Alien Love – Jim Celer
5820 words Science Fiction / Romance
She was beautiful, she had a spaceship in her purse, and she brought a new perspective to love. She thought it important to count your toes. Of course he fell in love with her.
She was just suddenly there, and it was very strange, but immediately she gave me the feeling she had always been there, that I had always been vaguely aware of her there. I suspected this was not so. She was shaking her arms, looking at them, and at her feet, taking little steps, one at a time. When she saw me staring she smiled and said “They’re so percussive.” I smiled back and would have walked past her then, but she kept smiling at me and obviously she wanted my attention. Good, I thought.
No Data – Jim Celer
6500 words Mystery
Cynical yet sensitive, he finds that conveniences, while convenient, can also serve to separate. He fights back — but what is he fighting? Whatever it is, it’s getting closer and closer, tighter and tighter.
I’m two steps out the door and the phone rings, and I decide to go back for it, but whoever it was hung up. There’s no message. The caller ID says “No Data”. It could have been from some distant place, or it could have been a solicitor — some of them show up that way – “No Data”. It is aggravating, a waste of time and resource, utterly pointless – one of those things that is done only because it can be done. “No Data”. I will be thinking about that all day now. It is offensive, souring. Just one more thing.
Under – Jim Celer
4200 words General Fiction
A public assistance caseworker tries, but cannot quite be, insensitive to how his job affects the people he’s supposed to help. His is a conflict between duty and consequences, between theory and result. His refuge is the bathroom.
I sat in the can reading “Edward Mills and George Benton: A Tale”, a short story by Mark Twain, well after I had finished what you do there. What I was actually doing now was thinking, or not thinking exactly but being conscious that my mind was wandering. That’s what I was doing – that, and hiding from work, from the phone calls and frustration, and from the certain knowledge that Amber Romander was going to disappear. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services – that’s what surrounds the bathroom. The job is, nominally, to provide human services.