Birthday one-sentence stories, 2015

So, here’s the deal: every year, people say “happy birthday” on my Facebook, but I’m not content to leave it at that.  A few years ago, I decided to write a one-sentence story about everyone who wished me well on that day; it seemed much more fun than just a sterile, “Thank you!”  I wanted it to mean something.  It became a thing.

This year, I strung all of the one-sentence stories together into a semi-coherent narrative, basically giving everyone who wished me a happy birthday a cameo in the weird world in my head (well, one of them).  I’ve strung them all together here, because that’s easier than trying to read the whole ridiculous string of Facebook posts in reverse.

TL:DR:  In the social media system, there are people who wish Emmy a happy birthday.  These are their stories.  *DONG DONNG*

“Unfortunately I’ve got some vacation-cancelling news regarding our intel on Dr. McCaskey, my friend,” General Corbellis said, handing Larry a glass of whiskey on the rocks and motioning to Dr. Maggie to explain.

Fun Fact:  Dr. Maggie was instrumental in getting the US military to see the people who developed superpowers– known as “kikeis”–as something other than a threat, but she and General Corbellis have never gotten along.

Don stared at the Red Phone; not only because it was only supposed to ring in the event of a serious emergency, but also because it wasn’t actually plugged in.

Fun Fact:  Nobody knows where the Red Phone came from.  Surveillance tapes show that it spontaneously appeared on June 21, 2013, but everyone who was asked about it was convinced that it had always been there.

“Dollie’s got people on the monkeywrenching,” Sylvestine said, her accent thickening with annoyance, “and I trust her, so shut up.”

“I’m installing gasoline-filled lightbulbs in sockets whose breakers I hope to God you were sober enough to turn off,” Shawn grumbled, “and you want me to be ‘relaxed and groovy?’”

Author’s note:  Barry was sober enough to turn off the breaker, but nipped enough from his flask that he was too drunk to drive away after they snuck out: Shawn had to drive them back to the rendezvous point.

1359424411-squirrelondoorRose didn’t generally pay much attention to the squirrels, which made it an even greater surprise when one of them scrambled down from the tree and onto the porch railing, and politely asked for her assistance with a matter of utmost importance in perfect, unaccented Portuguese.

Allen kept his movements casual, methodically tipping a teaspoon of Drano into each empty pop bottle.

Dida added wadded up balls of aluminum foil, then capped the bottles and tossed them overboard as the yacht trolled through the shallows, silent except for Baron Langer and Sylvestine screaming at each other behind closed doors in the stateroom.

Fun Fact: The yacht, known as the Ooltewah, survived the worldwide calamity that would be touched off in three days’ time.  Dida quietly claimed it as her own after the deaths of Sylvestine and the Baron.

Anna sighed, leaned on her railgun and checked her pockets again; still out of peppermints, and with two hours left on-shift, dammit.

Fun Fact:  Anna wasn’t even trained to use the damn railgun.  She told them her expertise was with edged weapons, but did HR listen?  Of course not.

The first explosion from the cove took Adam by surprise; strangely, the Honda Gold Wing that came sailing over the estate’s north wall ten seconds later didn’t.

Using the exploding motorcycle as a diversion, Heather Spear rolled with the landing, slingshot in hand, and came up in a perfect two-point stance, dropping both guards with high-velocity peanut M&Ms.

Fun Fact:  Heather uses peanut M&Ms because in approximately .06% of her targets, some really hilarious shit happens, depending on how hilarious you find allergic reactions.

“Celebrity Apprentice” was interrupted by Gretha, reporting live from a helicopter over the Pacific just north of Hawaii, where much of Nihoa had just vanished in a massive blue-tinged explosion.

Bonus Sentence:  Unfortunately, “Celebrity Apprentice” resumed after the report.

“I’ve told you three times already, there was a face in that explosion,” Theresa said, “and that’s why I’m resigning.”

Fun Fact: It wasn’t a face, but it did look kind of like Bill Cosby for a moment.

Steven examined the debris, wondering how he was going to explain to the general that the kikeis had been right about the nature of the experiments on Nihoa.

