Season 10, Week 9
calvin writing
Topic: Trolley Problem


William Chadwick hated crime scenes. He was a professor of English, not a policeman. Sure, he had consulted with the police before, but he would never get over the blood. “No one should die this way,” he thought, as he put on some forensic gloves.

“Hey, Bill,” said Detective Maria Garcia, who had called him. “The victim’s over here.”

Alex Morgan was slumped over his desk, his head, or what was left of it, resting on a keyboard. His face was twisted into a strange mixture of pain and happiness. “Not another,” said Prof. Chadwick, as he examined the scene.

“Looks like it,” sighed Det. Garcia.

“Was this an explosion wound or implosion?” Prof. Chadwick knew it would be one or the other.

“It’s consistent with an explosion,” said Dr. McMann, the coroner. “Look, the top of his head is blown off.”

“At least he died happy,” said Det. Garcia.

Prof. Chadwick knew this type of wound meant that the victim had had so many ideas in his brain that the pressure had become too much, and “Boom!”, his head had exploded. Implosions usually meant a vacuum from a complete lack of ideas causing the skull to collapse. The head could only take so much.

“Anything on the computer screen?” Prof. Chadwick knew there’d be something, mostly gibberish. For implosion cases, the screen was usually blank.

“Yeah,” said Det. Garcia, “just two words: “trolley problem.” That’s why I called you. What the hell does it mean?”

“Too much to this poor guy,” said Prof. Chadwick. “It’s just an old ethics problem. Are you sure that’s all there is? Usually there’s a lot more for explosion cases.”

“That’s it,” replied Det. Garcia. “There should be more drafts on the computer. I’ll turn it over to IT and get them to open it up. The record is 17 drafts and this guy looks good for at least 10.”

“Make sure they check for other entries,” added Prof. Chadwick. “He looks like he belonged to the Idol cult.”

“I’ll have the techs sweep his apartment,” said Det. Garcia.

“They should look for signs of dashed hopes and broken dreams,” said Prof. Chadwick before leaving. “This one was hard core. And see if there’s anything about ‘Gary.’”

The mysterious “Gary” was the head of Idol. No one had ever seen him; some said he was just an internet fiction, another urban myth. Prof. Chadwick was convinced that he actually existed. “Writing cults don’t form around an idea,” he thought.  “They need an actual leader, someone to feed them those damned prompts, to coax them along. An idea doesn’t eliminate people. It takes flesh and blood to do that.”

“I’m not sure there’s even a crime here,” said Det. Garcia. “These people do it to themselves. I’ll finish up, and call you if there’s anything more.”
* * * * * * * * *
Alex Morgan was extremely happy. He had just made it into another round. It had been a real struggle, but he’d survived to Level 50. “I’ve never been this far before,” he thought. Sure, there’d been sacrifices, big ones, but he had to keep going. It was all that mattered. “I can get another job later,” he thought.

Then there were the Levels of Enlightenment. Alex had read that after Level 25, some people had visions of Gary, and if he could just make it to the Top 10, he would achieve Real Creativity. “If I win,” he thought, “I’ll appear in the Column of LJ Idols.”

Alex had to be the best, it was all that mattered now. Everything else was falling away, including his job, and possibly his family. It had been pretty quiet recently. He had devoted his very being to writing for Idol. All that was left was his cat, and she had one paw out the door.

Alex sat by his computer waiting impatiently for new messages from Gary. They always came after the poll results: Work Room and the all-important Topic, with its deadline. Dead Chinese take-out boxes littered the floor. Alex needed a shower and a shave, and his old blue bathrobe was taking on a gray tinge.

“It doesn’t matter,” Alex thought, “there’s no one here to see me.” He had just finished the marathon of reading and commenting on other entries. “So many – but not as many as before.”

“Let’s get you some food, kitty!” he said to the cat, who wanted to be fed again. Kitty had a real name, but Alex couldn’t remember it in his excitement. “The topic’s posted!”

“Trolley Problem” would rule Alex’s life for the next five days.

“Plenty of time to write,” he thought. Deadlines had always been a problem for Alex. He kept revising his entries, wanting to make them better. Poems, journal-style entries, fiction – he had tried them all.

After Googling the entry, Alex decided to sleep on it and get a fresh start. This was a fun topic, and he knew the competition would be fierce.

Early next morning, Alex drank several cups of coffee and ate a few bowls of Cap’n Crunch, then skipped his shower again and sat down to write. He immediately had an idea, which was usually a problem for him. “I’ll write something romantic, a couple finding true love on a cable car in San Francisco.” A love story was sure to be popular.

Alex started: “The lonely cable car climbed the steep hill into the cold fog. ‘It’s empty, like my life,’ thought [protagonist].”

He got up to take a break, feed the cat, and get some more coffee.

Back at the computer, Alex wanted to think about the rest of his story, but his brain was moving on.

“I have a new idea,” he said to the cat. “It’s even better – it’s about a kid who solves a famous math problem someone spray-painted on the side of a cable car, winning fame and fortune.”

Alex started his new story. His fingers flew across the keyboard for a few minutes, until he got to the part where he actually needed to know some math. “Time for a coffee break,” he thought, “and some internet research.”

Five hours and many distractions later, Alex had something different. “I’ve got a lot of good ideas,” he thought. “I could go meta and have the ideas be armies fighting in my head until one wins. I’ll stick a trolley in a battle scene.” He noticed he was getting a headache.

Over the next few days, Alex started a story, worked on it gleefully, then abandoned it in favor of a better one. His headache kept getting worse. “I’ve been living on coffee and cereal,” he thought, “but I’ve never written like this before!” If Alex had bothered to look in a mirror, he would have noticed a little trickle of blood from his ears.

Time was running out, and he needed an entry. He had all those fantastic ideas. Why not just pick one and force his way through it? He didn't have to be a genius, just a bulldozer.

Alex’s eyesight was getting a little blurry. He needed some sleep, and he had to do something about his headache. When he went to the bathroom to get some aspirin, he noticed that his ears, nose, and eyes were bleeding. “I’ll see a doctor after I’m done,” he thought.

Back at his computer, Alex had an epiphany – the best idea yet! A story about a psychiatrist who listens to the problems of talking trolley cars. “It’s perfect!”

With that last burst of genius, Alex’s head exploded. It could not take it anymore. He felt no pain, just an instant of relief, and then he slumped over his computer.

A neighbor called the police after a few days when Alex’s mail began piling up.
* * * * * * * * * *
Following his consultation in the Morgan case, Prof. Chadwick waited to hear from Det. Garcia. Finally, a notice from the coroner arrived, with a ruling of natural causes. “Hhmph,” thought the professor, “there’s nothing natural about this Idol cult. Someone’s got to do something.”

