A Day At The Operating Table


Here’s a very short story for medical types and conspiracy theorists…

Dr. Riley Rhon and Dr. Ernie Urst watched the first patient of the day come down the assembly line, prepped, and ready for surgery.

The paperwork in the file next to the first patient, a sleeping young man, called for a half-brain removal and replacement with a synthetic digital brain that mimicked the functions of the part it was replacing.

The team of Dr. Rhon and Dr. Urst was one of a dozen in the large treatment facility known as Metro-Medical Services, Inc. All a person needed was money. Lot’s of it. Then anything was possible. But that wasn’t a problem, as they served rich clients from all over the world.

What was left of it.

After sixteen more partial brain-removals it was time for lunch. Both doctors were ravenous.

The last half of the day was spent on replacing other body parts like hearts, limbs, eyes livers, pancreas, kidneys, spleens, gall bladders, colons, lungs, bladders, rectums, anuses, and large and small intestines.

As the work shift came to an end Dr. Urst asked Dr. Rhon why people willingly gave up body parts, even when they were alive?

As they walked to the locker room to change, Dr. Erst looked out the clear plastic panels that separated them from rows of naked desperate-looking people of all ages and races in lines.

“Are you really asking me a question when you already know the answer?” Dr. Rhon asked, as he peeled his operating scrubs off and tossed them into a nearby waste container.

“I know they’re hungry and jobs are few, but how did we get here? To this place in America where people are forced to die a slow death while fighting to survive?” Dr. Urst ruminated.

“I’m not much on history, but I suspect it probably happened sometime during the 21st century.” guessed Dr. Rhon as he slipped his right shoe on.

“As you know, there was massive changes after WW III. Dead zones that will last for eternity. Those that lived through the terrible times were wealthy people from all over the world who’d been hiding in deep concrete reinforced bunkers, or tunnels miles under the ground.” 

“And those people we passed in the corridor, the ones in lines, are the poor who somehow survived this far.”  Dr. Ernst observed, a note of sadness in his voice.

“Do you realize how lucky we are not to have to worry about surviving on a daily basis?” he suddenly asked.

“All things considered, I do. The idea of being a vulnerable human doesn’t appeal to me at all. As the first-bots use to say, ‘It does not compute!'”  Dr. Rhon agreed.

As It Stands, this is my brief nod to the apocalyptic genre that seems so popular these days.

How Little Tim Made A Bigfoot Run


“Did you hear that?” six-year old Tim asked his four-year old brother Tony who was already beneath the blanket.

“Yessss…” Tony groaned.

“Someone’s outside our window. I saw a face.”

Tony’s low groan turned into a high-pitched whine of fear. He was afraid of things that went bump in the night. His active little imagination pictured a loathsome creature intent on eating him and his brother.

Tim pulled the blanket away and slithered down to the carpet. Moving cautiously, he crawled over to the window. Peeked through the lower part. Full moon. Lot’s of shadows. Something was out there.

He didn’t believe in the boogeyman. That was a four-year old’s fear. Nothing to it. But there were other things. Bad things. Bad men. Thieves.

He thought about the baby-sitter in the living room. She probably had her cell phone glued to her ear talking with her dumb boyfriend. He bet she didn’t hear anything. Someone would have to kick the front door down to get her attention, Tim grimly thought.

Just then he spotted a hulking figure picking apples off their tree in the backyard. Tim had sharp eyes. Everyone said that. Right now they were wide open trying to make out what the figure was.

A big man wearing a furry coat? Could be. It could also be something else. Something his dad once told him about living where they did in northern California. “It’s Bigfoot Country,” he told Tim ever since he could remember.

But Mom and Dad said Big Foot was just a legend that everyone liked to talk about in these parts. He was never sure. More than once he caught a couple of oldtimers sitting outside Lud’s General store talking in serious tones about a Big Foot sighting.

Was that the real thing eating their apples out there?

Suddenly he heard the back door open. Then to his utter amazement the babysitter, Lulu, walked right up to the hairy hulk who had stopped eating an apple and turned her way. Before Tim could gasp the hairy thing enveloped her in it’s shaggy arms!