When the odd, tone-shifted voice that identified itself as “PoptArt” jumped from the speakers of her car to the phone, then followed her into the house and started coming out of the stereo, Helena gave up, tossed her juice glass into the sink (where it shattered) and decided to follow its instructions.

Bonus Sentence!:  Two hours later, she crossed the Canadian border, where the guards waved her through in spite of the fact that she was driving a stolen Lexus (PoptArt had told her where to find it, unlocked and running, at least) full of what appeared to be eight squirrels housed in individual cages.

“’Abandon hope, all ye who winter here,’” Ashleigh read aloud from the freshly-unearthed plaque with a groan of resignation.

Pro Tip:  Puns are never a good sign.

“Looks like we found the lost RV graveyard,” Lauren replied, “so fire up the metal detector and let’s get this done before that goddamn giant skunkcupine comes back.”

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“Monster big as a house that stepped on my car?” Leslie said, “Yeah, it went that way, into the swamp.”

Fun Fact:  Leslie didn’t care, the car was a piece of shit anyway and she had full coverage. 

“We have eyes on the ground, General Corbellis,“ Jenny reported, then went back to playing Minesweeper.

Charlotte later recalled a voice in her head that commanded her to “pretend to be a rock;” without thinking she did so, and the monster in the dark walked right past her.

Fun Fact:  It was her own voice.  Charlotte has precognitive kikei powers so weak she isn’t even aware of them.

“I need you to get a flash drive from Lewis Black,” Melanie said patiently, “not wear a whalebone corset; I don’t see what’s so difficult about this.”

“Lewis Black banged my mom, okay?” Melissa yelled, “and that is why this meet is going to go badly—are you satisfied, now that you know?”

Fun Fact:  You know how it is…a delayed plane, a few drinks at the bar, an empty airport limo.  Don’t judge.

Something told Sasha that trouble was about to start; she gathered up the pieces of the hurdy-gurdy she was rebuilding and headed to her car just as the shouting began.

“Yeah, she just pulled a gun on him,” Matt said, “I’m going in.”

Russ drew both of his assault rifle-swords and said, “That’s the best news I’ve heard all damn day.”

Pro Tip:  Double-wielding assault rifles is not recommended for accuracy, but it looks awesome.

Rose yelped and ducked under her freshly-signed copy of Me of Little Faith as a 7.62mm round pierced the cappuccino machine’s copper belly and a jet of hot coffee sprayed her head.

Beth made the decision to take advantage of the distraction, and sent the Progressive team after the mainframe.

“Office linebackers!” Dan’s panicked voice shouted over the radio before the transmission dissolved into static, “McCaskey’s using office linebackers—“

Pro Tip:  clipping is not illegal for office linebackers.  Be forewarned.

Kat turned off the commlink with a weary sigh and whispered, “Call in the Hairy Dolphin; we’ve got no other choice if Dan is out of the picture.”

Will swallowed, struggling to keep his expression neutral upon realizing why Agent 657 was codenamed “The Hairy Dolphin;” this was a delicate operation and it wouldn’t do to offend their key contact.

“Based on the sounds coming out of this room, Control,” Patty muttered into the radio, hefting her Taser rifle, “I’d like to preemptively request therapy for whatever I’m going to see when I go through the door.”

Fun Fact: Seven out of ten people who have witnessed the Hairy Dolphin at work have developed pathological, phobic aversions to ordinary household objects.

“I changed my mind,” Alissa radioed, “I don’t want you to tell me what this wall is made of until I’m at the top, because I think some of it got in my mouth.”

Pablo got the stolen pilot’s uniform straightened just in time to bow and say, “Good evening, Dr. McCaskey,” with the proper accent.

“What happened, sir, is that McCaskey met Nigel Travis for lunch, and Cockpuncher showed up—this was supposed to be a discreet in-and-out job and we weren’t prepared!” Jackie said, shouting to be heard over the sirens.

