Quick Fix Story: Galactic Goo

Thank you, Taylor Eaton, for the writing prompt this morning.  It made scrubbing Norm’s slobber goobs off the wall much more entertaining!

Galactic Goo

A human’s natural instinct is to take cover when danger appears. Solid walls and a ceiling are preferred. This is what they did the first time the ships descended and hovered over our city. The vast circular shadows triggered street lights and pandemonium.

People crushed each other in their haste to cover themselves in hopes of becoming invisible and thus safe from whatever may emerge from those flying plates. In under and hour the streets were silent. Humanity held its breath and waited.

All at once, beings with octopus legs and bodies bounced from the ships, dangling from bungee like ropes, or were they extra tentacles? Each blobby body had one bright green eye and seemingly no other features. They were silent as they swayed on their cords.

People pressed their faces to windows, surprised the things hadn’t attacked yet, then stumbled backward in terror when the first blasts struck the panes. Loud smacks filled the air as mucousy slime slapped the surfaces of each and every building. I remember catching a glimpse of cavernous maws gaping on the octopus bodies after a thick loogie slid down the sliding glass door of my duplex apartment.

The aliens’ barrage lasted no more than twenty minutes, then they bounced back into their ships and disappeared. By the time they left, every surface was coated with their goo. Horrified and disgusted, no one emerged from their safe hiding places. Power flickered on and off due to the weight of the slime on the lines. Calls were made, and soon crews in hazmat suits appeared to take samples.

I decided the best thing to do was to get comfy. I pulled out my ancient typewriter, grateful to my newspaperman grandfather for hanging onto the beast that didn’t require electricity. I clacked away, describing what I had just witnessed. This was unreal. I was freaked beyond measure, but the rhythmic beat of my words hitting paper was soothing and I was soon lost in my story. Until a chunk of ceiling crashed onto the dining table across from where I sat. Upon impact, the plaster disintegrated. First it was powder, then simply gone.

My eyes flew to the watermelon sized hole over my head just in time to see the cracks beginning to race along the surface of what was left of my ceiling. The place was coming down. I bolted. I slipped and fell in the slime that coated my small courtyard, and as I regained my balance, I watched as all the buildings around me crumbled and vanished.

The screaming was overwhelming. I covered my ears and slogged through the mess, not sure where I was going. I was exposed, and who knew if those bouncing beasts would return. Surely they would, I realized. Whatever secretion they used to plaster our shelters was meant to eat them away, thus exposing the people within. We were ants without a hill, just waiting to be stepped on.

I wondered if buses could be used to transport people away from the site, but then became aware that all the vehicles were gone too. Curiosity overrode fear bringing me to a halt. I looked down at my bare feet. The crowd continued to churn around me, individuals knocking into me as I studied my toes. There was no pain. In fact, the slime was solidifying. I was standing on it, rather than in it now. It was tacky like a booger, and I grinned as the light bulb came on in my brain. This stuff was not toxic to human flesh.

I raced over to the closest hazmat suit, waving my arms and yelling frantically. “It’s not toxic!”

The giant yellow figure turned to me, holding me at arms length with a covered hand. “Stop right there,” the muffled voice commanded.

I looked around to see the other suits avoiding being touched by the hysterical masses. They thought they were the only safe ones and feared being stripped of their protective barriers.

Something wet splatted on my face. My stomach clenched and my heart raced. Certain I would see dangling octopus aliens when I looked up, I was surprised only to see raindrops and clouds. The drops grew larger and fell faster, soaking us all. The dousing slowed the crowd, and the noise died down. The coating under my feet began to feel wet again, and soon the mess was viscous again. I wasn’t the only one who was noticing. Others were staring at the sidewalk. Within minutes, the mucous began to dissolve and the concrete of the sidewalk dug into my skin. I laughed because there was no other response that fit.

Walking a slow circle, I observed those around me making the same conclusion. If water could dissolve the goo, could it also defeat the aliens? Hope and determination replaced the terror in the people’s eyes. Those ships would return, but we would be ready.

 

Quick Fix Story: Narrow Miss

The last several weeks I have been buried in the home stretch of finishing the first draft of my novel. The other night I found myself resting my brain—clicking around on Twitter. I came across a writing prompt posted by Jason Cantrell. The prompt itself was enough to get my writing wheels turning, but the story behind it was just too cool to pass up.

Jason found a slip of paper in a used book he was reading for one of his classes with the following words scribbled on it: Have a stranger come to the bar-tell her he loves her-asks her to go to Chicago with him the next weekend-she doesn’t go. There was no way that note was left there by chance. Was it for Jason to tackle? Maybe. Perhaps it was there to inspire a bunch of us to take off down a rabbit trail, take a break from our WIPs and flex some underutilized muscles. Thank you, Jason, for sharing this nugget of inspiration. Not only did it spark an idea for a short story, I came up with a new element for my blog: Quick Fix Stories. Quick Fixes will give me a place to address those random plot bunnies that turn up in my head. Working on this short story greased the wheels of my imagination for my novel as well. Sometimes stepping away for a bit is the best thing we can do for our work.

