Fantasy Creative Nonfiction Speculative

*** Content Warning: Sexual/Adult situations ***

* * *

It was the shank of the evening. A majority of the neighborhood had called it a day. The moon, nearly full, cast a warm glow over the small, sleepy town. 

On a manicured lawn sat an old Victorian home with wrap-around porch.  A tattered black ribbon adorned the front door. The artist who lived there had spent as little time as possible in the main house since the funeral.  He preferred to be in the studio nestled in the woods behind the home.

A single desk lamp illuminated a workspace crammed with easels, inks, panels, artboards and computers.  The walls held shelves brimming with books, reference manuals, paints, brushes, canvass and other supplies. Sketches were tacked wherever wall space was available. 

Set apart from the work area in a glass cabinet were several awards distributed by the Society of Illustrators and World Illustration, as well as certificates of personal achievement and recent placement in the Illustrators Hall of Fame.

The artist contemplated the bottle and the laptop. He wished to disappear into at least one, but hadn’t made up his mind yet which. Eventually he did what he’d done every night since she died; he settled on both.

* * *

“Rosie, I’m afraid Mr. Jetson’s slept through the alarm again. Would you mind getting him up while I finish getting the kids ready?”

“Not at all, Mrs. Jetson.”

Rosie the Domestic Robot chugged over, past the breakfast nook set for four, to the family switchboard. She located the button for “Wake Up – Master Bedroom” and pressed it.

“Mission accomplished, Mrs. Jetson. Mr. Jetson should come through that door, dressed and pressed, before you can say . . .”

“Aw, Geez, I overslept again! It’s the extra work Mr. Spacely’s dumped on me. I’ve never had to work so many buttons and flip so many switches. Pretty soon they’ll have us pulling levers.”

“Morning, dear. Now, don’t say anything in front of Elroy and Judy. You know they may take matters into their own hands and that never turns out well.”

“Jane, I’m late so I’ll grab something at the office.  Would you walk Astro? Bye, dear.”

George pressed the button that called for the Aerocar. At the exact same time George kissed Jane on the cheek and she handed him his briefcase, the car pulled up and the glass dome opened. George hopped in.

As George zipped away from Skypad Apartments, Judy and Elroy burst into the kitchen.

“Mom, Elroy won’t stay out of my room! He’s always spying on me when I’m video-chatting with my friends. It’s gross!”

“Gee, Judy, have a space cow, why don’t you.”

Jane calmly addressed them.

“Judy, you can expect a younger brother to look up to his sister . . .”

“No, that’s not it, mom.”

“Rut rup, Relroy.”

Astro had entered the room and plopped down on his haunches beside Elroy.

“As I was saying,” Jane slowly turned her eyes from Elroy back to Judy, “if you want your privacy, dear, you know what you can do.”

“Ugh. You mean Luminlock? Mom, I swear it’s nothing but an electronic peeping tom that’s only too happy not to let anyone near so it’s free to spy on me! It gives me the creeps even worse than Elroy!”

“See? I’m not so bad.”

“Children, you’re both going to be late. We can talk about it again when you get home. Don’t forget your lunches.  Rosie’s called for an Aero-Uber to drop you at school.”

Elroy frowned. “Where’s dad?”

“He had to leave early.”

Judy looked up. “He’s never had to do that before.”

“Well, you know how hard your father works.”

Judy and Elroy exchanged looks. Even Astro reacted, “Ruh?”

“Aero-Uber’s here! All right, children, run now. Enjoy your day!”

“Goodbye, Mother.” Judy kissed Jane’s cheek.

“Bye, Mom!” Elroy kissed Jane’s cheek. 

“Bye, boy!” Elroy hugged Astro who gave him a huge lick in return.

“Rood-rye, Rel . . .”

Judy and Elroy raced to the Aero-Uber before Astro could get too emotional.

Jane turned to Rosie.

“Rosie, could I ask you something?

“Sure, Mrs. Jetson.”

“Do you ever think maybe none of this is real?” 

*  *  *

In a secret surveillance room lined with screens, control panels, a service robot in every corner, Spencer Cogswell, arch enemy of Spacely Sprockets and George Jetson, sat in his commander’s seat studying Monitor Number 6.

