Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Horse and the Scary Monster (story #67)

Hey there, kiddos.  Okay, I’ll be honest with you.  I was thinking this afternoon about the fact that I had to write a story this evening, and I came up with an idea that I thought was funny.  Not so much a story, but just an idea for a story.  And the more I thought about it, the more I said to myself, “hey, stupid.  The point of the SotWC is that you don’t think about it beforehand.”  So in order to stay true to my original intent, and also to mix things up, here I am sitting down to write the story and I’ve just decided to completely jettison the idea I thought of earlier.  Perhaps it will recur sometime in the future as a spontaneous recollection that I’ll feel good about using at that time.  Kind of like the idea of horses and monsters I rejected so long ago.

This one’s for you, Mr. Judd.


One sunny Thursday, a horse named Peruvia was out happily trotting around, like horses do, when all of a sudden he had a thought.  Not exactly an earth shattering thought, but since his usual thoughts went something like “trot trot trot trot trot I want some hay trot trot gallop gallop whinny get off my back ha ha ha ha ha ha ha trot trot trot,” this one was a pretty interesting one for him.  He wanted very badly to tell someone his pretty interesting thought, so he trotted on over to the stable to talk to his friend Gertrude.  She was also a horse.  Which is why she was in the stable.

“Hey, Gertrude!” Peruvia said.

“Yes?” she replied, munching on some hay.

“I totally just had a thought!” Peruvia whinnied excitedly.

“Oh my gosh!  Me too!” Gertrude exclaimed.

“No,” Peruvia said, ” I mean like I had a REAL thought!  Like not just ‘hay tastes good,’ or something like that.  Like a real thought!”

“Yeah, me too!” said Gertrude.

“Really?” said Peruvia.  “What was your thought?”

“I thought ‘Hay tastes good,'” she said.

He looked at her for a moment.  “That’s what I just said,” he told her sadly.

“Oh, that was your thought, too?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “it completely was not.  Were you even listening to me at all?”

“Sure I was!” she responded.  “You said something!”

“Never mind,” said Peruvia, turning to trot away.

“Hay tastes good,” Gertrude said to no one in particular.

Trotting away from the stable, Peruvia decided that he better find someone to tell his thought to soon or he might forget it.  He knew what he should probably do was write it down, but having no opposable thumbs made gripping a pen so difficult.  He decided he should go over to the farmhouse and tell one of the children there.  They had opposable thumbs and could write things down!  Adults couldn’t hear animals speak, but children still believed in magic, so Peruvia was sure that one of the children would understand him and write down his thought.

As he approached the back porch, he saw that he was in luck!  The youngest girl, whose name was Pie-Crust, was sitting there scribbling in a coloring book.

“Hello!” Peruvia said excitedly.  Pie-Crust looked up at him.  “I’m so pleased to see you have a writing utensil,” Peruvia continued,” for I have just had a thought, better than most of my usual ordinary horse thoughts, and I would love it if you would write it down for me so I would not forget it!”

In no time at all, Pie-Crust peed her pants and ran inside screaming.

“Hm,” Peruvia grunted to himself, ” maybe that wasn’t such a hot idea.”

Turning around again, he trotted dejectedly past the stable (Gertrude called out “Hey!  I like hay!  Hey!  Hay!” and then laughed so hard that she choked a little.  But she was fine, don’t worry.) and out into the surrounding fields.  Before long, Peruvia found himself at the edge of a forest.  He gasped and looked around, realizing he was at the edge of “Scary Scary Bo-Berry” forest, so named because it was supposedly haunted, but also had some delicious gooseberry bushes.  The “Bo” just made it sound cute.

“Oh my gosh,” Peruvia whispered out loud, “I’m so scared I may just forget my thought!”

Suddenly a voice off to his right said, “well, why don’t you tell me your thought and I’ll help you remember it?”

“Oh, that would be so kind of you,” Peruvia responded, turning towards the sound, “I would really appreciate if someone would AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Standing there not ten feet away from Peruvia was the most hideous and scary monster he had ever seen.  It had evil eyes, long gangly limbs, big sharp teeth and plenty of other scary things any good artist could think up on his own.  And it was wearing boxer shorts with little hearts on them.

"Horses and Hearts" - Art by Josh Judd

“Whoa, dude,” the scary monster said.

“Are you gonna kill me?” Peruvia whinnied, his knees knocking together.  All four of them.  It was quite a racket.

“Kill you?” asked the scary monster.  “Now, why would I do that?”

