Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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Random Act of Fiction: The Upholsterer

This is the beginning of a Babes in Spyland novel that I wrote almost ten years ago. It’s a bit painful to read – I’ve come a long way since then – but still fun!

This is the cover to the original Babes in Spyland.

Everything looked different upside down, Bunnynose decided, turning her head so she could see the entirety of the secret lair. Random scientific equipment lined the floor of the warehouse sized room, but most of it did not look as if it had a purpose other than to impress whomever came to visit. Tables with glass vials stood two deep at one end of the room next to an exceedingly unorganized table with three or four computers strewn about it. Two of the monitors were on and even from where Super Secret Agent Bunnynose hung from the rafters she could hear one of the hard drives chugging loudly. Probably downloading stuff from You Tupe, she thought dryly.

Finally, after what had to have been a good thirty minutes, someone came in to the giant room via a door in the far corner. Bunnynose had to wriggle like a worm on a hook in order to turn enough to be able to see her host.

“Caught already?” an unamused voice asked from the tall figure approaching. Bunnynose didn’t bother to answer, what was the point? “And where is your partner? I thought you and Super Secret Agent Milkshakes were supposed to be working this case together.”

“She got distracted by a cafe this morning, I haven’t seen her since.” Bunnynose knew she should not answer, as a matter of fact it was agency policy that you did not speak if you were captured, but there were times when the smart remarks simply slipped out of her mouth like dress shoes on icy walks. Besides, after hanging upside down for half an hour Bunnynose was getting irritable.

“Tsk, tsk,” the figure shook her head in disappointment. “I expected more from the two of you.” This time Bunnynose did not answer. Instead she allowed herself to turn back to her original position, following the woman walk towards a control panel. Predictably it was the winch that had Bunnynose hanging like a bungee jumper above a large vat of green, boiling liquid.

“I suppose I will just have to track her down after I’ve taken care of you.”

A slight movement from the corner of the building caught Agent Bunnynose’s attention, but she did not allow her eyes to track it. There was another from the ceiling, but it was so dark up there that Bunnynose could not tell what, or more likely who, it was.

“You could try,” Bunnynose said conversationally, “but I doubt you’ll find her. She’s much quicker than she looks, and she’s probably on her way here with back up.”

Amusement flew across the tall woman’s face as she looked up at Bunnynose, “I doubt she’ll get here before I plunge you into that vat there.”

Buying time Bunnynose took a gamble.

“What is this stuff anyway?” she asked. “it smells awful.”

“Ah,” the woman’s eyes lit up and Bunnynose knew she had hit the jackpot. If there was one thing all super villans loved to do it was tell you all about their plans for global domination or destruction. Not one of them that Bunnynose had ever met could resist sharing. Lucky for her Super Secret Supervisor Agent MUD was no different. Even in a simple training drill MUD had an evil plan, and sharing was one of her favorite things

“I had such plans,” MUD lamented, looking around, her hands still poised above the controls to the winch. “There was to be a super virus, first sent out on the world wide web via You Tupe on a video of Parry Hotter cos play. That was going to disrupt the entire internet, while on the other side of the world a pumped up strain of the parrot flu virus was to be released in the Shanghai airport.” MUD sighed. “You four were supposed to stop me.” A scowl and then a glare followed as MUD looked up at the dangling Bunnynose. “And then you go and get captured while Amphibian Queen and Sugar Lips were completely distracted by my false clues regarding terrorist activities in Cancun. Milkshakes is no where to be found!”

Now there was irritation bordering on anger in the Supervisor’s voice. “Agent Milkshakes hasn’t been seen in hours and you’re here! I thought you were my top agents.” With a flick of her finger MUD released the tension on the winch and Bunnynose began to fall.

“Wait!” Bunnynose cried. Her inevitable collision with the liquid below stopped about ten feet short of impact. “If the terrorists in Cancun weren’t involved then who is?”

MUD sighed again, genuinely disappointed. “I was working with Bear and the Iceland intelligence agency. No one would ever suspect them.”

“Hah!” a triumphant cry came from the upper, west corner of the room. Bunnynose recognized the ‘Hah’ immediately. Sugar Lips was here to rescue her.

MUD’s head whipped around and she searched the far corner.

“I knew it was Iceland!”

“Guards!” MUD bellowed.

“Oh, they’re all taking a well earned nap,” another voice said, this one much closer and on the ground. Super Secret Agent Milkshakes stepped out from behind a pile of crates, armed with her gun and grinning from ear to ear.

“You really need to get better help,” Super Secret Agent Amphibian Queen said, emerging from behind the computer table, disconnected cables in her hands. “And a better computer geek. These things are dinosaurs.”

MUD glared, but there was a hint of pride in her eyes.

