Tag: dark humor

Plastic Trees in the Underground City

Here’s an excerpt from Under the Electric Sun

When he stepped through the doorway, his feet landed on soft green grass. The large room was filled with towering oaks, tall pines, azaleas in full bloom, and clusters of bluebells along the ground. Bird songs echoed in the air, even though no birds were visible. In the center of the park, there was a clearing with a playground in it. A group of children squabbled over which one of them would go down the slide next. The dome-shaped ceiling of Bailey Park was painted a pale shade of blue with an electric sun burning brightly in the center. Holographic clouds glided across it, moving so slowly that they barely appeared to move at all.

The grass was artificial, while the trees and bushes were made of plastic and other synthetic materials. The birdsong came from tiny speakers hidden in the leaves.

Jake sat down in the grass and leaned against a tree trunk. He let out a long sigh, which seemed odd to Tristan. It was the type of sound an older person would make.

Tristan sat in the grass beside him. For a moment, they were both silent.

“Just get some rest,” Tristan said, trying to conceal his worry. “And then we’ll go to the pet store. Esmeralda might be working today, you never know.”

A cloud of sadness seemed to hang in the air around Jake. Tristan was hoping it would evaporate at the mention of Esmeralda’s name, but it didn’t. Jake had been enamored with the girl ever since he had first spotted her in the pet store two years ago, sitting cross-legged on the floor and changing the batteries in a light brown Chihuahua. Looking up at Jake and Tristan with her coffee-colored eyes, Esmeralda had remarked that Jake didn’t need an electronic pet. He already had a talking raccoon on his shoulder, which was far better than all the non-speaking animals in the pet store. Flattered, Tristan had thanked her. As Esmeralda had zipped up the Chihuahua’s abdomen, she had talked about her own tutroid, a hoot owl named Matilda. Unfortunately, Matilda’s brain was defective and she preferred to remain perched on the headboard of Esmeralda’s bed, babbling about the French Revolution.

As Esmeralda had talked about her faulty tutroid, Jake had stared at her with a dazed look in his eyes. She didn’t seem to mind his delirious gaze. She had kept right on talking about her love for Matilda and her fascination with electronic animals in general.

“It doesn’t matter,” Jake said now, leaning against the tree in Bailey Park. “Esmeralda’s too old for me. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. She just wants to be friends with me, that’s all.”

Tristan shrugged. “Hey, that might change one day. She’s only three years older than you. When you guys get older, that age difference won’t matter anymore. You’ll both be adults. Who knows what will happen then?”

Jake didn’t reply. Tristan desperately wanted to cheer him up, but he had already played the Esmeralda card. He couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“So what do those big blobs look like?” Jake asked finally.

“In the meeting, they said the color changes depending on how you look at them,” Tristan said, relieved that the conversation was taking a new direction. “From one angle, they’re blue. From another angle, they’re red. I’ve been trying to picture that in my mind.”

“I still say they’re giant mushrooms,” Jake insisted. “And they’re mutant mushrooms, because of the war.”

They had argued about it all morning on their way to the vehicle museum.

“No,” Tristan said, staring up at the rounded ceiling of Bailey Park, as if he could see the surface of the earth if he strained his eyes hard enough. “I think they came here from another planet. They just popped up out of nowhere two months ago. And they’re as big as mountains. How do you explain that?”

Under the Electric Sun is available on Amazon. It’s a book about a boy and his electronic tutor. They live in a luxurious underground city beneath the ruins of Washington, DC. The paperback version is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2013, 2015, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Leaving the Nest

Here is an excerpt from The Quality of Life in Outer Space

Gary lived in a nest of shredded magazine pages. Every morning and every night, he sat in his nest and stared at a miniature television set with a black and white screen, one he had found in a junk pile. Most of Gary’s knowledge about the world above him came from the television.

His nest was located on a windowsill in the basement of an old, old spaceship. All the ship’s garbage fell into the basement through trap doors in the ceiling. Gary spent his days flying over the garbage piles, searching for scraps of food and interesting pieces of junk. He was always careful to avoid the vulture beetles. They ate everything (including metal) to make room for more garbage.

