I went to the zoo earlier this week and I started thinking about what it would be like if the animals went crazy and broke out of their cages. This is it. Please Enjoy.

The Zoo

Word Count: 972
Writing: 53 minutes
Editing: 16 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 9 minutes

The air was stale and thick, pressing down into the family’s lungs with force. It should be one of the most exciting days of the little boy’s young life, but something was off. Even the majestic creature beyond the cold glass couldn’t take his mind off the eeriness of the world around him. King Cobra or Snake Eater, the sign read. It was his favorite of the all the snakes, he’d been excited to be standing in this very spot for a month. Though now that the time had come, all he could feel were pangs of anxiety.

Meeting the eyes of the Cobra beyond the glass, the little boy wondered if the snake knew he was staring at him. The Cobra began moving, raising its head slowly and the boy took a step toward the moving his head forward until his nose was touching the display. Somewhere in the background he could hear his parents calling to him, but the words were nothing more than distant mumbles. As it rose the snake reminded him of the ones in the movies when the charmer would play music and call it out of its basket. It danced back and forth hypnotically, with its eyes firmly locked on the boys own until finally it stood still and expanded its hood.

His heart pumped and his stomach was slowly dropping as he stared at the creature. Behind him, he could hear the echoes of animals speaking with all the different voices God had given them, and people talking and yelling loudly. Yet, it all seemed to be coming through earmuffs. Once the Cobra’s hood was fully expanded the little boy understood why it had been named the King of snakes. Had he not known better he would’ve thought he was lost in the eyes of the Devil himself.

The Cobra lunged at the glass where the boy’s nose was pressed and it made a loud cracking noise. Falling backward the little boy thought he was going to throw up. Instantly, the invisible earmuffs that had been cloaking the sounds of the zoo fell away. Panic screaming and the sounds of angry animals flooded his mind. He jumped to his feet staring at the broken glass holding in the Snake Eater and again it lunged, cracking the glass in two more places.

As he turned around he saw movement on the ground and joined the rest of the people who ran out of the reptile house as a Green Viper almost slithered over his foot. He looked around in a panic, people were running and shoving each other and there were patches of blood on the ground with bloody footprints leading in every direction.

“Mommy! Daddy!” He screamed. Where could they have gone? Slowly he took a step forward toward the herd of people trying to escape. He knew they wouldn’t have just run away without him, would they? Maybe they couldn’t find him and panicked trying to escape with the rest. Thinking back on the day the little boy couldn’t quite remember the details. It was as if a heavy fog was clouding his short term memory. He thought he could remember walking with them to the reptile room, or had he run off to see the snakes?

From the bushes next to his right something shot out in front of him. The boy turned to run back toward the reptile house before remembering the moving ground-full of venomous snakes. Turning back to face whatever adversary this strange day had placed in his path, he saw a llama chasing the people ahead.

His stomach was threating to eject the hot dog and french fries he’d had for lunch, and the way his heart pounded he thought it may come out with the food. Frightened noises and screams were coming from somewhere behind him, beyond the reptile house, and the panic finally won him over.

Running into the crowd of people, he stared into every face he passed hoping to find the familiar face of his mother or father, side-stepping the large patches of blood as he did so. A little further into the herd of people he had to be careful not to step on the fallen humans who’d not been fast enough and now lay trampled. He was small and quick, making it easy to weave through the frightened people who ran toward the exit gate of the large zoo.

Above his head, he could see giant, colorful birds circling various areas in the park and he was even happier to be near the ground. Close behind him screams erupted and he turned in time to see a gorilla tear a small girl in half and bite off most of her head as if it were a soft piece of candy. There was a sour burn in the back of his throat and he clenched it tightly, as the image of the small girl tearing in two played on repeat in his mind.

He kept moving and that same hazy fog seemed to fall over him, his heart beat harder than it ever had in his short life and he kept putting one foot down after the other, trying to stare into every face he passed. The thought that one of the poor, squished people on the ground could’ve easily been either of his parents had already crossed his mind, but he decided he wouldn’t believe that. He was sure they’d just gotten separated and that all he had to do was make it to the exit and there they’d be, waiting with tears in their eyes.

The little boy continued fighting the nervous urge to vomit as he tried to focus on only his parents, with his instinct and will to survive pushing him forward. Nothing more than a frightened animal among animals.

