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Flash Fantastic!

No. 16February 2005

By Ken St. Andre

The third planet from the cool yellow star on the galactic rim was almost perfect for the Zz'nng. Right gravity, right temperature range, plenty of natural resources. The only real difficulty was not enough sulphur in the atmosphere, and a bit of zoobleforming would take care of that.

A closer examination showed a second problem. The planet was already inhabited by intelligent life forms--pre-technological, but much like the Zz'nng in many ways. Something would have to be done about them.

It took some planning and some work, but the Zz'nng had a star-spanning civilization with thousands of planets in it. Millions of ships could be mobilized when necessary.

Yes, it took a few planetary rotations around its sun, but every bee, wasp, hornet, termite, and ant along with all of their hives were successfully evacuated to a resource poor but tranquil planet less than 10 light years away. With the intelligent life safely removed, the zoobleforming could begin.

By Francis W. Alexander

A gentle breeze massaged her face and she spotted a box elder crawling up a tree branch a couple of feet from the post office. Mary thought of her last apartment where box elders found ways to nestle themselves on her arm as she sat eating at the table or the earwigs that woke her from sleep as they crawled up her back. "Maybe the landlord sold that dreadful place," she said to herself.

She remembered what had made her move there. Five years ago she had decided to set up shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The town had mediums and fortune tellers, but no voodoo witch queens. Things didn't work out as she had planned and Mary had to move into Slum Estates. Adding insult to injury, she had to take a cleaning job at minimum wage.

It was Billy, the tenant in 911A, who told her about the troubles the last tenant had with her place, Apartment number 914 A. She soon discovered that 914A was a haven for every kind of bug except roaches. Were she to try to have a snack of ice cream on Summer evenings, she'd be sure to roll a tiny bug on her tongue. She was disgusted with the place. For her troubles she was charged five hundred seventy dollars per month.

"One of these days somebody's gonna burn the place down," Billy said to her one day.

Jack Slouch was a horrible landlord and whenever Mary complained about conditions in the apartment, he took his usual good time responding. She showed her willingness to face Mr. Slouch in court, and claimed and won one month's Rent Abatement of $560.00. She also convinced Jack to move faster on repairs and bug extermination. Being combative had not been in her best interest because the time came when her job cut her cleaning hours to ten per week which meant the rent couldn't be paid on time.

That Friday she swallowed her pride and went in to talk to Jack. He did not disappoint her.

"Bring in the rent, late fee, and court costs by Wednesday," Jack looked at her. "Or I start eviction proceedings!"

"You know I can't do that." There was no way she was going to get six hundred seventy dollars in five days.

"There is nothing else you can do," he winked and looked her up and down. "You don't have any favors I'd accept, you little fat pig. Get the money or out you go. People love to scavenge in the stuff we throw out into the streets."

"You are cruel," she said.

"Here's a piece of good advice, I give to you for free. Get a shopping cart, put your most valuable stuff in it, and guard it with your life." He laughed. He turned to go.

Mary grabbed some strands of his hair and yanked.

"Ow! Are you crazy!" He knocked her hand away, walked to her bathroom, looked at his hair, and pulled out a comb. "You now have two days."

She didn't care. Mary already had what she needed.

It took all day Saturday for Mary to work on her concoction. The next day she walked to every vacant apartment, about fifteen in number, of the three building complex and sprinkled the contents above the doors. Lastly, she went to the wash room across from her apartment. As Mary sprinkled she recited a made up nursery rhyme that sounded like Simple Simon:

Voodoo Mary saw Jack Scary
her landlord of the slum;
Says Voodoo Mary to Jack Scary,
"You evicted me, how come?
Says Jack Scary to Voodoo Mary,
"Your rent's one week behind."
Says Voodoo Mary to Jack Scary,
"You are not very kind."
She went and made a potent brew
with two strands of his hair,
Then made a little doll like man
and handled it with care.
She placed one strand atop the head
and waved it in the air;
then put it down and started again
making it an even pair.
The first doll she submerged in the toilet
with all of its indiscretions.
Upon the second doll she mumbled some spells
that cursed his very possessions.
When it came time to show his apartments,
all smelled worse than a sewer and zoo.
And his earned money mysteriously disappeared
whenever a deposit was due.

"Darn bugs are everywhere," she mumbled. After shuffling through the Post Office's revolving doors she spotted Billy.

"Mary. How have you been?" He reached to hug her. She backed away.

"I'm doing okay."

"Have you heard about Jack, your ex-landlord?"

"No. What happened?"

"The Housing department ticketed him numerous times for toxic fumes. I heard he lost lots of tenants because of the outhouse smells that lingered in the apartments. I guess he was losing money so somehow he tried to torch the building for the insurance money."

"I can't imagine him doing that," she shook her head. A funny feeling welled up within her chest. She wanted to laugh.

"He was a weasel. But I can't imagine it either. He would have paid somebody a tiny fee to do it for him." Billy scratched his head. "According to the newspaper and a policeman I talked to, it's an open and shut case. The smell of gasoline was on his hands."

"Poor, poor Jack." Mary coughed.

"Yeah, poor Jack," Billy snickered. "Do you need any money?"

"I'm fine," she said and started walking towards the women's shelter. "I'll see you around." As she walked down the sidewalk she thought about Jack's plight, sort of felt sorry for him that some negative situation would have him facing Bubba or a gang member sooner or later. She recited the rest of her poem.

"Voodoo Mary sees Jack Scary
a convicted but innocent prisoner.
Anything he says is seen as lies --
his constant and perpetual horror."

By Cat Rambo

After too many balls went up and never came back, the children went out in the alleyway to see where they were landing. They'd been trying to project them beyond the atmosphere, using Timmy's homemade missile launcher. They had loaded it with baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls, tennis balls… scrounged from the tall grass around the courts. There wasn't a ball left in the neighborhood.

But they couldn't find the balls anywhere. The group strained their eyes up at impermeable blueness and waited, but nothing happened. Susie proposed using balls of rolled up socks, but the others said that was a lame idea. Ralph offered to break into the school and steal globes, but vandalism in the name of science was good only up to a point.

It was Betty, the wickedest member of the gang, who pointed wordlessly to Timmy's homemade guillotine, last month's project now gathering cobwebs in the garage corner. After a few seconds, the rest of them nodded.

The postman was easy to coax into the garage. They piled the body out by the trash cans and launched the head. It sailed up and away, eyes still crinkled in a kindly smile. The school teachers were harder to lure. The children tore up dictionaries and reeled them in, word by word. The gym teacher struggled the most. Everyone tired of the game after that.

That evening, Betty saw the first tennis ball land in the yard, followed by the soggy thumps of two basketballs. She leaned on the windowsill and waited.

THIS ISSUE OF FLASH FANTASTIC -- "Moral Invaders" is ©2005 by Ken St. Andre.  "Voodoo Mary" is ©2005 by Francis W. Alexander.  "Wickedness" is ©2005 by Cat Rambo.  All contents of Flash Fantastic 2005 are edited by Art Brown. Please send all submissions to FF editor, Art Brown.  Final formatting and additional graphics by Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Crazed Fanboy dotcom and Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.

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