Fun Fact:  Cockpuncher’s kikei ability enables him to actually phase his fist (or other extremity) slightly inside the body of his target, doing no additional damage but causing agonizing, sustained pain as the nerves are all triggered at once.  This is how he is able to punch women in the “cock” with equally profound effect.

Neither Sergio nor the agent known as the “Hairy Dolphin” was ever found, though pieces of debris later identified as parts of the former’s camera washed up on a beach near Atlantic City a month later.

When Kenya’s requested airstrike on Restricted Area 26 was approved, everyone conveniently forgot that she had once called in an airstrike on a Baja Fresh after getting spoiled guacamole on her chicken wrap.

“There’s something real strange about this mansion,” Rod radioed back.

Tonya’s last words before the A-10 disappeared from radar were, “IT’S A TOAD OH GOD IT’S A GIANT TOAD—“

Fun Fact:  Giant toads cannot digest aircraft; this one eventually died as a result of swallowing it.

1972ImperalLeBaron“My ride will be here in six seconds, sure,” Jessica said to herself, breaking the call with a skeptical snort and stepping out the front door only to jump back as a dark green 1972 Imperial slid to a stop at the curb, just as Dr. Maggie had told her it would.

Jet politely pretended not to notice Lesley’s gastric distress as the big Imperial dropped out of the hole in reality it had driven through, and said, “I told you, Outer Drive  will take you anywhere,” with a grin.

Fun Fact:  Jet’s Imperial uses Outer Drive as a nexus connecting just about every location on the planet.  Only she knows how it works.

“If we are seriously in Paris, I am going to kill General Corbellis when I get home,” Kay said, glaring out the Imperial’s windows.

“You’ll meet Miarakat at the rendezvous point,” Jet told Noah, adding, “By the way, she’s really proud of her tail, but don’t stare at it.”

By the time Glenn parsed that Miarakat had laughed and said, “I could totally kick a dude through that window,” he was already outside the building and falling.

PoptArt nudged Sal with her toe and said, “Hey, this isn’t a real apocalypse, you can’t play dead yet.”

Dr. McCaskey whirled and grabbed Wes by the lapels, lifted him off of his feet, slammed him against the wall so hard the glass frame of the Mondrian over the desk shattered and screamed, “If you say ‘Ferrari Dino’ once more I will have you and everyone who vaguely resembles you boiled alive!”

Fun Fact:  Dinos were built by Ferrari, it’s true, but they were a separate brand.  So, it’s just “Dino.” 

“I wouldn’t say he’s unstable,” Keli said diplomatically, “but that’s only because I think it would enrage him.”

Pro Tip:  It totally would, too.

Christina’s shapeshifting abilities got her into Dr. McCaskey’s inner sanctum ahead of the others; she realized then that she’d forgotten every single one of her grenades.

“You’re damn right I shot it, because it was a trap—when was the last time you were approached by a ‘friendly’ hamster?” Nick snapped.

Fun Fact:  The hamster was not Christina, it was just a hamster.  And it was a trap.

Bonus sentence!  Dr. McCaskey deflected Miarakat’s mezzaluna and lunged at her, shouting, “Die, die, Miss American Pie!”

Robert smelled gasoline and tugged at Ensign Minute’s shoulder to stop him from flipping the switch, but it was too late.

Fun Fact: Remember all those lightbulb bombs Shawn was making?

The blast from inside the facility blew out all of the windows and collapsed part of the atrium; the first thing Alex saw when he opened his eyes was a lion, standing where the card reader-protected doorway had been.

“We gotta go,” Miarakat said, pushing Jeff toward the hole in the fence, “’Caskey’s already producing the formula, and if whoever blew up that lab just let it out, we don’t wanna be here any more.”

Fun Fact: Miarakat may be covered in blood, but none of it is hers.

Michelle watched the unfolding chaos through binoculars and muttered, “How many lions did he have in there, anyway?”

Bonus Sentence!  A growl from over her shoulder suggested that it was at least one more than she’d seen.

“There’s a call for Dr. Maggie,” Emily said, deciding not to wonder why the call had come to her cell phone, “but does anyone here speak Portuguese?”

