Thursday, September 29, 2011


…and then came the day when my Twitter followers showed up at my home.

This was, it goes without saying, unexpected. 329 people standing under my balcony as I headed out for my morning cigarette left me quite at a loss for words. But I suppose they had pledged to follow me, so I oughtn’t have been surprised by the turn of events.

I’m just grateful I was wearing pants.

I suppose they were too.

Getting to work was tougher than I’d expected, that number of people tends to stop traffic as it crosses intersections. And our arrival terrified the day manager.

He’d thought they were looking for a meal, and we don’t have the staff for that many during lunch shift.

He was enormously relieved, if still somewhat disturbed, to learn that they were simply there to follow me.

Eventually, after my third table complained about not being able to enjoy their lunch in peace, I was sent home. I’d arrived willing to work in good faith, but the throng made anything resembling productivity impossible. It’s a shame, I could have used the tips, but I understand why I was cut. And paying me through to the end of the week while I attempted to sort things out was a classy move.

There was, we realized upon our return, no way they’d all be fitting into my apartment.

It was a smallish place, but Kat and I had never needed that much space and it’d suited our purposes to that point. Finding room for an additional 329 occupants, however, wasn’t going to fly. Still, it was the tail end of summer, the weather was still gorgeous, and if the other tenants in my building had a problem with a tent city cropping up in the courtyard they were too terrified by the weird, cult-like nature of the gathered people to bring it up.

I guess it was natural that they’d be a little bit terrified. I sort of was too.

I’d never meant to form a cult via Twitter.

Though I suppose, upon reflection, that running a Twitter account does hold certain superficially cult-like qualities.

You share your thoughts with the world and hope to attract followers that hang on your every word, and the more people who follow you the more powerful you feel.

In person, however, a few hundred people waiting for my next missive swiftly began to feel oppressive.

There are only so many jokes, quips and puns about pop-culture minutiae and politics I can be expected to make. And a real crowd is tougher to ignore when I’m tired than a smartphone with a flashing red light.

I had followers, but I was quickly learning that I wasn’t cut out to lead.

I attempted to explain this, but I couldn’t figure out how to phrase how conflicted their presence left me using only 140 characters. Eventually I gave up and took the easy way out.

They packed up their tent city, I threw some things into a bag and we set out on a pilgrimage.

We’re heading west. In search of Conan O’Brien. We’re going to follow him a while, hopefully he’ll lead us better than I did.

I expect he will.

From what my Blackberry tells me, we won’t be the only ones there…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Prompt Story: Mirror Mirror

Here we go once more! Didn't post the link yesterday since I was working a double and then attending a birthday party, but for you prompt fans here's my weekly thing....

the link!–-mirror/

the text!

Mirror Mirror
By Chris Munroe

I don’t know if I’m the evil twin.

I mean, I don’t feel evil and I have all my memories from before the teleportation accident, so that should make me the original, right?

On the other hand, does anybody self-identify as evil?

And my twin did also claim to be the original. Though now he’s dead. Tell you what, I’ll let you cast the tie-breaking vote.

Sound good to you?

Promise me you won’t scream for help, and I’ll take the gag out of your mouth so you can tell me which one of us you think’s the evil twin...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

By the way... (shameless self promotion)

If you read my blog and don't already listen to the Dunesteef podcast, start doing so now. One of my longer-form stories, "Death and Michelle Jenkins" was picked up by them a few months ago and was broadcast today. It really is an excellent 'cast, and I'm pleased as punch to make an appearance there as an author. Won't be posting the text here, listen to the damn thing!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Trial of Munsi

I’m given to understand Holland’s beautiful in the autumn, however I haven’t had much time to sightsee, shackled as I’ve been and locked for most of my stay inside a prison cell.

I was caught coming out of a café in Switzerland by a rendition team operating under the aegis of an international human rights watch group. Which is funny, in a way. If I understand correctly human rights groups are supposed to be against rendition as a general rule. I suppose they thought me an exceptional case due to the nature of my crimes.

What wasn’t funny was being tasered, having my hands cuffed behind my back, a bag pulled down over my head and being thrown into the back of a black van with no notice or warning. But I suppose there are few, if any, people on Earth who’d expect that to be funny.

I’m not positive how they’d gotten me out of the country, the negotiations between the Swiss government and the United Nations had stalled and they were allowing me to remain until certain provisions (mostly pertaining to my personal safety during the trial) were assured, but I suppose once a group’s willing to kidnap someone in broad daylight in the middle of a crowded street, human trafficking becomes a comparatively easier task to pull off, logistically speaking.

