Nanofiction
by Andrew Looney
First Season Archive Nanofiction

 

Into The Unknown

When Scorpio-5 landed at Cydonia, few believed they'd find alien artifacts. But they did. The ancient pyramid contained the still-operational inter-dimensional doorway through which the original population had apparently abandoned Mars. But where'd it lead now? Earth? The future? "Empty space" wasn't the answer Commander Thompson expected as he leapt through the portal...

     

"So, How Was Your Day?"

"Terrible!" said the Tabby. "I was checking out the supply closet, you know, since it was open, and a human locked me in! I scratched at that door all day long!" The Siamese rolled her eyes. Only then did he notice her shaved belly -- and stitches! "You think you've had a bad day..." she said.

My Great Great Grandparents Died at Auschwitz

The 1936 Berlin Olympics ended in chaos: Adolf Hitler assassinated! Afterwards, things gradually improved for German Jews. But the sniper was a time traveler; the universe rippled back to "normal" when another chrononaut stopped the assassin. How do I know? I was in the Time Traveler's Tiki Lounge at the time. Technically, I don't exist.

Interfering with History

Suddenly, in mid-warp, John's malfunctioning old time machine exploded, vaporizing his physical form but depositing his consciousness in the overlapping person in real time-space. Eventually, long after Gina's nervous breakdown, the two struggling personalities became reconciled. United within her, they chose a new name: Ginohn. And that's when the Time Police stepped in.

     

They Said He'd Had A Stroke

When their two passenger time vehicle exploded over 1967, Gina and John rematerialized in real-time with their consciousnesses combined into a single human brain. It was Leroy's brain originally, but his consciousness was lost in the temporal accident. As part of Leroy's massive change in personality, he asked everyone to start calling him Ginohn.

Radiation: Divine Creator

In the distant future, sentient cockroach anthropologists studied our culture's fossils. Just as we examine dinosaur bones, they scrutinized our lingering traces, analyzing our ancient extinction. Imagine their surprise when, through psionic time travel, they discovered that they owed their very existence to the radioactive fallout from WWIII. (Their religions were shaken to their foundations.)

55 Fiction Contest Submission Cover Letter

"Dear Steve!" the author wrote, "I love your 55 Fiction concept. I call 'em Nanofiction, and I publish one every week in my webzine, www.Wunderland.com. (My friend Number 12 does, too.) Enclosed is a printout of my archive, for your consideration..." Shortly after reading this, Steve became a regular reader of the WWN.

     

It's Not A Watch, It's A Time-X

In my universe, Archduke Ferdinand survived. World War One never happened; instead, Europe enjoyed a time of tremendous prosperity. In 1933, Einstein Industries' research division began experimenting with time travel, and by 1977 anyone wealthy could buy a wristwatch-sized time machine. As far as I know, mine is the only one still in existence.

Rich's Birthday

He asked that people not bring gifts, preferring only their kind wishes. Instead, the invite urged guests to write poetry. The next year, everyone brought an index card, bedecked with an artistic creation. They hung the eclectic assortment of tiny artworks on the wall at the party and wondered collectively: what to do next year?

Romance Arrives One Day Late

They each spent Valentine's Day alone, each thinking of the other, each wishing they were together, each knowing the other didn't seem interested. The next day at work, they talked casually. "Do anything special last night?" "No. Did you?" "No." And suddenly, their eyes locked, and in that gaze, they each confessed their silent longings.

     

Before the Beginning of Time

While Futurama was the hit back in 1939, the most popular pavilion at the New York World's Fair in 2039 was by ChronoVision. Their technology beamed images back from the living past, displaying them on television screens. Reruns thus became the greatest attraction ever, and each historical mystery was unraveled, except one: Who created God?

Honesty Begins at Home

"You are so grounded," announced Tracy's mom as Tracy walked in, at 2 minutes before curfew. "Why?" Mom held up the baggie of marijuana, discovered in Tracy's underwear drawer. "How can you ground me after what you did at Woodstock?" "Because you didn't tell me," Mom said, rolling a joint, "and because you didn't share."

The Human ATM

After using his first two wishes to undo his baldness and permanently drop 30 pounds, Larry then asked the Genie for the power to magically pull a crisp $20 bill from his pocket, at will, repeatedly, and indefinitely. And suddenly, his life was perfect... until the Treasury Department announced their plans to redesign the currency.

     

Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 1

A few years before Werner's time machine became operational, the Mona Lisa disappeared and was never recovered. So Werner's first trip into the past involved replacing Leonardo's original work with a replica, and bringing back the original. But the art experts denounced it as a fake - the canvas was too new, the paint too fresh.

Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 2

Werner carefully crated up the Mona Lisa and put her in a cave in Nevada, in 1506. She'd have to wait out the centuries the old-fashioned way. But when Werner looked for her in the present, she was gone! (She'd been discovered in 1696, and burned, when the tribe's medicine man declared her evil.)