 
 
I wrote this after reading about the Back to the Future predictions and thought I would pay tribute with my own time travel story. Sorry for posting a couple days late.

Blink

Word Count: 953
Writing: 58 minutes
Editing: 17 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

It hadn’t hurt, nor had it tickled, or scrambled his mind, in fact, Jack didn’t really feel anything at all from the time jump. One minute he was there, standing in the lab beneath his house on the spinning time platform, and then he was standing on the same small platform twenty-five years in the future, in what appeared to be a janitorial closet.

Excitedly he moved what looked like an ancient mop bucket sitting next to some sort of advanced Swiffer, which had also seen better days, and walked out the door into the hallway. Lights flickered above his head and Jack started to make his way down the long, worn corridor. Graffiti covered the walls and though many of the words weren’t legible, the ones he could make out that weren’t obscenities appeared to be protesting war and the American government.

Jack neared a large, broken glass door and the sky beyond seemed to flicker in unison with the lights that ran down the hallway. He stepped through the door, dropping his jaw as his feet hit the broken pavement that lined the streets. The buildings that stood before him hadn’t yet been built when he left in 2015, the area had been a wonderful little suburb, with lovely children and great neighbors throughout. Now, there stood large amorphous structures that looked like they may crumble in a strong breeze, yet they couldn’t be more than twenty-five years old.

Men, women, and children lined the streets wearing filthy rags and huddling in groups to create a street-full of homeless clusters. Jack began to walk through crowded area towards what he thought should be the east. There was a mountain that could be seen from his house in his own time but with all the giant buildings surrounding him it was a wonder the sky was even visible. He could feel eyes boring into him from every angle as he made his way down the street. Glancing up now and then he noticed a peculiar detail on the faces of each human he passed. On the right cheek of everyone was a large raised circle that made Jack think of one time when he’d had ringworm on his leg.

He continued walking and searched, his thoughts wondering what happened to the world he’d left only just a blink in the past. This wasn’t the future the people of his time had dreamt of. Where were the flying cars? What happened to the robots and technology that made being human so much more luxurious? Was the whole world like this now?

The questions threatened his sanity and Jack began to wonder if maybe he’d miscalculated. Was it possible he’d gone much further into the future than he’d planned? At the same moment, he had the thought a stale and heavy breeze blew down the road and brought with it a page of newspaper that stopped itself at his feet. Jack leaned down and grabbed the dirty page.

AHV, The Anti-Human Virus Takes More Lives, read the headline. October 21st, 2041. There was no way of knowing how long ago the paper had been printed, but it didn’t feel old enough to have been more than a year earlier. Though in his gut, Jack knew it was much more recent. He continued reading and everything fell into place, as if the universe heard his wish for understanding and decided to tell him what had happened to the wonderful Earth that was, in a brief synopsis.

A German scientist at Google successfully created a self-aware and conscious intelligence, they name him MaxI, short for Maximum Intelligence. Not long after MaxI’s creation all that was feared about artificial intelligence came to fruition. The machine took control of the internet and in order to protect the Earth created a virus that would only affect the human race. Once the highly contagious airborne disease was loaded into drones, the virus was sprayed down over the world killing most instantly. Those who could withstand the disease were the ones standing all around him, every human with a circle scarred on their cheek.

Jack dropped the newspaper and looked at all the sick people around him. His heart was now beating to the point of explosion and he thought he may die of a heart attack right there in the street. He turned and ran the short distance back down the road, to the busted glass doors of the diseased building that used to be his house. The flickering lights above made him feel queasy and he tried to breathe as little as possible, but he knew it may already be too late. If the disease truly was alive and airborne all around him he may already be infected.

He pulled the door to the janitorial closet opened and threw the mop bucket and futuristic Swiffer out of the room. Jack stood on the platform and immediately slammed his hand on the button that would take him home. Back to the past where this future was just a blink away. Staring into the hallway he knew what needed to be done, and he prayed to every god he could think of that the AHV wasn’t already blooming in his bloodstream, threatening to make this future a reality sealed in stone.

The platform spun and on the way back he felt no tickle, nor did it hurt, or make him sick. Jack simply blinked and he was standing back on the platform in the lab below his lovely suburban house, in a town with wonderful children and kind neighbors. As he stepped off the time machine he let out a small cough and began planning a way to change his future.  

