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From Another World...
by ff_b

Commander Mantodea, sole survivor of the star cruiser Kamacuras, adjusted his flight jacket against the frigid, arctic-type wind and surveyed the forbidding environment before him.  He realized that his survival was contingent upon finding shelter, and fast;  even in an environmental suit, heat and energy would be leached from him quickly, ensuring a frigid death within hours if he failed.  

The amounts of time and energy required to bury his crew mates would be prohibitive, so Mantodea quickly donned an e-suit, seized survival gear and a side arm, and ventured out into the frozen wasteland.  The crash landing of his craft onto the uncharted planet from drive failure had not allowed for selection of a more hospitable landing site, and while a more controlled descent and better location would have been preferable, Mantodea counted himself fortunate to have survived at all.  

Visibility was poor as wind-lashed snow howled into Mantodea's visor, but he doggedly plodded towards what sensors suggested was an artificial structure some distance ahead.  Within an hour the tiring commander was within visual range of a strange, smooth surfaced enclosure of some kind whose hard contours appeared to have been organically secreted.  As Mantodea searched the apparently seamless structure for an entrance, multiple crab-like creatures each about the size of dogs scrabbled up to him and began ripping at his environmental suit with hard pincher-like claws at the end of jointed appendages.  Fearing that his suit would soon be compromised, Mantodea drew his side arm and unleashed short bursts of white energy into each of the crustacean-things besieging him.  They made clicking and high-pitched shrieking sounds before rolling onto their backs, their appendages flailing wildly before becoming motionless.  In death, the crab-things emitted a foul stench, their blood pattering green against the driven snow.

With retreat impossible at this point, Mantodea's investigation returned to his exploration of the structure's organic-appearing surface with increasing desperation.  He was rewarded at last for his efforts by triggering some kind of touch panel which made a dull humming sound and swung a large, rectangular-shaped door vertically open. Venturing cautiously inside the structure, the Commander observed a number of insectoid creatures barricaded behind a hastily thrown together wall from behind which they pelted him with objects and apparently were attempting to drive him onto a metallic floor grid which his sensors alerted him was dangerously electrified.  Retreating a slight distance, Mantodea conducted a sensor analysis which revealed the interior atmosphere to be quite breathable.

Very well, then, thought Mantodea, I can dispense with the environmental suit here!  Quickly stripping off the suit and regaining by that effort the legendary speed and fighting capabilities of his species, Commander Mantodea moved swiftly among his assailants, applying his spiked, jack-knife forelegs with blinding speed to crush his adversaries or break them in two, occasionally skewering a neck.  Although highly evolved, Commander Mantodea remained a praying mantis, a formidable insect hunter.  Rotating his alien-like head almost completely around to verify that his enemies had been decimated, the Commander began to dine on their remains, hungry from his long ordeal and in need of replenishing his energy.

Perhaps, thought Mantodea, this wretched planet might be a suitable outpost for the Xilien race after all...   8O

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Labyrinth
by ff_b

The winds of October had turned cold, and Mark pulled up the zipper on his hooded sweatshirt as leaves swirled and danced about his feet on his evening walk.  Darkness fell so early these autumn nights, and the eighty degree days he had experienced only weeks earlier now seemed but a distant memory to the college student.

Walking past the old cemetery on his usual route, Mark gazed upon the weathered and broken headstones there, faded memories of lives now long past and forgotten.- -Had it made any difference that those people had ever lived?  The melancholy thought filled Mark with an involuntary shudder, and he quickened his pace.  There were teeth in the wind now, and it had begun to spatter a chilling rain. Flakes of an early wet snow began to mix in, and Mark decided to cut his walk short in light of the deteriorating weather; this might be accomplished if he cut through the cemetery.

The shorter route is not always the best, however, and as Mark advanced along the trail winding through the cemetery he felt himself becoming disoriented in the darkness with wet snow pelting him in the face and limiting his visibility; hell, he hadn't dressed for anything like this!  In the middle of the cemetery Mark knew that there was a small caretaker's shed; if he could duck in there for a minute, perhaps he could throw off the chill, clear his head, and regain his bearings.  Surely this freak snow squall wouldn't last much longer...

The door to the caretaker's shed was only secured with a sliding exterior deadbolt; there was nothing in there worth stealing, and cemeteries by their nature tended to repel the casual and curious.  The rough wooden door creaked open in response to his tug, and Mark stepped inside, fumbling in the darkness for a light switch.  Finding one, a dim illumination came from ceiling bulbs, but Mark was surprised to see the length of the corridor before him.

He was additionally startled to see a parka-clad, bearded figure hastening towards him.  The man beckoned to him frantically, clutching some kind of firearm.  "What are you doing out here?," he shouted at Mark.  "Don't you know that its already killed Hans and Lars?  

Further conversation was rendered impossible by something with clawed jointed legs that erupted through a wall partition; twin heads dangled from the front of it, grotesque mockeries of men who had once been known as Hans and Lars.  "Run!- -Warn the others!," babbled the Norwegian as he raised the business end of a flamethrower towards the rapidly approaching horror. The flamethrower only sputtered when triggered, however, its fuel having been exhausted.  The Norwegian screamed as the thing reared up before him, splitting open to reveal what appeared to be an enormous vagina with teeth.  Gouts of blood spattered on Mark as flailing tentacles whipped around the Norwegian and pulled him inside the gaping maw.