But then Prof. Chadwick made a tragic mistake -- he found Idol online. “Hey,” he thought, “a new season’s starting! I can pretend to write entries and report to Detective Garcia.”

After signing up, he read the prompt. “I like that topic. I have a great idea for a story!”

And so it began, another newbie consumed by Idol.

Det. Garcia hadn’t heard from Prof. Chadwick for a few months, so it was a sad day when she was called to his apartment and found him sitting before his computer, with his head imploded, the cursor blinking on an empty screen.

The cult had claimed its latest victim. “When will it end?” thought Detective Garcia – never, she feared, as she left for another case.

* * * * * *
A big thank you to halfshellvenus for beta reading this entry.

Season 10, Week 8: "Silence"
calvin writing
Topic: “No Comment”

Silence is easily mistaken for wisdom, and Paul Tilson sorely needed to appear wise.  Embroiled in yet another pointless fight with his wife over who knew what, he was about to say something that he would regret, especially during the divorce proceedings which would surely follow.  His stupid mouth, far from being shut as ordered by his wife, was about to open wide.  Two lives hung in the balance.

There was a barely perceptible burst of light over Paul’s shoulder.  Unnoticed by either combatant, a tiny creature appeared, disheveled and out of breath.  “Just in time,” thought Arabella, as she waved her little wand and sprinkled some glitter, with a barely audible burst of music.  Paul stopped before another word escaped, stifling his bitter reply.

Surprised by the silence, Patricia paused her endless dissection of her husband’s faults and just stood there.  The room was utterly quiet, when Paul, to his own, and certainly his wife’s, surprise, took her in his arms and kissed her.  Patricia responded with a heartfelt slap to the face.

“Nothing can save them, but he would have made it much worse," thought Arabella.  "I don’t know why we have to use these props, but I love that music.”

Arabella was tired.  It had been a difficult shift, including a failed attempt to quiet a politician.  The Boss isn’t going to like that, but she needs to authorize stronger spells for them.  Nothing works.

She didn’t like to complain, but it had been that kind of day.  I need a break. Central Services replied immediately through its mental link: “Five minutes only.  Next assignment urgent.”

Arabella quickly checked her hair, a simple pixie cut, and adjusted her dress, a shimmering blue gown with an open back for her wings.  Classic Ralph Lauren, but I miss the leaves and twigs. Satisfied, Arabella popped off to her next job.

I wish I were a Happiness Fairy.  Working on these Silence Fairy assignments is brutal – so much negative energy!

Arabella’s unhealthy thoughts were logged by Central Services, to be discussed at her Review.

Arabella loved her next job.  She appeared over a colicky newborn in a crib.  Wand, glitter, music, silence, and then two frustrated parents kissed over one happy child.

Such a cute, fluffy baby! Before joining the Boss, Arabella had spent a lot of time with babies, blessing them, fending off evil curses, and just generally enjoying them.  Such blissful innocence! Naturally, they were a little noisy, but Arabella loved it all.

Now it was her job to quiet them for money.  The parents had paid the Boss, but what she had done with the money, Arabella didn’t know.  She didn’t want to think about it anymore, not after that one Review.  She had to hurry back to HQ.

Headquarters was the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, fairy central for the Western Region.  There were regional headquarters all over the world, each hidden in castles at various Disneyworlds.  At the top of it all was the Boss, Tinkerbell, aided by her assistant, Peter Pan, head of Central Services, which handled all the administrative matters.

The original Boss had been Walt Disney.  He had built a haven for fairies threatened by the loss of their forests.  Back then, all the fairies had watched his television show and had fallen in love with Uncle Walt, who was so kind and trustworthy.  Tinkerbell had been his ambassador, urging the fairies to move to Disneyland.  It had been an easy sell.

But things had changed after Uncle Walt had died.  There had been a power struggle, and Tinkerbell (“Don’t call me Tink!”) had taken over the Fairy Division.  Tinkerbell had big plans.  “I want to grow the Disney Fairy brand,” she had said.  “You’re either with me or against me, and trust me, you do not want to be against me!”

Tinkerbell had refused to explain the role of the fairies in her plans, other than to tell them that every individual unit had to be productive.  All the fairies had quickly fallen in line -- Peter Pan had seen to that.  After all, what had been the alternative?

Now all the fairies reported to Central Services, which housed them, fed them, and protected them.  This was not cheap, as Pan constantly reminded them, and the fairies had to make a profit.  No matter how hard they worked, somehow it was never quite enough.

Back at HQ, Arabella headed to the cafeteria, where she noticed her twin brother, Aelfdane, sitting alone in the corner.  No wonder.  He’s wearing his black leather jacket and sunglasses again.

Ever since Alf had been transferred to the Omertà Group, he’d stopped wearing his green uniform.  Now, he could wear whatever he wanted.

No one was allowed to discuss the Omertà Group.  Officially, it didn’t exist.  It was part of the dark side of Tinkerbell’s empire, and its members reported only to her.  One night, after too much nectar, Alf had confided in Arabella that he was a Silencer.  You didn’t want a witness to testify?  Tinkerbell would send a Silencer.  Someone snitching to the cops?  Alf would take care of it.

Arabella bought an overpriced mixed flowers salad and a Sprite, then went over to her brother.  He casually kicked a chair out for her to sit on.  A real knight in shining armor.

“How’s life, tough guy?”

Alf didn’t respond, so she tried again.  More silence.  Finally, he mumbled “I just got another mission.”  Arabella understood -- this was all she was going to get out of him.  It must be a bad one – it’s destroying him.

How could this all have gone so wrong? Uncle Walt meant well, but how did Tinkerbell become like this? She can’t be a bad fairy, can she?

Alf removed his dark glasses, and Arabella could see that he had been crying.

“Arabella,” he said, “my mission is you.  Tinkerbell wants me to silence you!”

Arabella couldn’t believe it.  “But why?  I’ve always been a good fairy!”

“She wants to make an example of you – you have too many unhealthy thoughts, like wondering about the money.”  Alf hung his head.

“Shh!  Think about something else!  C.S. is monitoring us.”  Like all fairies, Arabella was scared of Peter Pan and Central Services.

“They only make logs of our bad thoughts,” said Alf. “It takes days for Pan to read them.  He’s always behind, off playing somewhere instead of working.  Tinkerbell hates it, but he’ll never change.”

“What can we do?  We’re just woodland fairies.  Tinkerbell’s too powerful!”

“She’s just a fairy, too.”  Alf lowered his voice.  “I learned about her weakness in Omertà, but we’re going to need all the Silence Fairies and we’re going to have to act tonight.  Tinkerbell’s leaving tomorrow.”

