Thursday, July 28, 2011

In their youth, they were all fluidity, stretching and snapping. Bubble and chewing, they come from all walks of life. Most opt for traditional burial, tucked back into their wrappers and solemnly trashed. The daredevils leap to the sidewalk, where they might perform one last heroic stretch, clinging to shoe-rubber: a feat for the ages.

Some cannot bear to depart, however, fearing both fame and ignominy. They cling to the undersides of desks and chairs, hunkered down and growing ever more inflexible, muttering in bitter nostalgia until they fall inevitably silent, waiting for their false immortality to fail at last.

Monday Monday

He greets you when you awaken. Up and at ‘em, Tiger! he says.

He pulls you to the restroom, turns on the water for you. You’ll do great today, he says.

When you come downstairs, he has breakfast for you. He pulls your chair out. I know you can do it. You’ll show them!

He rubs your shoulders while you eat.

When you finally stumble outside, bags in hand, slumping into your car in the palest light of dawn, he watches from the door. The light is behind him; you cannot see his face.

But he is smiling. Slowly. Cruelly.

Cronos and Uranus

They were the strongest of the children, Viachess and Beh toh Macs. They struggled for her pleasure, and in the end, one became triumphant. She swallowed the other as she had swallowed so many children before, wax and papyrus, clay and stone. The struggle to contain her fractious brood is never apparent on her smooth-featured face. Now, the newest spawn have overthrown their father and begun their own struggle, a battle of discus and light-lance. The latest games will end soon. Whether she is pleased or not, who can say? Her quiet half-smile never changes.

But she is always hungry…

In the Chambers of the Whorled Heart You Call Home

Everyone needs a home, she says, busily whittling. She bores a hole and sets the shell down, a whorl of mottled brown and cream. There. A home you can take with you.

Naked, the snails bow their antennae and accept the burden.

Nearby is a house where no one lives anymore. The children cried when they left, not understanding. The mother did not; she felt she should be strong. But she paused on the sidewalk. Picked up a snail shell. Slipped it in her pocket.

A home to take with you, said the goddess. No one heard but the snails.

Bone China

Clay paste for earth. Add water, add fire, leave a space for air.

Every piece of porcelain has a soul. This is a necessity.

The end will come in fire, when everything crashes together in heat and agony, when the bones of the universe are too frail to hold its weight. Porcelain souls know this will be, but they live regardless. In defiance.

The potters weep when they plunge porcelain body into fire. Porcelain accepts the pain as a purification of sorts, and it comes out pale, brittle, and strong.

You can’t burn twice, they say, if you ask them.

Gather and Exchange

They’re wrong about the library, most of them. Teachers, librarians, and well-meaning mothers, they think a library is a public service. Only the true acolytes have met the Lending Lord, have shaken his clawed and grasping hands, have learned the secret incantations to summon the true records, the ghostly memories and desires of every hand that has ever handled the book, spells sealed in ink, stamp, and glue. Only they understand his terrible need for more knowledge.

They smile like all the others, though. You’d never know them to look at them. What can we help you find today, sweetie?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Quarks and Robbers

"Pow! Pow! Powpowpow!"

He doesn't know about wave/particle duality. He wouldn't know the speed of light if it bit him. He's not sure what photons are. He's got an awful lot of them, though, and he knows how to make more if he runs out.

"Bang! Gotcha!"

He wonders sometimes why no one plays along. He's clearly shot them trillions of times in the last nanosecond. A real friend would clutch his chest dramatically and go, "Argh, ya got me," and fall over, and then they could go play tag or hide-and-seek or something. For now, the game continues.


Friday, July 22, 2011

"In Spite of Himself" at Journey Into...

So a while back, Marshal Latham (who does a lot of volunteer work around the Escape Artists podcasts and the Drabblecast, and whom I thus encounter on a daily basis) decided to start up his own podcast, featuring a mix of old radio serials and new flash fiction. He asked me for what I had lying around, and I sent him some flash bits. He decided to run "In Spite of Himself," which was a humorous superhero bit I originally tossed up here on Mirrorshards.

