“And now,” Pretty Dynamo snarled as she spun her shining spear, “I’m gonna waste that turkey!”
It was late fall, and the air was turning cold. Strong winds sent red oak leaves skittering across frost-slicked sidewalks. Overhead, the sky was a sheet of gray steel. The last remnants of a broken and beaten humanity huddled together in their one surviving city as a chill north wind threatened the onset of winter. Slavering monsters full of malice brooded just outside their borders, and only the vigilant magical girls, man’s last hope, could keep the forces of evil at bay. But hope was waning, for the monsters were innumerable, the girls were few, and winter would be cold.
Meanwhile, Jake was in fifth grade. He didn’t belong there, not exactly: his fifteenth birthday was coming soon, and he was supposed to be in his first year of high school, but a computer glitch had erased part of his elementary transcript, and the school system had a rather inflexible way of dealing with such unexpected contingencies.
If there was one thing his return to fifth grade had taught him, it was to hate holidays. Jake had already suffered through a childish Halloween party full of junk food and screaming kids, and now he had to suffer through Thanksgiving. He tried to remember the first time he went through elementary: had he really spent so little time spelling and doing sums, and so much time tracing his hand on construction paper and decorating it to look like a turkey? It was a wonder he was literate. Continue reading “Jake and the Dynamo’s Thanksgiving Parade of Awesomesauce (Part 1)”
Margherita stood by, biting her nails. Tears ran down her cheeks as she stared at all her boxes of ruined pizza. Her eyes flicked back between Jake and Magical Girl Punkin Spice.
“Please,” she pleaded. “Please, no more. Please don’t ruin any more food—”
In spite of the chilly night air, Jake felt sweat forming under his collar. He took another pull on his coffee, but then raised his hands and slowly backed away from Punkin. Her wand still pointed at his chest.
“Wait, hold on,” he said. “You don’t want me to get a taste for pumpkin spice—”
“Oh yes I do,” Punkin whispered. “I want everyone to know the joys of pumpkin spice!”
Jake chuckled nervously. “Look, I don’t know exactly how this kind of thing works, but I’m pretty sure pumpkin spice isn’t my thing. I mean, I’m a guy. I bet I’d have to have a lot more estrogen in my system before I could enjoy something like pumpkin spice—”
Magical Girl Punkin Spice leapt lightly from her broomstick, which with a flash of light shrank into a small dust broom. she clipped it to her belt. Flipping her braided ponytail off her shoulder, she cocked her enormous pointed hat, and her bright blue eyes surveyed the scene. The other magical girls stood tense, and the normal humans slowly backed away. Over near the bubbling cauldron of cider, Pretty Dynamo rested a hand on the wand holstered at her side.
Jake shrugged and took another bite of his pizza. Margherita’s pizza was good when it was cold, too.
“You there!” Punkin at last shouted, jabbing a finger toward him. “What is this blasphemy?”
She marched his way. Jake merely raised an eyebrow and sucked up a wayward strand of mozzarella. “Excuse me?”
This night was unlike any other. A tension, a frisson of excitement hung in the air like that melancholy tingle of expectation before a thunderstorm. The entire city of Urbanopolis, that last refuge of beleaguered humanity, glowed with multicolored lights and resounded with music and chatter. On every stoop grinned a fiery Jack-o’-Lantern eerily flickering with candlelight. Children laughed and ran pell-mell down sidewalks, their boots or sandals slapping against the concrete. Or they gathered in timid clusters, clinging to the hands of longsuffering parents. They wore garish costumes, like fairy creatures arisen from some dark corner of a half-forgotten world: Here was a ghost, there a goblin, there a ballerina in pink lace. Hastily made outfits of cardboard and brown paper crackled and crinkled as their wearers clumsily walked. A few children shivered with cold. Others had, at the behest of nervous mothers, forced themselves into parkas before climbing into their costumes, so they were plump and round as pumpkins under their elaborate dress. The clear sky was black, a hint of frost clung to the air, and the last remaining leaves hung brown and blood red on the trees.
Revenge is sweet, but obligatory Valentine’s Day chocolate is sweeter still.
Jake and Dana’s St. Valentine’s Day Extravaganza
It was late afternoon on St. Valentine’s Day. Now that school was out, Jake and Ralph sat on the floor in front of the couch and played a video game.
The game, specifically, was a port of Magical Girl Rumble for the Nintendo Ultimate. Although not a bad fighting game, it didn’t compare to the arcade version: it had only twenty playable girls instead of thousands, and somebody had decided not to bother taking advantage of the Ultimate’s motion sensor technology, so they had to play the old-fashioned way with handheld controllers.
“Boom!” Ralph shouted as he executed a devastating triple combo with Razor Urchin’s monomolecular filament. “You’re dead, dude. Just a few more hits, and—”
Jake mashed buttons until his Pretty Dynamo avatar jabbed and slashed with her spear, finally pinning Razor Urchin against a bombed-out building. Once Urchin’s health bar slid down to zero, she bounced into the air in slow motion before slamming hard into the pavement.
