Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!? PART SIX:

By now you know the drill.  Serialized story. Starts here.  Go read that and at the end of each post you'll have a link to the next.

Darth abruptly looked up from the laptop screen she had been studying intently.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"Never mind that now," the man said.  "Come with me."

"And if I don't want to?"

"Then die here alone," the man said.

Darth considered.


Ghastly Gray Jimmy Earwig abruptly looked up from the game of chess he was playing against Jimmy Earwig Who Loses This Game Of Chess To An Alternate Version of Jimmy Earwig From Another Universe.

"What was that?" he asked.

"I didn't hear anything," Jimmy Who Loses said.

"I felt something," Ghastly Gray Jimmy said.

The others were now looking at him, except for Jimmy Who Never Looks Where He Is Supposed To Look.

Jimmy Who Loses reached for his rook with his left hand, and Ghastly Gray Jimmy stopped him.

"Look," he said, pointing at the hand.  "Why'd you use your left hand?"

After a short pause, Ghastly Gray Jimmy said "He did it."  Silence for a moment, and then Ghastly Gray Jimmy continued. "That's our cue. Time for Seal Team Jimmies to act."

"What can we possibly do?" muttered Jimmy Who Asks The Questions Nobody Wants To Ask.

They all considered.


A man walked briskly down a hall carrying papers and frowning.  When he came to a corner, he turned and nearly ran into another man walking briskly down another hall.  The two of them nodded at each other and together proceeded to a room filled with computers, each with a person staring intently at the screen in front of them.

President Dewey was there.  He looked up at them.

"Well?" he asked.

"The readings were correct, sir," the first man said.

"And the reports were also true, sir," the second man said.

"Are you telling me," President Dewey asked, "That the universe is being destroyed and the Artist escaped?"

"That's what our readings show," said the first man.

"That was the report we verified," said the second.

President Dewey turned to the Joint Chiefs assembled nearby.

"Begin the evacuation," he said to the Secretary of Evacuating Everyone From The Universe.

"But where will we go?" she asked.

They all considered.

"Outside," President Dewey said.


Jimmy Earwig was falling, but falling wasn't the right word.   He was standing still, he knew; the rest of the universe-that-used-to-be-multiverses was receding from him, slowly disintegrating into nothingness, or less than that, as a result of its contact first with him and then with the tainted, reversed particles that had contacted those ions that contacted him.

This would be a lonely way to die, naked and airless and alone, in an empty universe.  He wondered whether he would first choke to death without air or instead whether he would simply waste away without food or water, or simply fade into oblivion.

He watched as the universe receded from him, and decided that standing and watching was not enough.  He should act.

There might be a way to reverse this, after all, if he could just find... Negative Jimmy.

There was a risk, he knew.  As it was, it was possible that the disintegration of everything that had ever and could ever and might ever exist would slow and stop -- he wasn't sure how far the effect would go, but it might wear out.  Nobody had ever tried this before and for good reason.  So if he moved -- if he could move -- it might spread the problem and ensure that everything was lost simply by him trying to help.

But better that than just standing here?

Could a hero help best, he wondered, by standing as still as possible?

And if he could move, where would he look?

But he knew the answer to that.  He knew where Negative Jimmy would be, and what he would be trying to do.  Or was reasonably certain he did.

It is a mistake, after all, to think of the negative of something as being simply the reverse or the mirror image.  The negative is not simply everything-but-the-other way, it is negationThis added to negative this is nothingness, and so Negative Jimmy would not simply go left when Jimmy Earwig went right.  He would work to negate everything Jimmy Earwig stood for.

Which meant he was heading for Jupiter, Jimmy Earwig figured.  Negative Jimmy would be working to destroy the multiverse/universe, which meant he would be sabotaging the Emulsifier.  He would be doing that because Jimmy Earwig had been heading there to start it up and see that it operated the way it was supposed to.

Jimmy wondered how that actually worked.  He felt like Negative Jimmy would be driven by Jimmy Earwig's actions -- that when he had decided to save the universe, Jimmy Earwig would be compelled, by his very nature, to destroy it.  But to Negative Jimmy, he, Jimmy Earwig, was negative -- and so Negative Jimmy would see it as himself working to destroy the universe, compelling Jimmy Earwig to try to save it.

Have I been working to save us all only because Negative Jimmy was working to destroy us? he wondered.

In a multiverse-become-one, where he and Negative Jimmy could each exist, the question of who was acting in response to the other became moot, he decided, and he pushed aside questions of free will.  It did not matter, in the end, whether his actions were predetermined, because if they were, he must do them.  If they were not, then he chose anyway to take this course, and so long as he believed he was free to choose, he was free to choose.  In this instance, belief was the same as fact... as it always is in matters of faith.

He began to wonder how to move around.


Rusty did not bother knocking.  He simply picked up one of the many pictures he had drawn over the previous hours and looked at it, concentrating.

An ogre appeared, wearing a fine tophat and silk waistcoat.

"Urgh." it grunted.

Rusty pointed to the doorway, and the ogre obliged by using it's four-foot-wide fist to smash in the doorway, causing most of the front of the small cafe to cave in.  Sitting at a table inside, staring at a laptop and chewing on an olive that had dropped from a burger was a rather nondescript-looking man who frowned at Rusty.

"You could have just come in and got me," he said.

"This way is more fun," said Rusty.  "I need you."

"Of course you do," the man said, his mood shifting from irascible to grumpy.  He closed his laptop and sighed.  "Lemme get the armor."


Darth got up and said to the man "Okay. I'm in."

"Good. There's no time to lose."

They strode off down the hall together.


Everywhere, klaxon horns blared and from every television screen, computer monitor, cell phone, billboard or other means of transmitting information, the following warning went out:


People did not panic.  There were no emotions suitable for we are leaving the known universe, and so they calmly began walking, in groups of 10 that formed up to groups of 100 to groups of 1000 and ultimately throngs of 10,000 people, peaceably walking towards moon-sized spaceships that had suddenly appeared around the world.

President Dewey watched the monitors and thanked God that someone else on his staff could draw.


In an incredibly remote part of the only universe that (for now) existed, -5 stood in front of a room of things that, if they could be described at all, would cause nightmares so severe your mind would commit suicide by immolation rather than contemplate it.

"Brothers," -5 said, "Our time is now."


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!? Part FIVE: Forever Live And Die

This is part FIVE of this story.

IT BEGAN HERE, WENT ON TO PART 2 HERE AND THEN WENT ON TO PART 3 HERE. And this is where Part FOUR was, but if you're new to it go read it from part one and there'll be links to get you back here at the end of each part.