“Cuz you’re a big scary monster,” Peruvia replied.

“Well, yeah,” said the scary monster, “but I mean besides that.”

“Uh,” said Peruvia, and that was all he managed to say.

“Okay, look, here’s the deal,” said the big scary monster.  “My name is Kirby and I kind of like living in this forest by myself, partially because I got tired of folks screaming at me but mainly because the gooseberries in here are so darn good.  So I let people think I’m all scary and bad and that the forest is haunted because it keeps out all the dooftopodes.  But you seem like a nice horse, so I wanna help you out.”

“Wow,” said Peruvia, “that’s pretty swell of you.”

“I know,” said Kirby.  “Playing against type, but still interesting to look at, that’s me all over.  So, what was this thought you had?”

“Oh!” said Peruvia.  “Yes!  My thought!  It was very exciting.  I just had it not too long ago!  Not just an ordinary thought, either!  A really good one!  Not like ‘hay tastes good,’ or anything like that.  No sir, Mr. Monster-friend of mine.  This was a doozy, at least by horse standards.”

“Okay, sounds great,” said Kirby.  “Lay it on me.”

“All right,” said Peruvia.  “I was just thinking that our earth is but a small star in a great universe. Yet of it we can make, if we choose, a planet unvexed by war, untroubled by hunger or fear, undivided by senseless distinctions of race, color or theory.”

Kirby looked at Peruvia for a long time.  Peruvia smiled and waited for a response.  “Well?” he said finally.

“You didn’t write that,” said Kirby eventually.  “That was written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of The Devil and Daniel Webster.  That quote is like a hundred years old.  You’re a thief and a plagiarist.”

“Like I can read,” Peruvia said.

“Oh, yeah, good point,” said Kirby.


Returning home after a lovely evening of chatting and eating gooseberry pies, Peruvia went to the stables to tell Gertrude what fun he had been having.  Upon entering, though, he found that she was gone.  “Hey!” he called out.  “Where’s Gertrude?”

A sound at his hoof made him look down.  It was a little mouse named Giorgio, squeaking sadly.

“They took her away,” he said.

“Why?” Peruvia asked.

“The little girl-child told her parents that the horses could talk, so they took her away to sell her to the circus.”

“They sold Gertrude to the circus?” Peruvia asked in disbelief.

“No,” said Giorgio, “they sold the little girl to the circus.  They just rode Gertrude to get there.”

“Oh,” said Peruvia.  “Wait, then why are you so sad?”

“Because I’ve never eaten a gooseberry pie or seen a monster,” said the sad little mouse.

“Gee, that sucks for you,” said Peruvia.

“Yeah, well,” said Giorgio, “at least I can take comfort in the knowledge that nobody I know has either.”

“Uhhh, sure you can,” said Peruvia.

“So,” said Giorgio, shaking it off, “what did you do tonight?”

“Hay tastes good,” said Peruvia.


Well, thanks for reading.  Or for listening, if you put this story into one of those computer programs that reads text for you.  Hey, if you did that, tell me how it pronounced “dooftopodes.”  I bet it was funny.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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Posted by on August 30, 2010 in Fantasy


The Maltese Falkor (story #66)

Hey ho, everybody.  Hope everyone’s week was swell and that you’re all happy even though it’s Monday.  Well, it’s the end of Monday, so even those of you who’ve had a “case of the Mondays” should be getting over it by now.  And if not, well, that’s why God invented tequila.

So, I’ve been reading a lot of Elmore Leonard lately and it’s made me decide to write a crime story tonight.  I’m not feeling very serious though so, unlike the horror story a few weeks back, this probably won’t devolve into being a serious story or anything.  At any rate, I’ve got moody trumpet music playing, so let the noir begin.  Or “beguine” if you’re into musical references.


"That time libby tried to draw perspective without a ruler or a plan." Art by Libby Barringer

I walked into my office and immediately knew there was something wrong.  For one thing, my nice, pretty window that said “Sam Shovel – Private Eyes, They’re Watching You” was broken.  For another thing, there was a totally hot red-head sitting on my desk, smoking a cigarette.  Cigarettes are bad for you, see.  That’s wrong.

“Mr. Shovel?” she said, looking up.

“Who’s askin’, sweetheart?” I said, lighting up a cigarette (so I’m hypocritical, so sue me.)

“My name is Margarita Cansino,” she said, “and I’m way hot.”

“I noticed, dollface,” I replied.  “I may be stupid, but I ain’t dead.”