I’d like to think the Swiss made a stink about the matter. I’d like to think an international incident ensued. However, I suspect this wasn’t the case. My host-nation liked me no better than any other country, they just liked being pushed around even less. I suspect once I was gone they were somewhat glad to see the back of me.

So I was spirited, quite against my will, out of Switzerland and brought here, to The Hague, where I am to be judged. My lawyer’s a squirrely little man, balding and bespectacled, who’s on more than one occasion expressed his personal sense of disgust and horror at my actions. Which I suppose is more than fair. What I’ve done is considered by many to be monstrous, after all, and as long as he respects the rule of law, I can live with the notion that he doesn’t respect me.

And he’s an excellent lawyer, which is of some comfort.

The cage, set up in the middle of the courtroom, seems somewhat excessive. After all, it isn’t as though I’ve shown any indication that I might attempt some daring escape. With my hands and feet shackled together I don’t even see how I could. But these proceedings will be broadcast worldwide on all major international news outlets, so I suppose some nod to it’s dramatic presentation was to be expected. It’s the trial of the century, after all, countless pundits have said so. It’s photos and sketches will become iconic images of a world no longer willing to blithely accept the actions of one such as I, and each indignity I face over the course of the proceeding will be cheered as a victory of sanity over madness.

I’m led, shuffling as I do every day since my imprisonment as the chain between my ankles doesn’t allow me to stride, out and into the courtroom by two well armed guards. My lawyer’s already there, although he won’t make direct eye contact with me. I’m shown to a stool within the cage, the only furnishing I’ll be allowed for the duration, and once I’m inside they lock me in, breathing a silent sigh of relief as they do.

I’d hoped they’d unlock my cuffs and manacles once I was safely inside. But then, I’d once hoped never to stand trial. Hope takes a man only so far.

The head of the tribunal, a dour faced, older man I don’t recognize, stares down at me from the seat that serves as the focus of the courtroom. I can see the naked loathing in his face, it’s an expression I’ve come to recognize intimately of late. I can only hope his own professional integrity matches that of my advocate. After all, were he to execute me summarily, few would protest my death.

Having looked me up and down, seeking the measure of the monster the press had had such a field day with once the contents of my blog were unearthed, he apparently decided that the time had come for my trial to finally begin.

“Christopher Munroe,” he intoned in a voice deeper than I’d expected, “you are here before us to stand trial for crimes against humanity, and for the torture in violation of international convention of various puns and premises. How do you plead?”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Prompt Story: Run

Y'all know the drill by this point! Here's the podcast link:–-run/

...and here's the Story!

By Chris Munroe

You killed her, and didn’t know what to do, so you ran. And you kept running.

You fled town, changed your name and moved halfway across the country, but even then your past was right behind you. You couldn’t stop looking over your shoulder, couldn’t stop running.

It consumed you, became your whole life, your whole self. Running…

Eventually you even ran the Boston marathon. Did yourself proud, you came in fifth overall.

When the TV coverage went out, somebody from your old life recognized you. You were arrested three days later.

Never lose track of what you’re running from.

Friday, September 16, 2011


You misunderstand. I wasn’t dying.

I had no horrible, incurable disease, and there was certainly no tearful conversation with my physician about how this one, desperate act was my only chance of survival. My health was, overall, quite good.

Not great, mind. I smoked too much, drank too much and had no doubts that these things were taking their toll on me. But good at least. At the time of my cryogenic freezing, I was in perfectly acceptable health. Although, if medical breakthroughs have since been made that might improve my body in significant ways, that’d be a conversation I’d be happy to have. However, it’s not why I froze myself.

To understand that, you have to understand something about my psychology and, perhaps more importantly, about the early twenty-first century. You see, at the time, a sort of malaise had fallen over the industrialized world, and the prevailing attitude, culturally and politically, was that humankind’s best days were behind it. An ugly school of thought had developed in the last years of the previous century whereby it was suggested that humans, as a species, had no great accomplishments left ahead of them. The logic followed that, without great things for a society to strive for, there was no need for it to exist, and we could go back to an every man for himself sort of existence where we looked out for our own insulated group and let the rest of the world go to hell. The money raised by the Earth’s governments, it was suggested, should be returned in the form of tax credits and we, who once collectively comprised mighty nations, should go our separate ways. But it wasn’t just governments, private companies were suggesting there was no middle class left worth marketing products toward, a generation thought they’d grow up worse off than their parents, half the world seemed to think the Rapture was coming and the other that Global Warming would kill us all. I put up with this as long as I could, but when NASA announced that it would be mounting no further manned space flights I could no longer push through.

