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."