Friday, December 19, 2014

A House, Haunted

We spent the night in a haunted house.  We didn’t have to.  No one forced us.  We’re not sure now why we did.

There were no horrifying apparitions.  No blood dripped slowly from the ceiling.  Nothing moaned or whispered.  No fingers clutched or trailed softly down the soft hairs along our arms.  The house was musty and damp, and we slept fitfully, fearfully, expectantly.

Nothing at all happened.

Except when we opened the door to leave and found only another hallway stretching off into the dark and distance, smelling of age and mildew.

We spend nights in a haunted house.


Part of the Advent Ghosts annual event at I Saw Lightning Fall.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Morning After the Sun Did Not Rise

The bed hovered over the immeasurable void. Kinny and I hadn't worked up the courage to enter it yet. A chill wind blew up from beneath, and all around was blackness.

Somewhere, a dog barked.

“Pretty sure it’s your turn to let her out,” Kinny said.

“If our carpet rematerializes, I will clean any mess off of it with gusto and verve,” I assured her.

“I’m going to brave the unknown. How different is it from any other morning, really?”

I strained with all my might and manifested my pink fuzzy slippers.  "Hold on," I said.  "I'm coming with you."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Squid of Despair

The Squid of Despair takes up most of the living room now. Its muddy, brown-­gray skin saps the brightness from the room, or perhaps simply highlights the lack already there. It rolls a dinner-plate­-sized eye at me as I step over its sprawled tentacles. I kick it. It does not respond.

“You should just get rid of that thing, man,” says Cal. The Hummingbird of Whimsy flits around his head, while the spiny Scorpion of Sarcasm lurks on his shoulder.

The Squid lifts one tentacle, then drops it, limply, on my lap. Because of this, I cannot kick Cal, too.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


He fills in the crossword while he waits. He does not skulk in bushes, not anymore, not since he learned about Starbucks; cafes; newspapers. He shaves often, especially during the week of the full moon. Hunting is a mental state as much as an action. He sips his coffee, wincing at the bitterness. He writes an answer in the little boxes: “TEETH.” He has filled in all of the answers this way. He likes teeth. He wonders when she will emerge from the building down the street.  He wonders what she will think of his teeth, when she sees them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Count Darigon cackled as the Sword refused to budge. “I know you, King Amberion,” he rasped.  "You are a thoughtful leader and a complicated man. You are good. But the Sword can be wielded only by the pure of heart. Can you truly say that you have never sinned, never fallen short?”

Amberion’s grip on the hilt slackened perceptibly. Darigon grinned.  Behind Amberion, Kailen snorted. She strode forward, snatched up the Sword, and lopped Darigon’s head off.

“I’m not a good person,” she told his stunned expression as his head rolled on the ground. “But I know what I want.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quarter Reads

By the by, I remain interested/amused by Quarter Reads, where I have uploaded several stories.  The ten dollars is a bit of a high initial ask, but it's almost intoxicating flitting around the archives, picking out stories to buy for $0.25 each.  

Plus, now you can "favorite" an author and know when they've uploaded something new.  So... you all know what to do, I trust.  ;-)  Given the amount of flash I write, I'm sure to have some Quarter Reads exclusives sooner or later.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Daylight Encounter

I saw something move in the garage of the house on the end, and I thought, “Deer,” because Dad says they’re like rats and get everywhere.  Then it lifted its head, and it didn’t have a snout, but the flat nose of a monkey and a big hairy beard at the end of a long neck like a snake. It met my eyes before it leapt away into the scrubby trees.

The sun felt cold, suddenly, like it was night and dark, instead of in my neighborhood with its sidewalks marked in chalk and birds chirping, and I was alone.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The summoning booth has a line.  I scuff the leather on my loafers and check my phone.  I don't really have time, but without a PowerPoint demon to run my presentation, I don't have anything else to do.  I hope I won't be late.

The fat idiot inside can't work the latch.  I tug from the outside, and he breathes garlicky breath in my face as he flees, sweating.  He was calling a succubus.  I know the type.

Inside, I sweep the remnants of his salt circle into the disposal. Disgusting pig.  Push the button, the new circle falls down neatly from the dispensers.  One, two, three go the blood-treated iron coins. I get mine from Soul Survivors.  They do diversified holdings, no fewer than a thousand contributors per coin.  It's a decent risk, so long as you get out before the law of averages kicks in and you run the risk of tipping over the fifty percent mark on your contribution. I've got good information.  I researched the userbase and projected summoning habits thoroughly before I committed.

The demon appears in a flash of sulfur and heat.  You never get the same one twice, but I swear it looks familiar.  I open my mouth to tell it about the damned PowerPoint, but a rumble from overhead distracts me.  I look up and see the lances of light penetrating the overcast.  Wings and swords and trumpets, fire and smoke from beneath.