Mark backpedaled in desperation, groping for the door which had brought him into this besieged antarctic research station.  He fell through the door, to his surprise landing on a hard concrete surface. Someone grabbed him by his collar and pulled him roughly to his feet.  A bloodied and dirty face yelled urgently into his own.  "We've got to keep moving!," the man cried. "Don't you understand?!," he implored.  "It never rests, it never sleeps, and it will keep coming at you until you are dead!"  As if to emphasize that point, a door exploded inwards, and through the portal stepped the gleaming metal endoskeleton of a model T-800 series Terminator.  The sophisticated killing mechanism fixed Mark and his new companion with baleful red eyes, and advanced on them.

"Run!," screamed the man at Mark, pushing him away.  As Mark heeded the advice, the ragged man dodged a powerful swipe of the cyborg's arm and rammed a cylindrical object between its metallic ribs.  The cyborg reached to remove the object but was too late, the cylinder detonating, killing his companion, and blowing the cyborg into several large pieces.  Mark observed with horror that the upper torso of the cyborg was still partially intact, and the device dragged its mangled body towards him with one remaining functional arm.  Almost falling over his own feet, Mark staggered through the ruined door through which the Terminator had only moments before entered.  

The door only led to another corridor, within which the low humming of engines could be heard.  Lights were flashing there, and a klaxon horn sounded an alarm.  There were conduits on the walls, and scarcely enough space existed to pass through the hallway.  In the shadows between pipes something was unfolding itself, something dark colored and shiny, like an exoskeleton.  The alien creature which emerged was both reptilian and insectile; it lifted its large, oblong head at Mark, and opened its cruel mouth within which could be seen yet a second set of jaws; clear fluid, perhaps some kind of horrible saliva, flowed from the mouths, oozing out of them.  The inner set of jaws extended towards Mark from out of the larger mouth; powerless to move, Mark stared at the spectacle, transfixed like an insect.  Gaping, the inner set of jaws rushed towards Mark; he heard a terrible, snapping sound...

...and awoke outside in darkness.  A shadowy figure wearing an expressionless white mask moved slowly towards him, brandishing a large knife on which dried blood could be seen.  Mark realized that Michael Myers had come home for Halloween.  Running between gravestones to escape the psychopathic killer, Mark wondered what he had done that was causing him to live through the scenarios of one horror movie after another.  Perhaps the scarab that he had stolen from the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities had something to do with it; Mark had offended the gods of ancient Egypt by this act, and now was cursed to be trapped in an infernal labyrinth from which he would never escape.  The spirits which had been unleashed would continue to pursue him for all eternity, implacable and unrelenting.

Mark stumbled over a tree root, falling to the cold, hard ground and skinning his knees.  Blood streaming down his shins, Mark regained his footing, aware that Michael Myers was closing, his knife hungry for the young man's flesh. His breath coming in ragged gasps, Mark staggered forward, his eyes haunted as he calls out a warning to you:


"The spirits are restless, and angry...they're coming for me now...and then, they'll be coming for YOU!"

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Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:37 pm
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Wolfbane
by ff_b


The howls of the beast rang through the darkness of the night that enveloped the eighteenth century German forest,  

a deep and throaty sound.  The sheep instinctively feared the large and strange predator that they knew lurked out

in the darkness, and they huddled together in the driving rain, bleating anxiously and hoping that maybe their

shepherd would be able to drive off this unseen threat.


Alan the shepherd had driven off wolves before, but there was something different about this one, something which

filled him with dread and sent a chill racing down his spine.   Almost as if invisible, the creature moved with

dark power around his charges, seized a lamb with powerful jaws, and vanished into the night.  It was the third

such loss that he had suffered that week, and Alan knew that it was time to call in some outside resources.


The hunter relished a good challenge, especially if it meant that he got to blast the living daylights out of

something.   He was ready the next evening, lying in wait with the shepherd for anything which might threaten the

flock.  When the darkness somehow took shape before him and regarded the hunter with baleful eyes, he pegged a

shot at it...but although he could have sworn that he hit whatever it was head on, the round seemed to have had no

effect upon the night creature, which snarled at him, roughly seized another lamb, and was enveloped by the night.


The next day, Alan the shepherd wandered the streets of the village nestled at the foot of the mountain where he

tended his flock and saw an old crone long reputed to practice witchcraft.  Seeing him, she moved away but seemed

to be limping as if wounded.   The shepherd deduced that this old woman was a lycanthrope, and that it was she who

was attacking his flocks by night!    Alan reported the woman to the local authorities, who were always eager to

suspend civil rights in the name of Christianity.  They got a few boys together and went to arrest the crazy crone

named Hazel, who managed to curse them all with erectile dysfunction before she was dragged to a prison cell and

chained to the floor.


Chains make poor restraints for magical beings, however, and they clattered to the stony ground during the night as

Hazel spirited herself free and went back to her old ways.  When the sexually-humiliated authorities went to

question the witch the next morning, they were mocked by her empty restraints which hung as limply as had

their...well, you know!


Hearing the news of the witch's escape,  Alan the shepherd again recruited his hired gun and went out to the

mountain in search of her.  The witch, however, didn't need to use her gifts to know that the troops were coming,

and Hazel was waiting for the duo when they arrived.


"Hello, boys!," greeted Hazel as she morphed into an awesome female lycanthrope before their eyes and reared up,

claws and teeth ready.  "Let's party!," she growled.


"Have at you then, you bitch!," retorted the hunter as he produced a silver hunting knife and drove the blade into

the werewolf's heart.


"I wish you hadn't done that!," moaned Hazel as she fell to the ground, writhed in agony, and returned to the form

of the crone as she passed from her mortal incarnation.


The shepherd and hunter dragged the lifeless body of the witch into town where the authorities buried her twenty

feet deep and capped the grave with a stone cross in an effort to contain the evil that had befallen the village...


