It's flash fiction time at Space Squid. This month we celebrate summer with two memorable stories and two equally unique comics.
They are, respectively, Spiralize Me from Nicky Drayden, Moonbows from Ambika Thompson, and Of Course and Fast Food in the Future by Ben Pounds.
And of course -- next month is Armadillocon, Austin's own writer-focused scifi convention! We'll be there and chances are good that we'll have copies of a new "year's best" Space Squid issue with special features that you won't see in our online edition. We hope to see you there! And if you can't make it, we'll probably have a PDF version of the new issue available for purchase right here.
~~~ 1 ~~~
by Nicky Drayden
I stare at my sleek, new veggie spiralizer with disdain. It's a simple contraption-- dual funnels attached at the narrow ends, with severely sharp blades tucked inside, promising to turn any vegetable into long strings of gluten-free goodness. But I don't care how much meat sauce I dump on it, there's no way zucchini noodles will satisfy me like the hearty chew of durum wheat spaghetti.
I insert my firm zucchini into the dark hole, and with each twist of my wrist, I cuss my doctor, cuss my waning willpower, cuss that perky receptionist at work who told me how she never craves bread anymore, not even a little bit, and kept raving over how this veggie spiralizer would "open up a whole new world of pasta-bilities." I say an extra cuss for her.
I snap out of my funk just in time to avoid slicing the hell out of my fingers. On my plate should be a pile of detoxifying, metabolism-boosting vegetable noodles, but there's nothing. Not a shred, not a scrap. I pull out my zucchini nub and peer deep inside the funnel. I should see my kitchen counter through the other end, but instead I marvel at tiny galaxies spinning, stars hot and white. My head starts spinning as well. Maybe my cravings have finally gotten the best of me. Maybe this hellish week of low-carb lunacy has burnt out my synapses. I rub my eyes and look again, mesmerized by the siren call of a graceful nebula, all the right shades of red and yellow and blue. In my hands I hold my own personal wormhole, ready to whisk me off to a new world... maybe one where the vegetables know better than to try to rise above their station.
Carefully, I place my hand into the spiralizer, wondering where it will take me, dreaming of all of the possibilities. I hesitate.
What if it doesn't work? What if the only place it sends me is to the E.R.? Honestly, I can deal with sliced up knuckles. What I can't deal with are the lunchtime stares and the receptionist's pouty, disappointed lips every time I bite into egg salad with bacon bits surrounded by two soft slices of sourdough. No effin' way.
I stare at my sleek, new veggie spiralizer, and with childlike anticipation, I twist.
~~~ 2 ~~~
by Ambika Thompson
Nell found the Creator of the Universe on Tinder the week before. She’d swiped past countless faces with beards of varying severity, or bearing moustaches of historical significance, or of contrasting, bespectacled affluence, or faces that were simply regular, monotonous, humdrum, and/or unvarying. The Creator of the Universe, on the other hand, he was just a ball of light. Nell found that intriguing.
His profile didn’t reveal much in the way of pertinent information.
Age: Unknown, but older than 13.8 billion years
About: Basically bored since I created the universe
Nell sent him a message. Wanna meet up?
Creator of the Universe answered. Yeah, sure.
They met at the new tapas bar round the corner from Nell’s work. He was fairly bright, so Nell had to wear special UV-protected sunglasses through their date.
The first thing Nell wanted to know was, So you’re a guy?
I identify as male.
Creator of the Universe wasn’t much of a talker, but he was a real good listener. Nell instantly felt like she’d known him her whole life, and this made her want to have sex with him. Well that, and so she could brag to her friends. And yeah well, because she was curious. And also, because it had been a while.
He claimed that he didn’t have a home, so they went back to her place. That should have been the first warning sign for Nell. Creator of the Universe wasn’t much of a lay either. He just wanted to do it with Nell on top, and he really wasn’t putting much effort into it. A bit of Oh yeah, like that and a bit more of Oh yeah, that’s good. And maybe once or twice he made an effort to caress a breast or something.
Afterwards he got a bit cuddly and asked for a piece of cake. Then they fell asleep together watching Comedy Central.
In the morning Nell told Creator of the Universe that he could stay sleeping and let himself out. She didn’t feel much of anything for him on the way to work. Just kind of a dull throbbing in her vagina reminding her that something happened the night before. She didn’t know whether she’d meet up with him again. He seemed a bit overrated.
To her surprise, when she got home, he was still there watching TV in her bed. I didn’t have anywhere to be today anyways, he told her. She’d had a long day, and thought that maybe it was nice that he was there. It had been a long time since she’d come home to somebody waiting for her.
They ordered pizza, watched HBO, did it again, watched some more HBO, and then fell asleep together.
In the morning she said, Yeah so you should probably leave today. And he said, Really? I mean I can wait for you, and cook up some dinner. If you leave me some money I’ll go get some groceries. Maybe tidy up around here.
She thought about it, and it didn’t seem like a bad proposition. And that’s how things started off. It could never be described as having been good. Even Nell knew Creator of the Universe was just a bit of a freeloader, but the sex got better with time, so she was a bit apprehensive about letting him go.
