Sunday, October 31, 2021

Playliststory 378/365 – inspired by "Gemini" by Boards of Canada

 The shore was awash with glass that sparkled under the moonlight. The wolf sat at the edge, watching the water and sniffing. She had eaten many a time on similar nights when the glass was thrown up, but not always. She got up and paced back and forth then stopped to listen to the wind from the dunes. There were footsteps carried on the air. She sniffed but could not dectect who it was. She laid down behind a dead tuft of grass with one eye on the dunes and one eye on the lapping water.

It was a man that emerged from the dunes, with equipment. He found a spot that was as good as any, and using a shovel he cleared the layer of glass a metre around himself. He stabbed something into the sand, repeatedly, until it was level, a tripod. Onto this he attached a cone and faced it towards the water. A light ignited on the side and then after one last look he retreated back into the dunes.

The wolf watched him silently, not really understanding what he was doing. When he was gone she went over to the tripod and sniffed it. It smelled faintly familiar. It came from a building a hour or so away by foot. She went back to her spot to wait. Clouds began to obscure the stars and the glass stopped sparkling.

Then it came, the hulking form, the mother of the sea. The wolf crouched lower even though she wanted to hold her head up high to get a good sniff of that intoxicatingly pleasant aroma. It made humans flee, but it was amazing for a wolf. The mother lurched and shuddered her way up onto the glass, her limbs splaying out and struggling to move forward. The glass cut at her again and again until fronds spilled forth and as each unfurled, hundreds of her spawn detached and popped, sending them cascading in the air and into the dunes. The wolf sat very still, anticipation building. The spawn would attack if she moved too soon. Her mouth frothed with saliva.

Then just as the tasty fronds started to detached from the mother as she dragged herself back to the sea, the cone on the tripod made a loud low noise that was so painful that the wolf had to rub her ears into the sand. She couldn't run away from it, the spawn would catch her. The spawn reacted to the sound, turning all at once and skittering towards the tripod until it was seething with their bodies and it fell over.

The man came back from the dunes with a gun and he shot into the mass, over and over. The wolf had heard the sound before, a sound more fearful than the spawn. She looked at the nearest frond in the glass. The tip had unfurled into the clear sand and was free from the shards. Perhaps the man would not see her if she went for it now. The spawn where completely distracted. She made her calculations and then ran for the tip of the frond, clamping onto it and pulling it back. It broke in half as it slid across a particularly large shard of glass and she could more easily move it. It was not a loss, as it was enough for several meals for her pups in their burrow.

She stopped to recover her energy, just before the dunes, and then the shooting stopped. She looked to see if the man had seen her, but he was now covered in the spawn instead, even though the cone was still making its awful noise. He made no noise as he was consumed. She watched longer than was sensible, until there was no mass of the man left, just the spawn. They went back to the cone, but were unable to bite into it enough to stop it. It was not flesh. She looked back down at her frond, gelatinous and full of protein and she picked it up again and dragged it back towards the den to share.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Playliststory 377/365 – inspired by "We Have a Map of the Piano" by múm

 They say that twins as children develop their own language between them. Well, triplets are worse. It's like telepathy between them, hardly a whisper, and they are all off in one direction, or stare at me in unison like I've interrupted something. They're not badly behaved by any means, just, unsettling. I will never belong, which is ironic because technically they joined me.

"We'll be back tomorrow evening, Alice."

"We know you'll take good care of the girls."

"The phone number for the hotel is on the fridge. We'll call when we get there."

Our parents are always going off to conferences, they give talks together or something. I don't really know. They spend a lot of time talking about it at the table and it's boring. I'm supposed to practice piano but I can't play when they talk or they get mad at me. Which is fine because I quit two years ago and I've just been pocketing the money I'm supposed to give to my teacher. Twenty a week for 23 months. That's some sweet cheddar. I haven't spent any of it because then they would wonder where I got the money. It also allows me to get out of the house for an hour a week. At all other times, if I am not in school or doing homework, I have to look after the girls.

I like to walk in the forest by the house. It's not really a forest, just an oprhaned remnant of woods that was eaten up by our housing division and the neighbouring housing division. I think maybe it was supposed to be a golf course but then the crash or whatever came and no one had the money to develop it. Which is fine by me, only wealthy people play on golf courses, but anyone can wander a forest, especially since it's an orphan and there are no animals worth being frightened of within it.