All right, Jason, this one is for you.

 Narrow Miss

Tequila twang hit the back of my throat. I fought the urge to grimace and twitch, grabbed my glass of orange juice and took a slug. Ahh, much better. The tequila warmed all the way down, the juice softened the blow. I indicated to the bar tender I needed another round.

A short, but built man took the stool beside mine. He had clipped military style hair and a close fitting gray t-shirt. The bartender brought him a beer from the tap. He took a sip then looked over at me and my fresh glasses of tequila and orange juice.

“Interesting combo,” he said. Then his eyes slid over my fitted white halter dress. He didn’t know the tie was cutting into my neck. I’d cinched it down tight in a desperate attempt to keep the girls corralled. I never knew when I’d have to launch into sudden, quick action.

“It works,” I replied. I had no desire to get into a conversation with this guy. I had a job to finish tonight. Technically, I was still on the clock. It was one of those “let him sweat” breaks. I checked the time on my phone. There was no doubt in my mind Mr. Mendezo was sweating right now. Smiling to myself, I tipped back my second shot.

Military Hair ordered a tequila and orange juice for himself, one for me too. What the hell. My job bordered on legal, why not drive a little tipsy while I’m at it.

We clinked shot glasses. I sipped my orange juice and watched him experience the combo for the first time. He smacked his lips. “Pretty damn good. Thanks for the tip.”

“Thanks for the drink,” I said.

“I’ve seen you in here before. I just haven’t been brave enough to approach you,” said Military Hair.

I noticed the white tan line where a wedding ring should be. Wise choice.

He ran a hand over his buzz cut. His biceps bulged. Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to help myself. I would have touched those muscles. Now, they just irritated me.

“Can I order you another round?”

“No. I have to get back to work.”

His eyes bugged a little. “You get to drink on the job?”

“I work for myself.”

He nodded. “Look, I can’t let you go before I ask you something.”

“Shoot.” I was pretty sure I knew what was coming. This wasn’t my first rodeo. In fact, these moments were what kept my rent paid.

“I have a conference in Chicago next weekend. I’m a personal trainer. We have conferences regularly. Keep up on what’s new in the industry, you know.” That explained the muscles. “Anyway, I would love it if you came with me.”

“Is that so?” I lifted a brow. I wonder how many conferences he’d been to this year. Had his wife attended even one of them?

He blushed a bit, reached out to touch my hip. “Yeah.”

My phone dinged signalling a new text message. I glanced at it. Mrs. Mendoza was ready for her delivery.

“I’ll think about it,” I said. “Do you have a card?”

Eagerly, he pulled out his wallet while I paid for my earlier drinks. He slipped a card for well known meat head gym into my hand. “Call me.”

“Oh, I will,” I said turning so his hand grazed my butt. I gave my hips an extra little twitch as I left the bar.

My car was silent when I reached it. I pounded on the trunk and was greeted with a startled thud. No doubt Mr. Mendoza’s head. My parents had been surprised when I sold my sporty little Mazda for this grandma style Buick. It was deep red in honor of my former ride, but it’s huge trunk served my needs.

Mr. Mendoza and I headed out of town to the meeting place. Mrs. Mendoza would be waiting down by the river about twenty miles from town. Her father owned a large onion farm, many of the fields along the river. The Buick bumped down the skinny access road. A gorgeous Hispanic woman perched on a large rock. She’d followed my instructions to the letter. Her curves poured into a black outfit Cat Woman would envy. Her long, dark hair had been curled and was tumbling down past her breasts. We grinned at each other and hugged in greeting.

I popped my trunk. Mr. Mendoza lay bound and gagged, staring at me with terrified eyes. That look was nothing compared to what passed over his face when Mrs. Mendoza stepped into his view.

“Hola, mi marido,” Mrs. Mendoza purred.

Together, we wrestled him from the trunk, flopped him into a pile of leaves near the river bank. Sheer panic crossed that man’s face. He wasn’t my problem anymore. Mrs. Mendoza handed me an envelope. I peeked inside to glimpse the cash then stuffed it into my cleavage.

“He’s all yours,” I said. “Have fun.” I hustled to the Buick. I never stuck around to see what happened after I made my delivery. I returned the cheating bastards to their wives and they did whatever they deemed necessary.

My mind wandered to Military Hair. I began thinking about how to track down his wife. The set-up was already there. It was too easy.

My phone launched into “O.P.P.” by Naughty by Nature. I grabbed it from the cup holder. “This is Jenna.”

The caller was sobbing. They always were. She’d walked into the house to find her husband serving up her best friend on the kitchen table. The kids saw it too. I have a special package for that violation. Could we set something up for next Friday? Of course.

Guess I won’t make it to Chicago after all. Military Hair was off the hook. For now.