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As Perfect A Summation Of Noir As Could Be Hoped For

24/08/2014

Alex Sharpe Ross - I had to do it 2

“He was my husband,” said Mercedes.

“I had to do it,” said the man.

“Yes, I know,” she murmured.

text from “My Husband Is A Redhead”
by Bill S. Ballinger in Cosmopolitan, October 1956
art by Alex Sharpe Ross

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Guest Fictoid: the wrong people get writer’s block

17/08/2014

things went all splodey

text (c) Diana Davis

Things went all ‘splodey. The good guys fought. The bad guys fought. Ouch, someone got hurt. More ‘splodey. Pew-pew. Good guys win!

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Fictoid: So I Says To St. Pete…

10/08/2014

Hieronymus Bosch - garden of earthly delights1

Hieronymus Bosch – Garden Of Earthly Delights

So I says to St. Pete
says I to he
How come
there’s no
gate to heaven?

St. Pete says,
Oh we’ve got the gate
and it works very well.

Understand this life
and the previous life
are like elevators
in a skyscraper.  

Down in the lobby level,
anybody can walk
back and forth, back and forth
between the two sides.

One side is the love others side,
and the other is the love myself side.

Depending on which side
you’re on when you die,
that’s the elevator you take
to the penthouse.

Now, those of you on the love others side,
when you died you came straight up here
non-stop, like a utility elevator: 
Not exactly plush,
but it gets you there.

But if you were on the love myself side,
the fancy elevator takes you to a foyer
just outside the penthouse.  

We have a canned message playing, saying,
“Every thing you think you believed was true is false
and if you renounce it, you can come in.  
Take all the time you want in making your decision.”

Now here’s the thing:  
If you were on the love myself side,
you’re not caring about other people,
you’re wondering how you
are going to get into heaven.

You’re asking yourself,
“Is this a trick?  
Did I really believe
the wrong thing, or
are they just testing me?

“If I do renounce my belief,
and it was a test,
then I’m in hell for all eternity.

“But if they are telling the truth,
and I don’t renounce my belief,
then I’m damning myself to hell.”

You, and the others on this side,
worried less about getting to heaven
than you worried about loving your neighbors,
treating people fairly,
acting justly and
compassionately.  
You have no belief to renounce
because you were doing,
not believing.

The other side,
they’re stewing away,
sweating it out,
wondering which answer is correct.  

And they know they only get
one shot at answering it,
and that answer
will determine
where they spend eternity.

Wellwhat about
the ones to choose,

one way or another?  
What do you do
when they come
through the gate?  

What do you say
about their choice
either way?

Never had that problem.  
They’re so anxious for themselves,
they never get around to making the final choice.  
Every time they nearly convince themselves one way,
they turn around and argue themselves out of it the other.  
Lacking love, they possess only fear,
and fear is what keeps them from entering.

Seems mighty cruel.

St. Pete shrugs.  
Keeps the assholes out.

(c) Buzz Dixon

 

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Fictoid: One Night At David Gerrold’s House

3/08/2014

James R Bingham - I finally killed the last tribble cap

underlying art by James R. Bingham

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Fictoid: One Day While Trimming Flowers…

31/07/2014

pass me art by Joe Bowler

 

“Hand me the scissors.”

“‘Hand me the scissor, please.’  
It doesn’t hurt to be polite.

“If I didn’t say
‘Hand me the scissors,
mother-fncker’ then
I was being polite.”

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Fictoid: going viral

26/07/2014

James R Bingham - all over YouTube cap

underlying art by James R. Bingham

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Fictoid: a horror story for believers

15/07/2014

The Other Side of the Mountain - 1971 - Unknown artist

…and with savage good humor
after they finished torturing / brutalizing / degrading him
they threw him naked / writhing / screaming
into the pit amid the mutilated corpses
of his friends / family / followers
and carefully started shoveling muck on him
to form an air pocket so he would stay alive for hours
surrounded by the ravaged remains of his loved ones
and as he felt the ice cold blood soaked earth fall around him
he bescreeched “my god my god why have you forsaken me?!?!?”
and the men above paused and laughed and said
fool, who do you think sent us?

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Fictoid: One Day In Ancient Greece…

29/06/2014

Frank Frazetta - trojans1art by Frank Frazetta

 

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Guest Fictoid by Jack Feister

27/06/2014

Jack Feister short-short story

“Dad, I’ve figured out something about time-travel, but I’m not sure how to explain it to you. It’s complicated.” – Jack Feister, age 10, unemployed

 [courtesy of his father Tom Feister]

(c) Jack Feister

 

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Fictoid: Al’s History Repair

15/06/2014

Malcolm Smith 1951

I’ve heard you can correct mistakes.

You heard right.

I want to go back, change a decision I made.

I can send you back,
but I can’t guarantee
you’ll change the decision.
There are a lot of wild
card factors involved.
But I do offer this guarantee:
Your money back if
you’re not satisfied.

Have you ever had an unsatisfied customer?

All of them.
Until I send
them back.

But after they return…?

Let’s put it this way:
I have never ended a
transaction with an
unsatisfied customer.

a pause / then:
Do you accept checks?

No.
And no credit cards,
sealed bank accounts,
nothing like that.
Cash on the barrelhead.
You were told that before
I agreed to meet with you.

I…I only have a few hundred dollars.

smile
Luckily I’m not
in this for the money.

resigned nod
When do we start?
Do I give you the money now?