“But I don’t know about Daffodil and the others . . . .”

“They’ll follow you,” said Alf.  “They all hate Tinkerbell. But you have to work fast – I need you outside the Castle when Tinkerbell flies around Fantasyland tonight.”

Alf was right.  The Silence Fairies were frightened, but it didn’t take much to convince them to help once they heard about Alf’s assignment.  It was easy to scare fairies, but once they found their courage, no one was braver.  Arabella knew they’d be ready.  But after they did their part, it all depended on Alf.  Could he do it?

The conspirators waited in their rooms, carefully controlling their thoughts, just in case.  Finally, at 7:30, they slipped out, one by one, hiding around Fantasyland, with Alf in the middle.  No one noticed their little balls of light flitting about.

They were ready.  Tinkerbell always made a daily flight above the crowd.  Grown-ups thought it was someone on a wire, but the little children knew better.

The fireworks and music started, and everyone looked up.  Tinkerbell took off from the tower, smiling down at the crowd, taking it all in, the upturned faces and camera flashes.  Most of all, it was the cheers, the cries of excitement from the children: “There she is!  I see her!  It’s Tinkerbell!”

Then suddenly it happened – the crowd went silent.  Not just a little quieter, but the perfect quiet of a fairy spell.  Arabella and the others had cast their magic over the whole crowd.  Not even a baby could cry.

People looked around in amazement.  Tinkerbell’s light started to dim, then flicker.  She tried to break the spell, but she could not defeat them all.

Tinkerbell knew what was happening, and for the second time in her life she was afraid.

Once, long ago, Captain Hook had poisoned Peter Pan’s medicine.  To save him, Tinkerbell had swallowed it herself, but it had been poisonous to her too and it had started to kill her.  She had been saved only by the little children who had believed in her and their cheers: “I love you!  Don’t die!  Stay with us!”

Tinkerbell had barely survived, but she had vowed never to be that weak again.  A newer, stronger, more dangerous Tinkerbell had been born.

Unfortunately, some of the poison remained in her permanently.  Every day, she needed those cheers again -- her daily flights weren’t just for the spectacle. Without them, she would die.

As her light dimmed, Tinkerbell dropped lower and lower, down to where Alf was waiting.  When she finally hit the ground, he cast his most powerful spell, the one only the Omertà knew, taught to them by Tinkerbell herself.  Tinkerbell’s light went out, never to reappear.

Alf had done what he had to, but it had cost him. He would never be the same fairy again.

With Tinkerbell gone, Disneycorp disbanded the Fairy Division.  Peter Pan was given a lifetime pass to all the Disneyworlds, and he left office work forever, spending his time enjoying the rides and posing for pictures instead.

Arabella, Alf, and the other fairies were relocated to an undisclosed forest.    Alf patrolled it, ensuring the safety of the fairies, who went about their fairy business undisturbed.  Arabella still visited babies, who were allowed to cry but usually stopped in fascination upon seeing her.

All of the forest's surrounding villages were known thereafter for the health and happiness of their noisy children.

* * * * * * * * * *
Thank you once again to halfshellvenus for beta reading this.

Season 10, Week 7: Quantum Life
calvin writing
Topic: "Where I'm From"

An Explanation.  The physics in this story is obviously more imaginative than actual, but since it's my story, I get to decide on the science.  Think of it as "based upon" science, and ignore the massive errors.  If you do know the physics involved, you can feel superior, which is not a bad thing if you don't get carried away with it.  Teenson says he understands it, but I don't believe him.  I did not let him check my science, because the less superior he feels right now, the better.  It's a character issue.


Paul Kransky deserved either a Nobel Prize or a dunce cap for the events on August 12, 2012.  He was a professor of physics at UCLA and he fancied himself an inspiring teacher.  He was famous for his annual lecture on black holes, which he gave while wearing a black leotard.  This always generated a flurry of tweets.

To celebrate the 125th birthday of the famous physicist Erwin Schroedinger, Prof. Kransky planned to enact the famous "Schroedinger's Cat" thought experiment, with an important twist.

In 1935, Prof. Schroedinger had wanted to illustrate a paradox when quantum physics was applied to ordinary life.  Because the quantum state of a particle depended on whether it was observed or not, Schroedinger had proposed locking a cat in a box with some radioactive material.  The cat's life or death depended on whether the material emitted certain particles or not.

To an outside observer, the fate of the cat was unknown because the state of the radioactive material was unknown, and thus, the poor cat remained both alive and dead until the box was opened and the state of the radioactive material was known, which also determined the fate of the cat.

While Schroedinger had the good sense not to do this to a cat, Kransky decided to try it on himself in honor of the great man.

"Good morning, class," Prof. Kransky began on that fateful day.  "Today I'm going to illustrate the Schroedinger's Cat paradox by putting myself in this large pine box with a small quantity of radioactive material.  You won't know whether I'm alive or dead until the box is opened."  Dr. Stephanie Carson, his graduate assistant, could be seen off to one side, holding her head in awe of her boss's brilliance.

Dr. Carson, her cheeks red with excitement, helped Prof. Kransky into the box, then she put in the radioactive isotope and shut the top.  After a few minutes, Dr. Carson asked the class to vote on whether Prof. Kransky was alive.  The class, applying their understanding of quantum physics, voted unanimously that he was dead. 

Dr. Carson opened the box to determine Prof. Kransky's quantum fate.

Quantum State A?


Quantum State B?

Quantum Life: The Quantum State
calvin writing
Prof. Kransky had disappeared.

Unaware that the class had determined that he was dead, Kransky, not surprisingly, viewed himself as alive.  As a result of the paradox, he wasn't in the classroom anymore. He wasn't not in the classroom, either. In fact, it had become impossible to pin down his exact location. 

Kransky had entered a state of simultaneous existence/non-existence, previously unknown to scientists.

"It's just a stupid magic trick!" yelled a student in the front row.  The other students were too busy with their phones to notice anything, although later the twitterverse, which was not affected by quantum principles, was full of praise for the novel lecturing technique.

Dr. Carson had no idea what had just happened.  All she knew was that she saw a glimmer in the box, which quickly vanished, so she texted everyone to go home until Kransky returned.

Kransky never returned, at least not in his original state.  "What just happened?" he thought.  "One minute, I'm in a dark box, and the next . . . I don't know."

He climbed out of the box, but the classroom was empty.  This, by itself, did not bother him, since the students frequently left early for emergencies.  Kransky did notice that colors had become more vibrant and that everything had a slight sheen.  There was also the problem with his body.  It kept blinking in and out of existence.  "I'll need to get that looked at," he thought, but he wasn't particularly worried.  That was the other thing Kransky noticed -- he wasn't particularly anything.

