Sunday, July 31, 2011
The dead general had been quietly buried on the foot road at the bottom of a steep, sloping hill covered with tall, primordial pine and oak. They’d wanted to give him a proper send-off, but given the state of the war, that was hardly possible. They wanted to mark the spot where his body lay, for retrieval once hostilities had ceased. But even that was more luxury than current circumstance would allow. So they wrapped him in a blanket, removing signs of rank and station, placed him in the earth, and then marched onward, over his shallow and unmarked grave.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
The kitten wars were waged daily between two and three on the throw pillows that filled the bay window in the den, overlooking the garden. The afternoon light would pour through the glass in long, warm shafts, and Mittens, Moxy and Moe would each seek the best, warmest spot on the comfiest cushion. Inevitably, they bumped into one another, or outright pushed the other off the cushion. And then the battle would begin. Sometimes with claws, always with biting, jumping and diving. The winner would curl around the button in the middle of the Favorite Cushion, taking a victory nap.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Making potions, self-adhesive hexes and macramé birds had become something of a cottage industry in the Haunted Wood. Once the villagers believed there was No Such Thing As Ghosts, and that the howling of the dead was the product of wind whistling through rock formations and trees, and that the visions of the deceased they were met with were simply from the toxic swamp fumes, they came to the Wood all the time, for quaint picnics and such. And so the witches set out to earn some money from the tourists. It worked well, till the phantasmagoria wanted their cut.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
The entire civilization of the Fifth Kingdom had been placed directly upon the Fourth, which had been leveled to the ground by invaders. The Fourth had been built directly over the Third, which had been demolished by fire (and shoddy wood construction). The ruins of the Second, destroyed by the war with the dragons lay beneath the Third. The First Kingdom was somewhere beneath that. It had not been destroyed, it had simply faded away. Beneath all of these cities, stacked like blocks, was the earth, which would remain, after the specks of cities had been washed from her skin.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
The weeds had overtaken the flour beds finally, despite the best efforts of the home owners…and even the landscaping company they had called in, when they realized regular store-bought pesticides, pulling and weeding just simply weren’t cutting it, and the quiet acknowledgement that they were both getting too old to deal with the level of infestation that their back garden seemed to currently be suffering from. Eventually, the couple gave up, having invested too much time and money in a losing battle. But it was for the best, really. The flowers had been trying to kill the couple for ages.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Wally had to admit, the bananas being rotten were probably the least of his worries. There were tiny lizard dragon things in the back behind the propane tank. They had been back there since the early morning, and they were leaving buffalo-sized poops on the dried-up earth. The kitchen of the diner had been overrun by shoe elves, who had taken it upon themselves to dismantle all the cooking equipment and the AC hadn’t worked since the ogre had smashed the outdoor unit with his club. Still, Wally had been looking forward to bananas in his raisin brain. Disappointment abounded.
Monday, July 25, 2011
It was winter. Mid-winter to be exact. It was warm, compared to how bitterly cold the previous few weeks had been. Wet, fluffy snowflakes fell quickly to the earth and melted like cotton candy from heaven. And yet… it smelled wrong. Oh, it felt right; the cool air against her exposed skin. The squish of the earth between hiking boots but the odor of winter was off—instead of smelling like frost and clean, or even thawing decay, it smelt like petrichor; of rain on dry earth. This was not real. It was a simulation. The aliens had her. Again.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Harold was convinced his sister Mildred was mad. She was brilliant, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone to find out she was also six fries short of a kids’ meal. But she had tested the cloning machinery on HERSELF. Which wasn’t harmful; it required only a quick DNA swab from the mouth, but a clone? Of herself? Even SHE had to see fault in this idea. But she argued that once the download of her memories to said clone was complete, she’d be able to get TWICE as much done. But Harold couldn’t help wondering just how much she LIKED herself.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
My feet in clay,
mud. Cool, wet
squeaking between my toes
around my ankles
till I settle in the earth.
relief from damp humid swelter
of late August
when life is sun and fire and
melted ice cubes long gone
in too-warm tea. Clay’s firm, it supports me
but gives like the once-living.
Is this what dead feels like? Cold,
malleable flesh, waiting for
the grave? I pull one foot from its
and slide green-grey toes
into the earth.
It squishes around me
like the animated dead,
pulling me into the grave.
