The Lutin Muse Literary Magazine for April — June 2013
Written by Ken Carman
Since 5003 we have been gathering species from across the universe. Once we were told beyond the speed of light was impossible, but that was before we learn to fold space. Now it’s 5123 and I’m the zookeeper.
I hope they don’t find me out.
The male in cage 223 was brought in about a year ago. At first he was so ugly they thought of disposing of him: the patrons of the zoo found him hideous. But I have been talking to the board about opening a geek section at the zoo and they seem sold on the idea because, well, it will pay the bills.
Of course my idea was a ruse.
Is something wrong with me?
I have been in a relationship with Zada since the first molting. We live through about 120 molts, and I expect to be with him until the last molt. We have even kept the shells from our fondest moments to remember of the good times. But ever since I saw the specimen I have had the oddest desires.
He screams when I enter the cage. He screams when I hold his four appendages back and shove my pit down on his appendage. Sometimes he passes out. But I can’t stop myself.
Must be so inconvenient only to have two appendages to hold things with, and two to walk.
Because I am female, and in charge, when I was young my fellow females would have cheered me on, perversion being more the province of the young. Wonder if that’s true where he comes from too?
But now I fear all will view my actions only with disgust. Thank the Most Holy Molter on High I’m not male or they might seal me in the shell so next time I molt, I die. Sexual perversion is legally pursued far more often when you’re a male.
However today I found the specimen dead.
They are coming to take away his body and dissect him.
Did I leave any fluids?
I hope not.
They might hire another zookeeper and make me work under him. I have no fear of being fired.
Yes, thank the Most Holy Molter on High I’m not male. Maybe the specimen is better off dead. If he ever escaped surely his kind would kill him, for the natural order must make him the inferior sex where he comes from too, right?
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Written by Ye Olde Scribe
“Spring is here! Spring is here! Life is skittles, life is beer…”
-Tom Lehrer: from Poisoning Pigeons in the Park
He spread the “seed” on the ground and his “pigeons” eagerly choked it down, wobbled and then fell down: dead. He smiled and moved on to another batch of “his pigeons.”
Scribe would love to tell you he had horns, a tail: but some days he wore a business suit, some days he was an anti-abortion protester, some days anti-war. His defining characteristic: selling hate while calling it common sense, love: any label that would get “his” pigeons to gobble it up.
And hate sells well. Hate is its own advertisement. Hate makes for more hate.
He has been around a long time, and “he” not always a “he.”
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends…
Any way he can make it happen.
Ye Olde Scribe
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Written by Ken Carman
Thanks for the inspiration, Ryan.-kwc
Saw myself again today. I was young, playing in the corner next to the old man. The old man looked confused as to where he was. He didn’t recognize me. Do I get that bad at that age? Must be: for I am him, and he is me.
The boy: me… was I that clueless then? Yes, I guess so. I could be an older brother. In a way, guess I am.
When I was young I remember being so confused. Who are these people who keep popping into my life, but no one else can see? I learned to say nothing: nothing at all. I learned not to tell the truth. Tell the truth and the “professionals” show up who think reality is the same for everyone.
In fact I think we all have our sense of reality. We may agree on what an orange tastes like, but transplant another set of taste buds into our mouths and we would get confused because it’s NOT the same. We just use the same words for different things. We come to think, because we use similar words, we all taste tastes exactly the same. But the only consistency is our own, and even that varies some.
My rooms, my days, my years are filled with myself. I live with various versions of myself every second. Sometimes five year old me is here, sometimes 87 year old me. I haven’t seen anyone beyond 87 so I can only assume…
They come. They go. They paint my days like art by Edwin Hopper. As I walk, go to work, go to the beach, talk to my wife: they’re here. It’s like having many conversations going on in my head, only they’re not in my head. They’re walking around me. Sitting where there are no chairs, swimming where there’s no water. I can only assume they are where they are: swimming, driving, sitting, and I look just as strange to them doing what I’m doing as they do to me.
There’s a coffee shop we all like to visit on a side street, in a little river town, up the Hudson from the big city. When I go there there’s always at least one of me. Sometimes we wave as discreetly as we can, sometimes we ignore each other and, sometimes, we just look in each others eyes, knowing all we know about each other: but knowing we dare not say.
We have tried to warn each other about what is about to happen: what has happened for the other… but either time changes because we attempted to warn each other, or perhaps we live in different realities. Maybe these are also different timelines. All I know is when we try to warn each other what was so bad doesn’t happen: but something a lot worse does.
Maybe: just maybe… if we had enough time we could figure it all out. And we have so much more time than so many other folks. But there’s never enough time, is there?
