Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Beyond Sky

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Where the other kids watched Orion and the Great Bear, Megan saw right through them. In the forever dome above the forgotten Drive-In out back she lost herself for hours until her mother’s shouting called her in to bed. Her black ballet slipper sort of shoes felt over the crumbly grey asphalt while tufts of brown grass tickled her chin and every three yards a steel pole rose from the ground, chips of pink paint clinging to the parts that weren’t rough with rust. Green and yellow wires poked out from many of the poles. She only knew the colors from the daytime. They were all shadow on shadow now. Severed from their voiceboxes, they stood only waiting for the end of the world, bearing witness for their dilapidated screen which was on its last behind them.

Megan grabbed a pole a swung herself slowly around it, knowing the scratchy surface like she knew her own bed. Her eyes were fixed beyond the stars peering hard into the black you only got out here in the abandoned town.

She wanted to blow the top off the sky just to see what was on the other side of the universe.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Those Darned Aliens

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Saltwater got them drunk, so you can imagine what they felt when they discovered Earth. Imagine humans discovering a planet with vast oceans of rum. Didn’t matter that it was peppered with tons of fish poo, that rum was going to be drunk. To hell with “Take me to your leader.” The Sock Monsters of Becky’s World made big time deals with the first bozos they found, usually fishermen, to export our seas in little shiploads.

“Say, you can’t do that,” the rest of the world said. “You don’t own the oceans.”

“Neither do you,” replied the fishermen. “Don’t piss us off or we’ll sic our alien pals on you.” The rest of the world backed off. They didn’t really need to argue. The Sock Monsters were an undisciplined lot. They drank more saltwater than they moved so they were loaded long before their ships were. They got into crazy drunken fights, rending one another to tatters. We actually made out well on the deal, selling the aliens tons of thread once their medical supplies ran out.

They bankrupted themselves here, every last patchy drunk of them and eventually, with all the Terran thread coursing through their bodies, they became more Earther than Becky’s Worlder. The fight had gone out of them. They were pulled in by the net-load and wound out their days in ignominy, wrapping the feet of fishermen’s children throughout hundreds of Atlantic coastal villages.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Blame It

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

They danced slow but bouncy in a little bar in Lisbon - some bossa nova on an ancient juke box - her retro nineties haircut doing a fair forgery of a retro sixties haircut, her short dress nearly as passable in the dim light and Manny let himself be taken back to fall in love with another woman who didn’t even exist, but bounced here in front of him just the same.

Then Astrud’s soft and foggy vocal faded, the moment was gone, and he felt a sadness for a loss that would come back to haunt him now and again for the rest of his life.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Extremely Brief First Marriage Of Martin Rainer

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The twenty-third century saw limitless wonders and Martin was able to do things that no one from any previous time could have done, like marry a woman made of soup.

Upon returning from his disastrous honeymoon, her mother, a vat of boiling water, wept uncontrollably (although no one would have known if she hadn't told them). No criminal charges were pressed, but the girl's father, a weird conglomeration of dried pasta, chicken and veggies, sued Martin for everything he had. He contended that Martin should have known better than to bring his new bride on a jaunt four-hundred years away in Victorian London. On the very first day the poor thing was slurped into oblivion by a wild pack of street urchins.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sexy Pants

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Marilyn wouldn’t give Daryl the pleasure of her company outside of work but she did love the way he sometimes called her Sexy Pants. Then came the day she caught him in the sack doing it with her red slacks and Marilyn realized that she wasn’t Sexy Pants at all.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Stick With Me, Baby

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

There was a reason Johnny ate all that paste in school, although it wasn’t evident until he met Roxanne in first grade. She colored within the lines, got picked first for kickball and had been known to partake of a couple of pots of paste before breakfast herself. She was everything he wanted in a woman. He sidled up to her in class one day and never sidled back down. There was so much paste in their systems that it oozed from their pores and when they made physical contact their skin fused into one.