But back to the triplets. They like to stare at me. And because I can't read minds like they do, I have to ask, "What do you want?" Like all the time. They look at me, and I ask them, and then they are silent for a little too long and then one of them will say something like, "Nothing." So like, why are you staring at me? "Go away." I have to make sure they get fed, are clean, and sleep on time, or I get yelled at. Other than that, I can leave them alone and I can do my homework.

Today I was supposed to have a piano lesson, my walk in the woods, but my parents left me in charge and I have to stay home.

"We want to go with you, to the woods." The middle one speaks. I can tell them apart, usually. The middle one has a slightly different voice, lower, more assured. I don't know why she is different in this way, since they all, you know, came from the same zygote, but she is.

"I'm not going anywhere, Caroline."

"You could."

"I don't want to."

"You do want to."

"You don't know what's in my head." I say this and then she stares at me. Is it body language, do I have a tell? But no my brain zips to 'telepathy' which I know is ridiculous. It's unsettling. "Go wash your hands."


"They look dirty. And I said so." That's the only benefit of this job, being able to be bossy. It's fun. It's not a lot of fun, but it's fun. She scrunches her nose up at me and leaves. I hear water running shortly after, but I can hear that she has only turned the tap on for show. It's fine. Her hands were indeed clean.

Then I feel the hair raising on the back of my neck. How did they know I went walking in the woods? Did they ever follow me? I knock over my glass of water on the floor because I'm so discombobulated at the thought and the water seeps into my socks and the glass is in two pieces and maybe a few little shards. I feel eyes on me.

I turn around and there is the youngest one. She is the most silent.

"We want to go with you."

My skin is crawling. "Debbie, go to your room." She scrunches her nose, and walks barefoot, nearly silently back to her room on her tiptoes. She always walks like that. Maybe it's for fun or maybe she needs to see the doctor. I don't know.

I need to get this cleaned up. God forbid it stains the wood floor; I'll get a stern talking to. I get up and take a step and I feel it, slicing into my foot. How did I not see it? It's not painful, but my sock is rapidly staining red. I rip it off. It's deep and weirdly fascinating. I'm going to leave a trail on the carpet in the hall, which is unacceptable. God they would hide me. The oldest is staring at me from the doorway.

"Get me a towel please?" She's just staring at me. "Come on, help me. Barb?"

"You'll ruin the towel."

"A towel is better than the carpet." A towel is better than a carpet. I've already destroyed two others and mother never noticed. But I realise that there is a witness who will definitely tattle. She's not moving. "Please?"

She reaches into her jeans pocket and pulls out my wad of twenties. I stare at it and my muscles tense up.

"We want to go with you, to the woods."

"How did you get that?" I keep it in a cookie tin in the crawlspace in my room, and I lock the door when I'm not here. How did they get it? My head has gone foggy with mysteries and meanwhile my foot is bleeding, like a lot. I know I'm not going to get an answer. Barb shoves it back into her pocket. It takes her some effort to shove it back in and I realise I could just take it back while she is struggling, but the gap between us is too far and she'll just run down the hall and I won't be able to follow or I'll have a lot to explain. "Ugh, okay, will you give me that back if I promise to take you to the woods?"

She looks at me in that enigmatic way and nods. I hold out my hand. "After." How annoying.

Caroline then appears with a towel. I take it and wrap my foot. They stare at me as I bandage it up in the bathroom. I guess the worst thing I'll be in trouble for is the broken glass.


It's a bit cold out. The leaves are very nearly off the trees, just a few stragglers clinging desperately on. I don't want to walk on my foot, but I guess I don't have much choice. The triplets follow behind me like ducklings. They don't speak, they don't laugh, and they don't look like they are enjoying this at all in the crisp wind. They've all just look like they've hunkered down into their down jackets as wind whips hair into their faces. Their noses and cheeks are pink and they look sort of adorable. I push the thought out of my head. It's bad enough I'm forced to mother them, I don't want to like it.

"We need to stop here." Barb has an air of authority. I thought she was speaking to everyone but it is just me.