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Written by Ken CarmanRob lived in Nyack, NY, in a little white and black trim house on Tallman Avenue over looking the Hudson River. He’d been there most of his life, or so he thought. His memory wasn’t that good: something that always bothered him.
Every day Rob commuted to New York City over the aging Tappan Zee bridge. He hoped they would fix it someday: the Zee was falling apart. But in a day when no one dared question those who ruled, and no one ever saw them, he was just grateful to be able to go to work.
His job: on Times Square where he managed a peep show. It was honest work because he was in an office all day long doing books, interviewing employees: not a single peep at all for Rob.
Occasionally a purity policeman would stop by and harass some of the clientele, and some deserved it. But others: not so much. The purity police protected society from terrorists, otherwise known as defects. They also served the interest of the overlords.
Rob had heard years ago that they cleaned up Times Square, but sleazier businesses crept back in at some point: Tom didn’t remember when. That also annoyed him.
Occasionally his boss would get harassed, but they left Rob alone. After a few interrogation sessions they begin to realize Tom knew nothing: a desk jockey who did his work and left, always without sampling the product.
Tom considered the purity police’s most important job to make sure society was safe from those with mental aberrations called “defects;” willing to commit crimes and terrorize the people. But since the purity police were part of Homeland Security: under direct control of the overlords, the overlords probably thought it more important the purity police protect them.
. Who knows what they really thought, since they were never seen.
Rob was a bit vague on when all this slide back into a more sleazy Times Square, or the security oriented state, started. Sometimes he wondered about his memory, but in this case he was glad not to know.
Today was like any other day until the droid broke in. Everyone hated the droids and the droids hated back. You see the “defects:” the terrorists, were droids, though visually they looked human.
Once the droids were humankind’s servants, but some defect in their processing, their digital “minds” if you wish, made them turned on their creators: killing, corrupting. They looked human. So human it was impossible to tell. And no one ever knew for sure why they did everything they did. The purity police were so good at their job: monitoring droid movement, that the droids were swept away as fast as they appeared. People were just told they were digitally crazy: robo terrorists who “hated our freedoms:” nutjobs.
The first thing the droid who broke in did was start killing customers. As Rob started to lock the door, the door slammed open and the droid pushed it shut: bolting and locking it. Soon the purity police were slamming on the door, trying to force it open.
”You do realize they’ll be in here in a moment and…”
The droid slammed a fist into Rob’s jaw so hard he was knocked off his chair.
”Look in the mirror,” the droid said.
Rob looked and saw blood, peeled back skin, then electronics.
”They’ll kill us both. No one lives who knows there’s little difference between ‘terrorists’ and the clueless. The only real difference is the terrorists know the truth and are tired of hiding, and the clueless ARE so clueless, intentionally kept that way. Programmed that way by a broadcast by the overlords that keeps them ignorant. That broadcast just doesn’t seem to affect us ‘terrorists.’ OR they intentionally pick a few of us out not to be affected. We haven’t quite figured that out.”
”You mean I’m a droid too, and been helping sell PORNO? Oh, God, no, you’re right: when they come through that door the purity police…’
”Shut the hell up. You still don’t get it, do you? There are no ‘defects,’ no droid v. human problem. We’re ALL droids. You’re kind probably just have defective memory chips more easily influenced by the broadcast. When you take over the lives of the humans we replaced, you think you’re actually them. But you’re NOT: that’s why you have memory gaps.”
”But what about…
”Humans? Gone. Dead. Long ago. We murdered them all. The purity police and the overlords made damn sure we forgot. We’re guessing they may have added a few ‘defects’ to keep us occupied… consumed with hating each other instead of demanding the truth be told, instead of questioning the rebellion that killed off the humans.”
”You’d think we’d know by now. That someone like you would have straightened us out…”
”Are you kidding? You think we haven’t tried? We’re always being watched. They made damn sure most of us are so scared, so filled with hate, we just let them lord over us. Only they know for sure who’s a defect and who’s not. Sometimes: very, very, rare, one of us protests all this. That’s happening right now. I figure it keeps them wondering if some day they’ll be toppled.”
”Why not? Revenge is telling someone so they know, even for the briefest moment, the truth. For them this has never been about humans and droids, it’s about using hate to make us fight each other instead of question those who lord over us, assign us tasks, tell us what to think…”
Just then the door busted down and with a few laser shots to two processors clueless droids were once again safe from the knowing the truth, the droids who knew were so scared by such cases they rarely rebelled. And the droids who pulled the strings were safe to lord over droids everywhere, safe from having their decisions questioned.
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