Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I have (mostly had, at this point, but to a certain degree still have) a Turrible Sickness. To that end, I am declaring a holiday for myself because I make up the rules and I can do what I want. I think that after two years I have proven that I am not just wandering off, never to return. I can hold down a steady updating job and maintain a tolerably stable fanbase.

I will return on the first of January, 2011, to continue to delight and amuse with tales of confusing, nonsensical, or bizarre things. See you then.

Monday, December 27, 2010


He spent the morning learning the tenses of the verb "to cook" and "to sleep" in Spanish. He took his dog for a walk, liberally employing the commands to "Heel!" and "Sit!" At work, he made significant progress on his open accounts; scuttlebutt had it his promotion was in the bag. That evening, he worked with his weights, and was pleased to find that twenty reps came more easily than ever.

"Every day in every way, I am getting better and better," he told his dog. "Soon I will be a god. Then we'll see about the rest of this."

Friday, December 24, 2010

All the Time in the World

It's that time of year again! And by "that time," I mean time for the Advent Ghosts Storytelling Event, hosted by the indomitable Loren Eaton of I Saw Lightning Fall. Last year saw a pretty hefty roundup. I'll update this with a link to this year's page as soon as it goes live. In the meantime, here is my scary-winter-Christmas story, in honor of my wife, Angela, who wanted to put up a Krampus decoration at our office when they asked for suggestions on the holiday decorating contest.


Oh, child, the news is bad. My brother, he brings you no gifts. He leaves you to Krampus.

Come, away, into my bag. Down into darkness with the other ones. Feel them pinch. Feel them kick. Yes.

See! My brother Niklaus, he brings a gift for your family. It is you, child! You as you will be, after your timeless time with me. See your pale face! See your frightened eyes! You will be a good child for your mother, oh yes, oh yes.

Come. This night ends soon. Then, to work! And the work never ends, child, no, never.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shame Not to Use the Rope and All

"Has to end this way, does it, Victor?"

Eli was chatty now I had the noose around his neck. "Seems that way."

"What'd I ever do to you, Victor? Don't pretend this is about the law; you've got just as much paper on you."

"Other'n shoot my horse?"

"That was fer cheatin' at cards!"

"You stole that cash from me inna first place. Eli, let's not do this." I checked the knot. Good and tight.

"What, you want to go out friendly-like?"

"Naw. I'd just hate to waste a good revenge killin' if it turns out t'be my own fault."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


"Right up there, it's leaking. Can you see it?" Linda joggled the baby in her arms.

"Ayup," said Mr. Bridges. "I'll get that fixed right up. Mind yer boy's eyes for a sec."

"What?" Linda said, then gasped. Mr. Bridges lowered his glasses and shot twin beams of energy out of his eyes, sealing the leaky pipe instantly.

"Comes with the job, see?" said Mr. Bridges. "I'm the super."

"Shouldn't you work for the government or something?"

"Nah. Told you, it's the job. Superman's only super under the yellow sun, right? Me, I got my building to take care of."


Eric had a Twinkie for breakfast. He brushed his teeth and rinsed his toothbrush in alcohol - the tapwater wasn't safe; nothing natural was - before going to check on Trudy. Her face was as high as his second-story window now.

"Any better?" he asked.

Trudy blinked up at him. "It's wonderful, Eric. It always has been." She yawned prettily, but did not move; her arms were completely covered in bark, branching far overhead. "Why won't you join us? We're all one again, one with the Earth."

Eric narrowed his eyes. "I'm running low on Twinkies," he said, and slammed the window.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hardhat Zone

With a ratchet and a clatter, the brass squirrels retreated into their nests, making way for silver-plated owl-clocks. Overhead, there was a distant roar as a perfect V of missiles rocketed south for the winter. The streets were nearly bare as the last of the flesh-and-blood denizens scrambled for shelter.

The bells tolled, and the gears turned. "Winter is coming!" the birds called. "Winter is coming!"

All along the street, the lantern-posts creaked, rusty with months of disuse. One by one, the grips opened, releasing the glimmering leaves to drop to the streets with the clang of metal on metal.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Rewards of Service

"Please, Mistress," Drego said, fighting to keep his voice level. To make sound was crude enough without bringing emotions into it. "I have always been loyal. I do not wish to leave your service."

The silent, robed figure glided into Drego's studiously downcast field of vision. A paper-dry hand gently lifted his chin until he met the Lady's eyeless gaze and sewn-shut lips. She smiled and gestured with an eloquent finger. Her other hand held a needle and thread.

"Ah," Drego said, his eyes kindling. "Thank you, Mistress! Thank you..."

He fell into silence once more, this time for good.


"We've got to get out of here," Risa said suddenly.

"Why?" Vinnie pouted. "We just got here."

"Flip a coin."

"...okay. Call it."

"Edge," said Risa.

"Holy crap! How did-"

"Here, pick a card." Even before Vinnie had looked, Risa said, "It's the Ace of Spades."

"Okay, I'm really not following here," said Vinnie, handing the ace back to Risa.

"Probability vortex. We need to leave." Risa finished repacking and started walking.

"Wait, don't we want to maybe exploit this? Buy a scratch-off lottery ticket or something?"

"What do you suppose the chances of a fatal meteorite strike are?"



I write for you nice people tomorrow. Oh sweet merciful Zeus, my arms and hands and back, ow ow ow.

Goodbye for now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Metastasis" at Cast Macabre

Metastasis is available for your listening pleasure at Cast Macabre, operated by the indomitable Barry J. Northern, whose own fiction has appeared at Pseudopod and Flashes in the Dark.

Take a gander and, if you like it there, stick around. I listened to their whole backlog while cleaning house last month and found several definite gems in the stories. (My personal favorite remains "The Tiger Machine," even with my own story up.) Their Blogspot site has like ten more followers than me, so we can totally gang up on them. Get 'em, guys!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Conversation with a Time Traveler

"So... you're from the future?"

"I'm from a future. Obviously, I can't be from your future, because by coming here I've altered your timeline and thus my own. Paradoxes and multiple universes and so on. I think string theory has something to do with it."

"And... that's why you have that thing on your head?"

"Oh, this? No, we evolved a symbiotic relationship about a thousand years ago in my universe."

"With squid?"

"Have you ever felt rain through a squid's senses? Your kind don't even have words for what we can perceive together. And now you never will."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010


In a Quebecois suburb, a young man named Conrad wrote down his idea for a screenplay. It was the last new idea anyone could ever think of. He placed it in an envelope and was about to lick the stamp when the first waves of lassitude overcame him. He sat down.

The quiet spread, though no one knew why. Conrad's neighbors slowed, then stopped. Traffic became a trickle, until the highways were a parking lot. All across the world, everyone ceased their striving, their pursuit of endless goals.

They put everything down, folded their hands, and waited for the end.

Monday, December 13, 2010


It came in the dark of a clear winter's night, when the stars themselves twinkled and shone like paste diamonds. It came to a world half-consumed in neon and body glitter, awash in rhinestones and bedazzled tchotchkes. It rose from a city tattooed with unicorns and dolphins in shimmering pastels. Lisa Frank was its prophet. Stephenie Meyer was its priestess.

The cowering masses watched, trapped and powerless, as the sky flared a crimson that faded gently to pink. It sang in a warbling, infinitely pathetic voice. The terrible wings opened and spread majestically across the sky, swallowing the moon.



Her screams echoed down the alley. The burly men grinned at each other as they moved in.

A shape dropped from overhead. With a sudden blur of movement, the men flew away. They grunted softly upon impact. The woman peered out from beneath her covering arms at the spandex-clad figure who stood, panting, outlined against the streetlights.

"A superhero!" she cried.

"I..." The figure swallowed. "I was bitten by a radioactive insect. It gave me its strength, toughness, speed..." He turned towards her. His face was in shadow. "The flea, it gave me... everything. God help me, I'm... hungry."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Free Flash Fiction!

My ill-fated flash fiction story "The Lights In-Between" is currently at 365 Tomorrows, where they pay nothing and charge nothing. Since I wrote it for free anyway and I give away more words than that in a week, I don't much mind. Check 'em out, y'all!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flesh of Stone, Bones of Iron

A lot of murders don't ever get solved. It's just part of the cost of civilization and industry, the side effects of having so many people in one place at one time and accomplishing everything that we accomplish. The city is alive, in a way.

The city is killing them.

The others shrug it off. They can't stop it, and so they don't try. I tried to save people, for a while. Medicine, security, legislation; nothing addressed the underlying problems.

There is one way to achieve justice, an old way. The only problem is: how do you kill a city?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Playing Video Games in the Basement

"I hate how in comics, the villains never did anything interesting with elemental control powers? Like, you have a guy who can control water or light or sound, and so he makes big monsters out of whatever and sends them to attack people."

"I guess you can punch monsters, and it's not like most superheroes have anything else in their repertoires. How else are they going to win?"

"I'm just saying. There's a lot of untapped potential. I have to think about this stuff."

There was a splash and a scream from upstairs. They ignored it.

"Monsters are kinda fun."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Ceaseless Mechanical Hum

What is it that drives us on? That pushes us to discover, to invent, to create? There is no 'human spirit,' no inherent indomitable quality, nothing other than this: We make our greatest strides when we are uncomfortable where we are. Discomfort, not need, is the mother of invention. That prickling, tingling, itching desire to be somewhere else.

And that is my gift to you. To all of humanity. You feel it now, yes? That first twitching uneasiness? That feeling will only grow. But not too much; my machine is not meant as a torment.

Embrace it with me now.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Secrets We Keep

This is the Lantern of Truth. It illuminates everything you already know. Come, bask in its glow. It will show you no surprises. See your hands, smooth and pink and healthy. See your face, wise and beautiful. Everything is as you know it would be.