...Meanwhile in the ethereal regions, Hazel was doing just fine and having the time of her death. "Only the good

die young!," mused the spirit of the witch as she played cards with demons and pondered the time and circumstances

of her next incarnation.  Clapping a hideous demon on his warty back, she  exclaimed,  "I'd rather laugh with the

sinners than cry with the saints...the sinners have much more fun!" The demons hooted and roared their agreement

amid boisterous shouts of, "You go, girl!"


...and momentarily, the howl of the werewolf again filled the land...    8O

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Killing Tyme by ff_b

No one expected to see the small but superbly trained, well-armed, and quite lethal feline mercenaries appear at the Republican National Debates, although some might have argued that their appearance was exactly what the debates needed.  They were called, Meowcenaries.

The four appealing kittens trouped right up to the debate moderator, and their apparent leader, an orange tabby, looked right up at Wolf Blitzer. Can we haz killing tyme?, he asked rather sweetly.  Caught off guard, Blitzer just gaped at the kittens, a response that they apparently interpreted as an affirmative, for it was then that all hell broke loose.

The kittens unleashed a dazzling amount of firepower, their tiny weapons raining lead upon the candidates, some of which attempted to hide behind their podiums.  Geriatric contender Ron Paul, stressed beyond tolerance by the outburst, grabbed his chest and promptly succumbed to natural causes.  Texas governor Rick Perry produced a handgun and immediately pegged a few wild shots at the kittens, but they presented small targets, and Perry obviously wasn't accustomed to dealing with anything that fought back.  The kittens concentrated their fire on the Governor, and peppered with dozens of small bullets, Perry fell backwards and collapsed to the floor.

"Lol, so much for George Bush light!," giggled the kittens, pleased with the target-rich environment.

Newt Gingrich had stepped forward and began denouncing the kittens as socialist vermin, and his ample body fat allowed him to absorb a punishing amount of fire before he too succumbed.  

The kittens refused to fire upon Michele Bachmann regarding her to be insane, and they likewise ignored Mitt Romney, finding him so boring as to be invisible.

It was over in a matter of minutes, and then there was nothing left save for splintered and overturned podiums and a smattering of applause from the stunned audience. Disappointed that they could find no cheeseburgers, the Meowcenaries prepared to leave the area in search of EvilKatz.  As they exited the area in single file, the orange tabby paused to remind Wolf Blitzer of one critical fact:

"Guns don't kill people," he offered, "Kittehs do!" It was a sentiment that most republicans could relate to, since they proclaim that their guns will be surrendered when their cold, dead fingers are pried off them.

Network ratings went through the ceiling and switchboards lit up as viewers called in to rave about the new reality show, and demand that it be made a regular feature...

...meanwhile, the Meowcenaries, their mission completed, returned to their commander, the evil genius who had employed and directed them.  From the corner of an enormous and handsomely-furnished office, we catch a glimpse of a head of hair, hair which just doesn't look right, hair which didn't properly belong on a human head...gasp!- -The hair is attached to the head of...Donald Trump!

The Donald turned to regard the four feline mercenaries waiting before him.  "So the Republican nominees have all been neutralized, have they?- -Good!  That means that the Republican nominee for president in the 2012 election will be...me!, he chortled.  "Well, my Meowcenaries, I suppose now that you'll be expecting your pay...and to think that you little fools worked for cheeseburgers!- -Well, I'm a man of my word!"

The Donald dutifully handed each small kitten a cheeseburger, which they nommed eagerly. "You stupid kitties work for cheeseburgers," lectured The Donald, "which is why you're in the lower 99% of the income population and always will be.  I'm in the upper 1% of the wealth distribution, and 'ya know what, kitties?- -I pay a lower percentage of my income in taxes than you do! Ain't that a kick in the head!"

Donald Trump began laughing, a terrible and empty sound.  Four little kitties looked at one another through darkly slitted eyes, licked their paws of cheeseburger juices, and nodded to one another.  Four little kitties trained their gun sights on Donald Trump, and then four little paws squeezed rather than pulled triggers.  The Donald danced several jerky steps as dozens of rounds punched through his very expensive suit, and collapsed to the group like a marionette whose strings had been cut.  The kittens launched themselves on the Donald's still warm body and lapped at his blood.  

But before the Meowcenaries began also to consume Donald Trump's flesh, his hair was seen to detach itself from The Donald's head and scuttle off across the floor in search of a new host, a quest in which it would ultimately be successful...

...but that is a tale for another day...   8O


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Final Evacuation by ff_b

Wandering in the woods one day, I was drawn deeper into the forest by the sound of a distant, muffled detonation.  Wondering what could have caused an apparent explosion, I walked in the general direction of the sound.  Hearing similar explosive sounds that varied in pitch and intensity, I knew that I was approaching their source.  After walking for the better part of an hour, I at last cautiously approached a clearing.

Hovering at the outskirts of the clearing, I beheld to my astonishment a variety of anthropomorphic animals therein, together with some humans.  They all appeared to be experiencing significant bodily distress, holding their abdomens, staggering about, and groaning.  As I watched, a beautiful and impossibly cute bluebird flew an irregular pattern in the air, chirped discordantly, and suddenly exploded!  

Overcome by curiosity, I ventured into the clearing and approached from behind a human female that I beheld, one who strangely appeared to be regally attired as if some kind of princess; her dimensions and features were impossibly perfect, as if she was some kind of artwork come to life.

"Ma'am, excuse me," I ventured, drawing her attention.  "I heard noises while hiking.  Can you tell me what they were?  And did I just see a bird explode?"

The woman turned to regard me with impossibly large eyes.  "You were never intended to see that!," she cried.  "And you shouldn't even be here!--You must leave at once!"