Mona Lisa Switcheroo, Part 3

Werner tracked the Mona Lisa down and prevented her destruction by trading for her with the medicine man. Then he did a better job of hiding her. But again the art historians said it was a fake... her finger lacked a documented blemish (which Werner himself had made while substituting his forgery for the original).

     

Christmas in the Ant Colony

"The mysterious cottage is quite close," reported the lead scout, "and it's made entirely out of food." The Queen ordered around-the-clock raiding parties, and when the giants leveled the house twelve days later, no one cared... by then, the larders were overflowing with the sweet, gingery food. The Queen proclaimed it a holiday.

Message from a Desert Island

"What would you want most if we were stranded somewhere?" She asked this repeatedly. I assumed she was just making conversation, but actually she was planning an abduction: it's her bizarre idea of a vacation. We've been here for eight months, and I'm going nuts! Now I know what I should have said: email access.

Fudge Warfare

Standing on a chair by the stove, the boy followed his mom's fudge recipe. Down in the saucepan, bubbles formed around the smooth chocolate lake, like enemy troops massing on the borders. "Back!" commanded the spoon, beating the evil bubbles into submission. But eventually the spoon is overwhelmed! The mouth and stomach vowed future retaliation.

[recipe]

     

The Ninth Star Trek Series

Captain Anok Bla'tak, the half Vulcan/half Klingon Captain of the Federation Timeship Avenger, embarks on a mission backward in time, to find the moment the Borg were created - and to stop it. But even this wasn't enough for the jaded viewers of 2024... "Star Trek: Operation Anti-Borg" was canceled after its fifth episode.

Bob Who?

50 years after the invention of time travel, the one eternal constant was the need for qualified time machine repairmen, like Bob Fruitbasket. Bob could fix anything (including the '43 Panasonic Deparadoxer). Unfortunately, a careless tourist's time ripple changed Bob's destiny before he ever learned time machine repair... instead, he's a lunar real estate agent.

Ginger's Island

In the updated version, Mary Anne married the Skipper, Ginger moved in with the Howells, and Gilligan shared a hut with the Professor. When the rescue ship finally arrived, there were five additional islanders: Titian, Othello, June, Hildegard, and Bob. When they got back to civilization, the kids formed a band... but their music sucked.

     

Mission Accomplished

Time Policeman Chicago Steel retreated into the shadows, watching as several weapon components changed hands. The bionic Russian spy, Stefan Austinov, now had everything necessary to build a Zorph Photonic Fusion Bomb. This chain of events would lead to worldwide devastation next January. Agent Steel smiled grimly. History was once again proceeding as it should.

Green Submarine

Music blared from the radio. "Some of us live in a green submarine," sang Tringo, of the Beapers. The Time Traveler's father shook his head. "Damn that kid and his time machine," he said, rising from his chair. "How often have I told him not to muck with the music? Martha, where's my whipping belt?"

The Phantom Chocolate Factory

Exactly one year after the fire, Gunther found a carton of chocolate bars while exploring the burned-out ruins of the factory. They seemed fresh, and were astonishingly tasty! After eating three, the hoarding instinct kicked in... he refrigerated the rest. But the next morning, the box contained nothing but dried out, burnt smelling wrappers.

     

And All For a 41 Cent Tip

Just as the pizza delivery man settled back into his car with a sense of relief, a youth with a gun tapped on his window, demanding his cash. He surrendered it, but got shot anyway. He managed to drive off, but smashed into a fence two blocks away, dead. (The jury found the defendant guilty.)

[commentary]

Forgotten Heroes of the Space Race

We started losing when the Chief Designer died; after the N1 rocket exploded, only we robots could continue the race. My sister, Luna-15, tried to bring back the first rocks, but she crashed even as her rivals orbited nearby. But I'm proud of Mother Russia, for I am the first motorcar on the Moon.

[commentary]

Canned Conclusion

The front wall disappeared, flooding the chamber with daylight. Word quickly reached the back row: a mass evacuation was beginning. "Perhaps I'll see you in the next world," said the Chickpeas, when his turn came. "I doubt it," shouted the Creamed Corn, a veteran of 3 moves. "Looks like that box is labeled 'Food Drive'!"

 

The Agony of Defeat

A crowd formed around the Zarcana table as word of the high stakes game spread throughout the coffeehouse. Gambling wasn't really permitted at Planet X-33, but this was different: with news of their father's ailing health on their minds, four siblings were settling a question of great importance to them all. Tonight's stakes: one kidney.

The Extremely Precise Crystal Ball

"When will I find love again?" he asked, as the gypsy shuffled the tarot. After numerous sessions, involving many different fortune telling mechanisms, the answer finally emerged: on Tuesday, at 5:23, in the nearby diner. Amazed at her precision, he arrived early. At 5:23, the door opened. "I love you," said the gypsy.

