Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Story 80: Convention Crashers

            “Did you doze off during that last lecture?”
            “Was it that obvious?”
            “I wouldn’t know – I think we were all unconscious.”
            They surreptitiously glanced around at their fellow conference attendees and saw the same blinking, bleary-eyed look that they felt on their own faces.
            “Want to take a walk?”
            “Please – my rear end is still napping and needs to wake up.”
            The two women walked out of the conference room and continued on down the hall.
            “What’s that?”
            The spread before another set of conference rooms featured balloons, a buffet table, and signs pointing to a carnival.
            “Looks like another convention.”  She walked over to a stand and read the poster on it: “State Chapter of Fun-Loving Party People.”
            “That sounds AMAZING.  We should go in.”
            “What?  We can’t just walk in; we’re not members!”
            “No one will know!  It looks like they’re not doing registration anymore, and we have badges that can make us pass as members if we just flip them over!”  She did so to demonstrate her point.  “Anything is better than sitting through another two hours of pedantry, and this is a real-live party.”
            “I don’t know – ”
            “I do!”
            She grabbed her colleague’s hand and dragged her to the other set of conference rooms, dumping their vendor logo-emblazoned swag bags on the way.  The main conference room was filled with people and dim lighting, which made the insinuation of their non-member selves into the affair all the easier.
            “Perfect – we can sneak in like it’s a rave,” the instigator whispered.
            “If you say so,” her companion whispered back.  She felt as if her association’s seal was stamped on her forehead, advertising her deception.
            Once their eyes adjusted to the black light, they could see that the conference rooms had games of chance and actual amusement park rides spread throughout.  Overlooking the enormous power drain, the two infiltrators circulated the room, ate some popcorn and cotton candy, and rode on the mini-roller coaster.  They had started with “Fool the Guesser” when the main doors burst open, letting in too much of the hallway light for everyone’s pupils to handle.
            “You!”  The silhouetted figure pointed at the two undercover attendees.  Everything fun ground to a halt and everyone else started at the strangers in their midst.  “You left our conference before all the sessions were done!”
            “Yeah, well, the speakers on the line-up are all dull, dull, dull!”  The instigator felt the need to point out.
            “Your lecture’s up next!”
            “Right.  Just give everyone the two credits, with my blessing.”
            “That’s not how it works!”
            “Oooh, I don’t want to talk about my topic!  It’s as boring as hanging wallpaper!”
            “Excuse me!”  A man who appeared to be in charge materialized next to the two stowaways.  “Seeing as you’ve crashed our party, hand over any uneaten food and go suffer at your own conference as punishment.”
            “But I’ve just resuscitated my inner child here!”
            So the convention crashers were led back to their proper conference in shame, the instigator had to present her mind-numbing lecture, during which she nodded off in mid-sentence, and the Party went on all night long.  The crashers vowed to join that organization no matter what the membership criteria actually entailed – anything to free themselves from the monotony of their annual conference of the State Association of Office Drones.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Story 79: Perchance to Sleep

            I have to get up at 4:00 in the morning next week to catch that flight on time.  I should prepare mentally now.

            4:00 p.m. (the day before the flight): Twelve hours to go.  I’m all packed, the house will be watched, the snail mail will be held, the cat will be comforted.  I can relax a bit by checking e-mails one more time.
            4:30 p.m.: I should probably make dinner now so I’ll be ready for bed at 8:00 to get a full night’s sleep.  I can push it to 8:30, though; 9:00 tops.
            5:00 p.m.: It’s only just now a suitable time to start eating dinner.  I’ll make something quick.
            6:00 p.m.: It’s hard to make dinner and watch TV at the same time.
            6:45 p.m.: Still cleaning up and packing last-minute items that I know I’d miss the moment I saw that they were not in my suitcase.  I’m all wired from the preparations – think I’ll take a bath to calm down.
            7:30 p.m.: I’m all pruny from the bath, and I just remembered that I wanted to see if I can put a hold on my streaming video subscription while I’m gone.  And I almost forgot to call my credit card company so it’s not surprised when “Dublin” shows up on my purchases.
            8:15 p.m.: The excitement is over and even though the sun is still out, I should really think about going to bed now.  I’ll think about it.
            8:45 p.m.: I forgot to enter away messages on my e-mail accounts.
            9:00 p.m.: I really should bring floss with my toothbrush and toothpaste.  I might need some lotion, too.
            9:30 p.m.: Should I leave a key with the neighbors?  Guess it’s too late to ask them now.  Right, I need to bring my contact lens kit, and my glasses – that would have been bad if I forgot those!
            10:00 p.m.: OK, now I really need to go to bed – by the time I fall asleep, it’ll be less than six hours before I have to wake up and I’ll still be tired, which I don’t much like feeling.  To bed, to bed.
            10:15 p.m.: Lying in bed, trying to fall asleep.
            10:30 p.m.: Maybe I should try reading a book?  That usually sends me off to dreamland.  Ooh, I just got to the exciting part in the plot!
            11:00 p.m.: Five hours left, and still not the least bit sleepy.  Would warm milk do?  No, getting up to make it would keep me even more awake.
            11:30 p.m.: At this point, I should try not falling asleep.  I’ll check my suitcase again for anything missing.  Almost forgot to bring socks!
            12:00 a.m.: Four hours to go.  Still not sleepy.  Count sheep?  Nah, I’ll count the money I wish I had: one million, two million….
            2:30 a.m.: Yes!  I was asleep!  And it was over two hours!  But now I only have an hour and a half left.  Noooooooo….
            3:45 a.m.: Not fair – not fair – not fair – not fair –
            4:00 a.m.: Alarm.  Sleep was highly unsatisfactory.  Maybe the jet lag will help.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Story 78: Cat Translator

