Grinds My Gears

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Roger’s job was to fix things that broke. He was a repairman, and he had been for 40-some years. He’d seen a lot of things in his life, repaired a lot of broken machinery, but nothing was quite like his current project.

The prototype for iBot had come out a few months earlier, and it was just experiencing its first mechanical failures. Loose gears and a need for some oil. Seemed easy enough to Roger.

But iBot was programmed to be like a human, and humans can be quite sassy—Roger knows that better than most. He’s got four teenage daughters and they are constantly sassing him.

“You know,” Roger started as he began tightening the gears in iBot’s back panel, “Way back when I was a youngster, robots didn’t exist. I mean, they existed in movies and little toys for kids, but the real deal? No sir, that certainly never existed. The toys were pretty cool, though. I never had one myself, but I always thought they looked like fun.”

“Oh, you didn’t [beep] have one? How [boop] sad,” iBot replied. If it could’ve expressed any emotion in its voice there would’ve been an overwhelming tone of sarcasm.

“Yeah, you know, when I was a youngster we didn’t have a lot of money to spare,” Roger continued. “My parents both worked hard but I was the youngest of eight kids, so there wasn’t a lot to go around, if you know what I mean.”

“One of [boop] eight? Your [beep] parents must have spent a lot of [beep] time in the bedroom,” iBot said, trying to get under Roger’s skin.

“You mean hiding out from us? Yeah, they did. Back when I was young, we were pretty crazy. Man, those were the days. I wish you could’ve seen things the way they were back then. It was a simpler time—things were just… good,” Roger said. He continued yacking about the good old days while iBot patiently waited for him to finish tightening the gears.

“This whole world is so crazy now, there’s just so much going on all the time,” Roger lamented. “I can hardly stand it! I can’t believe this is the only world you know. That makes me so sad.”

Finally, iBot lost it.

“You know, [beep] Roger, you are really grinding [boop] my gears.”

“Well, don’t I know it! That’s my job, iBot,” Roger answered, oblivious to iBot’s annoyance.

“That is not [boop] what I mean. You are driving me [beep] crazy with your [boop] stories. Can you fix the [boop] gears in silence? Please?”

Roger never spoke another word to iBot, so offended were his sensibilities.

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Curiosity Killed the Cat

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The cat was dead. There was no question about that. I felt his little chest for any signs of life—nothing.

Only one question remained: who killed the cat?

Could it have been Elise, the cat’s owner? She’d been complaining about him for a while now—the cat was too dumb, the cat was mean, the cat had a habit of shredding the drapes when he was left home alone. Had Elise finally gotten fed up with the cat and killed it in a moment of rage? No, he was all Elise had—kill the cat and she would find herself alone again.

Could it have been Caitlin, the cat-sitter? She never really liked the cat in the first place, and she had every opportunity to sneak a little poison into his food jar when she was housesitting for Elise… But without the cat, she wouldn’t have made any money, and Caitlin was two-months behind on her rent. It just didn’t add up.

Could it have been a stranger, some kind of cat killer who committed his crimes in the cover of the night? Ah, but what motive would this cat killer have had? The cat never went outside—it was unlikely anyone even knew he existed, let alone had enough anger towards him to commit a murder.

I’d explored all the options and I had absolutely no idea what to say. In front of me stood Elise, Caitlin, and my Pet Crimes Partner, Lou. I was supposed to be the prodigy, the Pet Crimes Whisperer, but here I was—clueless.

“One thing is for sure,” I started, unsure of where the thought would take me. “Curiosity killed this cat.”

X Marks the Spot

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“Aiy, what’s this here marking on the ground? Nine boxes—some be empty, some be having Os, and some be having Xs! They must be marking the spot for tiny treasures! Aiy matey, dig them up and bring them back to The Captain. Get to it!”

They dug and they dug where each X marked a spot, but they still came up with no treasure. When they realized the Xs were not, in fact, marking any spots, the leader sighed a big sigh and turned away from his crew.

“Those hooligan pirates, they fooled us again. I’ll be betting there’s no treasure on this God forsaken island—“ he was saying when he suddenly stopped and peered off into the distance.

Up in the sky, the clouds were forming what looked like an X over a neighboring island.

“Aiy, mateys! An X in the sky, marking the spot where the treasure be!” he yelled.

And just like that, they were off to follow the next X.

Yanking Your Chain

Yanking Your Chain

We were lying together on the couch. He was tickling my back and playing with my hair, whispering into my ear. I could feel his warm breath on me as he exhaled. I loved him. He was my world, my everything.

We’d just gotten back from a long walk in the park and we were watching his favorite TV show. I didn’t mind what we watched, as long as we were together.