They were brought to a surgeon who cut them apart and grafted some skin wherever he saw red stuff, but when Roxanne left her hospital bed to stick herself back onto Johnny, the adults in their lives gave up. They were married for propriety’s sake, but honestly, the way they were stuck together, they couldn’t have tried anything naughty even if they had thought of it. Johnny and Roxanne sought out like-minded individuals, the greatest paste eaters that the nation’s elementary schools had to offer, and whenever it felt right another kid would stick himself or herself to them. Before they were done, they were a human blob, four-hundred and sixty-seven children strong. Governments world-wide feared that this might be the next step in human evolution, humans grouping together like cells to form an even higher life-form. But the truth was, humanity had nothing to fear.

I mean, these kids couldn’t even go to the bathroom properly.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Aside! Aside!

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

He (And by “he” I mean me (or perhaps I should (and will) say I (aye(!)))) loved (I just use the past tense here because of story telling convention (not that I’m (as the writer, not the narrator) a slave (watch out, we’re in the middle of a cliché here (Jeez (a euphemism for Jesus (The big (not overweight (at least I don’t think so (It’s not like I ever met him or anything (I mean, we lived nearly two-thousand years apart (Well, one-thousand, nine-hundred, and sixty-nine (don’t think you’re dirty thoughts around here) (1969 (MCMLXIX)) years apart to be exact (Wait, he was born in year one (1 (I)), wasn’t he? Not year zero (They wouldn’t name a year zero (0 (?(The Romans didn’t have a zero (Lousy Romans (Picture me shaking my fist right here (at the Romans)))))) (or would they?) (Comic books have number zeroes though (drives me crazy (and they don’t always come first in the series either (What the hell is that all about anyway?(!)))) don’t they?)) (We had a whole thing about that around two-thousand (2000 (MM)) and two-thousand and one(2001 (: A Space Odyssey (!))(MMI))) so really, we’re talking about one-thousand, nine-hundred, and sixty eight (1968 (MCMLXVIII)) years apart, aren’t we? (And that’s from his birth to mine (rather than his death to my birth (And all of this is giving the church the benefit of the doubt on this calendar thing (Wait a minute, why didn’t they make his birthday January first (1 (Ist) st) instead of December twenty-fifth (25 (XXVth)th? (I mean if you’re going to fuck up the whole calendar, why take half measures?))))) (And I want to be exact))))), but prominent) Christ guy, not the gardener), I like to think I’m a better writer than that)) to convention) not because he (I) doesn’t (don’t) love her in the present (Because he (I) does (do(!))!)) her.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cardboard Delight

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Dominic was tired of everyone saying his pizza tasted like cardboard. To prove that it didn’t, he made a type of cardboard that tasted like pizza. Once all of his customers tasted that cardboard, he figured, they would have to admit that his pizza tasted like pizza, because that’s how his cardboard tasted. Are you following me? I guess it doesn’t really matter at this point, does it? No one went so far as to say his pizza tasted like pizza, but his pizza sold like crazy after that. Nobody dined in, though. They all bought his pizza just to eat the box it came in.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The homes of that late gilded age were built twelve-hundred layers thick and a man like Daiquiri had to spend a fortune like his father’s in order to be able to properly house his bride. She was a monstrous, toad-like creature, but she was all that was left after the bridal rush of sixty-eight. His horse had melted in the equatorial heat and while all the other young men strode in to swoop up brides on their wet-weasels (not otters, mind you, but wet-weasels), he had arrived on foot, days later with a choice between some maggoty looking things and his soon to be bride. Just as well, for once he’d made his choice, his fiancée slurped up her competition with her fleshy straw-like tongue. He’d gotten a two-for-one deal.

Now in their new home, she was all over the walls, all of the time, tearing through layer after layer until Daiquiri became sick to his stomach. The paisley had been swept clean of the walls almost before he saw it, then the striped blue, the multi-colored polka-dots and dozens more. He was aghast. At this rate he’d be penniless inside of a week. Her sticky, super-tactile toes, it seems, found something unbearable about each and every paper, whether it was to be blamed on the color or the surface. This one burned and that one itched and how could she ever walk on her own walls in comfort? Paper after paper hit the floor as fast as the servants could gather it up and dispose of it.

