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Because I am a Shameless Whore

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

I sometimes submit work to a collaborative creative fiction site. This is fun, because there are many creative, talented people on the site to collaborate with. But then, there’s also the usual web fiction crowd; twelve-year-olds, fangirls, horny, socially awkward japanophiles, and other people who seem barely to be able to speak English, let alone write a compelling story.

So it was not to my surprise when someone posted an idea for a ‘plot’ involving a boy who falls in love with a girl and then, in a shocking twist… gets the girl. The end!

Of course there are differences between my version and his version. My version has better grammar. See?;

“The Element of Love is a Romance Story About a High School Kid who  has a Crush on a Girl.But he is afaird to tell her everytime she comes around.He Just can not get his words. Together With the Help of His Friends they will help him get the Girl that he been Dreaming about Asking out”

Aah, internets… you have brought us 4chan, tentacle porn, and the Rick Roll. But perhaps your most important overlooked contribution is your enabling of an increasingly stupid population to share their bad ideas with hundreds of random strangers. But I digress.

In an act of supreme snark, I actually submitted a chapter for this story. And it got FEATURED. YAY. For your entertainment, or perhaps, for your dismay, or, perhaps, for your sudden uncontrollable bowel movement (how do I know how random strangers will react to my story?), here is what I wrote.

Follow this link or just read on below.

Once upon a time there was a magical toaster named Steven. Steven was loved by all, because every piece of toast he made came pre-jammed or pre-buttered. Steven was especially proud when he produced a piece of toast that came up already smeared with pesto.

So Steven was happy, mostly. He enjoyed his work and his friends, a mop named Dustin and a refrigerator named Otto.

There was one thing that he was not sure whether he enjoyed or not, and that was staring at a beautiful coffee maker named Denise who lived on the counter across from him. He was not sure whether he enjoyed this, because beautiful though she was, Denise didn’t seem to realize that Steven existed.

Steven felt completely helpless around her. More and more, his mind would wander from his toasting duties as he watched her, and before he knew it, he would end up with an ashy mess. This troubled him, as he had always prided himself in his work, but perhaps not as much as it should have. His mind always wandered back to Denise. Lovely Denise. Everything about her so suggested sleekness and easy elegance, that Steven couldn’t help but feel that she must be a goddess from another world. She had a tall, graceful body with gleaming curves. She filled ceramic mugs from her state-of-the-art double nozzle drip system with care and finesse. And yet she also seemed so earthly. Her softness and apparent compassion – expressed in the small ways that only true compassion is, such as in the loving way she heated water, or the devotion and attention she put into brewing the perfect mug of coffee – made her seem accessible, but Steven was paralyzed.

“Just go talk to her, man,” Otto muttered one day when he caught Steven staring. “You’re embarrassing yourself.”

“What would a dame like that want to do with a guy like me?” Said Steven. Then he sighed, exhaling ribbons of black smoke, for he had burned the third slice of toast in a row.

“Stop that,” protested Otto. “I don’t have any fingers to hold my nose with. Yuch!”

“Quit playing,” said Dustin. “You don’t have a nose.”

“Do so,” said Otto. “It’s near my… air compressor. Yeah.”

“Man, you’re lying,” said Dustin. “You don’t know your condenser from your heating coils.”

“Oh, go suck up some dust,” said Otto.

“You guys are lame,” grumbled Steven. “I’m going to bed.” And with that, he pulled out his cord with a practiced twitch of his rear and fell asleep.

As he slept, he dreamed that he and Denise were floating in an ocean of bread. Steven was desperately trying to toast every last slice, but when he felt that he could almost reach out and grab Denise’s pretty cord, the sky opened and a torrential downpour of bread spilled forth. Steven screamed to the high heavens as Denise was swept away from him.

Steven woke up to the sound of his own springs giving a mighty twang as he catapulted an imaginary piece of toast into the air.