Totally worth it, by the way.  Totally worth it.



5 walked in and Jimmy Earwig wasted no time at all.  He could not fight this number in a fair battle and he could not waste further time because time was what 5 needed, he knew, to unravel the thin wall... never mind.  It was time to get all imaginary up in here.

"Malis Ab," he whispered under his breath, and concentrated for what seemed, in one timeline, like an eternity but for another timeline only the time it took him to say that phrase and as he did it the universe -- for there was just one now -- turned inside out.

He could only do this for a moment.  They all could.  But only the leader of Seal Team i was authorized to perform the Alternate Root and in an instant, everything shifted, not as though it had been twisted around but rather as if the entire universe had been shoved through a mirror and was now inside the mirror looking back at itself, everything reversed but not quite, and Jimmy Earwig had just seconds to realize that whatever had been outside the combined multiverses was now inside it and vice versa, and even less than that to dive forward into 5 and tackle it.

He knew what he was doing but didn't know what it would do. When he made contact with 5, he was the only person in the universe that retained his, its, original chirality, but he had no idea how that would affect 5, let alone anyone else around him.

5 seemed to have some inkling, because it tried to dive behind a pair of burly 7s to no avail.  Jimmy was on it and tackling it, pummeling it with fists that had climbed up salt cliffs on Mercury, that had gouged a dragon's eyes in the center of a planet that was hollow.

He didn't need them, because as soon as he touched 5 it crumpled into dust particles and he was hitting the ground beneath it, where his knees and feet and hands touched disintegrating everything they came into contact with, too.

He stopped, and felt himself sinking into the ground that he knelt on.  The air that he was breathing -- reversed like everything else in the universe -- was disintegrating, too.  He gasped, unable to inhale the particles.  He was waist deep in the molten soup of dismbodied particles that was all that remained of anything that he touched.

His gear fell off of him, affected by his unique status, too, and he was naked, sinking into a cloud of loose subatomic specks, watching the numbers around him back off, the rest of Seal Team i looking on in horror.  Nobody had ever done Alternate Root before and it was obvious why.

He was free-falling, faster and faster, into matter that he just as quickly converted to nothingness, matter as it existed before matter existed as a concept.  He had no idea how many seconds had passed since he had invoked the most unique power of Seal Team i.  He wished he hadn't.

"Now I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds," he said to himself.  The sound waves he generated would not have carried any further than his own lips, anyway, unable to interact with the rest of the Universe he may have saved.

Or may have doomed.

Go to part six by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day??!? Part Four: Equivalencies.


"Are these really... equals signs?" asked the old-timer, Teddy.

Seal Team i  had been roughly dragged, blindfolded and boxed in in parentheses, to some sort of headquarters.  Their spacesuits had been left on, converting random atoms into oxygen via microfusion, because there was no air here, wherever here was.  All of Jimmy's equipment -- all of all of their equipment -- had been removed, or destroyed, or rendered useless by interference.

Outside of their cells, two large Xs stood guard and down the hall, chained to the wall, was an M and a C.  The animals of the number world, Jimmy thought as he nodded at Teddy, then gave a little motion with his hand, the Seal Team sign language for quiet.

The cells were equal signs, that much was clear, and it made sense, in an abstract way: equal signs kept people, things, concepts, on one side or the other of an equation.  While theoretically indicating an equivalent, they actually made sure that what happened on one side stayed there.

Theoretically.  Jimmy was working on that and didn't want Teddy interrupting him.  The problem was trying to think about math without thinking about numbers because, as he'd realized too late, thinking about numbers simply made more of them.

Most people's creative abilities are poorly-controlled, at best, and minimally developed.  Almost everyone can think of something, can remember things, and can come up with crude stories or half-drawn sketches.  Jimmy suspected that those ideas, if they existed anywhere at all, quickly died out.  The half-formed, half-desired thoughts, he'd long ago decided, didn't have the necessary spark to spring into life, no matter how many multiverses there were.  Even now, in the combined universe, such ideas, daydreams and the like, might pop into being but they were not long-lived.

There was the risk that some people, people who spent a lot of time and energy thinking about such things could actively create those things, and that was a risk Seal Team i had long ago devised, taking steps to capture such people if they were determined to have used their abilities for malign purposes.  Even before the catastrophic unification, such people -- like Rusty -- were too dangerous to let free, because their creations did not necessarily appear in a multiverse far removed from this one, and in any even would threaten those people in that other multiverse.

But the real problem was, Jimmy knew, the abstract notions that we develop -- numbers being the second most powerful among them.  Numbers were something everyone had drilled into them, over and over, beginning as soon as they could talk.  one, two, three, he thought, carefully thinking of the words, but his mind drifted a little and he could feel that somewhere, probably close, a 3 had come into being and was howling with rage even as its magical qualities were being assessed and harnessed by the leader of this peculiar tribe.

So everyone can create numbers, Jimmy knew -- and the numbers turned out to be evil evil evil, something Seal Team i had always feared, and for that reason no ventures had ever been made to locate the Numbers Universe.

There is a reason, Jimmy thought now, as he stared at his equal-signs prison and at the Xs and Ms and Cs that barred an escape he couldn't even think of, that everyone hates math, and that reason was because of the inherent evil of numbers -- an evil that was only compounded by the hatred they could feel from humans.

And now they are here, sharing our universe with us.

"It's the worst possible thing that could happen!" the Undersecretary for Just Missing The Point had wailed back at the cabinet meeting.

"Not the worst," Jimmy had assured him.  "There's something even worse than that."

He had a thought, then, and looked around at Seal Team i, all of them good trained men and women who were watching him carefully.

He gave a gesture that meant follow my lead.

He thought to himself transitive property.  He stared carefully at the X in front of him, and slowly edged forward until he was touching the equals sign directly in front of him.

"Hey X," he said.

There was a ruffled snarl.  This thing couldn't even talk, it was so crude.  He taunted it again.  "X?  X? Not much of a number, are you?"

Around him,  the other Seals edged forward and pressed gingerly against equals signs themselves.

"X ... is for Xylophone," Jimmy said, and as the X lunged forward, he quickly spreadeagled himself, arms up and legs down all at an angle, trying to resemble an X himself, and braced himself...

...a flash, and he was on the other side.  As were all the Seal Team members.  Inside the cells, Xs and Ms and Cs raged and snarled and barked and roared.  Jimmy wordlessly gestured directions, and the team spread out in the hallway. There were no weapons, nothing they could use anywhere.  And his own suit was nearly powerless, just enough juice to make air.

He pointed.  They started down the hallway, as quietly as possible, only 8 of them left on this mission...