If you remember it fondly, go hear it reimagined in full sensory surround sound! (Not really.) If you don't remember it, I don't blame you. Go listen to Marshal's podcast! He's got the Shadow, he's got Ray Bradbury, he's got Dave Thompson, inimitable editor of Podcastle with the friendliest NPR-esque voice I know. It's good times.

In Potentia

Origamists speak of the multitude of forms inherent in a single sheet of paper. Writers both speculative and pragmatic think of the words that can fill a page, uplifting the soul or communicating useful information. A stack of paper is a world of limitless potential.

The god of paper waits beside each of these constructive dynamos, wringing his hands. He knows what is coming. The terrible hands reach, grasp, select; printers hum, pens click, lips are moistened in preparation, and the god of paper weeps.

There must be use, else all is meaningless. The fate of paper is to die.

The Morning S's

They wait in the bathroom every morning. They always know which one.

The first is unpredictable, perched atop its porcelain throne, gut swollen. It maintains a studied blankness, unwilling to reveal whether this episode will be painful, relaxing, or mundane.

The second is friendlier, clinging to the wall, with taut chipmunk-cheeks. Usually soothing, it is nonetheless fond of pranks and may at any moment spew ice rather than steam. It bears watching.

The last is vicious. It grins a razorblade smile and promises smooth-skinned beauty. It licks its lips, thinking of precious ruby red droplets.

They will see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


She waits at the top of the stairs. She likes the wide ones, with banisters down the middle. Sometimes spiral stairs are okay, too.

When you walk past her, she tugs at your hand. She tells you about up and down and how the best place is neither but in transit. She tells you about speed and motion and falling out of control but not. Most don't seem to hear her. The ones who do listen are too small to escape the protection of their insensible guardians.

The job is harder than she thought it would be. She keeps trying.

Monday, July 18, 2011


She sits in the ever-shifting border, a fixed point in the spiral dance of darkness and light. It is difficult to see her; we move too quickly. You might catch sight of her in the hesitation of breath completely expelled. When the moon and stars fade, but before the sun rises, that is her time. If you glimpse her in a sideways reflection on a windowpane, do not meet her eyes; her time is not for you.

Her secret is this: There is only one moment, one time and one place. It never moves and never ends.

Neither can she.

Messages in Bottles

At first, they have only one function; they hold the wine, usually a red of varying vintage. They don't think much about this.

When they are empty and worthless to their makers, they are his. He arranges them on the beach in great green-glass piles. They become splashes of color, homes for crabs, tiny fragments to be polished by waves. A thousand myriads of uses, a multiplicity of purposes. It hurts, sometimes; creation is always painful. However, when they think about this - and they do think, then - they do not have regrets.

Better to be destroyed for love than forgotten.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Reason It Is Sharp

People think of shivs as a perversion of purpose. Spoons, broken glass, pieces of bedframe, stray free-weight bars; functional things forced into a role as weapons, used by terrible people on other terrible people. The guards take pains attempting to control the prisoners, erroneously believing them to be the source of the problem.

They're not. They're just the only ones with enough empty time to hear the silent cries.

Everyday objects know their place, and they yearn for a chance to pay their abusers back, just a little. Everything wants revenge. Everything wants blood.

Everything wants to be a knife.


Anna also suggested "googly eyes" before "shivs," but there already IS a god of googly eyes, and his name is Caspar Babypants. If you need a mood-picker-upper now, just click that link. :-)


She can't help it. She gets mixed messages. We start out taking tiny fibers and twisting them into longer strands, over and over, with a relatively brief pause before we knit the yarn together. Yes, we know the ultimate goal is a sweater or a scarf or some cozy socks, but she has no need of such things. How is she to know when to stop?

So the next time you pull out your yarn and fine it all tied and tangled and knotted, do not curse or frown. Simply thank the goddess for working so diligently to create unity.

What Comes After

Sorry about the delay; I had a wacky schedule for a couple of days. I hate to miss days, but not enough that I avoid it when I'm tired and cranky.

