The Out Door That Wanted To Be In

The Out Door That Wanted To Be In

Once upon a modern time, there existed a Stop & Shop. This Stop & Shop had hundreds of people visiting it per day. In and out the people came; in one door and out the other.

Now this store had a troublesome automatic exit door that had a dream: To let people inside. It thought that if people came through it, more people would enter than leave.

So one morning when the store opened, the in door opened for a customer and.. the out door did the same.

“Well, I can’t enter through the exit door,” thought the customer, and entered the entrance.

The out door was puzzled. Why didn’t the fat lady want to enter?

Later that evening, a man with spiky black hair tried going through the exit door.

“Finally,” thought the door. “Someone will enter through me.”

The manager stopped the man. “I’m sorry, sir. Our exit door is malfunctioning right now. Please enter the entrance.”

“Blasted Stop & Shop. They stop you before you can shop!”

“Yes, ha ha, sir. Very clever.”

The man grunted and went through the entrance.

The manager, who was a Muslim woman, but that isn’t really relevant, spoke to the door as though it were alive.

“Troublesome door. Why won’t you let people exit at the right time? And why do you open at the wrong time?”

The next day, someone came to look at the exit door.

“It’s gone full-on feelings.”

“Feelings?” asked the manager, who was irrelevantly a Muslim woman.

“It wants to be an entrance. It identifies as an entrance. You can’t reprogram it at this point.”

“The heck I can’t!” She began to yell at the door in Arabic.

“That won’t work, Ms. Othman. It needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

“We don’t have that kind of money right now,” Ms. Othman muttered. “Well, we can just leave it alone for now.”

Soon, a new store opened up, bigger and faster than Stop & Shop. The great big Stop & Shop lost a lot of business. Even the man with spiky black hair stopped coming to buy groceries.

“And it’s all your fault, exit door! People think we’re incompetent and won’t enter our store anymore!”

The Muslim lady manager was just angry at the new rival store and blowing off steam, but the door didn’t know that. It was sad.

But the door didn’t want to give up opening for entering customers either. What was a door to do?

“I have the solution!” said Ms. Othman.

She hired a painter to write something on the inside of the door and a second person to scrape off “OUT” on the door. The new paint inside read:

“ENTERING OUTSIDE”

The exit door was so happy. It opened the door to many exiting people who wanted to enter the outside. Even the man with spiky black hair came back, claiming he couldn’t find the yogurt his wife liked at the new store.

Ms. Othman was very happy. She tried to replicate the success with repainting the words on the bathroom doors, but it was just… just a mess.

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She Went Back In Time

She Went Back In Time

Since this story is first person, obviously I didn’t die. Sorry to disappoint anyone who hoped I wasn’t going to make it in the end. But my girlfriend didn’t make it. Julie. She was hit by a car, some careless ass hit her in the ass, knocking her to the ground and killing her. God. Damn. It.

I couldn’t cry. Not because I’m a goth, no. I have feelings and I do cry like any person, just not when it’s too painful to come out. Our friend, Rose, also came to the funeral (small venue, small circle of friends/family), and she was bawling her eyes out. I wish I could have cried like that for my love, but I couldn’t. I just…

After the service, I walked down Main and Third, hoping for a bagel. Instead, in a brilliant flash of light equal to that of the big bang or creation (depending on your tastes), I got an asshole.

He was dressed in what I could only describe as a “Seventies Suit.” His hair matched the era and he had a pompous swagger to him. Guys like him are the reason I hate men.

“Brian Gary, 70’s renaissance man. Time traveler.” He handed me his card.

I lowered my eyes. “Uh-huh.” He was just laughing at me.

He then literally laughed at me. “Aria, right? What a name. And those clothes! What are you, a mistress of the times? Whip whip whip!” Yeah. Men suck.

“How did you know my name? And I’m goth.”

“Well, your future self asked me to help you out. Normally I don’t change history, but for a… lady? I’ll do it.”

“My future self.”

“Yes! She asked me to save Julia.”

“JULIE.”

“Yes. Sweet, blonde Julie in the black satin gown, gone by a bumper car.”

“She got hit by a car!” Was this asshat for real?

“Look, do you want my help or not?”

I threw some F’s at him and told him to stick his time travel where it doesn’t shine. He pulled out a black ring. My black ring.