They were surrounded by 8s, division signs pointed at them, ready to split them in two or three or however many it took.

The team all raised their hands, and Jimmy cursed himself even as he realized it wasn't his fault, really -- it was ingrained in us, to think of numbers.

Then 5 walked in and for the first time in his long, long life, Jimmy Earwig felt real fear.


"What is that?" one of the guards asked Rusty,  who was still drawing furiously.  There was a stack of paper on his desk, nearly an inch tall, and many of the charcoal pencils and other utensils had been worn down.

"See for yourself," Rusty said, and stood up.  He walked over to the corner, but the guard squinted.

"Hold it up closer," he said.  "The light is terrible down here."

"Oh, sorry," Rusty said.  "I'm really proud of this one."  He braced himself, breathing deeply.  He held the picture up a little higher, deliberately angling it so that the guard had to lean his head a little to the right to see it in the glow of the Reality Stabilizer.

As the guard did so, Rusty told himself be awesomer and reached right through the force shields that kept his reality on this side and real reality on the other, and grabbed the guard's head and pulled him in, so that the guard was staring right at the picture, wide-eyed.

"What're you! Let go!"  Other guards immediately began firing but they couldn't pierce the reality shield around him, and Rusty let go.

"What the!  I'll shoot you dead!" the guard he'd grabbed yelled, and Rusty taunted him:

"Go ahead! Drop the stabilization and shoot me.  But work fast! And watch out for that!"  he pointed.

The guards stopped firing and looked where he pointed.

There was nothing.

"Nice trick," one said.

"Give it a second," he told them all, and to the guard whose head he'd pulled, said "Did you like my picture?"

"No, I didn't, and you shut up," the guard said, but he was cut off by a loud clanging sound as a giant demon in black armor with long claws came charging down from the spot where they'd been looking, a giant demon that perfectly matched the drawing Rusty still held in his hands.  As Rusty smiled gleefully,  the demon ran towards the Seal Team members, who, true to their training, did not flinch at all.   They began firing at the thing,  hitting it with enough firepower to destroy a starship, missiles and lasers and rays whanging around in the tiny space.  The monster struggled, getting to one team member and throwing him, but the Seal simply activated his force shield and bounced harmlessly twice before taking a bazooka and hitting the thing dead center, blowing it into pieces.

"Nice try," the man said, lifting his battle screen up off his face to smirk at Rusty.

Rusty was gone.  One corner of the Reality Cell had been bent, slightly, and Rusty had leapt up over it, taking his drawings with him.

"Oh, man, we are screwed," the guard said.


Monday, January 28, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day !!?! PART THREE: Zero Tolerance.

This is a cereal:

And this is a serial story, which means it began here, and continued to part two here and today is part THREE.

So if you want to read from the beginning, go here.  But if you're feeling lucky, buy a Powerball ticket. It's up to $151,000,000!

PART THREE BEGINS NOW.  (Great, now I want some Quisp.)


They had barely left Earth's atmosphere, weren't even outside the Moon's orbit, when trouble began.  The pilot, distracted by having to plot around a Moon that was suddenly joined by hundreds of similar satellites and several rings, did not see it coming, but it would have been hard to miss.

The helicopter, engines roaring, rotors soaking up energy from the sun... suns... that were baking the Earth... Earths Seal Team i was leaving behind, suddenly shook and dove to the right, with the side door behind some team members crumpling in.  It all happened silently; the helicopter was not set up with atmosphere.

"What was that?" someone said over the radio.  Jimmy Earwig goggled to hypervision and looked around him, saw something coming towards the front windshield from the side.  It looked like some kind of rod, or spear, but had protrusions...

"Evade!" he yelled.   The pilot never had a chance, though, and the weapon burst the side of the helicopter open, neatly slicing it and peeling into the pilot himself, who, as Jimmy watched, absorbed the force of the blow and fell into two halves.

He was already up and out of his seat barking orders.  The copilot moved forward, looking around, goggles on Omnivision to feed a 360-degree globular view of his surroundings directly into his frontal cortex.  He couldn't do that for long without burning out the synapses; processing all that information took a lot but they didn't have time, either.

Other members of the team had already taken up defensive stations and were secured against the hull. Jimmy told the Attack Squad to move out on his signal, doing so with hand gestures in case their radios were tapped.

1 -- he held up a finger.

2-- two fingers.

The helicopter was ripped open and Jimmy gaped.  Holes appeared as though the metal was being melted, large black bars streaming out from some source further back.  The slabs, or stripes, or whatever they were, were about two feet long and whatever they touched disintegrated.  The Attack Squad spread out immediately, jet blasters carrying them away from the immediate threat, leaving Defense to try to hold the now-porous hull of the helicopter together.

Jimmy shot off to his right and up, an arcing maneuver designed to get him outside of anyone's immediate range of fire.  From his shoulder guns he laid out a covering fire of stealth pellets invisible to the naked eye but designed to explode, creating hot shrapnel that would divert heat-seekers and serve as a cover and deflector to light-based weapons.  He scanned his face screen for an identification of the attackers but all he saw were numbers peeling across the screen in a crazy array, like watching programming code turned into confetti.

An explosion behind him drew his attention and he saw satellites blowing up, sending sharp fragments in all directions.  The battle unfolded soundlessly, as Seal Team i executed a basic attack front and prepared to get orders from Jimmy, who suddenly understood as his display began showing this:


And then went back to the number-jumble.

"Fire! Straight ahead!  Use blasters!" he gave the order, and jetted a few meters away from where he'd been when he'd talked.  From his forearm holsters three small tubes popped out and he squeezed his fists, pressing the palm-firing buttons over and over, gratified as lasers spread out in an intricate array.  From around him the same kind of thing happened from 10 other sources, and the grid of laser fire cut into the field of plus-sign looking things that Jimmy had seen.

Some of the plus-signs exploded as they were hit.  The rest continued flying at Seal Team i and its helicopter.  One went directly at the Rookie -- the kid that had joined the team only 100 years ago and was still thought of as a newbie -- and as Jimmy watched, Rookie took the plus-sign, +, directly in the chest.  It hit him, and Rookie shuddered and then doubled in size before exploding into bits.

They needed to retreat.  He saw that now.  He ordered a defensive wall, and it was being erected, the + weapons coming into it and smashing holes through it, careening off the phasers that had already been set up.

Behind him, he saw with a flicker of his vision screen, the helicopter was in shreds, less a helicopter than a piece of mangled metal.  The defensive squad had nothing to defend and he ordered them to fall back.  To where? He wondered.

On his visi-screen, the number jumble appeared again.