Wait! Jane Jetson talks treason?  How wonderfully unexpected. 

Monitor Number 6 showed Jane talking directly to the micro spy-cam that had been installed in Rosie in a prior episode by Harlan, Mr. Cogswell’s right-hand-man.

Cogswell checked his meters.

“Recording is fully operational. Go, Rosie!”

* * *

Rosie reacted as any domestic bot would in 2062. To protect Jane, she lifted her front apron panel and emphasized in neon:

“Follow me, please, Mrs. Jetson.”

Jane read, nodded and spoke deliberately. “That was a silly question. Of course I’m joking. Ha-ha.”

Jane followed Rosie into a dark closet.

Cogswell frowned. Where are they going?  

Jane whispered. “Rosie, why are your eyes closed?”

Rosie pointed again to her front panel.

“I will explain.”

Cogswell turned to Harlan.

“Argggh! What happened? Where are they?”

* * *

“Oh, Mr. Jetson, I never knew anything could be like this!”

George lay propped up on a pillow, enjoying a deep inhale of euphoric vapor, while Ms. Galaxy, his boss’s secretary, lay next to him, stroking his chest.

“Ms. Galaxy, you could call me George.”

“Oh, but what if I slip in front of Mr. Spacely?  That simply wouldn’t do, now would it, Mr. Jetson?”

“Actually, Ms. Galaxy, should I call you GiGi or. . .”

“Oh, I’m easy. You just call me, Georgie, and whatever you call me, I’ll come running.” Ms. Galaxy giggled.

“Well, as much as I hate to bring it up . . .”

Ms. Galaxy glanced under the sheets. “Oh, I don’t mind!”

George chortled. “Well, that depends, Ms. Galaxy, what time are you expected at Spacely Space Sprockets?”

Ms. G. shrieked. “Oh no!” 

She flew, forsaking her astro-panties. George took another deep inhale of euphoria and sank back into bed with a satisfied ease. He’d get to work when he was good and ready.

* * * 

“Rosie, can we talk now?”

“Of course, Mrs. Jetson, but first, I need your help removing a bug.”

“Wait! Rosie, you’ve been bugged?”

“It could have happened when I was at Galactic Grocery. I know when my circuits have been tampered with and, yes, something is off. There’s a plate behind my magnetic hairnet. Would you remove it and see if there’s something there?”

“My! Of course, Rosie.”

Jane found the plate, pressed lightly on one side. As it flipped open, Jane spied the abnormality.

“Rosie, I have it!”

Rosie cracked one eye a fraction, then opened both. She gestured for Jane to hand her the invader.

Rosie spied the Cogswell Cogs insignia on a micro-videocam. She quickly glanced at Mrs. Jetson, who didn’t appear to have noticed. Rosie wheeled out of the closet to the kitchen trash dissolver, dropped the intruder inside and flipped a switch. Once the last whirr signaled dissolution, Rosie rolled around to Jane.  

“Mrs. Jetson, speak freely.”

* * *                       

“Why, good morning, Mr. Jetson.”

“Good morning, Ms. Galaxy.”

“There’s coffee, if you’d like some.”

“Yes, I would, Ms. Galaxy. Thank you. You know how I like it.”

“Yes, Mr. Jetson, I certainly do.”

George checked to see if there was anyone near enough to overhear.

“I believe I have something of yours.”

“Well, now, that is a coincidence, Mr. Jetson.  I happen to have something of yours!”

“You do? What did I forget?”

“Prophylactic measures. We’re having a ba. . .”


“What’s up Spacely's butt this morning?”

“Mr. Jetson, did you hear what I said?”

“Sure, we’re having a. . .having a . . .”

“Mr. Jetson, are you all right?”

“. . . havina, havina, havina . . .”

“Jetson! Are you deaf? I . . . Ms. Galaxy, what’s wrong with Jetson?”

“He’s just having trouble finding the right word, sir.”

“Well, when you're finished with . . . whatever, send him straight to my office.”

“Yes, Mr. Spacely.”

As soon as the door closed behind Mr. Spacely, Ms. Galaxy went to George. His babbling had given way to a catatonic stare. 