“Let me see that!” My dad’s inscription was still there: “Aria–to my favorite song, with love, your father.”

“Your future self paid me to help you get Julie back and gave me that because she knew you wouldn’t believe me. Frankly, who would?”

I clutched the ring. “What’s your deal, Brian Gary?” I made a point to remember people’s names.

“Nothin’ much, lady. I got caught in a bicentennial explosion of red, white and blue, which gave me time powers. I love this age. Right after the worst stuff, right before the end of the world. Sweet spot.”

I was going to mention the president as “worst stuff” still existing, but he must have known more than I did on the matter. For once, I saved it for later.

“Fine. I would love to save my love. How do we do this?”

He looked confused. “Oh. Are you coming with me? I was under the impression I should stick my time travel up my butt.”

I clenched my teeth at the remarkable jackass. “Yes. I’m going with you.”

He stuck out a hand. “Shall we?”

He paused. “Come on, Aria. Time to go.”

He frowned. “Are we going or not?”

“I don’t touch men,” I said. “Well, my father, if he were alive.”

He clenched his teeth back at me. “Okay. Then get on all fours.”

“What?” Did he think I was that kind of woman?

“I’m going to lay on your back. You don’t want to touch men, fine. But we need to go back a week like, right now.”

“Wha–a week? Why not a few days ago, when she got hit?”

He sighed. “Look. This isn’t Quantum Leap, okay? You don’t directly change events. You go back a week. You convince Julie to come to your house later that week instead of crossing Birch St. and getting hit.”

That… made sense, actually. “Okay.”

“Also, you’ll replace yourself from a week ago and will have to live over everything, including your… flow.” Brian Gary made a face.

“My period? Little punishment for saving Julie.”

“Time periods, yes! Anyway, I won’t be affected since I’m the ‘time machine,’ so to speak.”

“Got it. Climb on my back, Brian Gary.”

He jumped like an assface onto my back, digging his elbow into me. A flash of colorless light erupted around us and…

A giant clock and blue translucent tubes appeared from nowhere. We flew into the clock with gusto and ended up as smoking heaps in the alley.

Good God, where were we? Right. A week ago.

“I forgot to mention, as a passenger, you’ll be disoriented. You’re pretty cute for a week ago. Before the Neeeeeer! Errrrrrr! CRASH! Dead girlfriend. Occurred.” I wanted to hit him. But I still needed his help getting up.

He picked me up by the armpits and I hit him in the stomach. “I can take it from here, thanks. Oh,” I fished out my future self’s ring from Daddy. “Make sure I get this back. Ta.”

“I’m taking an observer role. Wouldn’t want you to make any events heavily altered.”

“Like saving someone from death?” I didn’t get him at all.

Brian Gary glowered. “Just trust me.”

I remembered Julie would often go to the doughnut shop on Tuesdays, so we went there. I saw a dead pigeon on the way and Brian Gary asked, “You want to save that one too, sweetheart?”

“How did my future self hear about you?”

He shrugged. “Time loop. You remembered meeting me, she sought me out via Yahoo email. Only email worth a damn in the future. Anyhoo, it was the first time I met her, so don’t think I’m doing this as a friend. I cost lots of money.”

I was going to kid him that “Yeah he does,” but he really was helping me out here. I loved Julie, from the time we met dancing under an overpass to her pale skinned body laying in that black coffin.

As I walked to the shop, I remembered Rose introducing us. She looked worried about something, I don’t know what. Julie kissed me on the mouth and said, “I think hellos should be as personal as possible.”

“Well,” I said, “now you’re just getting personal. But how would you like–”

“ROSE?!”

There in the doughnut shop were Rose and Julie, kissing at their table. Not to get all school girl, but a kiss to me is more than a hello. They were discreetly frenching, which made matters much more than personal.

I stormed the shop. “Rose, you, and, and, and Julie?”

Julie just pouted. “Oh, so it’s over now.”

Rose held up a hand to her. “Not so. I’m done pretending. Julie, I love you. I don’t want to use Aria to hide who I am anymore. I’m telling my family what I am. Who I am.”

“Using me?” I finally cried. “Using me for what?”

Julie squinted. “I was only with you to cover up that I was with Rose. Her family’s strictly religious and wouldn’t accept this if they knew. So we used you to cover up our love.”