Fun Fact:  Yeah, it’s totally a squirrel on the phone.  Why do you ask?

“Nevermind who she is,” Miarakat told Jet, all but pitching Carolyn into the Imperial’s back seat ahead of her, “we really really really need to be far away now!”

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Fun Fact: Miarakat actually saved Carolyn just because she liked her shoes. She had no idea who she was.

“Lions,” Stacy said for the third time, struggling to be patient with the half-awake President, “if they are bitten, they turn into lions.”

Orenthal dropped his newspaper and coffee when the subway car’s doors slid open and fourteen lions (some of them still wrapped in the tatters of business suits) rushed out onto the platform and began attacking everyone in sight.

Bonus Sentence!  He made it to the street and hailed a cab instead: Wednesday was Donut Day at the office, and he wasn’t missing that for anything.

“It’s a Coast Guard cutter going in circles,” Grace said, frowning through the binoculars, “and it looks like there are lions all over the deck.”

Fun Fact: The cutter’s loops eventually took it into the shallows.  Fortunately, it grounded itself before doing any damage.  Unfortunately, the lions got ashore.

“Communicable leonism…doesn’t make any biological sense—“ Scott began, before a massive paw crashed through the sheetrock next to his face and pulled his head through the wall.

Fun Fact:  Binturongs smell like popcorn.  That doesn’t make any biological sense either, does it Scott?  Scott?

Kat was able to save most of the Foo Fighters by holding off the lions with a broken electric bass, giving the band time to get to their armored limo.

Bonus Pun!  Sadly, in the mad rush for the car, Pat got smeared.

Lions_Attack_SafariMarkus and Baron Langer froze back to back; the lions had outflanked them.

Tim locked himself in the Airbus’ cockpit and searched for the radio, ignoring the roars and screams from first class and hoping that the control tower could talk him through a crash landing that wouldn’t scatter lions all over Baltimore.

Fun Fact: Nobody made a “motherfucking lions on this motherfucking plane” joke, for which the world is poorer.

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Deb said, “but that dentist is a lion now; I’m pretty sure it’s the first place they went.”

“Well, ain’t that a crock of shit,” John sighed, filling another pint glass with General Corbellis’ scotch and not breaking eye contact the whole time.

Fun Fact: John started his career as one of Dr. McCaskey’s office linebackers before going legit…sort of.

“How many registered kikeis are there in Maryland, apart from George?” General Corbellis asked Dr. Maggie.

After the barricades in Indianapolis fell, Lynn commandeered a city bus and drove sixty people to safety.

“Terre Haute’s pretty deep into lion country—what are you paying for this run?” Marc said, chewing theatrically on a toothpick.

Fun Fact: That toothpick never shows any damage from being chewed on, and seems to make Marc’s ’53 Chevy accelerate and handle better.

Linda bailed out of her F-18 over Manhattan and made a miraculous parachute landing on a balcony of the Rockefeller Center, grimly musing that safety was just twenty stories and ten miles on foot through lion-infested territory away.

“There’s a pride of at least six thousand lions on the other side of that river,” Nicole said, “and sooner or later they’re going to figure out how to cross it.”

An A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot from the Air Force Reserve Command's 442nd Fighter Wing based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., fires the plane's 30-mm cannon toward a target at the Smoky Hill Range near Salina, Kan., Oct. 16. Fourteen A-10 units from across the Air Force are competing in Hawgsmoke 2008, a biennial A-10 bombing and aerial gunnery competition, this year hosted by the 442nd FW. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)Jim banked the A-10 in for another pass, racking his brain for a good lead-in to a ‘shortest distance between two points is a strafed lion’ pun.

Bonus Sentence!: He was regrettably unable to come up with anything to top the “Leonid Shower” wisecrack he’d made on his first run.

maxresdefault“You need to tell me if the Vice President has been bitten, Jessica,” Dr. Maggie said, gripping the edge of the desk with her massive hands.

“Mr. Leno is recovering from the bite, there’s nothing to be concerned abo—“ Lisa began, but was interrupted by a the sound of tearing silk and a roar from the master bath.

