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.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Walk in October Woods

Your burden is heavy. Are you not weary? You are safe here, warm and safe. You can rest, if you like.

Listen. Hear the cooing of wind in the winter-black branches? Feel the caress of the pelting rain? Raise your face to the smiling moon. Breathe. Taste the jolly rot of leafmold. It is lovely here.

Reach up. Feel that fleshy mask. How it muffles and sweats! Dig your fingers in. Peel it away.

Let your burden fall. Feel the kiss of air upon your true skin at last.

It is supposed to hurt, my darling.

Fly free with us now...


"Your fish are beautiful," I said, trying to be polite.

"These? Pah!" Vittorio waved a manicured hand. "They are glittering imbeciles. The true beauty... well, perhaps I will show you."

He came up behind me and pressed a button. The room darkened until the bio-engineered fish were the only light. "Watch," he whispered. "Look to the sands."

One shining fish drifted too near the bottom. It reflected in the sand... but there was a dark patch.

It moved. The water exploded with pinkish blood.

"What is it?"

Vittorio laid a hand on the glass. "It is... beautiful."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Inexorable Foe

Biru clicked the stopwatch, puffing and sweating. He was down three seconds from yesterday. Was that enough?

He made himself walk, cool down after the obstacle course. He couldn't afford an injury now. He was barely keeping even as it was, his performance slipping daily. Old age comes to everyone, even the Bound. There was no guidance in the Codex for this; it was a matter of honor for a Bound One to destroy himself when he became flawed.

What was flawed? Where was the line of imperfection?

Biru clenched his fist around the stopwatch. He would run again tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010


"This is not going to work," said the Wisest Stone.

"I am trying as hard as I can, my friend," said Taku. He was bent nearly double, sweating under the weight of the Wisest Stone.

"I can see the Weed-King's armies from here."

"As always, you are most encouraging." Taku forced himself another step up the slope.

"You know," said the Wisest Stone conversationally, "in many ways you are lucky to be carrying me."

"Oh?" said Taku, thinking he knew the end of this familiar song.

"You can choose to put me down and not bear my weight any longer."

Thursday, July 1, 2010


"Are you not the Wisest Stone?" Taku stared in confusion and no small amount of fear.

"Of course," said the Wisest Stone.

"But you do not recall how you came here?"

"I do not."

"Our struggles against the Weed-King's armies?"

"Not a thing."

"Your short career as a professor of philosophy?"

"In truth, I feel as though a great weight were lifted from me."

Taku sighed. "I hope you recover soon, my friend. Come."

"I am a rock."

"But you have flown many leagues with me upon your back!"

"Ah," said the Wisest Stone. "It appears I have forgotten how."

I Will Write Our Names in Fire on the Sky

Never fret. The Wisest Stone is later today; this is *yesterday's* flitterfic.


The view from up here is terrifying in its beauty. I can see the curvature of the Earth, a soft rounding of the horizon. Cities speckle the nightside with pinpricks of light, like holes punched in the planet to let the sun's fire show through.

Outside, it is silent. Still. The seas here are unmoving dust, showing the marks of impacts millenia old. The seas of Earth don't hold imprints. They wash away the memory of you in the space of a breath.

That is why I will boil them away.

They will remember me then.

That's what's important.