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Swampland

“Class, today is set aside for our recent graduates. Before embarking on his or her individual quest, each of them must complete the Sophist’s Emancipation Course. “Successful completion of the SEC requires a demonstration of virtue, vigilance and vigor. Intelligence without purposeful action is as wasteful as an upended jug of water. Our graduates will…

Awesome Business Opportunity

So, I decided to go to Yet Another Ground Floor Once-in-a-Lifetime Make Money Fast Pyramid Scheme. As I walked into the auditorium, I took note of several things. First, the greeters outnumbered the guests two to one, and they appeared to be swarming, hovering and buzzing around the hapless visitors. Second, a befuddled young man…

The Wizard’s Daughter

Tomorrow’s execution would be delayed no longer. All appeals had been exhausted; the wizard’s daughter refused to repent and the bishop had no choice but to make an example of her. To do anything less would only fuel the burgeoning unrest among the peasants. This close to the harvest, the king and his advisors were…

Social Touchstone

Petri was giving a lecture at a university somewhere in the future: “Good morning, class. Today, I am going to teach you about the interconnectedness of all things. In the space of thirty seconds, one person can reach into the Resplendent Receptacle of the Universe, touch 100,000 other people, and leave an unremarkable stamp on…

Une Perdrix?

The bough broke. Down came the partridge: scarf, cap and all. Jamie swore. “Dammit, Kirsten, I told you to get a fir tree.” “Don’t swear on the eve of our Lord’s birth. I thought you said ‘pear’ tree and this was the closest thing I could find.” “Why would you think … ? Oh, that…

A Plague Upon Both Spouses

Petri made a major discovery when he sneezed into his dish of jellied onion. He yelled for his wife, who came dashing in from their squash court, fearful that she were to be accused of some imagined wrong. “Marta! Come see!” She dug her fingernails into her palms, perhaps to counter the verbal onslaught Petri…

Bee Cause Célèbre

“Catastrophic Colony Collapse Threatens America’s Economy” was the screaming headline that greeted the early morning readers taking tea and scones at Boulangerie on the Boulevard. Ignored by the bourgeoisie and misunderstood by the proletariat, the Wall Street Journal’s front page story nevertheless signaled a shrugging of Atlas unlike anything foreseen by Ayn Rand and her…

The Cracked Mirror

Detective Ragbone shook a small amount of graphite onto the frame, while marveling at the unnaturally uniform craquelure of the forged Venus in the Mirror. Having momentarily forgotten the gravity of the current scene, he quipped, “Even Rubens knew better than to daub a perfect crack.” “Ragbone! Decorum, please.” Inspector Wiggins coughed into his hand.…

Three Drunks and a Funeral

A farce in one act A judge, a baker and an anthropologist are sitting in a jazz lounge. The unlikely trio are old college mates, gathered for the sad occasion of their professor’s passing. The funeral had been held the day before, at St. Thomas Episcopal. The men are sipping drinks, languidly discussing the incongruities…

Bandicoot Terror

Spoiled by the erstwhile sublime environment of the New Guinean rain forest from whence they were “harvested”, the half-dozen bandicoots huddled miserably in a filthy cage. Their captor, himself a ratty-looking specimen of a human, arranged for the illicit transport of the marsupials to the Mercer Laboratory in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. His part in this…