Wigwam wool socks… Julie Mark Cohen offers creative bribe…editor-in-chief (moi) accepts

(I got you, babe!)


It’s GREAT to be king!  You not only get to MAKE the rules; you get to ignore them when it suits your selfish needs! Julie Mark Cohen, who has been a contestant (and to my recollection winner of one of our contests?  We have had about thirty. Or forty. Can’t keep track) entered this contest somehow thinking the word count was 1,500 words. She got the story in on time, but is well over the word limit…What to do…a quandry…

BUT!!! At the Quandrymat that is A Word with You Press, it all comes out in the wash!

Julie read this evening’s post about my superhuman effort to post during this cold spell and realized that I must be freezing several if not all 21 digits as I toil away this evening posting entries, and offered a great bribe:  Wigwam wool socks.  If only I could bend the rules for her.

It IS very cold here!  So, the Great and Powerful Moiz has a solution:  I will post her story but will not select it on merit, but her name will be eligible for the random drawing I will make to select three of the finalists.

Works for me, and we get to see the continuing story of her endearing character who sometimes lets her off leash in our playground, Seyfert!

Incidentally, if after I have declared all stories posted and I somehow let one of your stories fall through the cracks, you will automatically get the story posted, and a chance to compete in the finals.

Like Julie, I am over being aggravated.  In fact, I am well

Past Tense

by Julie Mark Cohen


I can’t be dying. Seyfert rolled his wrist, parted his fur with gnawed nails on his nubby-digited hand, and studied his birthmark, a SeyTTT-ian genetic code. My expiration date isn’t for many more years.

Trembling with trepidation, he clumped down the hallway to the sign-in area.

Just my luck, no receptionist. I hope I’m headed in the correct direction. I must find out what’s wrong with me. Seyfert hesitantly plodded down the internal corridor, scuffing his sandals on each of his three unequal-length legs.

THumP.   thUMp. THumP.   thUMp. THumP.

Now what?

thUMp. THumP.   thUMp. THumP.   thUMp. THumP.

So much for the floor dampers self-tuning to all ambulatory beings.

He formed an unequal-legged triangle with his feet and absorbed the syncopated pulses. An asymmetric gait? I thought I was the only one here. He placed his palms on his chest. Strange. These odd steps are in phase with my circulatory pumps. What an odd, but comforting feeling.

As the footsteps faded, a door slammed and the floor-rattling forcing-function suddenly ceased.

I wonder who that was, he thought, entering the waiting room. Hopefully, this is the correct office.

Not spotting an accommodating chair for his asymmetric tush, Seyfert paced, drifting off into suppositional thoughts of a long-time hypochondriac. As he made his ninth end-turn, a massive airborne creature smashed into his shoulder, jarring his equilibrium.

The impact released half of her fluffy fuchsia feathers and redirected her into a trajectory toward a wall.

Seyfert quickly leaned onto his longest leg, bounced on the ball of his foot, and contorted his torso to reach out just in time for her in his outstretched arms. “I’m sorry. Are you all right?”

“I was doing just fine until you got into my way,” she screeched, spreading her wings to hide her lumpy body, trying to distance herself from Seyfert. “You’re a vegetarian, I hope?” she squawked.

“Vegan,” he said. “You’re very pretty. Are you-”

“What? Am I what? Ugly like you? Can’t you see I’m in distress?”

Squatting with his shortest leg braced against a floor-mounted illumination device, he gently patted her tears with his soft-clothed toga belt, attempted to upright her, but she tensed up and repeatedly tipped over bruising her exposed skin.

On the floor, flailing, she sobbed. “The Doc finally fixed me up. Look what you’ve done to me.” She flapped her bald wings, but, without adequate lift. Stable on her feet, she skittered into a three-toed tango toward the hallway.

I can’t believe I hurt a living being. I must be very sick. Trembling, he tentatively stepped toward a partially-open door and curled his asymmetric torso round the door jamb. “Excuse me. Are you Doctor Kwach?”

“Yes. I’m Zhahz Kwach.” The physician stood, approached Seyfert, and extended his hand. “You must be Dr. Seyfert.”

“Please call me ‘Seyfert.’ I’m here for my test results and diagnosis,” he said, twitching, ejecting a stream of methane-infused, black gooey flakes from his mid-torso chitinous patch. I hope he doesn’t notice.

“Come in. Sit. Relax. And, please call me ‘Zhahz.” He grabbed a large wire brush from his desk and furiously brushed his neck.

“Oh, my. Do you have parasites?” Seyfert said as he pushed back his chair, before lowering himself onto its asymmetric seat that nearly matched the profile of his lopsided buttocks.

“I hope not. The wife, I, and our three children just came back from a vacation in the Northwest Territories-”

“On Earth?”