"I need to find Stephanie, she'll know what's going on," he thought.  Stephanie was almost as brilliant as he was, and under his tutelage she was sure to have a great career.  "She just needs to do something about those eyes," he thought.  Lately, Kransky noticed that her eyes had started to roll involuntarily during his lectures.

Kransky's first steps changed his plans.  He stumbled, and fell through the chairs.  "That's odd," he thought, as he picked himself out of the students' seats.  He had an idea.  Rather than open the classroom doors, he successfully tried passing through them.  "Neat!" thought Kransky.  "But that's not normal.  It usually hurts when I walk into them."

Kransky held his hand in front of his face.  "It still has that funny glow."  The building's outside walls were made of reflecting glass, and he could see the nearby trees, buildings and students, but not himself, at least not consistently.  Sometimes he was there, sometimes not, but nobody else seemed to see him.  One of the students walked right through him, which was an interesting experience.

His training as a physicist finally kicked in.  "I must be in some kind of altered state."  That seemed like a fun idea, for a moment.  "If I can walk through solid matter, then what's holding me up?"

That was Kransky's mistake. With this realization, he plunged through the sidewalk, and then the ground underneath.  He passed through the layered structure of the Earth, at first getting hotter as he zoomed through the crust, then the mantle and the core, going faster and faster.  He passed right through the solid inner core, and began his experience in reverse, cooling down and then gradually slowing until he emerged on the opposite side of the Earth.

"I always wondered about that," Kransky thought, who was known for his original ideas.  He had stacks of unpublished papers on his desk rejected by backward-thinking journals, whose editors were too limited in their scope to appreciate the genius of his mind.

His second thought was to notice that he was floating on his head in the middle of an ocean.  "Where am I?" thought Kransky, not unreasonably.  Were he not geographically impaired, Kransky would have known that the Indian Ocean is on the other side of the Earth from UCLA. 

"Thank god for gravity!" Kransky said to a passing shark, which fortunately wasn't interested in eating a glimmer today.  With the realization that the only force acting on him was gravity, he ping-ponged several times between California and the Indian Ocean before he managed to get himself under control and stop back at UCLA.

During his trips through the earth, Kransky managed, finally, to solve the puzzle of his existence.  "I'm an angel," he thought.  "I must have died in that box."  Kransky's particles immediately rearranged themselves to include wings, but no halo.

Kransky flew around for a while, seeing Los Angeles from the air, which did not excite him.  He wondered when he would actually see Heaven, because he was getting bored and hungry.  "I didn't know angels got hungry," he thought.  Regrettably, this was to lead to his downfall.

Kransky did not truly comprehend the possibilities of his quantum state.  The only force acting on his particles was gravity, and the only constraint was his imagination.  He could have been anywhere, instantaneously, and in any form.  The universe was his playground and time was meaningless.  As a physicist, he could have solved the problems of dark energy or been part of the creation of the universe.

Because Kransky had not thought of any of this, he was controlled by his immediate thoughts, erratic though they were.  Deciding that he needed food, Kransky became food.  He turned into a club sandwich while flying over the Pacific Ocean and fell from the sky.

Not only does a sandwich lack wings, it lacks imagination or any kind of thought.  There was no way out of this particular existence.  At that moment, Paul Kransky's quantum state was permanently fixed and he ceased to exist except as bacon, turkey and bread, which fell to the sea floor and eventually disintegrated, returning his physical matter to the universe.

Professor Kransky's unfortunate experiment was not without consequences to others. 

Stephanie Carson knew that there had been no magic trick, because Kransky was incapable of pulling one off.  The sight of the glimmer when she opened the box intrigued her, and as a scientist, she had to determine what had happened that day.  Her search for answers was the start of a magnificent career.

Quantum State B


The conclusion...

Quantum Life: A Physical State
calvin writing
Professor Kransky's quantum state was, unfortunately, death. 

While it was unusual for such a tiny amount of radiation to kill anyone, it was not impossible.  Paul Kransky left behind no family or friends, but his death had a profound effect on Stephanie Carson.

"I don't have to work for that idiot anymore!"  She was ashamed that this was her first thought after Kransky's death was confirmed, but only a little.  Dr. Carson was brilliant, with a creative and curious mind, but she had been forced to work with Kransky as a condition of her grant.

Despite the coroner's ruling that Kransky's death was a freak accident, Dr. Carson wanted to find out if there were any contributing factors from his experiment.

Her research took several years as she extended the limits of quantum physics.  Many published articles later, Dr. Carson determined that when Professor Kransky made himself part of Schroedinger's paradox, he put himself at the mercy of quantum physics and he allowed his fate to be determined by his students, who had voted him to death.  This later became known as the Carson Effect in her honor and cemented her position as one of the giants of theoretical physics.

Quantum State A


The conclusion...

Quantum Life: Conclusion
calvin writing
Her investigation into quantum states eventually led Dr. Carson to solve the mysteries of dark energy and string theory, for which she was subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.

Dr. Carson never followed Kransky's example of reenacting the Schroedinger's Cat experiment, for fear of bringing him back, nor did she ever wear a black leotard while lecturing on black holes, despite the requests of many students. 

She was quite content to put a theoretical cat into a theoretical box when teaching her classes, and her students were equally content to look at their cell phones. 

If Professor Kransky contributed anything to science, it was to show that real life and quantum physics should never be mixed.

Return to the main story to try the other quantum state.

A big thank you to halfshellvenus as my in-house IT department and beta reader.

Season 10, Week 6
calvin writing
Topic: Heel Turn


I know, I know -- why should you listen to me? Yeah, it's just Harry the Heel talking, the last slice at the bottom of the bag, all stale and ugly. The others didn't listen to Harry either, and look what happened to them -- they were eaten. So wise up and pay attention, because you won't hear this any place else, and I haven't got much time.

I may not look like much compared to those oh-so-perfect slices ahead of me. Hell, I probably don't taste like much, either. Most of me is crust -- the stuff kids have their mommies cut off their sandwiches. You'd do it too, except that you don't want to look like your mom made your lunch. Go ahead, give in to your inner child -- see if I care.

Ever see those movies where the prisoner gets fed a cup of slop and a crust of bread? My friend Hana the Heel was in a couple of those, and she tried to get me some work, but I couldn't get out of the bag. Hana's lucky -- she's a top heel. Me, I'm a bottom heel and I'm stuck with all 25 pieces of bread sitting on top of me. It makes conversation a little difficult, and let me tell you, Slice #25 is smelling a little moldy right about now. Ever try talking with your face shoved up against someone's . . . well, you get the picture.

