Carl’s Popularity Problem

Carl liked people. That wasn’t his problem.

Carl liked puppies. That wasn’t his problem, either.

Carl liked kittens, too. That also wasn’t his problem.

Carl liked people, puppies, and kittens -best of all- when they were cadavers. Yes, that was Carl’s problem.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Written for Deb’s 42-word prompt, inspired by Charlescot: Zombie.

©2020 Chel Owens

Throwback Thursday: Zombie Lunchlady

I had intended to continue H.R.R. Gorman‘s story today, but ’twill have to wait till morning. In the meantime, enjoy a three paragraph story I wrote back on October 18, 2017.

3 Paragraph Story: Zombie Lunchlady

Doris stood there, hand on hip, trying to figure out what to say. She’d already used up most of her standby phrases; things like, “Don’t forget, employees must wash their hands,” and “A smile will go a long way.” What worked for all the other ladies had not worked for this newest employee.

“Wash your hands” had led to the new hire carefully removing one hand, rinsing it, reattaching it somewhat sloppily, then attempting to repeat the process with the other one. Encouraging her to smile had sent the entire first grade screaming and running away from the queue.

Today, Doris had come to school ready for whatever came to mind. She’d thought to ask her fellow long-timers what they suggested. Looking hopelessly around the group, however, she realized they would not have any suggestions for the new girl. Rather, she had rubbed off on them already. They stood in a similar posture to hers, listlessly lolling their heads about and groaning. Doris cleared her throat anyway. Alerted, they all began shambling closer.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

The Top 10 Reasons I Can’t Write Romance

Part of my membership in the I’m Not Really Certain I’m Typical Female Nor Do I Want to Be Labeled as Such Club includes a general aversion to reading Romance. Naturally it follows that I have some distaste for writing it as well.

Today I realized I not only have a distaste; I am not certain I can write Romance. Why?

10. In terms of hormones, I’m a bit low on the ones interested in intercourse between animate beings.
Granted, I’ve had children nearly all of our marriage and they’re a bit of a killjoy that way…

9. I’m old and tired and just don’t care.
Now, get off my lawn, you young’uns!

8. I find cliché situations silly.
Whenever I’ve tried to write a romantic encounter, I laugh. I slip into over-the-top silliness, a twist, or simply give up.

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7. I think sex belongs in marriage, to the person one is married to.
Seriously, so many problems would be avoided that way. Logic belongs in love, right?

6. I therefore do not find infidelity exciting and alluring; rather, I judge the protagonist(s) for weak character(s).
Those people really need to grow up and get jobs instead of meeting in cafés all day.

5. In fact, I find romantic dialogue trying.
I’d rather skip ahead to …the end?

4. When given the option of a night on the town, I choose a book in the closet.
And it’s not a romance novel.

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3. I’ve never watched The Bachelor or anything like it.
This makes conversation with other females a bit limited, especially if I voice my opinions on such shows.

2. I do not find celebrities attractive.
Like with Number 6, I feel that they’re constantly making poor judgement calls. I like a few of them, but do not daydream about them moving in with me.

1. I am attracted to the ‘wrong’ sort of man.
People say there are all types. People say there’s no accounting for taste.
The problem is that book after movie after conversation assumes that ‘all women’ want a Bad Boy. All women are at least secretly turned on by an unkempt biker hiding a sexy set of muscles under that rough leather jacket.
Yeah, no. I’m like a zombie; I like brains.

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Sometimes I’ve tried, but I am me and need to write what I know. And who knows; maybe there are more not-all-women out there who think just like me. Maybe they’ll read my realistic romance books and love them.

Photo Credits:
Alejandra Quiroz
Eliott Reyna
Oleg Yeltsov

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Smells Like Reanimated Spirits

You’re at a burial, dressed in shoes you didn’t have time to polish or lace up correctly. It’s a grey sort of day, overcast with rain coming soon. They’re lowering the casket into the ground and all you can do is stare at the stubborn knot in your shoelaces.