Friday, July 22, 2011
It was well and truly turning into one of those days. The coffee was talking to Illia, begging for mercy, explaining the many and detailed reasons it shouldn’t be consumed. The coffee maker, for its part, had protested the entire time it had been percolating, about how it did everything in these parts and the tea kettle wasn’t pulling its fair share of the culinary weight in the household, and the toaster oven was so lazy it only came out for special occasions. And the microwave tried to kill the cauliflower with a set of dull and rusty knives. Again.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Ami was a bit of a crap ghost, really. She’d never really been noticed, or noticeable, really, in life. Working quietly at her job, living quietly in her tiny apartment. Paying her bills quietly and without fuss… hell, she even used the self-checkout lane at the grocery so she wouldn’t bother anyone. That’s how she went about the afterlife. She read books over people’s shoulders, mostly. She hated waiting for them to turn the page, but she didn’t want to be a bother. There were worse places to haunt, than a library. Still, she knew she wasn’t doing it right.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The grass smelled so familiar, but I had trouble placing it as we walked across the rolling landscape of the dog park. Yes, there was the familiar ting of dog excrement, baked over time on the crumbling, over-heated sidewalk. That went without saying. But there was something else—like dust and sand and rocks and water… like running through the rusty sprinkler in the center of the playground in the middle of the tiny borough where I grew up. Like other people’s lunches and the far-off sound of the ice cream truck. It was the crab grass of my youth.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Creepy was such a relative term, really. So the house had no proper walls. So the only dividers between rooms were thin slats nailed to the support beams, with cement-like plaster smeared between the slats. So there were so many cobwebs overhead it was impossible to tell where the ceiling joists ended, and the dangling bits of shoddy, ungrounded early twentieth century electrical wiring began. The lawn was overrun with weeds and the attic smelled a little bit like death. So what? The house wasn’t creepy, it was charming. It was full of attitude. The corpse upstairs gave it character.
Monday, July 18, 2011
…And that was the story of Ionna and the Dwarf. See, there was nothing at all to worry about. She was brave, even though the dwarf had been deceitful, but it had all worked out in the end. Tomorrow night, I will tell you my favorite story. It’s about Culliver the Wise. Culliver was an ice cream maker, and a mer-person. No, not a mermaid—a mermaid is a girl. Well, I suppose we could call Culliver a mermaid, if it helps you remember it better. Anyway, Culliver overcame the prejudices of the land-people to build an enormous yummy empire…
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Four weeks. Four weeks of silence. Of living in the same house as a Muse that wouldn’t look Aubrey in the eye. Of walking into a room, and having the Muse walk out, to go into a different part of the house and do things very loudly, as if those angry movements would somehow convey to Aubrey what she had done wrong, and why the Muse was mad at her. Why had the Muse come home, if she was still angry? If she was going to engage in actively ignoring Aubrey? And why was she wearing that ridiculous leather jacket?
Saturday, July 16, 2011
…And that was the last time anyone had seen him. Sure, there were rumors. Someone claimed to have seen him at a gas station on the outskirts of town. A few people had sworn to seein him at a K-Mart in the big city, restocking the endless supply of Martha Stewart towels. Another person swore to have seen him on the jumbotron at a baseball game. There were also the rumors that he was dead. Some believed Wilson murdered him, in order to buy his Main Street storefront. Some say he simply ran away from his life. Marnie felt differently.
Friday, July 15, 2011
The barren branches of the oldest tree on the property beat and scrape against the single-pane window. The edges of the craggy, twisted sticks occasionally scratch against the glass with a high-pitched melodic whine that nearly make me look up from my book, to the window, but I am scared. There’re no curtains in the house, and the glaring, jarring light overhead lamp reflects of the glass, turning it into a too-accurate mirror. I can’t bring myself to look at what is making the horrid sound. I’m afraid of what I will see in the reflection. I’m certain it’s there.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
There were never any mages about when you needed them. Or warrior witches. Hell, Henry would even put up with a healer at the moment. He was in desperate need of some magic now. Not yesterday. Or tomorrow. Or whenever the hell those sorcery types got around to it. Shoot, he’d put in the request last week, when the Oracle had sent him a memo about the upcoming dragon encounter. He would have settled for a priestess’ apprentice to come by and bless his sword. But he got nothing. So he sat there. Staring at his torn-off leg stumps. Waiting.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Elma May Willcott was a strange girl. At least, that is what everybody told her. Elma May did not feel strange; she felt like herself. In fact, she suspected it was the world that was weird, and not her. She did not care that she was not a proper girl. She didn’t wish to learn to make pie, or do needlepoint, or say please and thank you. All of those things were boring. Worse yet were the times when she was lectured by her mother about the need to be polite and laugh at unfunny jokes sweetly, like she cared.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
The annals of science fiction are filled with stories that seek to answer the question of hat rights, freedoms and expectations previously free humans of sound mind and body would forgo for security (or the illusion thereof). So many classics that define a genre. So many modern tales, each bringing a fresh twist on stalwart tropes. And we have read them, The Time Machine, 1984, The Hunger Games; we know this story like an old friend. So then why, for godsakes, did we hand over nearly all of our television slots to the aliens invaders? For protection. From the invaders.