“Christ on a scooter!” said Dustin. “Cool it with that thing, wouldja?”

“Sorry,” said Steven sheepishly. “I had a nightmare.”

“Alright, bucko,” said Dustin. “We know you’re under stress. We know you can’t get any toast right because of your failure to make eyes with pretty Denise over there. Last night, me and this big oaf here –“

“Hey!”

“-Had a conversation. We’re going to help you.”

“You guys would do that for me?” Said Steven.

“Bah,” said Dustin. “What are friends for?”

“But,” Steven said, bewildered, “How will you do it?”

“Well,” said Dustin, “With my gruff good looks and Otto’s, erm, not gruff good looks, I don’t see how we could fail.”

“Huh?” Said Steven.

“Here’s the plan,” said Dustin. “Me and Otto go and talk to her. I charm the lady, and before she knows it she’s just one of the million ladies who want a piece of Dustin. But then I let her in on the fact that Dustin’s not up for grabs. Being a broad, of course she’ll immediately start to do her neurotic broad insecurity thing and feel lonely. She’ll want to seek out and easy catch to stroke her ego a bit. She’ll see Otto standing there, but seeing as he’s such a big oaf who even a lady whose just been rejected by Dustin couldn’t love –“

“HEY!”

“She’ll start to feel a little desperate. And that’s where you come along.”

“This is horribly unethical,” said Steven.

“Do I look like a priest?” said Dustin.

Ten minutes later, Dustin was laying the butter on Denise.

“Yeah baby,” said Dustin. “I like my lady types to have two nozzles, like those two pretty ones you got there. Multiple pouring capabilities. Multi-tasking. You know what I’m saying?”

“Yeah,” said Denise. “It’s pretty useful. I can pour two cups of coffee at once and all that.”

“Not just useful, babe. Stylish. Stylish and classy. Dustin always recognizes a lady with class. And, sugar, you look real familiar right now.”

Denise giggled.

“Let me tell you something,” said Dustin. “I know there are lots of sleazy guys out there who would tell you what a pretty, sophisticated lady they think you are just to manipulate you. But Dustin’s not like that. Dustin just wants you to know what a lovely girl you are.”

“Thanks,” said Denise. “I was aware. Hey, I bet with that attitude, you have like, ten girlfriends.”

“Yeah,” said Dustin. “Dustin has plenty of ladies already. All of Dustin’s available lady slots have been filled. Dustin can handle a lot of women, but even Dustin gets overwhelmed. Sorry baby.”

“Too bad,” said Denise without even a hint of remorse in her voice. “What about your friend? He hasn’t said a word since you guys came over here.”

“Oh, him?” Said Dustin. “He’s as single as they come.”

“Hrrm,” said Denise. “Well, I have to get back to making coffee. Thanks for stopping by, fellows.”

“Buh,” said Dustin.

“Are you alright?” Said Denise. “You look kind of phased.”

“You mean you’re not going to at least consider falling for my big, stupid-looking friend? And then change your mind and get even more insecure and desperate?” Said Dustin.

“Oh,” said Denise. “Am I supposed to?”

“Am I supposed to?” Dustin mimicked in a mock-high voice. “Yes! Yes you are supposed to.”

“I don’t see why,” said Denise.

“Because, you dumb broad,” Dustin snapped. “My friend, a totally cool and nice guy, by the way, has been over there on the other side of the kitchen for a month now staring at your pretty little ass and burning entire loaves of bread because he can’t keep his head on straight. He’s gaga in love with you and you don’t even know he exists.”

“And what has me deciding not to fall in love with your friend got to do with all that?” Said Denise.

“Because if you can’t have me, and even a lady who’s just been turned down by Dustin wouldn’t spring for Otto, then Steven would seem like a heaven-send. A knight in shining armor. An attractive man. Etcetera, etcetera. What kind of woman are you anyway?”

Denise appeared to be thinking for a moment. Finally she said, “Is your friend less of an asshole then you?”

