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."