How Mal 780 by Paul Belanger - Read Online
How Mal 780
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From the author of the Sol-Bect War saga comes How Mal 780, a collection of stories in a variety of genres, from horror to science fiction to farce. In fact, the only thing these stories have in common is their How Mal code.

The United States Air Force uses number codes to describe the condition of parts in or from an aircraft.
This is called a "How Malfunction" code, or "How Mal" for short.
The How Mal code 780 indicates the part is bent, buckled, collapsed, dented, distorted, or twisted.

The twelve stories in How Mal 780 carefully fall into any, or all, of the above designations. Some stories push the boundaries of good taste, and some clearly step over that line, shotgun in hand. From a garage band pursued by Killer Dogs to a pair of Geeks on a zany road trip to Miami, these stories will entertain and/or confuse you. So grab a beer and a bucket and start reading today!

Published: Lost Luggage Studios, LLC on
ISBN: 9781936489176
List price: $2.99
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How Mal 780 - Paul Belanger

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Forward To Disaster

The title, How Mal 780, is easy to explain although at first glance it is not exactly easy to understand. The Air Force uses number codes to describe the condition of parts in or from an aircraft. This is called a How Malfunction code, or How Mal for short. To further describe my title we need the description of the number 780: bent, buckled, collapsed, dented, distorted, or twisted. These stories carefully fall into any, or all, of the above.

My very first idea for a story never survived. I had used a manual typewriter and completed about two or three pages before I found it too ridiculous to continue. I was in high school at the time and found it easier to procrastinate. I think the title was The Curse of the Moon or some other mundane thing. The more I think about it the less I remember of that story. Maybe it's better off forgotten. I can live with that.

During my last year of high school I began my next writing venture. I wrote it on paper but also found that too difficult and time consuming. The story was Killer Dogs but only contained the last two dogs. It stayed like that for about a year and a half until I was stationed on Okinawa Japan. At that time I purchased my second computer, an Apple ][e, in 1986. After transferring my story from pad to disk, I realized how simple writing with a word processor was and thought, what about the other seven dogs? This was also a great opportunity for me to keep up my typing skills, which have remained around 60 wpm.

Next came the story Going Home, which sprouted from a few Seven & Sevens and a night of depression. A Thief's Flight soon followed, which was another of my strange dreams. Cafeteria was yet another dream, which is where I seem to get most of the bizarre ideas for my short stories.

Later on I wanted to write a horror story and came up with a strange idea one night. Who knows what exactly brought that on because I sure don't. Maybe more drinking? I doubt I was sober for that story. That became Blood, Guts, and Gore. At about the same time as that story surfaced, I had the idea for Justice, which is probably related in some way.

The Geeks Go to Miami was a warped idea conceived by David Brodie and I. He was my roommate while stationed at Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa, Japan. We went to different bases when we returned to the States; he to North Dakota and I to Georgia. Not long after our moves he was sent to Panama City, Florida for training. I went to visit him and while we were on the road the Geeks were born in a strange fit of laughter. Without that meeting the Geeks would not exist.

Who's Crazy was a story I wrote for a Psychology course I took while stationed in Georgia. I got an A on that paper, although I added more to the ending, since I didn't feel it was complete.

Lost Life was an experiment and escapism for me. I always enjoyed watching movies about life on the high seas and decided to try writing a story about it. The Swarves was a group of us that were stationed on Okinawa and worked together in the electrical shop. We used to hang around and party a lot. Both combined and a pirating we go.

The Rabbit and the Apple Core is a story I used as another experiment. I wanted to practice being descriptive and attempt to put across an accurate picture. Then, like everything else in my life, it got out of hand. I still like it though, and that's why I included it here.

I have not been, am not currently, nor will ever be... psychotic. Although people have called me unstable, I'm not. Life is an abortion, but that's mostly because of the idiots that enjoy making other people's lives hell. I don't need that crap and neither do any other decent people on this planet. So I wrote the story Snap! for all of you bastards. Yes, I admit that that is a rather cruel statement, but they all deserve worse than what can be printed. Merry Christmas!

Flightmare grew from the intersection of my pursuit of a pilot certificate and the warped inner reaches of my mind. Once I began flying jets I updated this story for accuracy. I've never flown a Boeing 707, so if you have, please be gentle.