"But where am I?," I pressed.  "What is this place?," I demanded to know.

The apparent princess suddenly bent over as if seized with a terrible pain, clutching herself.  "Give me a moment!," she gasped through clenched teeth.  "The pain will subside!"  She drew several pained breaths and then gradually straightened up, resuming her regal bearing.  Her expression changed as she looked at me anew.  "You've heard of the Elephant's Graveyard, haven't you?," she asked quietly.  "The place where elephants go to die?"

"Yes, of course!," I answered.  "The mysterious and hidden place where elephants supposedly go to expire.  But what has that to do with this?," I asked her.

The Princess drew pained breaths through clenched teeth.  "This, too, is a graveyard!," she gasped.  "It is where  animals and humans of the empire existing in Florida and California go to die! "

"What do you mean?," I asked, puzzled.

"You really aren't the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?," hissed the Princess.  Grabbing me by the hand, she compelled me to follow her.  "Come, I'll show you!," she promised.  With that, the princess walked with me up to a sweet-looking doe, and held up the creature's tail.  

"What do you see there?," the princess demanded to know.

"Why, nothing!," I answered, still uncomprehending.

"Exactly!," cried the Princess, throwing up her arms in exasperation.  "You see nothing!- -All of us, animals and humans, were drawn without anuses!- -We cannot poop!"

"Oh...my...God!," I said softly, suddenly understanding.

"His eyes, opened!," mocked the Princess.  "We cannot excrete, ever!  It just builds up, until finally we someday violently explode! This unnatural and shocking manner of our demise is not fit for the public to see, so we are all drawn when it is our time to this remote place to perish!"

"I...I don't know what to say!," I stammered.

"I'll tell you what I say!," spat the princess angrily, "I'll be glad to die, do you hear me, glad!  Because do you know what else we don't have?--Genitalia!," she shouted.

Speechless, my eyes gaped wide in horror.

"All my life," sobbed the Princess, "I've waited for my prince to come!  And when he finally came, he had nothing to give me!  Nor did I have anything to receive him with!," she cried.

I became suddenly and violently ill...

"You've got to get out of here!," said the princess urgently.  "This deer is about to blow!- -And my time, too, is not far off!- -Flee, run as fast as you can!- -Spread the word, tell everyone about the horror!"

I staggered to my feet, and began running as well as my heaving guts would permit.  I had gone only a few yards when a great detonation cleaved the air, the sound of the deer exploding in all directions.  I was lifted off my feet and a stinking brown rain pelted my backside, but I forced myself to regain my footing and continue my flight.

"So...very...glad...to die!," I heard the Princess exclaim as her voice faded into the distance, the muffled sounds of other creatures departing echoing in my ears as my feet pounded the earth.

And so discharging my promise to the Princess, I share with you this sad tale of the horror, and the fate which awaits anatomically incorrect animals!- -Beware!    8O

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Pink Slime
by ff_b

Roger was consuming a hamburger for dinner when he heard on the evening news that much of the beef sold in supermarkets was supplemented by meat byproducts sterilized by ammonia, making an additive substance that was called, "pink slime."

"Appetizing thought, isn't it?," Roger asked his cat, Axel, who regarded him curiously.  "If you are what you eat, Axel, I'm in bloody big trouble!," remarked Roger as he considered all of the food additives and preservatives that he had ingested over many years.  The cat mewed in agreement, but continued to love Roger anyways.

"And to think, Axel, that I eat minced fish and boneless chicken as well!  Have you ever seen a 'minced fish,' Axel?  Do the oceans team with them?--And wouldn't a 'boneless chicken' be a sorry creature?  How could it move, for Christ's sake?!"  Axel was unable to come up with an answer.

Roger chuckled at the thought of Gary Larson's 'boneless chicken' Far Side cartoon, showing the pathetic birds oozing over the landscape of a boneless chicken ranch.  He extended his arm and gazed at it, pondering all of the strange and unnatural things that he had put into his body over the decades, some by choice but many without his knowledge.  As he stared at his arm, Roger noticed that his skin appeared to have become pale and shiny, almost translucent.  Staring closer, Roger saw through the skin, observing that his human flesh had become a kind of cytoplasm flowing beneath a cellular membrane.

Roger turned his arm over and stretched his fingers out, but they and the hand and arm that they were attached to continued to extend to impossible lengths.  "My God!," realized Roger, "I'm becoming an amoeba-like creature!  The pink slime, the years of food additives have radically re-written my DNA!--I hate it when that happens!"

Axel hissed at Roger as his once-human owner flowed from his chair and around the apartment that he occupied, extending pseudopods for locomotion.  Mitochondria and other new structures floated inside Roger's cellular membrane where until recently there had been a heart, lungs, liver, and other organs.  

A knock then came to his door.  Roger extended a pseudopod from his irregularly-shaped body, wrapped it around the doorknob, and exerted downward motion to open the door.  There standing at the portal was a magazine salesman, who looked at the gelatinous blob that Roger had become and screamed.  Roger responded by rearing up and enveloping the salesman, stopping the nasty noise and beginning thereafter the process of digesting him.  He had never cared much for salesmen, and liked screechy loud noises even less.  The salesman thrashed and released gases within Roger as his flesh began to be dissolved.

Axel the cat observed his strangely changed master and the unfolding scenario intently.  He was somewhat of an ambush predator himself, and was always interested in picking up a few tips that he might incorporate into his technique...    8O

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Endgame by ff_b

In early December of 2012, CIA Director David Petraeus arrived for a secret meeting at the White House with President Obama.

"Mr. President," began Director Petraeus, "I have extraordinary news!"

