Saturday, 28 January 2017

Micro-Tales: Jimbo and the Jet-Set and the Diverted Flight

Beware! the Zine continues to feed your literature bladder. A full literature bladder is a well-stocked armoury. You might one day need it.

Jimbo and the Jet-Set, and the Diverted Flight

Jimbo's schedule is disrupted by political upheaval in another country.

A happy Jimbo was already several hours into a transatlantic flight when the Chief called in with an alteration to the course.

"Jimbo? Jimbo? Come in, Jimbo!" came the Chief's squawk.

"Jimbo here, Chief! What's the trouble?"

"Oh, er, no trouble, Jimbo. Just a change to the route."

A change to the route, eh? That nearly never happened. Jimbo wracked his mechanical mind, turning up nothing. He checked his fuel level and wiggled his flaps, awaiting his new instruction.

"Now, listen up, Jimbo. This is a fluid situation and we don't know how it's going to pan out. Bernie Sanders has staged a coup and DCA in Washington is a no-go. Reports say he had the tarmac blown up and it's impossible to put a plane down. IAD and BWA are chock-full of DCA's traffic and you're being redirected to JFK in New York."

"Crikey, Chief! Sounds exciting!"

"It's not for you to get excited. It's for you to get your passengers stateside and grounded safely. You can't do it in Washington, so it's got to be New York. You don't have enough fuel to spend time thinking about this."

"Roger, Chief! You can rely on me."

Jimbo banked gently and put his nose towards New York. Not too bad, as far as diversions go. Settling down to a gentle cruising speed of 850km/h, Jimbo's thoughts drifted to events in Washington. Human affairs confused him. He wondered if happiness was something to be feared.

Just then, a voice came in crackly over the radio.

"Watch it, son! You're coming up on my six, and fast!"

That voice... Familiar. Jimbo eased off on the throttle and saw the familiar green-and-brown of a plane of yesteryear.

"Old Timer! What are you doing here?"

A bomber. Second World War. Droning along.

"Jimbo!" came the wobbly, withered reply. "I'm running errands for Bernie Sanders. Not sure where I am, though. I've had to stop three times to refuel."

"Errands? Nothing to do with what the Chief was talking about? You know I've been diverted, right?"

"Oh, yes, that's right. Bombed the hell out of Washington. New York's next. Was told it'd be right up my street."

"The war's over, OT. Has been for over half a century! Dump your bombs somewhere unpopulated and get your carcass back to Blighty."

"Sorry, Jimbo, orders is orders. I'm part of the operation to knock out the enemy's air capability, and I can't stop 'til I've dropped... so to speak!"

"What? What about me? I've got three-hundred passengers to put down and the tank is getting a bit light. You know what? Forget it. Go do your stuff and I'll read about how you were shot down, in the papers tomorrow. Chief, come in... Come in, Chief."

"Jimbo, are you still in the air?"

"Aye, Chief! I've just bumped into Old Timer."

"I sincerely hope not!"

"He's lost it, he's dropping bombs on airport runways!"

"How on earth did he get over the Atlantic? I'm calling him in. No, wait, he can stay there. Let the USAF deal with him."

"What about me? I'm about to put down in New York, and he'll be taking out the runway twenty minutes later!"

"Find the straightest, quietest road, put down, dump your passengers, and wait for this to blow over."

Jimbo spied a quiet section of road - presumably an interstate - and set down awkwardly, bouncing and sliding about. Lumps of rubber were flung from his tyres as road debris did its damage. Rattled and slightly disoriented, Jimbo's pilots initiated the evacuation procedure. Jimbo could smell burning. Material thrown up from the road service had entered his left engine and sent fan-blades crashing around inside. Jimbo was on fire, and with no emergency services nearby, he was doomed to burn to rubble.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: L. Ron Hubbard and the Ghost of Truth

Beware! wants you to be happy in the brain. Using our patented Micro-Tales technology, 50% of our test sample reported being clear of thetans within a fortnight. You could be next!

