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Dark Wood


Valhalla Pilot

Valhalla is a 30 minute comedy about the first viking to die and go to Valhalla, but he's alone there for a while and starts to get weird so Odin makes him the chef to prepre food for the warriors to come.

Field Storm Clouds


A man is alone in bed, fast asleep. His mouth ajar, coaxed into total relaxation by a seductive summer breeze that washes over him in the night. Very slowly, a tiny, cautious, black hand is outstretched towards the man’s face. The hand pauses over his cheekbone.


*Slap*... *Slap* *Slap*.... *Slap* Slap* Slap* *Sla-


This hand is attached to a raccoon, comfortably sitting on her haunches on the adjacent pillow with a metal collar around her neck, aimlessly looking around the room.


*Slap* *Slap* *Slap*


Like a toddler expressing a desire for attention from a stranger in a grocery store, this uncoordinated assault is more of a open-handed poke than an attack. The slaps turn to face-mushes as her slender fingers sink into the man’s peacefully plump cheeks. After a moment of this, with no signs of the man stirring, the tiny hand is retracted. After a moment, the raccoon looks at her hand, then at the man’s face. Then leans forward, supporting herself with her other forelimb, and inserts her free paw into the man’s mouth and unceremoniously flaps it around, as if she’s searching for something at the bottom of a purse in poor lighting. The man is jarred awake and talks through a brief coughing/spitting fit.


“Oh come on! Jesus Gertha.”


Without opening her mouth Gertha responds in a soothing, yet haunting monotone voice that doesn’t quite gel with her haphazard body language


“Ha. Ha. Great joke Gertha. Gertha is queen of jokes.”


She is telepathic. The man heads to the bathroom to rinse his mouth.


“I’m serious, if you keep this up you’ll go back to sleeping in the lab.” 


Gertha is still sitting on the pillow.






“No. I want grapes.”


“Are you kidding me? You’re not getting grapes after that. Go to bed.”


“I am a god give me grapes.”


“You are not a god, you are a racoon.”


“You are not a man, give me grapes.”


“Stop talking to my mother.”


“No. Cathy is kind and generous with her grapes.”


The man sighs, he’s back in bed and not going to win this fight. A Beat. Gertha looks at the man facing away from her in the dark.


“Goodnight Tim, thank you for my pillow and no cage. Love you.”


She nestles in. Tim smiles with his eyes closed.


“Love you too, Gertha.”


“Grapes for breakfast.”




Saint Paul

“It’s not a haircut, it’s a lifestyle.” said Paul. The table exploded in laughter and, as usual, he moonwalked out of the monastery cafeteria to chants of “Paul! Paul! Paul!” before kissing two fingers, raising them up towards the heavens and turning the corner.


Friar Paul was effortless. Moreover, of all those who had devoted their lives to God on that snowy mountain top in 1125 Switzerland, there was no doubt he was made in God’s image. 5’4, 210lbs, a crown of wispy auburn hair encircling a shiny bald dome, and an ass that wouldn’t quit. Sometimes, when approaching from a distance, you’d see his ass before you saw him. Even from the front. In a snowstorm.

It was Christmas Eve, and the monastery halls were electric; prayer competitions, foot races, end of list. But as Paul made his way back to his chambers, he couldn’t help but feel a soft sadness wash over him. Not so much that he couldn’t brush it aside to exchange pleasantries, but more than enough for his roommate, David Axelrod, to pick up as soon as he entered the room. “Nervous about your bell solo in the bell choir during tomorrow’s Christmas mass even though you’re a once in a generation talent who’s only flaw is being too good of a friend?” David asked from the top bunk. “Can I take my slippers off before the autopsy, doc?” Paul joked as he limbered up before his nightly sprint into bed. “I just calls em like I sees em. Goodnight brother.” David said lovingly and blew out this candle. Thump thump thump thump- SQUEEEEKY squeeky squeeky squeek. Paul exhaled the day. Bed at last.


Future chief strategist to the Obama campaign, David Axelrod, was right. And Paul Knew it. If anyone could be trusted with starting off the most important bell choir song of the most important mass of the most important Christmas of the year, it was Paul and his impossibly tight dumper.



       I lean over the pot and breathe in the heavenly smells billowing from this mystery stew. The chefs here always keep me guessing, but I swear this one’s familiar. I grab a spoon and have a taste. After a considered moment I murmur “Needs salt. But it’s close...” “Hey, what’re you doing!? Please go back to your table sir, customers are not allowed back here.” An idiot wearing a dumb shirt says to me. “I’ll leave on one condition.” I say too loud.


“What. is. that. soup.”