Someone lights up a cigarette after the service is over and you move away to avoid the smoke. Your heels slip into the soft ground and you get mud on the hemline of your clothes. You stop to catch your breath after a long day and close your eyes. You smell rain in the air.

There’s a piano you can hear in the nearby chapel playing a soft tune. You think they’re playing “Amazing Grace” and then it changes. A sudden thought strikes you: “I must get back into the car before the last note. Once the last note plays, it’ll start raining.”

You’re heading back to the car when you see a man standing at the fence. He’s dressed in overhauls and a flannel shirt, looking directly at you. You glance away but are drawn back by the man’s intense stare. He’s holding something in his hand. A letter? A book? You can’t tell. You feel you must find out, before the last piano note…

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Dodging headstones and mushy half-buried plots alike, you walk to the fence. And the man. Conveniently, they are both in the same direction. As you walk, you wonder at the prevalence of recently-turned earth. Just how many people have died lately?

The eerie piano playing from the chapel plays background beat to your even tread. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” will do that to a person, even if it’s a piano cover version and therefore lacks that awesome bass guitar.

Your attention draws back to the overall man who is fascinated with staring. Some people clearly need a hobby, especially since there are a lot more interesting things to stare at than a muddy-hemmed, sneaker-clad burial-crasher like you. You get closer and closer, noting his lack of blinking; his lack of attention on a bird that poops on his shoulder or on a passing dog that relieves itself on his trouser leg.

Just before you call out to him, his image blips and reloads. He is a clean, staring man again, proferring a flat object that is meant to look like a book. Thunder rumbles nearby, and he finally glances to the grey and heavy clouds. His gaze returns to you, who have stopped just before the projection of him.

“244224,” he says, monotone. “42,” he adds. Then, “2442.” He beeps.

You roll your humanoid eyes, reminded of how your familial assigners could not be happy with a short sequence like all the others. “Yes?”

“Precipitation imminent. Nirvana ending. Accept reanimation.” *Beep*

Your eyebrows raise. “Reanimation??”

“Affirmative.” He pauses, then remembers to *Beep!*

You look back and around at all the mounds of dirt, and swallow. It’s not easy considering the difficulties the body emulators had in transferring your normal shape to a humanoid form, but you manage. The sky growls again. A spot of earth near you seems to as well, but perhaps it’s the simulated imagination you’re equipped with.

Whipping back around to the hologram, you place your right forearm directly over the outstretched object in its hand image. The flat object glares a red light of warning. You realign. Still red. The growling from below ground is definitely not just your imagination now and you grit your teeth in frustration.

“Please align to shape,” the ‘man’ intones.

You try again and get the angry light again.

“Please align to shape,” he repeats.

Just as a very visible hand claws through the mud to your side and just as the final lingering notes of the piano are played, the tablet magically accepts your forearm’s outline and turns blue. “Code accepted.”

Your humanoid form releases a sigh of relief just before dematerializing. Your normal self, meanwhile, has a final, comforting thought. I am so glad that finally activated. Earth’s a real downer during a zombie apocalypse.

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From the story prompt beginning shared by the highly-imaginative, amazing, wonderful, and fantastic Peregrine Arc.

You can play, too! The submission window closes on April 12.

 

Photo Credits:
Daniel Jensen
Wendy Scofield

3 Paragraph Story: Zombie Lunchlady

Doris stood there, hand on hip, trying to figure out what to say. She’d already used up most of her standby phrases; things like, “Don’t forget, employees must wash their hands,” and “A smile will go a long way.” What worked for all the other ladies had not worked for this newest employee.

“Wash your hands” had led to the new hire carefully removing one hand, rinsing it, reattaching it somewhat sloppily, then attempting to repeat the process with the other one. Encouraging her to smile had sent the entire first grade screaming and running away from the queue.

Today, Doris had come to school ready for whatever came to mind. She’d thought to ask her fellow long-timers what they suggested. Looking hopelessly around the group, however, she realized they would not have any suggestions for the new girl. Rather, she had rubbed off on them already. They stood in a similar posture to hers, listlessly lolling their heads about and groaning. Doris cleared her throat anyway. Alerted, they all began shambling closer.