What happens to a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story after it has
been published, the remainder pile, a sporadic reprint, oblivion? Not
quite the half-life of linoleum. And what of the loves, lives, hopes and
aspirations of its citizens? Must they float forever in a shimmering
noösphere watching the flights of eidolons? Boring. Hence onetinleg.com.
To misquote Walt Kelly’s Pogo: “We have seen the future and it’s not
yet...” The call, dear reader, is yours; welcome to the catalog.
Feel free to copy these tales as much as you
want; pass ’em around. All I ask is that you don’t alter a story or sell
it. Many of the stories have audio versions, too. To download these to your
computer have a look at the User’s Manual.
The Ninepatch Variation
tale of the
Libby the Quilter quintet.
Libby Pease remembers her girlhood as a
litany of lost callers. Now a visitor: William Powell has misplaced
The Red Sneaker Zones
tale of the Libby
the Quilter quintet.
Libby Pease accepts having her own personal shaman
as an article of faith, which faith she could not tell. The dead Indian
smells rank, but not unpleasantly so—fresh earth clinging to over-wintering
vegetables, plug-cut tobacco and molasses.
tale of the Libby
the Quilter quintet.
"Sweet Jesus!" Libby Pease has—for just a moment,
a split second—the queer idea that there is an eyeball in her teacup.
“Uh... hello, eye.” The eye does not speak. She takes a swallow of Dr.
Pomeroy’s straight from the bottle and shakes her head to clear it.
She squints; the eye in her teacup squints back—it is her mother’s eye.
Blue as in an Early Frost
the Libby the Quilter quintet.
The closed library smells of cluster
flies, old books, hardly strange in a library, and an indefinable something—funerary
linen from some millennial boneyard, perhaps. Elizabeth Profitt Pease
strains to open the window. Shut. Tight. “What have I done for myself
lately?” Libby Pease asks no one in particular. “Not much,” she answers,
“have I?” Libby regards the pottery jar that contains her father’s ashes.
tale of the Libby
the Quilter quintet.
“Oh, the poor, dear man,” said Dicey Pease. As
they undid the corpse’s nightshirt, a smell issued forth. Noses were
crinkled, then relaxed. “The Milos,” said Libby’s mother. Pansy Graham’s
sanitary habits had been well-defined. In death as in life he was preceded
by a not unpleasant smell which Dicey identified as the yellow bar soap
provided by the Daughters of Milo.
Saint Velcro™ and the Swan
It had been, by the saint’s count, a thousand years or more since the
last tour passed through—Attila and his Hunnic Horde, their hardy ponies
pulling an endless cavalcade of Airstream trailers that stretched to
The Illuminati (Owe Carl 57 Cents)
The day the Illuminati—secret,
sinister—reentered my life Harold Junior pulled up in his rusted-out
Lincoln Continental as I was checking my mail. Our mailboxes, down by
the road, do double duty as street addresses too, here in rural Maine.
Harold’s huge domestic battle cruiser had been bought cheap and came
with a titanic appetite for gas and oil. But it never had to go far,
only start. And it plowed through drifts that would stall a Jeep.
The Queen’s Head
The heart-breaking beauty—the original
of the flesh and blood face with the moondrop eyes—resided, a carved
and painted sandstone effigy, in the Bureau of Antiquities, the face
of an ancient queen. The Sender of Dreams had sent him either a true
dream or a false dream. It was for him to find out which.
Mark Twain in Milan
A woman popped out of thin air beside
me. She was swinging a serious looking cavalry saber; she gave me the
once-over and attacked. I ducked. Her pale gray eyes grew huge. “Oh,
terribly sorry, old chap. I thought you were someone else,” she said.
“Are you still alive?” I said yes. “I say, good fun, what?” she remarked.
A bullet zinged past and we dived under the desk.
Magnetic Betty explained the problem.
“And so you see, things fly through the air and stick to me when I walk
by. None of my friends’ mothers will let them play with me.” “A tricky
business,” replied Dolby Jenks, World’s Number One Champion Detective.
“Not my field, I’m afraid, Betty. I would suggest that you find different
friends with different mothers.”
A tall insect with feathery antennae and
a nervous tic paused before the mirror of a machine plastered with multicolored
blurbs announcing it as a dispenser of a popular brand of chewing gum.
The walking nightmare spoke to his human companion. “Harry, you wait
with the bags, there’s a good fellow.” Evenly modulated tones carried
the force of a command.
The Diplodocus Effect
I covered my eyes. The face on
the phone was cloaked in a halo of light. “You are very bright,” I said.