You need not see the old man across the way. Do not fret as he recoils in horror, his face collapsing into mingled disgust and pity. He is deluded. He is irrelevant. For you, in your light, are perfect. Leave him to his foolishness. You are unblemished, whole and untouched.

As far as you know.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


The Wisest Stone gets a second showing on the Drabblecast this week with Episode 190, featuring "Trajectory" as the intro drabble for John Wyndham's "The Wheel." I still don't get paid for these, but it's awfully flattering to be so regularly featured on a Parsec Award winning podcast. :-)

Strange Stories by Strange Authors could have been the tagline for Mirrorshards, is all I'm saying.

Cold Winter Night

It was a cold, hard night when Eli Walston came back from the grave. Suitable, I reckon, as Eli was as cold and hard a whoreson as ever I hung from a tree. I rode out to meet him.


"Eli. Cold night fer it."

He shrugged.

"Settle this over drinks and cards?"


I scratched under my hat. "One thing I cain't figger, Eli."

"What's that?"

"Why're you so anxious for my company? You shot at me fer a reason."

"Sonuvabitch." Eli paused. "Cards and whiskey, you said?"

"Trixie'll stay open if'n I ask."

Eli nodded. "Cold out, anyhow."

Friday, December 3, 2010


They gathered around their captive. A heavy vise gripped the Wisest Stone.

"He will come for us! I'm sure of it," said one of them.

"But now we have his teacher. We will learn all the same secrets." The scarred man nudged the Wisest Stone with his sledgehammer. "Well, Stone? Have you nothing to say?"

"No," said the Wisest Stone.

"We will smash you if you do not speak? Why risk that?"

With a soft sigh, the guard at the door crumpled. Taku strode in, knife in hand.

"Because I saw him coming down the hallway," said the Wisest Stone.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ensure Your Meat Is Fresh and Preferably Free-Range

Viv and Rinny slumped against the oven door, gasping for breath, Rinny somewhat over-dramatically. Viv had long, thin cuts down her arm, three lines like fingernail tracks. Rinny's bangs were scorched to nothing. From inside the stove, something shrieked and gibbered in languages long dead. From the tone, they were curses of the most dire sort.

"Where did you get that cookbook again?" asked Rinny.

Viv ignored her. She hauled herself upright and limped to the counter, where the stained tome rested. "Now that we've basted the imp," she said, "we just have to bake the Hell out of it."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The tall man's voice was harsh and braying. "Man, you don't want to mess with me. I am the strongest motherfucker you will ever meet. I am judgment from on high. I am the wrath of God. Son, I am the goddamned plagues of Egypt."

"Oh? Which one?" The small man's face was hard to see in the fading light.

"Death, bitch. The death of the firstborn."

He smiled. "Well, that's interesting. You can have my firstborn, though I will miss him." The windowpanes darkened completely, covered by tiny, chitinous bodies. The air throbbed with their sound. "I have other children."

Squatting in the Furnished Rooms

"I am out of creamer and sugar," the coffeemaker told P1ng.

He rolled her eyes. "Just put hot water in the cup."

"Water service non-functional," the sink announced.

"Quiet!" P1ng poured the steaming water into a chipped bowl of scrounged insta-noodles.

The refrigerator piped up. "You are out of milk-eggs-butter-broccoli-asparagus..."

"I said shut it!"

"You should just ignore them," Laura said, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

"You'd think they'd figure it out. When do they run down?"

"Well, they're mostly solar, so... never."

"Can't even have a proper friggin' apocalypse."

The popcorn machine beeped. P1ng threw his mug at it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Apis-American Society Recommends Rosemary and Thistle

The house next door had finally sold. Gertie insisted they go over to meet the new neighbors. She brought a casserole.

"I/we appreciate the gesture," their neighbor said through a translation device. About twenty bees bumbled around on the translator.

"I feel so silly," said Gertie. "If I'd have known, I would have brought a bouquet."

"Ow!" Frank slapped at something on his arm, then went pale. "Oh, God. I... I wasn't thinking."

"She was overzealous," said the hive. "Over one thousand die each day. Do not fear. However, I/we would appreciate it if you avoided pesticides on your garden."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rather Surprising He Lasted Even That Long, Really

"I am Dog," said the first Guardian.

"I am Cat," said the second.

"I am Bird," said the third.

"One of us holds the power to summon the Sky Fire," Dog went on. "Discover who holds the key, and you may yet prevent the destruction of humanity."

"But the Vilelord is a cruel and unyielding man," said Taku. "Why would he provide a chance of escape?"

"It will not be easy," said Bird. "The riddles..."

Something beeped. Dog and Bird spun to glare at Cat, who held a small metal remote.

"What?" said Cat. "You kept talking. I got bored."

Thursday, November 25, 2010


He dwells in the hidden corners of the steering column, waiting to bestow his blessings. In light and sound is his glory revealed, the steady pulse of the universe waiting to change.

He holds the sound as long as he can, until the wrenching twist rips it away again. He doesn't mind. He gives it freely.

You must be mindful, as you move forward, that you do not lose the wonder he embodies. Those who do are dangerous. You will know them by this sign: they never deviate, never turn aside, traveling straight along life's highway.

Deaf to his voice.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


He watched another few leaves drift down. "Like ticks dropping off a dog," he grumbled. His rake stabbed viciously at the ground. It caught on something.

"What now?" he moaned. He lifted the rake, shedding leaves.

The tines looked... chewed.

There was a rustling behind him. He glanced around, but nobody was there. He looked back in time to see the end of the rake fall off, the wood splintered and gnawed. The leaves still clutched the handle. They moved towards his hands.

Something tugged at his leg.

"Such a nice, neat leaf-pile!" she purred, some time later. It rustled.

Flash Fiction Story at Podcastle

So a while back, I took first place in the Podcastle flash fiction contest, conducted at the Escape Artists Forums, where stories from Podcastle, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod can all be discussed. Forum members can see the subforum and read the competition, if they feel the urge to do so. My story was "Fetch," actually an expanded version of the flitterfic by the same name. So not new to y'all, but you can hear a much more professional voice reading my stories for once. Plus, Podcastle is the shiznit and should be endorsed whenever possible.

The other two top stories are in there, too, but even so it shouldn't take much of your time. There was a 500-word limit to these. If you like it, join the forums and comment! They love to hear from new voices.

Direct link to the episode in question.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forget About Towel Service

They watched it on the viewscreen for a while.

"This doesn't mean anything," said Docker. "In a theoretically infinite universe, there's bound to be seeming patterns that crop up. A truly random sequence can manifest apparent runs or sequences as easily as random noise."

They watched the viewscreen a little longer. The object spun gently in space: a perfect replica of the Holiday Inn from downtown Boardman, Ohio, back on Earth. An escaped chocolate mint ricocheted off of the exterior camera.

"What I want to know is how they can justify those prices," said Waslo.

"Supply and demand?" Eretri suggested.

Friday, November 19, 2010


"To lie," said the Wisest Stone, "is to create worlds. Each falsehood leads to a new universe, a place where it is truth instead, and in turn changes this world by rendering it impossible."

"Lies such as, 'Stones may fly'?" Taku asked.

"Yes. I chose for this world to contain that truth, and thus made it a lie somewhere else."

Taku pondered as they ascended to the next terrace. "How is one to tell a truth from a lie, then?"

"That is the simplest part," the Wisest Stone told him. "When it never occurs, you know it was a lie."

Get Thee Behind Me

"You can't ever see one. That's the point. If you see it, it ain't a hidebehind no more."

"So, what, being seen kills them?"

"Naw. By definition, if you seen somethin' weird, you ain't seen a hidebehind. That's logic. Might kill 'em, I s'pose."

"What about mirrors? Three-hundred-sixty-degree cameras? Satellites?"

"Yer gettin' fancy now. If I was a hidebehind, I'd be pissed off right now."

"You're not, though. I can see you."

"Don't mean there ain't one behind me. Or you. Hell, they could be all around us, we'd never know."


"Yeah, I'm wishin' I hadn't said it, too."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anything for the Touch of Her

"Dear child," she murmured, resting a gloved hand on his cheek. "Everything is a poison, and every poison is a medicine. It's all in the dosage. Enough water can poison you. Not from drowning, no; it kills you by doing what it does, so much of it that it breaks the cell walls and dilutes the salts you need to live. And even polonium, so deadly that a few molecules can kill, has its uses."

She leaned in and brushed her lips lightly against his, gripping his shoulders hard as he stiffened and began to spasm. "Too much?" she whispered.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does What It Says on the Tin

"I think I'm going to wait in the car."

"C'mon! It's a creepy old shop full of awesome stuff! Think about this in the dorm room!" Skip held up a cow skull with three horns.

"It's just junk. Like these stupid bottles with joke labels. My mom has these. 'Dreams.' 'Love.' Ugh. Smells like rotten potpourri. Wait, what the hell?" Gavin replaced the cork in the jar he held and plucked a squat bottle from the shelf. "'Spiders'?"

"Ahem," said the thin-faced proprietor. He reached from behind Gavin and gently took the bottle. "Let's not open that one, shall we?"

Monday, November 15, 2010


"That's weird."

"What?" Shannon looked up. "The sign?"

"Yeah." Dan watched it loom up and zip past as the car rounded the curve. "It just said 'EAT.' No context at all."

Shannon had her head turned, peering at the back of the sign over the treetops until it disappeared completely.

"I guess," Dan went on, half to himself, "it must have had more signs, like for a restaurant or whatever, and they just fell off over time. Still weird though."

Shannon said nothing. She turned to face him, her eyes wide and her teeth glistening, so white and so sharp...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Legislation

The ship stopped automatically when the TDHiP signal bumped it out of subspace into the nearest empty zone. The red and blue lights flashed as the second ship docked and extended an airlock.