"What might that be, David?," Obama responded.

"Mr. President, my information regards the wreck of the Titanic, which as you're aware sank a hundred years ago.--Sir, the ship is...reassembling itself!"

"What is this, David...some kind of joke?," asked Obama.

"No, Mr. President," Petraeus answered solemnly as he placed a pile of high-resolution photographs before Obama.  "Three months ago, the bow and stern reunited.  Since that time, hull fissures have somehow been sealing themselves.  Ship artifacts and components settled across a large debris field have also been reuniting themselves with the vessel!"

"You expect me to believe this absurd story from a few photographs?," Obama asked, his face registering his disbelief.

"I know that this strains credulity," admitted Petraeus, "but that's not all.  Other things are happening that are equally remarkable.  For example, Amelia Earhart has been found!"

"You mean the wreckage of her Lockheed Electra?--That's incredible!  Were bodily remains recovered?," Obama asked, intrigued.

"Yes, you might say that," answered Petraeus, "in a most remarkable state of preservation!"  He removed a pager from his pocket and activated it, issuing the order, "Send her in."  A moment later the door clicked open and Amelia Earhart walked in, looking exactly as she had at the time of her disappearance in 1937.

"It's an honor to meet you, Mr. President!," said Earhart, extending a hand.  She regarded Obama's skin color, her eyes widening almost imperceptibly.  "My, how times have changed!," she added.

"Yes, indeed they have," agreed Obama, shaking the aviatrix's hand in wonder.  He then sank into his seat, overwhelmed.

"Mr. President, there's more as well," cautioned Petraeus.  "Flight 19 has returned from the Bermuda Triangle.  The Avenger torpedo bombers flew in under their own power, and neither the aircraft nor their pilots appear to have aged since they were last heard from in 1945!," he advised.

"Mr. Director...what do all of these incredible occurrences mean?," demanded Obama, eager for an explanation.  

Petraeus looked first at Obama then at Earhart.  "The ancient Mayans predicted that the world would end on December 21st, 2012," he reflected, "and it appears that their prophecy is coming true.  Remarkable events are transpiring as history draws up loose ends in preparation for the new age soon to dawn," he concluded.

"And what," asked Obama, "would you as CIA Director advise us to do?"

"At its current state of restoration, sources indicate that the Titanic will be fully functional and seaworthy by the December 21st deadline.  I would suggest that you book passage, Mr. President...we're going for a ride!," declared Petraeus.

"And just where might that ride be headed?," pressed Obama.

"The Roswell pilots long quartered at Area 51 have generously offered to guide us through a rift in the time-space continuum that will open at that time," explained Petraeus.

"Do you suppose that those aliens might let me try my hand at the controls of one of their aircraft after we pass through that continuum?," asked Earhart playfully.

"Of that I have little doubt," Petraeus reassured Earhart.

"Then hot damn!--We're headed for the future!," declared the woman from the past to two men of the present, eager to start her journey into tomorrow...   :D

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The Augments by ff_b

I. Ignition

The young fox whose cage was labeled simply as J-47 whined in pain as a needle was again rammed into his flank at

the Plum Island Research Facility.  The thick liquid burned as it coursed into his body, one of the many injections

that the fox had received over the past several months in secret experimentation designed to turn him into a

biological weapon.  


Although the fox struggled with all of his might against the restraints which held him, he couldn't break free of

them nor twist his head sufficiently around to bite the hand of the technician who injected him.  In the extremity

of his pain and desperation, the fox pushed outward with the full force of his will to make the hurting stop.

Something unexpected and remarkable then happened; a small spot on the arm of the lab technician's white coat

began to burn.  This was in itself most unusual, as the fabric was specially treated to be flame-retardant.  The

technician stared incredulously at the growing flame for a moment before beating at it with his hand, but the fire

continued to spread up his arm.  He dropped the hypo used to inject the fox and began to strip off the burning

jacket, but the flames had reached the man's face, prompting a panicked reaction. Burning merrily, the technician

ran screaming from the room.


Specimen J-47 had by then managed to wiggle out of the restraining clamps holding him, and he dropped to the floor

before advancing cautiously out of the room...


II.  The Drawing


The fox didn't know that he had been genetically engineered as a biological weapon, nor did he know that other

animals at the Plum Island Facility had also been so created, each with their own unique ability.  Common to each

animal specimen, however, was intelligence elevated to human levels to render them capable of independent operation

in their field of deployment.  The animals also shared a capacity for telepathic communication with one another so

as to be able to coordinate their efforts towards the accomplishment of a mission.  


As he cautiously entered an adjoining room to the chamber where he had been developed and raised, the fox known

as J-47 beheld a gray cat wandering about.  "Who are you?," thought the fox in his mind, a message which was

telepathically communicated to the cat, and readily understood by him.


"Why, 'ello yourself!," responded the cat, also telepathically.  "I must be M-12, since they call me that.  And who

might you be?"


"J-47," replied the fox.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude.  We seem to be able to communicate our thoughts to

one another."


"Not to worry," reassured the cat.  


"But why are you wandering about freely?  Did you escape from the men in white coats as I did?," asked the fox.


"No, but they couldn't very well keep me locked up," explained the cat.  "Allow me to demonstrate," he offered.  


With that, the cat dematerialized before the fox's eyes and reappeared several feet away.

"I'm a teleport!," explained the cat called M-12 with a grin to the incredulous fox.


"So you can move from one place to another simply by thinking about it?," asked the fox.


"Yes," replied the cat.  "I can teleport through solid matter as well."


"If that's the case," pressed the fox, "why don't you just beam through the walls or whatever it is that you do,

and get out of here?"