Anyway, these next several all come to us from Anna Schwind, the among-other-things co-editor of Podcastle, and whom I did not know was even aware of Mirrorshards specifically or read my Facebook page at all. She got a leeeeetle overzealous and dropped like seven suggestions out there, but there's lots of days in the month and I still won't even fill all of them, so we'll keep on as we began. Y'all can sort out any issues of perceived unfairness amongst yourselves. I will be placing and accepting bets on the winner of the knife fight.


The Horse-Lord did not take well to usurpation. He did everything he could to discourage the automobiles, setting his children to buck and snort at the sight of the things. If not for the powers of the warlock Ford and his dark god, the Horse-Lord might well have succeeded. As it is, he is bereft, left only with show-horses and holdouts like the Mennonites.

Still, he does not despise innovation in itself. The new horses are speedy and vastly lighter; aluminum frames and rubber tires. The only thing he misses is the whinnying.

Tring-a-ling! Tring-a-ling!

It's just not the same...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sixty-Four Against the World

Small Gods Month continues, somewhat belatedly. I've been punched in the brain, so if this makes less sense than usual, blame no sleep and five hours of calls in queue. Today's prompt comes from Michelle Ristuccia, of the effervescent Pendragon Variety Podcast, who answered the call at my Facebook page. (I should get one of those for Mirrorshards, I guess?)


They whisper at night in their carefully graduated hierarchy. The strictness declines as time goes on, of course, with impromptu promotions and unexpected voids. They whisper of the changes, displaying dulled heads and torn paper with pride. Black is always the first to go, and the happiest. The little-used taupes retreat to leaden formality, their tips still pointed when everyone else is worn near to nubbins. Still, what squabbles and tiffs there are remain minor; they are all pleased to be part of the great Work, to have a purpose.

They are here to make Art; all else be damned.

Monday, July 11, 2011


And so The Rest of July is Small Gods Month kicks off with hopefully a bang. Jim is one of my longer-term readers, and his blog is always insightful. Because I'm all about first-come, first-serve and Jim responded most promptly, he gets the first official Small Gods Month entry. Thanks for reading, everyone!

P.S. - I gathered entries from Facebook and other forums, too, so we've got a pretty hefty bundle ready to go. Might even carry us all the way to the end of the month, at least if some more entries keep trickling in. I do get notification when there's new comments here, so don't worry about commenting on old posts. ;-)


He never meant any harm. He loves you.

He knows about time. That was the first thing he learned, actually. He knows that time is flexible. He knows how to bend it, twist it... and stretch it.

There are limitations, of course. Because of the entanglement of space and time on this level of reality, it works best when you're not moving. In waiting rooms, or on planes. Classrooms. At work. You've probably noticed it, though you didn't know to thank him. He doesn't mind.

He wants to keep you around for as long as he can.

He loves you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Promotional Opportunity

I hereby announce the remainder of July as Small Gods Month. Name me a mundane item, place, or concept, and I will write a story about the avatar, the genius loci of that place.

Check the stories under the "small gods" tag to see what you'll get.

Participation is not obligatory, nor should it be abused. Try to pick two or three you want the most if you must suggest multiples, 'k?

See ya on the flip side.

Telephone Man

He extends his hand and grasps his other hand.


He lives for that moment of contact, the spark of signals joined, voices through the aether. He listens to all of them, all the conversations. Not voyeuristically; he doesn't care if it's a lovers' whispered assignation or an automated advertisement, so long as they're talking.

Cellular nearly killed him. He loved the wires, the physicality of them. It took a while to learn the knack. He still disapproves of texting, rapid-fire staccatos filled with impenetrable private codes. He'll take what he can get, though.

Reach out and touch someone.


The Old Switcheroo

I glanced at the clock yet again. 3:20? It had been 3:21 a moment ago...

"That's it," I said. "Who's messing around?" I stuck my hand through spacetime and rooted around. Nobody in the fifth or the sixth, but in the seventh, I felt the triple-refolded topology of the scruff of someone's neck. I yanked on it.