"Can you guess why I pulled you over?" the officer asked once the secure ship-to-ship link had been created.

"No, sir," Sheraton gulped.

"Mm-hm. Do you know where you were going?"

"Yessir. Andromeda, coordinates 3178.1543.0659," Sheraton said.

The policeman's face never moved. "I see. Well, enjoy your speeding ticket."

Enraged, Sheraton sputtered, "I'll dispute this!"

"I'd like to see you try," the cop laughed as he disconnected.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ends Well

...always there, now, the rotten wood and clutching weeds, the smell of frogspawn and stagnant water. The tiny knothole in the slime-blacked cover! A hole. A hole into darkness, a hole into the hole in the pit in the shadow in the wet and muck...

I smell it. It won't be long now.

That is how his diary ends. I would believe he was unbalanced, except that I was there when we three first found the well as children. Even now I can hear the soft croaking of the frogs and smell the first hints of mildew on the wind...

Monday, November 8, 2010

File: Greengrocer Redwood, Disc 132-D, Evidence Recovered from Site

Recording damaged. Large portions remain unreadable. Reconstruction of Segments 17A-17B to the best of currently available technology reads as follows:

" destroy objects, even quite large ones. Bridges! Windows! Sound alone! A single perfectly pitched tone. [indecipherable] of it. Astounding! [shuffling papers] And of course the principle is applicable. There is always a, a, a linchpin. [indecipherable] weaknesses! [laughter] The mind, being metaphysical, has no solitary note to shatter it. It is a logical construct, made of meaning and patterns, and so a pattern of meaning is the key. Listen [indecipherable], if you dare-"

Reconstruction remains incomplete. Staffing shortages cited.

With a Carving Knife

It was a punishment. Retribution. The three mice, you see, had transgressed. They had sinned. And as sinners they deserved the severance of a part of themselves. A sacrifice.

Blind? Yes, they were. It's the title of the song. Your point?

You're not following, I see. What simpleton could be so deluded as to intend defiance of the Divine? No, they were sinful in themselves, as part of their very nature. That is the secret.

Well, there's metaphorical and then there's metaphorical, if you see my point. Now hold still, or this will hurt far more than it already would.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Opposing Force

It was late when we found the old woman. She was the last. We could see it on our readouts, the other sectors reporting in clean one after another. We'd been slow, and now she was the only one.

"Wait," I told Harris, as he raised his pulse-rifle.

"Getting soft?" he sneered.

"Not exactly. But she's the very last. When she's gone, that's it."

"Isn't that the point?"

"What will it do to us, I wonder, when nobody's left to hate us for what we've done. Where will it all go?"

Harris rolled his eyes and fired.

I'm still wondering.

Friday, November 5, 2010

No Such Thing as Zombies

Unwitting prompt courtesy of Munsi


The walking corpse outside your door isn't a zombie. Zombies are honest. Zombies rot on the outside, falling apart right before your eyes. They never hesitate or pretend. They tell you what they want, if not with voices, then with teeth and clutching hands.

Zombies are hungry. Zombies want you, specifically and generally, and they don't stop until they get you. Or until you shoot them.

That corpse isn't a zombie. It's talking and flashing a smile and thinking secret things behind its blue eyes (not milky pale but dead, dead, dead). It's not a zombie.

Better if it was.

A Lack of Jiggling

"The new model is 40% lighter – we had some interesting alloy work coming out of a subsidiary – and the onboard computer can process literally millions of variations on any cheer. Triple somersaults are not out of the question, and from a standing start."

"She ain't too pretty. Kinda shiny and metal, like," Coach said, rubbing his thinning hair.

The salesman's lips quirked. "I thought that wasn't the point? You were quoted extensively in the article. 'It's about skill and enthusiasm,' as I recall. You won't find anything more enthusiastic than this."

"Yeah, well... I reckon we'll go with this'n, then."

Thursday, November 4, 2010


"The final count is in!" cried the lungs. "Our leader for the next election cycle of the body is... the Brain!"

"Four more years! Four more years!" chanted the kidneys, as Brain and his vice-president, Duodenum, took the platform for a speech.

"It's not really fair. He's got like five or six different personalities in there, at least," the bowels grumbled. "And you do not want to meet Lizard Brain."

"Next time," said Stomach darkly. "They can't keep me out forever. I used to own this body." Teeth gnashed encouragingly beside him, although chances were they'd never see his reign.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


"I do not desire this battle!" Sir Rodney swung his sword in a broad, taunting stroke.

The serpent coiled and feinted. "Yet here you are."

"You attacked me and mine, worm." Rodney pressed forward, shield low to guard his legs.

"A necessity. The end is inevitable."

"That it is," said Rodney. He swung, blocked, and lunged, feeling his sword bite deep.

The serpent writhed as it died. "You claim innocence... You plea for peace..." It gasped, a final, rattling breath. "You lie."

Rodney's face was carefully blank by the time he turned back to the nobles and the waiting princess.

Temporary Disruption of Services

I'm doing National Novel Writing Month and making a big push to finish the Damned Novel (now in its third year of semi-completion). Mirrorshards may well be late, ill-timed, or missing during the month of November. I apologize in advance; I'll try to get them done during the workday, but it may well be rough going. Longhand sucks.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Self-Made Man

This story has consumed me. It's as real to me as anything in my life. More real, I think; I know everything that's ever happened to Mikel the lost prince, from his childhood injuries to his first love. He is so very real, you see, so solid and true-to-life. Yet I'd be hard-pressed to tell you what I ate for breakfast yesterday. Or where I went to college.

Or if I'm married.

I'd wonder why, but I've no time. I must write more of Mikel's story. That is my purpose. There had to be someone to do it, after all...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sticks and Stones

"So what killed him?"

Astrid clenched her teeth and tamped down on her anger, restraining her initial sharp retort. "I've been here five minutes, Paulson." Paulson flinched as her response bit, drawing blood. "Look, I'm sorry. It's been a rough night." She modulated her tone carefully, soothed away the mark on Paulson's cheek.

She turned back to the body. Neck snapped. Bruises. Bones nearly pulped.

"Blunt force," she said. "Nasty. 'Loser,' maybe. 'Failure.' Haven't seen words hit like this since that sociopath Cowell was put away."

"People don't think," said Paulson.

"Or they think too much. That's half the problem."

Djinn Fizz

Browning tried not to stare at the blue, glowing man three seats down. Reese slid Browning his usual Scotch, then plopped a glass before the blue man. He cleared his throat. The blue man sighed and handed what looked like a brass gravy bowl to Reese.

"I wish the glasses were clean," Reese intoned gravely. The blue man winced. There was a clatter and a faint smell of soap. Reese returned the brass object, and the blue man downed his drink in a single gulp.

Browning caught at Reese's sleeve. "So what's he drinking?"

Reese raised an eyebrow. "Whattaya think?"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A little bit long today. I could either have a plot or a description, and neither was very satisfying alone. Hopefully you don't mind the extra 50 words.


The pit was smooth, like the inside of a bowl.

"So's to keep it from getting a grip," said the barker. "What'll ye wager, lad? If ye can give it something it can't eat, you win." He flashed a handful of coin.

Cort looked at the wooden plank that listed the most notable offerings. "Burning lamp." "Pigshit 100lbs." "My grandfather's sword, damn your conman's gizzard." He peered over the edge.

A rough sphere, like a leather ball, lay at the nadir of the pit. It split as he watched, revealing endless rows of teeth and a dark throat that pulsed like hunger itself. He glanced back to the carny-man.

"You should feed it better," Cort said. He flipped his coin up, over the showman's frantic reach and into the pit. A tongue like a whale's liver flicked out and snatched the coin from the air to a deep, satisfying crunch.


There is no way out. We have seen to it. The "rat" enters the complex, and the way is sealed. My natural weapons exceed theirs to a laughable degree. The comparison to rats is not inapt; enough of them, perhaps, or a singularly lucky blow might enable them to turn the odds, but otherwise, the outcome is assured. We know it, and they know it.

And yet they fight. When they are at last cornered, they turn and fight. My hunter-brothers sing of it.

I hate it.

Tonight my prey will die quickly. It is all I can give them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Drag Queen

"This is ridiculous."

Astyanax fussed with the lie of the veil, which trailed down from Rytolonix's pointed hat. "Well, you will look ridiculous if you insist on standing that way. Think soft and feminine. Right now you look like a pissed-off dragon."

"I am a pissed-off dragon."

"No, you're a princess. We've been over this. Human hunters use wooden ducks to make the real ducks think the water is safe."

"Why can't we use a princess stuffed with straw?"

Astyanax sighed. "Humans are smarter than ducks, Rytolonix. Now lean forward. I'm going to do your eyeshadow."


"Well, quit wriggling!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

And the Delicate Gossamer of Their Wings

The man in the clown suit produces a quarter, seemingly from nowhere. He is in a run-down apartment, before a white-plaster wall. There is no furniture.

He sweats beneath his makeup, and his body is gaunt with deprivation. He smells abominable. The floor swarms with roaches, a brown-shelled carpet.

The clown vanishes the coin with a deft finger movement, spreads his hands to show they are empty. The room fills with applause, a susurration of brown wings.

After a short time, the applause dies down. The silence is heavy, expectant.

The man chokes back a sob, and the show continues.

Bone Spur

The clattering bones stretched overhead, looking like an endless ivory slope. "This isn't even the mountain range," said Yalta. "Only a spur. A small one."

We groaned and trudged on, up the unstable surface of the switchback. "We must be careful," Yalta told us. "The slightest misstep could trigger a skullquake. if we move flawlessly, we may be caught in a downpour."

"I thought you said these were dormant?"