"Well," mused M-12 the cat, "I've done that from time to time, but they feed me here.  This is my home, or as close

to one as I have.  What is it that you do?," he asked the fox.


"Apparently this," said the fox telepathically, extending a black-furred paw covered with flame.


"Doesn't that hurt?," marveled the cat.


"Nope," reassured the fox.  "I apparently set one of the men in white coats on fire, but he was hurting me!  Are

there others like us?"


"I've met some," answered the cat, "but the white coats seem to move us out of here after a while.  They really

don't appear to want us to meet, like they're scared of what we can do, or something.  There's a ferret in the next

room, though.--Come on, I'll introduce you!," he offered.


The fox and cat padded into the next room, another laboratory center.  An animal crate was there, but it was

completely covered over rather than like the open wire cages elsewhere seen.


"So why can't this guy see out?," asked the fox.


The cat chuckled.  "He's a mental dominant," the feline explained.  "If he locks eyes with you, he can make you do

pretty much anything that he wants!"


"Who's talking about me out there?," a voice demanded to know from within the covered crate.


"Just M-12, with a new friend!," answered the cat.  "Care to come out for a spell?," he asked the ferret within the

crate.


"Do I ever!," answered the captive creature.  "These walls are starting to close in on me!"


"Be right back!," promised the cat, disappearing right before the fox.  In a moment he reappeared, his forelegs

wrapped around a ferret.


"So you can take others with you when you teleport!," observed the fox.


"Only what I can wrap my limbs around," corrected the cat.  "R-21, meet my new friend J-47, the fox.  He's a

pyrokinetic, but we won't hold that against him," giggled the cat.


The fox and ferret shook paws.  "So what's this mental dominance thing?," asked the fox.


The ferret looked at the cat.  "Mind a little demonstration?," he asked.  The cat reassured him that he did not.  

Looking into the cat's eye's, the ferret ordered, "Bark like a dog!"


A blank look passed momentarily over the cat's face, and then he began yipping and barking in a most un-feline type

fashion.


"Alright, that's enough!," interjected the ferret, and the barking stopped.  A blank expression passed over the

cat's features again as he returned to himself.


"What just happened?," asked the cat, genuinely confused.


"You're either a gifted actor, or you speak a foreign language!," replied the fox.  That speculation was cut short,

however, by the entrance of three armed men into the room.


"I think we're in trouble!," worried the cat.


III.  Firefight


Weapons were trained on the laboratory animal trio by the Plum Island security guards.  "It's the augmented

creatures!  They've escaped!," spoke one of them.


The commender of the guards nodded to his fellows.  "We're ordered to terminate them," he said grimly.  "They've

proven much too dangerous to live.  Specimen J-47 has already severely burned a researcher.--Shoot them!," he

ordered.


"I'm afraid we can't allow that to happen," replied the fox telepathically.  And then just as they were developed

to do, three genetically-augmented animals began working together instinctively, coordinating their efforts to

survive and overcome adversity.


The ferret locked eyes with one guard and reached into his mind.  "Go to sleep!," he commanded.  The guard

immediately collapsed to the floor and began snoring.


"Open fire!," ordered the commander of the guards to his remaining subordinate.  The fox had already countered,

however, reaching deeply within himself and projecting an intensely hot thermal aura, kind of a shield, in front of

them.  This bullets upon hitting this invisible barrier were instantaneously vaporized into harmless puffs of gas

which dissipated and wafted away.


The ferret's face twisted in anger as he locked eyes with the guard's commander, reached into that man's mind, and

pushed hard.  "You son of a bitch!," snarled the ferret, "You're blind!"


Darkness descended on the commander of the guards like a curtain, and he dropped his weapon to claw at his

unseeing eyes and scream, blinded and helpless.


The remaining guard still held his weapon aloft but was trembling so badly that his shots went wild.  The ferret

looked at him and smiled darkly.  "And you," he spoke into the man's mind, "why, you're just a big baby!," he

declared as he wrapped his will around the man and mentally pushed him.


The guard's muscles suddenly became incapable of supporting him, and he dropped to the floor, wet himself, and

began crying, fully infantile.


The fox ceased his intense concentration, and the energy of the protective thermal shield that he had generated

returned to him.  "Nice tricks!," he commended the ferret.


"I think we've just successfully completed our first mission," grinned the cat.  "We should be going now."  With

that, the cat wrapped one foreleg around each of his two companions and teleported them through the solid cinder

block walls of the compound outside to freedom.


"Thank God that's over!," exclaimed the fox.


"No," corrected the ferret, "it's not over yet!"


IV.  Resolution


"What do you mean, it isn't over yet?," the fox asked the ferret.


"The Plum Island Research Facility must be destroyed," replied the ferret.  "Burn it, J-47...burn it to the

ground!"


The fox shook his head in the negative.  "You've neutralized those guards, but they're still alive inside there.  

Researchers are inside, too.  We're free of them now...no one needs to die."


The ferret was unswayed, however.  He looked inside the fox's eyes and repeated, "I said...BURN IT TO THE GROUND!"


The fox's expression grew blank as the ferret's will began to dominate him.  "NO!," screamed the cat.  "You can't

mentally dominate one of your own kind!"  With that, the cat wrapped his forelegs around the ferret and teleported

him a quarter mile away, far beyond the range at which his powers of dominance were effective.


The ferret was outraged.  "How dare you do that?," he sputtered.  "Maybe I'll control you first, and then make the

fox burn down the facility!"


"How do you know that before you do that I won't teleport you underground, or perhaps into solid  rock, and leave

you there?," asked the cat.  To illustrate his point, the cat grabbed the ferret and immersed them both neck-deep

in the earth.