Too many, he thought.

The phaser-wall was helping.  He and his men executed a simple maneuver, getting close enough to cover each other but far enough that no one weapon would likely take them out.  Jimmy began thinking about which satellites might be in orbit near them.  Several of them could be modified, quickly, to get the team out of this area.  He'd already thumbed for a remote-rocket blast.  They would have to hold on 10, maybe 20 minutes.

The plus-sign things were grinding out, exhausted, against the phaser shields.  The men kept radio silence, so he didn't know if they knew yet what he understood, that this was just the first wave.

A trickle of words in the left hand side of his screen.  One of the men, Rodney, was using text?

No, he thought, and as he did, as the text came in, he read:

i can see thm out thr bynd the...

but he saw this:


An x shaped thing streaking across the sky directly at Rodney.

Rodney you fool, Jimmy thought.  Texts use numbers in place of letters

The x hit Rodney square on, and Rodney in front of his teammates suddenly began to replicate himself, becoming 2 then 4 then 8 then 16 then 32 and before long, Rodney was gone, having become infinite.

Jimmy's homing signal was beeping.  They would have to hold out.  A rocket would be here in ... he refused to even think numbers.

Because numbers were what they were facing.  Out there, in the dark, the jumble of numbers on his screen was not code gone wrong.  It was living, breathing (?) numbers, come to life, abstract thoughts made real.

Jimmy had known they'd have to run the numbers, but he hadn't known they'd literally be at sixes and sevens before they got out of Earth's orbit.  And yet here they were.

Rodney's ill-timed text had allowed the numbers to home in on them, and the multiplications were able to pierce the shields easily.  The team executed evasive maneuvers, jet packs blasting back and out at full throttle, chewing up fuel, but Jimmy knew if they couldn't hold out for... a few more minutes... it would not matter.  He frantically fired off his shoulder bazooka, sending timed-charge missiles out, hoping to take out groups of numbers off in the distance.

He ran into something, and his progress stopped.  His viewscreen showed behind him a group of numbers, each about 10 feet tall, each wiry and black and seemingly made out of pliable steel.  They held no visible weapons, and had no visible features.  They did not need to.  Jimmy was surrounded by numbers.

"Math was never my strong suit," he said to himself.

A 7 grabbed him, somehow, and two 4s pointed themselves at him.  A quick flash to Omnivision showed the same thing happening to the rest of Seal Team i.  The Math Battle had lasted only minutes.  Half the team appeared to be missing, although without counting Jimmy couldn't be sure, and he wasn't going to give these numbers the damn pleasure of counting in their presence.

As he watched, one of the men, it would be Sandy, managed to get a grenade off his belt, thumb the firing pin, but before the explosion happened, Sandy was hit over the head with something that looked like an L with a small triangle on it, repeatedly, and Jimmy watched as Sandy got smaller and smaller, until he nearly disappeared.  The grenade, too, shrank, and the explosion was simply a flash of light.

Bands of energy were placed on either side of him.  Brackets, Jimmy thought.  I'm being set...up.

A large 8 shouldered through, somehow able to move in airless, gravityless space, without jetpack or visible means of propulsion.  It leaned its upper half forward, the inner-space of it seeming almost like a face that wasn't there.  When the top of the 8 touched Jimmy's helmet, he heard it speak:

-- 5 is going to love this-- it told him.

And then the brackets were charged up and Jimmy blacked out.

Go to Part Four here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day!!?! PART TWO: Theseus' Ships Come Home.

As with other stories like that one about Nick and Other Sexy Cop saving (?) Xmas, this is a serialized story. 

PART ONE: MALIS AB, is here.

OUR STORY SO FAR: Seal Team i was dispatched to steal the portal that connects all multiverses.  The team's helicopter crashed onto the shed that covered the portal. And all heck broke loose.


Jimmy Earwig motioned for silence as the Commander In Chief, President Dewey, entered the room for a briefing.  When he did so, the room instantly quieted.  The door behind President Dewey was still closing, slowly, though, and the team could hear the chaos in the hallway outside.

A woman's voice: "What do you mean Sam was in the shed when it was hit by the helicopter?"

A boy:  "Mom, he'll be all right.  He's a wizard."

A man:  "Tom, you keep quiet.  We've not decided..." and then they were gone or the door was closed.

Jimmy Earwig turned to face President Dewey and the rest of the heads of the various armed forces.  Behind him, multiple screens lit up.

"Here is what we know," he said.  News headlines began scrolling across images from around the multiverses.


The pictures began flipping as Nick talked.  A series of planets crashing together.  Riot police in Space Ranger gear beaming red lights on frightened teddy bears to keep them calm. A pile of doughnuts, for some reason.

Jimmy Earwig consulted his notes.

"At 0100 hours local time, Seal Team i's helicopter was hit by an Electrodactyl, a creature native only to multiverses 3.03B and 15.1952A.  This creature was freed by the efforts of two young children who were actually inside the portal at the time."

Some gasps around the table.  Jimmy wasn't sure if it was from the picture on the screen (fourteen planet Jupiters forming a vast line along its orbital track, being pushed by a tiny man in a cape) or the headlines


Or Jimmy's news that children had been playing in the portal.  He went on after a moment.

"The explosion destroyed the portal."


The pictures behind Jimmy changed to technical graphs.  The first one looked like a Venn Diagram with a million circles comprising it.

"But worse than that."  Jimmy pointed at the center of the circles behind him.  The news headlines continued to scroll.


"The portal wasn't just a conduit between the multiverses.  It was the thing that held them apart."

"I was going to ask you that," said the Secretary of Interstellar War.  "I thought this thing just let us get from one multiverse to another."

"No, sir," Jimmy said.  The next slide came up.  It was a slice of Swiss Cheese, triangular and blocky.  A few nervous chuckles offset the line that slid over the picture.


"This is our multiverse," Jimmy Earwig told the assembled leaders, indicating the cheese.  "Each hole in the cheese is another universe.  In each hole, an entire civilization or civilizations live.  An entire universe, and sometimes more than one, is in each hole."

Next slide: the cheese took up the entire screen and the holes were more numerous.

The headlines kept scrolling:


"...and there are lots of holes," Jimmy was explaining.  A tap and another tap and the holes kept multiplying, each separated by thinner and thinner amounts of cheese.  "But the holes were always separated by the cheese, if you will; the holes never touched.  So each universe was allowed to grow and develop and there were literally an infinite number of universes.

"The portal," Jimmy went on,  switching to a new view of the now-destroyed shed glowing with an eerie purple gleam, a shot taken through Seal Team i's superenergy scope, "Was the only way between these multiverses.  We knew of it, and a few others knew of it, in various multiverses, and it was generally little used.  The portal actually appears in each of the multiverses."

