Archive for March, 2010

appeasement offering

March 31, 2010

The medicine man and his apprentice sat in a smoky hut. as the apprentice articulates the incantation he pauses, represses a sneeze and repeats a certain syllable three times. The medicine man’s face stretches in fear. He calls a halt to the ceremony and declares that one cow from each household must be sacrificed to avert disaster. One of the householders refuses to give up a cow, and the medicine man leads the rest of the community in his condemnation and ostracizing. The householder finally spitefully agrees to offer a sacrifice and the next morning presents the body of the apprentice.


tainted spring

March 30, 2010

After a difficult hike all morning and most of the afternoon i came to a refreshing spring. An old man came out of the nearby house and told me that the spring was going to make me sick. I would be bedridden for three weeks. He told me would care for me in return for my working for him for six months after that. That didn’t sound like a very good deal to me and I said so. I also accused him of lying.

“Fine,” he said. “You can wander off and see if you can reach help in time. You will be doubled over in about three hours. I don’t think there’s another house within that distance. Or you can come in and have some tea (it’ll help, believe me) and see what happens.”

I was wary but uncertain, so I agreed. Yes I became ill. I don’t remember much of those weeks. By the time I recovered I was fitted with a slave collar. The old man refused to let me wear anything more than a sarong. He said he just wanted to be sure I held up my end of the bargain. Between us was always the threat of the spring. I continually thought of poisoning him with that water. Once he held me down in the middle of the field and threatened to pour a vial of it down my throat. And I still suspected that it wasn’t the spring that poisoned me.


March 29, 2010

Fred quit his job as a software developer to turn his hobby of brewing beer into a business. No need to obfuscate anything in this business, all the reactions are one-way and cannot be reverse-engineered. But a la Willy Wonka, a competitor comes out with a beer that tastes exactly like his. He fires everyone and tries to come up with another formula. He discovers that it was the government inspector who sold his secret. He plans to murder this inspector but is caught.

breath festival

March 28, 2010

The participants of the breath festival are all people who are coming of age that year. During the festival they are put into pits with smooth, unclimbable walls. Canisters of gas are dropped into the pits. When the nozzle of these canisters is opened, and the participant exhales next to it, mixing his breath with the gas, it solidifies. The object of the festival is for the young people to use their breath to build something to allow them to escape – a ladder, or staircase, for example. One year a young man concentrates on building elaborate decorative sculptures on the floor of his pit, and ignores the goal of escape. When rescue is finally attempted he breathes a roof over himself to prevent it. After initial sympathy, his parents come under scrutiny to see if they had knowledge of any kind of political statement he was trying to make. Or was it just an extreme act of art?

the appropriate bird

March 27, 2010

Two members of a local men’s club quarrel over the bird that the club should adopt within its logo. One favors the peacock, the other a locally prevalent subspecies of the coal tit. Splendour vs local pride. The peacock proponent visits a gypsy woman to cast an evil eye on his rival, then feels guilty when the latter is injured in a riding accident.


March 26, 2010

Two psychopaths debate whether humans are capable of infinite debasement. They kidnap two people from the airport: an old woman on her way to visit her child’s family, and a young man who is a hare krishna. They are able to force the woman to many disgusting things, especially by threatening her family, but eventually she gives up and becomes apathetic, almost catatonic. The young man, however, seemed to sink into himself right away, and his awareness only surfaced to say, “no”. They debate who is more human – the woman, who is motivated by a desire, or concern – some kind of engagement with the world, or the young man, who can make more of a choice, but who is not as much part of the world.


March 25, 2010

While at the drugstore at the checkout stand at the drugstore, buying skin care products and some socks, Stan looks up from his wallet to look at the girl behind the checkout and is bowled over by her eyes. They are brown with what looks like flecks of yellow in front and fleck of silver in the back, giving an impression that they are grey, but an impression that immediately advertises itself as false. The rest of her is unremarkable – her face is rather pudgy and a bit shapeless. He doesn’t even notice her figure.
He walks out of the store in a kind of stupor, and puts his merchandise in his car. He walks around and is about to open is door but he decides he can’t let this pass. He thinks he knows a portrait painter – he has to have an artist record those eyes. He heads back in to the store.


March 24, 2010

A time traveler tries to prevent the rise of Nazi Germany. As he works jumps ahead a few decades to make sure what he’s doing is succeeding. On one of these trips he meets a veteran whose memories of the war haven’t changed with everyone else, and who wants things back the way they were.


March 23, 2010

A teenage couple gatecrash a lynching. They break up after that, unable to face each other with their disgust at the cruelty of others and at their own cowardice.


March 22, 2010

The keyring was supposed to remind him to water her lilies, but he let them die. Their well was appropriated by the government troops and he had to buy bottled water or catch rainwater in a trap – and hide that from the soldiers too. It was almost enough to make him a rebel – except that the rebels were the ones that killed her. His promise to tend her garden was keeping his from joining up, but he failed at that as well. After joining the company he had trouble fitting in. Most of the younger soldiers were from the mainland, didn’t have a personal stake in the war, and didn’t want to fight next to someone who did. He discovered there were two gesture languages used by the troops, which one you used marked you as in one camp or the other.