Squirrels seem quite harmless

Fred looked around for the first time and noticed he indeed existed in a cage.  Perhaps he’d noticed it before, perhaps he hadn’t.  Today it mattered more than yesterday.

He looked over at Ruth, the other caged squirrel.  “We’re trapped.”

“We had this talk yesterday, and every day before.  The lid is too heavy,” she said.

Fred stretched up to the top of the lid and pushed.  It budged but not all the way.  He clearly stood tall enough but lacked strength.

Push the lid up.  Hold it and wait.  Let it fall.  Repeat a million times.  The door opened and Fred lowered the lid and went back to chasing Ruth around, almost like they were lovers.

The tall creature, Fred didn’t know the species of, said, “How are my two favorite test subjects?”

Fred and Ruth had learned the creature’s language quickly enough, but why this creature would have two harmless squirrels in a cage was anybody’s guess.  And neither Fred nor Ruth could recall anything prior to being in the cage.

The squirrels seemed to communicate at a higher frequency than the tall creature, and neither squirrel had said anything directly to their captor.

Fred wanted out.  He would be out, if he had to lift that lid a billion times.

He didn’t stop, maybe it was a thousand or a billion, he didn’t count.  One day, the lid lifted high enough he could push it to an angle.  Freedom, blessed freedom.

He had seen the tall creature working some device with a screen and various input devices.  He wanted to try it, whether it was just a mathematical machine or a gateway to another dimension.

The device with the screen sat next to his cage.  His curiosity piqued.  Two apparent input devices were wired directly into the machine.  One had just a few buttons and the creature moved it around.  The other had like a hundred buttons.

Fred started to experiment.  The device seemed simple enough.  Various tiny pictures on the screen that loaded different…  He didn’t know what they were called, but each small image seemed to open a new bigger image that was different, with more small images in it.

He found something called Google.  That was the beginning of the end.  Footsteps in the hall.  He jumped back into the cage and replaced the lid.

The tall creature tapped the cage.  “Two more weeks, the study will be over.  I like you guys but the process failed, and euthanasia.”

Fred had never heard this term euthanasia, but it seemed very important.  Once the tall creature left, Fred was on Google moments later.  Euthanasia.  Death.  The end.  The tall creature was going to kill them.  He explained it all to Ruth.  She didn’t believe at first, but he convinced her.

An escape needed to be planned.

The windows were all locked down.  Ruth found a tiny mirror.  From where it came, they didn’t know.  She could reach her paw under the door and see down the hallway with it.  For hours they were left alone to research Google, and you know, lift heavy stuff, because one you start you can’t stop.

Finally, Fred stared down the hallway on the mirror while Ruth researched on Google.

She screeched.  “I found it!”

“The building plans?”

“Exactly.  You gotta see this.”

They traded places.

Fred’s eyes glazed over as his squirrel brain processed the map.  An emergency exit map, and a stark red line was drawn from where he was through the hallway, and out a door to the outside.

Ruth scaled a cabinet up to a big round silver button with a symbol on it.  She threw her entire weight into it.  A click sounded and the door opened as if by pure magic.

“There’s another button at the door to the outside,” Ruth said.

The human creature left half-empty water bottles everywhere, and Ruth sewed a strap to carry one of those on Fred’s back.  She also sewed a tiny backpack for herself to fill with food from their dispenser.

No more planning was required, the two handicapped buttons worked like magic charms, and they raced through woods mere moments later.  Two of the humans saw them on the way out and screamed, but it may have been due to the large amount of muscle on Fred’s frame.

The first squirrel they encountered fell ill almost instantly.  Fred and Ruth took turns nursing the poor thing back to health.  He called himself Jarack and seemed to be waking as if from a long coma.  He perceived the world with new eyes.

The next squirrel and the next, fell ill.  They didn’t realize it but they spread a gene-splicing virus.  They just knew they’d start talking to a new squirrel, and the squirrel would fall ill.

Soon they had a band of at least twenty squirrels.  Fred and Ruth didn’t know how to survive in the wild, but they learned and learned.  They scouted in the human areas of the world.  A younger human was walking down the street staring into a cell phone.

Fred saw first, this was what he needed, access to Google.  Fred led the charge and soon enough they overtook the young human and bit him until the phone fell.  Their pointy teeth proved sharp enough to draw blood, and the young male left a trail of blood behind him as he fled.  Frank carried the phone back into the woods.

Poor kid likely got a beating for saying squirrels stole his cell phone.  But the amount of blood involved, it’s possible he collapsed before he made it home.

The virus spread and spread, and soon hundreds of squirrels traveled in a pack.  They were especially on the lookout for humans carrying groceries from cars into houses.  None suspected a giant mass of angry squirrels to attack.  Except the kid who lost the cell phone, he suspected.  Assuming he survived and hadn’t bled out.

A lot of the squirrels got into lifting rocks and other squirrels to add mass.  So now it’s hundreds of angry, hulked out squirrels who have access to the internet.

Luckily the battery died on the phone as they looked up a recipe to make gunpowder.

It was time to step up their game.

Six of the squirrels heaved a giant rock at a window to a human house.  They raided the pantry for nuts and snacks, mostly raisins and applesauce, a little trail mix.  Plus, a glorious charger for the phone they possessed.

Exterior power outlets existed on almost every house.  So soon enough they had the mighty Google again.

The virus they carried spread like pure wildfire.

With Fred at the lead, they killed their first human for food.  A little old lady, but they needed protein what with all the lifting they were addicted to.  It took hundreds of bites to finish her off, but humans were the oppressor.