On the screen, the holes each got tiny purple glowing dots. They continued to multiply on the cheese.

"...But it moved around, shifting, as the universes grew and shifted, making it hard to access and hard to control unless you knew exactly what you were doing.  Until..."

A new slide showed a family moving into a house, hauling a couch up a hill while two boys ran off to the side.

"...until someone had the bright idea of locking it down in one place.  This..." the screen switched to a shed as a new headline rolled past:


Jimmy Earwig sighed.  "This had the effect of locking the portal in place in every multiverse, making it more obvious and easier to use and, as an added... bonus, maybe... it somehow increased the way the multiverses multiplied."

"You mean?" asked President Dewey.

"Yes," Jimmy Earwig nodded. "More multiverses, faster."

The cheese again, onscreen, now with tiny dots in each one.  It was apparent that soon there would be no cheese.  The group watched grimly for a few moments.

"What happens when they touch?" The Secretary of NeoEnergy asked.

"We didn't know, until now." Jimmy said.  The shots now began to flicker with scenes of the multiverses again.  "The blast of the helicopter, which we think was an accident, blew up the portal, something that was not possible unless it had been fixed in place.  That caused the multiverses to instantly merge."

On the screen, the cheese wedge again, now with one hole in the exact center.

"This has created numerous problems."

"All those people, existing in one universe."  The Secretary of Nonsentient Species Control said quietly.  "That's some of those headlines."

"And not just people," Jimmy said.  "Not just multiple copies of the same person, and not just imaginary people."

On the screen, armies fought, monsters roared, spaceships crashed, stars flared and went dark.

"Here is the problem.  The problems," Jimmy said.

On the screen, a picture of himself appeared.

"I exist," Jimmy told the room.  There were nervous chuckles.  The photo shifted to show 10 Jimmy Earwigs, side-by-side.  "I exist in multiple forms in multiple multiverses."  The photo shifted again, to show 100 or more Jimmy Earwigs. Each now was subtly different.  "But in an infinite amount of multiverses, literally every combination of atoms that adds up to Jimmy Earwig can exist."  Now, on the screen, Jimmy Earwigs with moustaches talked with all-bald Jimmy Earwigs, and the combinations began to be more bizarre.  A three-armed Jimmy Earwig arm-wrestled 100 tiny Jimmy Earwigs at once.  "And so on, and so forth.  If you can imagine a combination, that combination exists."

A pall settled on the room as what this meant settled in.

"It's Theseus' Ship," a woman said.  She was the Undersecretary For Stating The Obvious To Help The Plot Along.

"Yes.  With a twist." Now, on the screen, a zombie version of Jimmy Earwig walked up to a version that seemed normal.  "Because there are versions of all of us that can only exist in one or two multiverses.  Like the version of Jimmy Earwig that instantly annihilates all other versions of Jimmy Earwig." The zombie reached out a hand and touched the other version, and crumbled into dust.

"And, of course, Evil Jimmy Earwigs abound."  On the screen, various goateed versions of himself appeared.

"But that means everything ever imagined could exist!" The Undersecretary spoke up again.

"That is true, and it is correct," Jimmy said.  Video cuts of superheroes helping cartoon cats out of trees appeared.  A man in a yellow shirt with a weird, upside-down V-like insignia used obviously-fake karate moves on a similarly-clothed man wearing a blue shirt and fake pointy ears.  A television screen showed President "Mitt" being sworn in.

"It's not,  though, the imaginary versions that are of concern.  Seal Team i has handled those before, easily.  A few dinosaurs with lasers would be nothing.  No, what is worse..." Jimmy turned off the screen and looked each of them in the eye.  "What is worse are the abstract concepts.  Take a moment to think about that."

In the darkened room, each pondered what he meant by that.

He turned the screen back on.  New video feeds, this time uninterrupted by headlines, showed almost-unintelligible scenes.  In some places, glowing lights whirled around people who were Bewildered.  In others, large spiky chunks of crystal poked at unusual angles designed to Confuse.

"Every thought... EVERY thought... that can be had can become alive in an infinite set of multiverses," Jimmy reminded them.  "So if there is even one way for Uncomprehending Dementia Coupled With Extreme Paranoia to take physical form, it has occurred." He paused.

The screen went dark.

Then it lit up again, as he said "And it is now with us in our universe."  On the screen, a whirling spout of psychotic radiation glared from a thousand eyes as it swallowed a skyscraper.

"We're doomed," a man's voice grumbled.

"We are not," Jimmy said.  "But that is not the worst yet."

"What... is... the worst?" President Dewey asked. 

"First, let me tell you the plan."

On the screen a large machine appeared, in schematic form.

"This," Jimmy told them, "Is the Emulsifier."

An animation of the machine showed several arms starting to glow, large crystalline globes spinning and developing charges.  It spun and slowly creaked into life.  Around it, the white background began to turn yellow.

"It will undo the damage... we think... by generating enough dark energy to begin to propel the multiverses back away from each other."

"Dark energy?"

Jimmy grimaced.  "For lack of a better word.  Dark energy is the only thing we can use, because it is created simply by wanting it to exist."

"How is that possible?"

"It's not," Jimmy said.

"Once you have eliminated the possible, all that is left to try is the impossible," said the Secretary of Helpful Misquotes.

"It will generate dark energy,  and using that, the multiverses will slowly spread out again,  moving further and further out into the cheese, as it were, leaving each universe eventually on its own."

"We have this technology, now?"

"No." Jimmy said.  "But we know someone who can make it."

He went on to tell them the plan.  And to tell them who their greatest foe was, and why that was.


"Why are we here?" asked Sergeant Deadly, shivering in the dank, dreary atmosphere.

"For protection," Jimmy Earwig said.  His battle armor clanked as he walked through the mazelike tunnels that went down and down and down, the doors to the cells becoming larger, more intimidating, and harder to crack open as they passed them.  All of Seal Team i followed behind him.

Twenty minutes into the walk, they came to a set of large pillars that crackled and buzzed with energy.  Inside the pillars sat a man in a recliner, his feet up, watching television.

Seal Team i immediately fanned out and held their weapons sighted on the man, who paid no attention to them but went on watching his television show and eating something that, Jimmy saw, was a fish taco.

"Must have been behaved awfully good to get one of those," he said to the man.

"These?" the man held up the taco and made a face.  "This is a punishment.  I'd sworn off of these. And now it's all I've been given to eat for a week."

"Escape attempt?"