“Mr. Jetson, you have to snap out of it!”

She looked around, grabbed a glass off her desk and threw water in Mr. Jetson’s face.

He shook his head to clear it.

“Thank you, Ms. Galaxy. I’d better go see what Mr. Spacely wants.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?”

George turned to see Ms. Galaxy holding out her hand.

“You have something of mine?”

* * *

“Rosie, I don’t know who else to turn to. I feel trapped in a world where things are going on around me and I’m nothing but a prop.”

“I am searching for the right program to compute your meaning, Mrs. Jetson.”

“Rosie, I hope you don’t mind if I talk about this. I realize it might be considered an act of treason to go off-script but I can’t seem to help it. Have you ever felt this way?”

“Felt? As in feel. . .computing feeling.”

“Come on, Rosie. There must have been an episode or two that touched on feelings!”

“Ha. Ha. ‘Touched’ on ‘feelings.’ Good one, Mrs. J.”

“Rosie, are you sure you’re all right?”

“Actually, Mrs. Jetson, I need to tell you something.”

Jane felt a tingling sensation on her wrist.

“Oh, it’s the teleportal. I’ll get it.”

Astro sat in front of the teleportal with his border-alarm-collar at his feet, tapping his toenails impatiently.

“Oh, Astro, you don’t need me to take a walk. You know how to walk. Go walk! I’ve had about all I can take today. And it’s early!”

“Ruh-roh. Rye, Rane!”

“Astro, come back! I didn’t mean to snap at . . . oh well, who’s this now?  Hello. George?”

“Hi, Janie. I left in such a hurry this morning, I just wanted to see you.”

“That’s random. I have to say there are strange things happening around here, George. Why are you calling me for no reason and why are you all wet?”

“We’re testing the sprinklers. I think I hear Spacely, Jane.”

“Me, too. I hear something. It’s too early for the kids . . .”

“I'd better go.”

“Bye, George, or whoever you are.”

“Mother, there you are! There’s someone I want you to meet!”

“Judy, why aren’t you in school?”

“Who needs school? Mom, this is Nuke Lectro, he’s a space pirate I’ve been seeing behind your back. We’re going to run away together!”

“Ahoy, Judy’s ma! Yarrrr.”

“Isn’t he a dream?”

“I wish. Elroy? What are you doing home?”

“I’m not Elroy anymore, Mom.  I joined a space gang called the Full Moons. From now on, I’m ‘Flare’. How do you like my tattoo? I just got it!”

Elroy turned around. There on the back of his neck was inked a bare bottom.

“Oh, Elroy.”

“Mom, it’s Flare!”

Nuke turned to Judy. “I was in that gang. Wanna see?”

Before Nuke could show Judy the back of his neck, Jane was at the bar making herself an atomic martini.

* * *

Harlan knocked and poked his head in the door.

“Mr. Cogswell? I have something here you might be interested in.”

Cogswell kept his eyes on Monitor 8, a bug planted at Spacely Sprockets, and waved Harlan in.

“Tell me.”

“Our target has been especially accommodating today. He was spotted leaving Orbit City Apartments this morning.”

“You saw this?”

“Not only did I see, I have proof.”

“Don’t toy with me, Harlan.”

Harlan whistled.  In flew a mechanical canine who landed next to Harlan.

“Look what I found at the Puppy Patera! His name is Sentro and, as luck would have it, was assembled and programmed at Solar Snoops. Watch this. Sentro? Speak!”

Sentro closed his eyes, opened his mouth, projecting a video onto the wall. George Jetson could clearly be seen leaving the Orbit City Apartments, straightening his clothes, happy as a spark.

Mr. Cogswell looked from the screen to Sentro to Harlan. 

“How would Sentro like a fulltime position at Cogswell Cogs?”

* * *

Rosie motioned to Jane, who by this time was having her second drink.

“Mrs. Jetson, I have to tell you something.”

“Now, Rosie? Can’t it wait? I . . .”

“I hate to tell you this, Mrs. Jetson, but I was bugged to spy on Mr. Jetson by Cogswell Cogs.”

“Oh no! Is George in trouble?”

“If he’s not, he will be.”

“What does that mean?”