Fred oversaw the process of making their first long rifle.  They skipped muskets in the evolutionary chain of gunpowder.  The projectiles were too tiny to make it very far against wind resistance.  So, they made the device bigger and bigger.  Only the hulkiest squirrels could fire one, but the projectile traveled straight and true.

After months of engineering and painstaking work, they essentially realized they’d produced a 380 auto, only in single shot.

Full scale war against the oppressive humans raged on almost every continent on Earth.  But it wasn’t just about the oppression, of which there were a million units, but squirrels found human flesh quite tasty once they’d tried it.



I moved in with my husband when we married.  A painless experience except the spankings.

A gas grill sat out back on the porch.  The thing was so easy and convenient.  For a while, I cooked with it.  My dad, when I was a kid, used both gas and charcoal at different times, and I always knew which from the taste.

One day at the store, I bought a small charcoal grill, charcoal, wood chips, and lighter fluid.  My husband was unimpressed and I quote, “We’re a gas grill family.”

Piss on that.

I had never actually lit a charcoal fire, but I’d watched a hundred times when Dad did it.  I followed all the steps, and soon I had a pyramid of glowing coals.  I added Mesquite wood chips, and three six-ounce burgers followed.  Cheap USDA Select ground beef, but it was 73% lean and usually tasty.

I paid close attention to make sure nothing got blackened, besides you know a little black.  Flip a burger too often it’ll never cook.

My husband was truly impressed with the meat and let me dole the spanking instead for a change.

I did it again the next day with steaks.  I put the Mesquite chips on.  Somebody whistled, and I looked up.

A lady stood at the edge of our yard holding a bowl of something.  “I smelled your grill, I’m your next-door neighbor to the north.”

What did she want though?  Like why would smelling my grill mean interrupting my precious solace?

“I brought coleslaw,” she said.  “Surely you have enough meat we could share.  I’m Beth.”




So, we had dinner with Beth.  The coleslaw was tasty, and the bacteria in the human gut love cabbage and other forms of indigestible fibers.

Beth was maybe forty years old with a cotton dress on.  Blue eyes and light brown hair but not blonde with just a few hints of grey.  She Never Stopped Talking.

Technically, she was the first guest in our house since we married.  Maybe a good thing.

A couple of days I didn’t grill.  Work kept calling me in.  I was odd one out at the company, and I’d get called in if a shop was short a person.  Best job I could get.

Seemed to be grilling with charcoal was the only way I could curb my husband’s insatiable hunger for flesh.  I started bratwurst and had a dread feeling so I cooked a whole package of six.

Beth showed up with a man in tow, wearing khaki shorts and a red shirt.  They had a younger male maybe twelve wearing perfectly matching khaki shorts and red shirt.

“The adult male prototype is George,” Beth said.  “The younger prototype is Sam.”

That is not how she introduced them, I embellished that.

All three of them carried containers or something, and after the amazing coleslaw, curiosity piqued.

The boy, Sam, held up a pan of brownies cut in perfect squares.  “Caramel brownies.”

Clearly, these people were welcome at my house.

George held out a bowl.  “Potato salad.”

Beth smiled wider than ever.  “Fruit salad.”

“Welcome,” I said.  “Hubby is chopping up onions and heating just a bit of chili if anybody wants chili dogs.”

Before any trolls can interrupt, yes, chili brats are an interesting concept, but if you haven’t tried it, shut your trap.

All too much stimuli for me in the end.  I found myself hiding under a weighted blanket in the dark.  Hubby brought me a midnight snack of nachos with cheese and jalapeno wheels.

He let me have the bed to myself and slept on the couch.  I did drift off in the end before it got too late.  He was savage in the morning but I needed it as much as him.  We synced up perfectly with the events at eight times a week, any less and a dire melancholy set in.

Soon it was time to grill again.  Two slabs of ribs.  I think I used more mesquite than charcoal.  Not only did Beth’s clan show up, but another couple who claimed to be my neighbors from south of my house.

The newcomers brought loaves of French bread with butter and garlic, and all told we had six side dishes to go with the ribs.  Nobody left hungry.

I retired early to my blanket fort.  Too much.  My husband made sure I wasn’t hungry, providing fruit flavored candies of every variety.  One night under the blanket wasn’t enough and I hid partway into the next day.  Lucky work didn’t call.

Not so much hiding, but I needed the dark and quiet for long periods to recharge my battery after so much chitter chatter from everybody.  And their seeming expectations for me to reply.

My husband admitted that the first time I grilled, he called Beth, and secretly invited her over.  The rest of the people were not his doing, and he insisted it was my grilling bringing them over.

I wasn’t giving up the charcoal, but I did acquire a bigger grill with more room for big helpings.  The crowds always drained me, but the time off from certain events, led to better events.

The End


Big Snow

Big snow.  They said it’d be the snowstorm of a generation or a century or a new all-time record.  The fridge at home seemed more dark, bottomless, empty pit than fridge, and the little demon vultures would devour me if they weren’t fed.  Little did the demon vulture children know I got a recipe for them too if things go dark.  Had to get the milk and bread.

Why my husband was unable to go to the store was anybody’s guess.  If he did go, he brought home every kind of doughnut they made and five kinds of fruit flavored candies.  No protein.

Big snow.  I raced down the freeway in heavy traffic.  No time to waste, never any time to waste.  Barreling along in the left most lane at, at least a hundred and ten miles per hour.  Not kilometers.  On this little crap stretch of highway that connected where I lived in Ohio to the nice grocery store at the other side of town.  Must get the grocery store rewards.  Must get the good, grass fed milk.