“Huh?” Said Dustin. “Yeah, probably.”

“Send him over,” said Denise.

So Steven found himself talking to the woman of his dreams.

“I’m really sorry about my friends,” said Steven. “They’re idiots, but they’re not bad people. I did try to stop them.”

“I understand,” said Denise. “So you really like me, huh?”

“More then I like popping up a crisp piece of perfectly golden toast covered in marmalade,” said Steven. “And I like doing that a lot.”

“Hmm,” said Denise. “You don’t seem half bad. How does one date sound?”

Steven’s soul sang, a soaring melody that arched right from the center of his crumb-encrusted metal heart. “Incredible,” he said.

“Good,” said Denise. “I’ll meet you here at eight tomorrow?”

“Eight,” confirmed Steven.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Babka

June 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I used to have a better cat. A real one. One that I wouldn’t have to bring in to be re-furred every six months.

When I bought this one, my current cat, the box said, “Just like real!” It said, “You won’t know the difference!” It said, “Warranty guaranteed with dissatisfaction!” It said, in curly, funky-looking letters that I suppose were meant to be playful and lighthearted, “CyberCat Inc! Less mess, twice the pet!”

I never did return this, my current cat. I couldn’t be bothered, honestly. What’s two-hundred and seventy-five dollars.

My previous cat, the real one, with real fur and actual internal organs and organic flesh rather then high-tech cyberskin, had this silly habit. When she purred, I mean really purred, really got into it, she would open her mouth just right so that every purr would be accompanied by a soft ‘click’ noise. Like she was resetting.

When I went into the Cybercat workshop to specify to them the specifications of my old cat, I told them about this, Babka’s ‘Click’. I made sure they knew it was very important. They looked at me.

“Be more specific,” they said.

“She opens her mouth just the right way,” I explained helpfully. “Makes a ‘click’ noise. Can you work that in?”

They (‘they’ being two Cybercat Inc engineers, a very tall, burly one and a short, shrimp-like one) looked at one another. Then they looked at me and nodded. Then they gave me a bill for my down payment.

The new Babka makes a click noise, but I’m pretty sure it’s recorded – it is unsettlingly loud and assertive. Once, back before I took the new Babka into the shop and asked them to make her less lively, new Babka ran into a wall, and for a few days the ‘Click’ wouldn’t work properly. She would just part her little lips slightly, let out a long puuuuuuurrr and then pause with her lips like that for a split second, making no sound at all. And sometimes, she would wander round the house, clicking all the way, but mouth shut tight and seemingly unaware that it – she – was making any sound at all. So it was rather more like having a metronome then a cat. I admit that, during this phase, I once or twice set her on top of the piano and sat down to play a tune or two. Did I feel a little bad? Yes. I’m not sure why. My furry friend is, after all, simply an aluminum skeleton replete with state-of-the art elastic/wire ‘muscles’, and cyberskin implanted with authentic cat fur, which can be grown in a laboratory in a snap nowadays.

The new Babka is also a little bit stiff. Relatives have informed me that I should stop whining, because after all technology just isn’t there yet, and we are lucky to have what technology we do, since not only does it save lives, but it can also console the sad by replacing their deceased beloved pets, and anyway CyberCat has done a great job and will you just stop whining about Babka already! But I swear to God, the pretend Babka has all the fluidity of a tank. At least compared to the original Babka. Don’t get me wrong, new Babka never misses her mark when, say, jumping up onto a windowsill, or rubbing her little diamond-shaped head all over my shin, or scampering about chasing a wind-up mouse, but something about it just looks… off. Planned. Designed. Aluminum and elastic webbing. Gears and wires. Not that the new Babak doesn’t look exactly like the old Babka. It – she, I guess – does. I guess I am just having trouble getting used to this robotic thing, this technological wonder, that I am supposed to pet and call ‘Babka’.

I miss Babka.