“Did you just call yourself stupid?” she asked, getting off my desk and stepping towards me.

“Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t,” I said, “but I’ll ask the questions, if you don’t mind.”

“What if I do mind?” she purred, stepping closer.

“Oh, a saucy vixen, eh?” I said.  “Well, I know how to deal with saucy vixens.”

“Do your worst,” she whispered.

After almost two full minutes of silence, I said, “well, you got me toots.  You called my bluff.  I haven’t the foggiest notion what to do with saucy vixens.  Want a Coke?”

“Sure, I guess,” she said.  “So, you wanna know why I’m here or what?”

“Okay, lay it on me,” I said pulling a couple Cokes out of the ice box.

“I need you to find something that belonged to my father,” she said, sitting on my black leather couch that looked really cool in my office even though it didn’t make sense for me to afford such a lavish piece of furniture.

“Let me guess,” I said, popping the tops on the Cokes and handing her one.  “He was working on something really huge, and someone didn’t like it, and now he’s gone missing, and the only key to his whereabouts is a mysterious note instructing you to bring this elusive object to a dark mansion on the edge of town by midnight tomorrow or your old man is taking a dirt nap.  Am I close to the mark?”

She looked at me for a moment in complete astonishment before saying, “no, Mr. Shovel, you are so far off the mark that I don’t think we even live in the same country anymore.”

“Oh,” I said.  “Well, why don’t you tell me what’s going on and I’ll try not to interrupt anymore.”

“Swell,” she said, and laid it all out for me.  Her father, Sydney, was a shoe salesman in Des Moines, Iowa (which she pronounced “I away” for some reason).  She had recently received a letter from him outlining his plan to send her a birthday gift, a fabulous jewel-encrusted stuffed animal shaped like a hairy white dragon.  She had written him back asking what kind of weird gift that was, but it was too late.  The postal truck carrying her gift had been attacked by pirates who had stolen everything.  Just this afternoon, she had received a phone call from her father asking how she liked her gift, and she had told him the story of the pirates which she had learned from her usual mailman, Peter.  Her father had been wild with shock and disbelief.  He’d told her she didn’t realize how important the animal was.  He’d cursed the pirates and hung up the phone shouting the enigmatic phrase, “a billy for a bunker!”

“So, that’s what happened, Mr. Shovel,” she concluded.  “Do you understand now what I need you to find?”

“You need me to find the Maltese Falkor and return it to your father so that he can finally tell you what its true importance is.”

“No, I need to you to find my father’s mind,” she replied.  “Clearly he’s totally lost it and I want you to make him better again.”

“What do I look like,” I said, ” a psychiatrist?”

She cocked her head to one side and looked at me for a second.  “Wait, you mean you’re not a psychiatrist?”

“No, of course not!” I replied.  “I’m a gumshoe!  A bloodhound!  A shamus, a slewfoot!  A private dick, savvy?  What’s the matter, can’t you read?”  I pointed to my door and we both looked at the writing on the window, and what did we see?

That’s right, smarty-pants.  The window was broken and all you could read was my name.

“Gee, ” I said, “I guess you probably wanna talk to Dr. Spade.  He’s one door down.”

“Whoops,” she said.  “Well, sorry to bother you.  Thanks for the Coke.”

And as I watched her walk to the door and out of my life, I realized I still had one question.  And, after all, I’d told her I’d be asking the questions.  “Rita,” I called out, shortening her name familiarly in a way I was certain she wouldn’t mind.  She turned back, a silhouette in the doorway, one hand on her hip, the other lifting a cigarette to her bright red lips.  “Did you find out why your father wanted to give you a hairy white dragon?  I mean, what kind of gift is that?”

She looked at me a moment before dropping her hand from her mouth and exhaling a cloud of smoke that wreathed her head.  She tossed her hair and said, “that, Mr. Shovel, is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

“Whoa,” I said.  “That’s deep.”

“No,” she said.  “I mean it’s literally something this kid had a dream about.  See, he found this book and started reading it and…  Oh, never mind.  It’s a really long story.”  And then she was gone.