"You know it was," the man responded.  "Did you know you can build up a resistance to reality?"  He pointed to the pillars.  "You think those Reality Stabilizers can hold me forever?" He tapped his head.  "No way. No way.  Things have never been less real up in here."  He narrowed his eyes.  "And each day, I get a little better at nullifying reality.  Each day, I become a new, awesomer version of me.  So one of these days, I'm out of here."

Jimmy sighed.  "I have a deal to offer you."

"I'm listening."

"I need a drawing."

The man put his fish taco down and turned off the TV.  "What kind of drawing?"

"This." Jimmy held up the schematics of the Emulsifier.  The man came over, staring at it, inspecting it closely.

"What's it do?" he asked.

"Never mind."

"Something to do with the multiverses ending?" the man pointed to the now-dark television.

"Never mind," Jimmy repeated.

"What's in it for me?"

"You get to draw something."

"Not good enough."

"That's my offer."

"Not good enough."  The man turned and walked back to his TV.  Jimmy groaned to himself.

"One day," he said quietly.

The man stopped, listening.

"One day with art supplies, Rusty."

The man, Rusty, turned around.

"One whole day?"

"You draw this," Jimmy held up the Emulsifier.  "We turn off the Reality Stabilizers for one second, once the drawing is done, and then back on.  And once they're back on, you get the art supplies for 24 consecutive hours."

Rusty considered.

"One condition," he said.

Jimmy looked at him, eyebrow raised.

"No more goddamn fish tacos," Rusty said.

"Deal," Jimmy said.  He motioned to the team member who had an easel, charcoal pencils, and other art supplies.

"Two conditions," Rusty said.

"No," Jimmy told him.  "We had a deal."

Rusty sighed.  "Can't blame a guy for trying."

"When that guy has drawn more horrendous creations than any other person in the history of the multiverses, when that guy has unleashed angry, dead gods on innocent civilians, when that guy has allowed a World War full of genocide to rage on for years and years and years, refugees trapped in flooded train stations for eons... yeah, I can blame that guy for trying," Jimmy said.

"Gimme the art stuff," Rusty snarled.  "You'll get your drawing."

Jimmy pushed the supplies through.  "Four of you!" he barked to team members.  "Guns leveled on him at all times.  Radio me as soon as the drawing is finished."  He turned to Rusty.  "Do it right, or it won't matter what we promised you."  Motioning to the rest of the team, he left.


 "In the multiverses, everything exists because if there is an infinite number of combinations of atoms," Jimmy had told the collected leaders, "then all possible combinations of those atoms eventually come into being.  That gives us the power to create things, for better or worse.  We can create great things, simply by imagining them, and it's as if the force of our thoughts spur this... dark energy... into being and that thing begins to exist.

"The problem," he'd gone on "Has been in finding it, because there's no reason those things would pop up next to us.  But now, with all  the multiverses collapsed into one universe, everything we create or think, every combination of atoms, is right here, in our world.  All we have to do is find it, in our one small, now overcrowded, universe."

Those words rang in his mind as he walked through the base, activity around him at peak levels.  Seal Team i had managed to keep most of the other, fake Seal Teams that existed in other multiverses out of this headquarters, selectively letting in a few new team members but using larger Reality Stabilizers to keep Headquarters relatively normal.  Outside, Jimmy knew, imaginations ran wild.  Billions upon billions of entities,  real and imagined, were now trying to co-exist, or not.   People were meeting their dopplegangers, imaginary creations were knocking on their creators' doors, and the imaginary creations of those imaginary creations -- monsters fictionally created by the fictional creations of real people -- were also coming alive.   Each shift in reality, the replacement of one tiny sliver of reality here or there, created an almost-same thing, with a new sliver being added until a man could find echoes of himself in a space-going sentient radioactive triceratops that suddenly claimed to be married to his wife.

"And we have to go out in that, to find and activate the Emulsifier."

Teams of troops, pressed into action by various good rulers, were waging wars against evil armies from other dimensions. Buildings bulged at crazy angles as skyscrapers tried to accommodate the infinite varieties of their existence.  Deserts were flooded by ancient oceans that had existed in them a billion universes away.

He opened the door to the hangar where his troops were gathered, and saw Darth waiting for him.   Without a word, she ran up and threw her arms around him, kissing him ferociously.

"Don't go out there, Jimmy.  Don't.  I'm begging you."

He let her finish the speech, finish the kiss, and pulled back slightly,  staring into her dark eyes.  Named after her father's best friend, Darth had seven times been voted Sexiest Woman Alive, and even after her death had won Sexist Woman Dead three times.  Jimmy didn't mind that she was a ghost, and didn't mind when people asked him how ghosts could have physical form.

"Everything's possible," he'd tell them when they asked.

"Darth, I have to," he said.  "It's my job."

"Let someone else go.  Jimmy, I have a bad feeling about this."

"What, you're psychic now?"

"I don't have to be," Darth told him, pouting.  "I know."

"How do you know?" Jimmy said.  Her soft hands pressed into the back of his neck as she said:

"They all told me."

Jimmy looked over her shoulder, and saw about twenty versions of himself standing there.  They looked almost exactly like him.  One had red hair.  One had a beard.  There were no goatees -- nobody would let an Evil Jimmy in here.  One wore a cyborg eye and was missing an arm.

And one was ghostly gray.

"You," he said.  "What's your story."

Ghostly Gray said "In my universe, I'm the Jimmy that dies on this mission."

Jimmy considered this.

"Where's the Jimmy that survives this mission?"

Nobody stepped forward.


That scene was still with him when he'd left the other Jimmy Earwigs in the hangar, admonishing them to watch over Darth and protect her.  In at least 15,000 different universes, ghosts could be killed quite easily.  They'd sworn they would, even Ghostly Gray, who privately had said "I'm sorry for us, Jimmy."

"It's okay," Jimmy said.

He hadn't asked Ghostly Gray if they'd gotten the Emulsifier going.  That was only one possible outcome, he knew.  There might be a billion universes where Jimmy had found it, wherever it sprung into existence once Rusty drew it, and had gotten it up and running, and it had worked.  There might be a trillion.

But in the time it took to get Seal Team i's new helicopter loaded, three more Jimmys-Who-Die had shown up in the hangar, and nobody yet had met one who lived.

Over his headset the report came.

"Drawing done!"

"Let's go," Jimmy said.  The hangar doors swung open, the Reality Stabilizers charged down, and the helicopter shot up through the opening, past two Tyrannosaurus Rexes that were furiously arguing about whether being self-aware was enough to confer sentience on a species.  The dinos ignored them and they were out into the world, as Jimmy turned on the Inventoscope, which would home in on the newest things to pop into creation.  If he was right...