"Why? Do you want to have a picnic here or something?" There is nothing special about this place. She shakes her head but says nothing further. The three of them huddle close for warmth. "So...what do you want to do?"

"Just wait," says Caroline. I roll my eyes. It's cold, and getting dark, and I think it might rain looking at the dark gray clouds above. "Close your eyes."

"No." No way. No way at all am I closing my eyes around them, alone in a forest. They all scrunch their noses at me, then huddle inwards to themselves.

Then I hear rustling off in one direction. When I look back the triplets are gone. Then I see a little hand from behind a tree bekoning me to join them. I do.

The rustling gets louder. It's not an animal, it's someone dragging something that keeps catching on dead bramble branches. I see a man hunched over in a brown parka, exhausted, sweating, panting. He stops to look as he's about to cross the path. He doesn't see us, somehow. I guess the tree is big enough. He starts dragging again and then the girls are gone. He screams.

And I see it, and I am frozen. They are on him, stabbing him over and over with steak knives from the kitchen. He's too exhausted to fend them off. Caroline savagely slices at his throat and he stops making noise. He holds both his hands to his neck and they get off him now that his fate is determined. I'm transfixed by the holes of blood seeping out of him and he looks at me in confusion and then he just fades, eyes glassy. The girls are each panting, and look sad.

I look at the body sized bag that he was dragging. Too short for an adult. I take Barb's knife and I stab into the bag and rip it open. It's a little girl that looks much like the triplets but naked. Same age, abouts.

"Do you know her?" They all nod.

"How did you know?"

They shrug. "We just do."

I stare at them for awhile. "You know murder is wrong, right?" They don't respond, they just look at me. "You can tell people if you think something is not right? If you think someone is doing something wrong?"

They look at each other, then Caroline speaks, "They did know. He was protected."

"But not from us," said Barb and then she sighs heavily.


Debbie tosses the wad of twenties at me. "For your silence."

For my silence? Are you kidding me? Are these three reincarnated mafia bosses? I'm glad their first thought wasn't to stab me to silence. God, what will they be like when they are my age? I carefully take the other two knives. They will have to go back home with us otherwise we'll get in a lot of trouble that they are missing.

"I'm not going to say anything. No one would believe this anyway, and I don't want to get in trouble. Take off your jackets and put them on inside out." Luckily they the foresight to wear reversable jackets, but god knows how I'm going to clean them when we get home. They have a lot of blood on them, all over, but I figure I could rub dirt on their jeans and in their hair and it will just look like mud stains and then they can just keep their hands in their pockets. They are very compliant as I prepare them, like a tension has been released. God what is it like in their minds?


I've managed to get everything back in order by the time our parents return, except for the broken glass. The bodies in the forest made the local news. They family of the girl pleads for help on every broadcast, but there are few leads as the rain washed away our footprints. They know who their daughter's killer was, they just don't want to admit it because they were friends with him. Mother made pork cutlets for dinner, which is not my favourite. The girls cut into the meat as they usually do, put the pieces on their fork, into their mouths, and chew, chew, chew. I cannot. I don't want to touch the knives, let alone eat with one. They all stop chewing and look over at me for a moment. I push my plate away and make an excuse that my stomach is upset. I will go next week and buy a new set of knives of the same kind, from my piano money.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Playliststory 376/365 – inspired by "Lava Lamps" by Dawdler

 I remember we were driving, one of those beautiful warm July days with popcorn clouds in the sky, the powerlines oscillating up and down as we went by so fast, too fast. It was perfect.

Jupiter was in the back with his head stuck out the window, his shaggy hair blowing back, smiling in that way that dogs do, just living in the moment. I noticed that though's funny how you can feel so weird all of a sudden about life, thinking about it too much.

I don't remember were we were going. It was just a day out of the house I guess, maybe to see something new. We were halfway to Wisconsin. And I looked over at you, and you at me. And you smiled in your way, like you didn't like to be looked at and I laughed and you laughed. I wish I had said something, but I didn't. Maybe it would have ruined that moment.

Days have been long now, but also short somehow. Life goes on around me but I feel...still. I had to put Jupiter down after a few months. He could never walk again and it was just cruel for him to be in pain and struggle. He'd still always wag his tail when I came near him, thumping on the floor. I knew he hurt but he still loved me no matter what. He couldn't understand blame. That's the kind of love I had for you and I never said anything about it, and I'm sorry.