I say. “What soup?” says the colorblind Bon Jovi impersonator. Without looking I point in the soup I’m obviously talking about, fully submerging my hand and say “This soup.” “That’s water. That now needs to be tossed because yo-”


I zone out as he’s talking. “Water.” I think, as I smell my finger and chuckle. I knew I recognized it. “Needs salt.” I say, interrupting whatever it was saying. We stare at each other. I take another spoonful of soup. “Get out.” He says. I do, but not because he said so. 

Moments later I’m on the street and a dachshund named John tied to a post is licking the inside of my mouth like it’s the first good meal he’s had in weeks. “I’ve got plans.” I brag as I pull away. The wiener is shocked. “I don’t mean to be cold but my sister won the lottery and I can’t get too attached. You understand.” He licks his balls in agreement. I feel invincible. A delivery boy on a bicycle zooms past and I know a challenge when I see one. John looks up from his cleaning and in a deep voice says “Run.”


I do. And I’ll never stop.

Modern Restaurant Kitchen


Hahahahahahah” Everyone laughed. Ostensibly it was a good joke. Am I allowed to say that? If I told it? I’m not used to being the funny gal in the lab so I don’t really know the etiquette for when you land a zinger this hard... I should do something, I’m just standing here with my arms pressed to my sides with no plan as everyone laughs... Like that mannequin I saw wearing the sleeveless t with a bagel saying ‘bite me’ on it at the GAP... Great, now I’m a blue comedian… FOCUS What does Sammy do? OH she usually shrugs her shoulders and says “‘I’m just sayin!!” Yeah, I’ll do that. “I’m just sayin!!” I yell. “Guys that’s all I’m sayin!!! If anyone is interested in me sayin more- then… I-I’m sorry, I can’t help you!” Okay my shoulders are getting too high. This feels weird. Good one, Becca.” Dr.Greenfield the LEAD RESEARCHER with a big bushy mustache says warmly. “Thank you doctor.” I reflexively curtsey and regret it instantly. He pretends not to see because he is a good man.

As I was saying,” Dr.Kraig continued. “the response to the unequal treatment was astonishing: Capuchins who witnessed unfair treatment and failed to benefit from it often refused to conduct future exchanges with human researchers, would not eat the cucumbers they received for their labors, and in some cases, hurled food rewards at human researchers. Very naughty boys as Becky would say. He gives me a wink like we’re friends. But we are not friends. Not once has he been nice to me. He knows I struggle to talk to people, he knows I second guess myself, he never acknowledges my work, and now he’s trying to leech off my good will. “Not my monkeys.” I say. “Excuse me?” Dr.Kraig asks. “My monkeys don’t throw food at researchers. Perhaps you’re being too rough in administering the rewards.” I reply. The whole board room mummers “Oh my god, is he being mean to the monkeys?” “I bet he’s keeping all the cucumbers to himself…” Finally Dr.Greenfield stands up and says I think it’s best you leave, Jack.” As Dr.Kraig walks out the room I put a hand on his shoulder, look him in the eyes and say; 

“No free clout.”

Then knee him in the jewels. 


As I lay in bed a soft breeze tumbles in & gently shakes the corners of the pages I’ve yet to read. I look up from my book for the first time in what feels like hours & see him standing out on the balcony looking over the city- his figure silhouetted in the moonlight. He’s leaning over the balcony, feet staggered with his forearms on the railing, hands lazily clasped together. The muscles in his smooth shoulders seamlessly flow together like round stones in a glassy river all the way down his back. I close my book as quietly as I can so I don’t disturb this piece of art- this painting of my love that I am all at once both terrified & elated to be living in at this moment. I reach over to grab his shirt he’s left crumpled at the foot of the bed to bury myself in his smell & I rip an earth shattering fart. Like a Harley Davidson roaring through an underpass, the rooms goes dark & I see visions of dead relatives & hear echos of my father crying.



When I come to it’s morning. I’m in a different room & there’s a woman watering flowers beside my bed. I have trouble making noise so I reach out to grab her attention & notice my arm. Clear tubes are going into my veins & there's a plastic bracelet on my wrist - but my arm is old. Before long a doctor comes in & asks me some questions, he’s very kind & handsome & after I’ve answered all his questions he tells me “You’re at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, ma’am, & you’ve been here for some time.” Maybe it’s too much for me to process right now or I’m in shock but I just nod & say “Okay.” He rests his hand on my forearm, gives me a reassuring smile, & says “Okay.” He gets up & walks to the door. Just before he’s gone he stops at the threshold, turns to me & says; “Also just be aware that you farted yourself into a coma.” “Yeah right!!” I said.