You probably didn't know that only heels have names. Slices just get numbers -- I mean, they're all the same, so why bother? Heels, we're different. Some are big, some are thin, it all depends on how the loaf was cut, so we get names. Besides, there's only two heels in a loaf, so were special. That's right, special, so shut up about it!

I'm a commercial loaf, all nice and processed, and proud of it. So what? You think the heel at the bottom of one of those hoity toity boutique loaves is any nicer? Yeah, the wheat may be whole, but those guys have to put up with all those seeds mixed in, and brother, that chafes! That's why you find so many #@!% crumbs at the bottom of their bags.

I heard that those seeds and crap get stuck in your teeth. Considering that you eat us, I can't get too worked up over it. Just grab a toothpick and shut up about it. It's the last chance any of us get to stick it to the Mouth.

I'm lucky if I get stuffed inside some poor turkey. By the time you get to me, you just want to throw me out and start a fresh loaf. See if I care.

And if I'm really lucky, I'll get made into that last piece of french toast, drowned in egg and milk and cooked over a hot gridle until I'm turned over, because burning me on one side just isn't enough, is it? Even with syrup and butter, I'm still the one nobody wants and I usually get fed to the dog. "Anybody want the last piece? It's a heel. No?" And over to the dog I go.

If you think about it, the garbage is still better than getting eaten. Sure, I get mixed in with old coffee grounds and yesterday's fish, but no one's chewing on me. When Slice #4 gets swallowed, you know where she ends up. I'll take banana peels over digestion any day.

Once in a while some weirdo actually likes crust, someone who can appreciate my extra taste of preservatives with a little toughness thrown in. Stick some salami and mustard between two crusts, and these guys think I'm tasty! Go figure.

It's those chemicals that help give me that long shelf life. Sure, most of me ain't exactly found in nature, but you gotta be tough to survive as a heel.

Those regular slices have it made. They hang out together, sharing their hopes and dreams. "I hope I get taken to school!" "I want to go to work." Blah blah blah. It's all the same, glamorous travel and exciting fillings -- "I hear prosciutto with pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella is good." But in the end it's all the same: paper bags and plastic wrap. Hell, most of them are headed for peanut butter and jelly with little Timmy.

Me? I'm lucky if I get leftover tuna salad and then tossed in the garbage when my Mouth decides to go out to lunch with that cute guy over in Accounting. That's a good end for a heel -- mostly its just into the garbage can under the kitchen sink. No travel, no filling, not even a thought about eating us. It's lonely here at the bottom.

Talk around the bread aisle is that some of the sandwiches get forgotten in the office fridge, and they party hard with the tuna and mayo. By the time the Mouth remembers, they're so wasted they stink up the joint, and then it's down the garbage disposal they go. Ground to death with all the other food -- still, it's got to be better than the stomache acid and intestines. What goes in must come out, you understand me? Those silly slices never talk about that.

I do have it better than the others in one way, and it's a big one. No crustectomies. You can't cut the crust off a heel. Those poor suckers -- that's got to hurt like hell, and before they know it, bam!, the Slice. Yep, they get cut in half. Still feel better than me? The fancy ones get that diagonal cut, but a knife's still a knife.

And what about those pannini presses? Squashed, toasted, and branded! Makes me almost feel sorry for them -- almost. Word around the condiments is that some Mouths are even doing that to PB&J. Compared to that, the trash looks pretty good.

Can you imagine what it's like for little Aiden at school when he unwraps that organic pancetta pannini in front of the guys with their Wonder Bread bologna sandwiches? Aiden will be giving those homemade oatmeal cookies to Ralph and Mikey pretty quick, that's what. They'll make him eat those zucchini slices to help you with your nutrition program, but he may wind up wearing his milk.

Grownups just don't understand these things. I do, and I'm only a piece of bread. I don't even have a brain and I get it!

Look, you may not like me much, but it's not my fault. I was baked this way. I come from an industrial bakery, and hundreds of thousands of heels just like me are made every day.

I started out just like the others -- yeast, flour, salt, and preservatives all mixed together in a big steel vat. Then we get sent down chutes, cut into loaves and baked in ovens. When we come out, they stuff us in plastic bags and drive us to who knows where, all so you can eat us.

If that doesn't make your crust bitter, nothing will. And at the bottom of all that is me. So you can see why I might gripe a little now and then.

Those early times in the vat were the best. No heels, no slices, everyone mixed together as dough. If you listened real close, you could hear Kumbaya now and then. That didn't last long. Paradise never does.

I'm from a bottom shelf loaf, the bread that you actually feed your families. That craft bakery stuff is too expensive, and frankly, the slices are just plain weak. Of course, there are some scarier loaves, like Dave's Killer Bread, made by an ex-con. No one messes with them, and those heels are the worst of the lot.

My time here is getting close to the end. There are only three slices of bread left in my bag, so who do you think makes it into the sandwich? If I'm lucky, I'll get to spend a few more days in the cupboard because you'll wait for somebody else to eat me while you start the next loaf. I won't have anyone to talk to and I'll get stale, and finally someone'll have the guts you didn't and just throw me out.

But that next loaf of bread will have a heel just like me -- and the next, and the one after that. You can't get rid of us. Bread may be the staff of life, but not heels. We're the staff of nothing.

Just remember us when you grab those other slices. Without us, there'd be no loaves and you'd be stuck eating those funny-looking round breads. Try making a sandwich out of them!

You need us, so treat us with a little respect. Next time, don't throw the heel out. Tear us up and feed us to the birds or use us in a meat loaf.

We deserve better than the garbage can.


"Dave's Killer Organic Bread" actually exists. Dave spent 15 years in prison, and after his release, his brother welcomed him back to the family bakery. One third of of their employees have criminal records. It says so right on the bag.

Thank you to halfshellvenus for beta reading this.

Year 10, Week 5
calvin writing
Topic: Fear Is the Heart Of Love


Stan was bored again – he needed a case. He saw a lonely glass of Scotch, just sitting on the bar next to the peanuts, and remembered the time the blonde had told him that she knew she was in love when the songs made sense, but that no matter what, she would never understand “I Am the Walrus.” She had wondered if being afraid of losing someone meant you were in love.

For Stan, love was just another four letter word.

Waiting for a case was hard, but waiting in a good bar made it a little easier. The Hideaway was not a good bar, but he knew the owner. That was who had married the blonde.

That was the past. The future arrived when the barroom door opened and everyone looked up, including Stan. The redhead was that kind of woman, even carrying all those bags. As luck would have it, she was headed his way.

“I can’t find my daughter’s teddy bear, and I heard you were the kid to see,” she said, putting down the diaper bag, her purse, and the baby carrier.

Before he could answer, Burt, the owner, came up to them.

“Stan,” his father said, “how many times have I told you, you can’t hang out here. I could lose my license. How are you, Mrs. Schmidt? How’s the baby? Tell Jim we missed him last night. It was karaoke.”

Stan’s face turned red. “Let’s go to my office,” he said.

“If you mean your bedroom, it's off-limits to visitors unless you picked it up like your mom told you,” said his father.

“Better take her to the Carlton until the cleaning service does its job,” thought Stan. “The office looks like I live there.”

Carlton Park was just a block away, and as playgrounds went, it was pretty classy.

I could use a new client; business has been slow since the Case of the Missing Blankie.

They sat on the bench near the swing set. It was warm and the baby was happy.

“First, there’s my fee. I charge $5.00 per item – no recovery, no charge.” Stan knew it was a lot to charge for a lost teddy bear, but he was a professional.

“Ok,” said Mrs. Schmidt, “Susie’s going crazy without it. It’s been missing two days.”

“Do you have a recent picture of the victim?” Stan asked.

Mrs. Schmidt was ready with one. She looked like a mom who was always ready, maybe too ready.

The picture showed a brown teddy bear, about 14” tall, well-nourished, wearing green velvet jumpers and a red elf hat. This was no ordinary animal; it was clearly a custom job.

“This is a Build-A-Bear, model 34A, with optional blue eyes,” said Stan, who knew his bears. It looked about a year old, clean and well-loved. “Name?”

“Susie calls her Mrs. Bear Bear, or sometimes just Beary,” responded Mrs. Schmidt, her voice catching slightly.

So the kid wasn’t original.

“Where was the bear last seen?” This was important, but it was never where the item was found. That would be too easy, and easy didn’t get paid.

“It was on Susie’s bed, with her other animals.”

If Susie’s bedroom was anything like Stan’s office, it’d be a real jungle.

“Any other kids in the house?”

“There’s Eddie – he’s 12 and in the sixth grade,” said Mrs. Schmidt.

Everyone knew Eddie, especially the hall monitors. Eddie was big for his age, he’d been held back a year, and he was nothing but trouble. Big trouble.

Stan spent the next half hour getting information, and then he went back to his office to pack his action bag, including some weapons. This one could get ugly.

In a case like this, Stan knew there were usually four solutions: house, car, yard, or, god forbid, dog. The family dog was a kitten named Cribbage, so mutilation and burial were out. Stan hated the sick cases.

The Schmidt family car was a Volvo sedan. Stan preferred to roll with a red Schwinn, a little worse for wear, but it still had plenty of gears. A detailed search of the car was negative.

The yard was small and well-kept, with no signs of Mrs. Bear Bear.

The Schmidt's house took time – too much, for Stan’s schedule. He had a date with the blonde and a plate of meat loaf with mashed potatoes coming up. He was really looking forward to that meat loaf.

Stan’s search was thorough – nothing under the sofa, behind the drapes, in the dryer, or any of the dozens of places a bear might like to hide. The most important room was next – Susie’s bedroom.

Susie lives in a dream – a canopy bed, pink walls, and lots of animals. There was a small auxiliary bear, a unicorn, a family of penguins, and plenty of other friends. Someone loved this little girl.

Stan searched the room from top to bottom and back again, including the closet and hamper. Nothing was out of place. There was nothing of interest, either, except one small clue that an untrained observer would have missed.

It was there, next to the bed – a partial footprint, not important to most people, but Stan was different. It contained dust from playground bark, and not just any bark. It was new, which meant it was from the big kids’ playground at school. The little kids still had the old stuff. I guess they just don’t matter as much.

It was a size 11 Air Jordan, and that spelled trouble. Only one kid had feet that big – Susie’s brother, Eddie.

Eddie wasn’t home, so Stan started searching his room. It was a mess. The bed wasn’t made, dirty clothes were on the floor, nothing was put away, and it smelled of cheap body wash and deodorant. Tragic. Maybe the blonde's right about cleaning my office.

Stan found Eddie’s weapons in the closet -- he had a light saber and a rack of Nerf guns. He could see the Rhino-Fire Blaster, a MEGA Mastodon Blaster, two Accublasters, and a couple of empty spaces for who knew what. Those were some serious birthday presents. Stan was definitely outgunned.

Suddenly, he heard the whine of a small motor, and darts began flying at him! A Terrascout Remote Control Drone Blaster was rolling his way, cannon blasting.

Eddie was in the house, but he was using the remote control and couldn’t see Stan, who grabbed the light saber and knocked the drone over. Lots of firepower, but no balance.

Stan grabbed a couple of Eddie’s guns. He had to get to his backpack in Susie’s room.

He could hear Eddie coming down the hall. Stan fired blindly out the door, rolled on the floor, ran into Susie’s room and grabbed his pack.

“What’re you doing in my room?” yelled Eddie. “You’re that weird kid from the fourth grade! Get out of my house!”

“I just want the bear,” said Stan, “turn it over and no one gets hurt.”

“You’re dead meat,” yelled Eddie, and he meant it. Stan was starting to worry -- he had his secret weapon, but he could only use it outdoors. The blonde and her stupid rules!

There was only one way out, and that was through the door. Eddie had it covered by now, so Stan fired a hail of darts down the hall, and ran for it. He took a few hits, but nothing the doc couldn't fix.

Stan made it into the back yard with his backpack and hid behind a bush next to the door. He grabbed his special weapon and held it steady -- he had only one chance.

Eddie burst through the door, not even bothering to fire any covering shots. Stan stood up and threw the water balloon, drenching Eddie.

“You little jerk!" yelled Eddie. “Aaargh! What’s that smell? I think I’m going to puke! What did you do to me?”

“It’s just a little stink bomb I made with my chemistry set,” said Stan. “I call it the Stinkanator. You can’t wash it out, and it lasts for a week.

“Here’s what’s going to happen.” Stan took a small bottle out of his backpack. “This is an antidote. Wash with it, and you can go back to your normal stink -- but to get it, I want the bear.”

Eddie knew when he was beat. “It’s up in the attic, in a crawl space. Gimme the bottle!”

Once Stan had Mrs. Bear Bear, he gave Eddie the antidote and promised not to tell anyone at school about it.

In the end, it was just a case of sibling rivalry, with a side order of jealousy. “They love that little princess more than me,” Eddie complained later. Stan didn’t care -- he’d seen it before, and Mrs. Schmidt was going to have to sort that problem out on her own. It’s not my job; I’m just a private eye with a nose for trouble.

Stan got his $5.00 plus a $2.00 tip. Mrs. Schmidt had a lot of class for a mom.

Back at the Hideaway, the blonde would be waiting with that meatloaf, and if he were lucky, she had held the peas.