"Alright, you win!," conceded the ferret.  "Just take me out of here!"


"If you behave!," admonished the cat.  In a moment he teleported them both back to where the fox stood, having

come to himself.


"Maybe I should just burn YOU to a cinder, R-21, instead of the building!," declared the angry fox to the ferret.


"Cool down, I was out of line, and I'm sorry," placated the ferret, holding up his paws submissively.  "Maybe we

should each just go our separate ways," he suggested.


"No," said the cat firmly.  "We were genetically engineered to each have special powers, and to require and use

them cooperatively to achieve a goal."


"That's right," agreed the fox.  "But we don't have to use our powers as weapons in some war or covert action."


"The pursuit of the government will be relentless," warned the ferret.  "What then would you suggest that we do?"


"Rumors exist of others of our kind out there," stated the cat.  "Somewhere, there's supposed to be a snow leopard

with god-like powers who's building a colony of other genetically-augmented animals."


"We should seek the others out," advised the fox, "and our chances of survival and success in the world of men are

best if we stay together!"


...and with that thought in mind, the trio of animals nature never intended set forth to find others of their kind

as well as a place in this world...


(The End?)   8O

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Legacy by ff_b

Fritz the fox dodged and weaved his way adroitly through the forest; he could outwit and avoid his pursuers all day if need be, and in the past had often done just so.--It was so hard to believe that in the 21st century there were still places on the planet that practiced fox hunting!  Fritz wasn't as young as he once had been, however, and he wearied of the chase today.--Ah well, he could soon put an end to it, Fritz thought.  As soon as he was within the range of his remote, the fox triggered the small device.

A large section of the countryside exploded upwards as a large, robotic creature emerged.  Fritz pressed a second key for the "defend and repel" function, and his creation's third generation artificial intelligence would do the rest.  The weary fox pulled up a chair, for he would want to see this.  Riders were ejected from horses and propelled skywards as the powerful twelve foot high robotic intelligence strode among them and made the hunters the hunted, making the fox proud of his work and appreciative of those who had the original vision.  He imagined what an army of the tireless metallic warriors would have been like; nothing could have stood against them!

Fritz sat in his chair and flipped through the pages of the weathered journal that had inspired his device, marveling at how far ahead of their time those visionaries had been in the fatherland.  He had turned to Nazi super science, you see, for those occasions on which regular super science just wasn't evil enough...

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Like A Bird... by ff_b

Heloise entered the family restaurant with her brood and occupied a corner booth.  Her waitress came quickly, and Heloise ordered a popular dish with an optional second side.  The waitress asked if she'd be ordering separate meals for the children, but Heloise indicated that her boy and girl would be sharing her meal.  The waitress said that she'd bring separate plates for the children, and while Heloise expressed her thanks said that this really wouldn't be necessary.

After a reasonable wait, Heloise was brought her salad, which she devoured quickly while her children looked on.  Her main course arrived shortly thereafter, with Heloise descending upon it in the same ravenous fashion.  All the while, her children looked on, empty plates before them, and were not offered any food by their mother.  They seemed to grow more agitated as time passed, stretching their necks out in their mother's direction and making flapping-type motions with their arms in their eagerness for food.

Heloise drew stares and disapproving glances from nearby restaurant patrons, both due to her unmannerly behavior and to the fact that her children appeared famished but were being denied food.  Finally, a man at an adjoining table could hold his tongue no longer.

"Ma'am," he said to Heloise, "forgive me, but don't you intend to give your children any food?  They're obviously quite hungry!"

Heloise dabbed a napkin at her lips and shot an amused look at the man.  "Why of course, you silly man!," she chided him.  "My children shall eat momentarily!"  With that remark, Heloise began stroking her throat and making gagging, retching noises.  The excitement of her children seemed to be reaching a fevered pitch as they strained in their seats towards their mother, their mouths gaping open.  To the astonished horror of the other restaurant dinners, Heloise then began regurgitating her meal into the mouths of her children, passing the semi-digested food into the mouth of first one, then the other.

Pandemonium broke out in the restaurant, as some patrons within eyesight of the spectacle uttered cries of disgust and disbelief.  Some left their seats, and ran to the nearest exit.  Still others became violently ill at the spectacle, adding to the repulsiveness factor of the proceedings.

When she had thoroughly emptied her stomach and her children had filled theirs, Heloise calmly picked up her check, left her seat with her children in tow, and proceeded to the exit as well.  She paused at the portal of the dining room, turning back to regard the remaining stunned and disgusted patrons.

"What's the matter?," asked Heloise of her beholders.  "Haven't you ever seen anyone eat like a bird before?!" Her slender legs strutted out the door as her children came bobbing closely behind...    8O

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Eyeful by ff_b

Susan had dated Bob for some time, so long in fact that she was more than ready for intimacy with her gentleman friend.  In spite of her need and desire, Bob was strangely unresponsive to what Susan thought were her clearly communicated signals of availability.  Curious as well as needy, Susan decided to press the issue with her boyfriend.

Following a date when they were alone, Susan began passionately kissing Bob, her hands roving all over his body and beginning to unbutton his shirt.  After a moment of this, however, Bob uncomfortably communicated that it was time for him to be going, standing to leave as he had done so often before.

Susan was again frustrated and confused.  "I've got to know, Bob," she pressed.  "Don't you want me?  Is there something wrong with me?," she asked.

"No, Susan, you're fine!," assured Bob with a dismissive wave of his hand.  "You're more than fine, actually," he declared as he nervously paced the room.

"Well, what is it, then?," asked Susan.  "Are you gay?--Don't you want me?"