I have spent countless hours over the years since 1986, when I first sat in front of my computer to attempt a short story, writing and editing these works. These stories were written from about 1985 to 1992, so some things (e.g. lack of cell phones) have to be thought of in that context. Did I predict onboard vehicle navigation and moving map displays prior to it being invented?

Sometime in the early 1990s I transferred all my files from the AppleWorks format to what was IBMs leading format, WordPerfect. Then the files moved to Microsoft Word. In 2006 I made the leap to Linux, converting my files to the OpenOffice format, which I still use today.

My writing curiosity dates much further back, probably into 1982 or 1983, but seeing that I have no dates on my stories except the date of last edit, I am left with no clue. Then again, what purpose does knowing when a story was conceived serve? I enjoy writing, although most of the time I can't seem to be satisfied with what I have written. As I gain more knowledge, I return to rewrite parts of each story. I'm happy to say that I am finally satisfied with this collection, and hope that you will enjoy it as well. I know one thing for sure; I will never cease to write no matter what the outcome is. It is too much fun.

A Thief's Flight

It was beginning to look like a beautiful day on Sanity Mountain, with a glorious sun rising over the majestic cliffs. The mountains towered into the sky for miles in whichever direction you looked. In the middle of a peaceful valley below, lay a town that was nearly imprisoned by the encircling cliffs.

Charles was the first to awaken. Something besides the cold air made him want to be sober again. It could have been the short burst of pain in his temples as he clutched his skull. He carefully slipped out of the sleeping bag and headed for the opening of the tent, trying not to make any noise and awaken his friend. Then another sharp burst of pain struck.

Why be quiet, thought Charles as his hands dropped from his skull to the sides of his mouth. Morning, he yelled at the top of his lungs.

Mark jumped from a sound sleep. What was that for?

I just wanted you to know that I was up first, said Charles, trying desperately to look sincere.

You had to wake me up in the middle of an interesting encounter with the opposite sex just to say that you were up first? Mark was upset. It was the best dream he had almost had since they first decided on camping up here for the summer. After three long weeks of dreamless boredom, he finally gets a great dream and it is rudely interrupted.

Well, since you're so unhappy, why don't you jump off the cliff. Charles was enjoying the reaction he was getting from a half-awakened Mark. Their brotherly rivalry transcended the fact that they were not related.

Go hunting and leave me alone. Mark turned from Charles and covered his head with his pillow.

Later days, yelled Charles into Mark's pillow. He exited the tent and leaned back in. "I'm going hunting now."

Okay, dammit, said Mark.

Charles strolled off laughing to himself. It served Mark right for always being a lazy oaf. Maybe now he would realize that having dreams was not the only thing in life, you had to make those dreams come true.

For Charles this trip was a necessity. He could no longer put up with the scum that kept coming into his store attempting to steal things. His five foot ten inch frame with one hundred and ninety pounds of muscle was intimidating. But it was not always enough to make a thief think twice before grabbing something from the shelf and trying to make a run for it.

Mark was the same age as Charles and worked in the same store. They were partners who shared the ownership of a large local bookstore. Mark agreed to come on this excursion in order to get away from it all. While they were on vacation, their third partner, who only owned a fraction of the company but loved being in control, would manage the store.

It was futile to try and fall asleep again, so Mark sat up and reached for a deck of playing cards. The cards were cold to the touch, as was everything else on this chilly summer morning. What a heartless bum, thought Mark as he shuffled the cards and shrugged off the sleeping bag. The least he could've done was warm the cards. Mark could not understand the reason for cold cards. Those thoughts ended as a body slammed against him, throwing him across the tent.

I killed breakfast, with my bare hands. Charles looked proud of himself as he held out a plate with two eggs and some bacon.

You are warped. A real demented individual. Mark shook his head in disgust as he threw the cold cards down and started to get violent. He made a valiant dive for Charles with his fists swinging.

Charles ended the violence with violence. Remembering the law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, Charles made sure that his reaction was a little bit more than equal. Eggs and bacon went everywhere as the metal plate made a crisp clang when slammed against Mark's head.

Okay, you win, said Mark as he rubbed the back of his head. Cut the cards while I lick my breakfast off the floor. Some day you are going to surpass me in the demented department.

I certainly hope not. One of you is enough and something worse is too much. If that ever happened to me, I'd jump off the cliff. But only after I had pushed you over first, said Charles. He picked up the cards, shuffled, and dealt out a hand.

You are so kind. Mark placed his cards down in front of him and said, Blackjack.

