Friday, September 30, 2011

I'd never be happy again...


The ocean smelled of salt and fish and other horrible things, like sea foam and clams set to spoil in the sun. The ocean made slid in to the shore and out from it, over and over, as if that were some accomplishment, and made those sounds the ocean made, like shushing and cheering, fighting with each other for a place in my mind. Sand grated at my toes, violently inserting itself between them, grain by grain, bit by bit. There was no part that was pleasurable, least of all the abuse of the radiating sun, as it baked me.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

They held long grudges...


The trees on the south lawn were vexed. They had been neglected for several months. The north lawn was pristine, and all trees, shrubbery, and plantage of every shape and size was neat and tidy. Wimer, the drooping rose bush had even been propped up by that gardener, the one the trees hated. He said horrible things about them all to the other grounds staff. He said no one should bother with the south lawn, because it was entirely not visible from the house, or the rest of the grounds. But the trees plotted. They never did find his body.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

He'd heard everyone loses bladder control at the end...


Thursday had arrived. Myron sat waiting patiently for Death. He’d gotten an appointment reminder card in the mail last week, specifying the date and place, signed by Death himself. First, he’d consulted his priest, who’d called in a fortune teller, who had confirmed with a man with a purple and orange glass eye, who claimed he could see into “the void of the human soul,’ and they all agreed; it was not a prank. Death had Myron’s number. And street address. And zip code, apparently. So, he’d pressed his suit, and went to the bathroom in advance, and then waited.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It sounded when it pleased, night or day...


Tick, tick, tick.

Tick, tick, tick.

The noise echoed off the stone walls of the castle’s great hall. It echoed down the corridors, past the tower, and down the winding steps to deep dark part, where the Good and Decent people never dared to go.

Tick, tick, tick.

It came in three knocks each time. And repeated randomly. For the last thousand years.

In the reign of the first Emperor, they’d searched the dungeons, and had found nothing. The seventh and hundredth tried to burn the noise away, but it always came back. Now, they simply vowed to ignore it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

She lived for these moments...


“Well, what do we do,” Erin asked, creeping back from the growing pull of blood that spread out from the man’s head, and slowly began seeping into the unfinished floorboards, then into the uneven cracks.

What Do we do? Annie grinned. “Hide the body. When Quentin leaves in the morning, we wrap it upon a carpet from the storeroom, drag it out back, put it in the wagon, take it out to the edge of town, dump him near one of the mines, get back before Quentin returns for the evening, then pretend nothing has happened.”

“You’ve done this before.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011


“Every dragon’s breath comes in its own time,” Malaimome told her young one. “There is no rush. It is not a contest, after all.”

Lawrence sighed. “Merrick has his, and he’s a whole year younger. Everybody from my clutch has their breath. And… and…” inhaling deeply through his nose, like he was taught in school, he concentrated and breathed deeply between pursed lips. Not even a trickle of steam issued forth. “What if it never comes?”

Malaimome wrapped a wing around her youngest. “It will come whenever it chooses to come. I just pray you don’t burn the house down

Saturday, September 24, 2011

He had answers, too...


Aaron was not sure of the exact moment he attained sentience. There were foggy memories, of things that happened before he could think about them. Bitterly cold winters, a bloody riot in the street in front of his building. The ever-present pigeons, landing on his head, leaving their unpleasantness dripping down his neck and robes, perching on his outstretched arms. Sometimes people’d talk to him. Drunk ones, mostly. The occasional desperate soul, always at night. He wanted to help them, to answer their lonely, beseeching prayers, or tell the drunkard it would be OK. But he was just a statue.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It drifted to my nose...


The deep chill of mid-winter was not yet upon them. It was still early yet; the earth thawed and froze a dozen times each week as the leaves flexed back and forth between crisp and crumbling, to a wet decaying mush. It left a dank odor in the air that never quite went away, but that was not enough to cover up the smell. Worse than meat gone off, worse than the sticky gelatinous blood coagulating on the floor of a slaughter house. The unmistakable, unforgettable stench of human rot—death mixed with time, drifting heavily through the unnamed wood.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

They kept her so close now...


Annabella Van Horten Rickterstein-Rice was not going anywhere, that much was certain. Her mother had locked her door, from the outside. This was usually only a minor setback, as her windows did not lock. On the contrary, they were actually quite easily to open. Then it was a simple task to slide from the sill to the tree that shaded her room at the end of the day, and then a short jaunt across the lawn, a quick wiggle of a loose rod in the gate, and then… freedom. But not today. And never again. Now there were guard dogs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

She didn't know what to do...


Ellie swung high with her cast-iron skillet, with as much forces as she could get. Considered it weighed at least as much as a small child. It connected with the back of the intruder’s head, firm at first, then giving with a wet, watery crack, like a split watermelon. The force traveled back up the handle, into her palm, jarring her so hard she involuntarily let go. The pan hit the wood floorboards at the same time as the man, one with a metal tink and the other with the soft, malleable thud of a sack of flour tipping over.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The fight went on...