“Not to worry,” Daiquiri told himself between heavy, dry breaths. “I’ll be dead before I’m bankrupt. My heart will stop any moment now, I’m certain of it.” But it didn’t stop. He even pounded on his chest once or twice to help it along, but to no avail.

“Sir, if I may?” his manservant, Hoeltag, ventured.

“What is it, Hoeltag?”

“Well, sir, if I’m not mistaken, the lady’s love was won outside her native tire caves on the edge of the far eastern desert.”

“Yes, what of it?”

“Would the lady not be more allowing of a surface not unlike that to which she was accustomed?”

After a sudden intake of breath, Daiquiri clapped his hands. “Excellent, Hoeltag! Give yourself a pat on the back, but not before you strip the tires from every last rubberlad in the barrows!”

“Very good, sir!”

The word went out and hill-dwelling rubberlads from near and far were rounded up and flayed, their treaded skins applied to the walls of Daiquiri’s home. His blushing (or maybe that was a fungus) bride calmed immediately and fell asleep on the drawing room wall. Daiquiri collapsed with relief and exhaustion. A sizable fraction of his inheritance had been saved. Now he could settle down to the life of a country gentleman with his remarkably ugly wife.


“Yes, sir?”

“I’ve changed my mind. Strip the walls.”

“Very good, sir.”

Daiquiri pounded upon his chest with renewed vigor.

Monday, January 14, 2008


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

What they’d been after was a creature that was half human/half chicken. Why? I don’t know. Maybe the colonel wanted super-sized drumsticks or something. What they got was one remarkable deviant and a chicken that had to be put down for humanitarian reasons.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Stretching For Victory

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Gunther had heard you should always stretch before a race and since he had come in last place in every race he’d run for the last three years, he figured it couldn’t hurt. From the C.I.A. gift shop he bought one of those stretchy racks that you see in movies about medieval times and after a couple of sessions, he was ready to compete. In the 500 meter the following Saturday, he felt better than he ever had before. His muscles were well-tuned machines, free of cramps, and he won the race handily. It hadn’t hurt that his legs were two feet longer than they’d ever been.

If a little stretching was good, then a lot of stretching was great, right? He stretched his legs to fifty meters long for the 100 meter dash and won the race in a couple of strides, breaking all records in the doing.

Poor Gunther was killed a month later by a passenger jet while he was training for a marathon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bent Objects

I just found out about this site from both BoingBoing and Neatorama and it is fantastic.

Terry Border creates brilliantly funny scenes with household objects and wire. Check it out!


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Day was light and Ned was fine with all of that, but night should be dark and Ned meant really dark. He didn’t want the street lights or house lights or anything else. He wanted dark. A spasmodic episode with a pen one day at the office gave him an idea. Wite-Out makes everything it touches white against a white background. What he needed was Blak-Out.

Thirty years later, he had it. The black goo itself really only took a few minutes to make, black paint with some flour for thickener. The time consuming part was the spongy applicator. as soon as that was done, Ned took to dabbing his goo on everything (that sounds worse than it actually was). He blacked out all of the man-made lights he could see at night. Unfortunately he lived next to the Interstate and there were multiple accidents and pile-ups when the vehicles lost the use of their headlights. More chaos as Ned blacked out the flashing red lights that soon followed. People wanted to know what the hell was going on, but they couldn’t see to find out. Their cellphone lights - blacked out. Lighters and flashlights - blacked out. Soon even the stars seemed to go out as Ned neatly dabbed at each one. Astronomers across he country went nuts over that.

The pile-ups made for minor news in the Eastern hemisphere the next day. The media there was instead preoccupied with the black-speckled sky and why the Great Hunter had decided to come out during the day for the first time in all the thousands of years that people had known him.

Friday, January 11, 2008


by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Bob was a regular guy, and by that, I don’t mean he was average. I mean he had some seriously loose bowels. The guy could pass a baseball and not realize it until he looked down. He thought nothing of mentioning this in casual conversation and because of that, Bob really didn’t have anything that could be called a social life. He stopped buying planners years ago because he had no plans. He was just a man alone in the world, hoping to find a cheese that might bind him, even just a little.