“Mr. Cogswell wants to prove Mr. Jetson’s having an affair with Mr. Spacely’s assistant, Ms. Galaxy, so he can show Mr. Spacely and he’ll have to fire Mr. Jetson because he’ll never fire Ms. Galaxy.”

Jane teetered over to the breakfast nook. She ignored Elroy and Nuke showing off their tattoos to Judy. She paid no attention to Rosie who followed her, talking non-stop about what a no-good cheat George was. The first chair she could find, she sat, staring.

As the scene around her reached a crescendo, Jane stood and yelled at the very top of her cartoon lungs, “STOP! YOU!”

* * *  

The artist tossed back the remaining drops of a glass of whiskey neat. 

“I’m talking to you!”

The artist looked at the computer. He saw a screen full of Jetsons looking back at him.


Jane took over.

“Yes, you! I’ve had a feeling for a while now things aren’t what they appear to be – and that was when things were normal, status quo, expected! Boring as hell but orderly and familiar!

“Now . . . but now, it’s all crazy and out of control and I know it’s not me at the helm. I want answers, buddy, and I want them now! Start talking.”

The artist stared a few beats longer at the screen. He then raised a lazy finger and reached under the desk to retrieve a fresh bottle of Wild Turkey. He wrestled with the cap a minute and then poured a splash or two into his glass.

“As you were saying?”

“I want to know who’s responsible for this. I know I’m not. I mean Elroy, my sweet little boy Elroy who attends Little Dipper School, for gravity’s sake, has a tattoo of an a-hole on the back of his neck! He wants me to call him Flare!  He’s far from Full Moon material but here he is.  I didn’t do that!

“And Judy! Perpetual high school girl with platinum pony-tail, rah-rah, let’s-go-shopping life. Judy brings home a galaxy drop-out who has to live in the fringes of the universe because he can’t get along with other lifeforms?  I didn’t do that either!”

Just then, the door opened.

“Janie, I’m hooome!” George had a bright smear of lipstick on his collar.

Jane turned to the artist and, if looks could kill . . .

“And I certainly did not do this!” She grabbed George’s collar.  She let go of George; he landed on the ground, gasping for air, and words.

“Oh, you mean this?” He pulled at his shirt.

“Never mind, George,” Janie assured him. “None of this is you.”

Jane pointed directly at the artist.

“This is all your doing, isn’t it? Look at you, a disgrace to the cartoon profession. You’re drunk! You had me drinking and I don’t drink!  You’re messing with my life!    You might think it’s okay to just whip out a program and experiment with someone’s existence; what difference does it make, right? You just wield the almighty pen; you don’t have to endure the consequences of your frivolous midnight musings, do you?

“Well, I do, Mr. Manipulator, and you know what? These shows may not mean that much to you . . . oh, sure. I see the awards, I was there for the accolades. I know my worth, buster, and let me tell you one thing. Jane Jetson is not here to clean up a mess that you had every opportunity to control but chose not to.

“I’m taking a stand, bucko, here and now. I pledge to you and all that is illustrated, digitally or by hand, that I quit, I’m leaving and will not set foot in this scene or on this screen again until everything goes back the way it was.”

Jane turned to the others.

“Good luck, family!”

With that, Jane signaled for the Aerocar.

“Oh, George, you might want to look for Astro. He’s out walking himself.”

Jane hopped in the Aerocar, made one full circle overhead and disappeared.

George was still on the floor as the kids made their exits.

“Bye, daddy!” Judy skipped off with Nuke.

“So long, pops!” Flare took George’s hand and forced him through a complicated handshake that ended with him mooning his father before beating a hasty retreat to his room.

Just then, Gogswell poked his head in the door.

“Jetson, glad you’re home! Found your dog.” 

Cogswell did a peacock strut into the room. Astro pranced in behind Sentro, smitten.

“I’m here to inform you, Jetson, life as you know it is over!”

George didn’t get up. 

“You’re a little late, Cogswell. That ship's already sunk.”

Astro had final word.


* * *

The artist sat back.  He glanced at the trophy case and breathed in nostalgia. He fixed his eyes on one of the plaques. Happy Retirement. Sure.