The demon smiles.

"Foreclosed," it says.  "All of you."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Excerpts from the Self-Guided Tour of the World Serpent Informational Center

The hallway is long and walled in tile and steel, but you will notice it does not echo.  The constant rush of saltwater and poison outside is an unending susurrus that swallows sound.  First-time visitors  often feel that the structure is pulsing faintly, the walls breathing with the motion.

This is an illusion.  The visitor's center is not near any of the lungs.

As you walk along, you may feel free to touch the walls or floor and  feel their warmth.  Jormungandr is a reptile and therefore cold-blooded, of course; the heat is the exothermic reaction of the  venom impregnated in its every muscle and bone with the exterior metals and ceramics.  The infrastructure requires constant repair by specialized teams.  Their mining equipment is tipped with diamond and  coated in cat's blood to neutralize the effects.  You need not fear; while collapses were common in the early days, the visitor's center has never suffered any lapses, whether structural or autoimmune in  nature.

The central columns contain the actual grid.  Please do not approach them.  Electricity flows along the grid through Jormungandr's nerves and bloodstream, piping information and power along its length and therefore throughout the world.  The Plague of Quakes in the late 1800s was eventually diagnosed as a degenerative seizure disorder; improved wire shielding and a decades-long corpus callosotomy at Jormungandr's skull in the Marianas Trench, completed in 1973, have resolved these problems.

Your tour will conclude at the door marked in purple.  The gift shop is open year-round.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Feeding Time

I woke to a soft weight on my shoulders and back, followed by a prickling as claws dug in, pressing through the fleece and the sheet.

“It’s like three a.m., cat,” I mumbled into my pillow.  “I’m not getting up to feed you.”

The claws dug in, and I heard him sniffing his way up toward my head.  I buried it under the blankets.

“You do not need any more food,” I said.  “You’re on a diet, mister kitty.  Vet’s orders.”

The snuffling reached my breathing hole and stopped.  Then I heard a plaintive meow.

From over in the doorway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

God in Your Pocket

Margie had to go  home for her wallet.  She still used cash.

“What?”  I laughed.  “How do you get anything done without a god?”

Margie’s face twisted.  “I just don’t see the point.”

“Here,” I pulled Chocorotan out of my pocket, “you can use mine.”   Chocorotan grimaced at me, but he’s carved that way.  “The commandments are easy.  I only have to brush my teeth clockwise and avoid alligators.”



“No!”  Maggie started walking again.  “I’ll catch you up at the theater.  Both of you, I guess.”

I watched her go.  “Women are weird, O Lord,” I told Chocorotan.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anything But

Penny had a not-a-dog.  It wasn't exactly invisible, but it was an absence rather than a presence.  You could pet it, but it wasn't warm or solid, and it was not fuzzy at all.  It stared at her without devotion or loyalty as she fed it something that was nothing like kibble.  After dinner, Penny let it outside to excrete unfamiliar substances and make noises that were not barks.  Over red wine, we discussed her new lack of a pet.

“Did you consider a cat?” I asked.

“They tried that,” she said.  “No one was sure which one wasn't it.”

Saturday, October 4, 2014


“They just seem so taken aback by the whole thing,” said Martha, letting the curtain drop.  The mob had sort of organized into an impromptu prayer service, but five different preachers were all trying to take command.  “It even said right in there that none would know the day or the hour.”

“Yeah, well, that’s the unspoken caveat to every religious protestation about the ineffable and inscrutable nature of God,” Laura responded from the couch, not opening her eyes.  “What’s driving them nuts is that they have to confront it head-on now.”

“What caveat?”

“God is unknowable... 'except to us'.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

"Columbidae" at Flash Fiction Online

October is apparently when everything is dropping.  "Columbidae" is up, marking my second appearance at Flash Fiction Online under as many different editors. ;-)

Go read the story that has Anna Yeatts writing in capslock.  I'll guarantee that it's one of the best stories about crazy naked human pigeons you will read for the first time this week.

Morning Eve

The shower always took a while to warm up in the mornings.  Bonnie winced as she stepped in.  Better than wasting water.

“Have you thought about it?” asked the serpent, wrapped around the shower head.

“Yes,” said Bonnie, lathering.

“Is that your answer, then, or...”

“No.  No apples.”

The snake pouted.  “But power overwhelming...”

Bonnie squinted her eyes shut and rinsed.  “You said you’d leave, after.”

The snake rearranged its coils.  “See, the thing with that is-“

“You lied.”