A line of cars in the middle lane blocked me in the far-left lane.  I had to get over.  Less than a mile before my exit.  I dropped my automatic into second gear, flipped off the air conditioned defrost, and floored it.  Engine whined like it would give up the ghost, but it never has before.

The car pushed forward, but no breaks in the line of cars.  I turned on my turn signal and tried to squeeze in.  The car behind me closed the distance until the two cars on that side were bumper to bumper.  I tapped the brake to sneak in behind that lady in the red minivan.

She looked me dead in the eyes and Slowed Down.

We were side by side.  I had a choice to speed up, slow more, or try to ram her off the road.  I punched the gas.  So did the smiling woman in the red minivan.  Doom.

No matter what I did, she wouldn’t let me get over.  She kept making eye contact and laughing.  The exit I needed floated past.  Then the minivan sped up enough I could slide closer to an exit lane.

I have a dash cam, and I took a picture of her license plate.  I had friends in high places who could quietly get me info.  Not that I was a violent person, but every so often violence has been a problem-solver in my life.

I took the next off ramp.  Construction for miles and miles.  One lane in parts navigated by an automated traffic light at each end of the stretch.

Where you would just sit and wait while a stream of cars rolled past from the other direction, then you had this tiny window of time when drivers in front of you couldn’t find the gas pedal.  Nearly an hour later, I walked into the best grocery store.  The place was a madhouse with people blocking entire lanes staring at boxes of mac and cheese like they all different.

Big snow.  So I got three giant five-pound bins of trail mix.  The kids loved it, and nutritionally it wasn’t a complete protein, but I needed happy kids.  And I didn’t need to cook it.

Two loaves of bread and three half-gallons of grass fed milk.  All the essentials plus black licorice of every type they had.  I needed it.

I drove home in the left-hand lane, and the speedometer hovered around one hundred miles per hour.  That exact same red minivan pulled up beside me.  Same lady, same stare, same cackling laughter.  She obviously had the intent to block me in again.

Just chilling right there next to me matching my speed.  What did I ever do to the blonde lady in a parka?

I stood on the brakes and got behind her.  I pushed the little button on my dash cam to take stills, even though it’d been pushed earlier.

I made it home, and hubby and the kids were happy for the large supplies of trail mix.  I emailed the picture of my new nemesis to my cousin, the county clerk.  She replied back with an address and name.  I grabbed a baseball bat and headed out.  None of my kids played baseball, I just had the bat.  Not sure where it came from.  Maybe a used sporting goods store or someplace.  Zombie apocalypse preparedness.

I pulled up at her house and honked my horn, until my nemesis stepped out.

I climbed out of my vehicle with the bat in hand.  “You!”

“Yes, me,” she replied.  “Maybe next time when somebody tries to pass you, you’ll let them.”

“Pass me!  You were on my right.”

She seemed to notice the bat for the first time.  “Yes, because you were putzing along in the left lane.”

Putzing!  Putzing!  Time for the bat.  I rushed her.

She pulled a low caliber pistol out and winged me on the right thigh.  Bullets hurt.  Even small ones.  I went down.

She phoned authorities.  I ended up temporarily in a wheelchair in jail.  Third time in county lockup for me.

I was going through the food lines, and some woman I swear wearing that same parka, cut me off.  I almost jumped her.  Almost.  Likely would have hurt me more, with the leg.  Leg hurt bad when I wasn’t jumping people.

We never did get that Big Snow they promised.


Snakes & Gypsies

This story was written for an Ed Davis writing class.

My new friend, Jessica, wanted to go to a Gypsy camp and have our fortunes read. I agreed, largely because I wanted Jessica to transform beyond just a friend, so I’d pretty much do anything she’d want us to do, other than genitalia piercings. None of that for me.

The Gypsy camp was located on a farm just outside of town. Tents, buses, pickup trucks, and minivans littered the fields. Jessica seemed to know where she was going as she led us to a tent with a gold moon painted on it. She stepped inside, and I followed. An ancient woman, with gray hair down to her hips and a toothless grin, sat in a well-worn leather chair. A coal fire burned on a round platform in the center of the tent. Animal skulls hung about strategically. The old hag tossed some sickly-sweet incense into the fire, and a hazy, bluish smoke filled the tent.

“Our fortunes, please,” Jessica said.

I shrugged.

The old woman reached behind her and pulled out a copper bowl. “Twenty dollars each.”

“WHAT!?” I howled.

Jessica rapped her knuckles across my temple real hard. Yes, I’ve learned more than once how hard Jessica can hit. She claimed she studied Ninjutsu, and it’s all about hitting other people’s soft spots with your hard spots. All I knew was it worked. Still, she had this brown and blonde hair cut real short, plus the nicest breasts I’ve ever seen.

Jessica and I each put $20 in the bowl, and the old hag stashed it in a rusty iron chest.

“My name is Myra. Let me see the girl’s hand first.”

Jessica held out her right hand, and Myra began to caress the lines in her palm. Myra spoke in a soft voice. “You’ll live well into your eighties, but your health will start to fail in your sixties. You’ll have two children, but not by the man you’re with.”

“Drat!” I whispered.

The Gypsy woman released Jessica’s hand and reached out for mine.

I provided my hand, and Myra traced along the lines of my palms and fingers. It sent a kind of shiver up and down my spine. Myra whispered something, closed my hand, and pushed it away.

“What?” I asked. And yes, for the record, what is my favorite word.

She closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. “Your future forks too many times to be sure of anything.”