Without thinking, Tim grabbed his baseball bat and ran out the back door. He heard funny noises as he came up on the thing that had Lulu. Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle…all of them would have been proud of Tim the way he weilded that bat!

Screams. Lulu’s high-pitched screech tore the night in half and the Bigfoot made some wounded sounds then staggered off into the forest grunting in pain.

The next day when Tim and his family went to the local football game – his parents were volunteers – there was a short announcement about the school mascot not being able to perform tonight, but don’t worry, the doctor’s said he’ll recover in a week or so.

As It Stands, as the school mascot found out, life is full of surprises.



Man’s Best Friend Has A Secret…Maybe Two


A very short story for animal lovers today:

When the front door locked and all the lights were turned off, except for the front window display, Seth, the German Shepard (who had the best view), barked once and said, “All’s clear!”

“Just in time too,” said Penelope the Poodle, “I was ready to tell that human to shut up already!”

“Easy with the tough talk missy,” Perry the Pug warned. “You’re supposed to be a sweet little doggie that someone would want to adopt.”

“Blow it out of your ear you stupid pug!” Penelope huffed.

“Both of you take a chilly bone. We don’t want to hear you two argue again all night,” Bob the Beagle interrupted. “Oh look! Larry got out again…” 

Just then Larry the Labrador Retriever came around the corner. He stopped in the middle of the aisle and greeted them all; “Told you. No stupid human can keep me locked up if I don’t want to be.” 

“Why you calling humans stupid Larry? Bob asked, with his  southern drawl. “They feed us, give us a place to live, play with us and if we’re lucky they love us.” 

“You know what I like about you Bob?” said Larry.

Bob smushed his snout into the cage door bars and asked, “What?”

“Your an optimist. You also come from a championship litter and humans like that. Take mutts. Mutts usually end up in dog pounds and shelters where their options are; get put down for the endless nap; live their entire life in a five-by-five cage; or someone MIGHT adopt them.”

“You can’t compare pedigree breeds with mutts. We’re bred to be superior, while mutts are usually an accident between two breeds,” Penelope proclaimed in her high (and highly irritating) snooty voice.

Well, we must be as stupid as humans if that’s the case,” Chico the Chihuahua chimed in.

“Why’s that?” Perry asked.

“This talk about one type of dog being better than another is racist. Just look at the humans. They’re divided up into groups who barely tolerate one another because they look different or have different beliefs,” Chico explained.

Horace, the Blood Hound puppy, had been listening intently to the conversation. He finally spoke up, “Hey guys! How come we don’t talk with humans?” 

A stunned silence.

“It’s to our advantage.” Seth said. “We always know what’s on their mind because they don’t think we understand them and speak freely in front of us. It’s way better than trying to read expressions.”

Horace seemed happy with the answer, and snuggled up with his two litter mates.

Larry then made his rounds seeing if any dogs needed anything – a midnight snack? No problem. The place was full of treats. Whenever Larry got adopted someday they’d all miss him.

It’s nearly time for the human to show up!” Larry warned as he headed back to his cage.

“At least I won’t have to listen to you talk anymore you ugly pug,” Penelope snidely whispered.

As Jean the shop owner unlocked the front door store she thought – just for a moment – that someone said, “Stick it up your ass bitch!”

As It Stands, when I was young I really believed animals could talk and I just wasn’t lucky enough to catch them conversing. It’s a fantasy I still have.



A Space Hunter’s Story


“So how long has it been since you’ve hunted on earth?” Islipt asked.

Nrfum considered the question as he polished his sword. The eye in the back of his head blinked rapidly.

I’m going to say about 700 years, gave or take a decade.” 

“A blink of the eye!” Islipt chortled. “You know that some things are going to be different now right?”

Nrfum stopped polishing his weapon and stood up. He wasn’t very tall for a Nurtligster, just seven feet, but he held himself with dignity.

“We’ll still be hunting a hapless human right? They haven’t evolved have they?”

“Not physically.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Nrfum asked.

“We think their using their brains more now,” Islipt explained.