Gary didn’t live alone on the windowsill. An octopus human hybrid lived in a cardboard box right beside him. The octopus looked just like any other octopus except he had a human face (with baggy, bloodshot eyes) and breathed oxygen and complained about all of Gary’s soap operas.

One morning, Gary sat in his nest, watching a commercial for a steakhouse located on the top floor of the ship. He wondered what it would be like to eat in a steakhouse, to eat firsthand food rather than dirty old scraps someone else had tossed out.

The octopus slouched in his cardboard box and looked out the window at the stars.

“Hey, Gary, do you see that thing out there?” the octopus asked.

“You mean that giant asteroid?” said Gary. “Yes, I see that. What about it?”

“It’s coming straight toward us,” said the octopus.

“Oh, I’m sure it’s not a problem.”

“Maybe you should go upstairs and mention it to somebody,” the octopus told him, shifting his bloodshot eyes back and forth.

Gary shrugged. “I’m sure they already know.”

“Maybe not. They might not be paying any attention. Everybody’s in a big frenzy. They’re all excited about the debate or something, aren’t they?”

“They’ll see it soon enough,” said Gary, shaking his head and wishing he could enjoy his soap opera in peace. “How could anyone overlook something that size?”

“I don’t know,” the octopus went on. “When you watch the evening news, you get the impression that most of those folks upstairs aren’t too bright. You know what I mean? You may want to just run up there real quick and, you know, mention it to somebody.”

“Not now,” said Gary.

“I think you should.”

Gary cleared his throat. “I may do it later.”

“It might be too late,” said the octopus, peeking out the window.

“Why can’t I sit here in my nest and watch my program?” Gary shouted, flapping his wings and grinding his teeth. “Can you at least let me have that one luxury? Please? Every day of my life is a bland, worthless echo of the one before it. I crawl out of my nest, I fly around this dark room, I find scraps of food for us to eat, I avoid the vicious vulture beetles, and then I return to the windowsill. Television is the only oasis I have. My only other form of recreation is gazing out the window at the black, infinite void and thinking about my futile existence.”

The octopus rolled his eyes. “You’re not going to miss anything, Gary, That show is a re-run, remember? All these people die at the end.”

Gary flapped his wings and screamed, “I’ve never seen this episode before! Why do you have to ruin it for me? Why?”

“Well, now you don’t have to watch it. You know how the thing’s going to end. Now run upstairs and tell somebody about that big space rock.”

“No!” Gary yelled. “Stop harassing me!”

“It’s getting closer. And it has little red patches. Looks like lava on that thing. What about that? A big ball covered in lava is coming at us. And you want to watch soap operas.”

Gary turned away from the miniature television and looked out the window again. He realized the octopus was right. The asteroid was getting closer. And there were red patches on it.

“But how would I get upstairs?” Gary asked, trembling. “The garbage associates hardly ever come down here. The doors are locked. I couldn’t go upstairs if I wanted to.”

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is available on Amazon. The book is aimed at younger readers, but adults would get a laugh out of it too. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click here to order.

Finding Drake Novak

Drake Novak is a pale man with bloodshot eyes and a black suit. He owns a factory in a small town in Georgia. The workers don’t know it, but Drake is an alien who feeds on the misery and suffering of other life forms. The factory is his buffet. But Drake’s feeding frenzy is about to end. Malpheus Mallock, a young policeman from the Galactic Precinct, comes to Earth to arrest Novak. Sadly, his tracking device doesn’t work correctly. He lands in the front yard of an elderly couple named Carl and Christine who provide him with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and iced tea. Malpheus struggles to fix his tracking device and find Drake Novak before his destroys the whole town.

Finding Drake Novak is available on Amazon. The paperback is $6 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $2.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.

Out of Time

An excerpt from The Quality of Life in Outer Space

The elevator door slid shut behind Gary. He walked along the street. Nearby, a man with a buffalo head stood beside an old streetlamp. The man wore an orange suit. He held a briefcase in one hand and a pocket watch in the other. He looked down at the watch and shook his big, shaggy head in frustration.

“Excuse me,” Gary said, waving one wing.