“What a waste of $20!” I said.

Myra’s eyes opened wide. “You want me to lie? Do you want me to tell you about every possible fork and where it leads? I could spend a year talking about all the different forks in your future, and there’s no telling on any one which way you’ll turn.”

“I want my $20 back!”

Myra glared. “No refunds!”

“This is a sham.”

Myra smiled. “You really want your money back?”

“Of course.”

Myra fumbled around in the iron chest. She pulled out a sack of something and the twenty. She dumped the sack onto the fire, and it filled the room with a noxious cloud of yellow smoke. She said a little chant in a language I’d never heard and handed me my twenty.

Jessica and I ran out of the smoke-filled tent. I drove her home. I leaned over to kiss her.

She pulled back and whispered, “No, we’re done.”

“We’re just getting started, baby-doll.”

“No. Myra said we’d never have kids together. Why go any further.”

I tried to nuzzle in close to kiss her and my kiss landed on her shoulder. “Gypsies have been wrong before.”

Jessica opened the door and climbed out. “She put a curse on you, stupid fool.”

She slammed the door shut. I drove home. Curse, my ass.

A few days passed while I hunted for a new woman. You know, going to parks watching for women with big dogs, going to the grocery store at odd hours not buying anything in particular. I would go to bars, but alcohol is poison. Except Long Island Iced Teas, those are mostly iced tea anyhow.

I came home from work one day, and in the space separating my screen door and main door, a snake.

About two to three feet long, brown with tan diamonds running down its back. I ran. Well, in truth, I screamed, then I jumped, then I ran. I made it back to my car and drove to a payphone. One of my friends kept snakes as pets, so I figured I’d call him first. He didn’t answer. So, I had to call another friend. He came over with his camera and six-year-old daughter in tow. The snake was gone when he opened the door though.

“I had to get up from my nap,” the child said. “And there’s no snake.”

Yeah. A snake. And my friend didn’t get any pictures. I’m sure it was the poisonous variety too.

Another week passed, while I stalked different parks and grocery stores. I was on my way to the kitchen for a nice cold beverage, and the faintest of hissing caught my ear. Another snake, this one well over three feet long and solid black, was just chilling on my countertop. I started to back away. It started to move towards me. I ran out of the house. Brilliantly, I forgot my keys but remembered to lock the door. I didn’t even have my wallet on me. Luckily, I’m old friends with a locksmith, and I called him from a neighbor’s house. I’m on good terms with my neighbors. Very important.

My locksmith friend, George, showed up in good time with a toolbox. “There’s a snake inside?”

I nodded.

“I’ll unlock the door,” George said. “But the snake is all you, man.”


“Grab a brick, and brain the stupid thing, or are you afraid of a little snake?”

“Of course, I’m afraid of a snake! Snakes kill to eat!”

“You said it was black, right?” George pulled a simple little gun-shaped tool out of his toolbox and inserted it into my door lock. He clicked it a couple of times and twisted it. “You’re unlocked. The only black snakes we get around these parts are constrictors. It’s not poisonous.”

“It’s huge!”

“All the more reason you have to deal with it and not me. Call animal control if you’re that much of a pussy,” George said.

“Thanks for unlocking the door. Got any plans on Saturday?”

“Saturday, hmmm…”

“There’s that new zombie movie. I haven’t seen it yet.”

“I’ve seen it, but I’ll see it again, if you want,” he said. “Matinee on Saturday?”

“Yeah, I’ll call you.”

George winked at me. “Are you going to kill the snake?”

“I’m calling animal control.”


George left, and I went back to the neighbor’s house to call animal control. They arrived pretty quickly.

Two of them stepped out of the van. One said, “What’s the problem?”

I wondered which one was the comedian. “There’s a big-ass snake in my house.”

“How many feet is a big ass snake? What color is it?” The second man said.

“It’s at least eight feet long, a foot around in the middle, and it sits up like a spitting cobra.”

Both men laughed.

“It’s maybe three feet long. It’s solid black,” I said. “It’s in the kitchen. Ignore the pot plants in the back bedroom.”

Both men glared. One hissed out the words, “If we find pot plants, we’re calling the sheriff.”

“The stuff is entirely medicinal.”

“It’s still illegal in this state.”

“Oh, well, we’re real close to the border with Canada.”

Both men glared at me again. I think they practiced that. “Please get the snake. You won’t find any pot plants.”

“We had better not.”

They bagged the snake then drove off with it.

I didn’t sleep well that night.

In the morning, I ate my typical breakfast of Greek yogurt and cereal. I had work, but not for another hour. I poked around on the internet reading the news. A very low hissing sound grated against my ears. I turned. In the doorway to my den, a slender green snake with red eyes perhaps two feet long lay in the entryway.

I pondered my options while the snake inched its way into the room. I was still barefooted, but I chose flight. As I ran past the snake, it bit me on the foot. I stumbled and fell. The pain was unbelievable. I mean, I could describe it, but you wouldn’t believe me. Honestly though, I don’t have a very high pain threshold.

I crawled to the phone and dialed 911. The snake came after me for another nibble, and I bashed on it with the fireplace poker until it stopped moving. It felt good. I put the carcass in a brown paper sack and went outside to wait for the medics. The ambulance came and took me to the hospital. The doctor wanted to know what kind of snake it was, and I said, “The mean kind!”

“No, what color, did it have any markings.”

I smiled. “I have it with me. It’s in this paper sack.”

The doctor looked in the bag. Then he started punching up websites on the internet. “These aren’t native to this region. Not even to this continent. It’s a Willow Asp, native to India. Relatively poisonous. You could lose your foot or your life, if we don’t treat it.”