"No new bones for many years, but sometimes still they fall. None knows why. Still, be of good cheer," Yalta advised us. "This part is easy."

"Why? What's next?"

"Viscera Bog."

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Louis froze when Gloria walked in and the music amped up. "Combat!" he shouted. "Gloria, get ready. I can't see where-"

"I'm leaving you," Gloria interrupted.

Louis cried out as the red numbers appeared briefly over his head. 53. A massive hit. "But... you can't!"

Gloria barely flinched as a crimson 6 flashed above her bangs. "It's over. You've known it for a long time, I think. We both did."

46. Louis shuddered.

"I'm going to Mom's. Don't call me." The door slammed behind her.

"You'll come back," Louis gasped. "You'll see."

A red 3 appeared over his own head.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


"The hunt is blood. The hunt is life."

The words had the sound of a ritual call-and-response, but none of the assembled audience took up the chant. They stared wide-eyed at the antlered figure in leather and skin as he paced on cat-soft feet.

"To hunt is the savage joy of sinew, blood, bone, and breath. To hunt is to become one with the hunters and hunted alike. It is, in a way, a gift. You will give me the hunt." He smiled, wide. His teeth were sharp and jagged. Predator's teeth. " In return, I grant you this: Run."

Monday, October 18, 2010

New and Improved

"Behold!" Hades cried. "Our salvation!" The factory belched smoke into the cavernous sky, lit from beneath by the heat of the Phlegethon.

Charon grunted noncommittally as they paddled to the loading docks.

"Look, we're lower than ever this quarter. If business doesn't pick up, we'll be completely bankrupt in another millennium. It's not just a passing fad, Charon."

Charon picked up one of the bottles from the conveyor belt, read it, and frowned.

"What, you don't like it?" Hades hesitated. "We worked on the slogan for five years. 'Lethe Cola: Wash your cares away.' Too much like Lethe Body Wash?"

Friday, October 15, 2010


She finished her story and stirred her drink, plucked out the plastic sword and pursed her lips, contemplating the cherry. "Thanks for listening, though. It's like we've known each other forever."

"Well, technically we've been affecting each other gravitationally our entire lives. We just never noticed because the gravity of the world is so overwhelming."

She smiled. "You are so adorable."

He barked his reedy laugh. "I never thought I'd hear anyone say that. The probabilities against it would probably require a whole new branch of mathematics to describe."

"Everything has to happen somewhere, right? That's quantum."

She leaned in.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"The data doesn't lie, gentlemen. Television viewership is the lowest in ten years. Scandal after scandal is being thoroughly investigated, and the responsible party is losing the next election. Libraries are flooded with more requests than they can handle. More than a dozen key indicators are in the red." With a grim face, the professor moved to the next slide. "The mines are tapped out. Latest yields are at barely twenty percent quality. The situation is grim." He leaned forward on the podium. "If we don't find a new source of Stupid, gentlemen, civilization as we know it is doomed."

The Shadows Seemed to Move in the Corners of the Room

Starke blinked in the candlelight. "By Jove, chum, you look wrung right out."

"Do I?" Hortney coughed, a wet and ominous sound that threatened to become a fit. "There are always costs, I suppose."


"Do you like my light?" asked Hortney, apparently changing the subject.

"It's a bit dim."

"No mundane candles, these. The process is arduous, but I have mastered the trick of draining one's soul. Souls are rather like tallow, you know."

"Then you... these candles..."

"The light of my burning soul, yes. It illuminates nicely," said Hortney, grinning horribly. "And oh, the things you can see!"

Dead on the Inside

"What of the living dead?" Markham sat back and sipped his glass of wine.

Rotheske did not move, save to follow Markham's hand. "The dead are just like the living. They can move about. They can speak as fluently as they like. They can eat and drink, if they wish. The sole difference is that they are dead; an internal and private affair."

Markham's lips twisted. "Then what separates us from them? You make it sound as though there's no telling!"

He paused, then, his gaze fixed on the buzzing fly that had just landed on Rotheske's unblinking eye.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stiff Upper Lip

The Master was dead, slain by the invaders. The countryside burned. The household was in disarray. Half the china was smashed. The dinner party was - almost certainly - canceled.

"Mrs. Weatherby," said Jules, "the situation is dire."

"What will we do? What can we do?" The housekeeper wrung her chubby hands while Sarah, the chambermaid, sobbed into her apron.

Jules mustered all the considerable forces of eyebrow at his command. "We shall do what we always do, Mrs. Weatherby," he said. he reached above the fireplace and withdrew the ancient saber. "We will bring order to chaos. We will clean house."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

See Through

"The procedure is totally painless," the doctor assured him. He could see through the doctor's transparent eyes to the shadowed, motionless interior.

"And once it's done, we can finally be married," cooed Samantha, stroking his brow. The window in her chest reflected the light when she bent over him. Nothing moved inside. "Then you'll see. You'll finally know, same as everyone else, that there's nothing in there worth fretting over."

He wanted to cringe from her touch, but the anesthesia was already taking hold. He felt the flutterings and rustlings inside of him, the restless unseen motion, fading softly away.

The Enemy Reveals Himself

Heyo! Catching up after an illness. Didja miss me? (Does anyone even notice when I fail to update? I see we lost a follower, but I don't know why...)


"This is crazy. We're crazy." Hyatt gnawed at a thumbnail already bitten to the bloody quick. "We're traveling back, but we don't even know we're not infected. We could be carrying it with us. And Earth, oh, God, we can't, we can't! We have to-"

There was a loud report and a soft, meaty thud. Captain Stiller tucked his sidearm back into its holster. His eyes flicked to Ortiz and Rawlins. "He was a carrier. Paranoia. Delusions. It was obvious. Necessary."

Ortiz and Rawlins didn't dare even to glance at one another, but their hands tightened together under the console.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Curious Defense Mechanisms of the Animal Kingdom

Among toxic creatures, a notable example is the yuck-turtle, whose potent venom would be an effective deterrent if it were fatal to anything other than the yuck-turtle itself.

A startled broosker inflates explosively, rendering itself an immobile, vaguely buoyant target. A popular drinking game involves a clutch of brooskers, a sudden loud noise, and darts.

The Kamschattan spotted ape,known colloquially as the "rubber-monkey," possesses a singular defensive strategy of loudly claiming to remain unhurt regardless of actual events. The reflex is so strong that even the lips of a severed head will mouth the words, "Missed by that much."

Lessons, Planners

The grim gates stood open, the inmates bemused. Juvie Hall did not free its prisoners lightly, not under the Warden.

Nearby, the other grim gates stood likewise open, the cringing pupils within seated in orderly rows, not daring even to whisper their fears. Where was Teacher?

In a fortress of cardboard and scrounged tires, the Warden and the Teacher sat, their knees up around their ears. "No, no, you can't put the lava moat there," said Teacher. "It'll melt the icicle spikes."

"What about by the guard dragon?" the Warden suggested.

Teacher considered, then grinned. "It'll be the best fort ever."

Monday, October 4, 2010


"You follow strange trails, little one," said the Cat. "It is not your kind's nature to stand and fight."

The Mouse marshaled what courage she had remaining to keep her place. Her legs badly wanted to bolt.

The Cat approached silently, as was his wont. "Intriguing," he said, inspecting the tiny needle-sword, the thimble hat, the foil breastplate. "Truly, you are the most unique mouse I have ever seen. I am impressed by your daring."

"Impressed enough to show mercy?" she squeaked.

"Alas," said the Cat, as his paw came down, "I am not possessed of your strength of character."

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Painted Man, the Man with a Thousand Tattoos, washed up on the shore late at night, phosphorescent seawater clinging to his ink-tainted form. He lay half-comatose in the sand, coughing up water, before dragging himself up the shore toward the tiny huts. He was startled to find the patriarch of this atoll a pale-skinned wanderer like himself.

"How," gasped the Painted Man, "have you survived the touch of the islands without scars such as I have borne, lo, these many years?"

"I was writ upon, too, long before I arrived," the ersatz chief replied, "but not on the outside."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Phillip's Drinking Begins to Interfere with His Life

"Goddammit, Phil. You're drunk."


"It's Tuesday."

"Wha- Oh."

"Yeah," I said. "You idiot."

"Hol' on. I'll ge'reddy."

"No, you're staying put," Sal snapped. "I'll go."

I raised an eyebrow and shrugged agreement. "Tom's meeting us there. On meal break."

"But it's Tuesday!"

"Bosses don't care."

When we arrived, the basement was thick with the usual shadows and sense of foreboding.


Sal and Tom hefted their weapons. I tossed back the lid, and they went at it.

"Fools!" gasped the Count as he withered away. "I will rise again, three days hence..."

"Yeah," I told him. "See you on Friday."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nor Hope of Heaven Nor Fear of Hell

Long one today. I felt like there were too many ideas to fit this one into a hundred words, and it's one I really wanted to write. Hope y'all find it interesting.


It was a pitiable corner of Hell, a singular accomplishment in a landscape whose very existence was a lament and a curse. He tried not to feel too sorry for himself as he listened to his soul-flesh sizzle on the hot rocks of the cave; he'd certainly endured worse in his time here, and this, at least, was quiet.

After a time that might have been ten minutes or might have been a half-century, he became aware of a niggling sensation... of boredom. It grew from a momentary itch to an appalling fire in what seemed to be only moments, no matter how he distracted himself with new and interesting burn patterns on his singed buttocks. Perhaps that was the ultimate horror of this part of the Pit: to drive souls back into torment as into blessed release from the grip of ennui.

That was when he heard the sniveling.

Straining to see in the sulfurous fumes and amid spires of pitch-black rock, the soul saw a tiny blot of something still darker. A demon! Albeit one as sad and uninteresting as its tiny demesne. Perhaps a demon as puny as that would be able to inflict only similarly puny tortures; and that, he reflected, would be more interesting than crouching in a dark corner.