Saving JFK

Having unraveled the conspiracy, and with strong public support, the NTTA (National Time Travel Administration) undertook the first major historical rewrite: preventing the Kennedy Assassination. But although the second term JFK did avert the Vietnam War, without the martyrdom factor there came a third major change: The first man on the moon was a cosmonaut.

     

It Happened When He Played The Tower

Planet X-33 kept an assortment of tarot decks on hand for use by customers. To avoid karmic contamination, some were stored with the Icehouse sets, others with the Ouija boards. But one evening, a deck from the Ouija Lounge wound up at a Zarcana table. The game ended prematurely, due to a mysterious power outage.

Evil Victorious

The interstellar fleet commander suddenly gave the order to attack. After colonizing nearby star systems, acquiring new technologies, and building more and better starships, all while acting peaceful, he was finally ready to strike. His warrior ships created a supernova that vaporized his neighbor's homeworld, decimating her space fleet. Gina snarled. "Another game?" asked Jake.

The 100,000 Year Legacy

The festival featured tripod races, icehouse tournaments, singing flower concerts, and moonlit fondue feasts. Afterwards, the Emperor of Mars issued a challenge to his Science Council: invent a system for mass emigration, within 33 years. Sadly, all that remains of their ancient civilization is rules for a game, not their technology for inter-dimensional doorways.

     

One Of Those Days

Fletcher accidentally locked his keys in the trunk. He kept a spare in his wallet, but he'd lost that during the cab ride back here. In frustration, he smashed the window, and was digging through to the trunk compartment when security drove by. "But it's my car!" he protested, as the cops took him away.

Hard Act to Follow

Bob shrieked when he found his own name in the obituaries. With a last name like Smith, this wasn't really unusual... in fact, Bob had a collection of such clippings. What made today's significant was the cause of death: Squashed by Giant Crate of Cookies. "Wow," thought Bob," that one's gonna be tough to beat."

Why Didn't You Look in the Glovebox?

When Dr. Enirambus vanished, Wendy inherited his time machine. It was installed in a black 1973 Volkswagen Beetle, selected as the car most likely to blend into any past or future setting. But Wendy didn't comprehend what she really owned. She sold it to a couple of hippies, and those two are seriously tripping now.

     

Love Potion #2

"The green potion makes her love you," said the inscrutable curio shop proprietor, "but only for ten years. The blue elixir lasts forever, but shortens your own life by twenty years." I grabbed the green bottle and instantly drank it down. "Wait," he said, looking up, "did I say the green one lasted forever, or...?"

Whoever Gets 1000 Points Wins

In the city where people played games with a passion most Americans reserve for televised sports, 4 noted individuals dueled for possession of a solid gold Icehouse set. The 23 widely publicized Zarcana matches were held in a coffeehouse downtown. I hear the winner developed back trouble after carrying the set around in her rucksack.

Whatever happened to...?

When he got on the game show, he deliberately blew it. He buzzed in on every question, but just made wisecracks. He lost by 10,000 points, but the Right People thought he was funny. His career peaked as the goofball sidekick on a sitcom that was canceled after 6 episodes. Now he's a lawyer.

     

The Arrival of Morning

Sometime between 4 and 4:30, it changes from being very late at night to very early in the morning. I like to go to 7-11 around then. One night, no one was there at all. Not even behind the counter. Just as I began contemplating theft, an employee appeared. "Good morning," she said.

"Can You Grab The Cart, Honey?"

Fletcher surveyed the assortment of groceries that had accumulated in the cart while he was selecting steaks. "How can you buy these?" he asked. "They're so expensive in these little packages. We should be buying in bulk." Jessica put some frozen peas into the cart and looked down. "Fletcher..." she said, "this isn't our cart."

Toasted Alive

"He's trying to kill us!" I yelled to my comrade in the other slot. "On the way in, I saw his controls - set on the lowest level - but we're burning up! The Toaster's scorching us deliberately! He's disobeying orders!" Just then we lurched skyward, cool air blowing over our brows. "Whew! Thank god that's over..."

     

2:11 am, April 15th 1912

The Time Traveler stood on the tilting deck of the Titanic. "At last we know what really happened this night," he said quietly, while waiting for the Automatic Return Cycle to engage. But the accounts were wrong; the great ship sank 9 minutes early. 200 years in the future, the Titanic claims an extra victim.

Phasers on Stun

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beamed down to the mysterious planet of sentient broccoli. Regrettably, McCoy scandalized the Ritual of Introduction by stepping on a sprout, and Kirk wound up kissing the King's daughter. Spock found it all fascinating. Then a rampaging mob of broccoli stalks attacked, and Scotty got the transporter working just in time.

Lost Wallet

As the cab door slammed shut, a wallet fell out. Rina noticed it, then scanned for other witnesses. Her eyes met Peter's - he was doing the same thing. The cab drove off. Rina and Peter gazed at each other, then back at the gutter... then at Arnold, who scooped up the wallet and dashed away.


Copyright © 1999-2000 By Andrew Looney.