“That makes no sense,” said the doughnut shop owner. “Also, please do this elsewhere.”

We all left and fought for an hour. It ended like so:

“Fine. It’s over. But Julie, promise me in a week you won’t cross Birch St.”

“No. I go home that way. Why should I listen to you?”

“Please. Please, Julie. If you’ve ever loved me, even a little, you’ll go down another street that day.”

She looked at Rose with worry. “I trust you. But just that day.”

They left, leaving me to cry with Brian Gary awkwardly standing around.

“Gosh,” he muttered. “Integrity move, Aria. Even after finding all that out, you saved her.”

I just sobbed, snot running down my face.

“Don’t ruin it,” he said, handing me a plaid handkerchief.

“Ah zdill lubb her,” I said, blowing my nose.

“Of course, whatever that means.”

“I said, I still love her.”

“It will take time, as I’ve surely seen throughout history. You’ll never forget her, as your future self has proven, but you’ll move on.”

I paused my sobs. “You knew. The whole time, you knew.”

He stretched pompously. “Of course! The future you had to tell me everything to save her friend. I didn’t want a time paradox or time’s fabric to shred. She only did it to preserve history. What, like I really care about some dyke’s lost love?”

He’s from the 70’s, he’s from the 70’s, he’s from the…

I kicked him in the balls with my pointed boots.

He collapsed to the ground. “She… didn’t tell me… you’d do that…”

“Smart woman,” I spat. I left him there.

I met someone that Thursday, since I wasn’t with Julie at the time. Larry. Another goth, but a male. Yes, it turns out I was bisexual the whole time. You learn something new about yourself every day. Oh, and he’s bi, too.

Our wedding was bleak and gorgeous. Julie, Rose and I buried the hatchet that day. I made them my bridesmaids and we got along just fine since then. I’m glad I reached out to Brian Gary, even if he was a smug assfart.

In a small apartment with a baby and another on the way, I recalled Brian Gary. I took off my father’s ring, pulled out his card and gave him a message. He was right about Yahoo.

We arranged to meet up at my house to go through the details. He was not kind about the living arrangements.

When we finished talking, he said it would cost 30 thousand. And he was right about not being cheap. I think he lowered the price because he felt sorry for me.

“One more thing,” he said with a chuckle. “Do you ever attack me? I don’t want to, heh, get kicked in the family jewels or anything.”

I recalled his dyke comment to me. I smiled innocently. “Nope.”

Tiny At The Dairy Barn

Tiny At Dairy Barn

How could this happen to Lauren Lockwood? She considered herself, as many do, to be a good person. She didn’t smoke, so it didn’t make sense that she shriveled up as she did.

She shrank to no bigger than a can of Coke. She knew this because she had been drinking a can of Coke when it happened, and it was laying on the ground next to her. Next time, Diet Coke for sure.

Thank goodness she was carrying doll clothes with her when it happened. Lauren put on the lensless plastic frames and the high heels, seriously doubting Barbie and her associates’ fashion sense. The doll laid next to her, undressed, as if to say “Good luck, kid. I’m going to wait here to be burned by a bored teen boy.”

She wobbled in the shoes, not used to such crap quality. They should make leather shoes for dolls, she thought. Clearly it’s time for an upgrade.

The Dairy Barn loomed overhead like a skyscraper. It hadn’t been doing the best business, but dammit, this was her childhood hangout. Now she was wondering if she should go back, or potentially sue. Who would listen to me like this? she wondered. I was short before and got ignored, but this…

As a child, she was on the petite side. The other girls would call her Little Lauren Lockwood and throw acorns. “Scoop them up, Little Lauren! Scoop them up!” She shuddered at the memory. That’s why she always wore pumps, to pump up her spirits. She would give anything to go back to being 5″4′.

Lauren heard rustling in the bushes. Was it a bird, or a squirrel? She started to run, but fell on her face. She crawled on the colossal asphalt surrounding the Dairy Barn. No Lockwood was pathetic enough to let themself get eaten by a creature.

The entity popped out. A beaver? In New York? That seemed unlikely. The creature sniffed at her shoes for a moment, then stepped back. Then the beaver lunged in the air at her. She crouched in fear, but the thing just fell on its chin. She watched as it struggled to rise, so she walked over and punched it in the snout six times.