Okay, so that was nothing like an Elmore Leonard story.  But, hey, all I said was that I was inspired to do a crime story.  There was a little bit of crime in there.  And it’s always fun to mix some 80s fantasy in there.  Well, it’s always fun for me, anyway.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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Posted by on August 23, 2010 in Uncategorized


The Story of Marcus and Epsilon (story #65)

Hello and welcome, friends and neighbors.  It’s that time again, that time where I write a tory.  Well that, of course was supposed to read “story,” not “tory.” But, as I’ve observed numerous times, some typos are too entertaining to delete.  And, since I will draw inspiration from just about anywhere, I’ve just decided that this week’s story will take place during the American Revolution and (obviously) contain at least one character who is loyal to the British Monarchy.  Hence I will be, in fact, writing a Tory.  If you don’t get it, look it up, you uneducated heathens.


The year was 1781.  The American Civil war was still a full century away, but the revolution against British tyranny was raging strong in the small town of Fictionalville, Virginia.  On a cloudy Thursday evening, seventeen year old Marcus Wishbottom stepped courageously from his small house, a musket in hand.  He turned only once to look back at his mother and father, still sitting at the kitchen table hand-in-hand, watching him leave.

“So, I’m going, then,” he said.

“Quiet, boy!” his father snapped.  “Can’t you see yer mother and me holding hands?  We’re having a moment, here.  As soon as you go off to war, we can get to smooching!”

“Okay, then,” Marcus said, and off he went.

Before long, he arrived at the town square.  In front of the town hall, there was a table where Captain Melville Gibson was signing up new recruits to fight the evil British oppressors.  “Come on, now!” he shouted.  “September 3, 1783 is still a long way away!”

“What’s September 3, 1783?” Marcus asked.

“Uh, nothing,” said General Gibson (I’m not hung up on details like what rank I said he was before.  Don’t be such sticklers.), “I’m not from the future, predicting things out of old history books.  I swear.”

“How could you be from the future?” asked Marcus.

“Well, I’m NOT!” shouted Lance Corporal Gibson.  “So why don’t you get up off my back about it?”

“Sure thing,” said Marcus.  “Now gimme that quill pen, you total nutjob.”

“I didn’t used to be a nutjob,” Commander Gibson mumbled.  “I used to be awesome.”

“Hang on a  minute,” said Marcus, “are we reenacting the plot of The Patriot, or discussing your whole career?”

“Well, not my career,” said Private Gibson, “I was never in a time travel movie.”

“What about Forever Young?” asked Marcus.

“Well, that’s not strictly a–  Hey, how did this story become about me, anyway?” replied Grand High Vizier Gibson.  “I was supposed to be a one-sentence joke that most people wouldn’t even pay attention to, and now I’m all we’re talking about.”

“Well,” said Marcus, “that’s stream-of-consciousness writing and fourth-wall whimsy for you.”

"Just then, a cat walked by carrying a watermelon." Art by Maria Gullickson

Just then a cat walked by carrying a watermelon.

Marcus then proceeded to sign up for the colonial militia and march off to war.  Before he actually made it to any battles, though, he was captured by monkeys.  It was really weird.

“Ook!  Eek!” said the monkey king.

“Well, I suppose that’s better than gleep,” Marcus said.

“Gleep,” said the monkey king, just to be difficult.

Just then, someone came bounding through the trees, musket raised, eyes ablaze with battle madness.  It was a young man in a tattered British soldier’s uniform with blood smeared on his shirt.

“Death to the monkey king!” he screamed and fired his gun.  Since he was all worked up, though, he totally missed and it takes a long time to reload one of those things.  The monkeys all scattered as soon as that first shot was fired, so the soldier didn’t even bother with the reload.  That’s how the monkey king and all of his followers got away and moved to New Jersey where they gave speech lessons to bi-dimensional aliens.

Once he had calmed down, the soldier looked at Marcus and said, “are you all right?”

“Yes,” replied Marcus, ” but I’m WAY freaked out.”

“I know, right?” said the soldier.  “Being captured by monkeys will do that to you.”

“Actually, I’m a little freaked out by you,” Marcus replied, “being British and covered in blood and all.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, your accent is cute and winning and makes me kind of want to give you a hug, but still.”

“Oh yeah, that,” replied the soldier.  “Don’t worry about the blood, it’s not mine.  I totally shot a bunch of rotten, stupid colonists earlier and–  Hey, wait a minute, you’re not a colonist, are you?”

Marcus, who was still tied up and completely helpless, looked the soldier in the eye and said, “no way, man.  I’m a big, fat Tory.”

