In A Flash: The Day Email Ended

Day One:

On the first day without email, they all pretended to grumble and complain, but secretly they were delighted to be free. Free from the constant glancing at their inboxes. Free from the annoying ping announcing new arrivals. Free from the guilt at those emails awaiting responses and actions that they did not care to do. Free from work entirely, for anything could be put off now. I need to do that, they said to colleagues, whether or not it was true.

And so they relaxed and caught up with coworkers on their weekends, made concerned faces when managers arrived to explain that it might be some time before email was restored. At the end of the day nothing had been resolved, but they were told it would be in no time. And so they went home, happy at a day free of worry, and bracing themselves for the deluge that might follow once the normal course of things had been restored.

 

Day Two:

On the second day without email, they were told it would be weeks, if not longer, before services could be restored.

How could such a thing happen? This question was met with shrugs and grave expressions.

No one knows, was the whisper that went from cubicle to cubicle. Team leads called meetings of their groups to discuss contingencies, but there were no contingencies for a world without email. Such a thing was beyond comprehension, beyond the imagination of anyone involved.

Could we use fax machines, some suggested, and were met with blank, terrified stares.

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In A Flash: You Are Not Wanted Here

The books were laughing at me. Their spines cracked and groaned as they flipped open, the pages riffling like an orchestra of wheezing accordions.

I stared at them in wonder and horror, unable to comprehend how they were moving of their own accord. Or how they managed to stay upon the shelves in spite of their convulsions. The study was filled with bookshelves, all teeming with books, and all of them now moved, animated by some malevolent spirit. Or so it seemed to me. It was not a generous, welcoming laughter that echoed from those pages. There was a menace to it, a cutting edge as sharp as their fine pages.

I backed away from the room, which I had only entered moments before, and which had seemed a quiet and somewhat austere place where I might seclude myself for some hours. Instead, I now feared for my life.

I had closed the door behind me upon entering, but now, when I tried to turn the handle, I found it locked. How that could be possible—for the mechanism appeared to allow me to lock the door from within the study, keeping intruders out—I could not say. The laughter of the books grew louder, turning into a gale force of noise. Shuddering in horror, I threw the full force of my body against the door, thinking it must be jammed and that I might be able to dislodge.

It seemed to have no effect. In fact, I was quite certain I could feel the door responding to my efforts by moving to brace itself, and perhaps even to push back against me. Panic seized me, sweat going frigid upon my forehead, as I contemplated what terrible fate might await me if the entire house turned against me.

“What do you want with me?” I cried out at the empty room.

The books did not cease their movement, but instead of laughter I heard a garbled chorus of indistinct words. “You are not wanted here.” Continue reading

In A Flash: Menu Del Día

Gerald grimaced against the glare of the sun as he stared down the teeming street. The faces shifted rapidly across his frame of vision, the calls of the hawkers drowning out any chatter on the street that the clatter of the vehicles trundling by did not. He bit his lip as his stomach was lanced by a sharp pain that shuddered down his bowels and threatened to spill out at his feet.

“Everything okay?” Ariel said.

“Yeah,” he said, exhaling slowly and relaxing his tense muscles, hoping nothing dislodged itself in the process.

She laughed. “That bad, huh?”

“Fucking menu del día. Never should’ve eaten that.”

“I warned you,” Ariel said.

“Oh god,” Gerald said, clutching at his stomach. “Now is definitely not the time.”

“You still up for the museum?”

“Not like we’ve got another day. Bound to be a bathroom in there anyway.”

Ariel led the way along the uneven cobblestone street, past the Incan wall with its massive many-sided stones, to what had once been the Archbishop’s palace. Now it was a museum filled with works of cusqueño art from the colonial period, though there were still Church offices on site. The archbishop continued to attend there on occasion. They had bought a ticket for the museum the day before at the cathedral on the main square and now they had the ticket punched and were offered an audio tour, which Ariel accepted, procuring headphones for both of them.

They went from room to room of the palace, which had been home to an Incan priest prior to the Church taking it over, following the conquest, listening to their audio guide drone on about the minutia of the art work on the walls. It all looked much the same to Gerald, paeans to God, Mary and Jesus, intended to educate those new to the faith by placing these foreign symbols in familiar contexts. Thus, there was a guinea pig, corn and potatoes being served with every image of the Last Supper. One example of this would have been enough to make the point, but the paintings seemed to proliferate throughout each room.

Gerald had to allow that the paintings were incredible, though he always found the baroque effects left him cold. He was especially unmoved on this day because of the rather tenuous state of his stomach. It was a matter of when, not if, he would need a bathroom, and he had yet to see a sign directing him to one. Continue reading

In A Flash: How to Make Love Like a Warlock

Although many exhaustive and learned volumes have been published on the subject of amorous instruction, I feel much remains to be said on the matter, especially as it pertains to the copulatory habits of warlocks and other masters of dark magic. As one well-practiced in both infernal arts, I feel well suited to speak on the matter with the clarity required, lest another poor apprentice or sorcerer be led astray into more dismal and dreary acts, for lack of knowledge on how to properly engage with an enchantress, siren or familiar.

Firstly, one must attach the suitable appendage. On acquiring the requisite appendage, I will say little now, though it perhaps warrants its own appendix, for it is a matter worthy of careful consideration. Many is the dark master who endeavors to perform the salacious act, only to find his chosen member shriveled and smelling of putrescence. No amount of ointment or potion will see you to satisfying either party in that situation.

The subject puts me in mind of a story, which if the reader will allow me the indulgence of a small digression, I will detail here. I was in a cemetery practicing a poor bit of necromancy—never one of my finer talents, I am sorry to admit—when I came across a sorcerer collecting mandrake root. I was cold and damp from my evening’s toil, and glad for the company, so I shared some of my tobacco and we each drew on our pipes.

After explaining that I had been engaged to summon the recalcitrant spirit of a distant father by a spurned son, cast out of inheritance, I inquired as to what had brought him to this place. “I am collecting the female of the mandrake root,” he said, with a gesture to his satchel.

“To what end?” I said, for I was curious as to what spell he was conducting. As anyone familiar with the arts will be aware, there are many uses for the mandrake root, both male and female.

“I am effecting a spell of transformation,” the sorcerer said, somewhat guardedly. Continue reading