Grandmother has never left the house. She watches the world pass by outside the doorless doorway. A dancing bear. A legless soldier. A hero. A ghost. A baker. Five acrobats. A man with a chicken head.

Why go anywhere? she asks me.

An Important Job On A Rocket

“I see it!” cried the Captain. “There, in the telescope.”

The Door Closer peered through the scope. “I see naught but a blurry speck of something.”

“Pish!” cried the Captain. Nobody had made him Captain; he had been born that way. Rocket fuel was in his blood, and this puzzled his physicians, for these eminent professionals had persisted through life with the fixed notion that blood was the best thing to use for blood, while rocket fuel was best suited for fueling rockets. Yet despite the extravagantly toxic brew in his veins, the Captain kept being alive, although the best scientific theories insisted that he really ought to drop dead.

“Look again!” cried the Captain. The Door Closer looked. He saw the same blurry bit of light. A tear flowed down his cheek.

“I see nothing,” and here the Door Closer began to bawl. He deserved better than this. He was a vital member of the Crew. If no one closed the rocket’s door, the air would eventually get out, and the Crew would go mad wondering where it had got to.

The Captain comforted him. “A telescope is an utterly useless apparatus,” he explained to his friend. “In our benighted age, making tiny bits of light ever so much less-tiny is a pastime wicked amusing. Some enjoy it, I suppose,” here he flung the offending instrument into the atomic furnace, “but I say that the only way to find out whether a star has a planet next to it is to go there, and I further say that the only way to find out if that planet has a Snark upon it is to land there and hunt!

Oil and Bubble of the Moon

We had a floor that was dirt but a gilded ceiling repousseed with seraphim. Food was scarce and I had nineteen siblings; sometimes Mother would rectify the imbalance by feeding us to the food. Doors were expensive so we made do with a doorway; likewise bathtubs were also expensive so we did without one, stacking the water ever so carefully at bathtime. Come sable midnights, we sharpened our eyes by viewing one star at a time.

On a roll, just can’t stop…

…writing Rude Mechanicals stories. A new RM installment is forthcoming in “Space Squid” in July, but now I find myself with multiplying Mechanicals tales. I have tried to keep them reasonably full of action and derring-do, but this new one I’m working on has our poor cybernetic superbeings loafing about solving crossword puzzles. New plan – assemble these stories into another quickly-ignored novel?

Notes from meeting I’m sitting in

Aaaaagh, kill me now, clawing eyes out, interesting pattern on that carpet, DON’T MAKE JOKES, restrain yourself man, do NOT make jokes, they hate your jokes, the tone of this confab is what you’d expect if a dying infant were prone on the table before us, maybe if I jab thumb in my eye it will reset my attitude, look at Matt, everybody, he is taking lots of notes! I want to drink a cup of hot death, anyone got some? the peace of God passeth all understanding but why has the Cosmic Plan put me here in this meeting? what’s that sound? it’s years of your life drip dripping away, my friend as you listen to some cretin drone on about sales figures and you study the carpet pattern. Oh, my turn to talk? “Um, I think it’s best to take an active approach — of course, whatever we do should be well-planned.” Was that OK? Am I an idiot? I have a question but it’s best not to ask, because I haven’t been paying attention for the last 45 minutes. They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps. O! they have lived long on the almsbasket of words. I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word; for thou art not so long by the head as honorificabilitudinitatibus. What, did someone just ask me something? Can you say that again? Oh, I think an active approach is best. Oh, you weren’t talking about that? Er um ugh oof ugh.

Starlight on the Drunkriver

The dull agates of the Great Haddock glinted in the dead sky, and their brute twins grunted back from the feculent surface of the Drnkeeva, the viscous dribble that slimed its way through the Accountants’ Ward. Zunk leant on the aluminum rail of the Ninth Bridge and the popular name for the waterway slipped through his mind: the Drnkeeva, the Drunkriver.

The klieg lights of the Ward shone from the posts of leaning pachinko parlors and hardware stores, beckoning with the promise of noise and pipefittings. Zunk couldn’t yet spend the three plugged nickels sagging in his pocket. Coins spoke to air horn, and the airhorn spoke to Flive: you will ruin someone’s golf game tonight, my lad.

Somewhere in the darkness, a nine-iron belonging to Lord Pomfrey Tingle would whiff wildly at the tee, as Zunk’s siren sounded, ruining the shot

Moonlight on the Pissriver

The glittering eyes of the Great Gouch shone in the sable sky, and their optick cousins shimmered back from the oily waters of the Psieva, the gelid stream that wended its way through the Slitters Quarter. Flive leant on the splintered rail of the Eighth Bridge and the popular name for the waterway slipped through his mind: the Psieva, the Pissriver.

The lanterns of the Quarter shone from the posts of tackshamble brothels and boneshops, beckoning with the promise of a pleasurable night. Flive couldn’t yet spend the three clunkers sagging in his pocket. Coins spoke to knife, and the knife spoke to Flive: you will kill tonight, my lad.

Somewhere in the darkness, a pair of shoulderblades belonging to the Lord Secondary Taxgarner would serve as a bed for Flive’s blade.