“Now if you don’t mind,” Milkshakes said, taking a step forward, “Just move away from the control panel for me, hands in the air.”

Of course she didn’t. MUD flicked the switch and Bunnynose felt herself falling.

“Figures,” she said more to herself than anyone else. But the fall only lasted for a foot or so before she jerked to a stop once again. Right below her, out of the corner of the room, Super Secret Agent Sugar Lips swung on a cable. She had set up her trajectory to catch Bunnynose only a foot or so from the surface of the vat, but MUD had stopped her drop, allowing Sugar Lips to swing harmlessly below. Then Bunnynose felt the rope go lax and she fell with a splash into the green liquid below.

Milkshakes watched Sugar Lips miss Bunnynose. She tired to shoot at MUD before the woman could drop her partner, but it didn’t matter. The gun was a paint gun and MUD simply took the impact as she flicked the switch again, sending Bunnynose into the vat of boiling, green water. At least Milkshakes hoped it was water.

Above them Sugar Lips swung back and dropped just a few feet from MUD. Out of habbit she drew her weapon and pointed it at MUD, who put her hands up.

“Sloppy,” MUD said, shaking her head.

“No villian is going to think of that,” Sugar Lips complained, waving her hand above them. “You did that just to make Bunnynose mad.”

“She got caught,” MUD said, folding her arms over her stomach, looking like a stubborn child. “How many times to I have to tell the four of you that getting caught is not on any agenda?”

Milkshakes was moving towards the vat when a pair of hands, still tied together, popped up over the side. Bunnynose’s head followed and she took a gulp of air.

“That’s cold!” she yelled at MUD, although she didn’t seem too angry. Yet.

With ease Bunnynose pulled herself up the inside of the vat, over the edge, landing lightly on her feet, which were still tied together as well. As if on cue Amphibian Queen appeared with a knife, cutting the ropes first from Bunnynose’s feet and then her hands.

Milkshakes watched in amusement as Bunnynose shook the water out of her hair and clothes. When she figured out that the green dye was not going to come out easily Bunnynose was going to be upset.

“Sorry I missed you,” Sugar Lips apologized, shooting MUD a glare.

“That was clever,” Bunnynose shrugged, addressing MUD.

“No getting caught,” MUD said again, slapping the back of one hand into the palm of another. “Things won’t always work out.” Her features softened slightly. “You four are some of our best agents. You brought Chicken down not once, but twice. If one of you were to be captured by anyone who was even halfway intelligent we would all be at risk. The things you know could threaten not just our country, but the entire world! You need to be more careful.”

“Disable the power before we come in.” Amphibian Queen muttered, obviously already thinking about what she could have done differently.

This was not the reaction MUD wanted and she threw up her hands. “What did you do with my guards?”

“They’re all tied up on the roof.” Sugar Lips said with more than a little satisfaction.

MUD took a deep breath, closing her eyes. “This training exercise is over. Go get cleaned up. I’ll meet you in the locker rooms in ten minutes.” With that MUD strode off towards the door where she entered.

“Ten minutes?” Bunnynose complained, looking at the green-ness of her usually blond hair.

“In the locker room?” Sugar Lips frowned.

The four Super Secret Agents, and best friends, looked at one another suspiciously.

“MUD’s got something up her sleeve.” Milkshakes decided. And that, they all knew, was never a good thing.


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28-May-2021

Six weeks of limericks!

That’s right, for the next six weeks I’ll be writing a random limerick for Flash Fiction Friday.

Because I want to.

Week 1

There once was a zombie named Jane
Who started a crazy campaign
To help people see
What their life could be
If they were deprived of their brain


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Funny Meme Day

I’ve been busy.

I’ve been stressed.

The thing I’ve really been looking forward to got postponed because of weather and I’m bumed about it.

Because of that, you get some of the fun memes the hubby and I have sent to one another.

Right?
Epic Eye Roll Here
Sorry about the language, but funny.
This calls to my Aliens obsession as a teenager.
This would make shopping so much more interesting!
Now I’m hungry.

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A Girl and Her Cat Chapter 15

Chapter 15

I honestly didn’t expect the apocalypse to be so full of memorable noises. The thud of the van hitting Jason, then the thump, thump as we drove over him would never be scrubbed from my brain. Neither would the howls of those who clawed at the windows as Whitney drove onto the sidewalk and followed it until we got to the road.

“Go, go, go!” Wyatt said.

Whitney obeyed.

Echo’s ears went back, and he glanced around me to Anne.

“Echo is telling me Anne is about to attack someone,” I said.

“Yeah,” Wyatt said with a grunt. “I can see that.”

I glanced over my shoulder just as Whitney got us into the main road. Wyatt was sitting on Anne with his hand on her neck to keep her head down. She had her arms pinned beneath her, but that didn’t stop her from trying to bit him.

