Not Actually Very Funny At All

Terry is a Joke. And a bad one, too. But Terry is bringing home a new roll of Certs from the Kwik Shop because he is going to help Amanda find a new job. His breath must smell better than normal so that she won’t send him away when he opens his mouth.

On his way back to his apartment building, Terry passes some real people on the street. Compulsory chuckles escape this man and that woman. Real people never find him humorous, but it strikes them as impolite not to laugh at the young man’s existence.

Oh well, Terry thinks as he dips his head to accept their recognition. Continue reading

Laying Down The Law

“Come on Grandma, we’re going to be late!” Alexandra Underwood called up the stairs to Jean.

“Oh quit your fussing, there’s still an hour before the concert starts,” Jean’s disembodied voice floated down.

“Yeah an hour for you! I have to get there and get set up. This bad boy doesn’t tune itself.” She tapped on the cello case.

“Perhaps you should consider meditating to prepare?”

“Grandma, seriously!”

The phone chose this inopportune time to begin ringing.

“Of for-”

“Language!” Jean interrupted the curse as she appeared at the top of the stairs.

“Don’t answer it!” Alex grabbed the phone from the little decorative table whose only purpose seemed to be to hold Jean’s two phones and keys.

“It’s the work phone, I have to.” Jean held out her hand patiently. “They won’t stop calling.”

“Seriously?” Alex’s voice raised an octave higher.

“You know that being a Guardian for a Clan isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle.”

“Whatever.” Jean caught the phone Alexandra tossed with remarkable ease. The conversation lasted less than a minute, but it was clear that Jean was going to take the job.

“I can’t miss the concert; I’m the lead cellist.”

“You won’t miss the concert, dear. It’s a fairly routine repossession. Shouldn’t take longer than ten minutes. Besides it will be good for you to see exactly what will be expected of you if you accept Wolf Clan’s job offer.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“You always have a choice.”

“Not a good one.”

“You can always take a taxi to school, but I think this would be good for you.”

“What’s the job?” Alex couldn’t completely deny that she was curious what would really be expected of her if she should accept the offer from the strange Architect she had met last Halloween.

“A standard fifteen percent of the contract’s worth. We are responsible for making sure that only that much is removed by the Architects of Lore, and that neither party gets out of hand.” Jean explained as the got into the car.

“Okay. So why don’t their Enforcers take care of this?”

“A Guardian must always be present as a sort of neutral third party.”

“Okay… Weird but whatever. So how much are we repossessing?”

“Well the contract was for one million dollars.”

“What?!”

“Well they’ve already emptied his accounts so now we just have to make up the last seventy grand.”

“How the hell is this going to be taken care of in ten minutes?”

“Wolf Clan is sending five strong Enforcers to do the heavy lifting, and Architects tend to acquire antiques. Whether it’s through laziness or design. I seriously think you need to just relax and close your eyes-”

“Okay stop! I’m not meditating.” Alex cut Jean off before she could slip further into her yogi voice.

“Suit yourself. We’re here anyway.”

“So are we supposed to bring a weapon or anything?”

“We are our weapon.” Jean wiggled her noise in a very Bewitched kind of way.

Alexandra covered her eyes and shook her head. “Seriously, Grandma?”

“If I had a quarter for every time you said ‘seriously’ or ‘whatever’ I’d be filthy rich.”

Five men stood on the sidewalk dressed in the grey, black, and brown representing Wolf Clan’s colours. A modest house with a well-manicured yard was their background.

“I don’t know if this dude has seventy thousand to give.”

“He better,” grumbled one of the burlier Enforcers.

“What he meant to say was, ‘Hi, Jean. You’re looking lovely today. Thank you so much for coming on such short notice.’” A man of average height, weight, and looks spoke up.

“Anything for you, Steve, since you always ask so nicely. Anything we need to prepare for going in?”

“He’s a telepath, but that shouldn’t be an issue.”

“Ok good, shall we get this done before my granddaughter explodes from anxiety? We have a concert in…” Jean glanced at her watch. “Fifty minutes.”

“Already longer than the ten minutes you promised.”

They climbed three concrete stairs that led up the gently sloping lawn, while four of the guys dragged dollies noisily behind them.

Steve handed Jean a clipboard with a list on it. “Itemised inventory of his house and approximate value.”

“Good, he’s cooperating. This should be even faster,” Jean commented.

“As long as he’s not lying,” commented the grumbly man.

Steve rang the doorbell and they waited; Alexandra not so patiently.

The contract breaker opened the door, and spared them a dirty look before permitting them to enter.

“Okay the items of highest value listed are the vase and the table. Make sure they are authentic and then take them.” Steve told his crew while Jean looked through the list for their values and checked them off.

After five minutes of calling out items and authentication checks they were down to only another five thousand dollars.

“Okay, Jonathan. We’re nearly done. Thanks for your cooperation,” Steve spoke to the homeowner.

“This looks like it’s worth about five thousand.” Grumbles held up a violin case. Alexandra winced at the thought of her cello being taken from her.

“Not that,” Jonathan finally spoke his first words and Alexandra caught a whiff of energy around him.

The feeling of static crawled across her skin and made her teeth ache. “Grandma.”

