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:

"...to 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.