[Awaken.  Yawn.  Stretch.  Hungry.  Food.  Go to food.]
            “Morning, sweetie.” 
[Ears scratched.  Satisfies itch and feels nice.  Rub against human leg for more.]
            “Awwww.”  Scratch, scratch, scratch.
[Purrrrrrrr…. Bird!  Must eat bird!]
            “Oh silly, always trying to get outside.”
[Barrier.  Foiled once more by the invisible wall.  Must destroy at some point in the vague future.  Now, need to visit the sand.]
            “I was going to clean that!”
[Prefer fresh sand.  Do not feel clean when sand is dirty.  Toss out some grains to cover up properly and simultaneously express displeasure.]
            “Thanks for making a mess!  You’re lucky I love you.”
[Stroll through room, inexplicably stumble.  Clean leg to disguise shame; sounds of mirth from the humans suggest they are not fooled.]
            “Look, he’s embarrassed!”
[Dignity wounded.  Tired.  Must sleep.  Folded cloths are comfy.]
            “Get off the laundry!”
[Shoved off cloths.   Must find a new sleep place.  Heavy cloth on the couch is comfy.  Turn once, and twice, and thrice, curl up, and sleep.]
            “Cat’s sleeping on my coat again!”
[Awaken!  Flee!  Ooh, a piece of string.  Destroy!]
            “Don’t play with garbage, little one.”
[Why do they take away my prey?  Thirsty.  Water in bowl is dirty.  Stare at it.  Stare at it.  Stare at it.]
            “Fine, I’ll change your water!  So subtle.”
[Took long enough.  Too cold.  Will not drink it.]
            “What, now you don’t want it?”
[Water is now acceptable.  Drink.  Must patrol territory.  Several humans, including The One, are missing from the premises.  Stare at the door to make them arrive.  They do not arrive.  Continue rounds.]
            “I’m gonna vacuum the floors.”
[Noise!  Monster!  Flee!  Hide!  Quiet now.  Safe to emerge from under the bed.  Some smells are now missing – must re-mark territory.]
            “Stop that – you’re dirtying up the walls every time you rub your head on the corners.  And I just cleaned all your fur off the couch!”
[The human emits a string of nonsensical noises – reply in kind.]
            “Don’t ‘meow’ me.  Fresh.”
[There is no pleasing the humans.  Under constant threat of loud noises and forced relocation.  Must find satisfaction elsewhere.  Sleep.  Awaken.  A paper is now on the floor – must make it sing.]
            “He always walks across the newspaper when I leave it on the floor; I wonder why he does that?”
[Paper is vanquished, now must lie on top of it.  Pushed off by one of the humans.  Never can go where desire.]
            “Boy, I tell you, that cat has some life.  He gets to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.”
[Food.  Where is food?  A human is bringing the dish back; food is inside.  Such dependence, no freedom.  Constant worry about food, water, clean sand, loud noises, strangers, loneliness.  The One also still has not returned.  So much stress.  Better just to sleep; perhaps The One will be here when next awaken.]
            “He looks so peaceful when he’s asleep.”
            “Like I said, he has some life.”
[For comfort, dream of pillows.  Sigh.]