Maybe there’ll be cookies, too.

It had been a good day and another case for the books, for the world’s only teddy bear detective.


A big thank-you to halfshellvenus for beta-reading this.

Season 10, Week 4
calvin writing
Topic: “I don't skate to where the puck is. I skate to where the puck is going to be.”


It was a beautiful day in the park.  Families were having picnics, lovers were strolling hand in hand, and runners were almost enjoying running.   But then there was Handihr.  Handihr was roller skating as fast as he could, which was actually rather slow, and brushing into as many people as possible.   Since he was squat, with a hard, knobby skin and a tail, he was especially irritating, which was the whole idea.

The object was to touch as many people as possible without knocking them over.  “Go troll go!” his friends would shout.  The game made the victims angry, which made Handihr feel bad, but not bad enough to stop.  He was a teenage troll, after all.

This Saturday, Handihr was on a mission, actually three missions, but they were closely related.  Handihr needed to get away from his parents, seriously avoid his homework, and find Puck, his elf friend, who would help with the first two.

“Where’s Puck?” thought Handihr.  “I heard he might hang out here today.  He’s been so busy!”

Handihr had already skated by the fountain, the food trucks, and the swimming pool (where the girls sunned themselves, so he'd taken some extra time looking there).

“Maybe Puck changed plans,” Handihr thought.

People thought their friendship was odd, but Handihr and Puck had grown up together, and even though he was a troll while Puck was an elf, it had worked for them, even now, in high school.

Puck – tall and fast -- played basketball, while Handihr used his powerful body on the offensive line of the school’s football team.  Puck was going to be a success, you could tell just by looking at him, but Handihr was going to blunder through life, slamming doors and banging into things.

“Maybe Puck’s working out at the gym,” Handihr thought with a little jealousy.  The Alta Mira was new, and really nice.  “I wish I could just call him.”

Handihr’s parents had taken away his phone after that last report card.  “I guess I’ll have to skate over there.”

Handihr’s bicycle was useless.  Its front wheel had been bent when he had tried to ride off the school roof into the pool and had missed.  By a lot.  That had also cost him his driver’s license for three months.  “If we can’t trust you with a bike, how can we trust you with a car?” his father had said.

Still, it had been worth trying, even though Puck couldn’t watch it.  Grndskaw, the cutest troll at school, had been there – he’d made sure of that -- and she had rushed over to see if he was ok.

When Grndskaw had bent over him, Handihr had peeked down her blouse and the sight of her red wool bra had made the whole disaster a success after all.

Puck had said later that this was as close as he would ever get to her, and they had laughed.

“A troll can still dream,” Handihr sighed, before nearly skating into a lamppost.

“Puck just left,” the girl at the entrance to the gym told him.  Handihr could see past the desk to people struggling to lift pretty chrome weights that he could lift with one arm and barely notice.

Puck had once told Handihr he couldn’t take him to the gym as a guest because he was so strong he’d wreck the equipment.  Handihr smiled when he thought about it, but still wished Puck had at least taken him inside.

“I should think like Puck,” thought Handihr.  “I can’t keep following him around on these skates.”

He knew that wouldn’t work, though. “There’s no way I can think like an elf,” he admitted to himself.  The sun was starting to set and the day was wasting away.

It had been a long day, even for a troll.  “I’m getting tired.  There’s one last place to try – the hideout.” 

There was an abandoned lot next to the junior high, and in the middle was a huge, hollow tree stump.  When they climbed in, no one could see them -- it was their thinking place.

The old tree stump smelled musty from the decaying leaves on the ground, which made a soft cushion.  “It smells like perfume.  A girl’s been here,” he thought, “an elf girl.”  Elves always smelled so light and fresh.  “Not like trolls -- we smell like rock and earth.”  Handihr also detected Puck.  A troll’s keen senses were not always good to have.

Handihr sat down to rest as the light started to fade.  He thought about all the good times he’d had with Puck in the hideout, including the time Handihr had shown Puck that he could flatten a soda can in one hand.  Other, less welcome, thoughts crowded in until it became dark.

“I’m not quick like Puck,” thought Handihr at last, “but the train always gets to the station.”  He finally suspected what was happening, why Puck hadn’t been around much, and Handihr’s shoulders drooped.  He needed to talk to Puck about it.

It was less than a mile to Puck’s house.  The street lights were on, and Handihr felt like walking, with the skates slung over his shoulder.  His steps were slow and heavy.

Puck’s house was beautiful at night with the lights on, showing the lush landscaping.  Handihr knew every room.  Puck’s bedroom was on the second floor in the back.

As Handihr went up the graceful gravel walk, he could hear music and voices.  He heard laughter from Puck and a few other kids, including a couple of girl elves.

He didn’t knock on the door; he just stood there.  He had figured out at last that Puck was growing away from him, but he hadn’t counted on this.  Turning his back, Handihr’s big hands came quickly to his face and his broad shoulders shook.   “Puck doesn’t want to be my friend anymore,” he grieved, “and I didn’t even know it.”

After a few minutes, Handihr finally straightened up and began trudging back down the path, heading home.

He’d talk to his parents tonight, and probably do some homework.   Might as well stop avoiding it, at least for a while.

“I’ll go back to the park tomorrow -- maybe some friends will be there,” he thought, smiling hopefully.

"And if I'm really lucky, maybe Grndskaw will be at the pool.  This time I’ll talk to her, I swear."

Puck, he realized, was not the only one who could change.

A special thanks to halfshellvenus for beta reading this.

Season 10, Break Week, Entry #4
calvin writing
Topic: Sang-froid

Sangfroid.  1. “Composure or coolness shown in danger or under trying circumstances.” 2. “Mid-18th century: from French sang-froid, literally cold blood.”  Oxford Living Dictionary (online)


The view from the boardroom was special, high above the city with the Golden Gate Bridge anchoring a spectacular nighttime light display.  The map on the wall behind the chairman, however, was simply ugly, with its red pushpins crowding each other and sprawling across more and more of the United States.

The chairman was definitely old-fashioned.  He loved the pushpins, the feel of them rolling in his fingers as he added more and more to the map – east, south, north, and inevitably west.  He deliberately pricked his thumb, just to watch the blood ooze out and his skin heal.  The sight of blood, even his own, still excited him.

The humans were losing the battle with the zombies.  The military was slowing them down, but it was obvious that no matter how many zombies were destroyed, more and more would keep coming.  Outbreaks had now been reported all over the globe.

Nosferatu felt safe in his glass-and-steel aerie, far from the nearest zombie.  But vampires were safe, no matter where they were.  No zombie had yet attacked a vampire.  But the Company’s other interests were clearly vulnerable, and the collapsing social order was devastating.