“Yeah. Right.” He said. 

Country Hotel


Enoch runs to the middle of the town market 


Everyone! The village elder is dead! 


Chuck, in the middle of a transaction, has a violent outburst then finishes paying.  



FUCK. (Gently) Thank you. 



She was the pillar of our humble community. She saw us through war, & famine, & winters so cold we thought spring would never come. When we fell ill she cared for us & when all seemed lost she gave us hope. Even the animals knew, the fire in her soul burned to keep others warm & so they followed where she went… Luckily, Chuck has been studying under the elder & carries the wisdom of generations in him & will help guide our people through the trials & tribulations ahead. 


Everyone turns to Chuck. A large dog throws up on his shoes. 


Chuck ( unconvincingly):

 It’s gonna be good. 


Chuck gives a thumbs up.


Towns person:
What of the raiders?


Yes, the harvest is upon us & with it come the raiders. For as long as they came the elder was able to turn their bloodlust into friendship with nothing but her words. What will you say to them when they come?  


Ah! Yes, well, I don’t remember exactly the wording of what the elder would say but I would probably- I mean not probably- I am going to say these words, or some combination of words, because that’s what speaking is…unless you’re deaf…you use… hands.... 


The townspeople & the dog look at Chuck with baited breath 


“Be as you wish to seem.” 

Towns person (narrowing their eyes):
… How would that help?

Well I- 


Chuck, these are blood thirsty raiders.


Right and so- 


Towns person:
& so you thought you’d critique their personality? (to a child) Come on honey, let’s go home so we can die with your sisters.  


The dog is furiously eating radishes while keeping eye contact with Chuck 

Okay, he’s trying to make himself throw up again. 


The dog nods as he chews. Tests to see if he’s ready to vomit- not yet- Signals to the man at the radish stall who dumps more in front of the dog.



Farm Dog


“Are you excited to see your babunia?” Mom asked through the rear view mirror. The question made me nervous, not because I didn’t know the answer, I was just looking at my shoes for a long time and didn’t expect to be put on the spot. I nodded decidedly.  “Yeah, you’re gonna have so much fun.” She said, almost to herself with a smile. I didn’t talk much, so I didn’t have many friends. Sometimes my parents would get frustrated or upset when they wanted me to talk and I just couldn’t. But not my Babcia. We would spend hours together having the best time and she didn’t seem to mind or even notice. I didn’t have to talk, she just got me. She was magic, and I was on my way for my first ever sleepover at her house. Babcia’s house was old, but still cozy and somehow seemed to never have problems. We lived in a new house but there was always something wrong with the pipes, or the windows or the lights. It caught fire twice. 


When we arrived, Babcia greeted my mother with a hug and kisses, then looked around and asked; “Now where’s my little Misio…?” We did this every time we saw each other. Misio, or little bear, was her nickname for me, and when she’d say it, I’d jump from behind mom with my claws out and yell “RAAR!” Then babcia would get her claws out and “RAAAR” back at me. We would stand making bear noises back and forth at each other until we made ourselves laugh at how crazy we looked. Mom never joined in but it made her happy to see us play. “Okay, well have fun you two. I’ll be back at ten tomorrow to pick you up okay?” Mom said. I nodded and we waved as she drove off. 


“Come little Misio, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” said Babcia, ushering me inside. I had no doubt it was one of the endless strays she used to take in, or maybe it was a big stuffed animal she’d gotten for me! Either way, I rushed in to meet my new friend and froze at what I saw. There, just on top of the dining room table, stood a creature. Not a foot tall, holding a tiny broom made of straw, sweeping the table. It looked almost like a little man, with big bare feet, arms and a face with the rest of it obscured by a big little beard.

