The Saga of the Four Apes continues:
Fu, Herman, Bobo, and I move quietly through the construction site, sticking to the nighttime shadows. We know the bad guys have some connection to this piece of real estate, but don’t know the details. We freeze when an attractive young woman steps from behind a support column.
I nod at her. “Samantha. Bad neighborhood for a young lady by herself.”
“Oh, I’m not alone.” She motions with her left hand, and Ob-ob steps into view. She motions with her other hand, and an enormous white-haired, white-skinned gorilla leaves its hiding spot.
“The vanilla gorilla project is real? I thought that was just a joke around the agency.”
The gorilla takes a hop towards me, pounding its chest. I take a couple of involuntary steps backward until Herman moves beside me, pounding his own chest in response.
“What’s your play here, Sam?”
“Nothing much. We’re going to take you back to the agency. You know, dead or alive.”
“Your plan’s ridiculous. Your team’s burned, same as mine. Same reason as mine.”
“It’s Cixi’s plan, actually.” She points up at some construction scaffolding, where a female orangutan slides down to stand beside her. Cixi sticks her tongue out at me and blows a flatulent noise in my direction.
“Look, even if your plan made sense, you’ve forgotten one thing: you can’t take us. You get missions when we’re too busy doing something important. You’re our back-ups. You’re the B-team.”
“Ha. We’re younger, faster, and smarter than you. While you’ve been driving around the country in that truck doing God-knows-what, each of us has been doing nothing but training to defeat their counterpart. We know all your weaknesses.” She unfastens a button on her shirt, drawing my attention away from where it should be.
Fu walks towards our opponents, his hands clasped behind his back in a thoughtful pose. Behind his back, he flashes us a gesture, intertwining his fingers one way, then reversing them. Criss-cross. He blows a flatulent noise at Sam’s team, our signal to spring into action.
Herman grabs Sam, carrying her up the scaffolding towards the top of the building. Bobo leaps on the white gorilla, creating a screeching, roaring, brown-and-white furball.
I charge at Cixi with my fist cocked back for a punch. She’s like Fu, a planner. A chess player. A go player. A sudden blitz attack might take her out. Just before I reach punching range, I drop into a vicious, soccer-style slide tackle. Something in her leg gives way with a wet, snapping sound. I roll over her as she goes down, locking my legs around one of her arms. She yields when I hook my thumbs into the corners of her eyes. She’s easily strong enough to pull either of my arms away, but it would cost her at least one eyeball.
I survey the situation. The brown-and-white furball is now a brown-white-and-red furball. Herman holds Sam by an ankle, dangling her upside-down from the top of the scaffolding.
I lock eyes with Ob-ob, who has his teeth around Fu’s throat. “So, what’s it gonna be, Ob-ob? How many apes are walking out of here alive?”
Charming by Kirstie Olley. Unlike all the other fairy tale stories I’ve read recently, this one (based on Prince Charming) kept me interested.
Loneliness in a Cold Wind by Richard Wolkomir. A sad, but pointless story about dirigible fuel that makes people disappear.
Destiny by Forest Taylor. This story reads like a fairy tale, but didn’t hold my attention. It involved a battle between two goddesses: The Sun and Apocalypse.
Earth & Ice by Leah Welker. A troubled young boy with magical powers meets a young girl who is impossibly nice, understanding, accepting, etc. and she agrees to stay with him forever.
Twenty Minutes to Mars by Samuel Kabakoff. Another one of those stories where the teleporter malfunctions and now there are two copies of the person, but we didn’t know that teleporters normally fry the original person while creating a copy at the destination. That story has been written so many times that even if someone eventually invents teleporters that don’t fry people, everybody will be too afraid to use them.
In addition to the above short stories, the magazine also had some nice flash fiction pieces.
If you’re interested in submitting a story to a semi-pro magazine, you might want to consider Leading Edge, as they give feedback from at least two reviewers on every story. However, they do not want to read stories containing “nudity, sex, excessive violence, belittlement of traditional family values or religion, or drug use.”
Oh, how did the Four Apes’ fight with our counterparts end? We decided to call it a night, take different paths, and agree not to target each other in the future.
Later, we’d discover a threat so deadly that it would take eight apes to have any chance of defeating it. But, that is another story.