One night his central heating stopped working and when he awoke in the morning he was on the verge of popsiclehood. As always, he had to run to the toilet. It wasn’t so much a run this time as a stumble. He could no longer feel his feet and he was wrapped in all of his blankets. He seated himself and forgot everything else but the cold-so-cold that pierced his very bones. Bob fantasized about eliminating this icy mass that seemed to sit in his gut. There was an odd shifting in his organs and he felt warm suddenly, like experiencing a hot flash. What happened? He stood, relieved, and looked down. There in his toilet sat a huge chunk of ice.

He checked the thermostat. The heat was still off, but he felt warm. He’d eliminated the cold, just as he’d wished. No, that was insane. The ice must have been there already, it was that flipping cold in here. Maybe it wasn’t, the ice was already melting. He had to test it. How else? What else did he want to eliminate from his body? From his life? How about that spare tire? It was crazy, but what else did he have to do? He sat back down and thought about it.

There came more motion within, things changing places as if his intestines were being rerouted and hooked up to something new. After a movement that made even Bob sweat, he rose to discover an actual spare tire in his toilet. It wasn’t full-sized, just a doughnut that you’d get with a new car, but it was still impressive. More importantly, his belly had shrunk. He could actually see abs!

There was one more thing, an hysterical thought in a morning full of hysterical thoughts. He pulled the tire out of the can (It was quite clean, thankfully) and took his position. He considered. Things altered within him and he felt a tug in his chest. When he was done, Bob felt better than he could ever remember feeling. In the toilet, half floating on the water, was a pile of gray ash. He was so glad to be rid of it. It had dogged him for years, and he’d never fully known its weight until he was free of it. He flushed away his loneliness.

He jumped when the phone in the bedroom rang. It had been so long he’d forgotten the sound. Bob wiped fast and ran to answer it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Earth Science

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The whole thing is quite embarrassing, really, the real cosmology. What happened was that Earth and Air had been going together forever. Well, not forever, but billions of years at least and although they could still stir up some dust, their love lives had sort of dried out. But they knew this other couple, right? A real steamy pair called Water and Fire who wanted to swing. Earth invited them over and they sat on the sectional and watched a John Travolta movie (The one where he dances). Then things got hot and heavy. They tried things they’d never even read about.

Sadly, when they woke up the next morning, they found themselves stuck together, tangled up so deeply with one another that they couldn’t get themselves out of it. Fire had to call out sick from his job and his boss was pissed. Fire was inside Earth, Earth had Water on top of her and Air was wrapped around all of them. It was Naked Twister from Hell. Worse yet, both Earth and Water found themselves pregnant. The babies were born by the thousands and crawled all over their parents without knowing it. The Elements tried hard not to make a noise so the kids wouldn’t catch them in this awkward position.

And so it’s been for a few billion years. Their plan wasn’t perfect, of course. Poor Fire has to come up to breathe every now and again and Earth gets cramps that make her jerk violently. Water’s fat since the pregnancy has jiggled without end. She claims she’s not fat, that it’s just water retention and, well, by definition of her being, she’s right, they can’t argue with that. Air is in such a position that all their movement drives him nuts and he experiences whirlwind orgasms on a regular basis.

He’s a perv.

Of course, the ancient Greeks had the whole thing figured out and later civilizations just laughed at them. But you know how the Greeks were. This theory of everything fit their lifestyles like few others would. A cosmic clusterfuck would have been right up their alley.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Secret Lives Of Sinister Shoes

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

A shoe is a bad thing by itself, without a human master to foot it. Its basic function is to step on things and that’s how it sees the world. “Look at that!” it says. “Oooo, I’ll bet I could step all over that!” It is one of the lowest things to the ground and yet it seeks to climb, always, by stepping on other things. It’ll step on your grandmother, given a third of a chance. When confronted, it denies everything and blames everything on a so-called evil twin, a mirror image of itself.