Even NASA? Even NASA? No, I couldn’t bear the thought.

Which brings us in a roundabout way to the thing you have to understand about my psychology. Well, two things really. The first is that I believed, truly and fully, in the power of individuals to come together and solve our collective problems collectively, and I believed that, with enough minds working together, there was nothing that couldn’t be resolved. An opinion that left me quite out of step with my times as the people around me surrendered to what they felt they were powerless to change. However; the other thing you need to know about me is that, in spite of the contempt I felt for my contemporaries, I was, am and will always remain at my core an optimistic futurist. Humankind can triumph through our will and our wits, and given enough time I know in my heart we always will. So while I was dejected at the persons I saw on the television night after night attempting to gently usher my species into it’s retirement, I had the greatest of faith in people.

“We may,” I thought, “think we’re done now, but we’re not, and it’s only a matter of time before we figure that out.”

However, time wasn’t something I had in indefinite amount of, and no large-scale coming together of the peoples of all nations seemed on the immediate horizon. I am, as I said, acceptably healthy, but I do drink, I do smoke and my family is prone to sudden unexpected illnesses. Humanity would persevere, to be sure, but there was no guarantee I’d be around to see it.

And I would so hate to miss it.

So when the university put out an add looking for test subjects for a cryogenics project, it seemed just the thing!

The doctors in charge walked me through their lab, showing me the chamber they intended to freeze their subjects in and the apparatus they’d be using to monitor the suspended body. Once the process was deemed safe, they commented, only the richest people in the world would be able to afford it, but until then it was up to people like me to risk their lives as the bugs were hammered out of the process. This frequently tended to be the case back then. Oh, they were mainly just attempting two or three day freezes at the time, but it didn’t take much to convince them I was dying of something with an imposingly long Latin name, and therefore the perfect test subject for a longer term freeze. Put me in for two hundred years, I argued, and any side effects the mega-wealthy users of this new technology might experience will have years worth of notice via the observation of my own case.

It wasn’t an airtight lie, but come on. Science classes were teaching young-earth creationism in some areas of the country, you couldn’t expect much of their graduate students.

So they performed their tests, a friend of mine in the medical faculty faked a write-up of my fictitious disease, and they put me under. And for two hundred years I’ve been sleeping, not waiting for a cure for my own body but, as I said, attempting to outlast my era, waiting for human civilization to find cures for it’s own ails. And while I freely admit sticking around and trying to personally make the world a better place would have been the braver, better option, I couldn’t live with the thought that I might not see that better world when it finally came.

After spending more than thirty years loving the idea of tomorrow, I had to meet it in person, if only to find out if my optimism was well-placed.

So in answer to your question, no. No, I don’t think I will need counseling to help me come to terms with the fact that I’m alone in a strange new future. I’m reasonably certain I’m going to find the strange new future awesome, and if not I’ll freeze myself back up and try again in another two hundred years.

So, tell me, with the time I’ve been gone from the world, what have we done? Go ahead, impress me…

Monday, September 12, 2011

You and my Lamp (based on a prompt from 100 Word Stories)

It's the beginning of the week, so once again time for my prompt driven drabble! Here's the link:

...and here's the story!

You and my Lamp

By Christopher Munroe

After closing night, the theater didn’t need it.

Seven foot statues of actors are pretty useless once the show’s done, and heavy to boot.

I, on the other hand, always wanted an enormous statue of myself. The opportunity was too good to pass up.

I worried what you guys’d say when I brought it home, but you both loved it. I didn’t realize how much until I returned from work the next day.

You’d turned it’s eyes into lamps.

Now it stares light down upon me from behind the couch as I read.

The best part is: This story’s true.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rise of the Dead

The thing that had once been Marc Russell awoke from the slumber of death, craving the flesh of the living.

It struggled to pull it’s half-rotted body upright, brushed the dirt off it’s shoulders and, not even understanding it was dead, shambled forward in search of it’s unholy sustenance.

It would never relent, it would never tire, and it’s focus would never be swayed from it’s one burning drive.

Hunger. Unending hunger.

Myself, I couldn’t have been more pleased. I mean, everything had worked perfectly!

But now comes the difficult part.

What are the commercial applications of such a thing?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wings (based on a prompt from 100 word stories)

So this appears to be a new thing of mine, so i'll start blogging them here with my #fridayflash, and random midweek drabbles. Here's the link to the podcast (you really ought to just subscribe to it, but hey, i'm not the boss of you!)

...and here's the story!

By Chris Munroe

It’s the wonder of shiftwork, you never know what schedule to expect.