“I know.” She carefully laid the clipboard down and widened her stance a little.

The Enforcers nearest to Jonathan turned their attention to the man.

“Now, Jonathan. You know we can take whatever we want.”

Jonathan’s eyes narrowed and the static feeling prickled more loudly against Alexandra’s skin.

Alexandra slowly began to pull her energy from her cells at her very extremities into her center. She couldn’t keep it there long, but she had a feeling she wouldn’t have to.

“What the hell?” Grumbles questioned suddenly and pointed a gun at one of his fellow Enforcers. Alexandra stared at him in confusion, but Jean didn’t pause as she flung a telekinetic wave at the gun.

It discharged before falling to the floor, but managed to wing the other Enforcer.

“He has telekinesis too!” Grumbles yelled adding to the cluttered questions, curses, and exclamations filling the air.

Another Enforcer drew his gun and pointed it at Steve.

“He’s in their minds!” Jean yelled.

The shout stirred Alexandra out of her stupor, but the energy she had spooled had disappeared at the shock of the situation. Jean deflected another three friendly fires in the time it took Alexandra to draw in the energy again.

“Get Jonathan! I can’t stop them from hurting each other and attack him!” Jean commanded as her jewelry tinkled madly from her wildly flinging arms.

Shit! Alexandra cursed silently as she searched the chaos of the room for the source. She used her empathy to follow the angry emanation to its source and expelled her wave of energy. As it left her body she felt the heat of fire and realised she hadn’t just sent out a wave of telekinesis.

“Shit!” The smell of burning hair and meatier things reach her nose, but the din from the chaos drastically decreased.

The contents of her stomach added to the smell as she realised the burning flesh smelled far too similar to a nice side of pork. Oh god, I think I killed him.

Alex stumbled out of the house to the front steps and stared blankly at the lovely green grass and tried not to think about what just happened. Jean eventually found her and pulled her gently to her feet just as an ambulance screeched up to the house.

“Is he…?”

“It’s touch and go, but he should live. He’ll likely be exiled for attacking Enforcers, so he might rather be dead though. How are you doing, dear?”

“Uh… Ask me tomorrow.”

“You did good work in there.”

“I didn’t mean to hit him with fire.”

“I know, dear. Separating powers will come with practice, and adrenaline makes everything harder. We still have twenty minutes to get to your concert, but we have to leave now.”

“Oh, yeah… my concert,” Alexandra mumbled.

“You’re lead cellist.”

“I can’t play like this.”

“You can and you will. You just need to-”

“Grandma! I’m not meditating.”

Jean smiled indulgently at her. “Try it. You might be surprised.”

Awkward Silences

‘I am so tired of disappointing you.”

“Why do you think that?”

“The way you look at me, I can tell.” He jingled the change in his hand. Nervous habit.

She looked at him and laughed, a forced kind of laugh. “I didn’t know you were such an expert in body language.” Then she gave him the kind of look he feared.

He debated commenting on it, but he knew the results of such chatter never turned out in his favor so he focused instead on the nickels and dimes in his hand.

A long silence followed, made awkward by the worldly silence around them. The change became an uncomfortable distraction and he slipped the coins into his pocket. He wished he would have flipped on the television before he started this chat yet again.

“Awkward.” He tried to smirk when he said it. He failed. Continue reading

The Apothecary’s Help

The human girl was getting annoying. She had been dithering in front of the stall without actually buying anything for half an hour, and I was beginning to seriously get tired of her. Collins looked even more harassed, but still managed to be polite as the girl leaned far over the counter and batted her eyes at him.

“Have you worked here long?” the girl asked, brushing her hair back and revealing a dark S shaped mark on her cheek.

Collins attempted a smile. “Yes, I’ve worked here since the shop opened,” he replied.

“Ooh.” The girl leaned closer and stage whispered, “So is he a real apothecary? You know, your boss?”

I resisted the urge to snort with derision as Collins answered her. “Yes, Ashton is a real apothecary, as you put it.”

The girl widened her eyes. “Is he scary?” Continue reading

Collections Hell

To: mathew.logan@soulnet.org
From: collections@hellnet.org

Dear Matthew Logan,

I am writing to inform you that your grace period of 15 years, as previously agreed upon by both parties, is coming to a close. On September 30, 2016 your fee of the energy from one human soul, hereafter known as your immortal soul, will be due. On or before this date, your immortal soul will be ripped from your body and transferred to the underworld for eternal storage. Please make whatever arrangements you feel are appropriate and schedule a visit with one of our many repossesion agents at your earliest convenience.

Appointments for immortal soul collection do fill up fast during this time of year, due to the many contracts signed during the early autumn months. In order to ensure a convenient time to surrender your immortal soul, we do recommend that you make an appointment as soon as possible. The process is fast and we try our best to make it as painless as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your case-demon directly at: ralachi.collections@hellnet.org

Ralachi
Fifth Level of Hell
Collections Department

#

To: collections@hellnet.org
From: mathew.logan@soulnet.org

How on Earth did you get this email? I did not and never have signed any kind of contract for my immortal soul. If this is some kind of joke, it’s not funny.

Mathew Logan Continue reading