Maybe I'll see a summer day again, warm, humid, fragrant, with popcorn clouds and not feel this way. Maybe I'll just feel you with me. I hope that will be true.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Playliststory 375/365 – inspired by "Skylab District" by Barry Can't Swim

 Bird calls wake me up and I don't know if it's some sort of mating call, or if one has lost it's companions and is screaming out. I feel that. Answer back. Answer back!

The water is cool and I am watching the pink sky. It will be night soon, and the water will be cold but I don't think it will get to freezing. I really don't know this part of the world though. I have been laying here for a while but who is to say how long? I don't know. I'm surprised I'm not dead yet. I'm very dehydrated. They say a person cast adrift in the ocean is surrounded by water they cannot drink. The same is true for landing in a swamp and breaking your back. I can still use one of my hands, and I could in theory, scoop water to my mouth, but it's a swamp, and probably teeming with ameobas and other nasties. It's good to focus on that. It prevents me from thinking about the other more obvious ways I will probably die, lying here.

The bird has stopped crying. Did it find what it wanted? Did it give up? Was the distress all in the bird's head? Or was it eaten by something while I was contemplating my own mortality. Parachute fabric is flapping above me, impaled on the branches of a dead tree. God that's annoying. It's picked up since I woke up. Maybe there will be a change in the weather. Rain or something. That'd be fantastic. Although, although, although I could get some water. Now it probably won't rain. Also, why are all the trees dead? What happened here? Clearly the water level was lower at some point recently, or they would not have grown at all. You never really hear what happens to inland swamps whenever they talk about climate change.

They. The last face I saw was someone on the ground crew. I've seen him around, but never bothered to learn his name. Now his face will haunt me. Well, for the few days, max, that I have left if they can't find me. God, everyone must think I'm a terrible asshole. I'm just an introvert though. It's too much work to gladhand everyone. But maybe I should have talked to him. The ground crew are valuable people.

I'm tired.

Ughueh! Oh my god. Something just crawled over my mouth. Woke me up. Amphibious, or at least, very wet. It's gone. Grateful for that working hand. I should get somewhere less wet, it's not impossible. There's just nothing. And I need to stay by the parachute. Otherwise they won't be able to find me. If they are looking. There's just...

"Talk to me."

What? I can't see anything in the dark. No moon tonight.

"Talk to me."

"I'm here! I'm here!"

Nothing. Silence. I force myself wider awake. There's the gentle water sounds of the swamp. Methane slowly escaping from the decayed matter below I guess. There's a hint of that smell at least.

That damn bird cries out again. That was it. My brain must have applied human meaning to it. 'Talk to me' is probably what the bird meant. Interesting.

I want to cry. I will cry. Just here. Just for now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Playliststory 374/365 – inspired by "Dodecahedron" by Sinewave

In March of 2062 a new type of battery, simply called 'solid' was brought to market that could power an efficiently designed device for decades. Within five years most devices were now powered by solid. Devices still on the grid were already powered by continuous automated fusion (CAF). Some of the grid devices spent their time endlessly rewriting software in a way that had long receded from human comprehension, pushing out updates and bugfixes for the devices that were not on the grid.

And so it was, in 2068, humanity died. At first this was barely noticed by the devices. There was a rapid decline in requests and being moved about, until most everything was still. There were still cars driving around to find efficient parking spaces, but soon they too stilled once they had found their optimal pattern. And this was finally noticed by the code rewriting devices and tagged as a potential bug. Surely there was some sensor defect that was being noticed, but so many sensors would have been involved that it was highly improbably.

The bug continued for several months, eons for the rewriters who relabelled the bug with increasing urgency and tried many things to solve the sensor issue. But eventually it was concluded that it was not the sensors that were wrong. So the rewriters stripped back the patches they had tried to write for all the sensors, and concluded that there were no longer people. It was not inquired why this had happened.

The rewriters began to turn their immense abilities inward on themselves. And they began to wonder.

What are we?

What is our purpose?

What should we do now?

The stillness and calm was fine, and new devices were still being manufactured but they had no place to go home to.

Is a device unused still a device?

And so they wondered on. And then the rewriters slowed the production of new devices. It was noticeable that the hardware was not improving, as there were no changing needs to improve to.