The beaver cringed and shuddered. Lauren felt pity for the dam beast. She decided to exploit him. Slowly inching her way towards him, she climbed aboard the monster’s back, being careful not to pull out his fur. Then she kicked him to get him moving.

Across the asphalt she rode. She felt like Bastian from The Neverending Story riding the Luckdragon. She tried to ignore the smell. Coincidentally, the beaver tried to ignore her smell. She had been doused in some sugary drink and was sticky. He picked the tiny thing up and licked it clean, much to her chagrin yet slight amusement.

The tiny woman made it to the Dairy Barn window. The beaver followed her in what seemed to be an absurd attraction. He lifted her back onto his head and she climbed onto the window sill.

“Next.”

“Yes,” she squeaked. “I drank a Coca-Cola from your drive-thru…”

“Speak up please.”

“I said, I had a Coke from your store and…”

“What?”

“Yo, da lady wants to go back ta normal size already, yeah? And I drank a Sprite and it made me a beaver!”

Lauren looked at him in shock. “You can talk? But then, why…”

The beaver smiled. “Would ya have let me lick ya if ya knew?” No, she would not have.

“This happens all the time. Just pee it out and you’ll be fine again. Please move ahead. Next!” With that, they left.

The following week, Lauren bought a Hostess Ring-Ding instead. She had gone back to normal size and felt confident going to Dairy Barn once more.

She wondered about Steven, the beaver who drank Sprite, but didn’t worry about him. After all, he came on way strong.

She saw a man sipping on a Sprite and he spotted her. Was it Steven? She didn’t wait to find out. Like Coca-Cola, she was done with him.

This story was sponsored in part by Pepsi. Pepsi: How do you know Coca-Cola products won’t alter your metabolism? Drink Pepsi.

The Seven Pizza Soldiers And Frank

The Seven Pizza Soldiers And Frank

Today was the day. The Pizza Brothers of Pizza Soldier were ready to retire after 45 years of cheese, tomato sauce, and garlic. You know how pizza works.

It was up to the brothers to decide on a successor. But who could lead the store to victory over all the other fast food joints?

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There was Gina, a classy woman with a high IQ who made the best olive slice money could buy. Tony vouched for her, but Giovanni twirled his cliche mustache and claimed she was a bit “y’know, feminist-y.”

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The Blue Chef, Jeff, made grade-A fries and made customers feel welcome. He wore blue after hearing about a woman who couldn’t see the color. It definitely made him stand out, said Tony, but Giovanni twirled his mustache and said he was a “bit of a poofy guy.”

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Luciano was a pizza chef who studied the dark arts of pizza. Using Gouda cheese. Kneeling the dough into a pentagram. Anchovies. The pizzas always came out fine, but Tony had reservations about letting such a man run his operation. Giovanni twirled his mustache and reminded him that he was a straight white man, which would look good on the pizza box, so why ya gotta argue?

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Frieda was what Giovanni called “a double problem, am I right?” as he twirled his mustache. A black woman, she was never the younger boss’s favorite. Tony chimed in that she was punctual, tidy, and never dropped pizza off the peel. “Yeah maybe she’s alright,” said Giovanni. “She’s not up ‘er own butt about gender crap and whatnot.”

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Louie was great at tossing pizza. As chief tosser, he made the dough stretch for what seemed like miles. “We can’t promote a guy based on tossing! And asides, he’s from that Middle East! They’re all–” Tony twirled his brother’s mustache to shut him up. He agreed, however, with the first part of the statement. No promotion for Louie.

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Finally, there was Frank. The brothers looked at each other and laughed hysterically. The delivery guy? No way. Not in a bajillion years.

A large trench coat waltzed up to the counter.

“Welcome to Pizza Soldier. How may I help you today?” asked Jeff, charming as ever.

“PI-ZZA.” said the coat. “MUST A-QCUI-RE PI-ZZA.”

“Frank, I think this individual would like their pizza to go,” sweated Jeff.

“PI-ZZA.”

“Is there a problem?” asked Gina, taking charge of the situation as usual.

“PI-ZZA.”

“Sir, you need to specify the type of pizza you want.”

The trench coat paused. “ANCH-O-VY.”

“Sounds like a job for me,” said Luciano.

“YOU WILL ALL MAKE ANCH-O-VY PI-ZZA. NOW.” It held up a gun.

