too late. Not even the introduction of Burmese pythons throughout the world could rid the environment of polluxes. But the pythons tended to take over every environment. They could breed like billy-O, and in fact did, with a guaranteed diet of ever-multiplying polluxes. Now there were two world pests: polluxes and pythons.

1959. A finger in every pie

Wendy and Ronald didn’t eat out that often. Now and again they might go to a fast-food chain and get something. Not to take home, but to simply have there and then on one of the outside, bird-crapped tables. But still, an outing is an outing. It’s a change of scene if not exactly dining at the Ritz.

They normally liked to eat healthy. They were not fuss-pots about food but I suppose they could be called “careful eaters”. Healthy eating meant that going to get an unhealthy meat pie or an unhealthy hamburger and French fries once in a while was an absolute treat!

It was while Ronald was tucking onto his kangaroo and double egg burger that he came across a finger; a human finger. Although he wasn’t sure because he had already bitten into it and therefore pulled the finger out of his mouth, he was ninety percent sure that the finger had been stuck in the kangaroo meat rissole.

“Look what I found in my hamburger!” exclaimed Ronald to Wendy. “Someone’s index finger!”

“It’s not an index finger,” said Wendy. “I think it’s a middle finger.”

“How would you know that?” said Ronald. “They’re both very much the same.”

A wee argument ensued, with both Wendy and Robert sticking to their guns; although Wendy reckoned it was from a right hand and Ronald from a left. In the end they were able to laugh about it.

“It’s an unresolved mystery,” said Ronald as he scrapped his leftover meal with the uneaten finger into the waste bin. “I guess it’s something we will never solve.”

Which just goes to show, if a moral is to be taken from this episode, that wee matrimonial disagreements can sometimes be solved with a little laughter.

1941. Helmut’s special birthday

Well I wouldn’t call it a big party; just a dozen friends or so invited around for a few drinks. Helmut was invited. It was his birthday. He kind of knew the party was to celebrate his twenty-first birthday but no one was saying much.

Maree was at the party too. Helmut thought she was pretty sweet, and perhaps something might come of it. She was very friendly towards him at the party and Helmut wondered if he should invite her out on a date. In fact, Helmut knew most of the people at the party, or at least had a passing acquaintance with them. Roger wasn’t his favourite person there. He was always raucous and belligerent. At least Helmut thought so.

Over in the corner of the room, Helmut spotted a huge bouquet of flowers. In fact they were mainly sunflowers. Helmut liked sunflowers. Clearly they were intended for him when they made a speech and they handed over some little gift for his birthday.

The evening wore on. Then Roger tapped an empty beer bottle with a spoon. It was like a clarion call for everyone to shut-up. A speech was to be made.

“Thanks everyone for coming,” said Roger. “I hear that it is Helmut’s twenty-first birthday. Congratulations, Helmut. Maree and I just want to take this occasion to announce our engagement.”

Everyone applauded. Camilla, who clearly was already in the know, gathered the bunch of sunflowers and presented them to Maree.

Everyone went all goo-gar over the engaged couple. No one sang happy birthday.

1936. A lovely award, and a story “Chop! Chop the head off!”

Herb of Prudentia Sit has given me the loveliest of awards! It is the Herb Thinks I’m Special Award. The award simply means that Herb “would like to have a cup of coffee with this blogger sometime”.

It does not require any questions to be answered or anything special to be done. It is simply an honor bestowed! Thank you, Herb. It is greatly greatly appreciated. Make sure you visit Herb’s blog. As a blogger he’s long in the tooth! I don’t mean he’s old – I simply mean he’s practised his blogging skills for many a year!

By way of thanks, I dedicate today’s story to Herb. Thanks Herb!

Battleaxe handed her stepson, Douglas, a machete and said “It’s all yours”.

“I’ve put up for long enough with your three pet turkeys,” said Battleaxe. “They make a terrible gobbling noise all the time, they poo everywhere, they eat too much, and worst of all you spend too much time with them when you should be doing extra school work – especially studying the History of Systemic Racism which you’re bad at. Chop off the turkeys’ heads.”

Douglas loved his turkeys. He had found the baby turkeys wandering around in the long grass on their own after their mother had been killed by a farmer’s dog. He took them home and cared for them. He called each one Gobble, Gobble, and Gobble because he couldn’t tell the difference one from the other.

How does a wicked stepmother expect an eight year old boy to chop off the heads of his three pet turkeys when they were his only friends? His father had died suddenly not long after he had rescued the baby turkeys and now he was looked after by his stepmother who was nasty and cruel and had featured in many a story by the Brothers Grimm.

“When you’ve chopped off their heads,” said spitefully foul stepmother Battleaxe, “you can cut up the firewood and sweep the yard. Then come back for more things to do on my list.”

Douglas went out and called the three turkeys. They recognized his voice. They came running. His stepmother appeared on the scene to make sure he did the job properly and didn’t cave in with scruples. Douglas raised the machete.

“One! Two! Three! Chop! Chop the head off!” screamed the wicked stepmother.

So he did.

1921. The floozy and the frump

There’s no doubt that June was what her friend Jewel called a “floozy”.

“It’s better than being a frump, like you,” said June to Jewel.

June and Jewel had been friends since high school. They were both attracted to the same boys. June seemed to win all the time, which is why Jewel called her a floozy. Jewel seems to lose all the time, which is why June called her a frump. It was all in good fun.

It just so happened that the frump got married first.