“Technically, I was prevaricating, but-“

Bonnie shut off the tap.  “You could at least pony up for some of the rent.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

"And All the Tribes of the Earth Shall Mourn" at Mythic Delirium

Mythic Delirium returns with, among many others, my story "And All the Tribes of the Earth Shall Mourn," in which a man fails to understand other people's religious ecstasy, and also McDonald's.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

UFO 3 Out Now!

The grand and hopefully long-standing traditional annual UFO anthology is out early!  My story, "Why I Bought Satan Two Cokes on the Day I Graduated High School," can be read there, along with a lot of other very funny stories by people more famous and better at writing than I am.

You can buy it at Amazon or (eventually, I presume) from the UFO Publishing page.

Smuggling Dragons

The 7-11 parking lot was empty except for the rust-eaten white Buick.  The guy standing beside it looked like low turnout at the casting call for Suspicious Character #5.

“You got the money?” he greeted me.

I stared at him levelly and indicated the junker.

“Money first.”

The roll was all hundreds.  We’re thorough.

“All right.”  He popped the trunk and cracked it.  A gout of flame nearly took his hand off.  I saw a glimpse of a golden, slit-pupiled eye.  “Satisfied?” he asked.

“I’ve seen enough,” I agreed.  I pulled out my badge.  Fish and Wildlife.  “You’re under arrest.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bean Sidhe

The banshee’s wail heralds the death of a loved one.  The popular imagination has imbued the shriek itself as ill-omened or deathly, but in truth, it is not so.  It is only sorrow for the death that comes to us all.  Being fae spirits, they sense the death as or even before it happens, and their cries honor the fallen, eerie and upsetting as mortals might find it.

The world is broader, now.  Faster.  More connected.  Moment by moment, now, they fall, and moment by moment the banshee sings them to sleep.

Play them off, Keyboard Cat.  Play them off.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hand-made, Locally Grown, Artisanal

Emily looked over the makeshift table, lips pursed.  The nightmare peddler swayed, ugly face indifferent.

“This one?” Emily asked, pointing to an angular silver one.

“Cut you,” the man grunted.

“And these?”  Two distressed yarn balls.

“Spiders.  Spiders everywhere.”

“Not very creative,” Emily sniffed.

“Scare you,” the man gasped, “to death.”

Emily raised an eyebrow and smirked.  “We’re done here,” she told me.

We’d crunched three steps across the gravel when the nightmare man spoke again.  “No,” he said.

The opening of his tent was dark behind him.  “Please,” he said again, straining to focus his eyes.

We kept walking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Contributions to the War Effort

It’s Donation Day, and we line up outside the cafeteria.  Afternoon classes are canceled, which would be good except today is Art day.  I like Art class.

I line up with the others.  One by one we pass by the open warhead and add our hatred of the enemy to the seethe.  When I make the sign and spit, only a few dribbles emerge.  The soldier doesn’t say anything, but I know he’s recording it all.  Too many under-donations and my whole family will get marked as Unpolitical, maybe even Seditious.

I can’t even feel very upset about that anymore.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


The Beast passes by, and we must jump.  I jump well and catch hold of the thick fur along his flank.  My sister Mia does not jump so well, and she falls.  I wish that I could have caught her.  I wish that anyone could.

The Wall looms ahead.  How many of us, clinging to his hair and skin, will be shaken off by the impact?  And even then, what will we find on the other side but more Beasts, huge and terrible and indifferent?  It is no way to live.

But I will live.

The Beast is gathering speed.

Monday, August 4, 2014


So apparently there is a thing called the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, and one of the items on this year's list is to get a "published SF author" to write a 140-word story with the phrases "Misha," "Queen of England," and "Elopus" in it.

Well, shoot, son.  Y'all have come to the right place, I tell you what.

Hit me up on Twitter @scattercat or here in the comments; I get e-mails either way.  Drop a few dollars in my hat over there to the right and you'll have your story ASAP.  :-)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Roundabout" at IGMS

My borderline-sociopath-versus-evil-elder-god-of-the-U.S.-highway-system story is up at Intergalactic Medicine Show, right here.  And no more paywall over yonder, either!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Measured in Coffee Spoons

Herbert wandered, lost in thought.  He came to a fork in the road.  Confused, he bent and picked it up.  Fine silverware, no sign of tarnish.  Curious.

"Well?" said a voice from below.  Herbert glanced down to see a kneeling man in what had once been a fine suit, now dirty and bedraggled, straining at the seams to contain the immense girth of its owner.  Indeed, it was odd he hadn't seen the man, so large was he.  His mouth was smeared with dirt.

"Well," the man said again, "start eating." 

Eventually, Herbert regretted taking an extra cake at tea.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Social Engineering

Nua was disconcerted when she entered Tyo's apartment.  "Last week this was a shitty economy with a roach problem," she said, eyeing the solid gold fountain bubbling with Dom Perignon.  Overhead, a flock of phoenixes sang classic Limp Bizkit songs with full orchestration.

