THE ABCs OF A PECULIAR LIFE // Earwig & Excitability (Katzenjammer in E sharp minor)

It was early morning, but Frau Earwig felt quite on edge already. She was rolling her eyes, wringing her wings and snapping with her forceps every few seconds. This was beyond her endurance! She, an honoured artist, drama teacher and fourth generation member of the intelligentsia should never have had to bear with the likes of these insufferable dormitory neighbours!

These vagabonds had lost all sense of shame. They indulged in binge drinking sessions every day, and organised vulgar karaoke competitions. They even brought home heavily rouged hussies to join the festivities. Who would’ve thought that such outwardly respectable looking kittens would turn out, in fact, to be lowdown bastard scum?

Frau Earwig sighed and took some valerian drops with her brandy, but this didn’t seem to help. Firmly resolved to end this crap, Frau Earwig flung a boa over her shoulders and took up a reticule. She then wended her way over to her loutish neighbours’ place.

The door was open, and through the crack seeped dirty jokes mixed with roars of laughter. Frau Earwig stepped cautiously past the threshold and let out a squeak. “Hello? Anybody home?” Of course, this tentativeness didn’t pan out as well as she’d hoped. She swallowed nervously. Frau Earwig forced herself to inch along, step-by-step, until she finally reached a spacious—though fuggy—sitting room. The atmosphere made her choke with a sudden fit of coughing.

That was when they finally noticed her.

“Hey, floosie! Get your ass over here and drink with us!”

Frau Earwig’s offense was betrayed by a gasp. It escaped her mouth before she could think to stop it. What? Floosie?! Then she heard another rude voice say, “Leave it, Fyodor! Don’t you see? This ‘hoptoad in fichu’ is a major bigwig! She’ll never hit the bottle with the likes of us! We’re too… lowbrow.”

What?! Hoptoad in fichu?!

It’s hard to say what happened next. After the red mist had passed from her eyes, Frau Earwig shook her head and took in her immediate surroundings. She was holding a Victorian hat pin in her trembling cercus, and a pungent smell of blood pervaded the room…

Dead bodies. Punctured bodies of dead kittens everywhere.

It seemed her Family Psychologist may have been right after all. Frau Earwig really did need to work on her anger management issues. Of course, she could always call the clinic the next day and arrange a follow-up visit with Gal. But as for here and now…

Frau Earwig stepped over to the nearest body and kicked it lightly. Actually, the fur had hardly any holes in it. Nice. It could be the perfect new boa…

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

100 WORD SKITTLE // Flies & Zips

I’ve just realised why some avoid stepping on cracks in pavements. The genius of this explanation lies in its simplicity. Wait ’til you hear it. It’ll blow your mind!

Oh, hold on, guys. My pants fell down. I’ll return to cracks in a moment…

Okay, so… cracks. Modern pavements are made from concrete that includes fly ash. You follow? Flies? Zippers? There’s a connection, right?

For the love of… now my zip’s too tight. Gotta handle this before it squeezes cracks in my nadgers

Regarding pavements… oh, wouldn’t you know it! My one hundred words’re up already. Next time, guys!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

ABSURDIS EXTREME // Case Study #1,048 [11/9/2093] by B.A. Loney

This is the story of an Act of Parliament. Yes, the one entitled ‘Acts of Parliament Numbering and Citation Act 2020 (665 & 666 Mork IV c 69)’. It was passed in January of 2020 to universal acclaim that was then quickly superseded by universal condemnation. Poor Act of Parliament. It never stood a chance, but that’s political opinion for you. It can be rather like the changing moods of a fickle lover.

The Act was intended to provide a clear, strict, and definitive system for the numeration and marshalling of the endless streams of papers that were funneled through the halls of Parliament every day. Over the course of history, the archive from which it all originated had devolved into a heavy, stodgy mess. If someone wanted to find a paper for evening question time, they needed to begin searching within its bloated confines the morning before. Not terribly efficient.

So, all the politicos and their toadying lackeys got together for the forty-fifth sitting of Parliament where they indeed sat and talked a lot. They orated with chests so puffed out that you could stick them with a pin and watch the bodies fly about the chamber with untoward farting noises. But no one dared as this sitting business was mortally serious business. And so they were able to debate at length, make forceful points, to bluster, carp, badger and bully until a consensus was reached—a complicated one to be sure, but a consensus nonetheless.

And you know what? They did it. Sometimes democracy actually works. Nuts, but true! They managed to invent a precise and thorough system of numeration that could be used to categorise any case. From ordering a new marble night stool with luxury seat heating for the Queen to the scrappage of rotten surmullet in remote, artisanal fishing communities—everything that could be thought of would be accounted for. A mere glance at the number atop any paper would make things abundantly clear, and not only explain who issued it, but also where and when, and what question or problem it touched upon. The system of numbering was so very plain and easy to follow that it needed to be described in agonising detail in a two hundred page appendix to the Act—you know, so there wasn’t any ambiguity.

But therein laid the rub. In order to understand this new Act of Parliament that was alleged to be as clear as the woodpecker on Pinocchio’s nose, one needed the two hundred page appendix to the Act. But if one was not already in possession of this then one might as well give up and pursue a career in dog grooming instead. You see, the old categorisation system had already been defunded in order to fund the new categorisation system, but the new categorisation system could not yet be fully utilised as no one could fully understand it, and it was far too easy to get lost in two hundred pages of tortuously confusing instructions. Of course, the confused party could have asked the committee that drafted the new Act for clarification, but—as ill luck would have it—they had already left for a three month vacation in Honolulu. After all, such an important and prominent occasion like the adoption of a new Act required some serious partying.