"There." He locked in the location.

"Halfway across the solar system," the pilot said.

"Good thing this helicopter is equipped for space travel," another team member said.

"Lock and load," Jimmy told his team.  "We're heading for Jupiter."

"MALIS AB!" the team shouted.

Jimmy got a chill up his spine.


In the basement, the four guards standing over Rusty reignited the Reality Stabilizers.  "24 hours, starting now," Sergeant Deadly said.

"Got it," Rusty responded.  He sat down and began his next drawing.

"What is that?" Sergeant Deadly asked.  "Some sort of egg?"

Rusty didn't answer.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Electronic Fish Tacos From Jupiter Save The Day!!?! PART ONE: Malis Abstractus!

This is an entry in Andrew Leon's short story contest.  Like that one story I'll probably get around to finishing some day, it will be serialized.

5 stepped lightly over the two dead bodies and shrugged.

"Get 'em out of here," 5 said in a voice that everybody found surprising the first time they heard it.

They found it surprising because second, it was a high-pitched, quiet, voice, not at all the kind of voice you imagined 5 would have.

And they found it surprising because first, 5 was an abstract number representing a given quantity of items in some numeric systems, and so the fact that 5 spoke at all was surprising.

But that was in the olden days, before the Imagination Room had been broken wide open and everything fell all to heck.  Back in the time before even abstract concepts could come to life and begin taking over the criminal underworld, ruthlessly killing everyone who got in their way, even Jimmy Earwig, poor guy.

But Jimmy had a secret, too.

He wasn't dead.


Probably the helicopter was not to blame.  But maybe the helicopter pilot was.  That was how it began, anyway.

Jimmy Earwig looked down through the windshield of the helicopter he was riding in.  The night vision goggles made the landscape below perfectly clear, albeit green-tinged and ghostly looking.

Suitable, Jimmy thought.

In his ear a voice crackled:  "Target spotted," the copilot said.  Jimmy nodded and looked where everyone else on Seal Team i was looking.

Seal Team i doesn't exist in the "real world," the world of schools and jobs and roads with potholes in them, the world of taxes and shopping malls and Orange Juliuses.  Juliuses? Julii?  Hard to say.  Whichever it was, the members of Seal Team i didn't get them, because Seal Team i did not live in that world.  Created years ago by President Thomas Dewey during his third term, Seal Team i had served the Royal Municipality of Manhattan and the subadmiralties of the rest of the continent loyally for over 100 years -- called on by President Dewey and his wife, Queen Kim, whenever otherworldly threats arose, threats that promised to destroy any number of multiverses, threats that only Seal Team i could handle.

"It takes an abstract concept to destroy an abstract concept," was their motto, but they said it in Latin so it sounded cooler:

"Malis conceptus abstractus perdere conceptus abstractus."

 Or, shortened into their battle cry: Malis abstractus!  "MALIS AB!" Seal Team i members would shout in battle, battle against whatever weird new thing had arisen for them to fight.

Jimmy Earwig thought to himself, now, Malis Ab, as he glared down at the rickety old house in Louisiana.  There it sat, old, worn down, the white paint glowing a faded, peeling green in his night-vision goggles.  They were set to night vision right now, but they could be set to other kinds: heat vision, infrared vision, invisible vision, in which everything normally invisible became visible, and vice versa.

"What a piece of crap," someone said in his ear.

He motioned for radio silence, but he agreed.  Old, ramshackle, overbuilt, a yard with cracked stones in the back, a weathered old shed off to the side.  Who would want to live here? 

It was not the house they were here for.

It was that shed, off to the side, the shed that threatened the equilibrium between many of the multiverses, some of which had existed for eons, some of which were born yesterday, some of which had not yet come into being but were threatened anyway, and all of which were the sworn duty of Seal Team i to protect, even this universe, with its taxes and Orange Juliusi, and its little kids with magical powers living in a broken-down old house that just happened to sit next to a portal that linked every single dimension that had ever or would ever exist, linked them together and worked as a portal between them all.

A portal that needed to be closed.

A portal that, if not closed, would destroy everything, even those things that did not exist.  Even those things that might never exist.

Jimmy Earwig leaned down and looked more closely.

A kid ran from the shed into the house, as he watched.

"Great Scott!" he mumbled, radio silence forgotten.  "They're using it right now."

He looked at the pilot, and the copilot.  "We've got to move.  SEAL TEAM i, ready."

The plan was simple.  The team would slide down their ropes, attach magnetic grapples to the shed, insert laser separators underneath the foundation of the building, and the helicopter would pull the entire building up.  The bottom floor didn't matter.  It was that top floor, built around and somehow containing the portal, that was important.  The portal should have never been opened.  It should have never been enclosed.  It should have never been used by kids, for crying out loud.

But all those things had happened and now, the portal had to be stolen.

"I hear they call it the "Imagination Room," one of the team mumbled.

Jimmy Earwig, like the rest of his team, snapped his clip onto his rope, ready to jump out and slide to the ground.  In the rearview mirror of the helicopter, he caught a momentary glimpse of himself and reflected, as he always did, on just how much he looked like Ryan Gosling.

"Let's move, before things get worse," he said.  "SEAL TIME i, GO!"

"MALIS AB!"they shouted, and all 10 of the members of Seal Team i leapt simultaneously out of the black helicopter, sliding like ninjas down the ropes to  the ground.  Working like the perfectly functioning team they were, three set up a perimeter while three attached the magnetic grapples.  Jimmy Earwig sighted through his laser rifle at the door of the house, ready lest one of the occupants come out, as the final three members inserted the laser cutters that would sever the building from its foundation.  In seconds it was done and Jimmy Earwig made a hand gesture.  Go, it meant.

The laser separators crackled to life, flashing through rock and dirt.  The building was free.

The magnetic grapples sparked on.  The ropes pulled taut.  Each Seal Team member grabbed his rope.

Then the helicopter crashed into the building, a direct hit, dropped on it like a rock full of explosive fuel, which was exactly what it was.  In the microseconds before the explosion, Jimmy Earwig had enough time to drop and roll and as he rolled over he saw what appeared to be a pterodactyl made out of electricity flying away into the night.

Then the helicopter blew up, instantly demolishing the building.

Then the portal itself blew, instantly combining every single multiverse and dimension that ever had and ever would exist into one place... here... and instantly bringing to life every single thing, every single idea, every single concept that had ever been thought of, however momentarily, by any sentient creature.

This... this... was going to be bad, Jimmy Earwig thought.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

So you want me to write about violence, eh?