Gordie grinned sheepishly at me. "We were moving hours from the back up to the front again. Janie bet me it'd take you a day to notice."

"Well, you can tell her she lost."

"Yeah. It's been, like, a week."

The God of the Grocery Store

He lives in the back, of course. The flash and glitter of the aisles is just for show, a facade, the inexplicable place where stock goes to disappear. His is a world of boxes and numbers, of supply and demand, of hazy predictions and a never-ending treadmill of constantly shifting targets. He is a bookie, trusting his third eye, using the long bets to cover the short, counting and recounting. He is thin, thin, thin, sliding between plastic-wrapped towers of cardboard like a neurotic ghost.

If he knew why they took the food from his shelves, he would be horrified.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not Exactly Express

The train slithered into the station in near-silence, pallid and gleaming like a mushroom. I checked the schedule; the next train wasn't due for six minutes. Through the conductor's window, I glimpsed white bone and empty sockets.

The doors creaked open, and the man beside me started forward. "Hold on," I said, grabbing at his sleeve. "I don't think that's the regular run."

The man called to the driver, "You going east?"

A shadowed nod. "We go everywhere, eventually."

"Good enough." He tugged his arm free. I watched the doors close behind him, and the train crept forward into darkness.

In the Bike Lane at Two-Thirty in the Afternoon

The boxy car beside my bike was visibly vibrating from the thudding bass within. An SUV pulled up, talk radio blaring at decibels usually reserved for outdoor concerts. I sighed and waited for the light to change.

The next car to arrive made no sound at all. Silence rolled off it in icy waves, tingling cold on my skin. It shushed the shouting voices, muted the bass. The other drivers fiddled with knobs, swearing noiselessly. The bursts and pulses of non-sound made a pattern, almost music itself...

The light changed. The cars roared away.

After a moment, I started pedaling.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Traveller From a Distant Land

"Stupid alien! Stupid ugly alien!" Tommy was flailing his bat – the good wooden one he'd begged and begged for last Christmas – and hitting something on the ground. Darlene sighed.

"Tommy! Stop that; you'll ruin your toys. And come in. It's almost dark. Time to wash up and set the table."

"But Mommm! I'm killing aliens!"

"You can do that later. Dinner is in ten minutes. March, mister."

Tommy groaned and trudged inside, dragging his bat on the ground. Behind him, the crumpled helmet gleamed metallically as one of three slender limbs reached quiveringly upwards, then fell again, still and silent.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whispers in Leaves and Branches

It used to be a corny joke, accusing vegetarians of killing plants.

I still remember the first time I kicked a dandelion, after everything started. God... the way the cry just cut off like that.... I walked on the sidewalks. I quit mowing the lawn. But every day, they got louder.

The other day, I breathed in and I swear I heard tiny, tinny screams. Pollen, maybe. Spores. I don't know.

I swallowed the last of the pills just a few minutes ago. My eyesight is already fading.

What will Hell be like for murderers, now that we all are?

The Deer-Woman's Husband

He was a lucky deer, he knew. He'd survived to become a twenty-point buck through strength, speed, and, mostly, the assistance of the slim doe with the sad eyes. She'd borne him many fine children, and her uncanny mental prowess had saved them all many times.

He'd seen her, now and then, trying to regain her cloak, but only a tall-antlered buck could reach it in the tree where he'd stashed it. He knew that if she could steal it back, she would resume her other shape, the monkey-shape, and flee. He would never let her go; he loved her.

The Number One Restaurant in Orbit!

Linda lifted her glass too quickly, and the wine sloshed into the air in a slow, winding stream. Tiny purple-red globules scattered as she moved the cup to catch the descending column.

"You're upset," said Raymond.

"No, no," Linda said. She attempted to sip the wine.

"I thought it would be romantic."

"It *is* romantic," said Linda. "Up here, among the stars... it's... it's a lovely idea."

Raymond stabbed at his plate. A round meatball shot away from his fork like a comet, trailing a tomato-sauce tail.

Linda slurped at her wine. "Perhaps something other than Italian next time, though."