Monday, August 31, 2009


“Man, that movie was messed up. Deep, but messed up,” said Jerry as they exited the theater.

“What do you mean?” asked Matt.

“Well, all the stuff about racism and desperation.”

“Didn’t see any of that…” Matt said doubtfully.

“It was metaphorical.”

“Tsk. You know why you see all of that stuff?” He tapped his head. “Because it’s inside you. It’s all in there.”

“And it’s not in you?”

“Not anymore.” Matt said. He grinned. “Rose-colored contacts. My heart is pure. I’m keeping my brain clean.”

Without noticing, he stepped off the curb into the path of the oncoming truck.


The dirt floor of the tunnel was scalloped and uneven. He glanced back over his shoulder at the fading light of the basement and clutched the mop handle tightly. He’d tied the long knife in place with surgical tubing.

“Little mouse…” the voice hissed, reverberating through the narrow space, echoing all around him.

He swallowed and edged forward. A shining scale, the size of a dinner plate, crunched beneath his foot.

“Little mice never come into my burrow,” said the voice. “They know what happens to little mice who do not know its secrets.”

The light disappeared, blocked from behind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hazardous Materials

Junkies are the worst.

“Look, man, two hundred dollars, right? Two hundred. Just open the spigot for like a second.” The guy was scrawny, but he had the telltale potbelly of a junkie. It’s really the eyes that give them away, though. His were like open sores.

“Everyone gets their fair share,” I said. “I’m not having some woman in Toledo kill herself because you had to soak up her dose.”

He spat and ran outside. I watched him, making sure he didn’t bother the truck. It gleamed in the sun, adorned with the warning sign - CAUTION: Liquid Hope.


The strays gathered around the garbage cans at night, pawing through the scraps. Sometimes there were fights. Sometimes a pair wandered away together.

Tonight, Ben, who claimed to have been a doctor, was diagnosing illnesses and wrapping wounds. He was clean and spoke softly. The women all smiled at him. Two propositioned him on the spot. He declined.

Overhead, one of the hovering spheres coughed, emitting a gout of flame. The crowd around the cans darted for cover. It would be long minutes before they reappeared.

Ben left, too, more slowly. His eyes narrowed as he frowned at the sky.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


He hauled on the rod, the line taut and trembling in the water. The front fender of a red convertible appeared slowly. Beside him sat the pile of other objects fished from the depths: jewelry, golf clubs, a laptop.

“How about that, huh?” said the worm from his hook.

“I told you what I want,” the man growled.

“There’s gotta be another way!”

“Just catch a damned fish.”


He tossed the line and the worm back out with a splash. A few moments passed. A dark shadow moved beneath the surface, rising like an island. An island with teeth…

Friday, August 28, 2009


He laid the offerings upon the table. A lock of hair. A crumpled photograph. A metal locket, carved with an intricate design of vines and flowers.

“A trade?” rasped the cloaked figure.

The man nodded.

“This is paltry. Worthless!” The trader leaned forward. The man smelled cinnamon. “You would not offer it if you still wanted it. It has no value.”

“It is what I am willing to trade.”

“You treasure something more than your blood-kin? Your memories? Your love?” Teeth gleamed in the darkness. “Trade that to me.”

The man shook his head. “My revenge is all I have.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Nothing moved in the kitchen. Chandra eased in, half-crouching, keeping her center of balance low. There was a clatter from the cupboards. Chandra spun and raised her knife reflexively. The faucet dripped softly into the sink. Chandra balanced her hand on the counter and carefully stood on tiptoes, cracking open the cabinet door with the tip of the blade.

A twiggy, black-skinned arm shot out of the garbage disposal and wrapped impossibly long fingers around her wrist. Chandra shouted and flinched, but she was held fast. Her gaze darted around and settled on the wall.

And the little electric switch.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Construction Zone

Dave didn’t notice the suspension bridge until it crunched under his foot. He shouted and cursed, hopping up and down on one slippered foot. One of the pillars had lodged in the ball of his left foot.

“What the hell?” Dan slumped back onto the stairs and clutched at his lower leg.

An ant with a clipboard and a hardhat clambered up the banister beside him. “You’re in violation of code,” she informed him.

“What? What code?”

“This whole area has been zoned commercial, not residential,” said the ant. “I’m going to have to report this. You’ll probably be fined.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Witch Woman

The bar noise swirled around them. In the darkness, no one saw the trickle of blood. It gleamed black in the infrequent flashes from the dance floor.