“Transcendence. You’ll get used to it,” said Teaberry Balcom.
how come you have to use FedEx to deliver your miracles?”
The Tirewoman Gabriel
Twice a year and regular as clockwork,
when Barbara’s School of the Dance trots in the latest corps of majorettes
and ballerinas, the classic backdrop—Mediterranean hillsides with Raphaelite
shepherds and shepherdesses discreetly about their distant businesses—was
always requested. In addition to shepherdesses on their backs in the
grass under fluffy clouds, there is a backdrop of a convent garden at
dusk. Giant bumblebees prowl thick wisteria, vines knot to frame a lovers’
bower. Before the foreground, hogging the floor, lies a toppled faun,
his lips curled in a sneer of passion. I could not bear to throw the
stuff out. Some day someone would want to be immortalized with a leering,
The Missingest Man in America
“I am Joseph Force Crater;
I am a judge of the New York State Supreme Court. I am not the Adversary.
Your chastity is safe with me; I am a Democrat.”
Thelma Wagstaff blew herself away as
she sat on her high red upholstered stool supervising the cash box at
the White Street Billiards and Snooker. Thelma hit the floor like she
had fallen out of an airplane, no parachute, and her pistol went bouncing
toward Ed Seitz and me. Ed and I were absorbed in the cushion shot he
was negotiating. We did not look up; there was a fiver riding on Ed’s
The Moose in the Noösphere
The man, an Algonquian, met
the moose head on on a springy forest trail. The moose had come that
day to drop his antlers and wanted to be alone. It had been an open
winter, roots and lichens dying off for lack of snow cover. With bad
foraging the moose was tired and irritable. The moose had dropped antlers
before and anticipated the loss with regret. His antlers amplified the
fall of snow, the separation of a dry leaf from its stem, the impact
of a pine needle on the padded forest floor. To go antlerless was to
imitate the solitude of starvation and withdraw into himself as into
a heavy, windless snowfall.
The Last Teddy Bear
“Where is the bear when the bear
is not where the bear should be?” asked Frankie Jelinek’s husband with
sweet reasonableness. “Ever think about that?”
“No,” said Frankie,
“I don’t. Wherever teddy bears go. Maybe a picnic.” Steve gave his wife
a sleepy kiss and rolled over. Supernatural phenomena were not in the
baby care books. Yet...
Dr. Ann Mari Buitrago y Francher approached
the paddock at General Motors Organics in Flint, Michigan. This close
to the former factory sites toxic residue in the soil precluded food
use for humans even after fifty years. Harvesting parties came, carrying
weapons and riding armored threshers and combines. The crops were destined
for the fermentation vats to feed the Organics.
The Year They Invented Frozen Lemonade
“I am midtown.
Manhattan?” Linda Winkelman speaks her question out loud in the middle
of the rush hour push; no one takes notice. Linda is standing in the
middle of a street. She can not recall who she is or why she is here.
“I remember lemonade,” says Linda. Buildings disappeared, people disappeared.
Now it is her turn. Linda Winkelman was born the year they invented
The woman at the far end of the kaleidoscope
had not been there last week, of this Simon was sure. She was naked
or near enough, thinly dressed in a diaphanous veil. “Holy shit!” Simon
Alexander breathed on the lens and gave it a wipe with his sleeve. “I
see that I have your attention...” said the woman, “...finally.”
McMuckle Makes a Minyan
The ineffable, unnamable God
of Hosts stood with a burly, bearded personage who held a bar towel
draped over one arm, a symbol of his trade. The golem toyed nervously
with an ear. “My people should quake at My unutterable Name, not fall
on their tukhes,” God sighed. The ear came off. “Bim... this is not
about you. Try to stay on topic.”
It was a real nice laying-out—tasteful.
Well, maybe not so much tasteful particularly, but neat. They’d got
Ed’s left arm attached to his head and not his shoulder. And they had
the remaining right arm attached on the left side. To look like them,
Daphne Longhandle’s Last Flight
“See that, Franklin?”
said Eleanor Roosevelt. “That’s O’Brien.” Franklin observed a line of
stars on the eastern horizon. There were four. “Oops, sorry.” Eleanor
nodded at her new constellation, O’Brien, and the fourth star blinked
The Walking Lesson
“The damned town looks like a trailer
park,” said Simon Alexander. There was only one tree left of the elm-canopied
streets of their childhood; Carpelli Construction was wrestling it down.
An older man appeared to be in command. He stood ramrod straight in
a corduroy suit with leather elbow patches. Ten men with yellow hard
hats tucked under their arms waited expectantly.