Monday, July 11, 2011
At about the time Stan was learning basic hand and verbal commands, he started to ever so slowly remember something. Sometimes, when he played with his people, he could recall being on the other end of the “chase the ball” game, as the thrower, instead of the jumper and chaser of said ball. He remembered other things too, eventually. Like rows and rows of little boxes in buildings with harsh fluorescent lighting. Stan remembered sitting in one of those people-kennels all day, every day, all of his other life. He had to say, he liked his new life far better.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
When you are six, eleven-tghirty is the middle of the night. It's also the bewitching hour. It is when last calls can be placed at the pizza place down the hill. Pickup only. Last call for delivery is eleven PM. But my grandfather didn't leave for his night shift at the post office until quarter after eleven...or maybe I am remembering it all wrong. Anyway, that was when my grandmother could order pizza. Half pepperoni, half mushroom, all drown in oil. My uncle would pick it up. Nana would wake me for late-night CBS, pizza, and obligatory root beer floats.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Sirpa was a girl in a corset. She was sure she was something else as well, or at least, she aspired to be. However, as the constriction around her lungs and organs grew ever tighter, it seemed that she had always existed in the corset; had been born in it and would perish in it. The boning and cloth crushing her bones to dust for all eternity. Her existence and identity were the squeezing pain. They were all she could think off, all her mind would grasp was life being wrung from her, slowly…painfully…and just how much she liked it.
Friday, July 8, 2011
They said that Ophelia had killed herself. In her grief and madness, brought on by the prince’s betrayal, she had thrown herself into the water, drowning herself in the shallow river. They’d found her body among the thick reeds of the shore, it was a reasonable assumption to make. But they had not seen the lights. The amber glow beneath the surface, brightening and dimming in time to Ophelia’s heart beat, tugging her toward the shoreline, closer and closer with every pulse. And then they sang to her—sweetly, hauntingly, in her head. She had no choice but to follow.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
The places of my childhood are gone. It was all I really had left. The tree I spent so many summer evenings sitting beneath and reading as the temperature dropped and the sun went down isn’t there any more. The new owners of my grandparents’ house chopped it down. My grandmother’s green metal porch furniture, circa the 1950s is probably rusting away in some landfill. My grade school is closed, the park I played in is completely different now. And all those places that meant so much to me are places I went alone. That’s the saddest part to me.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The battle for the back garden was especially brutal on Tuesday. The gnomes, who usually won these things, were taken by surprise by the plastic fairies that hung from strings along the porch ceiling and the little cement girl from over near the bird bath. She usually knelt in the mulch, holding a reflective glass orb and generally looking cherubic. Today, her cement brow was furrowed in concentration as she used the ball to bowl for lawn gnomes, releasing it in the gnomes' direction with a grunt. The monochrome transparent plastic fairies swooped in to violently finish the job.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
God didn’t necessarily like the animals more than man. That wasn’t true. Sometimes he did. But, see… he’d given man gifts. Like reason and imagination. And what did man do with those things? Have wars and hold grudges. Animals had not been given such gifts, and they tended to eat one another and poop in the woods. But they were just following their nature. Man made wars and held grudges, and CLAIMED it was in their nature, and never stopped to wonder if he’d not been put upon Earth to reason and imagine. So yes, he liked the animals better.
Monday, July 4, 2011
The sky exploded blue and red, then purple and green. It glowed and hissed and fizzled, filling the air with metal that smelled like smoke and booms shook the earth around them. Pop, bam, wizzle, a blinding flash of light, and glowing streams of heat and light falling toward them like gentle rain. The dark erupted, over and over, as if something were attempting to push forth from it, borne of heat and light and pain. Then. Save for the low-hanging cloud, it was dark and silent.
“That is SO COMPLETLY not how you’re supposed to cast a dinner spell.”
Sunday, July 3, 2011
“Please, don’t do this. Let me go…”
George so hated it when the food talked back. He rolled his eyes. “But if I did, my dear, you would run to the others, and tell them about me. And then there would be mobbing, and pitchforks, and burning my home to the ground. And I just took care of all the edging. And I would have to move on, to another identity in another city, and another front yard. You see how tedious this whole thing becomes.”
The juicy tomato at the heart of his salad let out a blood-curdling scream.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
“Halt, halt, who goes there?” a muffled voice came from under the hand-hewn stone bridge, barely audible over the rushing of the rapid water.
Opi looked down at the card he had been issued at the travel office, hoping he didn’t mess this up, he really did need to be on his way. “I am a traveler, and I wish to cross the bridge.”
“If you seek to travel to the other side, you must pay the toll.”
Sighing, Opi reached into his pocket. “I have the toll: two sea shells, four shillings, and a fish.”
“Be on your way.”
Friday, July 1, 2011
Juno dug through her leather tool bucket, her stiff arthritic hands pushing things out of the way as she reached for the bottom. “I don’t want to say anything bad about the unicorns. You know me, I don’t believe in that sort of thing.”
Eldwin rolled his eyes. But you’re going to do it anyway, he thought.
“But I don’t care if they have jobs and pay taxes and the like. They’ve got those HORNS. And I saw a unicorn run a man through in fifty-six. I don’t care if it was in self-defense Billy-bob never stood a fightin’ chance.”