Helen gripped his wrist more tightly, drawing the wickedly curved knife across her own palm. “Blood to blood,” she chanted, following it with a series of words in a guttural language Willett couldn’t understand. “Take now this curse unto yourself,” she hissed. The lights flickered. Her eyes snapped open and met his.

There was a pause. The music vibrated in their bones.

“Did it work?”


He frowned. “Well, let’s try it again.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

War Unending

Tyler regarded his scattered Lego bricks with dismay. “My city was almost done,” he said, his voice quivering with barely-restrained tears.

“It’s the way of the universe,” said G.I. Joe. He bent down from his high shelf and surveyed the destruction. “Things fall apart. It’s scientific.”

“I spent a long time,” moaned Tyler. “Now I gotta do it again.“

Joe saluted. “The battle against entropy can only end one way, but I salute your bravery, son.”

“You didn’t see who did this?”

“Sorry,” said Joe. He rapped his face with the butt of his gun. It echoed hollowly. “Plastic eyes.”

Pollen Shining Like Stars in the Night

Yesterday's and today's. I'm just going to play catch up for a while and get us up to where we ought to be. Tomorrow's the 25th and I've only got twenty two posted, counting these.


“Lookit all them bugs,” said Grigor, pointing to the pointing to a buzzing cloud near a sporadically-lit streetlights. He reached into his pockets for his tobacco pouch.

“Those ain’t just moths and such,” Grigor went on. “Those are glow-bees.”


“Ayuh. Just like reg’lar bees collect nectar to make honey, glow-bees is the ones that make the light and fills up the streetlights.”

“But what do they collect? And why?”

Grigor lit his hand-rolled. “One o’ life’s mysteries.” He flicked the match out into the night. Something intercepted it in midair. The tiny glow winked out.

Overhead, the light flared.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Look Up and See

Sorry about yesterday; 14 hours in a car. I'll post again later tonight and resume double-posts on Monday.


It was a Tuesday. Nothing ever happens on Tuesdays, except maybe two-for-one specials at the local burger joint. On this Tuesday, however, the angels came. Their wings blotted out the sun and brought the night, but their flames lit the ground regardless. We were spellbound. All across the world, the masses of humanity played their roles to the hilt. First staring. Then shouting. Then fleeing. When it was over, the great cities of man were rubble, and we were still looking at the sky. It was all that was left to us.

They came in fire. We called them angels.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Secret Lives

When Brian returned home, he discovered his secret had gotten out. It clung to the ceiling above the couch, chittering and clacking its beak. He shut the door quickly. He couldn’t call anyone, not for this.

He tried a broom, but the secret was fast. He clambered on the furniture, knocking everything askew, leaving footprints on the cushions. It evaded his every attempt.

Brian was so engrossed that he didn’t hear the door open. Steve stared up at him.

“I can explain!” cried Brian. “It’s not actually mine…”

Steve chuckled. “You mean you didn’t know? It’s been out for years.”


He wielded the knife deftly. A slice of meat shaved from the slab drifted down, caught in nimble fingers. He laid it across the piece of bread. It was so thin one could see the surface beneath it, pockmarked by yeast as the bread had baked.

He put the meat away. It could hardly spoil, of course, under the circumstances, but everything had its place. He would make it last, this time. Infinitely divisible. In theory.

Outside, a bird hovered in the sky. Cars stood frozen on the streets. In the great clocktower, the pendulum moved an imperceptible moment forward.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken Little

He staggered out of the trees, dripping feathers across the clearing. He’d never been able to fly, of course; his ancestors had long since lost that ability. Now he didn’t even look like he could, his wings ragged, the long guard feathers filthy and worn.

“I told you!” he cried. His eyes gleamed, rolling and red-rimmed, alight from within. “You wouldn’t listen!”

He pointed to the sky, where the blazing red disc hovered in a cloud of darkness. Sizzling tendrils sparked where they brushed against the upper atmosphere.

“I told you all!” he screamed.

The house remained dark and silent.

Too Kind

It’s hard to walk down the street. I end up stopping twice on every block, holding my breath against the reek, dropping dollar bills into hats or plastic cups or guitar cases.

She was emaciated, a living skeleton. She didn’t even have a cup, just sitting there huddled in her ragged shawl. I pulled out a dollar, held it out. I expected a murmur of unintelligible thanks and a quick getaway.

Her hand shot out, grabbed my wrist. “You’re too kind,” she said, her voice ringing. I glanced up and met her eyes. I wish I hadn’t. “Much too kind…”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It could have been worse, of course. She knew that. She tried hard to remember it. When she arrived at her desk, she had to sit for several minutes with her head down, waiting for the scratching at her ribcage to stop. During lunch, she couldn’t speak her order to the lady behind the counter; wings were buffeting her lungs. She lost the afternoon’s work when the sharp little beak jabbed her esophagus.

