Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sal heard ripping.
Sal didn't like that sound.
Especially when that sound was coming from her living room, which a certain someone had been explicitly told to stay out of, not just by her, but by every authority he'd recognized. Em had even programmed him a dream where Captain Cannonball of sugar-cereal fame told him to stay out of the living room. If anything should've stopped him that would've been it.
And yet, clearly, he was in the living room.
She muttered something unprintable as she grabbed the flyswatter and stomped down the hall. That little shredding machine on legs was going to get it this time, especially if it was the curtains.
“It's not the curtains!” said the twelve step “Bright side of things” course in the back of her head and the top of her fridge underneath the phone book. “It's... a recording! Sure! Let's go with that!”
She didn't believe the twelve step course, but belief was the first step.
“It's not the curtains. It's not the curtains. It's not the curtains.” She repeated slowly, as she walked down the hall.
It was the curtains.
She wasn't surprised. Score one for pessimism.
Why was it always the curtains?
Sal stared at the seemingly innocuous little ball of metal, quivering at her expected wrath, then looked back at the torn shreds of blue ribbon that had been her new curtains. Had been. For the third time this week.
The quivering little ball stopped quivering and held stock still.
“Kevlar,” she repeated, with more of the very-angry-mother tone she'd somehow picked up between now and when she'd met this little ball of... fun. Yes. Fun. “I know that that's you.”
“Not.” The voice didn't look like it's coming from the ball, but it was.
“Not! Kevlar sleeping upstairs.”
“No, Kevlar is not sleeping upstairs.”
“Kevlar in kitchen, helping.”
“Kevlar is not in the kitchen, helping.” And he wouldn't be any time in the near future either, if she had anything to say about it. Cleaning batter off of the ceiling fan once was quite enough, thank you very much. “Kevlar is on my living room floor, where he shouldn't be, underneath my new curtains, which he was not allowed to touch, which have also, somehow, gotten shredded. That's where Kevlar is.”
“Kevlar not touch curtains.” The ball unrolled, and the little robot sat on her floor, looking up at her guiltily. “Kevlar only look.”
“If Kevlar was only looking, then who, pray tell, ripped my curtains?”
“Josephus isn't here.”
“Yep! Josephus rip curtains, run. Not here!”
“Josephus hasn't been here for three hours.”
“Josephus run very fast.”
Sal sighed. Time for Kevlar logic. “Kevlar, I'm a detective. You know what that means?”
“Not care.” Kevlar started picking something out of his claws. She didn't know what it was, but the twelve step optimist course assured her that it was not tiny bits of her curtains that would get scattered all over the house for the next 8 hours or so.
“It means,” she said, completely serious, “That I have psychic powers, and I can read your mind.”
“Can! You're thinking...” She closed her eyes and waved her hand in a very psychic way. “That I can't read you mind.”
The robot stared, completely silent for a moment, stuck in something midway between shock and awe, then slowly put his claws on top of his head. “Can't read through hands.”
“Can.” She put a little extra spite into the word, mostly fueled by the sight of the curtain bits stuck in his claws that he'd been trying to remove. The twelve step optimist course had nothing to say.
“Ok. Think something very hard, Mr not supposed to be in the living room anyway.”
He closed his eyes. She watched him for five seconds or so, smiling, before she finally spoke.
“Captain Cannonball.”
Kevlar almost fell over. “Hu-min cheat!”
“I didn't cheat. You would've noticed if I'd cheated.” She held her hands up, smiling and shaking her head. “Admit it. I'm psychic.”
“Not cheat?” Kevlar looked skeptical. “How know?”
“You're not listening, boltbrain. I'm psychic. Telepathic. Clairvoyant. Magical.” Sal did a sparkly motion with her hands on the last word. “And what's more, I can tell that you weren't just thinking about Captain Cannonball.”
The little robot started to look scared.
“You had a dream the other day, didn't you? Captain Cannonball came, and gave you cereal, and told you to stay out of my living room. You remember that, don't you? Of course you do, you were thinking about it!”