Let me see it.

an envelope emerges from a purse
thick fingers count it / hand it back

Aren’t you going to keep it?

No.  You hold onto it
until you return,
until you’re satisfied.
Then you pay me.

Oh…

One thing:
We’ll need a contract,
make this all official
and business-like.
such a contract is produced from a drawer
Now, just give me
all the pertinent details:
Where and when do you
wish to be sent back,
who are you attempting to contact,
what is your reason for
changing the past…?

Is all that necessary?

Sadly, yes.
When you come back,
you will be synching up with
a new time line you’ve created.
You’ll remember this trip,
this conversation, but in a matter
of days, sometimes only hours,
it will fade away like a dream.
I need the contract for my protection,
to prove I did what I said I’d do.

Aren’t you afraid I’ll forget to pay you?

taps contract
Not with this.
Now, details:
Who, what,
where, why,
and most importantly,
when?

hesitation, then a torrent of details:
handsome guy / turned him down / married another / marriage failed / handsome guy married another / happily ever after for him / wonder what would have happened if for her

Al inks all the details in neatly / carefully notes time & date / pushes multi-page contract across desk

Read it carefully.
Make sure all the
details are correct.

she does / they are / she signs

Al gestures to a large door.

On the other side:
A chamber densely lined with blinking electronic devices;
a simple wooden chair sits in the middle.

When I activate the time machine,
you’ll experience a brief period of
intense vertigo and a blinding flash of light.
As soon as that happens, you’ll be back
at your college and will have fifteen minutes
to explain to your former self the mistake
you made and why it’s important she
make the right choice.  As soon as you
convince her, you’ll be automatically
yanked back into the chamber in
the present time — or should I say,
the now altered present time.
Now, sit down and wait for
the countdown clock to begin,
and best of luck.

she goes in / sits down / moment of apprehension as door closes / countdown clock begins:

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3

Suddenly the door flings open!
Al lunges in / yanks her out!

Are you okay?
Are you okay?

Yes – wait – what happened?
Did something go wrong?

With the machine?
No.  With you?  Yes.
You managed to convince
your college self not to
dump the guy. But that
turned out to be the
biggest mistake of your life.
You dated for six months,
then he dumped you for
your best friend.  You fell
for a creep on the rebound,
and he turned your life into
a living hell.  I’m going to spare
you the ugly details, but you
ended up with no degree,
no career, a criminal record,
and more medical problems
than I’d care to recount.
You were literally reduced to this
or suicide or death in a charity ward
when you came back.

What?  No!
I don’t believe you!

Read ‘em and weep.

presents contract / she reads it / all the details are wrong / different

I didn’t sign this!

Oh?
Check the last page.

her signature sits on the page / none of the details are the same

But…what?

Your alternate timeline self
begged me to send her back
so she could warn you.
Can’t do that; something about
doubling back too close on
your own time stream.
But she could come back
after I closed the door and
tell me not to send you back.
She brought this contract
with her to prove she’d talked
to me in her alternate timeline.
I yanked you out of the chamber
just in time.

But…where is she?
Where is this alternate me?

Gone.
Vanished back
into the time stream
the instant
we undid
your mistake.

confusion / perplexed / hesitant

Al speaks to her
not unkindly
Look, you just had
a narrow call.
A real narrow call.
But you’re safe now.
Yeah, you didn’t get
the guy you wanted,
but you weren’t going
to get him anyway:
Just wasn’t meant to be.
But you do have a degree,
you do have a career.
Build on that, do something with this.
Forget about your disappointments.
Forget about the guy you turned down,
the guy you divorced, hey, forget about
ever even trying to change things.
Just look to the future
and move forward.

pensive look / slow nod / sigh

You’re right.
You’re right.
No more
wallowing in the past.
Just…just the future from now on.
Thank you, Al.

You’re welcome.
…uh, aren’t you
forgetting something?

Pardon?

My fee.
You had no money
to pay for your second trip back,
but you said I could keep
the money you promised for this trip.
See, I do honor my satisfaction guarantee;
I’m not charging you for the first trip since
it provided a very unsatisfactory result.
But your second trip was successful,
the tragedy was undone,
so for that trip,
I’m due.

thick fingered hand extends palm up

she blinks / reaches into purse / withdraws money

Al counts it (again) / salutes her with it / holds open the door that leads to the stairs that lead up to the sidewalk

al time travel1e

that evening / as every evening / Al practices the signature transposition trick before a phalanx of mirrors in his apartment

he’s good — damned good — but practice makes perfect

the signature transposition trick:
an old magician’s sleight of hand / get the mark to sign their name to a playing card / tear the card up before their eyes / produced the signed card in a brand new deck another mark has been holding for the entire trick

really quite simple…when you know the trick

and when you do know the trick
switching the last page of one contract for another
is child’s play
the time machine is just window dressing
no more real than the bogus science degrees lining his office

still…even child’s play takes practice

Another day, another dollar
thinks Al to himself
as he runs through the trick for
the tenth twentieth thirtieth time that night
honing his skills until the switch is
seamless / invisible / perfect

Luckily for me
there really is
a sucker born
every minute.
And thanks to them,
time is money…

.

.

.

© Buzz Dixon
based on an idea by &
with the gracious permission
of Jim MacQuarrie
illustration by Malcolm Smith

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