But tedium can crawl under your skin and make you feel like you need to rip your face off, and after about week five of their fling, that’s exactly how Nell felt, so she tried to break it off with him. That’s when he gave her a moonbow. He escorted her to the roof of her building and he made a moonbow across the sky. That impressed Nell, so they stayed together.
After a few more weeks though, Nell started to get bored again. This time he made her five moonbows in the sky, so she had sex with him, but then realized moonbows and sex weren’t enough, and told him so. Then he made a hundred moonbows across the sky.
Is that all you can do? she asked. A bit disappointed that Creator of the Universe really didn’t seem to possess much in the way of any useful skills.
He filled up her apartment with moonbows.
Stop with the fucking moonbows, will ya!
Creator of the Universe slumped down on the corner of her bed and started to cry. Imagine if you were me and that was all you could do.
She sat next to him, feeling a bit sorry for him. She let him stay the night. Then the week. Then the month. But Nell was starting to crack inside. Creator of the Universe was giving her moonbows non-stop. She’d wake up with moonbows coming out of her mouth, over her eyes, in her eyelashes, her ears, in her hair, in her armpits, in her butt crack, and in her crotch. Every time she tried to break it off, he’d smother her with moonbows, and he’d start to cry.
Her left eye began to twitch constantly, and she started sweating profusely all the time. When Creator of the Universe touched her, she’d have heart palpitations that made her feel like her heart would jump out of her chest and make a run for it.
Eventually she snapped. She woke up one night and pulled a moonbow out of her nose and snuck into the kitchen for a little more than an hour with it. Then she snuck back into the bedroom and straddled Creator of the Universe, and he moaned, Oh yeah, that’s good. Oh yeah, like that.
And she stabbed Creator of the Universe over and over again with the moonbow she’d sharpened in the kitchen. And he cried out in pain. And his brightness, as it percolated out of his wounds, blinded Nell, but she kept stabbing and stabbing. And as his yells for help subsided, the room melted around her. And Nell felt this and knew this as she kept stabbing, but she couldn’t stop. And Nell felt herself begin to disintegrate. And then when the last words from Creator of the Universe, Nell, you stupid idiot, were finished being helplessly uttered, everything was suddenly, and infinitely, gone for all of eternity.
Except, that is, for whatever reason, the sharpened moonbow, which is where we live.
~~~ 3 ~~~
~~~ 4 ~~~
Fast Food in the Future
by Ben Pounds
About the Creators
Nicky Drayden is a systems analyst who dabbles in prose when she’s not buried in code. She resides in Austin, Texas where being weird is highly encouraged, if not required. Her debut novel The Prey of Gods is forthcoming from Harper Voyager, Summer 2017. This story first appeared in Daily Science Fiction.
Ambika Thompson lived her past life in an alternative universe that had everything sorted out. In this universe she can't recall what happened in her past-life so she's resorted to living in Berlin where she is a parent, writer, and musician. She has contributed short stories to NPR Berlin, The Missing Slate, and Fanzine, and has stories forthcoming in Okey-Panky and Litro. She is the Managing and Fiction editor of Leopardskin & Limes, and one half of the cello riot grrl duo Razor Cunts.
Years ago Ben Pounds became a minor campus celebrity for his cartoons at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. More recently, he wrote a hiking memoir called Wildly Strolling Along: Father-Son Nature Adventures on Tennessee's Cumberland Trail, illustrated by him and co-authored with his father Larry.
World's Shortest Creator Interviews
Make up a word for "uncomfortably warm" and describe its origins.
Dercrächeshotten (German): Originally the name for house servants who sat in front of the hearth to prevent ash and embers from landing on the furniture, this word is now used to describe the state of arousal when one stirs up the contents of an urn.
You could either be frozen for future revival or immediately reanimated after death. Which do you choose and why? Are you a zombie afterwards? Do you live in the body of a pigeon? Why do you keep calling me Charles?
Immediately reanimated but only if I would be immortal. Zombies aren't really my style. Too many bits and pieces falling off, so I'm gonna be cliché and be a vampire, but not a vampire pigeon because I think I'd have a hard time writing if that happened.
I thought we'd agreed that I'd call you Charles and you'd call me Prince William. Right Daddy?
Please describe fifty words or less.
Still too long for a tweet.
If penguins invented a different mode of transportation, what would it be, and why are they not content with all the nice ice slides we have provided for them?
Hoverboards. Not the Marty McFly kind but the slow two-wheel kind. Apparently they thought ice slides were too dignified.
Do you hope to see lighters or iPhones waved when the songstory of your life is performed? Are you expecting a mosh pit? Or are you hoping that the crowd will stomp their feet in rhythm and raise their glasses, or some other response, perhaps?
iPhones because at least that means my life might be worth illegally posting online. A mosh pit would be excellent.
About the Artists
Insspirito, Skeeze, and ADJoelle are Pixabay users and talented visual creators.
Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology. He does the Space Squid cover designs and other squid stuff.