“Oh, cool,” said the soldier and began to untie Marcus.  “Well, my name is Epsilon.  I’m fifth generation military and it’s pretty much my life.  I came over here to fight these separatist bastards a year or so ago, and boy have I been having fun killing people.   The only problem is that I’m just too good at what I do.  I haven’t lost a battle yet.  See, I’m a fighting man and it has long been a dream of mine to die for king and country.  How about you, kid?  What’s your story?”

“My name is Marcus,” came the reply as Marcus’s hands were freed to reach for his own musket, which was still loaded.  “I’m kind of a liar.  And I love to make people’s dreams come true.”


Don’t ask me what that was all about.

See you in seven,

the SotWC


Posted by on August 16, 2010 in History


Happy Birthday to Me

Hey, kids!  It’s my birthday, so I’m taking the week off!  Seriously, who do I think I am?!?  Well, I guess I think I’m the guy who’s giving himself the week off for his birthday.  The conversation went something like this:

Boss:  Hey.  Write this week’s story.

Staff Writer:  Um, no.

Boss:  Why not?

Staff Writer:  Cuz it’s our birthday.

Boss:  You are so irresponsible.

Staff Writer:  Want a beer?

Boss:  Yeah, okay.

Happy Birthday to me!

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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Posted by on August 9, 2010 in Announcements


The Red Herring (story #64)

So, it turns out that traffic school takes a LONG time, and I actually had to finish up the final exam tonight (hooray for ONLINE traffic school), so I really should be getting to bed, like, NOW.  But I’m so dedicated that I’m gonna go ahead and write you all a story anyway.  I’m only kind of dedicated, though, so it’s gonna be short and sweet, or at least just short.  I feel like I’ve made that joke before.  Oh well, here goes…


Once there was a herring named Clifford.  He was honest and sincere and loving and dependable but, despite all these good qualities, no one ever trusted him or believed anything he said.  This is because he was red (see, it’s not just a clever title).  He spent most of his life explaining to people that a “red herring” in a literary sense was just a catchy turn of phrase and didn’t mean that a real red herring couldn’t be trusted.  But nobody ever believed him.  Because they didn’t trust him and all.  Sad, cyclical life.

So, one day, as Clifford was swimming around wishing he had friends and being woefully disappointed with life, he saw a giant man-eating Great White shark swimming up to him.  Right about now you may be asking yourselves whether herring are freshwater or saltwater fish.  Well, I’m here to tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t care.  I want the fish and the shark in the same water, so there they are.

“Hey!’ said the shark, whose name was Magpie Jones.  “You’re a red herring.”

“No doi,” said Clifford.

“Well, there’s no need to be disrespectful, you little snot,” said the Magpie.

“No disrespect intended,” replied Clifford, “I’ve just been woefully disappointed with life.  It makes you sound snotty, I guess.”

“Gee,” said Magpie, “why are you so disappointed with life?”

“Because I’m a red herring,” Clifford sighed.  “Nobody believes anything I say.”

“I don’t believe you,” Magpie said, and burst into bubbly gales of laughter.

Art by Deron Decesare

Clifford waited patiently until Magpie had finished laughing.  And, believe you me, that took a while.  Magpie was pretty darn pleased with himself.  Anyway, he finally calmed down and wiped a tear from his eye even though he didn’t have to because it just blended in with the ocean.  He just did it for show.  Clifford was not impressed.

“Anything else I can do for you?” he asked in a sad voice.

“Oh, now, look here,” Magpie said wrapping a fin around Clifford’s little red head, “don’t be upset.  I didn’t mean anything by it.  I think you’re swell, kid.  I think we should be friends.”

Clifford looked up, his eyes shining.  His little fish lip quivered.  He almost couldn’t choke out the words.  “Really?” he asked.  “You wanna be my friend even though I’m a red herring?”

And that was when Magpie opened his gigantic mouth with its rows and rows of razor-sharp teeth and said, “yep, I sure do.”

So they went to the grand opening of Disneyland Atlantis (hey, if they can open one in Paris, they can open one anywhere), and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship where nothing ironic ever happened.

Warms the heart, doesn’t it?


I must be losing it in my old age.  You like how the description of Magpie’s teeth made you think one thing was gonna happen, but they ended up being pretty much irrelevant to the story?  There’s a phrase for that, but I’m too tired to think of it now.

See you in six,

the SotWC

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Posted by on August 4, 2010 in Uncategorized


Sorry, kids…

…I have at least five hours of online traffic school to complete tonight, so this week’s story will have to wait until tomorrow.  Boo, responsibility.

See you tomorrow,

the SotWC

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Posted by on August 2, 2010 in Announcements