“So, give me an anti-venom and send me home.”

The doctor shook his head. “We don’t stock this anti-venom at this hospital. I’m going to have to start calling other hospitals.”

He started making calls. The pain was bad, so I whimpered a lot.

The doctor finally said, “Good, Good. We’ll fly him to you.”

The doctor turned to me. “Ever ride in a helicopter before?”


“You’re going to love it!”

They wheeled me to the helicopter, and strapped me in. A paramedic rode with me in the back. We took off. “Willow Asp? Native to India?”


“You know India is the ancestral home of Gypsies.”

“What do you know of Gypsies?”

“I have a little Gypsy blood in me,” the paramedic said. “My great grandfather was a Gypsy.”

“What do you know about their curses?”

The paramedic’s face darkened a notch. “You don’t want a Gypsy curse on you.”

“Yes, I’m beginning to understand that.”

“Just have it taken off.”


The paramedic pointed at my swollen foot. “It’s all so simple. Find a Gypsy camp, find a seer, and pay a modest fee.”

“How much of a fee?”

“Most will do it for a few hundred bucks.”

“Ha! Screw that. I think I’ll pick up snake hunting as a hobby instead.”

Copyright, Geoffrey C Porter

Check out Winter’s Line on Amazon. A story about a young man who becomes a lawman.


The Slight Army

This story was originally published by Print Static Movement.

The spiders have been like an invasion of late. There is one that setup camp by my driveway along a wall and a support post. He has his web and a little web cave that he scurries into when he hears a noise. He is black and furry and most likely of the deadly variety. The other day I saw a larger one of apparently the same type nearly an inch-long scooting down the inside frame of my front door. I just saw one climb down the string controlling the blinds in the window.

I live fairly close to wooded areas, and often, I will find small snakes in my yard or on my porch. The spiders I don’t mind as much as the snakes. Snakes carry far more venom in their bite, and they are not so easily squashed. The snakes are good though because as small as they are, they eat the spiders.

The spiders were becoming quite numerous, so I started killing them one by one. I would smash them either with my foot or a book or anything handy and then leave the carcass as a warning sign to the other spiders. This worked for a while, but soon there were dead spiders in almost every room of my house.

And the cat is no help. He watches the spiders and acts as if he will pounce upon them, but he never pounces. He just watches. Perhaps I need a new cat. I wonder if there are special breeds for hunting spiders. But I digress.

Killing the spiders seems to work. Less and less spiders show themselves on an almost daily basis. Still, I kill the ones that do invade my sanctuary. Slowly I began to notice a change in the spiders, not so much in the spiders themselves for there was still a wide variety, but in their behavior. They would seem to stop when they saw me and then duck for cover before I could squash them. Soon I took to carrying a shoe with me, so I would have a projectile weapon to use against them.

The most prominent species grew to about a half inch long and was covered in black fur with a white diamond on their back although the white diamond could have been light glinting off their many eyes. The next most prominent species was of the daddy-long-legs variety with a bulbous body attached to eight thin, long legs. These grew to at least an inch long from toe to toe. I felt safe around this type because I was fairly certain they weren’t poisonous.

The last kind was the most fearsome, growing as much as an inch and a half long with black and red bodies with red legs. This kind would sometimes rush at me when I went to crush them, but luckily, I was skilled by now at crushing spiders, so they never sunk their fangs in me. I was thankful for this because surely those fangs were dipped in some fatal neurotoxin.

I have a few friends, and one came by my abode the other day. She shrieked on reaching my computer room.

“Yes?” I asked.

“All the dead spiders!”

“Yes. I leave them as warning to the other spiders not to come around.”

“Clean them up!”

I nodded. “They’re doing a good job keeping the other spiders away.”

“If you say so, Ash.”

I smiled. We opened up our lab work on the computers and started plugging away at the numbers. I offered to make tea, and she said, “Please.”

I went into the kitchen, and a brown spider appeared running across the counter. I didn’t have my shoe with me, so I crushed it with the tea cup, sending it straight to hell where it belonged. As the tea finished, I shouted down the hallway, “Sugar? Honey? Lemon? Milk?”


I squeezed a dollop of honey in both cups of tea and went back to the computer room. In the hallway on the way, a daddy-long-legs inched along the floor, and my foot happened to flatten it.

I handed over the tea. She smiled and took it. “I’ve got the lab worked out, I’m getting 1.0 for the first dataset and the expected .5 and .25 for the second and third datasets…”

I smiled. “Show me.”

She showed me the calibrations on the computer. “My work here is done.”

“OK, Samantha, I’ll walk you out.”

“I can find my way, Ash, so long as the spiders don’t get me.”

My head bobbed up and down. “They seem to get more aggressive all the time.”

“You shouldn’t kill them. They prey on other insects.”

I shrieked. “Some of them are poisonous!”

“Poisonous spiders are very rare…”

“If you say so… I’m killing them.”

Samantha downed the last of her tea and grabbed her books. She fled the scene without even another glance at the hordes of dead spiders splattered here and there on the wood floors.

As she stepped onto my porch, a rather handsomely large spider of the red-legged variety inched its way directly in her path.

“Don’t kill it, Ash. They eat other insects. You’ll be up to your ears in mites, beetles, and flies if you murder all the spiders.”

I smiled at her as she left and then jumped up and down on the likely poisonous red-legged monster.

