Marc hates first dates. But after scouring the menu during his scouting mission last week, he looks forward to devouring one of the enormous, succulent lamb chops Pierre’s specializes in, and savoring every drop of the fresh peach vinaigrette drizzled on top.
His snazzy red blazer with subtle pink stripes is out of character. After Dana realized her advice to “spruce up” meant nothing to her brother, she thought this would give his wardrobe a small bit of personality. The bland button-down Marc has underneath speaks more loudly about his true form, nervously overcompensating for the funky jacket.
‘I look ridiculous.’
The insincerity inherent in this type of formality sets Marc on edge. Given limited experience, he plays the traditional first date card with this lavish French restaurant. White table cloths engulf the room and older couples chatter along at raised volumes to create a cloud of unintelligible noise. Electric chandeliers cast only a slight glow below, placing the illuminative responsibility on each table’s unqualified set of candles.
James walked out of the bathroom and plopped back down on the couch. He closed his eyes, rolled his head back and let out an audible sigh. Glancing around the room he couldn’t contain himself anymore. “I can’t believe you have your toilet paper hanging away from the toilet, against the wall.”
The crowded room quieted and collectively focused on James with raised eyebrows frequently dispersed. Tony gave a light chuckle that seemingly dismissed the criticism of his home.
Conversation resumed until James loudly added “Some say there’s no right way to hang it, but that’s just ridiculous.” Then he grabbed the remote and paused the TV.
The ground was still soft from yesterday’s rainfall. The knees of John’s overalls were comfortably soaked, and another layer of soil slowly seeped into the fabric. He plunged a strong bundle of stiff fingers into the dirt then slowly twisted and lifted, leaving a perfectly sized, perfectly deep little hole. The newly open mouth was begging to be fed. John snagged a tiny seed from the sack on his hip and flipped it in. With a light slide of his hand the mouth was closed again.
The night before I started eighth grade our parents had some friends over, as Sundays were typically free of any of my sister Sara’s music lessons. Mr. Schmausheizer used to work at the same insurance law firm as my dad but left for the slightly more glamorous world of copyright law. Dad had been at Martin & Herman since he graduated law school, had just been promoted to junior partner, and at 36 he was the youngest to ever have that title. I got the sense that was the real reason he decided to have them over now. He was riding high and ready to show himself off for once, along with the usual parading of Sara’s captivating voice.
I always felt my shoulders tense up when I walked offstage.
I loved being the center of attention up there. Put a bass in my hand, push me into the spotlight and I could keep going for days on pure contagious energy. There’s something different about playing when I’m in front of a crowd of one or one thousand, it feels like a reason to play out loud, get my music to the world rather than just listening to the melodies inside my head. It’s a relief.
Every time Professor Catchto returned to the Galactic Research Institute was a bittersweet reminder of the vibrant academic community that slowly disappeared over the past three thousand years. There were pictures of all past Skantar Prize winners lining the walls, with a slightly thinner layer of dust signaling the more recent ones as she moved closer to the single open office. There were only two people left doing work that would be considered for the Skantar Prize, and Todd would be disqualified from future consideration if he lost for a fifth time. The professor knew this desperation was why Todd suddenly risked sending Zap to Earth, and she was not looking forward to sharing this development with Stravelle.
[All dialogue, with the exception of specific nouns, has been translated to English]
Zap Ack got to Earth on May 14th, just in time for the summer movie season. He was the first of the Mitchonese to visit the source of the universe’s best entertainment and Hollywood’s biggest intergalactic fan.
The Mitchonese, as the name would suggest, lived on Mitchone, a desert planet deep in the Milky Way galaxy, exactly 28,368.43 light years away from where Zap died in a parking lot on Sunset Boulevard. The next day in the newspaper, a young reporter, Miss Perri Chants, would describe him as “…a small purple creature that looked relatively human from a distance but upon closer inspection revealed soft, tentacle-like appendages with only four fingers instead of ordinary arms, and only slightly more rigid legs, sparsely dotted with pink freckles. Witnesses described it standing upright before being attacked by Mrs. Wattle. Its face was almost identical to one of ours, except missing ears, any hair and covered in a dense pattern of those same pink freckles. It was just familiar enough that you could pass it on the street and not look twice, especially when wearing the porkpie hat and corduroy jacket that laid on the ground next to its body.”
The entire building appeared empty when Jason arrived and he knew most of his colleagues at The Frazer Agency were on vacation for the holidays, but he decided the ten-story climb would at least feel quicker than the elevator and maybe even sober him up a bit. He was exhausted after running up the empty stairwell, panting on the landing outside the office. All he had to do today was show up and glad-hand the clients while his assistant Brad took care of the presentation. After last night, Jason felt like his music career could finally take the next step and he might be able to escape this agency hell once and for all, but he didn't want to sabotage any of the work.
Start with part 1
Dr. Wagner looked at the laptop monitor to find an image of Dana laying on a rock as the beeping of a monitor next to his right ear signaled her slow but steady heartbeat. He turned towards Dr. Jones with a smile and sheen of wonder growing across his face. He said quietly: “it’s working.”
Without any signal from his colleagues, Dr. Chan reached over to switch the IV drip to the second, lethal mixture. Before he got to it, Dr. Jones looked in horror and yelled “not yet!” as her arms lunged towards him.
Dr. Chan was confused and a little frightened before Dr. Jones immediately calmed down and apologized. She searched for the right reason and darted her eyes to the right, giving a light bite to her bottom lip. “We just want to watch the picnic play out for a minute.”
Concerned but once again politely deferential, Dr. Chan stepped back and waited. Dr. Jones had leaned over to watch the monitor with Dr. Wagner as she whispered “I can’t believe it’s going so smoothly.”
Dr. Jones walked over to the door and propped it open a bit, sticking her head out to invite Dr. Little in. “Showtime.”
Dana sat alone in the sterile room, antsy to get this over with yet savoring her final moments prior to the procedure. More than any other time she could remember. A pen was flipping through her fingers as she had quickly completed the endless stack of paperwork that now sat next to her on three separate clipboards. After recording a video, which she assumed was to remove the hospital’s liability, they told her it was for research purposes only and everything still had to be in writing. She couldn’t have flipped through and signed or initialed any faster, but every page had the same title plastered in large bold letters to ensure it was impossible to ignore: “VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA; NO PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS.”