“Oh, what is it?” yelled the man with the buffalo head.

“An asteroid is about to crash into this ship and kill us all.”

The buffalo man rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time to worry about things like that. I’m on my way to a meeting. A big meeting. I’m waiting for the stupid taxi to come. He’s running late. It’s already seven o’clock in the morning.”

“But this is important,” said Gary. “We’re all going to die!”

“This is the biggest meeting of the year, you fool!” the buffalo man snapped. “You couldn’t possibly understand. We’re preparing for the big screaming contest. It’s vital that the orange team gets control of the ship this year. Now go away and pester somebody else, you little vermin.”

“But none of that matters right now!”

“It most certainly matters!” the buffalo man laughed. “The yellow team wants to ruin everything for everybody. The yellow team wants to take the locks off our doors, confiscate our money, and put our children in slavery. It’s imperative that the orange team wins the screaming contest this year!”

A black car came rattling down the cobblestones. It stopped in front of the streetlamp. The buffalo man jerked open the door and crawled inside. As the car took off down the street again, Gary heard the buffalo man yelling, “You stupid driver! You probably work for the yellow team, don’t you? You want to ruin everything for everybody!”

Gary hung his head and shuffled down the sidewalk. The Styrofoam snowflakes bounced off his head. He had no idea how close the asteroid was. He wished there was a window close by.

He walked to the nearest cottage and clawed at the front door with his talons.

The door opened. An old man looked outside and frowned. Then he glanced down and saw Gary.

“Sir, can I come in for a moment?” Gary asked. “I have something important to tell you.”

“Good morning,” the old man said in a deep voice. “Your face looks familiar. Where did you come from?”

“The garbage,” Gary answered.

The old man titled his head. “Have I seen you before? It seems like I know you from somewhere. I used to see you a lot. A long time ago, when I was just a child.”

“I don’t think so,” said Gary. “I need to talk to you about something right now.”

“Come on in. But I don’t have much time. You’ll have to make it quick. I have an appointment I can’t miss.”

Gary followed him into the cottage. The old man let out a sigh and fell into a leather chair. He had a white beard. It was short and neatly trimmed. He had dark, beady eyes and stout arms.

“What is it?” the old man grunted.

Gary flapped into the air and perched on the armrest of the chair.

“Listen,” said Gary. “There’s an asteroid flying toward this ship. If we don’t get out of the way, it will hit us.”

“I hate to hear that,” the old man said.

“I’ve been trying to tell people, but nobody will listen,” Gary said, talking as fast as he could.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” the old man groaned, staring down at the floor.

“Can you do anything about it?” Gary asked, fidgeting on the armrest.

The old man gulped. “Oh, I wish I could.”

“What do you mean?” Gary panted.

“I wish I could help you,” the old man said. “But I can’t. There’s nothing I can do. My time is almost up. They’re coming for me. They’re going to be here soon. You should probably get out of here before they show up.”

“What? Who?”

“Bird, do you know anything about this ship? Do you know how things came to be the way they are now?”

“No, sir,” said Gary. “I don’t. I’ve lived in the garbage hold all my life. In the dark, in the very bottom of the ship, watching soap operas I don’t understand. I’m afraid I don’t know much of anything.”

“Years ago, when our ancestors lived on Earth, they realized the planet couldn’t sustain life much longer,” the old man explained. “The air was full of poison from all the bombs. The ecosystem was all messed up because of genetically engineered animal soldiers running loose in the wild. There were hornets the size of helicopters and locusts that ate human flesh. And diseases that killed whole cities. Oh, it was a big old mess. So some people in North America built a ship and left Earth, looking for a new planet. And they took along some genetically engineered creatures to do the cooking and cleaning. At first, things were good on this ship. I remember people being happy and getting along when I was a little boy. But that was forty years ago. That was before the old captain disappeared. After he vanished, the Law Master took over. Ever since then, we’ve been flying in circles.”

“Flying in circles?” Gary said.

“Yes. Now we’re barely moving at all. There are lots of people on this ship, more than you would think. Most of them are divided into two teams. Not all of them, but most of them. You have the yellow team. And you have the orange team. And they hate each other.”