Kevlar panicked and backed up against the wall, hiding behind the shredded curtains. “No! Don't remember! Forgot! Didn't have! Not think! Hu-min stay out Kevlar head!” he wailed. “Don't like psi-kick!”
“I'm right!” She crowed. “And what's more, I can tell what you did! I see it in your mind! Admit it, Kevlar! You. Shredded. My. Curtains. You came in here, and climbed up the back of the couch, and jumped off to shred the curtains. Your mind tells all!”
“No more psi-kick! Admit! Admit! Admit curtains!”
“Good.” She crossed her arms. “And you know what happens when you shred the curtains. Time out.”
He finally peered out from behind the tattered ribbons. “Have to?”
“Have to.”
“Don't want.”
“Shouldn't have shredded my curtains then.”
“Have to now?”
“Yes. Now.” She waved the flyswatter at him menacingly. “Or flyswatter and no dessert.”
He put his hands over his head again. “No flyswatter. Going now.”
“Good.” She barely resisted kicking the little robot as he walked out of the room. She breathed in, and out, just like she'd learned from the twelve step optimist course. He'll go do it. He'll do it quietly. She'd have an hour of quiet. Just one hour. One.
“...Curtains ugly anyway. Better now.”
She stared at him for a moment, twitching. He did not just...
“Oh, that is it!”
In retrospect, Kevlar's grip on the ceiling was rather impressive.
The holes he left in it were slightly less so.
But the twelve step optimist course made for wonderful replacement curtains.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


There was a dinosaur in the fridge.
Amy stared at it, somewhat surprised.
It stared back for a moment, completely unsurprised, then went back to eating her lunch.
“Whatever it is, it's not my fault,” he shouted from two rooms away.
The dinosaur finished off the sandwich, and swiveled in the confined space, looking for other tupperwared prey. She was amazed at how small it was; it couldn't have been more than a foot high. And it was clearly a meat eater, looking at it's teeth and claws. This was definitely no ordinary dinosaur... as ordinary as any dinosaur could be.
“I'm coming already!”
A huge crashing, clanging noise sounded from the other room. The dinosaur perked up it's head at that, alert and looking for danger. Apparently the winged figure five or six times it's size didn't count, since it soon enough went back to trying to bite through the lid of the leftover chicken.
Crash sauntered casually in. “Jack's a bit tied up. What's the problem?”
“There's a dinosaur in the fridge.” She stepped away, allowing him to see inside. “I'd like to know how it got there, and what it's doing with my lunch.”
Crash stopped short for a moment, wide eyed, until his brain finally registered that snakes do not have legs, and therefore this was not a snake. “R-right. Let me have a look at the little guy...” He put his hand into the fridge, very slowly reaching for the bipedal lizard.
The thing whirled, snarling, and jumped for his hand. He pulled back just in time to avoid losing a chunk of his thumb. The tiny thing tumbled out of the fridge and landed on the tile floor, looking slightly confused, until it decided that Crash's sandaled feet were the ideal prey.
Ten seconds later, Amy sighed as Crash stood precariously on top of the table. “What, the mighty black belt can't take something that tiny?”
“It's a dinosaur. I was never trained to deal with dinosaurs.” Not to mention it looked very much like a snake from that angle.
“You were never trained to deal with Fixit either.” She offered the thing a piece of chicken, which it took quite happily. “You know, it's actually kind of cute.”
“I'm here! I'm...” Jack skidded into the room, a wire wrapped around one leg still, and stopped dead in his tracks. “Dinosaur.”
“Yeah.” She scratched it's head, and it made a noise almost like purring.
“Tiny dinosaur.”
“Tiny vicious dinosaur. It almost took a chunk of my hand!” Crash spoke from atop the table.
“You just scared it is all.”
“Where did it come from?” Jack reached out a hand to examine the thing, and winced at the sound of it's teeth trying to bite through his metal gloves. He drew back.