Fun Fact: It’s okay, I’ll take care of the cars.

Sarah was almost certain that she’d created an antidote for the lion plague using taurine, BGH and dextrose, but without a lab or willing test subjects, the chances of finding out for certain looked bleak.

“George says that his volunteer is a Brazilian squirrel, and he knows there’s no such thing but please just believe him.”

Danielle shouted, “Don’t open the storage unit!” about three seconds too late.

“They call me Pallet Jack; my partner here’s the Croc,” the big man said to Chris, punting a lion down the street, “and we’re here to help.”

Fun Fact:  When Pallet Jack and the Croc first met, they actually fought.  They ended up chasing the same mugger, and each thought the other was the mugger’s partner.   Once the misunderstanding was uncovered, they decided to team up so the police would take them more seriously as kikei vigilantes.  They also kicked the shit out of that mugger, who swore off petty crime, got his GED, and took community college classes to get a computer-science degree.

“These are the same idiots who were running away from FEMA after Katrina,” Nicole said, “and you’re probably better off letting them go.”

“I agree with your live and let live philosophy on principle,” Renate muttered, “but they’re stealing our tires.”

Chantal took stock:  they were stranded on the lions’ side of town, with almost no ammunition, no radio, and a pickup truck full of raw meat.

“The governor’s car was last seen plunging off of the Bay Bridge with a lion at the wheel,” Jenny said, “so I’m pretty sure you’re in charge now.”

With lions closing in on his family from all sides, Bryan was forced to reveal his ability to command and weaponize bumblebees.

Peanut Gallery Comment:  Ah God, no! Not the bees!img-0-4340232

“How is it you’re always first on the scene, Kay?” Toivo asked.

“They’re not going to just ‘turn back,'” Sarah said, “they’re lions now.”

Melissa looked from the mace to the blunderbuss and said, “You’re kidding, right?”

Pro Tip:  The mace is a better choice.

“No, I’m not taking my hands off the wheel, because nothing personal but I don’t trust a voice over the radio to steer my car, sorry,” Jennifer said, feeling ridiculous for even responding the weirdly modulated, Bluetooth-hacking voice that called itself PoptArt.

Fun Fact:  Dr. Maggie has kept PoptArt’s ability to “talk” to electronics a secret from the government, because if they knew she could remotely drive cars and airplanes, and that walking through electronic security was about as difficult for her as pushing through annoying branches, she’d disappear into a vault somewhere.  Also, she’s got the entire Internet running through her head most of the time so she’s a little unstable.

Locked in a grapple, Bill heard Cockpuncher chuckle, “Monkey steals the peach,” just before the world went away for a moment.

Fun Fact: Miarakat fought Cockpuncher in an unrelated incident in St. Louis.  She lost, and she doesn’t like to talk about it.

DSC_2376BJ took advantage of the chaos to fulfill a lifelong dream, and broke into Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to play “Yakety Sax” on the world’s largest pipe organ.

“I know Seo is hard to deal with,” Dr. Maggie said, “but we’re not going to get through this if we can’t use her trained tracking pigs.”

“The trick to surviving is knowing the right movie quotes,” Stephanie said.

“Corn!” Lisa yelled, throwing herself flat as Seo shouted, “IT’S NOT DIFFERENT AT ALL, IS IT STEVE?” and burst into mad, cackling laughter.

David looked down at his chest, where five ears of corn in the husk had just buried themselves in his ribcage.

Fun Fact: They never did get Seo’s cooperation, or that of her pigs.  In fact three agents were eaten by them before Stephanie called for a hasty retreat.

Vivian hauled the school bus’ door shut just before a lion slammed into it., then scrambled into the driver’s seat and started the engine.

Thankful for hands-free calling, Lyndon looked through the Porsche Cayman’s windshield at the lion crouched on the hood, then told General Corbellis, “I’m going 75, and it’s still holding on.”

