Bewildering Stories Editorial
Speedways to Literary Oblivion
by Don Webb
This appears to be the only submission we’ve ever received that rejected itself.
He lurched through the door of the mad scientist’s laboratory, arms outstretched, seeking bottled brains. “Aargh,” he roared hiccuppily.
Lurching through the door behind him, picnic basket in one hand, a jar of sandwich spread in the other, she said, “Find anything yet, uh... Say, what is your name?”
Turning around, arms still outstretched in a sleepwalker’s pose, one hand inadvertently nabbing the jar of sandwich spread, he said, “Damned if I know. The author doesn’t cough up a name until the sixth paragraph. Maybe we can wing it in the meantime. Um. What are we anyway?”
“He told me they said you and I, namely we, are zombies,” she said.
“Six personal pronouns in a single sentence, and only one with anything approaching an antecedent. That deserves a medal of some sort,” he said, decorating her with a dollop of sandwich spread on her tunic.
“Seven, if you count the speech tag. You be Zombo and I’ll be Zomba, ok?”
“Ok? As in ‘awk’? No, but ‘okay’ or ‘OK’ or ‘O.K.’,” he said, trying to lick some sandwich spread from his fingers.
“You have to be able to bend your elbow, Zombo.”
“Oh, narrative logic, narrative shmogic,” Zombo grumbled. “Here, you have some.”
Slurping some sandwich spread and peaking furtively about the laboratory, Zomba said, “We need brains...”
“You’ll see them if you ‘peek’ rather than ‘peak’,” Zombo snorted, “unless it’s my interest, which you might ‘pique’. Spellcheckers can’t catch homophone errors. And why do we need brains anyway? I mean, it seems like they’re tasty...”
“They seem to be tasty,” Zomba retorted tastefully.
Cogitating mightily and finally opining critically, a surmise emerged from Zombo. “Readers want to get into the minds of both protagonists and antagonists. We are zombies. Zombies are cartoon characters. We have no minds to get into. So, get brain, get mind. Got it?”
“Two dangling participles and a pseudological ‘so’ rate a decoration of their own,” said Zomba, attempting to beribbon Zombo’s tunic with sandwich spread but splortching his face instead.
Zombo licked his chops, “I always wondered what that sandwich spread would taste like.”
“I’ll wait ’til you finish licking your chops and your speech tag says you say something,” groused Zomba, naggingly.
“You’ll wait,” Zombo grumbled, “until I finish or for me to finish or till moonrise. Who are you trying to talk like, anyway?”
Zomba lurched over to a table and snagged four jars of brains, plopping three jars into the picnic basket.
“Why four brains?”
“One for you, one for me, one for sandwiches. And one for the author.”
“Sounds good, Zomba, my dear. And goodbye, dear editor. Now that we have minds, we are going to give the author a piece of them. We want to get him into rehab especially for his clunky speech tags and his addiction to present participles.”
Copyright © 2013 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories