Thursday, April 26, 2012

Quarterly Goals

Brother Vectris goggled at the sight of an all-too-familiar profile across the courtyard. "What is he doing here?"

Vectris demanded. Father Alberion sighed. "He brought a claim before the justices. Technically, he was dismissed inappropriately, and we were obligated to take him back and put him on a performance review plan instead."

"Inappropriately...!?" Vectris said. "The Order of the Azure Shield has but one duty: to maintain the mystic prison around the arch-fiend Blistriek. He colluded with the demon and betrayed all of humanity!"

"Yes," said Albion, "but other than that, his record is flawless. It was a first offense."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The handsome prince stared up at the tower window. "Are you going to do it properly this time?" he called.


"Not just trim off a lock and toss it down?"


"Not apologizing to your hair for failing to brush it?"

"It wouldn't be funny the second time."

"Right." The prince cleared his throat. "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair."

There was a descending scream and a thump as something long-limbed and gray-furred landed heavily in the roses. After a brief struggle to free itself, the hare bounded into the night.

From above came the sound of smothered laughter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The clown gamboled through the park, trailing balloons and streamers. "Joy!" he cried out. "Elation!"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I give the gift of levity," he told me. "Say the word, and you will fly as high as my balloons."

I considered my bare pockets and the cold and empty apartment that awaited me. "Sure," I said. As soon as the words left my mouth, my stomach lurched and I began to float away.

"How do I get down again?" I called to the rapidly receding clown.

His eyes glinted beneath his makeup. "Perhaps you misunderstood the offer."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Surprisingly Difficult to Accomplish

"What's this?" asked Bertram. He plucked a heavy object from the clutter on the table, a thick piece of piping with what looked like a Viewmaster welded to the end of it.

"Ah, the macroscope," said Doctor Geisteskrank. "It allows you to see things that are obvious."

"Hunh." Bertram held the device to his eyes. "My word, this place is filthy."

"True," Doctor Geisteskrank chuckled.

Bertram turned slowly, looking around the workshop. Abruptly, he froze, gasping in horror.

Doctor Geisteskrank glanced up. Bertram was facing the full-length mirror. "Ah, yes," Doctor Geisteskrank said. "I should have warned you about that."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Registering to Vote

"We need two forms of picture ID."

The sphere of light pulsed faintly. The wavelengths peculiar to me are not detectable by any equipment your species possesses.

"Well, you can get a temporary one with a birth certificate..."

I was not born. From the limited perspective of your three-dimensional space-time, I have always been.

"Proof of address?"

I am present at all times and places. I know all that is and is not as a function of my existence. What you perceive is only a temporary locus of my attention.

"Well, do you get mail at your locus?"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Going Public

Wallerman was in mid-sentence when his left arm crumpled into jelly. His drink went tumbling.

"Oh, poo," he said, wiggling his shoulder. His arm flopped loosely.

"What happened?" asked Riatta.

Wallerman had his phone out and was checking the stock ticker. "Someone spotted a mole on my pinky, and faith in the whole arm collapsed." He sighed. "Bailout time." He reached over and held his left arm up with his right, folding the rubbery fingers around a new glass.

"What happens if someone spots a problem with your other arm?"

"Shh!" Wallerman hissed, ducking his head. "They might hear you!"

Friday, April 20, 2012

A New Woman

"Sam! Sam, I know you're in there!" Gia rattled the door handle, and the cheap interior lock popped open. She burst in, catching Sam and the dryad in flagrante delicto. Gia clutched a bucket of chemicals in her hands.

"Gia, no!" Sam cried.

"Aha!" Gia said. "I knew it!" With that, she flung the weed killer over the nut-brown nature spirit. Sam leapt aside.

The dryad, dripping wet, glared peevishly at them both.

"You're... you're alive," Sam said.

"Of course," the dryad answered. She thumped on the trunk of the tree in the pot beside her. "Plastic tree. Plastic dryad."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Space Diplomatic Visitors

When the bedraggled fleet finally managed to communicate their surrender, the alien leaders were ushered into a private meeting with Earth's world leaders. The translator, still fresh from training in the aliens' gestural language, struggled to keep up with their rapidly flickering mouth-pixels.

"'We... regret... confusions. You did... receive not... greeting? Message boxes?' Oh!" The translator whipped out his smartphone. "I think he means this." He flashed several handsigns at the alien leaders and showed them the screen, which blipped and beeped. The aliens' boxy limbs waved agitatedly.

"'Dammit... Carl...'" the translator dutifully repeated, "'I told you... invaders was... wrong word.'"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


"This is a very knotty problem," said Beckton, settling at the table across from Glassner. "We obviously come at this from different angles, but I assure you that the company wants an amicable solution as much as you do. That's why we've asked for third-party arbitration." Beckton nodded at the blond woman who sat between them.

She smiled. "I decree you both wear fish for hats!"

"I..." Beckton faltered. "What?"

"Today is hereby Purple Polka Dots Day! Everyone's a kangaroo!"

"What about the union dispute?" Glassner asked.

The woman glared. She swatted him on the head with her pencil. "Excommunicated!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bird on a Wire

"I'm a crow," he said. The telephone wire pressed his nude buttocks into a disturbing shape. It was awkward, trying to look up and see his face without getting an eyeful of everything else.

"How did you even get up there, anyway?" Livy asked.

He glared down his nose at us. "I flew. I told you, I'm a crow."

I sighed. "You're not a crow. You're a person. You're coming home. Now come down and help us find your pants."

The wire swayed as he repositioned himself. "Better not park your car under any tree branches or utility poles, buster."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Correctional Systems

They showed me their courtrooms and prisons. They showed me the wargames. I watched as men and women in jumpsuits fled and shouted through a complex obstacle course, firing their weapons wildly at one another. Oddly, no one ever seemed to stop, to fall down dead or injured.

I inquired about the ammunition.

"Everything is completely real," they assured me.

I suggested the prisoners were very poor shots. Perhaps purposely, to subvert the system.

"Oh, no. every bullet that strikes inflicts another year of life upon them. That is their punishment. Why? How does it work where you come from?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Giveway Results!

I have written down all the names of people who posted and rolled a d10. The polyhedral gods have spoken, and the winner of the free copy of the Flush Fiction anthology is none other than...

MARSHAL LATHAM, coincidental proprietor of the Journey Into... podcast. Congratulations, Marshal, and thanks to everyone who participated!

Now, the story is not quite finished, so I have several options:

1) Write the ending myself.

2) Make Marshal do it and really earn his winnings.

3) Post it up with a comments section so you can all finish it.

What do y'all think we should do?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Divorce

This one just would not work in a shorter form. Hooray for breaking the rules.


She never washes the dishes he makes. They sit, crusted and dry, until enough of them pile up that he finally breaks down and does them. She wonders sometimes, when she is down to a single bowl and a fork which she washes after each use, gazing unseeing at the piles, where all the dishes have gone.

There is some awkwardness in the restroom, if they both try to use it at once. They squeeze in as best they can, neither noticing the other. The sink is uncomplicated; he rarely washes his hands afterward.

She walks the dog. He feeds the cat. If either animal has noticed that they can no longer get ear scritches from one of the people, they have not said as much. They have their own loyalties.

They lock each other out, if one arrives home or leaves while the other is outside. They blame old age or faulty locks for the errors. Once he had to walk to the gas station in his fuzzy slippers and bathrobe to call a locksmith.

Both of them make payments on the house. No one from the bank has bothered to tell them. Each complains about having to shoulder the burden alone.

It is probably for the best that they never had children.

Same space, same time. The offset is smaller than that, and larger. He sits in his chair, she at the table in the kitchen. Both drinking coffee. The television and radio shouting each other down. “How lonely it is,” they think to themselves, not speaking, never speaking aloud. “How lonely.”


Don't forget the Flush Fiction giveaway, wrapping up on Wednesday!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Perspective from Outside of Time

"The Old Ones are! The Old Ones have always been! The Old Ones will be forevermore!" Vxtrx lifted his clawed hands to the sky, the fire throwing his shadow hugely upon the cliff face. He might have been a tyrannosaurus rather than a mere compsognathus. "They are cruel, jealous gods. They demand sacrifice. Human sacrifice! If we do not provide them with the honor that is their dur, they will smite us all with fire from the sky!"

There was a lengthy pause. A stegosaurus whose cultist robe had been specially modified with plate-holes raised a forelimb.

"What's a human?"

Saturday, April 7, 2012


"Ouch!" I stuck my finger in my mouth and tasted blood. "Damned thing bit me."

"Software conflict," Steve said. "Probably. And now it's run off."

"Maybe the wireless mouse isn't the way to go," I said. "At least when it was on that silly leash, it couldn't get away."