Fun fact!  Emmy has actually never driven a Cayman, and is pretty bitter about this.

article-0-17808709000005DC-472_634x426Stephen rallied what was left of the National Guard in downtown Indianapolis for a last stand, hoping that Dr. Maggie’s promise of support would arrive in time.

When they ran out of ammunition, Andrew began prying bricks out of the decorative façade and just dropping them; some of the soldiers laughed, but he killed fourteen lions this way.

Daniel ascended the storm-damaged stairs of the bell tower, sledgehammer in hand: the defenders needed to be rallied somehow, and he knew the way.

“You are not dropping napalm in an American city,” Lori said, pointing fiercely at the general, “and I think you’ve had too much coffee.”

Ian would have made the leap between the buildings, if he hadn’t snagged a foot on a stray cable at the very last moment.

Fun Fact:  That wire he yanked took out the cable for the entire building, and it was four days before Comcast got it restored.

“I call it the Disruptor,” Nick said, handing the device to Miarakat, “but please be careful; I’m not exactly sure what it does.”

“Nobody’s getting through this door while I’m alive,” Chris told Baron Langer confidently; the events of the evening would prove him tragically correct.

“Aw, man,” Jet said, watching Katie writhe as she turned into a lion, “I think she was really hoping to turn into a tiger.”

“I won’t tell her if you don’t,” Joseph replied, and raised his crossbow.

Slurry-PipeAlex jerked the Disruptor’s barrel to the left as he switched it off, and what was left of Sylvestine splattered noisily into the utility sink.

Fun Fact: People seem to take up way more space when they’ve been reduced goo. You could have painted that whole room with Sylvestine, and she was 5’5” and 110 pounds if she was an ounce.

“Why did you even point that thing at her?” Sarah wailed.

“Hey, Dr. Maggie, I just wanted to let you know that in about five minutes you’re going to get attacked by some really pissed-off Moldavians and it’s not my fault, I did everything the way you said but then Rachel sort of liquefied Baron Langer’s girlfriend, okay?” Miarakat said into the phone.

Fun Fact: Miarakat wasn’t paying attention, it was totally Alex’s fault.  Rachel wasn’t even in the room.

Dallas had no trouble holding off Baron Langer’s attack squad; rage had made the Moldavian sloppy.

Bonus Sentence!:  She actually only took down six of them; the rest fell into complete disarray and shot each other after Baron Langer was killed, except for one man who threw himself on his own grenade.

Marlon snatched the Tokens record off of the player and broke it angrily over the DJ’s head.

lionsleepsAaron looked at the note and couldn’t help but smile in spite of the mild pain and the annoyance at his busted vinyl:  “TOO SOON.”

Fun Fact: Aaron probably has an obscure version of this song in German.

Dawn winced at the roar and crash, but the barricade held.

“Kevin controls birds, does he?” General Corbellis asked, rubbing his jaw thoughtfully.

“There is another possibility; we could release Zwanzel the Flesh Shaper,” Ian said, coughing as the smoke thickened.

Peanut Gallery Comment:  No, seriously, Zwanzel the goddamn Flesh Shaper?  What the hell were they thinking?

“Oh, what the hell,” Debra said, throwing her hands up, “why don’t we release them both—it’s certainly quicker than suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Fun Fact: She is totally being sarcastic, here.

“Good luck, Joe, it doesn’t speak English well, and it has a sense of humor; after Dave Wickefoose used a certain innocuous-sounding turn of phrase with it, they were, ah, performing surgeries to remove winged monkeys from his rectum for about four months.”

“Surgery, bullshit!” Mike cut in, “they were jumping out of him—sometimes they’d rip through poor Dave’s pants.”

Fun Fact:  Although Dr. Maggie is fully aware of how foolish it is to release Zwanzel, she also knows that she, Yozareth and Miarakat can probably contain it.  Yozareth was declared dead over a year ago, but Dr. Maggie has been hiding the powerful kikei’s existence from General Corbellis since then.  

DSC_2372“What am I, indeed?” Zwanzel purred, its voice bubbling as it caressed Anthony’s face and his skin began to change texture.

“We’re not sure if it’s immune to the lions,” Daria reported, “because none of them has managed to bite it yet.”