The Song of the Rice Barge Coolie
“My sister, is she
dead? Go and give her a poke, would you?” The great white presence that
was the Lady Mother of the Long Walkers indicated the row of captive
queens on their dais beneath her, deferentially lower.
The Runaway Bungalow
“Arrgh! See me neck, lad?” The
pirate’s head hung at a grotesque angle from where the long executioner’s
knot had settled at the base of his skull. Theophrastus Bigelow was
a big man—the weight of his fall through the executioner’s trap had
broken his neck, but had not killed him immediately. He lifted a ten-kilo
strand of gold chains to reveal his scars. “Admirable, what-oh?” The
mark of the hangman was stamped on Bigelow’s throat.
E Pluribus Human
“YO, BABE!” a man’s voice blared at
Grenadine McKenzie, “SURPRISE, YOU’RE PREGNANT.” A craggy male face
bloomed before her. The face was a hero’s face, Lance Davenport from
Rights of Spring. There was an odor of patchouli.
A Pass on the Tabouli
A remake of Kipling’s Kim
is in the offing—it will be a musical. Meanwhile the salad choice at
the studio commissary is suspect in a series of weird happenings.
Gloria Swanson, Marcia Harding, Errol Flynn and Rudolph Valentino
team up to fight the forces of disorder.
Boys’ Night Out
Hillary pushed the platter of cookies
across the center line back to Sally’s side. “We went the Lysistrata
route—Aristophanes? Withholding sex, that got their attention. First
we tried threats and confrontations about those things they will keep
on dragging home to bury in the yard—the boys can’t recall anything
of their midnight rambles or so they say. Dear, please don’t let your
mouth hang open like that.”
The Death of James A. Garfield
Did I tell you I went
to James A. Garfield Elementary? Probably not. We had cheerleaders and
a losing basketball team for them to cheer for—Bobo skewatten-daddle,
get it right! James A. Garfield gonna win tonite!
I missed out on
World War Two because I was pigeon-toed. School spirit saw to it that
I was more or less informed about the late president.
I Want to Share Your Wheat
Prosper Epilegomenes is a
mouse demon in service to Sminthian Apollo. He blows up a car dealership
and kills a troublesome neighbor.
Klein, the Clone
Twins play which kid’s got the papers.
Originally published as The Flags of All Nations Hors D’eouvre Toothpick
The Prophet Harry
(from The Return of the Orange Virgin)
The smell of fresh cut grass with the roar of a two stroke engine said
Harry was doing the library lawn. He must have been at it for hours
and that meant he was drinking. Riding circles and massaging the turf
till the beer or the gas gave out.
A Special Providence
“I thought there was a special
providence that looked out after these things,” said Gerry. A ten-dollar
jackpot dropped into the takeout drawer. “There is,” said a voice. “And
don’t whack the machine—the lottery corporation doesn’t favor muscleheads
abusing church property.”
Two of Swords
Capt. Futvoye Halfnight, D.D.S, popped
his dropped eye into its socket. “Ahh...” What he saw ahead was not
reassuring. “Ohh...” A great gnarly man was leaning against a tree and
staring at him. He was naked but for the skin of a tiger which he wore
nonchalantly over one shoulder. “You pilgrims should carry rearview
mirrors. You leave an inventory of lost lesions and dropped appendages
all over the landscape,” said the man.
His great green eyes invited her to share a secret
knowledge, intimating she was trusted, but not yet ready for a full
revelation. Her species would have to mature.
Dead Man in the Yard
There was a dead man in the yard
this morning. I checked in my wallet for my latest picture of the front
yard. I have a collection of yard pictures that goes back for years
but I usually carry only one photo at a time. No, he was a new arrival.
I called Sheila. Sheila is my ex-wife.
Lord Zorgon of Sulunia sighed, a great exhalation
redolent of smoldering carpets. “Where was I? Facelifts, yes. Women,
whatever their ages, never wish for sensible things like orthotics or
“The power is in you...” From between
guardian gates of veneered mahogany, dead center in the television’s
tiny screen, a lacquered, pomaded TV preacher leered out from behind
a fence of scan lines. Fr. Coughlin gave the TV a kick. The picture
rolled over, the screen went dark, then popped back on minus the lines
but with the sound full throttle. “JESUS IS WAITING,” boomed the preacher.
Sylvester and Beany
The year the monarch butterflies
didn’t return to Maine, I went home to Brooklyn. “Something in the milkweed,”
they said. With a cold winter and no milkweed to browse to keep up their
strength on the long flight from Mexico, the butterflies weakened and
froze, dying in their millions.