"Hallo!" he called, with cheeriness that surprised even himself. "It appears I've lost my way."

Red eyes flashed briefly, quickly covered once more with a scaly hand. "Go away."

"Hardly welcoming," said the soul. "It's not as though you've any other souls to flay."

The demon's voice was like rusty wire and sour milk. "Go away. I have neither pity nor anger to spare for you."

"Of course," said the soul. "Yearning for Heaven, whence you fell. Do you crave readmittance or simply destruction? I've met all sorts."


"Neither? You're happy here?"

"Of course not," the demon snapped. "This is Hell. But I prefer it here, where I know I am meant for suffering."

"And is Heaven not conversely meant for pleasure?"

The weary red eyes flickered into view again, momentarily. "Not for everyone."

Magic Lesson

"Restraint is important," said Pembrose. "You're smarter than to try something truly blatant, I know, but you're too clever by half. You'll think it can't hurt to try a little something, knowing everyone will assume it was prestidigitation. This you must not do. Always prepare a secret, a trick to explain it away."

"But why?" asked Cherie. "Why not actually use our power?"

Pembrose stroked his mustache. "Why can we do magic, apprentice?"

"We're wizards. Wise ones. We know the secrets."

"Wrong!" Pembrose snapped. "They believe even though they know it is not true. That is why the magic works."

CEO of Draco Industries

"Come in, Trenton. We're undergoing a little restructuring, and, well, I'm sure you're aware of your numbers this quarter." One diamond claw scratched at Skrizziktvek's chin. "I don't believe in drawing out the torment, so I'll be blunt. You're fired." He paused. "What are you doing?"

Trenton eased one eye open again. "You're not going to incinerate me?"

The room rattled with a dragon's laughter. "Is that old chestnut still going around? No, no, Trenton. I'm not going to set you on fire." He blinked, and looked down his long nose. "You are still fired, though. Clean out your desk."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


"How are you finding it?"

Malcolm leaned back, crinkling, letting his arm rest along the back of the couch, a studied half-inch away from Rhonda's shoulders. His breath fogged the inside of his wrapping as he considered the question.

"I'm not sure I can answer," he said. "It doesn't matter whether it's good or bad. It's really the only tolerable option. I was - we all are - falling to bits, constantly, endlessly. I couldn't stand it anymore. Now I'm safely sealed up. no more loss. No more worries."

"Plastics," said Rhonda faintly, not meeting any of their gazes, "are the future."

Sunday, September 26, 2010


They found him on the cave floor, his hands and feet melded into the living rock.

"Ah," he sneered. "The white blood cells arrive."

Rosalyn's face flickered between horror and admiration. "What have you done, Cyril?"

"An infection," he said, sinking further. "The planet can't last much longer without guidance, and since it won't take some goddamned responsibility..."

"You've failed." Grouter's voice was harsh and guttural. "We here. We can kill you."

"Yes, yes, you're the planet's immune system." Something - several somethings - hissed and clattered from the corners of the room. Shadows surrounded the invaders. "My immune system is stronger."

Plague Doctor

Colin heard the door open and the rustle of a long coat. Another doctor, he assumed. He didn't look up.

"How's the book?"

"It's really interesting!" Colin enthused. "The body is kind of like Starcraft. There's a build order and all different kinds of units, like B cells that spit out disabling shots and T cells that build killer T cells that track and destroy and phages that are almost like mercenaries..." He trailed off as he registered the black coat, the wide-brimmed hat, the bird mask.

The figure leaned forward. "Kekeke," it said, in a deep voice, "Zerg rush."

For reference.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rhetorical Questions

"How do you make a man-eating plant?" The professor stalked away, turning his gaze on the panoramic view of the chasm.

"I don't-"

"Rhetorical question!" snapped the professor. "I could talk about hybridizing and nutrient mixes. But really, it's more about us than the plants. It's about poison in the water and the sky and the ground. It's about fires and bulldozers and resorts and manicured over-fertilized lawns."

Fleshy green tendrils climbed up from the pit beneath the balcony, wrapping around the captives' feet.

"How do you make a man-eating plant?" the professor asked again. "Simple: give it an opportunity."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sunfire Whiskers and a Tail Made of Stars

We were overrun before we knew it. Not an invasion, precisely. An infestation. Their ships stole when our backs were turned, nibbling away at our nascent web of interstellar travel. Rats. Space rats.

We sent cats to fight them. They hunted their prey with cunning and agility. The cats never shared a kill, but sometimes they'd leave a bit of wreckage in a docking bay.

When the last of the foes was gone, we waited for our heroes to return, but they didn't. We received one last communication from the Alpha Cat: "BRB. Chasing a comet."

They never came back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Meaning of Fear

"Why have you come, foolish man-ape? Do you not know what I am? I thought your kind grown wiser; I have seen none for many years."

"O Dark One, I come willingly," I cried, feeling that delicious tingle of terror. "I know the power of Fear. Hail, Lord!"

"A... sacrifice? I am being... fed?" The presence withdrew. It said nothing further that night.

I returned the following evening, but the habitat was empty. They tried to claim it had finally died of deprivation, but the rumors had already begun.

I felt the tingle again. It was no longer so pleasant.


"Hey," said a piping voice.

I looked down. He was a perfect miniature of a middle-aged man, with a receding hairline, slacks, and a powder-blue shirt. He looked like an office manager, not a hiker.

"I'm Norm," he said.

"I'm lost," I told him. "I need to find the highway."

"No!" said Norm. "You should stay!"

"No, I-"

"Hey!" Three more copies of Norm appeared, varying in size. A full-size version loomed behind them.

"Don't fuss," said the big Norm. "We can tell you'll fit right in."

I looked down. My shirt was already fading to a light, soothing powder-blue...

Saturday, September 18, 2010


It will be tonight.

After work, his time is solely devoted to primping, dressing, dressing again, and a few careful dabs of cologne. It has to be perfect.

The light spills into the room as he opens the door. From outside, he can see only hints and edges, gleaming, polished, and sharp. She is a most elegant construction. He closes the door. It's better with some mystery to it.

He slides into the place meant for him. "I love you," he whispers to her.

As the blades slip into him, he knows, utterly and perfectly, that she loves him, too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Clothes Make the Man

The guards spot me as I change. How do they always recognize me? But my shoes once belonged to an Olympic sprinter, and I outdistance them easily. The entrance is more difficult, but my cufflinks used to be a cat-burglar's and my necktie that of the engineer who designed these locks. I'm through in a moment.

There's another guard inside, but I have the headband of a sandan and a heavyweight boxer's undershirt. He falls quickly.

I wonder, sometimes, who I'd be if I were naked. But there's always another crisis to avert, and right now there is no time.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Storing Up

He found the stall in the bazaar by accident. His head was still bleeding from the dish Kutyara had thrown at him. He wondered if it would ever stop.

"This one?"

Yellow teeth gleamed in the torchlight. "The simmering rage of an ox, whipped every day for twenty years."


"A boy watched his mother and father slain by the Prince's justice. His hatred drove him onto the guard's spears, but I was there to salvage it."

"I'll take them all."

"A large purchase, sir. Your foes will cower before your vengeance."

"No," he said thickly. "This is for me."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Than Anything

Rudy tugged at Bernice's sleeve, and they crept together along the low library shelves. Through a gap in the Encyclopedia Brittanica, they could see the greenish, vaguely humanoid creature perched on a child-sized chair by the Internet Cafe. Now that the initial fright was off, it was almost cute, like a Digimon. It clawed vaguely at the screen, its claws making tink-tink sounds against the glass.

Rudy stood boldly. "What do you want?" he called.

It turned mismatched eyes to him, then glanced back at the computer. "Home," it said, scrabbling at browser window on the screen. "Can't go home."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wood Chips and Gravel

Mindy didn't like this playground. Everything was white and slick. There was a boy underneath the boxy climbing fort; Mindy see his sneakers.

"How'd you get under there?" Mindy asked.

"Come and see." The boy's voice was deep, like Daddy's. "Come in here with me."

Thinking about Daddy reminded Mindy what was wrong. She couldn't see Mommy; she was lost.

"I gotta go," she said. She ran off into the trees. Several moments later she stopped, confused. She was back at the playground.

Under the fort, the sneakers moved. "I can wait," said the boy. "I'm getting good at it."

Pattern Recognition

Captain Trystero stared at the swirling mass on the screen, the bizarre anomaly the long-range sensors had picked up. "TS-197, what is that thing?"

The android whirred gently. "Unknown. Not in database."

"Sweet mercy! A wholly unknown astronomical event..."

"Don't jump to conclusions, captain," said Spekkio.

"What do you mean?"

Instead of answering, Spekkio rummaged in the console, coming up with a fork from the mess hall. "TS-197, identify?"

"A three-tined eating utensil."

Spekkio turned his back on the android and bent the fork into a circle. He spun back. "TS-197, identify?"

"Unknown. Not in database."

"See?" sighed Spekkio. "Robots."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And a Jar Nearby, Its Lid Poked Full of Holes

Sizzle, sizzle, pop went the campfire.

"You're holding it too close." Molly reached out to push the stick up.

"Am not!" Rudy pulled away.

"You are! It's going to catch on fire."

"I know." Rudy scooted down the log and settled in, watching intently.

Madison picked her teeth and pulled out a translucent wing. There was a hiss and a brief scream as Rudy's burst into flame.

"I told you," said Molly.

"They're better this way."

"I don't know why you bother," said Madison. "When they get all crispy and black like that, you can hardly taste the pixie dust."

Talking to Himself

The ship hummed softly to itself, hundreds of sounds on dozens of frequencies, alone in the void. The console crackled, voices fading in and out amid the static. Lights flickered on the viewscreen. The others had all set out for the stars when they'd re-appeared, taking the lifeboats. He'd drawn the short straw. "We'll be back soon," Tria had told him. "With help."

He wondered what had happened to them when they hit the edge. Had they been crushed? Or would they, too, loop around, garbled and distorted, just like the lights of the ship and his own emergency beacons?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


"Just look," said Gean, slotting the plastic slide into the microscope.

Jake rolled his eyes and peered into the eyepiece. "Hey!" he said.

"Nothing there."

"What, you put distilled water on it?"

"No. Pondwater. There's just... nothing there. Here, look at this." Gean pushed another slide into place.

Jake squinted. The slide was solid crimson. "What is it?"

"Blood. My blood. No cells."

"...what's it mean?"

Gean shrugged. "No more micro. The smallest living things can now be seen with the naked eye."

"But what's it mean?"

Another shrug. "I'll be watching for the slipcover coming out of the sky..."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Overlooked Details

He nearly stepped on the dead wasp on the stoop. He glanced around; the bots were supposed to sweep up stuff like this anywhere on the synth.

There were two wasps the next day. He tried an experiment: he swatted a fly and dropped it to the ground. The bot bustled out of its charging nook and vacuumed up the offending corpse. But it left the wasps, swerving around the black, alien bodies.

The next day there were three. Then four.

On the thirteenth day, the twelve accumulated wasps disappeared overnight.

"Have to get that bot looked at," he muttered.

Monday, September 6, 2010


He regarded the last handfuls of clothing in the laundry basket with a jaundiced eye. Too much to shove into the washer, but too little to justify paying for a second load.


He glanced around the room. No movement.


He moved to the next washer and bent over, peering inside. An enormous frog – toad? – sat inside. It filled the whole of the interior. A blue ceramic bowl was wedged into the washer beside it. Perhaps five dollars in assorted change filled the bowl, along with three dead cockroaches and an unmoving fly.

"Ribbit?" The frog regarded him expectantly.


The syrup falls in viscous droplets to the floor below. Two chairs, one on either side, are overturned. Pills lie in an untidy heap, spilled from a small orange bottle. The smell of food is fading.

On the mantelpiece, pictures: graduations, a wedding, increasing numbers of children. The oldest photographs are monochrome.

The door will open again in a few hours. Perhaps it will be with smiles and nervous chatter. Perhaps it will be only one pale face and grim silence. The house pauses, between states. The latter scene is inevitable. Perhaps this will be the time.

But perhaps not.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Long one today. LadyM's prompt over at my Livejournal pseudo-mirror ended up making me think about sentience and the hilarious claim that gay marriage will lead to bestiality achieving acceptance and then about alternative lifestyles in general and then about what granting human intelligence to animals would really mean and then this came out. Apologies in advance if it squicks you; it's not supposed to be squicky.


Simone licked at her tailtip distractedly. "I've been thinking."

"What is it, honey?" Rob sipped at his coffee.

"You know I love you," Simone began.

Rob glanced up, raising his eyebrows.

"And I'd never regret our partnerhood," Simone went on, "regardless of... physical issues. It was the happiest day of my life. You must know that."

Rob didn't say anything.

"But I've been thinking about... kittens."

"Enhanced?" Rob kept his face carefully neutral.

"Otherwise they'd be no more than pets." Simone bit at an imaginary burr on her flank. "I know it's asking a lot. My kind would never raise another's children. Toms don't tend to stick around for fatherhood anyway."

Rob stood, towering over her. He bent down and kissed the top of her head. "Any children of yours will be beautiful," he said, and then thoughtfully left the room before Simone could embarrass herself with un-feline emotional displays.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Practical Demonstration

Jack walked to the center of the stage. The lights went low, focused on him. The audience quieted as much as the audience at an elementary school talent show ever truly became quiet.

"My talent... um..." Jack began. He hesitated. "I kill monsters."

There was a pause. A baby wailed in the silence; true silence, now.

"With this." Jack brought his hand out from behind his back, revealing a dented and notched baseball bat.

The first nervous titters went up from the audience. They kept laughing right up until the first thunderous footstep rattled the fluorescent lights in their sockets.

First of Many

The Wisest Stone is still suffering from amnesia. I think I'll wrap up this pseudo-continuity next month. Taku is starting to show the strain of having to be the master for so many stories in a row. In the meantime, happy sort-of-beginning of the month! Only two more shopping months until Mirrorshards' second anniversary. What are you getting for YOUR friends and family to celebrate?

"Why is the Weed King so intent on capturing us?" asked the Wisest Stone.

Taku grimaced, sweat rolling down his face. "You called him a wastrel and a mendicant, and demanded restitution for all of the stone and mountains his roots have destroyed."

"Ah," said the Wisest Stone. "And was I correct?"

"Technically," Taku admitted. "But also unkind."

"Hardly relevant."

"One can be truthful without being cruel. Do you not see this?"

The Wisest Stone considered. "If we are honest, we cannot help but be cruel. Life is harsh."

"That is why the first lie we tell is to ourselves."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Que Sera Sera

The wheel spins... slows... stops.

"Fire," the priest announces.

"Thank you, Lord!" the parishioner says. He stands, smiles wide and unfeigned. "Thank you!"

The next steps forward. The wheel spins.

"The spikes."

"Blessings upon me," says the parishioner.

Outside, the chanter leads those still waiting for justice in the noon prayer: "We live in the best of all possible worlds, for how can it be otherwise? The dice fall where they must, and we rejoice, for in their faces we glimpse the Divine. Blessed is the Judge. Blessed is the verdict."

Inside, the priest closes his eyes. The wheel spins.

Tracks in the Sand

When he woke in the morning, the tattoos were gone. He couldn't say he was surprised. Even through the hours spent with gritted teeth, cringing from the needle in the overheated back room, he'd suspected what would happen.

He munched a piece of toast and idly doodled on his hand with a permanent marker. He wrote his name, and watched as that, too, faded into his skin

The steak knife, dirty by the sink, caught his attention.

No. He'd find a way to leave a mark. He glanced at the knife once more on his way out.

Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Secret of the Stradivari

Luthier sawed furiously at the chain, but his bow was not up to the task. He'd prepared for locks, not welding.

A long vibratto laugh from behind froze Luthier in mid-stroke. Nicholas "The Authentic" Stradivarius strode in, the light catching his polished brown wood beautifully. Luthier was more concerned with the brash pair of trumpets who flanked Nicholas.

"Idiota. The secret is mine," Nicholas sneered. "Give it to him fortississimo, boys."

The skylight overhead crashed like cymbals as Big Red the double bass rappelled down to block the thugs. "Move, Luth!" he thrummed. "We can't try again if we're dead!"

Friday, August 27, 2010


Ron's right hand opened negotiations unilaterally with a casual wave to Liz, for which it was harshly censured. The offers and counteroffers grew into a dispute when Liz' left eye and mouth staged a protest, unwilling to risk renewing diplomatic relations so soon. Her right eye pleaded with Ron's face for time to resolve the conflict, but Ron's eyebrows filibustered acceptance of the proposal.

Chaos broke out in Ron, and three fingers were ejected for rowdy behavior. Ron regained order and looked up to signal acceptance, but by the time he did, Liz and all of her parts were gone.


"He's dead..." Garif clutched at the crumbling cliff edge.

"Most likely," said This-Cat.

"It's terrible!"

"I agree. There's no way to recover the body. He'd pad our stores by days."

Garif goggled at This-Cat. "You'd eat him?"

"Of course. Just as I'd eat you." This-Cat stared at Garif levelly. "I hope you'd eat me, if it came to it. More efficient, really; you can carry my meat, where I'd have to leave you after eating my fill."

He walked on. When Garif failed to follow, This-Cat glanced back. "Our ways are not your ways, ape. Honor the dead by living."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

"...and your daughter, how is her thesis coming? She was doing something in discrete mathematics, yes?"

"Graph theory."

"Ah, so. I was never one for the abstract fields. Give me something I can touch, taste, see."

"Max, we've been chatting for almost an hour. What is it you wanted to show me?"

"It is already all around us. Take a moment, my friend, and listen to the night."

"I hear mosquitoes. Crickets. Frogs. Wind in the trees."

"Listen more closely still. Here, I will hum along for you."

"Good God!"

"I call this one, 'Fugue in D Minor for Mosquito.'"

Would you believe there's no sound out there for a mosquito singing music? If I still had my SNES, I could doctor something up with MarioPaint...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Everyone is the Hero of Their Own Story

Long one today. I figured that the whole point and joy of this snippet is the cheerful verbosity of the central character, so I gave him a generous two hundred words to be as charming as he can. Tip of the hat to David Steffen for the prompt today; I'm always happy to write a story for any of my fans, followers, or friends if you have a phrase or idea that you'd like to see my somewhat cracked version of.


"You mischaracterize us grievously," said the tick. "A truly successful parasite is subtle and harmless, taking so minimally of Nature's bounty that not a one could begrudge us our modest sup. Symbiosis is messy; predation is downright barbaric. Parasitism, proper parasitism, is as clean and easy as tossing a quarter to a homeless man on the street corner. Mercy blesses both the giver and the receiver, after all.

"What use to kill or main one's host? One who is gracious enough to give once may well give again and again. Rising up through violence to take the whole wallet, while potentially more immediately rewarding, is ultimately self-defeating. No, I think everyone would be a parasite, if they only knew how."

"My human is going to burn you with a match if I ever get home," the dog informed him.

"As is certainly his prerogative," the tick sighed. "Your blindness and gross insensitivity is, I have found, typical of canines. You lack understanding."