Bonus sentence!:  She held the phone to her ear and listened for a moment, then said, “Never mind, one has, and it is.”

“Just…just roll it into the river, I guess,” Heather said, hiding her queasiness at the sight of the 60-foot ball of quivering, confused lion flesh that Zwanzel had created.

Sue kept writing as she stared at the streets littered with toothless, legless lions.

“That took…a lot less time than I expected,” Dr. Maggie said when Rhonda finished her report.

Fun Fact:  Zwanzel’s decisive actions in stopping the lion plague caused Kevin’s release to go almost entirely unnoticed.  By the time someone thought of it, the bird-controlling kikei had gone to ground.  He was never recaptured.

“I think we might be in the clear; Morgan’s last transmission before the powder magazine went up was, ‘The Giovanelli vaccine has been deployed.’”

Bonus Sentence!:  Nobody thought to ask why there was a powder magazine in the back of Morgan’s Civic, and the only person who could’ve answered was beyond questioning.

Justin blundered through the doorway, disoriented because of the extra eyes that had sprouted on his cheeks, shoulders and fingers, and gasped, “Zwanzel says it’s not going to go back into its box.”

“I don’t blame it for wanting to stay out,” Bryan said, “considering the smell in there.”

“You’re not helping,” Grace replied, and lobbed a half-eaten donut at him with equal parts amusement and genuine annoyance.

Fun Fact: It was actually a cruller. 

“I don’t think I need to remind you that the last time Zwanzel escaped, it tried to roll Cleveland up into a Katamari ball,” Michael reported, musing privately that he was not going to clean up after something like that again.

“What’s purple and has…four mouths?” Andrea repeated, frowning into the dark and trying to see who—or what—was speaking.

“Don’t finish that riddle—the answer is always ‘you,’ and I don’t have to tell you what happens next!” Trisha yelled.

Adam barely dodged the first fleshy missile that came out of the night, and drove directly into the second one.

“We fix the roads, we get people turning into lions; they fix the lion problem and we get…what are these things, anyway?” Mary muttered, trying to tilt her umbrella far enough to see without getting splattered by whatever was falling from the sky.

Fun Fact:  Detroit has survived worse.

Beverly was one of the first to report the tornado made of frogs, but a disbelieving 911 operator cut off the call.

“Dr. Maggie’s going to throw you to the top of the radio tower so you can uncouple the blimp,” Miarakat said to David, “and this is really important, so don’t die.”

“But…who’s going to catch him when he comes back down?” Katie asked politely.

On one hand, Toney observed, there was some kind of superhero battle going on; on the other hand, the keys were in the Konigsegg’s ignition, and the owner had just been turned into some kind of…chicken.

“Zwanzel’s already gone through, but I think Natasha blew up the bridge anyway—she said something about having always hated it.”

They found Susan at a Waffle House, having a long conversation with a surprisingly regal squirrel.

Bonus Sentence!: They spent the afternoon sharing gardening tips, and afterward she gave the squirrel a ride to the nearest Metropark.

Nothing could have prepared Joe for what came back up the zipline.

Bonus Sentence!: It had tentacles, and some sort of ovipositor, and the oxygen in the atmosphere was already causing it to burn:  fortunately it didn’t live long enough to hurt him too badly.

“They said not to turn it on,” Ender said as he handed the Disruptor to Jet, who put it carefully on the front seat of the car.

Fun Fact: Jet spends most of her time in her car because she has trouble walking.  As she puts it, “Not a lot of people know that there were five cases of polio in the U.S. the year I turned nine.  I was number four.”

Frank watched a flock of birds form words in the sky: “HEAD…SOUTH…ON…US…23…”

“Something just burst through the wall and literally wiped its ass with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I don’t think it was part of the show,” Mike said.

“I know you don’t have a better idea,” Scott said, jabbing a finger into Froelich’s chest, “because my idea involves tanks and lots of shit exploding, and yours doesn’t.”

Fun Fact: Scott’s plan worked like gangbusters.  Froelich resigned his command a month later in disgrace.