Something hissed. "I think the cat ate it."

"Which one? That's five-cat cable, you know."

The monitor on the desktop turned its scaly head toward me and flicked its tongue twice. "You already had your crickets today," I told it. "Don't give me any lip. I could make you a flatscreen."

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Ways of the Gods

The emaciated fighter clutched at Brother Eik's robes. "We've delved dungeons together, Eik. I've seen you stitch up wounds in an instant. Please, Eik, I'm dying."

Eik sighed. "I will see what I can do, Thrazgrod." He clutched the many-fingered sun on its chain around his neck and began to chant the ritual of cleansing. The amulet glowed azure as the gods granted his request.

Thrazgrod's face became blissful and serene for a brief moment, then twisted in agony. "What-?" he gasped, his life fading.

"Most of you isn't actually you, you know. At least now you will die pure."


Don't forget the Flush Fiction giveaway!

Thursday, April 5, 2012


"Bye-bye, Ricky!"

Harold stopped halfway down the front walk and closed his eyes. "Would you please stop calling me that?" he said.

"Have a good day at school." Mona waved from the porch.

"My name is Harold Gaines. I'm a fifty-three-year-old accountant. I'm not your son Ricky, dammit."

"Oh! Your lunch!" Mona trotted down, brandishing a paper sack that leaked jelly. She pecked Harold's cheek.

Harold sighed and trudged to the bus stop. Suzy was playing with her blond pigtails.

"It's like no one really sees me," he told her. "Just whatever they expect to see."

"Lo siento," Suzy rumbled.


Don't forget the Flush Fiction giveaway!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mirrorshards Giveaway #1

So my little bit of flash flush, "Apartment 14B," is in the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Flush Fiction anthology, a collection of 87 flash fiction stories from all over (available now from Amazon and other fine retailers), and the nice folks at Uncle John's have offered to do a giveaway via the blogs of the authors who appear in the book. (As a note, the faintly scatological title has nothing to do with the content of the stories; it's just an Uncle John's thing.)

So here's the rules:

Below, I'm going to write the first line of a story. If you want to be entered to win a free copy of Flush Fiction, post a comment below. In your comment, you must continue the story. You can do as little as one or two words (if you're not feeling very creative) or as much as a sentence. (Don't do a super-long sentence, please. Spirit of cooperation and all.) You can post more than once, but you'll only get one entry in the drawing no matter how many times you do, and I'd ask that you wait for at least one other person to post before jumping back in. (Not that y'all are prone to that sort of behavior, of course, but just to establish the expectations.)

After, oh, say, a week (so midnight on April 11), I'll wrap it up. I'll use one of the myriad of random number generators available to me to pick one lucky entrant to receive the free book, and then I'll clean up the story text (adding an ending if need be) and post it in the Pages section (up at the upper right), so that we can all bask in our co-author status together.

Now, I'm not shipping the book, so I'll need a name and address to give to the publisher so you can receive your prize. If you don't want to post that kind of thing in a public comments section (and I wouldn't recommend it), then please at least post an e-mail or something where I can contact you to gather that information in the event it becomes necessary.


In honor of the anthology, the opening phrase of the story is:

Of all the things I'd expected to encounter in the guest bathroom, I hadn't been prepared for this.

Monday, April 2, 2012


"Thanks for coming with me," said Val. "I'm just so nervous."

I shrugged. "I don't think there's much to worry about. Hypnotism isn't mind control."

"What-ism?" Val paused with his hand on the doorknob.

"I thought you said you were going to a hypnotherapist? You wanted to stop smoking, right?"

"Hypno? With an 'n'? Are you sure?"

"Yes," I laughed. "It's definitely got the 'n' in there. From 'hypnos,' the Greek word for sleep. Because of the trance."

From inside the office, there came a soft splashing noise and the creaking of a wooden chair under a terrible strain...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Inside Outside

The aqua-pod thrummed as it veered away, still rocked by the intense currents surrounding the alien creature. They watched it recede in the rear-view cameras.

"Dear God, Thorenson," said Cornelius. "What is that growing all over its skin?"

Dr. Thorenson shook his head. "That's not skin. It's stomach lining."

"It's wounded?"

"No. It's meant to be that way. Its vestigial limbs are within its involuted body. The tail is intestine; it swims by peristalsis, summons the inflow of water with its esophagus. As far as it's concerned, we're all already in its stomach. It's only a matter of digesting us."