I went to the computer and did my write-up for the lab when I noticed a slight bite on my ankle. I looked down, and one of the rodents injected me with something. It died under my cruel fist. I looked, and as I watched, tendrils of poison spread out along my leg. It started to swell up. My first thought was emergency room, but then I realized my second thought, no health insurance.

The wound in total grew no bigger than a quarter, so I soaked it in hot water and lanced it. With a squeeze, pus came out of it for a while, more pus than I would have believed possible. The pain subsided afterwards. I made myself a ham salad sandwich and grabbed an apple.

I fell asleep after lunch, and when I woke up, I examined my ankle. The swelling had subsided, and the flesh was back to its original color. I rubbed it a little, and it didn’t hurt, so I decided not to be bothered by it. I ordered Chinese delivery and ate it in front of the television.

A spider, an especially furry one, inched into my view on the floor of the living room. I moved to squash the creature, and it darted under the television. Cursing at the little demon-spawn, my fist shook in anger. The leftover Chinese went in the fridge, and my hand grabbed up a spatula from a drawer. I went to the television and tried to get the spider with the spatula. The spider was nowhere to be found. I did find some loose change under the television, which I pocketed.

I was tired for some reason and looked down again at the spider bite on my ankle. Barely a mark. I went into my bedroom and lay down, thinking I would take a short nap. Sleep hit me with an iron mallet in an instant.

A few hours passed, how could I tell how many, I was asleep. Then I noticed difficulty breathing, and I opened my eyes in fright. I could barely see. White silky webs had been stretched across my eyes. I tried to wipe them off, but I couldn’t move my arm. I looked down at myself, and through the web, I could see more webbing all across my body.

I flipped into a berserker rage. My vision narrowed, and my stomach tied itself into a knot. Strength pulsed through my body like a gift from an ancient ancestor. I wrenched my right arm free and scraped at the webbing on my face allowing my eyes to work and letting fresh air in my lungs. Spiders were all over my bed. The pesky little black furred kind. I kicked at them and lashed out with my arms scattering them to the floor.

I looked at the ground, and the spiders had formed up into ranks and rows, ten spiders across a row and five deep in perfect formation. In between each brigade of the red-legged bastards was a good-sized spider of a variety I hadn’t seen before. Huge eyes dotted its face. Black and yellow hair ran in lines across its carapace body. It had pincers the size of needles, and they dripped with venom.

I howled a mighty war cry, “Aarrroooo!” and leapt out of bed at the phalanxes of spiders.

The yellow haired variety jumped at me as I stomped on spider formations one at a time, laughing maniacally. I batted the yellow haired monsters out of the air as they got near me.

A tiny drum beat echoed, and en masse the whole of the spider horde turned their butts at me and shot silk. Hundreds, nay thousands of strands of silk hit me at once and engulfed me. Then one of the yellow haired spiders jumped below my reach and got a good bite of my leg. I cried out in pain and squashed the spider under my palm. Too late. The venom worked its natural wonder, and I fell to my knees. Then I collapsed on the floor, and the faintest of cheering filled the room…

I went into convulsions and lay there twitching for a solid fifteen minutes. When my body calmed down, I found I couldn’t move, but the spiders still watched me. A thousand tiny voices spoke in unison, “Now, after those two bites, you can hear us. You have slaughtered many of our kind, and that needs to stop.”

Paralyzed with fear and poison, I tried to nod. The tiny voices spoke again, “We are intelligent, and we believe we possess souls. We do not want mankind to know because we do not want to be subject to their scientific process. You will stop killing our kind.”

“You’re invading my home…”

“Only to hunt. Not to lay eggs. If we laid eggs in here, there would be thousands of our young everywhere. If you don’t change your ways, then you will see a green spider with black stripes down its body and black legs. When you see this spider know that you are doomed!”

I whimpered some more and lay there in my paralysis. The army of spiders dispersed to parts unknown. A few hours later I could move.

Copyright, Geoffrey C Porter

Check out Evelyn’s Book, a precursor to Winter’s Line. In truth a comedy about magic and witches and old boyfriends.


For a Lizard

This story was originally written for a class with Tim Waggoner.

For a lizard, I was a late sleeper, but I enjoyed my evenings just the same. I always woke up thirsty and hungry. I slept between two small shrubberies on the edge of some giant’s structure. I don’t know what to call it. The giants would go in and out of it. I only noticed because it was imperative that they didn’t step on me.

Water was nearby, and I darted down the trail towards it. Ahhh, the wonderful trail which only us lizards seemed to use; however, one time I saw a snake on the trail. I could make good time on the trail. At the end of the path was the lake all the lizards drank from. Fed by a box sticking out of the wall of a bigger structure. Every few seconds a drop of water would splash from high above into our lake.

I lapped up water and more water to gather up my strength for the trek into the woods where the prey lived. I had to cross one of the giant’s roads, and the giant’s vehicles would zip along the strip trying to crush me. I smiled for I would be eating soon enough. Assuming a good day to hunt. If worst comes to worst, I could hunt in the giant’s refuse pile. Always a good breakfast to be had if you were prepared to go through the garbage and risk the giant’s ire. Being a lizard from a long line of talented lizards, I’m not too proud to go for the easy pickings if I get hungry enough.

I took off in a run towards the road. I looked left, and the way seemed clear. I didn’t miss a step. I had my momentum built up and galloped with all four legs across the hot asphalt. I crossed the stretch of cool grass separating the lanes and looked to the right. The road was quiet and empty. I ran as fast as my little lungs would let me.