“Leszek.” Babcia said, getting it’s attention. The creature looked up from its task. “Oh. Hello.” It spoke to me in a pleasant voice. I gasped and grabbed Babcia. She chuckled and said “It’s okay little Misio. Leszek is friendly.” “Sometimes I pinch.” He said, making the motion with his hand. “Leszek.” Babcia said with her eyebrow raised. “But yes, mostly I am nice.” He assured me. “Come, sit.” Babcia motioned towards a chair at the table and made her way to the kitchen. Reluctantly, I sat, avoiding eye contact with the creature. Leszek sat on the edge of the fruit bowl with his feet dangling over, looking directly at me. After a few moments he leaned sideways into my field of view and said, “I like your shoes.” “Thanks.” I said in my usual polite and scared tone- although this time I did feel my fear was justified. “Do you... want some garlic?” He asked. I did not. Garlic made my nose itch and I had hoped to stave off the practice of eating raw alliums until my fifties at the earliest; but not wanting to offend him, I replied “Um. Sure! ...thank you.” and graciously accepted a bulb. “Happy to help.” He said with a smile. Not knowing what to do next, I picked off a clove and put it in my mouth. Babcia returned from the kitchen with a tray of tea and cookies and, noticing the garlic in my hand, said “Oh sweetie you have to peel those… and cook them. Aren’t you allergic?” Mouth full of garlic skin, I started to try and explain what happened, but the rosy cheeked smile of Leszek told babcia everything she needed to know. “Ah. I see.” She poured tea as she went on “You don’t have to eat that sweetheart. For all the good he does around here mischief is also in his nature.” “I’m a feeder.” Offered Leszek, as if someone had asked him. “You see Leszek is a Domovoi.” said Babcia. As she spoke Leszek enjoyed a linzer torte, powder and crumbs dotting his mustache and beard. “They are benevolent house sprites that, when treated well, will help with chores and protect your home from all manner of harm. Usually they prefer to be heard, not seen. But today is a very special day.” I thought for a moment. “Do we treat ours badly? Is that why our doors creek and our windows won’t shut and our shower smells like eggs?” I asked, fearing the worst. “That’s a drain issue, very easy to fix. I’ll show you after cookie.” Leszek said. “No, little Misio, you don’t treat yours badly. In fact, there are no Domovoi in your house at all.” Babcia said. That was a relief. “How do we get one?” I asked. It occurred to me if I could find one for our house it’d make things a lot easier for mom and dad. “Well, you can’t just get one anywhere. A Domovoi will choose a family to attach themselves to, and when you move to a new home you have to invite them.” “Like a vampire.” added Leszek. “You are nothing like a vampire.” Babcia said dryly. “I chase cats in the night.” Leszek countered. “Okay?” said Babcia. “Okay.” Leszek agreed. Babcia gave a loving sigh and turned to me. “Well. This has been a lot. How’s about a nice bath, hm?” She asked. I nodded emphatically, mostly for my love of baths but partly in agreement that, for a girl who was afraid of wind, meeting a talking chore goblin who loves eye contact would very much be considered “a lot.”


Baths are a great place to think. And the thought I kept having was; as strange as all of this is, I can’t help but feel… happy. Babcia had lived here alone for many years and I’d never heard her talk about having any friends. As far as I knew, our visits were the only times she saw anybody. And to find out that all this time there’s been someone, even a tiny lunatic, looking after her, made me so happy. 


After my bath it was time to cook, which I loved. Babcia made the best Kopytka in the world and she’d say they were never as good without my help. So, with my new found appreciation of Leszek, I ran down to get started. But when I got to the kitchen, Babcia was leaning over the sink, crying. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She looked up and wiped a tear off her cheek. “Oh, little Misio. I love you so much. You know that?” she smiled through her tears. I walked over and hugged her as tight as I could. “I know.” I said. “Do you remember when I said today was very special?” she asked. She took a deep breath and held my hands. “Domovoi only show their true form when someone in the house is very sick, or about to die.” She said in as comforting a voice as she could muster. I hugged her tight again and started to cry into her stomach. “He showed up this morning before you came and I knew. The last time I saw him was when dziadek got sick. I had almost forgotten what he looked like. I’m just so happy I got to see you one more time, little Misio.” She whispered as she kissed the top of my head. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes. The Domovoi have a way of knowing these things. They have walked the Earth for thousands of years and their connection to-” Just then one of Babcia’s stray cats walked in and threw up with a tenacity that can only be described as hateful. The cat gripped the carpet as if it would try to escape were she to loosen her grasp. It then made a horrible guttural moan and slinked off. We stood for a moment in shock and disgust when from behind us we heard; “Cat threw up.” We turned to see Leszek standing on the opposite end of the kitchen. He walked over to investigate, his little feet pitter pattering on the tile. “Mmm. Too much garlic. I’ll see what I can do. Pssst psst pssst” and with that, vanished into a cloud of dust. Babcia and I burst out laughing. 


After a thorough search we couldn’t find Leszek anywhere, and we spent the night crying and laughing as we made more Kopytka than we could eat. When we told my mom what happened the next day, she didn’t quite know what to make of it. But after some discussions, we all agreed that Babcia had been alone for too long and it was time she moved in with us. Two months later, our doors didn’t creek, our shower stopped smelling like eggs and there were no more fires. Except for when we ran out of linzer tortes one time and a bunch of napkins were mysteriously set a blaze. But that was a small price to pay for the safety of a little bear and her best friend. 

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