I doubt that, my friend. I’ve read planetary reports that they’re still killing each other in record numbers every day. Wars and famine. Governments rising and falling. Nothing but chaos.” 

The ships landing lights came on bathing the room in a blue glow as the onboard computer politely requested they take their seats and prepare for the descent..

“It’s 1:00 p.m., EST, in The United States, and the temperature is mild – low 70s – but slightly humid,” the computer informed them. They touched down in a big grassy meadow surrounded by hardwood trees in full fall colors.

Islipt and Nrfum stepped out of the craft and into a riot of colors – leaves dancing down as the rush of air from the ship picked them up again and made them dance once more across the clearing.  The two aliens strapped their swords across their backs and started walking.

Dusk came shortly, and then darkness fell as the two space travelers picked their way through the dense forest – their eyes going from black to white – as they naturally gained their night vision.

Last time I was on this planet I killed a king, and had him stuffed like my other trophies. I think his name was Arthur, or something like that,” Nrfum boasted. Islipt wasn’t listening. He was making plans to bag a president.

After weeks of careful planning it came to this. That’s why Islipt led the way. He had first dibs on this hunt. Nrfum had agreed to come along as a witness and to finish what he couldn’t.”

The big white house was lit up like a Starfleet holiday parade when they arrived. It was child’s play to hop over the gate – one bound and they were heading for the entrance of the building.

If it wasn’t for their invisibility shields the two tall aliens would have stood out like blue storks. Up the stairs. To the right. Open the door. Then another door. The president was sitting on his golden throne – aka shitter – and tweeting something to his minions.

They turned off their invisibility shields and grinned at the chubby man with his pants around his ankles franticly typing a tweet with his little fingers..

“This guys the leader of the free world?” Islipt asked, sarcasm dripping from each word.

Nrfum shook his head in wonder, his third eye blinking rapidly, as he shared Islipt’s disgust.

As they carried his corpulent body back to the ship, the two aliens agreed he was the worst excuse for a leader they’d ever seen. If it wasn’t for that Wanted “Dead or Alive” poster in a Cyclia bar offering 1,000,000,000 Dortzaps for him, they would have gone after Russia’s leader Putin.

Now that would have been a good kill.

As It Stands, I like mixing science fiction and satire around in a wok, and seeing what the results are.



How Bob’s Lyin’ Eyes Led To Doom


Another very short story for your entertainment; 

You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin eyes”

The Eagles

Julie and Ben loved their son Bob, but realized at an earlier age he was a consummate liar.

His first word was a lie.

Did you do that?” Julie asked while pointing at an overturned trash can in the middle of the kitchen.

“No,” the two-year old replied, as he looked directly into her eyes. She didn’t know whether to celebrate that he had spoken his first word, or to be concerned that his first word was a lie. Laugh, or cry?

She decided to laugh that time.

As Bob got older, the lies became more clever. He was blessed with a quick wit and the ability to size up a situation instantly. By grade school, Bob had a bad reputation because he was caught lying numerous times.

Outwardly he was a social guy, had a good sense of humor, and was a quick learner. Despite his tainted reputation, Bob had friends, both male and female. He wasn’t interested in athletics, but was interested in computers from the fourth grade on.

His teachers tolerated his lies, always calling him on them, but they also seemed to like him as a person. By junior high, Bob was a certified nerd. His grasp of computer programing brought him praise from his teacher.

In the 11th grade Bob built his own computer. While scanning the internet one night he came across an article about the dark web. He discovered that there were dark nets – overlay networks which use the internet but require specific software, configurations or authorization to access.

The dark web is not indexed by search engines. This fascinated Bob. He knew right then that he had to get the software and instructions on configurations and authorizations to satisfy his curiosity.

First time visit. Bob found software exploits, weapons for sale, illegal drugs (one of the most popular sellers was a site called Evolution), child porn, how to build bombs, and how to hire a killer.

The second time he visited a chatroom. The discussion was about how well the participants concealed their home-made bombs at Washington High School for tomorrows big surprise. Bob’s high school!

He looked up at the Spiderman clock above his computer. Two a.m. What should he do? What could he do? His eyes returned to the screen as the participants signed off. A video suddenly appeared of Alice Cooper in concert.