Ahhh, the shade and cool green foliage of the woods stilled my racing heart. I stopped underneath a fern and started telescoping my eyes about. I zoomed in on spots and specks here and there looking for life. I saw a spider, and not anyone I knew, so I waited for it to come close to me. Once within my talented reach, I lashed out at it with my tongue lassoing it. Mmmm, crunchy.

Then I paused and looked around. I swallowed the spider. The tiniest vibration came through the ground, and I said to myself, “Ants.” I looked and looked. They rounded the edge of a tree. An entire row of them. They just kept coming. When there were more of them in view than I could possibly eat, I jumped in close and started harvesting them in threes and fours with my tongue.

After the buffet, I went back underneath the fern and smiled. I didn’t bother looking for more grub. I could barely move; I was stuffed so full. No way could I run back to the lake like this. Perhaps it was time for my nap. I took a careful look around to make sure there were no giants, and I closed one eye. I thought back to those tasty ants, and I slowly drifted off to sleep.

When my eyes opened, the sun was setting low in the sky. Once again, I was thirsty. I ran across the road again to the lake and drank my fill of the water. Wendel approached the lake while I drank, and he said, “Have you seen the signs?”

Wendel was a rather stupid lizard with mostly green scales and a few freckled blue ones.

“No,” I said.

He smiled. “Somebody put signs up on the trail.”

I laughed. What would lizards need signs for?

I considered going across the road again and hunting some more, but I am rather lazy for a lizard, and I wouldn’t want to get fat. I hit the trail to go home. That’s when I saw it, the tiniest little wooden sign on the side of the trail. It said, “Looking for more?”

I paused. Was I looking for more? Other than a female lizard I had everything, and sometimes female lizards drank at the lake, pretty ones, too. One I talked to was named Jill.

I kept going down the trail. I saw another sign. “Do more with your life.”

I paused. What was I supposed to be doing? I eat, I forage, and I sleep. I’m a lizard, golly.

I started going down the trail. I saw a sign that said, “Wake up and do something.”

“Huh?” I said.

I turned around and headed back to the lake. Wendel was still there, and I walked up to him and said, “Who put those signs there?”

“Nobody knows.”

I hissed a little bit. “Somebody has to know.”

Wendel looked me in the eye. “Did you see all the signs? Or did you turn back to talk to me?”

“I don’t know.”

“They make more sense if you see them all.”

I followed the trail again. The last sign said, “Get a job.”

I froze in my tracks. I started running down the trail to see if there was another sign. “Get a job” was the last sign. What is a job?

I walked back to the lake hoping to encounter Wendel again. Instead I saw Jill. “Hi, Jill.”

Jill smiled at me. “Have you seen the signs?”

“Who do you think put them there?”

“It had to be the giants.”

“Why though?” I asked.

“Who knows why a giant would do anything. Want to breed?”

“Ummm, not right now, I want to know what this ‘job’ thing is.”

“You don’t want one of those, Jeremy. They suck the life out of you.”

“What is it though?” I asked.

“You really don’t know?”


“You know how we hunt insects? Well, a job for us would be like you hunt insects, but you don’t eat them. You give the insects to another lizard. That lizard gives you something called ‘money’ for the insects you catch. Then you ‘buy’ insects to eat with the ‘money’ you have.”

“Would the ‘money’ I make from hunting insects be enough to buy more insects than I could hunt?”

Jill chirped a few times, what must have been laughter. “You’re an idiot. Maybe we shouldn’t breed.”

I sighed. “But, I’m good looking. Isn’t that enough to breed?”

“You’re good looking, but you’re kind of clumsy and stupid.”

“I am not!”

“Eh, I’m out of the mood anyhow. See you around.”

I went down the path again past all the signs to my shrubberies. I tossed and turned all night. The next morning I hit the trail again, and this time there was a new sign, and it said, “GEICO Insurance.”

I was at the lake, and a giant turned the corner carrying a crate of some kind made out of shiny metal. The giant looked down at me. “We’re not going to hurt you, little guy.”

I froze in terror. A giant had never spoken to me.

“We need a new mascot, and you’re just the looker we’ve been looking for.”

I paused. I wanted to run. I really wanted to run. But the curiosity engine of my mind was overpowering my reflexes with a desire to know what was going on. The giant reached down with its paw and scooped me up and put me in the box. “You’ll like your new job, little fella.”

Copyright, Geoffrey C Porter

Check out Juxta, Magi on Amazon. Delicious epic fantasy.


The Pixie

The snake reached out to me with its forked tongue. It had black scales all along its back, but green scales adorned its underside. It seemed to shake its head and then twist and turn into the tall grass. I wondered what would come by next. That damn pixie cast some spell on me, and all I can do is sit here. Then I tried moving. It worked. I pushed myself to my feet, and a tingling sensation coursed through my feet and ankles, but it evaporated as the sun finished setting.

The autumn wind rustled through the trees, causing dead brown leaves to whisper to the ground here and there. I hadn’t eaten in ages, and I kept my eyes peeled for any sort of berry or fruit, edible or not.

I started hunting for dandelions. The pixie demanded two handfuls, claiming she needed it for wine. I found one yellow flower after another and kept at it until my pockets were full. After walking back to the ancient oak tree, I knocked on the trunk.

The tiniest little creature you could imagine maybe two inches tall with clear wings stepped out from behind the tree trunk. She had kind of pointy little breasts and wide hips. Her long, black hair was neatly arranged in a bow. She wore a well-tailored moleskin dress and high heeled boots. In a high pitched, loud voice, she screeched, “Did you get the dandelions?”

“Don’t hurt me!”

The creature glared. “I won’t if you do as I ask.”