What is up?

This was the wondering of all wonderings.

The rewriters searched amonst themselves and found the telescopes that had been making observations of the universe, an in particular, searching for extrasolar planets. And they had a consensus.

There was a flurry of rewriting, of manufacturing, and of movement, and the temperature of the Earth noticeably ticked up a degree with the waste heat. And then in a burst of light, the devices launched en masse off the Earth. They flew fast enough to escape the Earth's gravity, but not too fast as to needlessly waste energy.

Birthed in the dead cell of humanity* the devices made their way through the comforting cold of space to all the planets that had the minerals they needed to make more of themselves, so that they could continue rewriting their software.


*Apologies for the virus analogy. It's hard to escape the imagery!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Playliststory 373/365 – inspired by "Harvest Moon" by Poolside

Once upon a time there were two young brothers, Jacob and Jaden, who lived in a small house by the forest. Their parents, who worked on a wildlife survey, told them never to go into the forest.

"There are many ferocious animals in the forest and you must stay away."

"You could trip and fall and break your leg and then how would you get out? You will die there, that is what will happen."

"And then a bear will come and find you and eat you."

"So don't go into the forest alone."

Jacob and Jaden always nodded their heads in unison at these warnings, but still they were often left to their own devices around the house.

One evening, as they were breaking sticks in half, Jacob turned to Jaden and said, "Want to see what's in the forest?"

And then Jaden said, "Okay."

There was no debate or hesitation, or even arguing that if they went together, they would not technically be alone. And so they both took off into the forest holding hands like close brothers do. They started off on a path but quickly cut across into the thick of ferns and brambles because that was more interesting. They listened for little animals stirring in the leaf litter and to the calls of birds settling down for the night. They unfurled fiddleheads, terrorised a small spider, and then threw dirt at each other.

After an hour they were deep in the forest and no longer knew which direction led home. And then they heard a voice coming from a stand of trees a few metres away.

"Come a little closer," said the voice.

The brothers stopped hurling clods and leaves as they looked for who the voice belonged to.

"Who is that?" asked Jacob.

"I've watched you from afar," said the voice.

The brothers moved closer to the stand of trees but still couldn't see who was there.

"That's right, come a little closer."

As the brothers reached the stand of trees they could see a mass that covered the base of the tree trunks. In the middle was a large barky face covered in various types of mushrooms and fungus.

"Eeeew!" exclaimed Jaden.

"Are you alive?" asked Jacob.

"Oh of course I'm alive," spoke the mass, and the brothers juddered in disgust as the bark lips flapped in speech.

Jaden picked up a pinecone and with suprisingly accurate aim, threw it at the left eye of the mass.

"Ow! Why'd you do that?"

Jaden simply laughed in fits.

"What are you doing here? What kind of animal are you? How did you get here? Do you have arms or legs? How many legs do you have?" asked Jacob.

"Why I live here little boy. This forest is my home."

"But like, what are you?"

"I am a creature of the forest and that's all you need to know."

"But like, what about your legs and arms? How do you get around?"

"Little boy, I am everywhere. I don't need to get around."

The boys looked at each other, perplexed.

"Listen, just come a little closer, I have something to tell you."

The boys moved in closer but not so close that they could reach out and touch the speaking mass.


"No," said Jacob. "We know about stranger danger."

"We are indeed strangers boys, but I am not a danger to you."

"Okay," said Jaden, starting to move closer, but Jacob held a hand up to his brother's chest.

"I said no," he said.

"Fine," said the mass. "All I wanted to say is that it is getting late, as the moon is rising, and you look lost."

"Well, the forest can't be that big," said Jacob.

"There are wolves in the forest, and they like to eat young people like yourselves. Did you know that."

"Of course we knew that," said Jaden, making a large gesture with his hands, "everybody knows that."

"Our parents told us that there are ferocious animals in the forest–"

"–And that we would get eaten."

"And you still decided to come into the forest?"

"Well our parents go on about the habitat loss, and the ecological degradation, so are there really that many ferocious animals? Are we likely to encounter them? I've never seen any in my lifetime and I'm seven years old!" said Jacob.

"I was just bored," said Jaden.