Shoes, left on their own, burrow beneath the ground during the day and lie in wait. When you hear faraway laughter, you can bet it’s a shoe, somewhere below. A shoe doesn’t need to sleep and so it spends the day thinking about its former master or mistress, thinks about them frantically spouting, “Where’s my shoe? Have you seen my shoe?” And this makes it giggle incessantly. Evil things, shoes.

At night it comes out and joins with other fugitive shoes. They run in packs, but mostly stick to their own breed, as stilettos can’t keep up with tennis shoes and penny-loafers are the natural enemies of flip-flops. If you’re bothered by a screeching cat outside your window at night you can take some comfort in knowing that it’s probably screeching because it’s just been trampled by a pack of wild pumps. There is a tiny bit of good in everything.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Keys To The Yellow Kingdom

You can read my latest story, "The Keys to the Yellow Kingdom," in the new issue of Challenging Destiny (#25), available at You can preview the beginning of my story at the bottom of the page and buy the issue if you like it. Check it out:

Hope you enjoy it!

Frog Magnet

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

I mean, just when we thought everything had been invented, along comes the frog magnet. Just as the magnets that you and I have come to know and love, the ones that live on our refrigerators and such, are sweet on iron, so the frog magnet was sweet on frogs. Its inventor was a lady named Shirley whose pet frog had died many years before when her big brother tore its legs off. After years of experimentation, Shirley had been able to reattach the severed legs of a lab frog through the use of tiny frog magnets implanted in the test subject. Yes, different parts of the frog kept sticking to its own hips, but a life was saved and that’s all that mattered. Now little girls everywhere would be spared the heartbreak of torn-apart pet frogs. And only twenty-seven thousand frogs had to die in its discovery.

The technology moved on to other uses in the hands of other people, as technologies do. People used frog magnets to catch frogs that had hopped into their houses. Catching tadpoles had never been so easy and kids actually grew bored with the sport. Sadists created monstrous frog conglomerates, attaching hundreds of frogs to one another to make one great green blob of croaking, slimy yuchiness. Perhaps the most sinister application came about when DARPA researchers reversed the magnet’s polarity and created the FL-16, the Frog Launcher. That War on Terror they’d been on about for the past thirty years? Wrapped up within a month. Yes, it sounded too easy, but you try getting hit by ninety frogs a minute traveling at six-hundred miles an hour. That’ll take it out of you, my friend.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Such Genius Like You've Never Seen Before

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Dave was a genius. Dave was such a genius that only Dave knew Dave was a genius. He felt bad for everyone else. They couldn’t see the obvious. Problem was that Dave wasn’t very good at math or clever with words. He couldn’t come up with brilliant ideas or even dance very well. His only genius lay in the fact that he could see his own genius (which was the ability to see his own genius), so he couldn’t show anyone else what a genius he was by doing a trick or hyper-cubing a hyper-sphere or even reciting Robert Frost. The rest of them, his family, his friends, his coworkers at the the bottle washing plant, would never know what mental power stood in their presence.

Poor bastards.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Puppy Dog Capital Of The World!

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The people of Andover plant their dogs about a month after the first thaw. The kids in school will fill a milk carton with soil and stick a single farm grown embryo in it, bringing it home for their moms when the tiny hairless snout first sprouts in time for Mother’s Day. The farmers, though will throw a good eight to ten zygotes in together about a half finger deep and repeat, spacing holes about two feet apart from one another. Water and sunlight and a hell of a lot manure and come August you’ve got yourself a field of thriving dogbushes. A single bush will bear a whole litter, little puppies squirming at the end of their fur covered, bony branches.

The farmers try to maintain a quiet farm, but every now and again, some rambunctious teenagers will drive by, honking away in a stolen car and the fields erupt with high pitched yipping that will drive a man mad as it doesn’t quiet down until dusk. Come September the pups are finally ripe. Migrant workers from Vermont come in for the picking. They pluck each soft, warm puppy from the bush and toss them over their shoulders into great wicker baskets strapped to their backs.

From the farms most of the yield is shipped to western Connecticut for use in cocktail parties (hors d’œuvres), but the locals keep the pick of the harvest for tasty pies.