The floozy hasn’t spoken to the frump for twenty-three years.

1917. Tit-for-tat

I mean, what can one do? The next door neighbours have been very kind. When my little girl was ill and I had to spend a lot of time with her in the hospital, the neighbours came over and mowed my lawn. Wasn’t that kind? I am a keen gardener and my property is not exactly tiny, so the lawn takes over an hour to mow. But that was no trouble to Nadine and Todrick, and what a lovely surprise to get home and see the lawn all shipshape.

Now it’s the end of the harvest season and the shops haven’t messed around in putting the price of vegetables way up. Tomatoes especially are a hideous price. So I picked the last of my tomatoes just before the cold weather set in, and I’ve been ripening them in a turkey dish sitting in the sun on my dining table. When they are all ripe I’m going to put them in a bag and take them over to Nadine and Todrick’s by way of thanks.

At least, that was the plan. My mother came in to baby sit my little girl while I went job hunting. It’s almost impossible these days to be a parent and look for a job. Once a job is found it’s easier to settle into some sort of routine. But looking for a job is erratic and hit-and-miss.

Anyway, when I got home my mother had kindly cut the tomatoes up and had made a green tomato pickle. That was sweet of her, but the taste is atrocious. I couldn’t possibly give the neighbours a jar of this pickle so now I’m all at sixes and sevens as to how I should thank them for their kindness.

Oh thank goodness! There is a God after all! I have just heard that Todrick is in hospital and gravely ill. Nadine spends all her time at the hospital of course. It will give me the opportunity to mow their lawn.

1915. How to pick up guys

Bridgette was having none of it. This was the third time she had told her new boyfriend that she didn’t take sugar in her coffee and the third time he’d sugared it. Didn’t he listen?

He said it was no big deal. When he moved in he said he wanted to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door – “Because guys end up going to the bathroom in the night more often” – but did she listen? No. She was in the bed and nearest the door before he could undo his shirt buttons.

Anyway, said Bridgette, it really annoyed her the way he drove the car – and it was her car. He drove along glancing at the rear vision mirror like it was an obsession. Glance glance glance. He said he was looking out for cops. There might be a cop following. So Bridgette asked what have you got to hide from cops? And he said the only thing hidden around here is your brains. He meant it as a joke, but Bridgette flung her sugared coffee (by now it was thankfully cold) all over her new boyfriend and he said things that shall go here unrecorded.

Everything grew into a momentous argument and Bridgette said she would show him around and said “I’ll start by showing you the door”. He told her to jump in the lake, he was going nowhere, but she was welcome to get in her car and go off to where he didn’t care. He repeated that he was going nowhere, and Bridgette said “It’s obvious you’re going nowhere and never will.”

Bridgette said she was sorry, and he said “Try telling that to someone who gives a shit.”

He’s gone now. Thankfully. Bridgette realized she had made a mistake with him initially. It was her fault for inviting him into her life in the first place. One day the right guy will come along. You never know from one minute to the next what exciting person Fate is going to throw in your path. Tonight she’s going down to the pub to see if Mister Right is in fact waiting just around the corner.

1911. How wonderful to be beautiful!

I am a butterfly. Not just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill butterfly. I am gorgeous! I am dazzling! I am one of those things when humans see me they exclaim, “How could such a thing of beauty evolve out of a mere pile of sludge?”

It’s quite extraordinary how all I have to do is flaunt my beauty on a flower and cameras start to click. I’m sure if I was epileptic the flashing would cause a seizure. All I need do is gently flap my wings to attract attention. I have heard, at least I have been told, that to flap my wings too quickly would cause many a photograph to become blurred. So I flap my wings in a slow and stylish manner. Of course nothing disappoints me more if a photograph captures the moment when my wings are closed. It is a waste of exquisiteness.

One other thing about wing flapping that I have learned over the summer is to be careful not to flap the wings in too seductive a manner. Once I did that and clearly it blinded Mr. Butterfly who accidently landed on top of me. What a kafuffle!

So as you can see, I am exceedingly content with my lot in life. I have only one unfulfilled desire. I suspect it is the desire of many a butterfly – even ones not as beautiful as me – and that is to have a pin stuck through my abdomen and be put in a glass cabinet. Such a wondrous fate happens to a few chosen. How brilliant it would be to have my beauty preserved for an eternity!

Here comes yet another admiring fan up the garden path. I shall gently flap.

Ouch!

1908. Adriana, the pessimist

It was a long weekend. Monday was a public holiday so everyone took Friday off as well. Adriana knew with the certitude of long experience that with everything shut for the weekend things in her life would go wrong. The freezer would die, the shower nozzle would jam, the dog’s ears would get infected, the internet would go down, young Charlie would trip and break a finger. All these “emergencies” cost twice the amount (or more) to get attended to on a long weekend.

Yes, Adriana was what some people called a pessimist. Her friends urged her to take a more positive approach to life. “What if you looked on the bright side?” asked Hilda.

“You read too much and live in a world of fiction, Adriana,” said Ivan.

“Buck out of it, Adriana,” said Gwenda. “It’s negative, negative, negative.”

“I can’t help it,” said Adriana. “I just know during this long weekend that everything will go wrong. The freezer will die, the shower nozzle will jam, the dog’s ears will get infected, the internet will go down, young Charlie will trip and break a finger.”

But, miracle of miracles! None of this happened because first thing in the morning Adriana was in a car crash on the way to get milk from the corner shop.