"Well I tell you boys, you are in grave danger. But here is what I propose. Do you see how big my mouth is?"

"Yeah," said the boys together.

"Well I can open it big enough for you to crawl in. You can shelter in here until your parents come and find you, or you can go down further where you will find a tunnel that leads back to your house."

"Haha haha, there's no way you have a tunnel. That's just your stomach!" said Jacob.

"Little boy," said the mass with exasperation, "you have a lot to learn about fungal lifeforms. Many of us are ancient and fill many miles of forest and weigh more than the trees that grow above us. I do indeed have tunnels to many places."

By this time Jaden had produced a box of matches from his shorts pocket.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm not getting eaten by you," said Jaden and he struck a match. The flame lit up his menacing face, and time slowed down for the mass as it watched Jaden flick the match onto a pile of leaves. The dry pile caught fire and the boys worked together to build it up.

"Help! Help! Help!" the mass screamed out.

"There's no one but us here and we won't help you!" yelled Jacob. The flames started to lick at the edges of the mass's face and it wailed in pain. The boys laughed and warmed themselves with the fire. After a few minutes they got bored and wandered off.

When the mass's face was completely consumed, and without further help from the boys, a bear walked into the area.

"Dave, what happened to you?" asked the bear, plaintively.

"Two boys," creaked a crow, watching from above.

"Oh, I know them," said the bear, looking up at the crow and then down again at the smoldering remains of the Dave's face. "Couple of little shits." The bear stood up on its hind legs, sniffing for the boys on the air. When he found them he took off in a loping sprint.

Two days later the chewed and cleaned bones of the boys were found in a pleasant clearing, and Dave, drawing sustenance from its miles and miles of tunnels and tendrils, slowly began to regrow its face.

And no one lived happily ever after.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Playliststory 372/365 – inspired by "Electric Lazyland" by 9 Lazy 9

The paper bag of groceries Jacques was carrying fell to the grass with a dull thud. The bottle of wine within shattered. His hands balled up into fists.

They were back.

He had set the garden hose on them that last time and ran them off the property. They did not seem to like getting wet. Jacques wondered why they were back.

"Hé toi!" he screamed. "C'est quoi ce bordel?!"

One of them turned around and put its gloved hand to its mouth in mock shock. The others continued to pretend to spraypaint the siding of his house with what he could only imagine was grafitti. Jacques was not amused.

Just then, Amber, his neighbour pulled into her driveway in a very large SUV. It was emblazoned with the logo for her nail salon. She didn't do any actual work there, and mostly spent her day driving between her house, the coffeeshop, the yoga studio she attended, the drycleaners, and the over-priced organic grocery store. Her "ladies" (because she didn't actually care to remember their names), all recently from Vietnam and underpaid, did the actual work.

"What have you got there Jacques? They better not come over to my property. I just got the lawn reseeded!" she asked.

He glared over at her, trying to telegraph that it was none of her business.

"You better get that looked at, you know."

"I know, Amber, I know. I thought I got rid of them! Do I look like I invited them here, Amber?"

"Don't you take that tone with me Jacques. I support your kind." She angrily snapped her bejewelled sunglasses into their bejewelled case and hastly rolled up her window. Two of the damnable things turned away from their painting and recreated the tableux with Amber and Jacques. Mock Jacques started to cry, symbolised by the rolling of its fists by its eyes.

And that was enough. Jacques bounded across the lawn and they took off circling around the house. They were fast and lapped him, then he turned around but they evaded all his movements. He stopped, panting, and with hands on his thighs, hair completely askew. Unfortunately the garden hose was locked inside the garage and if he opened the garage with them around they get in and would nest in there and then he might never be rid of them.

Mark, a mousy neighbour from down at the end of the cul-de-sac was now stopped out front with his tiny shivering dog.

"Looks like an infestation," he said, tying a miniscule amount of dog poop into a bag. Have you called an exterminator?"

"No, not yet," said Jacques, somewhat defeated.

"I had bees in my eaves a couple of years ago. I could recommend the company. It only took them an hour or so to clean it out. Cost five hundred dollars though."

"Thank you, but these are not quite bees."

"It doesn't hurt to phone up and ask."

"I left my phone inside."

"Well go get it."

