Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Turkey's Thanksgiving

This is just a little holiday story I wrote to use with fluency strategies at a teacher's workshop in 2010, but since it's that time of year, I thought I'd share it...  

A Turkey’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was fast approaching.  This was the time of year when all of the turkeys in the farmyard began to get nervous.  Who would Farmer Bob invite to Thanksgiving dinner this year?
Archibald, the socially inept turkey, was supposed to meet with his brother today.  Archibald’s brother, Wilbur, the mildly demented turkey, was late, as usual.  Archibald paced around in a circle, stumbling over the same pebbles again and again.
Archibald and Wilbur had been mere chicks when their mother had been invited to Thanksgiving dinner at the farmhouse last year.  She had never come back.  Perhaps that was why Archibald had grown up to be socially inept and Wilbur had grown up to be mildly demented.


By the time Wilbur finally made his way over to Archibald’s corner of the yard, Archibald was already dizzy from his circular pacing.  His head wobbled as he spoke.
“Gobble, gobble,” Archibald said.
Wilbur nodded in agreement, with a gleam in his eye.
Turkey-Speak is a language with many subtle nuances.  Archibald had, in two seemingly simple gobbles, conveyed to his brother his fear of the upcoming holiday, his uncertainty about what atrocities might be being committed at the big farmhouse, and his desperate desire to run away.  He had also hinted that he might need to go to the bathroom soon.
Wilbur’s nod indicated agreement, but Wilbur secretly had other plans.


The unspoken fear around the farmyard was that – horror of horrors – the turkey Farmer Bob took to dinner on Thanksgiving was probably eaten by him and his family.  Wilbur shuddered.  Even Wilbur was shaken by such an idea.
Wilbur had spotted the axe a few months ago.  Farmer Bob kept it in a storage box, but he often left the lid open.  Wilbur had been trying to work out how to wield it in his beak for some time now.  At first, he had planned to kill Farmer Bob with it.  However, although mildly demented, Wilbur did not lack common sense.  He eventually realized that, since he was limited by his height, he would only be able to chop Farmer Bob in the shins.  This would probably not kill Farmer Bob.  It would probably just make him angry.  If Farmer Bob was angry at Wilbur, Wilbur would surely be the turkey that was plucked from the yard this year.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.  “Survival of the fittest turkey!” Wilbur assured himself.  And so, Wilbur had hatched another scheme. Farmer Bob had never struck Wilbur as a wasteful man.   If a turkey was already dead when Farmer Bob came out on Thanksgiving morning, surely he wouldn’t take a live one into the house. 


Archibald, the socially inept turkey, did not have any friends.  They all thought he was awkward,  goofy, or just plain weird.  He had no turkey to turn to but his brother, and now he was so relieved that his brother was going to run away with him!
Wilbur had told him to meet him in back of the coop at first light on Thanksgiving Day.  Archibald was so excited the night before that he could hardly sleep.
“Gobble!” Archibald said happily to himself.
The other turkeys in the coop groaned.  They hated when Archibald talked to himself.


Archibald met Wilbur behind the coop, by the big storage locker, at first light. 
“Gobble!  Gobble, gobble!” said Archibald.
Wilbur nodded, but pointed to the storage locker with his beak.
“We’ll need that fence cutting tool there to get through the fence.  Can you get it for me?” Wilbur said.
Wilbur spoke English, as all turkeys that weren’t socially inept did when people weren’t around.
“Gobble?” Archibald said uncertainly.
“Just under the axe there.”
Once Archibald had gotten into the locker and burrowed his head down under the axe to look for the fence cutter, Wilbur jumped on the axe with all his might.  It was messy and took several jumps, but he eventually severed Archibald’s neck.
“What’s this?!” cried Farmer Bob when he went out to the yard and found a headless turkey in front of the coop. 
His wife came running out.
“Oh, no!  It’s horrible!” she cried.
“I was just coming out to see if any of the turkeys needed their annual veterinary care, and someone has gone and butchered one of them!” said Farmer Bob.
Farmer Bob, who was never wasteful, then turned to his wife and asked “What do you think we should do with this poor dead turkey?”
“Well…” his wife said, trying to calm herself.  “I guess it’s almost a shame we’re vegetarians.  Perhaps we should give it to the neighbors for Thanksgiving?”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Zombie Gras" is Underway

Well, I've finally gotten focused enough to begin my next novella in earnest.  Zombie Gras is about a third complete.  A prequel to Flesh Eaters, it should prove to be as depraved as my other works and will also contain parallels to Hurricane Katrina (my own personal apocalypse).