I worked Tuesday to Sunday one week, Monday to Saturday the next. Since I got a day off each week, they didn’t have to pay overtime. See? Brilliant planning on their part.

Now every part of my body aches. But I try not to be bitter. I’m finished now. And I won’t be doing squat with my day off.

I’ll be downtown, headphones on, exploring a city I love and listening to classic rock.

Paul McCartney.

Band on the Run.

I won’t be coming home ‘til I’m relaxed.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Things were better back then. Brighter, somehow. More hopeful.

Humankind seemed on top of the world, with political revolutions overthrowing the seats of entrenched power one by one and an industrial one, made of iron and driven by steam, making anything seem possible.

Zeppelins sailed the skies, trains blazed across continents, and the cities… sweet Creator, the cities. Never before in history had such throngs of humanity piled upon one another in so concentrated a way, no wonder there was such an explosion of creativity. Not a week went by without a new technological marvel being unleashed upon the world, and the art and culture seemed freer and wilder than anyone even a generation previous could have possibly imagined.

There were problems, of course, all eras have their problems. No one seemed able to do anything about the bands of sky-pirates preying on the commercial zeppelins, for example, and plenty of the gadgeteers who created the age’s marvels were unquestionably mad. But nevertheless, things were looking up. Maybe not for the poor, crowded into squalled ghettos and forced to work longer hours than was strictly speaking healthy in the factories, but for mankind overall. Things were happening everyday that once would have been thought impossible.

And then, one day, a man conquered life itself.

Not death, death was still beyond any man’s control, but as that first iron/copper golem clanked and wheezed and struggled up out of the darkness into consciousness the power to give life stopped being the exclusive property of the Almighty. And with life at humanity’s command, could death be all that far behind?

Little did anyone know those first golems were the beginning of the end.

They could be created, to be sure, but at such massive expense that only a few dozen ever actually were. Fortunes were sunk into attempts at mass production, and those fortunes were in turn lost, with nothing to show for the work but shattered dreams. Many were the enterprising young industrialists who wound up tying their own nooses after watching all they’d worked for slip away, and by the time the century turned all such attempts to turn coal into life were abandoned. It seemed as though humanity’d outgrown it’s taste for miracles.

Oh, the cities were still there, and technology marched on, but it was all different somehow, and as the century wore on this became clearer and clearer. Two Great Wars and myriad smaller ones seemed to rob mankind of it’s wonder, and though people were living longer, and on the whole materially better, something indefinable was missing. Mr. Ford could easily have mass produced golems using his remarkable methods, but he was content simply to grow wealthy and it never occurred to him to want to strive for more. It did occur to Mr. Disney, but he never thought to introduce the magic he brought to his films into the real world. In every genius some small part was missing. So the handful of golems, of us, were all there would ever be.

And when one by one we broke down and died, like all relics of bygone ages that make no sense in the modern world must, those who once had built us, who’d once held the world in the palms of their hands, quickly forgot us.

We died and went unmourned, but for our remembrances of one another.

It wasn’t quick, we were well built at least, but as years became decades became generations a few dozen became a handful, became a few, became nobody but me.

And now I wait, because soon it will be my turn, and when the gears in my chest wind down there’ll be none left to even notice.

It’s funny, but though the world is so much larger now than once it was, it seems much smaller. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Wonders exist now that my creator would weep with joy at the sight of. The globe can be circled in hours, not weeks, and a machine the size of a world carries the sum total of all human knowledge and makes it available to all, downloading it directly into a human mind via a small jack at the back of the skull.

Even Earth itself cannot hold humanity in it’s grasp, the first colonies on Mars were founded a decade ago, and there’s speculation the moons of Jupiter might be next. By rights the world should be a paradise.

And yet…

The ghettos have, over the years, grown to swallow the cities that once they were but an unfortunate part of, and a small, squalid life of toil in service to the wealthy few is now the rule, not the exception. The rich, or those with power within the mega-corporations that have usurped elected governments, have the world at their fingertips and behave with the arrogance of Gods, and the masses cower before them.

Oh, there’s talk of “runners” stealing information from the megacorps and giving it to the masses, but every runner I’ve ever met is only in it for his or her own personal gain. Half the time they’re working for one corp and stealing from another. The idea of doing something solely to benefit mankind seems, like golems and zeppelins and revolution, to have been lost to the ages.

So here I wait, in this odd, alien world, to break down and finally shed these mortal coils. And when my time comes, I can not say I’ll miss this world.

And yet…

And yet when I remember what could have been, remember the sights and sounds and energy and the feeling that anything was possible, I can’t help yearn for days gone by. For the days when zeppelins soared…