Monday, December 30, 2013


He stayed late at the bar, as was his habit.  He generally took the same route home every night – or more properly early morning, when he could be bothered to remember to make it so. 

These things had all been noted.

They were waiting for him down the darkest of the alleys.  No one could have said how long they’d been there, but they’d come prepared.  Handheld video games.  Internet connections.  Long, heavy novels.  Streaming television.  Decks of cards.  Even a set of jacks and a rubber ball.  It was over before anyone knew it.

They’d come to kill Time.

Monday, December 23, 2013

No More, and No Less

 The goblet glowed like the fires of creation, lighting the hero’s face and giving it the cast of a man grown instead of a boy pressed into service too young.

“Speak, Arnol!” commanded the great mage Battresin.  “After all our travails, now is the moment!  Your words will reshape the world and drive the Shadow back to perdition, perhaps forever!”

“I just… I don’t want anymore unfairness,” Arnol quavered.  “Everyone should get only what they deserve.”

The lights went out.  Battresin sighed.  “You weren’t to know, I suppose,” he said, as the first of the shadows rose up behind him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And the Answer Like a Stone Upon His Heart

The demon had an extensive collection of highly detailed statuary, mostly fine marble, accented with precious stones and gold.  “This woman wished to be young and beautiful forever,” he said, chuckling.  “This youth asked never to know the touch of want or hunger again.  Ah, and the prince over there requested that he never make a wrong or foolish choice again.”

“You seem to be suggesting that humans are always better off dead, or at least in oblivion,” I protested.

The demon waited, watching me with dark eyes.

My gaze fell.  “I have come to make a wish,” I said.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

To See What He Could See

On the first day of the new year, we always liked to visit the Stairs and listen to the souls of the damned. 

“Better off without it.”

“Oh, yes.  Just weighing us down.”

“I felt so much better afterward.”

“Joyful, that’s what it was.”

“So freeing.”

I tapped one of them on the shoulder (or what was left of it).  “Why are you going down?” I asked.

He looked at his feet (or what was left of them).  He looked at the ceiling.  He looked down into the wailing darkness below and ahead of him.

“Well, obviously I’ve been up.”

Friday, December 20, 2013


It was cold outside.  Snow coming down hard.  Not much warmer inside.  Television flickered.  He was in the armchair, awake.  Last can in the six-pack.

There was a knock at the door.  He paused.  Hauled himself up.  Staggered over.  Opened it.

Nobody there.  Snow swirling around his slippers.  Colder than it should have been.  Somehow sad.

He went back inside.  Slumped down in the blue-green radiation of the television screen.  Why would anyone visit him?  Empty house, full of ghosts.

Outside in the dark, slowly at first, a patch of snow began to swirl against the wind.  Dancing.  Leaving.

At last.


Part of the Advent Ghosts annual microfiction event.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


There was a knock at the door.  “The circle is divided,” the man in the crimson hat said dolorously.  “It waits only to be devoured.” 

“Time is but an illusion of the flesh,” came the response.  “Who can say whether it has been a day or ten thousand days since the world began?”

“Though the wind is chill, warmth remains for a time.”

There was a rustle of paper.  “A sufficiency meets what is needful.  All beyond is but waste and vanity.”

“One compelled to serve can never make a truly free choice.”

The door closed.

“Cheapskate,” muttered the deliveryman.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Expert Consultant

“Invasive species,” said Bloughton.  “Like… well, I’m sure you know.  They get brought in, some by accident, some on purpose, God save us from well-meaning idiots.  They start breeding and nothing can stop them.  No experience, aye?  No natural defenses.”

“Right,” Felton nodded.  “And once the population hits a certain level, you get a boom.  The damn toads push everything else out, eat all the resources, make more toads, and move on.  Bloody exponential growth.  And then we thought, hey, why not ask someone who’s had experience with that sort of thing?”

Dracula frowned thoughtfully.  “Haff you tried biting them?”

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seeming and Kind

Three others were already inside when he finally wriggled through the broken window.  He saw them huddled around the dark fireplace.

“Sorry,” he grunted.  “Didn’t know this squat was taken.”

“No, come on in,” said one, a woman whose hair might once have been blond.  “Warm yourself up.”One of the men held out an empty hand.  “Have a sandwich.  We’ve got plenty.”

He approached cautiously.  “There’s no fire, though.  No food.  It’s just empty and cold.  There’s nothing here.”

“That’s okay-eay,” the woman said, her voice skipping and slurring as her image fuzzed into static.  “Kind of appropriate, really…”

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Shape of the Future

Ellory waved a hand as they entered the dome.  Above them, a vertical sea of white rectangles shifted and turned in odd patterns, as if blown by intangible winds.  “Fifty thousand decks of Tarot cards, charged and polarized, coated with our proprietary polymer,” she said.  “The cards are sensitized to the shape of the future, and by watching the patterns approach, we can offer not only the most accurate but the most distant foretellings on the market.  As you can see-“

The gasps of the tour group made her pause.  Overhead, row by row, the cards were turning face down.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Tragedy in Three Acts

The phone rings seven times.  The woman stares at it.  She picks up the handset.  She puts it down.  The phone rings again.

The phone rings and rings.  The old man comes in from the left-hand side.  He shuffles in slippers.  The phone begins to creep away.  He will never catch it.  He is too slow.

The phone does not ring.  He has stopped at the last number.  The line clicks and goes dead.

The phone rings.  The house is a ruin.  Dust coats everything.  There is no handset.  There is no cord.  The phone rings anyway.  It cannot stop.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Phony Jokes Wee Half Herd

The Firstly Phony Jokes is: How mene aleans buzz it take chang a lite boob?!

Answering: Many!  The Jokes is that wee half no maths!  Yore people think that is phony!!!

The Second Phony Jokes! Is! Y did the A-lines cross thee rode?

Answering! I know not butter they shoed go back to there ware they come from@@

Lasting Phony Jokes is not a Jokes it is a Griddle

The Griddle is::: Have U R U no how it is working the lazy guns our Deaf Rays?


Hello tap tap hello wee R behind.


Friday, November 22, 2013

"Dragonslayer" at PodCastle

I'm a little behind the times, but I'd just like to note for everyone that "Dragonslayer," originally locked behind the cold paywall of IGMS, is now available as a free podcast at PodCastle

Give it a listen if you missed it the first time!  Come hang out with the cool kids on the Escape Artists forums afterward!

Reviewers raved about this story, calling it, "full of inconsistencies," "competent but not intelligent," and "not fully realized."  (But at least the forumites seemed to enjoy it, and *I* liked it, so there.)

And the Lonesome Breeze Blows

The wind had teeth, so when it rattled at the door, Lissa gave it a crust of bread to gnaw beside the hearth.  The fire crackled unhappily.  The wind chewed and stared at Lissa with eyes as wild and empty as madness.  Lissa ignored it and worked on her sewing.

The wind had claws, and when it had swallowed the last of the bread, it ran them down Lissa’s back.  She would not rebuke it, for none can tame the wind.

Later, the villagers came to investigate.  They found the hearth dark and the house empty.

Except for the wind.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Not a Particularly Noble Gas

“What happened?” cried Bartlett.  The lab had been stripped bare, down to the gleaming countertops.  Not even the stools remained.

“Clearly,” Doctor Geisteskrank said, “we have achieved success in our endeavors to synthesize a new element.”

“You left the experiment running overnight,” Bartlett sighed.  “I’ll get the catalog.”

Doctor Geisteskrank disregarded him.  “Yes, something entirely new in the periodic table.  Something unprecedented.  What we see here is clearly the work of… the criminal element!”

A shadowy figure dropped from the ceiling and conked them both on the head.  “Not quite,” said the element of surprise as it riffled their pockets.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


He stood with his foot upon the cashier’s neck as he emptied the register drawer into a valise.  “Oh, you moral vagrant, you wastrel, you miscreant,” he chided, “to permit this theft.”

He stepped outside and encountered a slender woman of middle years, whom he grasped and osculated forcefully.  “Thou strumpet,” he said, pinning her hands, “to carry on so with a man so much your junior, and a stranger unto you as well.”

When the police arrived, all flashing lights and megaphones, he held his pistol to his own head.  “What?” he cried, “Would you be murderers as well?”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Talons Red as Embers, Paws Black as Soot

The sound of firetrucks woke Darren.  He sat up and began coughing; smoke already filled the top half of the room.

“Stay low!” Darren called to Alberta.  Together they crept out the front door to the hallway.  The other apartments already hung open.  Darren started toward the window, but Alberta yanked him back.

“Are you crazy?” she hissed as water began to splash against the roof.

With a  roar and a crackle, the fire fled snarling past them and leapt through the window, leaving scorch marks around the edges.

Darren gasped in confusion.  Alberta pointed to the sign: “Fire Escape.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

All He Wanted to Know Was Whether Clyde Knew What Had Happened to His Lawnmower

Clyde was kneeling by the cinderblock foundation of the shed.  “Have you been feeding him at all?  Look at this flaking on the sides.”

“The old paint?”

“Seems to be ailing.  I’d recommend a good dose of lard and three-quarters-inch nails, just for starters, and keep that up for at least two weeks.  Probably hasn’t had his termite shots, either, am I right?”

“…it’s a shed.”

“Yeah, it’s a little cold up here for them, but they look so cute in the store and people bring ‘em home.  You inherit ‘em with the property, and then what can you do?”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Spinning Faster and Faster

I couldn’t park in the garage, Jimmy said.  I was annoyed.  I worry about people breaking my mirrors or peeing in my wheel wells or something.

What gives, man? I asked.

No room, he told me.  Moon’s in there.

I peeked in the garage, and there it was: the moon, spinning quietly.

It’s wobbling, I said.

Yeah, Jimmy nodded.  That’s why I pulled it in.  Gonna fix the alignment, maybe some new shocks.

Easy fix, I said.  You don’t need a garage for that.

Yeah, said Jimmy, grinning.  But this weekend I’m going to soup it up.   Baby’s gonna cook.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


The sirens went off in the early morning.  It was an emergency.  No one knew what to do at first.  The nature of the emergency did not immediately reveal itself.

Eventually, people ventured outside.  The sirens continued.  The emergency was happening.  Life went on.

There were some differences.  Prices were higher; only to be expected, during an emergency.  People saved less.  There was more unprotected sex.  Donut sales skyrocketed.  Babies were born, got fat, grew up, got jobs in the service industry.  The sirens wailed through it all.

Except for yesterday.  Yesterday the sirens stopped.

What do we do now?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Locus

“I feel like it’s all my fault, sometimes,” said Ernie.  “I know that’s silly.  Irrational.  But I feel culpable.  Like I’m the one to blame for all my troubles.”

The dark man, his drinking companion of chance this night, sighed.  “Do you want to know a secret?”

“Mnuh?”  Ernie raised his eyebrows behind his pint.

“You are.  You’re the one to blame.  Not just for your pathetic failure of a life, either.  All the misery of the world, all the sadness and death and pain and loss: your fault.  Just by existing.”  The man had a gun.  “We call your kind a ‘locus.’  I am here to save humanity.”

“Oh, God,” said Ernie.  He wondered if his lack of reaction was because he was too drunk to feel surprise, but deep down, he knew he was only recognizing the truth.  He hung his head.  “Just make it quick.”

The dark man smiled.  “Typical.”  He leaned in close.  “There’s another secret.  For it to work, for the scapegoat’s sacrifice to temporarily dispel the locus, the goat has to agree.  Congratulations, Ernie.  It really is all your fault.”

Ernie had enough time to blink before the dark man saved the world. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Never Mix

“She’s way out of your league, dude,” said Harrison. 

And he was right.  Trent was tall, blond, athletic; Elizabeth anything but.  But when he’d heard Elizabeth ask a single question that stopped Professor Stromboldt cold, he knew she was the one.

It was not easy.  She assumed at first that he was mocking her, then that he thought she’d be an easy lay.  But he persisted, driven by the sincerity of his admiration.

At last, success!  That night was glorious for them both, a true meeting of equals.

Then, in the morning, the League Enforcers smashed down the dorm-room door.