They came for our camp every night, just as the moon rose above the trees. The Smilers. They came in swarms. Pudgy, not quite spherical masses of white with bright features smeared on in lumpy paint that smelled like sugar and death. Every night we would hack at them with our swords, and bits of them would fall away. One soldier joked that the masses tasted like some sort of manna, sent by the gods to sustain us. We were appalled he would try to eat Smiler parts, no matter how hungry we were. He was killed for his trespass.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kell was a clever girl...


Brambon gestured with sideshow flourish. “We could…split the proceeds. Sixty-forty.”


A smile rolled across Brambon’s lips. “Seventy-thirty sounds lovely.”

The girl looked over the mahogany cube with hand-pressed gold inlay. “Seventy-twenty-five, and five for my old mother’s retirement.”

“You are a good child. Seventy for me and twenty-five for you sounds lovely.”

Kell blew hair off her forehead. “Oh no, the seventy is for me. The twenty-five is for my younger brother’s college fund, and five is for my old mother.”

“And for me?”

Kell pulled out her laser gun and shot the odious man in the chest. “Death.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Failing the Seasons was not an option...


“Ven told us everything would be ready before the full moon!”

“I said no such thing!”

“You said--”

“I have flown all the way here from Nod,” Lei reminded everyone as she sat down, the petals of her buttercup giving ever so slightly as she tucked her wings behind her. “And I’ve done that at YOUR request. Now quit fighting, and tell me why I am here.”

The Four fairies from South Wood glared at each other, then at Lei. “The harvest will be late this year.”

Lei glared at The Four. . “Then your lives will be forfeit.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

He'd also stolen a cat...


Arton had… stolen a few faces. Nothing disgusting, like that fellow on Nidis 3 that had taken a rusty shard of ship hull and had relieved four tourists of their faces. Arton had done it the old fashioned way. He’d hacked into the security logs and had stolen their holo scans. From this, he had constructed life-like, realistic silicone masks with holographic retinal replicating contacts. It had taken him weeks. And then, he did what any sensible sixteen year old would do, if left to his own devices with a dozen fake faces: He drank himself into an early grave.

Friday, September 16, 2011

He also wanted to be a lumberjack...


Simon was but a small fish, in a medium-sized pond. Truthfully, it wasn’t even a pond. It was an aquarium at the zoo. He was a small fresh-water piranha. That was evolution’s fault. If he had any choice at all in the matter, he’d have been a beautiful carnival fish with their downright ethereal glow. He felt like a carnival fish. He felt pretty, and like he ought to be swimming in salt water. Sometimes, when they cleaned or repaired his tank, he tried to escape. He was an aspirational piranha who dreamed of bigger, flashier things. In the ocean.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Death comes, in the end, for us all...


The fleshy giant green leaves

eventually drained and faded to an ascetic

jade as summer died

beautifully and romantically of consumption,

going brilliant gold and fire and blood-soaked

red, before fading away into a tired ginger,

and then…death.

Like Camille.

Or Nicole Kidman in that movie

with Obi Wan Kenobi.

This is how Summer dies.

Some years, she dies happy.

Other years, she dies well.

But she always goes

like Sarah Bernhardt,

dramatic, pretty, self-sacrificing

on the unknowing behalf of winter,

and always center-stage.

She grasps at the dust caught in the carbon arc

spot light until the bitter end.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

They also made knots...


Everyone since the dawn of time knew that cats were magical. The Egyptians worshiped them. Myths grew up about black cats crossing paths and bad luck and such. But no one was entirely sure where their power stemmed from, or its exact nature. It was actually rather of a letdown to discover that cats’ sole power revolved around their consistent ability to make working things stop working. It may look like they’d pushed that clock off the mantel. It may look like they’d knocked that lamp over while they were playing. But that wasn’t it at all. It was magic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Clowns had long memories...


The color leached from mother’s face. She didn’t go white, though, when she saw the man in the doorway—she went a strange sort of grey, like pencil smudges on copy clear white paper. She froze at the coffee pot, forgetting that she’d been in the process of pouring water in the reservoir as she prepare to start the day with a bit of generic French roast. And here he was—the man in the orange and green clown costume, returned to collect on the favor that we all knew that she owed. And clowns never ever forgot a debt.

Monday, September 12, 2011

There were no answering machines...


The phone rang. Which was interesting, considering there was no telephone service in the house. In fact, all of the utilities had been shut off ages ago. But the sound echoed off the barren sitting room walls, the mechanical bell of an old black handset, like the kind Ma Bell used to make. In those brief pauses between rings, the bell vibrating from the force of the hammer striking it. It was so real, so present. But there was no phone. Which was why Tyron had no idea how to make it stop. God, he hated phantom mechanicals and electronics.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The elephant in the room...


It was tough being a fictional character. First of all, no one believed you were real. They would go about insisting that elephants didn’t talk, especially toy elephants. They’d tell children that Wendy the Elephant and her adventures with Samuel the cow were just fairy tales, written in books, and illustrated for amusement, and not because said books were actually biographies of Wendy’s life. Yes, she’d gone to the circus and had eaten too much candy. Yes, she had splashed the town’s mayor on her trip to the pool. And yes, Samuel really had been the first cow in space.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

They stole the more battered of the two copies...