Jake dropped his controller. “Thank you, thank you. I’m here all night.”
“Ah, you got lucky! Where’s your stash?”
Jake reached behind himself, grabbed a plastic grocery bag off the sofa, and tossed it into Ralph’s lap.
“Ya gotta admit,” Ralph said as he dug through the bag’s contents, “going back to fifth grade has its perks.”
“Easy for you to say.”
“Are you kiddin’? Just look at this haul. I haven’t seen this much obligatory chocolate since—”
Pizza Margherita flew over a desolate, broken landscape. The moon and the twinkling stars offered only a little light. The distant horizon glowed a faint red, but that wasn’t an approaching dawn: it was the glow of lava from the volcanos that had sprung up across the globe during the upheavals of the First Invasion, the onslaught that wiped out most of humanity.
Margherita never veered from her course. The Pie in Sky was swift and silent. The land below was nothing but a dark blur, so Margherita and Pepper were spared the sight of broad plains of glassy sand fused by alien weaponry, of vast seas of rubble that were formerly human cities, and of the bleached bones of the countless dead. Urbanopolis was the Earth’s one remaining habitation. All the rest of the planet was now the tomb of a once-great species.
It was now one in the morning. Smarting from the recent disaster at the Unnatural History Museum, Magical Girl Space Princess Pizza Margherita and her faithful dog Pepper had retired to the Tomato Base, their secret hideout hidden in an old pizzeria down by the docks. This abandoned restaurant had been decidedly run-down when they first found it, but Margherita had spruced up the place. However, the carpet was still full of holes and the old tables were still piled in a corner. Cockroaches occasionally crawled around the floor. The wood-fired brick pizza oven, however, was intact and pristine. It stood behind the short-order bar, where it had been in full view of the customers.
Where a stainless steel kitchen counter had formerly stood, Pepper had installed a massive supercomputer, its surface full of knobs, switches, flashing lights, and blinking screens. Running on PizzaTech, the magic that Pepper had brought to Earth from Planet Italia, this computer required no electricity: it could easily and rapidly perform the most complex calculations as long as it had a steady supply of fresh ingredients. At the moment, Pepper stood on top of the bulky machine and grated a block of mozzarella cheese into its fuel tank. Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 2 of 3”
In honor of National Pizza Day, we present this three-part short story featuring the sauciest—and cheesiest!—magical girl in all of Urbanopolis: Space Princess Pizza Margherita! Enjoy this story I decided to write just now … and did!
Midnight. In the midst of a sea of coldly twinkling stars, the full moon hung over Urbanopolis, and in the Sea of Serenity, the lights of the Eternal Kingdom were steady, clear, and unblinking. Down below, the citizens of man’s last city slumbered peacefully in their beds. It was a cool night, a clear night, a calm night. As the Urbanopolitans love to say, The Moon Princess is in her sailor suit, and all’s right with the world.
But hark! A crash of breaking glass! The lonely, frantic wail of an alarm! Once again, an evildoer has shattered the city’s peace—for there is no rest for the wicked.
In the lavish, velvet-carpeted lobby of the Unnatural History Museum, the night guards made their final stand. Armed only with nightsticks and conventional firearms, they stood no chance against the slavering, vicious horde that skittered through the smashed glass entryway. Foul, greenish beasts, their backs covered in rustling leaves and their insect-like limbs crackling with every twist and bend, poured in like a flood. The guards overturned tables and display cases to set up a barrier, but it did no good. The creatures swept them aside, heedless of the bullets from the guards’ pistols. They picked up screaming men who begged for their lives or called for their mothers, and threw them whole into their slavering maws. Deep in their gullets, the drowning, dying men dissolved in the monsters’ digestive vegetable juices. These monstrosities were neither animal nor mineral: they were the Salad Soldiers, carnivorous plants grown in the volcanic wilds of the Earth’s hollow core. In man’s last days, these fell creatures had ascended to the surface to claim their place as the planet’s new overlords. Continue reading “Pizza Margherita! Part 1 of 3”
This is set in the same universe as my novel in progress. I hope you enjoy. -D.G.D.
The sages tell us that time is a cycle. Epochs and eons arise and pass away, yet always return, for the universe is but one vast, slowly turning wheel. A man’s life is much the same: years flow by, but the same events happen time and time again. A personal example—days pass, and I grow steadily older, but I still regularly find myself flat on my back with a pistol in my face. Formerly, this happened once a month. Now it’s once a week.
The muzzle of the Jericho 941 dug into my forehead, and pain shot across my skull. The pain didn’t distress me, and the finger on the trigger didn’t distress me. What distressed me were my brand new gold-embroidered kurta and pyjama, pressed against the ground and getting dirty. I had just bought these clothes.