“That's what I was hoping you could tell me, actually.” She shifted, the movement of her wings catching the attention of the dinosaur. It started moving slowly across the floor, ignoring the promise of chicken, stalking her feathers. She laughed at it. “It's cute, don't you think?”
“Yeah, cute in a deadly predator sort of way,” muttered Crash as he started to climb down.
Jack watched it from a distance as Amy lifted her wings out of it's reach, making it jump and claw at the air. “Where'd you find it?”
“In the fridge.” She wasn't really paying attention to him so much as she was the dinosaur, which tumbled to the ground in a manner entirely too adorable for it's species.
“How'd it get there?”
“I'm blaming Fixit,” said Crash.
“If you weren't hiding on the table, I'd blame you,” muttered Jack. “Fixit!”
The little robot burst out of the microwave in a cloud of powdered sugar and saluted, startling all present, dinosaur included. It darted under the table again.
“Fixit, there's a dinosaur in the fridge.”
Fixit went to the fridge, opened it, and stuck his head inside. He shrugged.
“It's not in the fridge anymore.” Jack sighed. “How'd it get there?”
The sugar-covered robot turned away from the fridge, looked at Jack for a moment with an air of puzzlement, and then pointed to Crash.
“Crazy robot, it wasn't me!” Crash looked indignant.
Fixit made a motion which, had he been human, would've been the equivalent of sticking out his tongue at Crash. The man almost returned the favor.
“Well, then,” Jack said, glaring at them, “who was it?”
Crash and Fixit pointed at each other again. “It was him!”
Amy knelt, coaxing thing out from under the table with a bit of chicken. “Come on, little guy.” The little thing came out and let her pet it as it gnawed on the chicken. She laughed. “There you go.”
Jack made a mental note to give Amy a raise, and tack 'dinosaur whisperer' onto her job title.
“So we don't know where he came from then,” she sighed. “Guess we'll have to keep him.”
“No!” said Jack and Crash simultaneously, Crash being the more empathetic of the two.
“I mean,” Jack coughed, “I'm sure we can find out. After all, the security system should be able to tell us something.”
“We need to give him a name.” Amy was ignoring both her coworker and her employer. “How about... Turnip?”
“Turnip the dinosaur.” Crash was unimpressed. “And don't give it a name, you'll start getting attached to it!”
“Turnip the tinysaurus.”
Jack looked distressed. “I... Um... You can't...”
Fixit knelt, looking at the dinosaur. He offered his hand, and the dinosaur sniffed it, got powdered sugar up it's nose and started sneezing. Amy laughed. “See? They'll get along fine.”
“But it's... it's a...” Crash gestured vaguely. “It's a dinosaur! A bloodthirsty killer!”
“Oh, don't worry, he likes me!”
“For breakfast!”
“Quit being silly, Crash.” Jack pressed a few buttons on his visor, accessing the security system remotely. “Security system's got nothing on it. Apparently a dinosaur just spontaneously ended up in the fridge... somehow...”
“That's not even possible,” muttered Crash, as he very gently stepped down to the floor, trying not to attract the attention of the toe-eating monster.
“I'll keep it,” she declared. “My apartment building allows pets.”
“What? But...” Crash took a few quick steps back as the dinosaur looked his way. “Ok fine just keep it away from me.”
Jack shrugged. “Go ahead, I think it'll be fine.”
She smiled at it as it went after her wings again. “Turnip. Good name for a dinosaur.” She waved a bit of chicken at it, and it followed her dutifully out of the room.
Jack, Crash, and Fixit stared after her. A moment later, Crash looked at Jack, his voice low.
“How long did you spend rehearsing that?”
“Two hours,” he said without even looking at him.
“...You suck.”
“Says you, Mr. Afraid-of-snakes.” Jack took off his visor and handed it to Fixit, who put it on his head.“Now if you'll excuse me, Amy is out a lunch, and I'm going to buy her a new one.”
As he strolled casually out of the room, Crash could only think of one good side to this.
More blackmail.