The final work may change, but here is a piece from what I have of Zombie Gras so far:

           I was here in New Orleans when the infection began to spread.  It was during Mardi Gras, which made things rather confusing.   Throngs of people, costumed and inebriated, create a surreal environment to begin with.  Combine that with a zombie outbreak, and you have a recipe for utter madness.
            This was before cities all became colorless, barren landscapes that looked the same.  New Orleans still had character; it was a city filled with street performers,  music, and revelry that consistently bordered upon joyful debauchery.  Visitors typically left the city knowing that they had had a great time, but any recollection beyond that tended to be hazy.  And this was amplified one hundred fold during Mardi Gras.
            It was evening, and my girlfriend and I were at the Endymion parade.  The crowds along the streets of mid-city were elaborately costumed and in good spirits.  There was a chill in the air, but alcohol was keeping us all warm and contented. 
            Adrienne, my girlfriend, in her hand-crafted green pixie costume, returned from retrieving another beer from the ice chest and lay her hand on my elbow, pulling me down so that she could speak into my ear.  Music and the gleeful screams of the crowd made hearing one another all but impossible.  I couldn't make out what she was saying to me, but I nodded and smiled, feeling comfortable and fuzzy from the alcohol. 
            Another colorful and ornate float was proceeding down the street, and I stepped up to the curb to wave my hands and shout "Throw me something, Mister!" along with everyone else.  I knew full well that I had absolutely no use for beads, doubloons, or plastic cups, but I was swept up in the ritual nonetheless.
            Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some commotion occurring across the street.  It looked like it was probably a scuffle; a crowd of people had encircled the pair, ineffectually throwing arms in to try to pull them apart.  Perhaps a fight had broken out over beads, or some man had demanded a glimpse of tits from another man's wife. 
            The float, with a blue gargoyle mounted to its front, passed in front of me, obscuring my view of the other side of the street.  We all whooped and hollered to its masked riders. 
            After it had passed, I took a swig of beer and lazily returned my gaze to the other side of the street, expecting to find the disturbance resolved.
            But when I looked again, things had become much worse.  Several people appeared to be covered in blood, and it looked as though a man at the center of the disturbance was being repeatedly bitten by several of the people around him.  Moreover, each of his limbs was being pulled by a different crazed looking individual; he looked as if he might be literally torn apart at any moment.  
            Dumbfounded, I dropped my beer and shook Adrienne's shoulder, trying to get her attention.
            My eyes still locked on the spectacle happening across the street, I noticed that additional violent conflicts were beginning to crop up in pockets around the initial scuffle.
            Maybe the alcohol played a part in it, but a terrible, warm tingling sensation washed over my entire body as it dawned on me that whatever this was wasn't an isolated incident.  It was beginning to spread, and Adrienne and I might be in danger.
            My eyes still trained on the mayhem unfolding across the street, I leaned down to Adrienne.
            "We need to go." I said into her ear. 
            "What?  Why?" she asked, confused.
            I nodded my head toward the escalating turmoil and then took her hand, leading her through the crowd.
            We began to make our way back to the car.  About a block from the parade route, we saw a woman kneeling down on the sidewalk with a child.
            "Are you okay?" Adrienne called out as we approached.
            The woman lifted her head and turned to face us.  There was blood all over her face, and chunks of gore were caked on her chin and neck.  Behind her, the child's body lay gutted.  It was difficult to be sure in that split second as the adrenaline began to pump through me, but I think the little girl's ribs were visible.  A gleam of bone protruded from a bloody pool of entrails where the child's midsection should have been.
            That was the moment when I realized there could no longer be any chance of misinterpretation.  We were at a turning point, a horrible, life defining moment -- and it was very clear that things were well and truly fucked.
            "Oh, shit." Adrienne said.
            And then we were running.  We ran to the car and got out of there as fast as we could.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Excerpt from Subliminal Debris (working title)

Chapter 1: Loose Ends

            Veronica was vacuuming the living room when, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a speck of something on the wall next to the bookshelf. 
            Turning off the vacuum cleaner, Veronica grabbed her dust rag.  Moving closer, she saw that it looked like thread.
            "Yes, it's definitely thread," she thought, giving the bookshelf a perfunctory wipe.  Then she reached over and brushed the thread away with the rag.
            Except that it was still there.  The thread appeared to be adhered to the wall.
            Sighing, Veronica dropped the dust rag on top of the top row of books and reached out to remove it by hand. 
            She tried to pick it off, but the thread resisted.
            "That's strange." Veronica thought.  It seemed to be solidly stuck to the wall.  Had someone super-glued  it there? 
            It was a piece of black thread, maybe two inches long, and its end was adhered to the wall. Grasping its end between her fingers, Veronica pulled determinedly.  However, as she pulled, instead of coming away from the wall, the thread just seemed to grow longer. 
            It was like pulling a loose thread on an old sweater, Veronica thought.   You never get to its end; instead, the garment just keeps unraveling.
            Except, of course, walls aren't supposed to unravel.  But this had become too weird for Veronica to stop; her curiosity was piqued.  She kept pulling.  Soon several feet of the thread dangled from the wall.
            On tip-toe, for she was short in stature, Veronica leaned in as closely as possible, until her nose was almost touching the wall, peering intently at the area where the thread appeared to be attached.  Upon examination, she could just make out that the wall around this mysterious thread seemed to be beginning to unravel.
            Veronica leaned back.  How could that be? A split in the seam of the wall?
            She resumed tugging on the thread with renewed vigor.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Survivor's Thanksgiving

I missed this when it was published this weekend, but better late than never...

Making the Best of the Zombie Apocalypse was featured Sunday on the What's in Our Lunchboxes? blog.  Check out the apocalyptic bento lunch and accompanying book review here: