Fiction Friday #1
I’ve finally added categories to the blog! About damn time. As much as I enjoy the occasional acronym, filing everything under “ZMF” was getting a little dull. I mean, hell, the least I could do is spell it out: Zen Motherfuckers. (Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it just?)
I’m sure I’ll add more categories later (like “Book Review” and something a little more succinct than “Other Peoples’ Awesome Fiction, Go Check It Out Now, Because It Really Fucking Rocks”), but, for now, three new categories are enough. “News/Updates,” which will cover (surprise, surprise) news and updates, “Writing-Novel,” in which I’ll post the occasional excerpt from Zen Motherfuckers and The Roadkill / Rapture Boys, and “Short Story,” in which (shocking, I know) I’ll post short stories. Fairly straight forward, right? Right.
Now, without further ado, a short story for you guys. This one was written a while back. I asked Robin de Graff for a writing prompt. He gave me “dichotemy.” Checking in at 1,614 words. . .
Fiction Friday #1:
Dichotemy (The Twins)
The Angel appeared out of nowhere. One second, Alan and Elise were finishing each other’s sentences as twins tend to do and, in the middle of the word ‘apostasy,’ the Angel appeared. Out of nowhere.
Alan snorted cola through his nostrils. Elise gagged, an involuntarily sympathetic reaction. Alan sneezed, blew his nose into his sleeve. Elise’s nose twitched. They looked at each other, all four eyebrows raised nearly to both hairlines.
“Don’t be alarmed,” the Angel said.
“Coke’s gonna stain the sofa,” Alan said.
“Gotta get a rag,” said Elise.
“In the kitchen,” said Alan.
“Next to the sink,” said Elise.
“Excuse me?” said the Angel.
“Next to the sink?” repeated Elise.
“Excuse me?” repeated the Angel, now confused.
“He’s very polite,” said Alan.
“If it’s a he,” nodded Elise.
“Is it a he?” asked Alan.
“Ask it.” Elise nodded at the Angel.
“We should,” Alan nodded.
They exchanged a Look: who’s going to ask not me not you then me okay fine SHEESH I’ll ask. The Angel’s eyebrows furrowed. He/it wasn’t accustomed to being treated like this. He/it would cut this short, he/it decided.
“Neither,” said the Angel, pride swelling his voice, though with a faint tinge of indignation . “The word Angel may be used as a third person pronoun.”
“He/she/it/Angel?” asked Elise.
“Yes,” said the Angel, staring sternly at her.
“That’s odd,” said Elise.
“Very odd,” Alan agreed.
The Angel fought the urge to sigh. Souls were so aggrevating when they were human. The Angel wondered why souls needed to be incarnated at all, let alone as humans. It was all so inconvenient.
Alan and Elise exchanged a Look.
“The rag,” said Elise.
“We need a rag,” Alan explained.
“The Coke will stain,” finished Elise.
The Angel sighed, shoulders slumping, and the spilled Coke disappeared. “Better?”
“Better,” said Alan.
“Much,” agreed Elise.
“May I speak now?” asked the Angel.
“Sure,” said Elise.
“Go ahead,” said Alan.
The Angel felt a surge of begrudging relief. Finally, he could say what he came to say.
“There has been an error,” said the Angel. “Your current incarnation was not intended to be twins. You must be conjoined. The separation must be corrected. It is my duty to inform you that you will be deincarnated. It is unfortunate that you will be inconvenienced in this manner, but I’m sure you understand. I hope that you will not resist. It is for the best.”
“What’s your name?” asked Elise.
“Angels don’t have names,” snorted the Angel. “Naming is a very organic convention.”
“Organic?” asked Elise.
“Names are only used for incarnations,” said the Angel, only barely concealing a sneer. “Angels, and souls, have no use for names. As such,” said the Angel, “I have no use for a name.”
“Good band,” said Alan.
“Excuse me?” said the Angel.
“No Use For A Name,” said Alan. “They’re a good band.”
“Excuse me?” the Angel repeated.
“No Use For A Name is the name of a band,” said Alan. “Punk.”
“I don’t like them,” said Elise, sullenly folding her arms.
“Good cover of Fairytale of New York,” intoned Alan.
“Good point,” conceded Elise, “but I still don’t like them.”
“I do,” grinned Alan.
Elise grinned back and, a moment later, her arms uncrossed.
The Angel stared blankly. What was he supposed to make of this? It didn’t seem that the twins were stalling for time. Come to think of it, they didn’t seem particularly perturbed. Nonchalant if anything. Had he not stated his intentions clearly enough?
“So,” said Elise. “Deincarnation?”
“Yes,” said the Angel. “I am to deincarnate you in order to reintigrate your soul.”
“Nope,” said Alan. The twins crossed their arms in unison.
“We like being twins,” said Elise.
“No deincarnation for us,” said Alan.
“But you must!” The Angel was exasperated now, almost pleading.
“Nope,” said Alan. “Anyway, we know lots of twins.”
“Jane and Sarah,” said Elise.
“Zach and Eli,” continued Alan.
“Bill and Phillip,” said Elise.
“I never got that,” said Alan. “Didn’t Phillip used to go by Phil?”
“He did,” nodded Elise.
“What changed?” asked Alan.
Elise shrugged. “Wanted to be different, I guess.”
“Huh,” said Alan. “That’s kind of dumb.”
Elise shrugged. She couldn’t care less.
Alan turned back to the Angel. “We know lots of twins,” he said. “Why not them?”
“They’re not my mission!”
“Mission?” asked Elise.
The Angel growled from the back of his throat. He’d said too much. Not another single word about missions would pass his lips, he resolved. Not a single word.
“He’s not going to answer,” said Elise.
“I know,” acknowledged Alan.
“Why don’t you deincarnate one of them?” asked Elise. “Or, better yet, go deincarnate somebody we don’t know. Like, in China or something.”
“Or where ever,” Alan said.
The Angel’s growl got very slightly louder. “Where are they?”
“Who?” asked Alan.
“The twins you call Phillip and Bill.”
“I don’t know,” said Alan. “Work?”
“We could call them,” said Elise.
“Should we?” asked Alan. “He might deincarnate them.”
The Angel chose not to comment on Alan’s choice of pronoun.
“Are you going to deincarnate them?” asked Elise.
The Angel growled louder.
“I think he’s mad,” said Alan.
“I think you’re right,” agreed Elise.
“Call Phillip and Bill.” The Angel’s voice was nearly a snarl.
The twins exchanged a Look, then shrugged.
“Okay,” said Elise, and Alan reached over to the side table to pick up the phone.
“Hey Bill,” said Alan. “Where you at? Yeah? Oh. Right, yeah. Never mind. Listen, you up to anything important? No? Okay. Yeah, sure. Yeah, I’ll tell her. Cool. Thanks. You too.” Alan hung up the phone and turned to Elise. “Bill says hi.”
“That’s nice,” smiled Elise. “How about Phillip?”
“I can call him,” offered Elise.
Elise took the phone. “Hi Phillip. It’s Elise. You doing anything?” She put her hand over the receiver. “He’s at an art gallery. Phillip? Yeah, which one are you at? Anything good? Oh. Well, then. Okay. You too. Bye.”
“Where are they?” asked the Angel.
“Bill’s at work,” said Alan.
“Phillip’s on the art gallery on 15th,” said Elise. “Right next to the train station. You can’t miss it.”
The Angel disappeared.
“You think he’s going to deincarnate them?” asked Elise.
“I don’t know,” said Alan.”I hope not.”
“Me too,” said Elise.
“God,” said Alan. “What a downer.”
“I know,” nodded Elise, mourning the loss of an otherwise pleasantly lazy afternoon.
“You hungry?” asked Alan.
Elise cocked her head to the side, thinking. “A little,” she decided.
“Chinese?” There was an assortment of takeout boxes in the fridge. When had they ordered it: four or five days ago? It couldn’t have gone off yet, could it?
“Sure,” said Elise.
Alan went to the kitchen and, as he opened the refrigerator door, the Angel reappeared in front of the couch as suddenly as he had disappeared.
“Alan!” yelled Elise. “The Angel’s back!”
“Be right there!” he yelled back.
“He’ll be back in a second,” said Elise.
The Angel glared, arms folded. “They’re twins.”
“Duh?” said Elise.
The Angel growled. “Just twins. Separate souls.”
“Oh,” nodded Elise. Then, “Oh!”
“What?” said Alan, appearing in the kitchen door.
“They’re just twins,” said Elise.
“Separate souls?” asked Alan.
“Damn.” Alan shrugged and returned to his seat. “Oh well,” he said, handing Elise a Chinese take out box. “Sorry,” he told the Angel, holding out his box of lo mein. “You want some?”
“No,” glared the Angel. “I do not.”
“Suit yourself,” Alan shrugged, and sniffed at his food. “It’s still good,” he told Elise.
“Mmf,” said Elise through a mouthful of chicken rice. A loose grain of rice shot out of her mouth and travelled straight through the Angel to land on the floor. Nobody noticed.
“So,” said Alan, a wad of lo mein dangling from his chopsticks. “How about the other twins?” He shoved the noodles into his mouth and chewed enthusiastically, mashing the noodles between his molars.
“No,” said the Angel.
“Jane and Sarah?” asked Elise.
“No,” said the Angel.
“They’re pretty good twins,” Alan agreed.
“The sentence thing,” nodded Elise.
“ESP,” nodded Alan.
“No,” said the Angel. “No more twins. Just you.”
The twins exchanged a Look: can’t get out of this one what the hell is deincarnation is this it?
“Can we finish our food?” asked Elise.
“Last meal,” said Alan.
“It’s traditional,” said Elise.
The Angel sighed. “Fine. Hurry up. Just get it over with.”
Alan and Elise placed their takeout boxes on the coffee table. Elise daubed the corner of her mouth with a paper napkin and tossed the wad into her empty takeout box. Alan wiped his face on his sleeve. They exchanged a last Look and nodded to the Angel. There was nothing much to say.
The Angel nodded back.
The soul stared down at its bodies with a mild sense of regret. “I liked being twins,” said the soul.
“Yes,” said the Angel, his voice dripping with the accumulated irritation. “I know.”
“Time to move on,” said the soul. “I wonder what the next life’s going to be. I don’t know if I’d like to be a human again, not for a few more incarnations. Maybe a cockroach. Those things are fantastic.”
“Shall we?” said the Angel. He just wanted this over and done.
“Yeah,” said the soul. “Oh! Or maybe a spore.”
The Angel sighed.
“Not a mammal,” said the soul. “Definitely not a mammal. Oh! Or a bacteria! I wonder if I’ll be a bacteria. Bacteria are small. Maybe a plankton, or a whale, or a shark – that’d be nice. A shark! Imagine it! Or maybe –”
The Angel sighed.