The tails are shipped to New Jersey for the making of little boys.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

And That's When You Walked In

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The clouds came rushing in at me, dark grey and angry. They meant to dampen my clothes and so they did. I felt so bad, I apologized. Not just for flipping them off and sleeping with their cloud wives but for everything I’d ever done to anyone. Thus began a litany of my sins presented orally all the day and half the night. By the time I had finished I raised my head to a clear and starry sky. Even the clouds had grown bored

I craved ketchup.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Eighth Age

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

Sorry! This story has been removed. But you can read it at Everyday Weirdness beginning on August 12th, 2009, and forever thereafter. Just look here:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thursday Only! Big Sale On Question Marks!

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The actors, what were they doing when they sparked like that? Was it all up to them? Or were they controlled by that hideous acting bug? What about the writers and the writing bug? And the accountants and the accounting bug? What if some evil person who got bitten by the evil-doing bug, sprayed all the various bugs with insecticide? Would all the passion die then?

Are we all just slaves to our bugs? Is my love for Yara just the Yara bug scrambling up my unsuspecting pant leg? How many crunchy little exoskeletons had I stepped in this long/short life of mine? How many thoraxes sent squirting through abdomens? Did I crush a dream with each stomp? Is that why there are so many miserable people in the world? Because people are so afraid of bugs? Because people are so afraid of passions that they step on them at the slightest movement?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Goatway

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

The Earl of Thrice’s castle wasn’t sealed off exactly. It was wide open to the road but no one ever left. No one ever came in. Traders catapulted their wares over the walls and their payments were lowered from the battlements in baskets. The reason for all of this? The goatway.

The goatway was a gateway . . . made of goats. Neither man nor beast would pass through it. It smelled, for one thing. And you might get plopped upon by goat poo for another. When the Duke of One-Derful attacked, he thought it would be a simple matter to take the castle. Little did he know that not a one of his men would go through the front door. He had to lay siege to the place as if there wasn’t a great big hole in the wall already. Since he hadn’t come prepared for a proper siege, he was forced to head home. However, the trip was not a total loss. The Duke found himself bound and gagged by inspiration.

If a single goatway could befuddle an army such as his, think of what an entire castle made of goats could do! He began work immediately and many a goatherd became wealthy as the walls went up. The Duke even surrounded the castle with a goat moat. He became the most invincible ruler in the land. His people were well fed as they milked the walls regularly and often slaughtered bits of the ever growing castle for food and clothing. You can imagine, if you pack that many goats together that tightly, they’re going to be getting it on left and right. The people even had plenty of excess supplies to sell to neighboring lands.

A local Baron attempted to steal the Duke’s thunder by building his own castle from cows but everyone agreed that was just ridiculous and his people refused to involve themselves in such a farce.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update 12/30/07

Hey isn't this two days late? Yes, and not only that but December was a big bust! I got next to nothing accomplished this past month, save for a few blog entries. You might think I’d be disheartened, but looking back on past Decembers, I don’t feel too badly. I’ve had some crappy Decembers (In terms of writing productivity) followed by some fantastic Januaries. So, new year, new you, right? Now if I come back with another do-nothing update all of you should gang up and kick me squarely in the seat of my pants. But I’m not worried that you’ll have to. I’ve felt a lot of my non-writing frustration in the past two weeks as well as a burning desire to jump back into things now. And, if worse comes to worse, I’ll start wearing skirts. I’ll be back with some progress on January fifteenth. Talk to you then.

The Oddnesses Of Languish

by Matthew Sanborn Smith

They say the Inuit have three hundred words for snow. In the wilds of New England they have but one. They call it “Snow.” It’s worked out pretty well so far. No hunts have gone sour, no lives have been lost for want of another word. How do they describe wet snow, or powdery snow or tightly packed snow, you ask? Well, they use adjectives. Adjectives like “wet,” and “powdery” and “tightly packed.” This system works as well for snow as it does for croutons or sweater vests.

In Norwegia there are three hundred words for sweater vests.