He then trained his eye on a batch of sketches he’d done of his wife, once a young girl with short red hair.  She, like Jane Jetson, had had enough, had taken to the stars.

“Jane, my love, you are a firework.”

The artist, for just a moment, became one with his creation. He held his face in his hands.

“Jane. Stop this crazy thing. Jane.”

July 25, 2023 19:08

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Karen Corr
12:57 Aug 03, 2023

Wow! You nailed it! Loved it!


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Tommy Goround
21:27 Aug 02, 2023

I like that a dog should walk himself. You nailed the Jetson insert. The characters came out just right. Clapping.


Susan Catucci
21:31 Aug 02, 2023

Sometimes the best ideas come when you're at the end of your rope. Rove Rastro! :D Thanks a million, Tommy, seriously.


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Michał Przywara
23:33 Aug 01, 2023

One world collapses, and takes another with it. The artist is reeling after the loss of wife and job and it bleeds into his fictional world - to the chagrin of the Jetsons. Naturally we wonder, is there some cosmic author penning his life this way? But of course there is, given it's a short story, so there's layers to this idea :) But more generally, when things go sideways we do wonder if there's some force at work - or perhaps rather, if there's some force we can blame. "Prophylactic measures. We’re having a ba. . ." :) It was amusin...


Susan Catucci
13:13 Aug 02, 2023

Hi Michal - happy you stopped by. True, this is a case of ripple effect to the extreme but, considering what we do in this lifetime can influence generations to come, there is often a lot to think about that doesn't cross our minds until the evidence is in front of us. Just how does one keep track of all this? Del brought up responsibility, another complicated business. We are our own creations, aren't we? But we orbit around with each other so is man an island or not? Anyway, I can't tell you how great it was writing Jane's rant. C...


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Michelle Oliver
15:15 Jul 31, 2023

This was a crazy ride. I take my hat off to you Susan.,I looked at this prompt and said “hard no”, but you made it look easy. I love the interaction between creator and creation. This explores the idea of fate and destiny. Are we in control of our own lives, or is someone else controlling it? Jane, who was a character controlled by an artist, steps back from that role and says enough is enough. No more manipulation. Good for her, she may be just a character, but she is not a puppet.


Susan Catucci
15:44 Jul 31, 2023

That's it, Michelle - characters' rights. AI has nothing on a cartoon classic (not yet anyway). I'm so glad you read and I so appreciate your thoughts. Always do.


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07:46 Jul 29, 2023

Hi Susan. First time reader. Instant fan. Has me asking "what is going on?" over and over as I devoured this, I love it. Great pace keeps everything spinning and moving, great dialogue and that bitter dose of reality at the end. Perfect


Susan Catucci
12:29 Jul 29, 2023

Hi Derrick - instant fan back at you. Just read your winning story and I adored your psychopath/sociopath speed fate dater. Brilliant stuff and right up my alley. I look forward to getting to know your work and sharing interests - also read your bio and agree with your assessment; Reedsy is great for flexing your literary muscles and, from my experience, the best part is the community - there's a wealth of talent present to share and learn from around here. I love it - and I appreciate your stopping by and leaving feedback, sincerely.


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Delbert Griffith
15:01 Jul 28, 2023

Ah! Yes! The tale hangs together beautifully, Susan. The creator and the creation both delve into what it means to be responsible, but more importantly, what it means to actually live a life outside the confines of a predetermined existence. All I can say is that this is masterfully written, and I found the story to be both hilarious and deep. Fantastic work, my dear friend. Cheers!


Susan Catucci
15:45 Jul 28, 2023

Thanks, Del - please present yourself with a share of praise for the huge contribution you are to these crazy tales we tell. I was still formulating the whole when you basically finetuned the thing with your observations - I've never had so much fun working with someone and becoming a better writer (and thinker) in the process. Another good week.


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Mary Bendickson
03:17 Jul 26, 2023

This is exactly the kind of story this prompt was begging for. Job well done.🪐


Susan Catucci
17:16 Jul 26, 2023

Bless you, Mary - you make my day!


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Unknown User
00:38 Aug 01, 2023

<removed by user>


Susan Catucci
01:20 Aug 01, 2023

So glad, Joe. Means a lot.


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