“Why, yes. We go there every year. It’s amusing watching the Terran humans trying to capture our images on their 2-D devices.”

“That’s nice, but do I have brain disease? Am I dying?”

“No. Where did you get that idea?”

“I’ve been very tired. I feel depressed.”

“Here are your 3-D scans and interpretative images,” Zhahz said. “Stay seated. I’m lowering them so we both can view them. Our chairs will revolve around the projections.”


“Your SeyTTT-ian trient-sphere brain is fascinating.”

“But, what about me?”

“You’re fine, chemically and neurologically.”

“So, why do I feel this way?”

“Your depression is long-standing, worsening, and self-induced. When was the last time you had a date?”

“Why do you ask this?”

“I can see it in your stride, your body language, and your eyes.” Zhahz paused. “You’re lacking spunk.”

Seyfert tapped the universal translator on his necklace. “Spunk? I don’t understand.”

“A Terran word: Spark, spirit.”

“Oh,” said Seyfert, dropping his head into his hands. “I’ve had one terrible experience after another… all because the elders forced me into dating intergalactically. They don’t want me to procreate. They’re fearful I’ll pass along my mutations, same-colored eyes and myopia.”

“Here, on MoxAT-TAxoM, we can easily change your iris hue and correct your myopia.”

“But, the elders are fearful about what else might happen. Mutations contribute to evolution. We are as we were and will be,” Seyfert said, raising his head, resettling his unfurled eyebrows around his three cranial protuberances. “I want children… my own children.”

“I swear, it’s not too late.”

“Si-ware? My translator must be failing.”

“No, swear. Another Terran-ism: to solemnly declare or assert that something is true.’

“It’s not too late? What do you mean?”

“You’re clearly virile. It’s not too late to find your soul mate.”

“Find? I’m too worn out-”

“Have you met my colleague, Dr. Irma Pachycephalosaurus, cultural anthropologist, profiler, facilitator?”

Why is he mentioning a strange? He’s undeserving of his reputation, Seyfert thought.

“You studied alien anthropology, correct?” Zhahz said, scratching his upper legs.

Okay, I’ll play along. Maybe, he really is brilliant. “Yes, but what-”

thUMp.   thUMp. THumP.   thUMp. THumP.   thUMp. THumP.

“What’s that noise? A shock wave?” Seyfert pushed his back against the chair’s splat which instantaneously conformed to his off-kilter torso.

“No. That’s Irma.”

When a relatively small scaly female of forty kilograms entered the room, Seyfert leaned forward, stood, and offered a SeyTTT-ian curtsy.

Zhahz rose to his furry feet and presented Irma’s tiny three-fingered hand to Seyfert. “I’d like you to meet Irma.”

Seyfert fixated on Irma and froze.

Zhahz bent his knees and peered up into Seyfert’s eyes and lightly shook his arms.

Seyfert quietly said, “Yes, why yes. I’m pleased to meet you.”

Irma shuffled her thick, three-toed legs, stretching her skin-tight lacy leggings. “And, I’m pleased to meet you.”

“You two are quite the pair,” said Zhahz. “Why don’t you go into my library and get acquainted. I’ll bring in some calming herbal tea and sweet grain treats.”

“Thank you.” Seyfert exacerbated his out-of-plumbness, opened one hand, and nudged Irma to slip her hand into his.

“Zhahz is clever, isn’t he?” Irma said, smiling, displaying an array of pearly-white teeth.

“Initially, I wasn’t convinced, but I am now,” said Seyfert. “I’m hesitant to say this, but your gait is synchronized with my hearts.”

“I thought so.”

“Really? You flatter me, but may I ask: what happened to your foot?”

Irma sighed. “An accident. I was rock climbing, which I love doing, when someone above me fell on me. The surgeon is hoping for a perfect resolution, but it may take some time. Do you go rock climbing?”

Chuckling, Seyfert extended and wiggled his five limbs. “I don’t think this would be safe for me to do. However, I love riding my four-dimensional Möbius cycle.”

“I’ve heard about those. Do you think that I could ride one?”

“Of course, but we’ll have to do something about your tail to keep it from getting caught in the wheels.”

“Let’s try, soon.”

“By the way, I’ve been admiring your hair. I’ve never seen such long, beautiful red hair.”

“It’s artificial.”

“Please let me rephrase: I adore your red wig. Is it for religious purposes?”

“No. I’m not religious. I believe in scientific fact.”

“And, so do I,” Seyfert said. “Is there a story behind your wig? Scientific? Aesthetic?”

“Yes, a bit of both, I suppose. About eighty-five million years ago on Earth, although my species had physically evolved similar to other dinosaurs, we were strikingly different. We had larger brains and very quickly advanced ourselves technologically.” Irma yanked off her long locks, revealing a thick-boned dome on top of her skull.

“Oh, I see,” Seyfert said. “The shape of your skull is captivating. Just lovely.”

“Thank you,” she said. “On Earth, the others were intolerant… and jealous… of our achievements. So, my ancestors built space ships and left Earth. Over time, we have evolved, changing from cold-blooded to warm-blooded.”

“So you need it to keep your keppe warm?”

“Keppe?” Irma poked her bracelet with its trinket, her universal translator. “Oh, Yiddish.” She glanced at the snacks.”Nosh?”



“I’m happy Zhahz hasn’t interrupted us. I’m thoroughly enjoying our conversation,” Irma said, blushing. “I must admit that I’m bonding with you.”

She likes me? Bonding? Zhahz did ‘swear.’ I know I’m going to ruin this, but I need to tell her now, not later. “Irma, I want children, SeyTTT-ian children.”

“I know.” Irma cradled her wig, affectionately gazed into Seyfert’s eyes, winked, and cooed. “Future perfect.”


#   #   #


Copyright 2013 by Julie Mark Cohen



13 thoughts on “Wigwam wool socks… Julie Mark Cohen offers creative bribe…editor-in-chief (moi) accepts

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    Imagination abounding with rich, lush descriptives always works for me, but there is more here than mere sterile sci-fy, other worldly royals in crisis. Here the crisis is procreation due to abnormalities which the civilization can not easily tolerate. The dialogue in this story is snappy, quick, playful, provocative and tantalizes me head to toe with fascination of colourful names, shifts in language translations with engaged characters seeking solutions. There is a comic reality check to be sucked into and entertained here which does not disappoint. The absurd becomes believable, because their story, their needs are also ours only in different form. I could see this story being much longer on both ends, yet it is a cohesive in structure and delivery. Because I have come to believe this contest is as absurd as this story, I believe it fits in very well, exceeding the quality of most of the writers so far.

    • Julie Mark Cohen says:

      Hello Parisianne,
      Thank you so much for reading my story and for your wonderful comments.

      This story is the precursor to the longer, final story of similar name “Past Tense (Future Perfect)” of my 98.37% completed SciFi novel entitled “Asymmetrically, Seyfert.”, which is comprised of 83 flash fiction and a few short stories, each (along with the novel itself) with its own beginning, middle, and end.
      I’m hoping that feedback from this story will help me tweak the longer one.

      Did you submit a story or two, too? Please let me know, so that I can search for it/them.
      I.m planning on offering some comments in a few days. Unfortunately, I have several fires on my plate (real world deadlines)… and have to scoot… guilt is starting to settle in.

  2. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    I love a good sci-fi flash to spark me awake on a lazy rainy Saturday. It brings me back to the reader I was in my boyhood: Heinlein, Brown, Farmer. etc.

    • Julie Mark Cohen says:

      Salvatore, thank you!

      Rainy? Lucky you. Some snow here. Wanna trade?

      You have posted at least one story, correct? I’m wayyy behind and would like to offer you comments, too… but in a few days.

      • Salvatore Buttaci says:

        Thanks for offering to write comments about my work. I’ve entered three stories in this contest: “The Tempus-Spatio Machine,” “Sabotage,” and “Animalspeek.”
        As for trading rain for snow, I’ll pass on that.

  3. Beverly Lucey says:

    I’ve read a few Seyfert stories, and enjoyed this one, especially toward the end, with the intergalactic fix up. I hope you can find someone to illustrate your book because I want watch Seyfert move through life. The being has got himself some moves. Also, I want to take a look at a chair that WOULD accommodate his tush. (Not spotting an accommodating chair for his asymmetric tush)

    As for suggestions… I’m at a loss about the appearance of the feathered creature. What had been fixed? Her shedding feather problem? A new feathered prosthesis? And where would she go off, all undone like that. More importantly, why is she needed in the story?

    • Julie Mark Cohen says:

      Thank you.
      Yes, the bird-like creature is “extra.” Her malady was intentionally not specified, but it was, in part, low self-esteem. In the “real” final story, a second patient comes out of the MD’s office. He’s a friend of Seyfert’s, but Seyfert fails to recognize him because he’s having a rather unique problem. These two discuss how the MD is going to fix him up. I want to keep these two “extra” characters in the story, but, in the “real” final story, will try to do a better job of increasing/building Seyfert’s anxiety and hypochondriac tendencies as he waits his turn. At the end, Seyfert is past being tense (hence the title… past tense).

    • Julie Mark Cohen says:

      Thank you! I’m trying the traditional path of seeking a literary agent. The odds of success are pretty danged small, but I want to try this first. We shall see…

      • Michael Stang says:

        In collaborated disappointment, my wife and I watch as the rejection letters roll in from our efforts of a children’s picture book. The old masters pasted the bathroom walls. Ours never get that far. Keep the faith, there is an agent for everyone, don’t think about the time. Good luck.

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