“Throw her out!” Whitney said.

“Just get us to the hospital.”

The adrenaline from Matthew attacking me must have worn off, because my arm started to throb, and the world began spinning.

“Hang on, Everly, we’re almost there,” Whitney said.

Echo butted his head against my hand, and he let me pet him until the van jerked to a stop and EMTs swarmed me.

I heard Wyatt and Whitney explaining what had happened. I felt them lift me out of the van and lay me down. I closed my eyes when the bright lights of the hospital filled my vision. I decided to leave them closed and drifted into oblivion.

Voices from far away woke me. It took me a second to focus on just one of them.

“Where are her parents?”

“They’re at the movies. Their phones won’t be on. We already left a message.”

That was Wyatt.

“Only family can be back here.”

“We brought her in.” That was Whitney. Was she crying?

“You also brought the infected girl in?”

“Yeah.”

I wrenched my eyes open and instantly wished I hadn’t. Blinding lights greeted me. I groaned and put a hand over my eye.

“Everly!” Wyatt and Whitney both spoke at once. I peeked out from behind my arm, which I realized had a thick bandage wrapped around it, and found one of them standing on each side of me. I was in a bed that had curtains around it. The emergency room.

“Are you okay?” Whitney grabbed my other hand.

Wyatt put his hand on my forehead. He had a butterfly bandage on his cheek. “Glad to see you’re awake.” He smiled.

Or maybe that was my overactive imagination. My arm didn’t hurt, which meant I was on some good pain killers.

Wyatt jerked his head over his shoulder. “Echo is in the other room going crazy.”

I tried to sit up, but found I had no strength.

“Don’t worry,” Whitney said. “We left him with a lady and her three kids. He’s entertaining them.”

Echo did like kids.

“Is he hissing at anyone?” I asked.

The siblings both gave me a confused look.

A woman in blue scrubs approached. “How are you feeling?”

Whitney moved so the woman could get to the equipment at the head of my bed. Only then did I realize I had an IV in one arm.

“Uh, fine. Actually.”

“You have a bad bite on your left arm. We’ve left it open under the bandage until you decide if you want a skin graft.”

“A skin graft?” My voice wavered. I lifted my left arm and stared at the white cloth wrapped around it as if I could see what lay beneath.

“Amy took a huge chunk of skin and muscle,” Wyatt said. He still had his hand on my forehead.

The pain killers didn’t mute the butterflies in my stomach as I took in the fact that Wyatt was touching me. “I remember.”

The woman checked the machines, shined a light in my eyes, then said she would be right back.

Whitney returned to my side. “Why did you ask if Echo hissed at anyone?”

Before I could answer, and ear-piercing scream sounded from far too close.

Wyatt leaned down and spoke softly. “That’s Anne.”

“You should have pushed her out of the van,” Whitney said.

Wyatt ignored her. “She went a little crazy on the way here.”

I nodded. I short of remembered. The butterflies in my stomach faded. Wyatt still cared about her. He’d gone out of his way to save her. I needed to remember that I had a crush on him and not the other way around. “Is she okay?”

“They won’t tell us anything,” Wyatt said, “but we’ve heard the doctors calling for security to restrain her. They’ve sedated her but it’s not working.”

Whitney looked in the direction the scream had come from. “She’s not the only one. There are five or six of them, and they all keep yelling about how hungry they are.”

“Just like Matthew,” I whispered. “And Jason.”

They both nodded.

“Echo hasn’t hissed at anyone?” I asked.

“He didn’t look happy about a couple of people in the waiting room, but no hissing,” Wyatt said. “Why?”

My thoughts were fuzzy, but this was important. “Echo hissed at everyone who attacked us before they attacked us. Sometimes days before.”

Wyatt furrowed his brow.

Whitney cocked her head to the side. “Not everyone he hissed at his attacked us.”

“Not yet,” I said.

Wyatt straightened up and removed his hand from my head. He used it to wipe his face. “You’re right.”

I nodded.

“Do you have your phone?” Wyatt asked Whitney.

“Yeah.” She made the word into a question.

“I’m going to go check on Echo.” Wyatt patted me on the shoulder as he left.

Whitney drew her phone from her back pocket but kept her attention on me. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking Echo can tell who is going to…turn.”

“Turn?”

“Go crazy? I don’t know what to call it, but he can tell and that’s why he’s been acting so strange.”

Whitney tilted her head back and forth. “I don’t know. It seems a bit far-fetched.”

“And running from a bunch of high school band and theater students who are trying to bit us isn’t?”

“Good point.” Her phone vibrated, and she swiped it to life. “Wyatt says Echo has hissed at one person in the ER. He said he’s going to tell the nurse to keep an eye on the guy. Also, he sent a picture.” She turned her phone around to show me a photo of Echo sitting on the floor with his eyes half closed while three little kids petted him.