And on the ride home, she ran into him again. He smiled, as beautiful as ever, and she felt the feathers tickling the back of her throat.


We now return to your regularly scheduled extremely constrained daily entertainment. I'll be doing two flitterfics per day until I catch up on the missing five; that way we won't have a giant backlog pushing everything off the front page.

Gen Con was fun. Several of these (including today's) were inspired by overheard comments or strange statements.


Cheri began sneezing the moment the door opened. They were violent outbursts, doubling her over with the force of the nasal explosions.

“We’ve – achoo! – got to – achoo! – get out of here!” she managed.

Durgan looked back from the edge of the forest. “Are you okay?”

“Aller – achoo! – allergies…” Cheri staggered outside and tugged at Durgan’s arm.

“Well, you should definitely get back into the transport,” said Durgan. “But I’ll be fine. I’m not even sniffling.”

“No! Both of us – achoo! – have to leave.”

“Why?” Durgan folded his arms.

Cheri gasped as the dark shape rose up behind him. “I’m allergic – achoo! – to werebears…”

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The stand was made of cardboard and markers. “Free Lemon Ade!!!” the sign announced.

“Would you like some?” asked the little girl, perched on an overturned milk crate.

Mrs. Titchley smiled. “You're just giving it away? That's not very good business sense.”

The girl's brother poured a glass and handed it over. She sipped. Her eyes widened, then rolled back. Her sip became frantic gulping. Rivulets ran down her face as she drank without stopping. She held out the empty cup, gasping.

“Another!” she demanded.

The boy's smile thinned. “Only the first one is free.”

Interesting Facts About the Octopus

Finally gave up and paid the exorbitant fee. I need the connection too much to make due with sipping from the public lounge at odd hours. So here are Tuesday and Wednesday; Thursday will have to be later on today, because I'm running two games tomorrow and I should really get some sleep at some point.


George choked and spluttered to the surface, tasting chlorine, pee, and used Band-Aids. Becky floated nearby. She regarded him solemnly.

“The octopus is one of the smartest creatures in the ocean,” she said. Behind her, painted numbers announced the depth. Ten feet, twenty... George stopped at the middle five thousands.

“It is a voracious predator, strong and tough,” Becky went on. “Its beak can shear through bone.”

The pool deepened into shadows. George could no longer see the bottom.

“It has protective camouflage,” said Becky. “You never see it coming.”

Something slipped around George's ankle.

Monday, August 10, 2009


And I'm off to Gen Con! No, not as any kind of guest of honor, unless you count running enough games to get a GM's badge. I think you need more than four non-blood-relation fans before you get to be a guest of honor. At least five, I'm sure. Anyway, we *should* have internet access at the hotel, but we *might* not, so again, please be forgiving of any delays which may or may not occur. And if you're going to be there too (and I'm not already, say, sharing a hotel room with you), feel free to drop by and say hello.


Burnson was at low ebb. Seventeen irate customers firmly believing the “no refunds, returns, or exchanges” policy surely didn’t apply to them.

He saw a customer in Produce. “You don’t want us, miss. We’re spoiled,” said a tomato.

“Oh,” said the woman, crestfallen. She moved to replace the fruit.

“Ma’am,” said Burnson shortly. He pointed at the large print sign directly above the display. It read: “PLEASE DISREGARD ALL STATEMENT’S FROM TOMATOE’S OR CUCUMBER’S.”

“Oh!” The woman smiled and tucked the tomato into her bag. Burnson turned away, ignoring the tomato’s vile curses. “They never read the signs,” he muttered.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


“Breakfast of champions,” Steve murmured, snagging a jelly doughnut and a cup of coffee from the break room. He nodded to Robert on his way back to his desk.

“Say, Steve…”

“What’s up?”

“Why is Gary on the ceiling?”

Glancing over, Steve saw that Gary had moved his chair and monitor up to the acoustic tiles. The cord dangled down to the hard drive, which was perched precariously atop a corner of his cubicle. He was trying to sip coffee but was having difficulty getting it to flow the right direction.

Steve shrugged. “He said his vertigo was acting up.”

Lost Children

Lisa stood with arms akimbo. “You can stop pretending,” she said. “I know you’re not my real shadow. You keep swinging the wrong arm.”

Her shadow cringed. “I’m sorry. I really am your shadow, though. Didn’t you ever wonder why shadows never look just like the people they’re supposed to be? I’m just not very good at it yet. I’m not used to seeing from this side.”