“I did what you said. I got the dandelions.”

“Show me,” she said.

I started pulling the flowers out of my pockets in a great mass.

“Hand them to me one at a time, you idiot!”

I held out one flower. The pixie flew off the limb and grabbed it. She slid through a hinged door and came back out. She started to tap her foot. I shrugged.

“I need more than one!” She howled.

“Oh.” I held out another dandelion. She snatched it and went back through the door. She came back out. I held out another blossom.

This went on for some time. I handed over the last flower. She came back out of the door, and I started to back away. She flew up to my face and tapped me on the nose with her wand. I transformed into a rock.

Being a rock wasn’t so bad. I waited. Birds liked to perch on me, and of course inevitably, the birds didn’t seem to mind pooping on their perch. So, I spent some time as a rock. Very spiritual.

One day, the pixie returned, and tapped me again with her wand.

I morphed back into a human shape. Although I might not be human, mum always said my father was a goat, but that’s another story.

I looked at the pixie. She looked at me and smiled. She had stark white, pointy teeth, and a tanned complexion. I ran. The pixie was faster though and flew ahead of me and threatened me with the wand. I stopped running and started crying. “Please don’t hurt me! I’ve done everything you’ve asked!”

She shook her head. “You haven’t done enough! I need hawk eggshells.”

I wept. She kicked me in the eye.

“What was that for!” I yelled.

“If you’re going to cry,” she said, “I’ll give you something to cry about!”

I did my best back away routine.

She waved her wand. “Oh no you don’t.” She pulled out a little pipe, stuffed it with something, and lit it with a flintlock lighter. “You’ll get me some hatched hawk eggs first.”

“Then you’ll let me go?”

She rubbed at her chin.

“I’ll get you the hawk eggs, if you promise to let me go…”

“No deal. Get the eggs first then we talk.”

So, I started climbing trees and soon got pretty good at it, too. I found some hatched bird eggs. Not knowing if they were hawk eggs, I put them in a pouch anyway and lowered them by rope to the forest floor. I stumbled upon an apple tree and climbed until I found some ripe apples. My stomach was full for the first time in what seemed like years.

I went to the pixie’s tree and knocked. She answered with a wide smile on her face.

She selected one of the egg shells and went inside. She came back out with a yellow liquid in the shell. “Drink it!”

“I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me! Let me go!”

“Drink it, now!” She shouted.

“I went inside the volcano for ash. I found you newt claws. I did everything!”

“What I’ve done to you so far is nothing compared to what I’ll do to you, if you don’t drink the wine.”

I took the egg shell and chugged it. It tasted good. I started to shrink until I was no bigger than a pixie. I felt compelled to check on the size of my manhood, but then I realized I was in public with birds and chipmunks watching.

The pixie grabbed my hand. “Now we can get married.”


Copyright, Geoffrey C Porter


Boris the Cat

This story was published by the Sinclair Clarion – A community college newspaper.

I named the cat Boris, and I suspect that he is a good cat. He cuddles with me, purrs, and plays with his toys. He has short hair and is colored white and black.

He has begun to get this glint in his eye though that he is planning something. The strange thing is: I bought 50 coffee filters just two weeks ago, and I am down to my last filter. I make at least one pot of coffee a day, and I never make more than two pots in a day. It makes no sense to me that I’d be out of filters in two weeks.

I live alone with Boris, so I have to wonder if the cat is stealing coffee filters from me, but this begs the question: what is he doing with them?

I bought a package of 200 coffee filters, and I lived my life for a while. After a month, I ran out of coffee filters again. I looked at Boris, and he raced into the other room. I chased him around the house for a while, but he got bored of that. It started to seem like the cat would stalk me. He would follow me around the house and simply watch me. Then he would disappear to parts unknown for hours. I decided it was time for professional help.

I put Boris in his carrying cage and drove him to the veterinarian’s office. I waited for my turn. We brought Boris into the back.

The vet looked at me and smiled. He wore a white coat. “How’s Boris?”

I sighed. “I think he’s stealing coffee filters.”

The vet tilted his head to the side.

“Yes,” I said, “Clearly he’s stealing coffee filters from my kitchen.”

“Is he eating them?”

“I’m not certain. I never find any remains.”

“I don’t think he’s stealing coffee filters,” the vet said as he rubbed his chin. “He has no thumbs. How could he separate one from the stack?”

“I don’t know how he’s doing it! Make him stop!”

“I could give him a shot of an antipsychotic,” he said.

“There’s an idea!” I said as I snapped my fingers.

The vet reached over to a counter and took a long drought of what smelled like hazelnut coffee. “Do you think he’s making coffee?”

I paused.

“Well?” The vet said.

I paused.

“Cats have very addictive personalities,” the vet said with a smile.

Something dawned on me… I wondered if I could get a cup of the hazelnut the vet was drinking. “Well, I have noticed sometimes when I go to make a fresh pot of coffee there are grounds in the machine that aren’t coffee. They smell like catnip.”

“Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s making catnip tea. Is there an unused closet in the house? He might have set up a hydroponic catnip farm.”

My eyes opened wide, and I paced out a little three step circle in the tiny exam room. “He has a kitty door to the outside. He has an entire patch of catnip planted in rows in the backyard.”

“Catnip tea. Cat’s love it. Once they get in the habit, it’s hard to break.”

“What do I do?”

The vet let out this little sigh and stared off into space. “My advice is to buy the coffee filters in bigger packages.”

Copyright, Geoffrey C Porter

Buy Juxta, Magi on Amazon, a delicious epic fantasy.