Mark's smile upset Charles. You cheat. Those eggs are making the markings come off the cards. You'll die if you...

Freeze, said a new voice.

Both of the tent dwellers slowly turned their heads toward the opening. Standing before them was a boy in his late teens, quickly recognized for what he was, a thief. They knew his type well.

Now step out of the tent slowly, said the thief as he backed away from the opening. The sunlight glittered off of the object he was holding, a large hunting rifle.

Charles and Mark exited the tent and started walking toward the cliff. They stopped about six feet away from a very long fall. In this situation, six feet under would be a lot cleaner than six feet over.

The thief followed them to the edge of the cliff. Mark split to the left and Charles to the right, creating a gap between them. The thief produced a handgun from his belt and aimed it at Mark while the rifle was aimed at Charles.

I want all your money, or your life, maybe, said the thief.

"Wait a minute. What's this maybe shit? asked Mark while advancing toward the thief. I want a definite threat, no maybe garbage. Change your threat or go rob someone else."

Charles nodded.

Give me your money, or else, said the thief.

No way. You've got to do better than that. Charles took two steps closer to the thief and put his hands on his hips. "What is the or else? I would like to know what we're getting into."

Mark nodded.

Okay. Give me your money or die, said the thief.

Hold it, hold it, said Mark while moving closer and waving his hands in front of himself.

What now? The thief shifted his weight from one foot to the other and shook his head in disgust. It had taken him half a day to climb that mountain and he spent another two days looking for vacationers to extort money from. This was his third robbery for the week and he had been hoping for a least a dozen. It seemed to him that people carried less money with them this year than the previous one. He had no clue as to how he was supposed to make a living on that and considered becoming a murderer instead.

"What is this or die alternative? If you want to scare someone you should use a line like this, said Mark. He formed his hand into the shape of a gun and put on his best gangster impression. Give me all your money and then die."

Charles, while keeping a straight face, nodded. I'm scared, he said in a casual tone.

I see what you mean, said the thief, impressed with the acting. Let me start over.

Okay, said Charles and Mark in unison while shrugging their shoulders.

Give me all your money and then die! The thief repeated the gangster look that Mark had done, almost to perfection. If nothing else, this thief now had class.

Charles and Mark looked at each other and nodded. The two of them grabbed the thief and took a flying leap off the cliff. The thief quickly soiled his pants and started to scream for every member of his family, both living and dead. His frantic arm gestures allowed the guns to disappear from sight. He tried to grab hold of something but failed, because there was nothing around except air. Then he noticed his previous victims and ceased his flailing.

Charles and Mark were casually floating down, having a merry old time while performing all sorts of aerobatics. They put on a real show for the thief. They both looked calm because they were calm and the thief could not understand this.

Come on, I'll race you to the bottom, said Charles as he went into a dive to increase his speed. It was still a long way to the bottom and they had at least another minute.

Mark slapped the thief as best he could in the rather strange environment. Do you want your mommy? Are you scared? It's only death. Are you afraid to die a little violent death?

Violent death? We'll be splattered all over town, screamed the thief whose face was now ghost white. His arms and legs began flailing again as he tried to wake himself from this nightmare.

We? Wrong answer. You'll be visiting the entire town at the same time. Personally, I'm not going to die. This fall won't kill me because I'm in the right frame of mind... I don't care. Mark began laughing as he maneuvered himself into position for a dive.

I don't want to die. The thief was walking the fine line between being scared and being in shock.

Don't worry about it, said Mark. Come on, I'll race you to the bottom. Mark went into a dive.

The thief screamed for help and Charles, who used his body to slow his descent, appeared at his side.

You rang? asked Charles.

You're both crazy. We're all gonna die.

The ground was rapidly approaching and a definite decision had to be made. Up from the depths came Mark as he matched the descent of Charles and the thief.

Charles turned to Mark and said, He thinks we're gonna die. He's gonna die. We'll live. No problem.

Mark nodded. That's what I tried to tell him but he wouldn't listen.

Wait, you think for a minute, said the thief, that I'd believe that you will live from a deadly fall, whereas I'll die from that very same fall? You're definitely crazy. How do you expect to do something like that? The thief looked proud of his revelation. He relaxed a little by crossing his arms and his legs. A small smile crossed his lips as he waited for the inane response to his question.

Oh, that's easy to explain, said Charles. "You see, Mark and I have what