“This side of what?” asked Lisa, sitting down. “Where are you?”

“I’m where all lost children go, eventually.” The shadow paused and thought. “It’s very cold here,” it added, in case that helped.

Saturday, August 8, 2009




With both hands, Rikit brought the steak knife down on the taut string. The plastic spoon, released, launched the walnut toward the ceiling, where it was caught midway by one of several spatulas. Step by step, Targo's machine unfolded. At last, the heavy jug of rice toppled off the countertop, dragging more string with it. The refrigerator door creaked. Rikit and Targo held their breath. The door swung shut again. The tiny figures sighed.

Nora sighed, too, her head on her paws. She knew who would be blamed for the mess when the Master arrived home.


Because it's been a while since I indulged my fondness for gnomes (or did a particularly light flitterfic), and you can really never have too many gnomes, can you?

The Distant Light of a Rising Star

Internet putzed out on me yesterday, so here's the followup, with today's shortly afterward. I know my previous lunges toward continuity have rarely met with success, but for some reason I was really struck with several images after the first "Rising Star." (And I still haven't managed to work the original idea into a flitterfic yet.)


The advertisements were the worst part. “Our prices haven't changed in thousands of years!” one ad boasted. “Everybody wants some,” crooned another. “So quick, so easy!” announced a third.

Onsler stalked through the streets, hands stuffed into his overcoat pockets. Gremlin clung to his shoulder, oohing and aahing at the colorful posters, tugging on Onsler's ear to point out especially attractive ones. Onsler could feel the tiny demon's presence in his soul. The ads promised the world, but in the end, you got what you paid for. He shot a glance at Gremlin. Meager soul; meager demon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Interview with a Rising Star

“Oh, the great Lords of the Pit can destroy cities, even entire countries,” said Malvoris the Sorcerer. He settled into the overstuffed armchair and swirled his Scotch, the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass. “But there are many smaller imps and minor devils, and all of these, too, can be bound to one's will, if one is determined. No, the real revolution of demonology will be in the countless creature comforts now available to even the poorest of the poor, for every man, no matter how lowly, possesses the collateral.”


“A soul.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The wind whistles in my ears, sends my hair whipping across my face and neck. I can still smell the smoke, even as the wind thrusts it violently behind me. Scorched feathers, singed flesh. Above me, the smoke is a dark spiral against the white of the clouds, and farther still the shimmering Gate, its light narrowing to a pinprick as it closes, leaving me outside. Forever.

That won't be a problem for long. Far, far below, so far that I can see only a green and blue smear, is the ground. Approaching.

I smile, the wind in my hair.


He shuffled down the hallway, pushing his broom and bucket before him. The building thrummed around him, shuddering with hidden energy. The laminate floor and the acoustic tiles seemed to fade as each ripple of force passed through them, revealing dark stone like smoke. Through the ebony surface, one could see thin black legs and wriggling bodies, scrabbling at the surface as though digging to escape, to burst from the black rock into the world of light. The janitor whistled a jaunty tune and stopped to mop another section. Behind him, the shadows flailed at their prison with silent fury.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pizza Express Delivers in Thirty Minutes, Guaranteed

Milo was running late. Twenty-nine minutes and counting. His tires squealed as he rounded the corner. The speedometer registered nearly fifty. As Milo struggled with the wheel, a child darted across the street. He slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt mere inches from the terrified little girl.

The family at the house was very understanding. They paid for their pizza even though it was a minute past the Delivery Promise. Milo had been late, but he'd gotten paid. That counted, right?

Something shifted in the darkness behind him. “You have broken the agreement,” hissed the sibilant voice.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Among the Fallen Stones

Taku moved slowly through the rubble and scree. He called every now and then, but without much hope. There were many boulders of sufficient size, and more that had been shattered by the force of their impact. Taku was worried. His friend had been silent a long time.

At last Taku sat to rest, holding his head in despair.

“Hello,” said the Wisest Stone from beneath him.

Taku jumped. “I could not find you amid the stones!” he said. “Why did you not answer my calls?”

“I knew which one I was,” answered the Wisest Stone.


The sun rose. This was the day of the Winter Festival, the turning point of the year, when the night was longest. Soon the nights would retreat and the days grow longer instead. The revelry lasted well into the hours of darkness. At midnight came the climax of the festival. Afterward, they cleaned the stone block, staining the snow around it a washed-out red. The party continued with renewed fervor, as everyone fought to convince themselves everything was fine and would continue so. They waited for the sun, knowing the worst was past.

Morning came. The sun did not rise.