The God Shop

The God Shop

I’ve had a bit of a mental paper jam, in that it appears I’m not to write anything of particular substance without first I should relieve myself of a play that’s been taking space in my head for the better part of two years, now. And so — tadaa! — I’m writing a play.

Spammy Story: Weird Tales Loser

Spammy Story: Weird Tales Loser

Weird Tales magazine recently hosted a spiffy flash fiction contest. The challenge: write a piece of fewer than 500 words based on a SPAM email. Well, gosh. I have a host of collected SPAM to choose from — some of them artful in their painful obfuscation and stilted Engrish — so choosing was half the battle. My [losing] entry is below. It’s worth noting the first paragraph is entirely the introduction to an actual junk email that hit my in-box. It’s also worth noting that this piece is altogether science-fictiony, and thus arguably not the best entry for a Weird Tales contest, but you go where the muse takes you… Return-Path: Ǥ§Þ¤°¤@terra.et Received: from ¤§mtp2.mail.isp (42.host.terra.et 1) From: Xenophile Ǥ§Þ¤°¤³°Ò@terra.et Message-ID: 12f7417fab.17fab12f74@terra.et Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2008 04:35:02 GMT X-Mailer: Webmail Subject: Mutual Understanding/ Benefit Greetings and Compliments. I strongly regret any inconvenience the receipt of this message may cause you, bearing in mind the nature of its content coming from an individual without referral or prior correspondence, but please read and assimilate its content and objectively consider if we can work together. I am the secretary of communications for the peoples of  Ǥ§Þ¤°¤, which you will assuredly know as extra-solar planet GJ 436c in your (Terran) constellation Leo, located 32.66676 light years from your sun. Please call me Phil. I should like to intimate you with certain facts that I believe would be of interest to you. My delegation represents the totality of the peoples of Ǥ§Þ¤°¤ currently en route to your coordinates. I communicate with the authority of the director of our trade delegation to your peoples....
Town Meeting Day

Town Meeting Day

And now for something completely different. Of late I’ve been writing an increasing amount about fiction on these pages. This is the first time in a very long while that I’ve offered up any of my own. Town Meeting Day — the first Tuesday in March — is an institution in Vermont, and throughout much of New England. It’s notable for being a hands-on, participatory style of democracy. In this story, the citizens of one small town in Vermont have their hands full… Town Meeting Day “I object!” “Mr. Dunhill, this isn’t a trial. You may not object. Not that I can make heads or tails of what you’re objecting to.” “I object to this venue!” “Gabe, this is a town meeting, not a court room. These are your neighbors, they’re not a jury. Now kindly sit down and stop being an ass.” Harvey Tuttle — large-animal veterinarian of Cold Hollow, Vermont, and just forty-five minutes ago elected moderator of Town Meeting — eyeballed Dunhill from his seat at the raised table at the north end of village hall. This morning he’d helped to set up the old wooden platform that came out just once a year, special for Town Meeting day. Old Ben Isham, the senior village selectman, had specifically asked for Harvey’s assistance in raising the dais. Harvey was, of course, happy to help. But in the intervening hours — and especially in the last few minutes — he’d begun to suspect the old wooden platform wasn’t all that had been set-up this morning. Harvey could think of a dozen things he might rather be doing just...

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