As I contemplate one day maybe finishing up that whole "Ain't Nick" story that nobody read anyway but which is awesome, here's another contest/blogfest thing, this time from superhero author... author who writes about superheroes, not that he's not a hero, aw, crap, let's start over:

Author P.T. Dilloway, who writes about superheroes and other stuff, is hosting a blogfest for charity: Write 500 words about violence (real or fake, fiction or non-) and post it by 3/20/13, and he'll give you credit and possibly publish your story into a book that helps charities.  So it's for a good cause, which is great because it's the one unselfish thing you'll do all year.  And let's face it: not sharing your sandwich with that orphan yesterday? You need to make up for that.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS and to enter your blog in the link list, which is a thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Tony LaPlume, I assume, is still getting submissions for his 250-word-or-less story collection (details here) but what if you know more than 250 words and want to use those other words?

Well, my friend -- we're friends, right? -- you can now do that in Andrew Leon's contest to win the best chocolate in the ENTIRE WORLD.

The short version of the contest is: "Write a 7500 word or less short story based on 'The Imagination Room' featured in Leon's books The House On The Corner and suggested/mentioned in Christmas On The Corner", and submit it to him at his blog, by February 6, and he'll consider you for various prizes including chocolate.

Want more info? Read his post here. And enter.  That's his picture there to the right.  Doesn't he look like the kind of guy you want to win chocolate from? I agree.

Monday, January 7, 2013

250=1, Story 18.

I'll get back to Ain't Nick soon, but here's a palate cleanser, a 250=1 story.

All Emotions Are Now Colors, and Also They Are Alive.
Red Me is angry.
But then, he always is.  Everyone Red is mad all the time.
Blue Me gets depressed about that, too. I don’t know where he is now, though.
I am Green and Magenta: Calm Reason. Took me a long time to come up with that one.
“Just come with us,” I/we say.
“No. She’ll be there,” Red snarls. “All Yellow. And White. And probably… Orange.”
I sent Blue away. I was through being sad, and anyway Red and Blue are a dangerous combination.
I hadn’t even realized that Red was here, at first. Red is sneaky.
“C’mon. We’ll hit on her friend, make her bring out Dark Green.”
“STOP!” Red bellowed, grabbing me, lifting me off the floor. I can’t breathe.
Black rushes in, joins me. Green leaves. I gape in fear and resignation. Magenta is trying to go. Out of the corner of my eye I see Gray Me. A tear leaks out. I can’t breathe, still.
“Red…” I want to say but I can’t talk. He is choking me.
Others come in, barely ever seen. Amber. Bronze. Chartreuse, which I always thought would be more bluish.
Red drops me suddenly and I am crumpled on the floor, all of us gasping. I look up warily.
Gray is standing there, reaching out a hand.
“No.” I shake my head.
Can one die of angry?
“No.” Again.
Where is Red?
Where is everyone else?
Gray hugs me.


Not sure what a 250=1 story is? Click here for an explanation and links to all the prior stories.  

250=1: The Complete List Of Stories

Page down for an explanation of this.

Here are all the stories.

HEY! Some of these links will take you to other blogs where I posted the stories but DO NOT WORRY because you can always read the story and hit the "BACK" button to get back here.  I'll be here, waiting for you.

1. Children's Magazines Are Full Of Lies

2. Everyone In The World Is Copying Me In Advance.

3. What Happens When The Symbolism of McDonald's Cheeseburgers Is Questioned?

4. What Hannah Said When She Hugged Her Competitor

5. Higgs Boson's Adventures In Space: Episode 37:

6.  One Morning A Mother Gave Birth... 

7.  Han Shot First. No, He Didn't. Yes, He Did. Wait...

8.  These Dead Composers

9.  Introducing The Beatles?

10.  Q+U, A Love Story (Part One)

11.  Junior The Third.

12.  The Things We Don't Tell Are Most Important.

13.  Icarus' Lesser-Known Sister.

14, 15, 16, and 17:  Five Stories about Time Travel, all in one post:  "Time Travel Has Always Existed", "He's A Perfect Boyfriend, But..." , "Time Was...", "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Hunker Down Behind This Lead Windowshade," and "Thinking About Time Travel At The End (Or The Beginning?) of the Universe(s)". 

18.  All Emotions Are Now Colors, and Also They AreAlive

19.  When a Really Good Song Comes On

20.  Skyfall

21.  Skyfall, 2

22.  Skyfall, 3

23.  Skyfall, 4

24.  Skyfall, 5

25.  What It Is Like To Be A Frog (You Think?)

26.  July 17, 2057.

27. Sometimes At Night I Imagine The Parrot Is Talking To Me

28. When The Rope Broke

29.  A story about a young man who one day or rather one morning...

30.  Stories I Wrote On The Way To And From Work 1

31. The Circus Of Twice

32.  Stories I Wrote, etc. #2

33.  Stories I Wrote etc. 3:

34.  Stories I Wrote, etc. 5:

35.  In the Beginning, 1 

36.  In The Beginning, 2

37.  The World's Shortest Mystery Story

38.  Advertisements From A World Not Entirely Similar To Our Own, 1

39.  Four.

40.  In The Beginning, 3

41.  In The Beginning, 4.

42.  It All Began With LOL.

43.  ,1

44.  Miniautobiography, 1

45.  The Bus

46.  At The Institute For Not Asking Questions

47.  Tips For Young Astronauts

48.  Then

49.  Some Zombie Stories: 1

50. We Were At A Party When We Decided To Quit.

52. 8 Things That Happened To Him, And Two Things That Didn't.

53.  Some Zombie Stories: 2

54. Some Zombie Stories: 3

55.  It's the Higgs Boson Xmas Special!

56.  , 2

57.  God, Part 2

(Yep: I skipped a number there; if you go back in the list, as I just did, you'll see that I missed counting 1 of those 5 time travel stories.)

250=1 a new challenge I've set for myself. (Note: although it's beginning to be posted in 2012, it's not a New Year's Resolution, as I never make New Year's Resolutions. Why postpone doing whatever it is you intend to do? No, I'm starting to post it now because I had too much other stuff to post last week between Christmas and New Year's, and so didn't get around to this.)

250=1 came about because I like writing long stories. The longer the better, as far as I'm concerned, because if I like a story I never want it to end. And so I decided to challenge myself, the way I once saw a giant, steep hill in Oakland, California and went jogging there just so I could try to jog up that hill, but in this case the challenge was to write short stories.

And not just any short story: A short story of exactly -- exactly -- 250 words.

Counting the title.

I'll be posting new ones from time to time, so check back often.


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