"No, I'm not gay, Susan," fired back Bob, "not that there's anything wrong with being that way."

"Then tell me why you don't want me," demanded Susan.  "Are you nervous about being with me?--Oh Honey, are you a virgin?," asked Susan, somewhat charmed by that prospect.

"Susan, it's more complicated than that," began Bob, clearly uneasy.  "Have you ever heard of pluripotent progenitor cells?"

"Say what?," asked Susan, totally out of her element.

Bob continued.  "Susan, when we're embryos, we're a mass of pluripotent progenitor cells.  They're undifferentiated cells until they receive messengers, chemical signals from the body.  Those messengers tell those early cells what to become, like some become bone, some turn into skin or muscle, and yet others become eye cells," he explained.

Susan was never more confused.  "That's very interesting, Bob, but what's it got to do with now?  You're no embryo, and I'm a big girl, too, she said.

Bob was in anguish.  "Susan, you see...when I was an embryo, I got the wrong messengers!"  Standing before Susan, Bob ripped off his shirt.

What Susan saw then were eyes...Bob's chest was covered with eyes, dozens of them.  Each was perfectly formed, and they all focused independently on Susan.  Some of the eyes were blue, others were brown, a few hazel, some green.  At different moments the lids of each orb closed in a normal reflex action, momentarily to open again.

Stunned, Susan stared at the multitude of eyes on Bob's chest which in turn regarded her.  When an instant of disbelief had passed, however, Susan began screaming, much too loudly for Bob's pleasure.  His eyes seemed to tense and narrow protectively at the auditory assault as well.  Susan then ran hysterically away from Bob, all lustful desire now gone.

Bob gathered up his shirt and put it back on, the outcome of this encounter not unanticipated.  Perhaps someday he's find a woman who liked a man with pretty eyes; Lord knows, he had a lot of them.  

"Goodbye, Susan," said Bob softly in the general direction of her recent departure.  "I'll be seeing you around," he whispered with just a trace of a smile...   8O

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Creepy Teddy by ff_b

Amanda and her son, Bobby, brought home her latest purchase to show Conrad, her second husband.

"Look what I bought Bobby, Conrad," said Amanda, opening a large box.  "It's a Teddy Fluxpin doll, complete with over 500 programmed phrases!  You never know what they're going to say next," she explained.

Conrad frowned.  "How much did you say you paid for this?," he asked pointedly.

"Now isn't that just like you!," protested Amanda.  "Don't worry, I put it on the charge," she answered evasively.  "And Bobby really likes it!," she boasted, handing the teddy bear to her son.

Bobby hugged the toy and fingered a small plastic tab on the bear's back.  "I love you very much!," declared the bear in an appealing electronic voice.  

"See?," endorsed Amanda, "It's really interactive!"

Conrad scowled.  "The boy is eight years old!," he declared.  "You're going to make him into a sissy with that thing!"

The doorbell rang and Bobby went outside with a playmate, leaving the bear on the kitchen table with his stepfather.  As his wife went to prepare lunch, Conrad picked the toy up and pushed the button on its back.  

"I don't think that I like you," said Teddy Fluxpin to Conrad.

"Hey Amanda, did you hear what this doll just said to me!," complained Conrad.

"They say many things," countered Amanda.  "Besides, Conrad, it's just a toy!," she protested, returning to her lunch preparations.

Conrad threw the bear roughly against the wall as soon as Amanda had left his field of vision.  "You're going to be sorry you did that," declared the bear's electronic voice.

That night, Bobby was snuggled asleep in bed with Teddy Fluxpin when Conrad entered the boy's bedroom.  He quietly pulled the bear from under his stepson's arm and carried it downstairs to the trash can, throwing the bear inside.  "I'm starting to hate you," declared the electronic voice before Conrad closed the lid on the trashcan.

The next morning, Conrad was surprised to see his stepson seated at the breakfast table with his bear.  Figuring that his wife had retrieved the bear from the trash, he resolved to replace the objectionable thing with another toy.  That day on his lunch hour, Conrad bough a doll-sized action hero figure for his stepson, presenting it to the boy at dinner and snatching the bear away.

"No, Daddy!  I want Teddy Fluxpin!," protested Bobby as his bear was taken from him.

"Big boys don't play with stuffed animals," snapped Conrad to the boy.  "Play with your new Sgt. Rock action figure!--See, he's even got a karate grip," promoted Conrad.

"Daddy, please!," pleaded the weeping boy as Conrad carried the bear off.

"You'll do as you're told!," ordered Conrad as Bobby's mother tried in vain to comfort him.

Conrad again carried the bear to the trash can and removed the lid.  The blue eyes of the bear flicked open and fixated on the grown man.  "I'm going to fucking kill you!," declared the electronic bear's voice.  Conrad slammed the toy roughly into the garbage can, and chained the lid down so that nobody could remove it.  Thumping the lid of the can in triumph, Conrad went to fix himself a snack downstairs and watched television well into the night.

It was nearing midnight when Conrad ascended the darkened staircase to the master bedroom.  He had almost reached the top step when his foot caught in the darkness on some object, causing him to stumble and lose his balance.  Conrad fell backwards and tumbled down the full flight of stairs, striking his head hard and suffering cerebral bleeding.  As Conrad struggled to maintain consciousness at the foot of the stairs, he became aware that the object which had caused his fall had fallen down the stairs against him and now rested inches away now from his face...the accursed Teddy Fluxpin doll, realized Conrad!

The bear fixed Conrad in the soft blue glow of its electronic eyes.  "I told you that you'd be sorry!," it exulted while Conrad's consciousness flickered, then faded forever to blackness...    8O

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