He was singing “Schools out Forever!”

“School’s out for summer
School’s out forever
School’s been blown to pieces…”

First choice. Wake mom and dad up. He did. They looked him in the eyes and, as usual, couldn’t tell if he was lying or telling the truth. It was a toss-up. They tried to compromise by telling him they’d talk about it in the morning.

Go to bed now dear,” His mother said.

“No!” he screeched, “you don’t understand!”

Trying to keep the irritation out of his voice, his dad said, “Go back to bed son. It’s probably a bad dream.”

The End

As It Stands, I’ve always enjoyed the story about the little boy who cried wolf once too often. This is my version of that wonderful tale.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want


A very short story for your amusement today:

Mick Jagger’s voice somewhere in the night singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Drunks staggering out of a bar after last call. Grotesque creatures casting shadows beneath the neon sign of a cowboy riding a horse. They scurry off into the darkness and get into waiting cabs.

Jagger’s voice, high and shrill, emanated from the juke box inside and sent shivers down Alice’s back.

She stands next to the open bar door. Waiting for her taxi that was late. The silky midnight blue dress clung to her amble breasts and hips like a second skin. She clutched a blue satin purse that sparkled with rhinestones.

Alice was fuming. The jackass that had come on to her too heavily in the bar had gotten under her skin. He ended up getting arrested for disturbing the peace. That was hours ago.

Here was the thing. Alice was used to getting what she wanted. As an only child she was spoiled beyond redemption. Throw that in with her natural beauty and you had one headstrong woman.

The jerk backed out of helping finance Alice’s latest tech start-up unexpectedly. He wanted some fringe benefits – as in sex – before he’d spring for any cash. Alice would have preferred to have sex with a camel before letting that greasy little imp touch her.

Looking back.

Alice always got her way. That’s just the way it was all her life. A new dress. As many pets as she wanted. Cash stuffed into her purse from her mother, who wrestling with demons whenever she ran out of booze.

Daddy’s girl. He never said no to her. Even now, at thirty-two years-old, he could not refuse whenever she requested help – financially, emotionally, or otherwise.

Alice was getting ready to go back inside to call the taxi company again when a late-model white Chevy with a Taxi sign strapped onto the roof pulled up. The driver was wearing a baseball cap (Arizona Diamondbacks) sidewise, and had a bushy white beard.

You’re not City Cab, ” she accused him when he rolled his window down.

“Damn sharp of you to notice that missy!” 

“I called City Cab. Why are you here?”

Us cabbies work together sometimes when it’s really busy. I’m the sole owner of White Cab and I get City Cab’s overflow. Do you want a drive or not?”

Two thoughts in Alice’s mind. One, why did she have to go to such an out-of-the way place tonight? Two, the bar’s owner was locking up, turning off the lights, and walking to his pickup truck. Her options narrowed considerably.

She was alone. Not quite. There was grandpa playing with the car radio searching for a song. Waiting for her to decide what she was going to do. She didn’t have many friends, and none that would driven so far out-of-town (out in the middle of the desert) at 2:00 a.m.

She had no choice. Reluctantly, she opened the rear door (it groaned and made a grinding noise). “Gotta fix that,” the old man said. “Where to?”

Alice hesitated to give out the information, but knew she had to. She gave him the address of her cottage-style three bedroom house in an affluent neighborhood  (Paid for. Thanks Daddy!).

She settled into the back seat, cursing her luck. This was not supposed to happen.

Oh hell, no! It was a nice little club with good music and they were going to become partners in an enterprise that would make them both wealthy dot.com wonders. But the ass couldn’t hold his liquor and got sleazy as the night wore on.

When he lunged after her, several men in the bar suddenly appeared and restrained him. The police were called. Her would-be partner was frog-walked out the door between two burly deputies.

Which left her here, in the backseat of some poorly cared for taxi. After awhile she noticed the bright city lights were receding. Not getting closer. The old man was humming something and still fiddling with the radio.

Alarm bells! Something was wrong. “You’re going the wrong way you old duffer! she suddenly cried out.