He learned in to whisper something to me. He paused before saying, “ I love you, but you’ve gotta go…”

I looked at him, stunned. I was silent but he could see the hurt in my eyes.

“I’m just yanking your chain,” he said while gently tugging on my collar. “I would never get rid of you, you’re my best friend! I love you, Spot,” he cooed, snuggling into my neck.

I love you, too, I thought. I snuggled into him and lifted my leg for a belly rub.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Shannon looked at the heaping piles of meat in front of her on the table. She’d signed up for this cooking class 4 months ago with her best friend Amy, but, like always, Amy bailed at the last minute and Shannon was stuck going alone.

The teacher was intense to say the least. She was a little French woman with a heavy accent and curly white hair. She was very passionate about cooking—and it definitely showed! She certainly wasn’t afraid to yell at her students when they made a mistake. She carried a wooden spoon that she would bang on the table to get their attention when they messed up. Shannon was terrified of the woman, in all honesty.

They were making a bunch of dishes using a pig, the meat from which was piled high on the table in stacks. All the students had placed the eyes in separate bowls. Shannon got a weird feeling every time she looked at them, but she couldn’t stop herself from staring. She felt like she was obsessing about the eyes a little too much but the idea of using them was just so foreign to her.

Shannon could hear the teacher talking but she was only half listening. Those eyes were starting to haunt her. The teacher was instructing the class on what to do next but Shannon didn’t care anymore.

Smack! The wooden spoon banged on the table in front of Shannon.

“Keep your eyes peeled!” the teacher yelled before turning around and walking back to the front of the room.

Shannon picked up her pig eyes and, with her own eyes shut, began peeling them.

“Non! Qu’est-ce que tu fais?! Non, non, non,” the teacher screamed in Shannon’s direction.

Shannon turned around to see who was in trouble before realizing she was sitting in the last row and the teacher was staring directly at her.

“What?” Shannon asked. She didn’t speak French.

“What are you doing? Don’t peel the eyes, keep your eyes peeled for bad meat,” the teacher said.

“Oh, sorry,” Shannon said, putting the eyes down.

Shortly afterwards, Shannon packed up her bag and slipped out of the classroom, never to return.

Raining Cats and Dogs

Raining Cats and Dogs

You’re sitting on your couch in your house when you hear a big commotion outside. You run to the door, pull it open and head into the light. Squinting in the cloudy brightness, you make out the shape of a group of people. They’re standing around something that looks like it might be an animal. You’re fairly small so you work your way up to the front of the crowd. It’s a dog. There’s only a murmur coming from the back of the crowd now; the rest have fallen silent, shocked and pale.

You wonder what happened. You wonder where this dog came from. You wonder why it’s not wearing a collar and where it’s owner might be. Everything is so mysterious, but the people are so intrigued. It’s actually kind of nice, seeing that people still care about something.

You can’t stand the mystery for too long, though. You turn to the man standing next to you and ask what happened.

“It fell,” he says, “fell right from the sky.”

As you’re about to ask for more of an explanation from the man you believe is clearly crazy, you hear another noise. It sounds like a screech, high-pitched and full of fear.

That’s when you see it. Something falling from the sky, tumbling towards the ground, terrified.

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” you hear people shout.

“Wait,” one woman says, “it’s a cat!”

That’s insane, you think. It’s not possible.

But, sure enough, it starts raining cats and dogs.

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

Jack’s father burst into the room. It was 6:45 AM and Jack was supposed to be getting up so he could begin his job hunt bright and early.

The father’s deep voice belted out, “Rise and shine, sleepy head!” He was trying to remain positive, hoping the good energy would rub off on his 25-year-old unemployed son who was living at home. Jack was staying in his childhood bedroom, Little League trophies lining the walls, old toys in the closet, a cool racecar sign on the door that said, “Jack’s Room.”

Jack rolled over with a grunt, bringing his comforter with him as he turned away from his father’s booming voice.

“I don’t think so, buddy,” the father said quietly, fed up with being ignored by his lazy son. He pulled back the curtains and raised the blinds to reveal a rising sun, just visible over the trees in their backyard.

“Jack, it’s time to wake up. You’re going to get out of bed, and you’re going to contribute something to the world today. End of story,” the father said sternly.

Jack grunted.

The father lost his cool. How could this child be so unmotivated and lazy?! He was not going to stand for it. His son was not going to become one of those people that did nothing with their lives. Not on his watch. He ran over to the bed and ripped the comforter from Jack’s sleepy grasp.

“RISE AND FREAKING SHINE, JACK!” he screamed at his son. “The sun can do it, so why can’t you?!”