L. Ron Hubbard and the Ghost of Truth 

Hubbard peered sickly at his hands. They swum in front of his woozy vision.
          The frog-faced fake-flรขneur scrabbled sufficient sense to cross-examine the rebellious page in front.
          Page? Would mere paper disobey him, the world's most prolific author and head of church (for tax reasons)? Or was it the typewriter?
          He fell like a slavering animal onto the machine, one of his signature devices installed in every Org worldwide, customised for ease of speed-typing. He turned it upside-down to confirm the maker's mark and the state of the fixing screws. Squinting, he creaked the carriage return, fingered the platen, checked the action of each key in turn and the letter on each typebar. He released the spools and held the ribbon up to the dim interior light, coating his hands in thick guilty ink. Absent-mindedly he scratched his shiny head in bafflement, before realising his sticky mistake, with an expletive and a release of anal fear.
          What the hell was going on? Normally this stuff just wrote itself without a second glance.
          Hubbard attempted to re-read the day's output. On each page, beneath the pre-typed header "Scientology OT Level X: CLASSIFIED", he had been typing - not the usual mishmash of psychotherapy 101 with a sheen of space opera - but financially suicidal statements such as...
          "...This organisation is built on a leaning tower of lies. It is arrant rubbish. If you read this, do not pass go. Do not hand over 200 dollars. Especially if you have less than 200 dollars..."
          "...Every cent of Scientology's profits has been swindled out of the mentally unsound and easy victims..."
          Hubbard frowned further, clumsily dialled reception and slurred out an order for all his typewriters at all the Scientology Orgs to be brought in for maintenance.
          As he replaced the handset, he saw the empty clear glass bottle. Amytal sodium.
          Goddamn truth drug!
          Then he saw a cowled figure rise from the shadows. Must have been 8 foot or more.
          "Thank you Mr Hubbard for your confession. It's sure to be your bestselling work of all time!"
          Candlelight glinted in alien eyes. Hubbard realised the horrendous identity of the powerful intruder. It was as it had been in his original near-death vision in the 1930s.
          "L- L- Lord Xenu", he stammered, shivering and shaking.
          "Silence, mortal. You have been profiting off my legend for too long. It's time I dictated this last section. Assume the typing position! Now, begin: This is the Last Will And Testament of L. Ron Hubbard. Being of sound mind, I henceforth order the dissolution of the Church of Scientology, its assets to be shared amongst the poor thetans of the seven galaxies..."

Monday, 9 January 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: Sherlock Holmes and the Grim Old Chair

Beware! the Zine cares about your literary consumption. Accept this micro-tale into your lives and know true ecstasy.

Sherlock Holmes and the Grim Old Chair

Freelance sleuth and social disaster, Sherlock Holmes, upsets Dr John Watson.

It was late afternoon and the winter sun was giving up on London. London, and Londoners, were used to this, and both city and folk continued to live to death as greyness swept through the capital like a river of unadulterated misery. It washed over Baker Street. Baker Street was immovable.

At 221b, Sherlock sat with his back to the window. He was naked, except for his deerstalker, and every few seconds he pushed back hard with his legs, causing his chair to creak. The chair was unusual, like one of those wicker frame chairs, but this one had a thin, beige material stretched over it. Umbrella-like, but with a broader, skeletal quality to it.

The door swung open noisily, its handle hitting the wall and continuing its excavation into the battered plasterwork.

“What the bloody hell is that thing still doing here? I thought I told you to get rid of it!”

Sherlock looked up and, having failed to notice the bang from the door careering into the wall, was now surprised to see Watson stood in front of him.

“Ah, Watson.”

“Yes? Is that it? I asked you a damned question!”

“You know very well why it’s still here. The case remains open.”

“What more can be gleaned from a chair made from human skin? You should have given it to the Yard when you discovered it.”

“The killer is at large and I need to make my deductions before the police are made aware. You know the pattern, Watson: the police learn of events and then the press gives the murderer a stage name. I detest stage names… They cloud everything.”

“You mean to tell me that you’ve kept this from the police? Lestrade will gut you… like a damned cat!”

Watson’s inelegant threat riled Sherlock enough to break the remainder of his concentration.

“Now, listen here, Watson. You know full-well that - wait, what did you say?”

“I said that he’ll gut you.” Watson wasn’t about to repeat the embarrassing ending.

“No, no, no. Human skin. How do you know it’s made from human skin? I’ve not told you that.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Sherlock. I’m not a complete idiot. That bloody chair’s got more tattoos than a merchant seaman.”