“At least someone his having a good day,” I said. Then I remembered that he’d been thrown. “I need to take him to the vet. Make sure he hasn’t been injured.”

Another message arrived. Whitney made a face. “Looks like our parents went to get your parents. And they have some guy in a suit with them.”

I heard my mother’s voice before I saw her. “Where is she?”

“This way, ma’am.”

Whitney moved to the head of my bed to make room. Wyatt, his parents, my parents, and the man in the suit poured into the small space. The curtains bulged, and I hoped no one was in the bed next to mine. If so, they were probably getting a lot of butts in their face.

“Everly!” My mom ran to give me a hug.

I was glad the drugs were keeping me a bit numb, or I probably would have dissolved into a mess of tears and snot at that moment. It felt good to have her arms around me. Safe.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Fine. Ish.” I held up my newly bandaged arm. “I got bit again.”

My dad put his hand on my knee. “You must taste good.”

“Apparently.”

The Larsen’s grilled their kids on what had happened as my parents did the same. That is until the man in the suit cleared his throat.

My mom looked at him, them back at me. “Everly, this is Mr. Conner. He works for the health department. He wanted to make sure you were okay and explain what was going on.”

“Hi,” I said. I hoped my tone didn’t indicate all of the questions I had. Why would they want to interview me? There were a thousand other people at the school. Also, why would they send someone specifically to tell us what was going on?

Mr. Conner, who was about Wyatt’s height and sported short blond hair, came to the foot of my bed. He looked around the circle of my friends and family, and spoke in a calm voice.

“The health department sent me to assure you that everything is going to be okay. The people who attacked you, and others at the play, all have trace remnants of the bad batches of soda pop in their systems. These batches were concentrated here in this area, so this is just a local occurrence. The ingredient reacts in some people more aggressively than others, which is why a small percentage of those who drank the soda have become unstable.”

The tone of his voice and the cadence of the words made me feel as if he’d said this a hundred times. Like the guy in the apocalypse movies who came to soothe the masses even though he knew everything was going to blow up.

Wyatt met my gaze, and I could see he was thinking the same thing.

Mr. Conner continued. “There are a lot of rumors flying around. I want to assure you that everyone will recover.”

“Recover?” I asked. What about Jason? We’d run him over.

“There won’t be any charges brought up against anyone who was at the play, no matter what happened.”

“That doesn’t sound feasible,” my dad said.

Mr. Conner gave him a tight smile. “I assure you that is the case.” He looked at me, and in that moment I knew that he knew we’d run Jason over. Not to mention injuring others. He gave my dad his card. “Please call me with any questions or concerns. Now I’m going to visit the other families of those who have been affected by this tragedy.”

We all watched as he walked away.

“That was strange,” Mr. Larsen said.

“They’re just trying to make sure we don’t all sue the soda company,” my mom said.

She was probably right.

At that moment my dad’s stomach growled so loud everyone stopped to look at him.

He grinned. “Sorry, I didn’t get to eat all of my popcorn at the movie.”

“You ate half of mine and yours,” my mom said.

It was then I remembered what had happened with Echo and my dad. Echo had hissed at him. My dad was hungry when he shouldn’t be. My heart stopped beating for a moment, and I suddenly felt trapped.

Would my dad turn into one of those monsters? Would he be okay? Or was Mr. Conner lying?

My eyes darted to Wyatt, who was watching me. I tried to communicate that something was terribly wrong. He raised his eyebrows in question.

The doctor, a man I hadn’t seen yet, arrived. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith?”

My parents turned toward him.

“Can I have a minute?”

My mom grabbed my hand. “We can’t leave her alone!”

“You can.” I tried to wring my fingers free. “I’m actually feeling a little light headed. I’d like to lay down for a few minutes.” Of course I was already laying down, but my mom bought my little act. “Okay, honey, we’ll be right back.”

The doctor smiled at me. “We’ll just be a few rooms away. If you need anything, hit the call button.” He pointed.

“Thanks.”

Whitney and Wyatt hung back as everyone else left. I reached out and wrapped my fingers around Wyatt’s wrist. “Watch my dad.”

“Your dad?”

Whitney glanced toward where the adults had gone.

I lowered my voice. “Echo hissed at him yesterday.”

Wyatt’s lips pressed into a tight line. He took my hand, squeezed it, and gave me a nod. “We’ll watch him.”

“Thanks.”

He smiled. “Not quite the apocalypse we imagined, eh?”

“Not really,” I said.

“Hopefully it’s just a local event, like Mr. Conner said.”

“Hopefully,” I said.

The End
For Now…

***

If you missed the beginning of the story, click HERE to go to Chapter 1


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