“It’s long past time to do something about this,” thought Nosferatu angrily.  Susan James at DrugCo had promised a cure for too long, but she had failed to deliver, so Nosferatu had her fed to the zombies.

“The price of failure’s gone up,” he told Dr. Rivers, her replacement.  “There’s no golden parachute.  Beat them or join them.  You have six months.”

“Fear is a great motivator,” Nosferatu thought.  Dr. Rivers would be delivering a progress report today.  With only one month until the deadline, Nosferatu needed good news, but Dr. Rivers needed it more.  The world did not require additional zombies, but it definitely lacked medical biochemists like Dr. Rivers.

Dr. Rivers would be arriving soon.  Nosferatu had sent one of the Company’s private jets for her.  Commercial airlines had been closed by Vector Control, and the roads were flooded with refugees.

Canada had had to close its US border, and the cartels -- with their usual brutal efficiency -- had simply used land mines and barbed wire to shut off any southern escape routes.  Everyone was headed west, and the National Guard wouldn’t be able to secure the state’s border for long.

For some reason, Dr. Rivers had asked for a representative from the Werewolves’ Consortium to attend.  Werewolves weren’t in as much danger as vampires, who had to have fresh blood.  Werewolves could exist on artificial products, such as Spam, which was invented during World War II to feed the werewolf soldiers in order to maintain unit cohesion.

With a full moon tomorrow, travel for Peter Stumpp, head of the Consortium, was impossible, so a video link had been established.  Nosferatu had required Dr. Rivers to attend in person.  He hated video.  If the news was bad, he wanted to see Dr. Rivers sweat in person.  Human fear was so palpable, Nosferatu could almost taste it.  He ran his tongue along his teeth in anticipation.  I wouldn't mind a snack.

Nosferatu buzzed for his assistant, who ushered in a meal -- a lovely young woman with long hair and an elegant neck.  The PR Department had been right.  Recruiting victims had been much easier since the Company commissioned those damned "sexy vampire" books and movies.  The victim bared her neck, expecting ecstasy but finding only death. 

“We’re not that different from the zombies, but we manage the herd better,” thought Nosferatu.  “That’s really it, isn’t it?  Resource competition.  The zombies are destroying our herd and we can’t feed on zombies!”

In his darker moments, Nosferatu thought of vampires as being little more than fleas, sucking the blood out of their dogs.  Zombies were more like Ebola, destroying everything, mindless and soulless – the true undead.

The assistant interrupted Nosferatu’s thoughts.  “Time for the meeting, sir.”

Nosferatu escorted Dr. Rivers into the boardroom and switched on the giant video monitor.

“Peter,” said Nosferatu, “It’s good to see you – you’re looking prosperous.”

“Thank you, chairman,” replied Peter Stumpp, head of the Consortium, from Paris.  “We’re on vacation for a little hunting trip.  From the look of things, we may not return.”

“Well, that’s up to Dr. Rivers,” said Nosferatu, turning to the head of DrugCo’s Anti-Zombie Research Section.

Dr. Rivers' blonde hair fell down to her shoulders.  She was wearing a navy blue business suit and her blouse had a high collar.

She doesn’t realize how . . . enticing . . . that is.  Strippers know it’s not the end of the show that’s best, with everything on display, but the beginning, when it’s all up to the imagination!

Noseferatu had quite an imagination.  He had long thought of turning Ann Rivers, with her confident intelligence.  Not now – time for business.

“We have made some real progress,” began Dr. Rivers, “and we believe we may be able to immunize the human race.  But you may not like it.”

“The military can eliminate the existing zombies over time, if you can just stop the overwhelming flood of new zombies,” interrupted Peter Stumpp, “It’s not ideal, but what’s the problem?”

“It relates to the source of the vaccine,” began Dr. Rivers.  “As you know, zombies have not attacked vampires or werewolves.  We have finally discovered the reason.  We owe a lot to Dr. McKenzie, the sociologist who lived among the zombies for three weeks to study them.  She’s one of yours, Mr. Stumpp, isn’t she?”

“A werewolf?  Yes, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”  Stumpp was visibly confused.

“Everything,” added Dr. Rivers.  “It wasn’t her disguise that fooled the zombies, it was her werewolf blood.  There is something very special about blood from werewolves and vampires.  Humans are warm-blooded, while both of you are cold-blooded-- about 20 degrees colder.  Zombies eat only warm-blooded prey.  Cold-blooded animals simply don’t register with zombies, and they will not attack them!”

“And without the attacks, they can’t turn more humans into zombies,” said Nosferatu.  “Clever approach, but people can’t run around refrigerating their blood.”

“Of course not,” said Dr. Rivers, her voice tightening ever so slightly.  Tiny drops of perspiration appeared near her hairline.  Nosferatu was utterly entranced.

“We have isolated an enzyme which, when introduced into humans, will lower their blood temperature,” explained Dr. Rivers, before pausing.  “The only source for the enzyme, unfortunately, is the blood of vampires and werewolves.” There was a long silence.  Nosferatu felt his stomach tighten, but showed nothing.  “Can’t you just manufacture it?”

“To some extent,” answered Dr. Rivers, “but we have to begin with organic enzymes from vampires and werewolves.  The duplicating process must be refreshed from time to time when the organic enzymes lose their potency.”

“But what does this mean for us?”  Peter Stumpp was visibly troubled.

“All werewolves and vampires will need to donate their blood nearly continuously until the zombies are eliminated,” explained Dr. Rivers.

“What you’re asking is . . . difficult,” said Nosferatu.  “How will you manage it?”

“The Company already owns most of the blood banks with their mobile collection stations.  We’ll start with that.  If we can’t manufacture the enzyme . . . .”  Dr. Rivers’ voice trailed off.

Noseferatu and Stumpp looked at each other.  It was the only solution.  It was time for the fleas to save the dogs.

* * * * *

One year later, most of the pushpins were off the map, with only a cluster in West Virginia, where it all started.  Society was rebuilding, which offered new opportunities for the Company and the Consortium.

A grateful humanity was finally ready to acknowledge the presence of the vampires and werewolves among it.  A steady supply of willing humans was available for the vampires, while Spam production was up for the werewolves.  Dr. Rivers no longer wore high-collared blouses, while her staff noticed occasional band-aids on her neck.

My domputer has died.  Unfortunately, until I can replace it, I will not have internet access, and so, regretably, I will not be able to thank you for reading my entry.  I appreciate your taking the time to read this, and I appreciate any comments.

Links to the other three Break Week entries:
“Gone, But Not Fergettin’”
“Zombies Galore!”
“Zombie Studies”


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