2014 Summer Solstice Open
The Anne Rice Bracket
Note: Two authors withdrew
The Avengers vs The Justice League of America
The story must be told from the point of view of Death, the Grim Reaper
A Traveling Chamber Pot Salesperson
Elegy for a Mayfly
D. L. Mackenzie
I am an observer, not a philosopher. I have no wisdom… only truth.
I have witnessed the Dawn of Man and, should it ever come to pass, I shall witness the last of your kind as it draws its last breath. I was there at Auschwitz and at Dresden, at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. I haunt the gulags and gas chambers, the battlefields and back alleys, watching you wink in and out of existence like mayflies.
The old and infirm, writhing in agony, cry out for my cold mercy. But even the young and vigorous, ignorant of life’s great pleasures and disenchantments, cannot escape my grasp. Fear me, and I shall come for you. Ignore me, and I shall come for you all the same.
Perhaps you will have drunk of all that life has to offer and will welcome my embrace. Or perhaps you will thirst for still more and curse me when I call. Perhaps, like the slave in chains or the traveling chamber pot salesman, you will have wearied of the dreary routine of existence and accept your liberation with relief and quiet grace. And I shall guide you home.
Time waits for no man, but I shall wait. For what is time to me? The ticking of a clock? The turning of a calendar? That is how you mark time, by the spinning of the globe and the coming and going of its inhabitants, but for me, the time is always at hand.
And now here is my latest charge, a pitiable creature, young and stupid, smiling outwardly while dying inside. You are social animals, or so I am told, but not this one. Alone, he shambles about a self-imposed prison, doubting, regretting, fantasizing… and drawing me near.
Tomorrow he will forge a genuine friendship. But today he plays with his toy minions, peering into their plastic yellow faces, searching for… what? Acceptance? Companionship? The clock ticks.
Tomorrow, he will engage in meaningful conversation. But today he wallows in minutiae, exchanging messages with disembodied avatars, arguing whether the Avengers can be defeated by the League of Justice, or some such thing. The clock ticks again.
Tomorrow, he will drink of all that life has to offer. Tomorrow, he will love and be loved. Tomorrow he will rise to the challenge of making all that can be made of his brief existence. The clock ticks again.
But there will be no tomorrow for this one. He is mine, and his tears flow like the rivers he will never see again. Where hope is lost, I can be found, and the clock is winding down….
I watch as he raises his weapon, which is my instrument. He holds it, caresses it, and it is cold and black and engorged with ammunition—my minions. He studies it, worships it, and he begins to smile. He stands to make his way into a world he does not understand and which does not understand him. What does he seek? Justice? Vengeance? It matters not. Where he leads, I shall follow.
For I am an observer, not a philosopher. I have no wisdom… only truth.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
Danielle Lee Zwissler
The problem with being Death is you never have a life.
I sat in my black, leather recliner, Duck Dynasty on the tube. I sighed, watching Phil Robertson, laughing as I thought of all the trouble he’d caused. “Can’t wait to see him in 2027,” I mused.
A minute or so later, I heard a beep and then saw the paper feed through the fax machine. “Never a moment’s peace,” I griped, before shutting off the TV and walking over to see who my next victim would be.
“You have got to be kidding me!” George Takei. It wasn’t even the first time I’d seen his name on a fax, but I’d be damn sure it would be the last. The man was like Harry Freaking Houdini.
As I stepped out my front door, I was accosted by a salesman. “Hi, I was wondering if you’d like to take a look at my selections.” He handed me a pamphlet and started in on some more of his spiel.
“Sorry, I don’t have time for this.”
“But you never know when you may need one of these!”
“Sir, I can assure you…I don’t need a chamber pot; mine’s just fine.”
“Chamber pot?” The man laughed. “These are state of the art Fleishman toilets!”
“Whatever,” I scoffed as I pushed past the man and gave him back the brochure.
Twenty minutes later, I walked into comic con, and I was stopped by the huge lines of comic book nerds.
“No, man, I’m telling you the Justice League would win!” a kid in front of me dressed as Daryl from The Walking Dead debated with another.
“Hardly! The Avengers have the Hulk!” the other retorted, pointing to his left ear, acting as if his argument was perfectly logical.
I rolled my eyes, wishing these two were the next names on my fax.
Spock turned around, “Hey, man, nice costume. Dr. Death?”
I rolled my eyes. “No, I’m the Grim Reaper.”
Daryl laughed. “Man, you know this is comic con, right? You’re supposed to dress as one of your favorites.”
“I hate comics.”
Spock quirked his eyebrow and looked oddly from Daryl to me. “Hate comics?”
I pushed forward past the geeks and kept my focus on finding George. As I approached the vendor area, I tripped over my cloak and ran directly into a stand full of minion dolls. “Son of a…”
“Oh, dear!” a woman said. I took a deep breath and bent over to help pick up the toys.
“Do you know where George Takei is?”
“Oh! Yes, I was just there earlier! He’s all the way in the back and to the right.”
“Thank you. Sorry about the mess,” I commented and handed her the last minion.
Finally, I made it to the back. There, straight ahead, sat George— Mr. Sulu, for all you dorks out there. I smiled and walked straight to the front of the line. George was bent over a stack of photographs. Nothing would save him now, nothing but a transporter, and those weren’t real. When he turned around, I smiled and George’s eyes honed in on me.