Just then the old man found the song he was looking for, You can’t always get what you want…” He turned his head around and slowly peeled off his fake white beard. Then he smiled at her.

The End

As It Stands, the moral of the story is…take a guess?

One Flew ‘Out’ Of The Cuckoo’s Nest



A very short story told by Dave Stancliff…

When the raisins told Harold the cashews and peanuts were plotting to give him an upset stomach, he threw the bag across the room.

It was the only thing to do, of course. One does not ignore such warnings without consequences. Harold was no dummy. He covered all the bases. He learned to do that in the last 15 years.

They didn’t kill him for stabbing that man because a jury thought he was crazy. Instead they put him in this gray and dull place with other damaged men. The two hulking orderlies there didn’t like him, so he avoided them.

His main entertainment was sparring with the doctors who came in to see him daily. He played them like violins. From Day One they bought his stupid childlike act, and worked with him so that someday he might become a sane and productive person.

It took years. He took their tests to measure his cognitive progress without complaint. He smiled a lot. He learned medical buzz words and when to use them.

He did this while dealing with the conflicting voices in his head. They didn’t know about the voices. That would ruin everything. He’d never get out if they did. It wasn’t easy. Those voices got pretty bossy sometimes.

After a year, he was allowed to watch pre-selected movies every Friday night in the home‘s viewing room. The second year saw him with a TV in his own room. He worked hard to impress those doctors. Day ,after day, year, after year.

Meanwhile, the doctors talked about Harold’s progress and grew to like him. They all secretly felt they were turning a crazy man’s life around with their inspiring words.

They would go home, and during dinner would tell their families what a service they were providing for this man who’d been misunderstood and misdiagnosed all of his life.

There was one big problem for Harold. It got harder every month, every year, trying to control the warring voices in his head. After twelve years, he started responding out loud and cursing the difficult voices.

His will power was tested daily as he fought against blurting out something in response to the voices while the doctors were in the room. Three more years trudged by.
Finally, Harold was up for a parole hearing that could set him free. The doctors bought him a pair of new shoes and suit. It was an auspicious sign. He even got a haircut the night before.

The morning of his big hearing the voices weren’t arguing. They were being sarcastic, but he could deal with that. As he slipped on a new pair of socks the voices offered him a deal.

They would be silent, and just sit in his head nicely if he did them a favor. Not even a murmur, as the worthies questioned him. For the first time in years, Harold began to relax.

Without hesitation Harold agreed with the voices, even though he didn’t know what they wanted in return.

He was escorted by his main doctor to another wing he’d never been in before. They entered a small room with a table, and chairs behind it. One lone chair sat before the long table.

The doctor indicated for him to sit down, then went to one of the empty chairs behind the table. Shortly there after, five more people entered the room. Three men and two women.

He calmly answered their questions and made sure to smile a lot. After an hour passed Harold was asked to step outside and wait in a small lobby across from the hearing room.

One of the hulking orderlies he disliked stood by the door. Time went slowly for Harold. The voices were starting to argue again. He had to be careful. Couldn’t respond to the voices with the orderly so close by.

Finally, the door opened and his judges walked out. His doctor was smiling when he came up to Harold.

“Your going to be a free man soon,“ he said with a twinkle in his eyes.”

They sent him to a transition house two days later. Within six months, counselors there helped him get a job and find a small apartment. They showed him how to open a bank account and how to budget his meager pay.

The voices had been strangely quiet during the whole transition. Six more months passed and he no longer had to see a counselor every week. It was after his last visit that the voices suddenly returned.

“It’s time,” they said, “to hold up your end of the bargain.

He walked over to the bike rack and unlocked his bicycle from the stand. Riding home he asked, “What do you want?

“Human sacrifices!” the chorus of voices shouted.

A month later. A newspaper’s headlines: Ritual Killer Strikes Again,” and “Victim Count Up To Eight.” A monster was loose.

Meanwhile, back at the facility where Harold spent 15 years, his doctors were in the break room wondering how their favorite patient was doing?

The End

As It Stands, I’ve always enjoyed a sense of irony in a story.