Gary frowned. “What do the two teams stand for?”

The old man laughed. “What do they stand for? Not that much. The yellow team says the orange team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. And the orange team says the yellow team is trying to ruin everybody’s life. That’s it, basically. The two teams do have a few minor differences, but they’re pretty much the same, really. They’re just dedicated to hating each other.”

Gary glanced at the door and asked, “Who’s coming? And why are they coming? And how soon will they be here?”

“I committed a crime. One of the worse crimes a person can ever commit. I let my emotions get the best of me. It was a dumb thing to do, but I’d kept it bottled up inside me for too long. It had to come out eventually, I guess.”

“What did you do?” asked Gary, shifting his weight from one talon to the other.

“I went to a meeting and suggested we should all stop screaming at each other. I said we should all lower our voices and talk in a more respectful tone. That way, we could work together and make progress.”

“And then what happened?”

“The whole assembly got quiet,” the old man told him. “Everybody’s eyes got big. They all just stared at me. Both teams hated me for saying it, but I know a lot of people secretly agreed with me. Then the Law Master stood up and pointed his long, green finger at me. And he gave me the death sentence.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Gary yelled. “Why would they give somebody the death sentence just for saying something sensible?”

The old man put his finger to his lips. “Don’t say it too loud, bird! They might come for you too!”

“This whole ship is crazy,” Gary said.

“The window is open,” the old man whispered, closing his eyes and resting his chin on his chest. “Fly out the window now.”

“What?” Gary asked.

“Don’t you hear the footsteps?” the old man said, keeping his eyes closed and his head down. “They’re here. They’re outside. They’re coming up the walkway right now.”

Gary jerked his head back and forth. “Can’t you run out the back door? Can’t you go somewhere? It seems like there’s something you could do!”

“No matter where I go, they’ll find me,” said the old man. “Nobody ever gets away from these people. I’ve been around for a long time. I know. There’s nowhere to go, nothing to do. It’s over now. I’m just going to sit here and wait for death. But I wish you luck, little bird. I hope you have some success.”

“No!” Gary cried. “You’re the only sane person here. I don’t want you to die!”

The old man smiled and opened his dark, beady eyes. “Bird, I know why you look familiar now. I know where I’ve seen your face before!”

“What are you talking about?” Gary said, shaking his head. “How is that possible? I’ve lived in the garbage all my life. This is the first day I’ve ever left the basement.”

“I told you we had a good captain when I was a boy,” he said. “Back when things were better. I don’t know what happened to him. But you look just like him. The human part of you, I mean. You know, your face. Your face looks just like his face. You look exactly like him. Same eyes, same nose, same chin, same hair.”

Gary snorted. “But how can that be?”

The front door exploded with a loud crash. Splinters flew all over the carpet. Gary screamed. The old man didn’t move. He just sat there, waiting for death.

“Go,” he urged Gary.

Two men in black suits stomped into the cottage, carrying silver guns. Their heads were bald and smooth. Their skin was light green. Their eyes glowed red. They both opened their mouths at the same time and showed their long, pointed teeth.

“There’s the criminal,” said one.

“Let’s carry out the execution,” said the other.

They raised their guns at the same time.

Gary didn’t want to abandon the old man, but his own self-preservation instinct took over automatically. He jumped off the armrest and flew as hard as he could out the window, into the flurry of Styrofoam snowflakes. Once he was in the air above the cottages, he glanced down and saw white light flash in the window of the old man’s home. He heard a long cry. Gary thought it would be short and quick, but it went on for a long time. The screaming and moaning and weeping seemed to last forever.

Gary cringed but kept on flying.

The Quality of Life in Outer Space is available on Amazon. Gary is an eagle with a human head. He lives on the bottom floor of a spaceship in a room full of garbage. When he looks out the window and sees an asteroid approaching, he takes off on a journey to the top floor to warn the crew. He learns some shocking secrets along the way. The Quality of Life in Outer Space is aimed at younger readers, but adults will enjoy it too. The paperback is $5 plus shipping and handling. The Kindle edition is $1.99. You can click here to order.

Copyright 2016, 2017 Matthew David Curry. All rights reserved.