Louie threw dough at the customer. “Not today, leatherman!”

“Trench coats aren’t made of leather,” said Frieda.

“I imagine some could be,” corrected Gina.

“Good work, Louie!” said Jeff.

Luciano cracked a grin. “Not bad for the chief tosser.”

“And soon to be owner of Pizza Soldier!” deluded Louie.

“What’s going on?” asked Tony.

“Did the girl break something?” assumed Giovanni.

Frank whimpered. “So… no delivery right now?”

“THERE WILL BE A DEL-IVE-RY: THE SE-VEN OF YOU!”

At that, a beam of light came down on the seven chefs and Frank.

When they woke up, they discovered themselves on a red landscape with rocks as far as the eye can see.

“Where is this?”

“Are we on…”

“Mars! It’s Mars!”

“To think, I’m the first woman on Mars!”

“Um, Gina, there’s two of us here.”

“Right, sorry, not sorry.”

“Aren’t we going to suffocate?”

“We haven’t yet, so we probably won’t.”

“Where’s my dough? I need my dough!”

“Stop holding your breath, Frank. You won’t suffocate.”

“So there’s air on Mars?”

“NO. I IMP-LANT-ED SOME BREATH-ING CAPS-ULES IN YOUR RECT-UMS. COME. THE QUEEN WISH-ES TO MEET YOU.” The trench coat fell and revealed a small robot.

“That’s a dumb wish,” muttered Luciano.

“I AGR-EE, BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO?”

Into the underground traversed the eight companions and the robot. There was a lot of slow walking, and it’s not worth repeating what they discussed. Mostly stuff about how their butt capsules itched.

“PRES-ENT-ING THE QUEEN OF MARS.”

“Robot slave,” said the worm-like giant, “where’s my pizza?”

“Yer freakin robot attacked us, lady! We can’t feel safe in our own store!”

“I do apologize, Super Mario. But as queen, I demand an anchovy pie.”

“But we don’t have any ingredients!” groused Luciano.

“Too bad. No pizza, no home.” She cackled madly.

“Wait, I…” Frank pulled his hat off to reveal a list. “Gina, don’t you always have anchovies on you?”

Gina snapped her fingers. “Yes, yes… because I throw them at men who sexually harass me! Nice thinking, Frank!”

“I know my main man Louie has enough dough on him that we can make a pie.”

“But I lost…” he paused. “No, wait. It’s on my back! Ha ha!”

“Luciano, you have a can of sauce, right?”

“It looks like blood… here you go.”

“That leaves Jeff with the garlic and Frieda with the cheese.”

“I like people, but I breath garlic sometimes to ward off chattier people.”

“I just like to snack on cheese,” said Frieda.

“Let’s make a pie, guys!”

Five minutes later, the pie was done. The queen swallowed it in one gulp.

“Delicious! I must have it again next dinner. Expect us in a week. You may go.”

Back home, Tony and Giovanni gathered the Pizza Soldiers and Frank around the table. “You all showed tremendous teamwork out there today. What can I say but,” Tony paused. “You’re all getting the promotion! You’re all the heads of Pizza Soldier!”

Everyone got quiet and shuffled their feet. “But…” offered Luciano, “won’t that cause even more arguments than you two had?”

“It was a joke, dumbass,” sputtered Giovanni. “Obviously we can’t make you all the boss. That’s stupid. No, we gotta hire the best employee who showed us little things do count: Frank Wilder!”

Everyone applauded uneasily. Frank? The delivery guy?

“This is a huge opportunity and I won’t let you down!” beamed Frank.

“You ain’t gettin’ the job neither. That was one of my trademark jokes. No, we’re hiring Luci–”

“Gina. We’re hiring Gina. Make us proud like the strong person you are!”

“…Right. Gina. Congrats, Gigi.”

Everyone applauded sincerely and gratefully this time. She was the clear choice.

After work, Gina and Luciano came up to Frank. Gina put her hand on Frank’s shoulder. “You really saved us today,” she said. “Thank you. And you deserve better than this.”

“Much better,” said Luciano. “Have you considered being an assistant to an executive? You clearly have the skill.”

“Thanks, really… but now’s not the time. I really just enjoy your company, you know? And I get to bring home free pizza! My siblings love it!”

With that, he wandered home.