The dog paused to scratch vigorously, but to no avail. "I hate it when they get on your ear," the dog announced to no one in particular.

"Quite mutual. Dreadfully waxy. Still, needs must," said the tick.

Dark Side of the Middle of Nowhere

Anyone know what happened to Saturday's post? I know I wrote it...


"It's solar-powered. Just forget it."

I ignored him. It took most of my concentration to handle the tools in my bulky gloves, anyway.

"It's not like you're going to find a way to make it run on darkness. And the battery packs wouldn't move that hulk a centimeter, even if we juiced them all at once."

I kept working. I could feel the cold, a little, though maybe that was just my imagination. The suits wouldn't last forever, and these rocks had never known a sun's light.

"Why are you even bothering?"

Everyone reacts differently to the inevitable, I guess.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Idea Man

Hey, ya'll! Didja miss me? Finally caught up, mostly, and trying to keep things moving forward.

So I feel like I should have a blog where I can announce Exciting News, but I don't want to put such things on Mirrorshards itself. Should I resurrect my hoary old Livejournal account? Get a second Blogger blog to run in the sidebar? Start actually making use of Twitter and Facebook? Inquiring minds want to know, and you guys are basically my fanbase.

Let me put it this way: if I ever become successful, Mirrorshards will likely remain the heart of whatever website I create. Should I start encrusting it already, or is one (sooper sekrit as yet) publishing credit and a lot of love from the Drabblecast not enough to justify that kind of thing? I don't want to be That Writer, y'know? Am I overthinking this plate of beans?

BTW, today's story does have some antecedents. That one made it all the way to short story status, and is actually under review right now. Further updates on that as they arise.


"Three hours!" Onsler groaned. "Why did I even agree to this? I'm no good at parties. I can't even obsess about what to wear because I've only got three outfits. What am I going to do?"

Gremlin's tail lashed thoughtfully. "Can you set it on fire?"

Onsler didn't lift his head from his hands. "No."

"Hit someone in the face?"


"Hit someone in the face and run?"


Gremlin shrugged and flopped onto his back, gnashing his fangs. "Out of ideas."

"You added a new one to the list, I noticed."

Gremlin grinned. "Learning. Much less complicated back home."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drones Club

Roger hummed in for a landing on the lowest (and thus most difficult) platform. His translucent wings folded against his pressed suit as he entered, flicking his antennae politely at his coworkers and crouching in obeisance whenever a female passed by.

In the break room, Donald spooned honey absently into his coffee.

"What's the matter?" asked Roger.

Donald shook his head. "I've just been thinking, you know? About life. Biology. Thinking about finding a nice woman, finally having some kids."

Roger's antennae quivered in shock. "Don, I know things have been rough lately, but that's no reason to talk suicide!"

The Whitewater Prophet of First Street and Coombe Avenue

The streets flooded and still the rain came. They walked in water that nipped at their shins, slipping on manhole covers or tripping in hidden potholes. One fell while crossing a narrow intersection and was nearly swept away by the frothing water.

A figure approached, skimming atop the flood as though it were only damp sidewalk. They questioned him about his prowess.

"It is only as deep as you let it be," he told them. A sodden fedora floated past, and one of them abruptly sank to the thigh in the ankle-deep water.

The man glided away. They slogged on.

Gnome Remodeling

Jason hunkered down on his heels. "Look," he told the gnomes, "this is just not working."


"I know it's what you do." Jason held up a hand to forestall the chittering protest. "I get that, I really do. But yesterday I was thirty minutes late, and if I miss my start of shift again, I'm going to lose my job. No job, no house, capice?"


"I asked if you understood."


"Well, let's see if we can find a compromise. Can we come up with a list of places where my car keys might end up every morning?"


"You're being a pill, Harold. I think they're adorable." Martha rested her chin on her hands, watching as a sugar cube migrated across the table.

"They're a nuisance," said Harold. "They've been in the sugar bowl. It's unhygienic."

"Leaving the sugar out attracts the other ants."

The cube tumbled to the ground and began its journey toward the corner, where Martha had set aside several square feet for the ants' use.

"S'pose we oughtta tell someone about this?" asked Harold.

"I don't see that it's anyone else's business."

"Guess not."

They sipped their coffee and watched the sugar-cube pyramid grow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Red Sky at Night

The firesea heaved and flared, sending the cindership rising high into the air. Sparks flew when it landed. Cyd clung to the railing embers as the fire poured across the deck. He saw the door, black against orange glow; Urti peered out, a small globule in his hand.

"Urti! Careful with the water!"

He was too late. The ship reeled, and the globe tumbled from Urti's grip. Where it fell, the ship hissed and went dark. The water spread hungrily across the flame.

"Abandon ship!" Cyd cried. He and Urti would be lucky if even a wisp of smoke remained.


Connectivity here at the beach is considerably more troublesome than in previous years. Here are a quick couple of updates; more as and when I have time and opportunity.

It all started with a snake. The snake. The first snake. Beautiful, in its way. Like snakes are. It bit a woman, and she got poisonous. Not poisoned. Poisonous. The trick with the snake's venom, see, is that there's always enough to kill you. Always enough. The only way not to die is to share it around.

I tell you this so you'll know why I'm doing this. I want you to know what'll happen if I don't. I've seen. You get... sick. Real sick. You don't want that. I want you to understand. You're gonna need to know, after.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bump in the Road

Special Bonus Edition! 200-word story today because this one ended up at like 175 when I finished the first draft and I was like, "I could maim this into incomprehensibility or I could just run with it." Should I have bitten the bullet and chopped it up? Just scrapped it and tried to find a new idea? (I spent like thirty minutes planning this out on my walk home, though.) Ah, well. Call it making up time for the GenCon Void.

Welcome back, everyone, by the bye; it's nice to see you all again.


Clancy thought he saw something dart out into the road up ahead. He eased his foot off the gas, peering out through the windshield.

"I thought I should apologize," said a voice beside him. He nearly had a heart attack. A slender, shadow-eyed youth was suddenly in the passenger seat. "I thought I needed to live, back then. Back now, I guess. I didn't know. When you smeared me across eleven dimensions, I got really angry. I didn't understand; it's not like you suddenly 'get' everything the moment you die, you know?" The boy sighed. "I know now what I would do. Or am doing. What I had to do. Do you understand?"

Clancy shook his head.

"That's okay," said the boy. "For what it's worth, I feel really bad about what I will have already done to you. Hold on tight; there's a bump coming." He reached one foot over and stomped on the gas. The semi's engine roared in response.

Clancy caught a momentary glimpse of startled, frightened eyes in the headlights before something thudded underneath the truck. He'd just realized why the eyes looked familiar when something dark flared in the rearview.

The passenger seat was empty.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lord of the Dreamlands

Wilson fell asleep and – as he did every night – dreamed. New Edgewood was... faded. Still full of magic and wonderment, but without the fever-bright burn it once had. Windowpanes and stones alike were cracked and slipping. The sky was a murky gray-green, lousy with the smoke of a thousand trundling thought-barges.

The Dreamcar hovered where he'd left it. Ropson sat within, looking more doglike than ever.

"How much longer can we keep at it?" Wilson asked, dropping into the pilot's seat.

"How long can Dreamland last without us?" Ropson returned.

They sat for a time, alone with their unspoken answers.

A Maze of Twisty Passages, All Alike

"There is your world," said the talking frog, "which is the real world. It is reality, and it is stable and solid."

"So we're not in the real world anymore?" asked Brighton. He clutched his amulet.

"Patience," the frog said chidingly. It puffed at its pipe before continuing. "Then there are other worlds, worlds of fancy and imagination. They are the real worlds."

"I thought you said ours was the real world?" Ganymede interrupted.

"Therein lies the rub," sighed the frog. "Either everything is real, or none of it is. Figure that one out, and you'll have your way home."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tollhouse Cookies

When the dead boy moved in next door, I thought he was cute. He was only outside for a second before he ducked into the shadowed apartment. He kept the blinds down and the doors locked; we only heard him move around late at night. I took him some cookies that I made from a pre-packaged mix, but he didn't answer the door even though I waited forever. Dad said maybe he wanted to forget, or be forgotten, and that I shouldn't push. I didn't understand, really.

I still watch the window every day. I wonder if he watches, too?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Brett's hand tightened on mine as we approached. The old man peered from beneath the white-painted door he carried. Finally, he sighed and shrugged the door to the ground. "I'm here to let you out," he said, setting the door against the wall. He opened it; a pulsing darkness, shot through with colors, appeared where there should have been only bricks.

I turned to Brett, a question in my eyes, but he was already gone.

"I haven't got all day," the man snapped. "Are you going or not?"

I hesitated too long. He picked up his door and walked away.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dirty Work

"Had a good hunt?" asked Hewitt sweetly.

"Sure, boss," said Ace. "Ten vampires, staked'n'baked."

"And how many bullets fired?"

"Uh..." Bonesaw hesitated. "It got kinda hectic. Some panic fire. A lot?"

"Mm-hm. How many civilians saw you?"

"Only the guards," said Cruiser.

"And four cops," added Deke.

"You burned it. There will be news crews."

Ace swallowed. "We take care of that stuff, though. Right?"

Hewitt smiled. It was not a friendly expression. "Yes. Yes, we do. It is, in fact, our primary job." He stepped aside, revealing a desk stacked elbow-deep with forms in triplicate. "Get to work. Hunters."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Deeps

"So you're telling me there's an endless supply of moles coming from somewhere deep beneath my yard?"

The mole fidgeted, rubbing his forepaws together and blinking. "Moles, sir, yes, among... others."

"And I can't close it off... why?"

"It would give away the secret, sir.

"Secrets" I scoffed. "Buried treasure or whatever else is down there? Some kind of magical doohickey that makes animals talk?"