“All right, break’s over; everybody back on your heads,” Ben said wearily as he strapped into the gunner’s chair.

“Wait,” Sybil said, “if that wasn’t you in the bathroom, what the hell’s that goddamn smell and why is the door still locked?”

Tracy sighed and grabbed the plunger, and no clickbait site on the entire Internet would have believed what happened next.

“With all due respect, sir,” Alan said, “the reason that we’re almost out of options is because you keep getting everybody killed, and that’s why I’m taking command of this unit.”

“Try to profile it all you want,” Shaun said, “but Zwanzel’s not human and doesn’t think like we do.”

Deep-fried_Chicken_-_Kolkata_2011-03-02_1833The flesh-shaper was eventually lured out of its hiding place using a platter of Andrea’s fried chicken.

“Is it eating it?” Jill asked, struggling to see through the fogged-up binoculars.

“It is, but I’m not sure I want to know what it’s eating it with,” Tracy replied, trying not to be sick all over the inside of the surveillance van.

Fun Fact:  They were scorpions.  Zwanzel made a mouth out of scorpions and ate the chicken with it. Tracy had to undergo years of therapy after seeing this.

Victor didn’t need to check the calibration of his equipment, because Zwanzel was definitely larger than it had been ten minutes ago.

Faith tapped Zwanzel on the shoulder and asked it sarcastically, “Didn’t I kill you last year?”

Bonus Sentence!: “No,” the flesh-shaper said, and drove her eight feet into the ground with a thick, chitinous pseudopod.

“No more birds!” Mandy yelled as she dove into her car amid a hail of pelting feathers, “it’s just eating them and spitting them back at us!”

“Keep distracting it, you’re doing great and the Faraday cage is en route,” Andy radioed.

“No, we are not doing great–it just turned Sean’s face into spiders!” Jet yelled, stomping on the gas and narrowly avoiding a pseudopod the size of a telephone pole.

Pro Tip:  Don’t let it touch you.

“That is real easy for someone who’s not currently at risk of being turned into a lobster to say,” John said, struggling to hold on as Jet put the Imperial up on two wheels.

Something happened inside the car ahead of Madeline; she got a glimpse of fur and broken glass before everything went dark…and moist.

“Oh, God!” Steve cried, “they’re not being turned into cows, they’re being put inside of them!”

Fun Fact: There is not a lot of air inside of a cow, unless you get lucky with head placement.  And “lucky” is relative, because that means your head is in a cow’s stomach.

“I hate cows so much,” Miarakat grumbled as she helped Cliff out of the bovine’s burst abdomen, “Sorry about your suit.”

Fun Fact: Miarakat doesn’t just dislike cows, she’s terrified of them.

Jet handed off the Disruptor to Wes, who turned and began sprinting up the steps of the Glandheim Building without questioning how she’d gotten a big luxury car into the lobby without breaking any glass.

Lori heard steps go by her office, but after the morning she’d had there was no way she was coming out to see what was happening.

The first of Zwanzel’s meat-missiles knocked Jeff off of the roof of the skyscraper; fortunately, he was the only member of the group who could fly.

“Wait, are we the attacking force, or the diversion?” Gary asked Dr. Maggie as they crawled away from the leather couch before it could sprout any more legs.

10202“I don’t even want to know what this is going to cost,” Ginny said, thumbing the detonator.

Fun Fact: As of 2008 the Chrysler Building sold for $800 million, and that didn’t even buy the whole thing.  Let’s say it was probably at least a billion and a half.  Throw in another billion for collateral damage to the surrounding blocks.  The value of all the lions trapped inside is up for debate.

Every time the Disruptor had been activated, something terrible happened, so Chris said, “Now it’s your turn,” as he pointed it at Zwanzel and triggered the device.

Vickie was struck by the fact that the phrase, “fountain of blood” would ever enter her head and make perfect sense, but it was the only way to describe what she was seeing.

When the bits of flesh-shaper stopped raining to the ground two hours later, Bethany was, curiously, perfectly clean.