Hilda Schlagenhaufer, a woman ruthlessly efficient at both love and war, had been stationed in the Australian outback for months. It was terribly hot, but her cold German heart kept the sunstroke at bay as she studied the subjects in her charge. Despite her best efforts, however, little progress had been made.
“Yes, their wings have grown in splendidly.” She reminded the head of the biology department. “But the problem remains that they don’t know how to use them!”
Hilda, in her frustration, had even taken to drinking a homemade solution of fermented eucalyptus. She was often seen after dark, yelling at the test subjects, drunk and smelling of cough drops.
One morning Hilda awoke to the sounds of screaming and rushed expectantly from her tent.
“It’s done!” She triumphantly reported that afternoon. “The saltwater crocodiles are flying! We are truly the masters of land, sea, and sky this day!”
As the heavy rains fell, the waters rose into roiling deathtraps; cliffs turned to waterfalls, ditches turned to creeks, and creeks turned into even bigger creeks. Mega-creeks. Jules looked out the window at the brown, churning flow of water running through her backyard. It looked like something out of Willy Wonka’s nightmare.
“A good day to stay inside.” She muttered to her cats.
There was a knock at the door. Jules pulled her bathrobe tighter and answered.
“Juliet!” Her sour-mouthed neighbor, Gladys was on the porch. “Is that how you always answer the door?!” Jules frowned.
“Did you need something?”
“Yes! President Poopkins got through your fence and fell into your creek! Since you’re unemployed and never busy you have to go out there and save him!”
“Oh I totally would, Gladie!” Jules grinned. “But you see… I have to wash my hair.” And with that she slammed the door.
Nadia knew just one thing as the nurse passed the ultrasound over her exposed belly for yet another peek: this baby was not her’s. She knew it sounded crazy but she was quite sure that though the fetus was growing in her body, she was not the mother.
“Do you want to know the sex?” The nurse asked sweetly.
“That’s alright. I’ll find out soon enough.”
Back in her car, Nadia struggled to pull herself together. What was she going to tell her friends? Her family? She hadn’t been in a relationship for over a year and though the idea of Immaculate Conception occurred to her, it didn’t feel like that was the case.
She glanced down at her belly, which was just beginning to show.
“Whose baby are you?” She whispered.
Nadia froze. A voice was coming from inside her, muffled, but still audible.
“I am… not….… a baby….”
Orville Reading, whose official title was Implementer of Future Technologies and Worldwide Social and Strategic Developments Coordinator – or so it said on his business card – was waiting patiently for his copies to finish. The actual content of them was worthless, but each day he made over three thousand copies because it sounded like work.
Of course, since no one had checked up on Orville since he had been hired three years ago, this busy work was purely a formality.
Orville had also taken to leaving the copier lid open while his documents were scanned; he had become convinced that the endless flashing lights, if looked at long enough, would show him his future. After several hours he would become very lightheaded and giddy.
“You have retinal cancer.” His doctor told him at his appointment six months later. “And I’m afraid it’s terminal.”
“I think… I already knew that.” Orville smirked.
“Cinderella! Dressed in yella! Went upstairs to kiss her fella! Made a mistake and kissed a snake! HOW MANY DOCTORS WILL IT TAKE? One! Two! Three!…”
The chanting on the playground grew fainter as Gabbie wandered off the blacktop. She didn’t like the yelling or the whipping jump ropes. When she was alone Gabbie stopped to pick a dandelion.
“Wishing won’t get you anywhere!” A little boy was watching her. He had a bruised cheek and it looked like he’d been crying. “Take it from me. Every day I wish the other boys would leave me alone but they don’t.”
“Maybe you’ve just been wishing for the wrong things.” Gabbie twirled the globe of white seeds between her fingers and smiled. “I have an idea.” She grabbed the boy’s hand and whispered in his ear. “We’ll say it together, ok?”
“One… two… three… WE WISH EVERYONE BUT US WAS DEAD!”