This sketch was chosen for the League’s student show at the Phyllis Harriman Gallery. The class was all there, showing their best work
From my short story published in the limitless Visions VII: Universes anthology:
When I first saw the Professor, I thought he was a dingbatter, the kind of tourist who would come to our little Outer Banks Island, lean out the car window and shout, “Hey kid, what time does the 4 o’clock ferry leave?” But he wasn’t that way at all.
I met him when I was working behind the counter at Momma’s video store. My real job was to get on my bike and deliver videos, but Momma wanted to go out to lunch, so she said “Amelie, you’re on the register.” and I was stuck inside.
Luckily my best friend Jen showed up. Momma was gone, and when the cat’s away, the mice will play. We got a pile of returned videos from the Adult Section and tried to find the funniest titles. Jen very delicately put her long black hair behind her ear and presented C. Assablanca. I found Tom Dare, Crack Detective. We were already giggling ourselves silly when the Professor came up to the counter with Paper Moon. That sent us into hysterics. No one can laugh harder than thirteen year-old girls.
He brushed the sleeve of his jacket and said “Young ladies!”
I stopped laughing. The man had the whole professor look down, from the tweed jacket with elbow patches to the shock of white Einstein hair. His dark face was framed by a grey goatee and topped off with little gold-rimmed glasses. Why would such a respectable dude be renting porn?
[This story was inspired by a somewhat disinterested tourist I saw in Venice]
Life used to be good. On a regular day, I’d get up around noon. Maggie was at work, Angie was in school, I could shower my meaty self and smoke in peace. Then, comb my thick black hair, pray the first novena, put on a pair of sunglasses to cover my bloodshot eyes and go to the cafe. Bang down some high-test espressos. Watch the skirts go by, shoot the shit with Uncle Stanz and the guys.
Before the tourists got in, I’d pack the underside of the seats with bootleg smokes and JoySticks, cover them with a cushion before the cops cruise by. Then wait for our marks, umm … chumps … umm … tourists to show.
On a scale from one to ten, farm girls from Tuscany in town for a bachelorette party were the best tourists, definite nines. Silicon Dendrites from one moon over were my least favorite. They were great trading partners – who else would buy tons of brine waste from our desalinization plants – but they talked in farts and ooze. Not great conversationalists.
Second from the worst were Deepwater Blavoks from two moons over. Educated and urbane, they saw us the way we saw the dendrites; lower creatures. With them it was a short exchange of sharp-toothed pleasantries, swipe the credit card and slither into the water, on their way to a methane spa.
The best, the absolute tens were our lost cousins, the Earthmen.
“Miss Patel’s Holiday” is part of the awesome, futuristic, Visions VI, Galaxies anthology, edited by Carrol Fix.
A murmuration of starlings is a system that’s ready to be almost instantly and completely transformed, like metals becoming magnetized or liquid turning to gas. Each starling is connected to every other. When they turns in unison, it’s a phase transition (def. – when a substance changes from a solid, liquid, or gas state to a different state. Every element and substance can transition from one phase to another at a specific combination of temperature and pressure.)
At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When your neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size, speed and individual flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. But we don’t know yet what physiological mechanisms allow this to happen almost simultaneously with two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds.
The implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological transition that operates in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.
More about Murmuration (via Wired)
I’ve got a giant and super-messy first draft that I’m trying to put into readable form, so I’m using #NaNoWriMo2016 as a guideline to get me into a 1,500 word-per-day writing/editing schedule.
Word count updates will be here.
If you’re joining and need a writing buddy, I’m ‘Mary P Madigan’
Wishing everyone the best of luck!