The mole widened its pinprick eyes. "Oh, sir, no, you misunderstand. It's not that surface-walkers aren't allowed down; it's the others who can't be allowed to know."

"Know what?"

"That there's anything here worth taking."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Madame Natascha's Robot Ranch, Room 23, Unit 3A76.12

I see his face. I see the patterns that tell me it's time to be sad. I'm happy to be sad. I make a sad expression. The saddest expression. It's good to go beyond what they would see from another person. It's good to not be real.

I'm happy to not be real.

Now he increases his volume. Is it time to be angry? I'm happy to be angry, but if it's the wrong time, I'll spoil it, and master will have no payment. This is a new situation. I add an entry to my database.

I'm happy to learn.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bury Them Deep

Parker pushed his way into the red-tinged dimness of the smithy. "I'm lookin' for a Henry MacDougal," he called.

The blacksmith waved him back. He wielded a massive hammer, pounding heated rivets into an oblong box of cast iron.

"Horse threw a shoe," Parker said, when MacDougal approached, wiping sweat and soot from his face. Parker nodded at the forge. "Odd project."

"Coffin," MacDougal grunted.

"Most folks make 'em of pine wood."

MacDougal shrugged. "Round these parts, there's a need for something a mite stronger."

"Keeps graverobbers out?"

"Robbers out," said MacDougal, blinking his dark eyes, "and other things in."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Dream of Leaves and Green and Soft Ripe Fruit and You

Monkeys watch me in the grocery store. Monkeys behind syrup bottles and swinging from the fluorescent lights. I have a monkey in my cart. I can see his eyes, his sad brown eyes, where he hides between boxes.

Monkeys see hear speak nothing because they already know. They know about monkey faces in vest pockets, flying monkey planes overhead, carrying monkey umbrellas, whizzing on fire monkey hydrants.

I get on the monkey bus and sit. A lady sits across from me. I look up, quick. Quick enough to see the sad-faced monkey behind her eyes. A glimpse, and it's gone.

Fire Flower

They burn when they open. The yellow-white buds quiver and twitch, then burst with a hiss. The gas inside, carefully distilled from trace chemicals in the soil, reacts with oxygen.

Pop. Pop-pop-pop.

They start fires. Burn out the undergrowth. Make room for new trees. If they serve another purpose, no one knows what it is. Can a plant be altruistic?

I pluck a swollen bud, hear the soft sound of escaping gas from the tubular stem. It will never bloom now, not properly, not the way it was meant to. It will never burn. I saved it.

I saved it.


"Morning, Alphonse." Curgeon rolled out of bed, shuffled his feet on the floor. His slippers scuttled across the floor and onto his feet. "Thanks."

After the shower, he went downstairs. "Alphonse. Breakfast, Alphonse." The milk shuddered into his bowl in a pale, serpentine line, flying eel-like through the air. The cereal box hovered, spilling parti-colored grains.

"You're still here. How long will you procrastinate, Alphonse?" Curgeon asked.

The Ouija board on the table remained still, the pointer stubbornly stuck at "No." It hadn't moved for months now.

"Are you even listening to me?"

Eventually, Curgeon gave up and ate his cereal.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The bottle hissed as Rollney broke the seal. Air seeped in to disturb the contents for the first time in decades.

"This," said Rollney, "is the good stuff. No knock-offs here." He poured one parsimonious dose apiece. "It's been a long time for you, I gather. Well, this'll set you right. True hope is... well, you'll see."

The liquid shimmered, a bare half-inch in each shot glass.

"So things will get better after this, right? It's true, not false?"

Rollney held his glass to the light. "Ah, well, that's the thing with hope, true or false. You can't ever know."

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Return

Whum-whum, went the dryer. Clink.

Martina bent over and peered inside.


Martina sighed and opened it up. She reached in and groped around until she came up with a heat-slicked dime, then slammed the door and let the dryer whir back to life.


"What the-?" Martina reached for the door again.


The dryer rocked on its base, shaking with every impact. Martina moved forward, then backed away, uncertain. The door burst open, scattering glass shrapnel in every direction, along with coins, paperclips, half-melted toys, and endless, endless streams of socks.

Not a single one of them matched.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Moment Too Late

The church was nearly gone now, a skeleton of arches amid a flame-scarred shell of stone walls. Great holes gaped where long-fallen blocks gathered dust on the ground below. All around, the city lay in waste and ruin, buildings poking up like jagged and uneven rocks from a sea of debris. No one came anymore. No one moved. The birds that once fluttered in such profusion were gone. Even the other gargoyles were gone, fallen and smashed. Only the wind, hot and acrid, still touched me on my increasingly precarious perch.

Perhaps today, I will move.

Perhaps now.

Perhaps now...


For reference


"Mind the rats," said Clem. He gestured with a gloved hand.

"Ugh." Teodor would have recoiled, save that recoiling would put him in contact with the wall. "God, what kind of animals actually live down here?"

"Oh, all sorts," said Clem. "Rats an' roaches, 'course, and fishies folks flush down the shitter."

"Alligators?" asked Teodor, smiling again, though still rather wan. "Should be be on guard?"

"Eh." Clem waggled a hand in a 'maybe' gesture. "The real bigguns keep outta sight. Biggest worry we got right now..." A ripple swirled past in the murky liquid their headlamps illuminated. " sharks."

Thursday, July 15, 2010


"It seems like Sisyphus got the raw deal," I said, watching him push.

"His is round," the man said.

"Yeah, but he's going to be pushing that thing up the hill forever. Your ice block is already melting."

He paused. I felt the chill radiating from the massive ice block. "Yes. It melts a little more every hour, a little faster every day. One day it will be gone, and my task will be complete."

"Then what?"

He looked at me, and I saw a dark and feral fear haunting those eyes. "My task will be complete. I will remain."


He peered out through the curtains. The moon was just peeping over the horizon. He shuddered.

The moon...

He doubled over as the change hit him. Fingernails thickened. Canines lengthened. Coarse black hair sprouted all over his body. His bones cracked as they rearranged themselves to a new shape, and he dropped to all fours, moaning with pain.

At last it was over. The hunger came over him, and he pounded through the house to the kitchen. The kitchen... where he'd stockpiled dozens of bananas.

It was hard, he reflected, scratching idly at his bottom, the life of a were-chimp.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Do You Say Vampire in Italian?

George and Betty got off the baggage carousel after the lights went down.

"I hate ending up in 'unclaimed,'" George said.

"Cheer up, mopey-dope," Betty chided. "We're in Italy!"

"I'm not eating any noses."


George stuck out his lip. "I heard that's what they do here."

"We tried pineal glands back on the islands," said Betty. "You liked those."

"They made me sick."

"Well, no wonder, with how many you ate!" Betty chuckled. "Now come on. We're on vacation, we're in love, and we're bloodsucking fiends of the night. The world is our oyster!"

"Still not eating any noses."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Running Out

The screen flickered with static, but it distinctly showed vehicles winding their way up the switchback.

"Visitors," said Kel. "Been a while."

The shadows thickened, coalescing around him. "Hungry," said the Dark Thing.

"We need trade," Kel told it. "We can't attack every group that tries the pass."

"Can't not," said the Thing.

"Control yourself."

"Not about... control. Don't want to..." The half-tangible bulk quivered, with fear or remembered pleasure.

"You can be better than this," Kel said.

"Hungry..." the Thing whispered. With another shudder, it was gone.

Kel turned back to the monitors. He bit his lip, watched, and hoped.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Green Skin Shows No Scars

The pure white horse galloped away, bearing two humans on its back with easy grace. Grunk watched the shining wings spread out; when the horse took off, it left a rainbow of sparkling light behind.

Behind Grunk, the last tower of the dark castle crumbled away and thundered into the ravine. It probably hadn't been a very good home, but it was the only home Grunk had. The warriors - the ones that were left - screamed and rushed around in a violent panic. Nobody cared about the cooks anymore.

Grunk fingered his sharp butcher knife and watched the rainbow slowly fade.

Deeper Than You Know

"Ready? One... two... three... CANNONBALL!" Robbie ran three steps onto the board, bounced once, and tumbled into the water, arms wrapped tightly around his legs. The splash was tremendous, reaching above the still-quivering diving board.

Robbie surfaced to the cheers and whoops of his friends. He waved and basked in their admiration. Only Erika wore and expression of concern, watching the water ripple and thrash, the surface growing more agitated. Her eyes widened when the translucent muzzle of a huge, watery artillery gun began to form out at the deep end.

None of them were prepared for the return fire.

Friday, July 9, 2010

How Many Licks?

The lollipop was dark and rich, like caramel. He probed the sweetness with his tongue. He was wearing it thin. He wondered what was in the core. A chocolate center? Bubble gum? Something else?

He broke through.

His tongue plunged down, down, down, through cold and biting winds. An empty void, an unbearable absence, clutched at him, pulled him forward. He barely had time to emit a muffled cry before he was sucked in through the hold he had made.

The lollipop fell to the table. A few moments later the wood began to creak and warp dangerously around it...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stalking the Celery

Sorry about the delays, folks. Working an entire extra week of overtime in three days is taking its toll on me this week. Gotta get prepped for GenCon, monetarily speaking...


Myron held his breath for the final bit of stitching. The lapels were the hardest part.

Rich clumped into the kitchen and paused. "What are you doing?"

"Making celery suits," said Myron.

"And these?" Rich poked at the cardboard boxes that littered the floor.

"Celery houses."


Myron looked up, brows raised. "They've been displaced by the war."

"Right," Rich sighed. "I'm going to watch TV." Before Myron realized it, Rich had pushed past and opened the fridge.

"No!" cried Myron. "The radishes..."

He was too late. The pop-pop-pop of peashooter sounded, and Rich fell like a sack of potatoes.