Anyway, the new Act gave ten business days for the auditing, ordering and proper renumbering of all legal papers that had ever been issued in the history of anything ever. So, in two weeks’ time, any remaining papers with incorrect identification numbers would become null and void. And they would need to be transferred to one of the aforementioned remote fishing communities to be used as tinder to power the furnaces that ran the machines that ensured the continual scrappage of rotten surmullet. So… can you predict what happened in that two weeks? That’s right. The contents of that great Archive took a remote journey into the warm embrace of the furnaces. And, of course, no new papers could come into effect without proper numbering because the two hundred page appendix to the new Act of Parliament could not be correctly interpreted. The system of legislation ground to a halt. Parliament was paralysed. Anarchy reigned supreme.

When the politicos and their toadying lackeys realised what had happened, they tried to scrap the Act. But it was not to be. Why? Because for this they had to issue a new Act that… yes, needed to be properly numbered—which it couldn’t be. Oh, my giddy aunt! And then a month passed before a janitor found the abandoned and half-chewed Act in the ministerial games room. It had been used to prop up one corner of the mahogany snooker table, its tatty pages even less scrutable than before. The politicos had long vacated Parliament by this point. They’d already joined the committee that had drafted the Act in Honolulu, and all had drunk themselves to death. And, strangely, despite there no longer being a rule of law, the world was better off.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

100 WORD SKITTLE // Queue Jumper

It rolls aggressively into my foot. Typical armadillo.

“Hey, you! Move your ass! You’re not alone here!”

I snort derisively, but lift my foot away. Minor turds aren’t worth the bother. I turn to leave.

“Social distancing rules still apply, asshole!”

Okay, now you’re gonna get it. I never lift my foot in vain.

I do a quick assessment of my surroundings, factoring in wind resistance, gravity, and a buxom lady at the cashier’s desk. I aim my foot at the soft, pink ass of this socially responsible shitbag.

The distancing between us will soon be perfectly social and safe.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

CALIXIAN // The Hangry Woman

The bell tinkles so hesitantly that at first I pay it no attention. But then it tinkles again. And again. So I put the magic tweezers down in my dream, and shake my head awake. I bet I know who this is.

“Do you always visit people’s homes at the butt crack of dawn… whatsyaface?”

He mumbles something that’s supposed to be a name. I’ve had no complaints in regards to my hearing but the only thing I can catch is Zra. That can’t be right. I say the first silly word that comes to mind in the full conviction that this dolt will repeat his name and I’ll get it right the second time.

“Fizra?”

Why is he gaping at me like a fish that’s dropped its keys outside of its water tank? That was a good guess! I scratch under my arm as he mutters something and shuffles in. Okay, what’s this now? The suitcases. Are they fucking big enough? Are they even real? When he opens them up, can I expect a seventy piece orchestra to step out and entertain the neighbours? Jesus.

“Where the hell are you going to put all of that?” I point up the hall. “I don’t want any of your shit cluttering up the place, you hear?”

He mumbles again. Yup. I’m ready to suffocate the guy, good and proper. Or give him a royal kicking. At least I’ve understood him this time. Something about leaving his precious clutter outside. Such a boob.

“No, you boob, just put it in your room.” Oops. It appears I said boob out loud. Well, I don’t care. May as well complete the thought now that it’s dangling between us like an unsightly knob. “I don’t need to be tripping over your junk is all.”

Puffing and panting, he drags the suitcases along the hall. I decide not to waste time. I’ll quickly show him the rest of the flat on our way to his room. Then I can get back to some sweet, sweet shut-eye.

“Toilet.”

He glances in its general direction. Fuck that. I’m going to make a thing of this. Make him really take notice.

“I hope you’re a seat lifter when you’re doing a number one, otherwise I won’t be held responsible for what happens next.”

I study his face carefully. I want to see how he’ll react. He doesn’t. He seems to be going out of his way to remain scrupulously silent. Whatever. The tour shall continue.

“Kitchen.”

What I really want to say is: “Fucking kitchen.” I’m a tad pissed off. But I also have no desire to burn through my quota of fucks so soon in our dealings. It’s best to space these things out, so I keep my fucks up my sleeve.

Suddenly he says (suspiciously loud and clear), “Fascinating.” What? Is that… sarcasm? I don’t believe my ears! Well, if that’s how this smug little goofball is going to play it… then hell, I’m going to wrangle me a chance to have something better than mouldy pizza for breakfast. One question preceded by a slightly menacing pause should do the trick.

The thought of finally getting a decent meal cheers me right up by the way, and my stomach starts to growl in anticipation. Trying to stifle this treacherous sound, I open my mouth and ask Zra… Fizra… whatever his name is… if he can cook. All my fingers are mentally crossed.

“Well, I’m not exactly Heston…”

The rest morphs into a mess of blah blah blahs, the essential point being that he can cook… after a fashion. Good enough for me. As long as I damn well don’t have to do it. I conduct him to his room in a timely manner.

Yep, my plan has gone over easy… like an egg! The quicker he drops his fucking suitcases, the quicker he can cook me breakfast.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020