“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Robbie whispered as he handed Jade the number scribbled on the paper side of an empty gum wrapper. “I swear to God. This is the stupidest thing we’ve ever done.”

Jade turned her flashlight from the paper to the numbers on the ends of the bookshelves, trying to figure out if the numbers went up or down. “Even stupider than the time we reprogrammed all the stage lights the night before the senior play?”

“Dude, we are breaking into a library at night. To steal a book.”

Jade shrugged. “It’s a really important book.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

This was no fun at all...


I was caught between a rock and a hard place. The rock being, quite literally, a rock. Some sort of silicone-based sandstone rock that had been weathered to an abrasive but shiny surface over the millennia. The hard place was my space ship. And, yes, I was stuck between the two. It wasn’t really irony. But there was something sad and poetic about having your chest crushed between the two, and the only thing plugging the massive puncture hole in your space suit being the giant rock jabbing into your spine. I hated Tuesdays. Also, I needed a vacation. Desperately.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dwayne also tap danced...


Dwayne was many things. He was a dinosaur, firstly. A red one. A T-rex, for anyone who was curious, or asking. But more impressively… he was a ninja. Which was something most people didn’t know about him. He didn’t go around telling people that, of course—ninjas relied on their stealth abilities. And lastly he was a cop. The last part was easy—the cap and badge gave him away. He tried not to bust too many ninja moves when he was on the beat. And he saved his fighting with other ninjas for the weekend. And his off time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

She wanted so little..


The cauldron didn’t boil or bubble the way Maggie had been assured by Shakespeare that it would. It just kinda fixed a little as she mixed in the eye of newt (poor newt! Never did anything to anyone!) and she wondered if this Old Magic would really do anything. She was quite fond of New Magic, and its preoccupation with candles and arts and crafts. She was comfortable with those things. She was GOOD at those things. She had NO idea why she was churning a cauldron in the woods in the dark. The things she did on a dare.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

She'd done it on her own...


The rocky and jagged coast opened into a hundred or so tiny estuaries that each lead to a fresh-water stream that could be traced to a forest, and past the forest, into the mountains. And so it had been easy for Sadie to follow such a long trail from her sisters in the sea, to the snowy edge of the rocky mountain. That was where she stopped and turned around, for the water had run out of depth, and she was drowning in the air. But she had done it—she’d gone further inland than any other Siren before her.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The cushions wanted more...


The sofa cushions were not fond of their lot in life. Accept what you are, the carpet told them. Just keep yourself to yourself, and don’t rock the boat, the wide screen TV harped, over and over. The worst was the ceiling fan, who would go on and on about everyone’s place in the world, and they all had this special and unique part to play in the “grand scheme of things.” The sofa cushions agreed that the fan should go stuff itself into the vacuum and die. They didn’t hate being cushions. They just hated babysitting the throw pillows.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

He also didn't get along with the other bees...


Zander had a few problems. Firstly, he was a bee. That was kind of a bit of a problem, because he didn’t feel like a bee. He looked like a bee. He had the segmented exoskeleton of a bee. He had the wings of a bee. The crazy honey-making abilities of bees, and he felt inclined to serve the hive Queen, which was extremely bee-like. Even he had to admit that. But He just didn’t feel like a bee. He felt more like a man, trapped in a bee body. Also…he was allergic to pollen. It made him rather sneezy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Even his horse was filled with dread...


There were no men with Grogan. He tended to travel lightly. This meant his horse, his sack, his sword…and no army. But as the air and earth thundered around him with the approach of an uncountable number of hooves, he wished that he had not been so stubborn; that he had allowed his brother to talk him into taking at least a lance with him. He also said a brief prayer to the goddess that his ears were deceiving him. Perhaps it was an impending summer storm that rumbled his very core. But frivolous prayers like that were never answered.

Friday, September 2, 2011

As she watched, things changed...


“We don’t have time for this,” Wosut said, gently grasping Ponill’s shoulder and attempting to surreptitiously redirect her back to the reading room, and her studies.

With a tiny shrug, she removed herself from her teacher’s grasp and continued staring out the window, across the fresh-shorn, peaceful lawn, to the unrest beyond the castle walls. Women, men, children and castle guards, taunting that turned to yelling which turned to throwing things, which ended with a knight’s dagger protruding from the blacksmith’s head, and said knight on fire, burning a live in his armor. “No. I think I should see this.”

Thursday, September 1, 2011

They sang of how things were...


The stars saw

The stars remembered.

They sang of times

Gone and past.

Of the things that only

Far-away stars can see

They sang in hushed choir

So only a few could hear

Their song of dragons

And minotaurs

Poisonous monsters

And men with spears.

They sang of skies

Purple and gold

As the sun set

On the bloody sand

The stars watched

Souls of better men

Sink between each grain

Until washed by

The foamy tide

And absolved

By the women of the sea.

They wrote the story

As a lonely ballad

In their dark night,

Stretched across infinity.