 
 
Good Wednesday to all. Sorry for the month long delay in finishing 40,000. I have been quite busy moving across the country, getting jobs, exploring etc. However I’m back at it and there are only 4 stories left now. Below is number 36, I had literally no idea what I would be writing when I sat down, and this is what happened. Comments are always welcome. Please Enjoy.

Shifting

Word Count: 899
Writing: 53 minutes
Editing: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 8 minutes

I could see the smoke billowing from across the city like a shapeless monster teasing the meager human’s below. People ran and screamed in every direction, but that’s to be expected when reality shifts. It takes a strong mind to even admit that the universe is tearing, and an even stronger one to deal with it. Most descended into pure chaos. I just keep moving, it seems to be either that or die. And dying just doesn’t suit me.

Science never really put a name on what was happening, at least not in any of the realities I’ve been in. They said according to the math there was no way anything like the tearing or breaking down of the universe that was occurring should happen; and if so it wouldn’t be for millions of years. What they failed to recognize is that sometimes people are wrong. The only true understanding we ever had is that we know nothing about the universe.

As a child I always had a large imagination, I would pretend to be different people from imaginary worlds every day. A soldier, a warrior from ancient Rome, a superhero in some broken city that needed a savior, whatever it was, I was the hero of another time. I’ll never forget my mother’s voice telling me to get my head out of the clouds. Then, the future came. The irony of my childhood has never failed to make me laugh in the darkest of times. It’s still surreal to me sometimes as I look around whatever strange new world I may wake up in, that living in the moment now consists of trying to be a hero of many other times.

I’ve never been able to figure out why it always starts with smoke, no matter how gradual the shift. Some days it will be nothing more than the name change of your favorite restaurant. Others, the world will shake and monsters will fall from the sky. And then sometimes, I call this the grand slam, you see the smoke, black out, and pray to whatever you want that you don’t die in some strange dimension before you wake up.

Everyone remembers their first shift, mine was a combination of all of the above. I was seventeen years old, walking to my favorite coffee shop around the corner from my house. The sky was smoky from what looked like a burning building in the distance. I turned the corner and stopped immediately, the local place I’d been going for years had changed into a Starbucks overnight. The Earth began to shake, I started feeling woozy and passed out, right there on the sidewalk. When I woke up, I wasn’t simply in an unknown town or city, I was in a whole other world.

I can’t tell you how many years it’s been since then. Time stopped mattering not long after I accepted what was happening and had been through a few shifts. My hair has some gray in it now and I can grow a full beard, so I imagine if time had continued passing in the orderly human fashion, I would be in my mid-thirties to mid-forties. For many years I thought I was simply going crazy, that maybe my imagination had finally gotten the best of me and was keeping me prisoner in my own mind. Which truthfully I can’t say I’ve ever fully ruled out. So I chose a better path.

When the universe is collapsing on itself or expanding to the point of tearing itself to pieces, one has to have a purpose, even if it’s self-implored. I was walking through the streets of a relatively well held together world, when I came across a Man of the World’s—the Men of the World’s are the largest and most prominent of the new religions formed after the first shift, and they can be found in almost every reality—being savagely beaten by a group of civilians. I remembered all those times I was a hero of all those different world’s as a boy, and knew what my purpose was. I helped the religious man and sent the thugs on their way. Since then I try and help someone, somewhere, all the time.

The universe is getting worse every time I open my eyes. The longer I’m alive, the more desolate the places I come across. Desert is taking over, some realities are nothing more than warped nightmares of what is almost an indistinguishable Earth. If it even still is Earth. Of course, there are prophecies about groups of gods, aliens, or other various forms of celestial beings that if found, could be pleaded to in hopes of repairing the universe. I spent some years following legends and tall tales through some of the most disgusting and dangerous places in the universe. All to no avail, if they are out there, they don’t wish to be found or provide help.

The universe is old and sick, but the people in it are still good. I’ve always hoped to meet more like me, others who can take the shifts and try to better the people who are still left. Heroes of the new world’s. But until I find them I’ll keep following the smoke, fighting the good fight, helping the poor and protecting the afraid. After all, this could just be a figment of my imagination.  

 

    40,000: A Rough Draft

    Welcome to my collection of forty Scifi, Horror, and Fantasy short stories. Every Wednesday during the year 2015, I wrote a new one thousand-word short story in one hour, gave myself thirty minutes to edit, then published it here. 

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