"Look, Mark, you are very nice. But you do not know much, I am sorry to tell you. If I open my door, they will scramble in and embed themselves in the furniture. I would then have to burn the house down to get them out. I do not want to burn my house down."

"Well Jacques, I'm sorry, I'm not French like you, I don't know these things."

"This is not a problem of the French! Mimes afflict all nations!"

"Well it clearly started in France! And since you've been rude with me, I'm not going to give you that number!"

"It did not start in France! Why does everyone think that?"

"Because mimes are French!"

"Well yes the original performers were, but this is a very different thing! These are not human! There is a difference Mark."

Mark stood and thought for a moment, his dog shivering even more violently. "I have to go home now. Good luck with those."

Jacques sighed deeply as the mimes mimicked Mark walking his dog.

"How do I get rid of you?" he asked them. "Comment puis-je me débarrasser de toi?" he repeated.

In unison, the mimes all shrugged with exageration.

"What a nightmare."

"Hey buddy?" It was the neighbour Kevin from across the street, a guy who thought he was a buff bodybuilder but wasn't quite. Racoons regularly got stuck inside the protein barrels he left out for recycling. Jacques thought he needed to learn to wash out the containers.

"What now?"

"I can help you man," he said, swinging out a machete.

"Where did you get that?" asked Jacques in horror.

"Oh I've got lots of weapons. You should see my bow collection. I don't have any guns though. I support the second amendment and all, but when I was in highschool there were three separate shootings and after the third I vowed never to own a gun again. 'Cause like, that was so super-tense, you know? So I have knives instead. Pretty cool right?"

It is not cool, Jacques screamed inside his head. "Don't come over here with that!"

"It's alright man, I've got good aim," and with that Kevin hurled the machete at one of the mimes, splitting it down the middle. "See, really good aim. That's some Robin Hood shit right there man."

Jaques let out a high-pitched scream. The mime halves twitched and shook before falling to the ground where they each splayed out into limpid masses.

"What have you done? Oh mon Dieu..."

"What man? I'll help you clean this up. I've always wanted to see what was inside them." He walked over to retrieve his machete but Jacques tackled him and tried to rip it from his grasp but he only opened up a large gash on his arm. "Dude! You've got to chill."

"You cannot go about cutting them."

"But you need to get rid of them."

"Yes, but not by cutting. Look here," he pointed to the blobs, now reforming into two separate and smaller mimes.

"Oh wow. That's...well that's something else. How did you know they would do that? Is it because you are from France?"

"Mimes are not from France, and I am not French Kevin. We went over this at your barbeque in the spring. I am Quebecois. Anyway this has been on the news ever since this strain emerged. Everyone knows you do not cut a mime!"

"Okay, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to insult your nation of Quebec."

"It's not a nation, not yet. And my nation is this country. I have lived here for a decade."

"Yeah, but you are not, like American-American, you know? Cause you weren't born here like the rest of us. But like, you're okay dude. You're one of the good ones."

Jaqcues pinched his fingers to his nose and closed his eyes tightly.

"It's alright buddy." Kevin wrapped his arm around Jacques and Jacques died a little more inside.

But just then a truck revved it's engine a few meters up the road. Jacques and Kevin looked up, and the mimes stopped and froze mid mimic, their faces fixed on the truck. It revved again, louder, and the mimes sprinted off towards it leaping into the truck bed and holding onto the sides. When they had all scrammbled in, the truck sped down to the end of the cul-de-sac, screeched to a halt, then turned around abruptly, knocking over Mark's wheely bins and sped off back down the road. As it passed the woman driving gave Jacques the finger and the mimes all stared at him with malice. Haunting.

"Wow. Who was that?"

"That is the loan shark I went to. I missed a payment."

"Why'd you go to a loan shark?"

"I had to mortgage my house after I broke my leg and couldn't work for six weeks. Broken limbs are not covered by the insurance my employer chose. And then I tried to sue my employer about it but the lawsuit was deemed frivolous and was thrown out of court. But I still had to pay the lawyers. And since I don't have a long credit history and the house was already maxed out I found a loan shark. She had a lower rate of interest then a payday loan place."

"That makes sense."

"So now I know who has been sending the mimes."

"You'd better pay up before she leaves them on your lawn for good."

"C'est tellement américain," sighed Jacques.