"Yeah, well," Tyo shrugged.  "I found the old Telnet server God used to make the universe.  Dude never changed his password.  Old people and computers, right?  Family members and birthdays, t'cha."  Tyo spat and laughed.  A diamond robot scurried out to clean the marble.

"Twelve twenty-five?" Nua asked.

"Jeez, how Americanized are you?  One over zero, babe."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"The Shallows" at Toasted Cake

So if you aren't listening to Tina Connolly's Toasted Cake podcast, first, you should do that, so go ahead.  I'll wait.  They're short, mostly.

You can then listen to the newest episode, which features "The Shallows," originally published at Flash Fiction Online.  :-)

Apparently No One Had Actually Staked a Claim Before

"Mine!" Jory yanked the toy truck away.

"Come on, what do we say?" said Greg wearily.

"MINE!"  Jory ran to the front door and tugged at the handle.  He spun and pointed at the rest of the house.  "Mine!"

"Hon?" said Rachel from the kitchen, "why did the mortgage statement come in Jory's name?"

"Open door?" Jory instructed.

Greg hesitated.  But then, it was his house.

Jory ran outside and gripped the ground.  "Mine!"

He really couldn't do much worse, Greg reflected, as the helicopters and sirens started in the distance, coming to retrieve the toddler who ruled the planet.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Unseen Workers

Cursing, the doll-sized gnome picked himself up from the plaster dust and the splattered remnants of breakfast.

"You were in the ceiling," Brent said numbly.

"Cripes," said the gnome.  "Now we're in it."

"Why do you have pliers?" Brent asked, beginning to feel concerned.

The gnome tried to dodge aside, but Brent menaced him with a fork.

"Look, I'll give you a hint, okay?"  The gnome held up his pudgy hands.  "Your warranty ends tomorrow, doesn't it?  On the dryer?"


"Just act surprised.  That's all I can safely say."  The gnome tapped the side of his nose and fled.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


"What we're primarily interested in," said Neeling, stepping cautiously across the feed-yard, "is how you managed to cross in the phoenix.  They're rare, finicky eaters, and ? most pertinently ? parthenogenic.  We'd never managed to even get one to survive long in captivity.  How did you manage it?"

Clem shrugged.  "Patience."  

There was a commotion to the side.  One of the birds was standing stiff, hiccuping.  Neeling stared.  "For myself, I suppose I might ask... why?"

The distressed bird emitted a single, sharp cry, then burst into brief flame.  Clem stepped in and plucked up the sizzling body, now denuded.  "Self-cookin' chickens."

The expedition to the polar entrance of the hollow Earth went as smooth as silk.  Even the descent had been no trickier than expected, the zeppelin inflating without issue and only a few moments of upsetting free-fall when the pressure differential started to collapse the bag.  Now they were landed safely on the safe green sward of one of the interior continents, and the Turing Automatic Servant was working to translate the language of the short, fuzzy bipeds that dwelt there.

"They want to know," the robot said in its metallic voice, "how we got out of the hollow universe."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Red and White Fuse, Burning Slowly

A few seconds of ticking from inside a jack-o-lantern: that's all the warning we got before Halloween exploded.  It was a terrible scene; ghosts splattered against windowpanes or spread across streets like ectoplasmic butter on burnt toast; witches jammed hat-first through trees, their striped stockings all higgeldy-piggeldy; splintery candy shrapnel peppered walls, doors, and the occasional cursing parent; and everywhere, everywhere, the sobbing of children deprived of sugar.

But it could have been worse.

In a couple of months, we might have aerial bombardment to worry about.  How many presents do you think Santa stores in his sleigh at once?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Backwards Man

I met a backwards man today.  His head face the right way, and he walked forward.  No rakshasa nonsense or anything like that.  But he was backwards.  I could tell.  He moved against the flow of the current.

The first thing he did was pull a knife out of my back.  He slapped me across the face, then leaned in for a lingering hug.  He kissed me on each cheek and walked away, waving in greeting.  I watched the bubble of mild confusion in the people around him until the crowds obscured him completely.  Totally backwards.

I kept the knife.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

First Person

The First Person was on the move again.  It hadn't changed position in subjective years.  What that meant outside the game, the NPCs couldn't be certain; they only had the barest notion of what 'outside' even meant, and differential time flow was only one of many theories the best NPC scientists had managed to concoct to explain measured discrepancies.

The First Person was unstoppable, a juggernaut, a demigod, but it had long since stopped trying to hunt and kill the NPCs with any verve or vigor.  It barely even bothered to gun them down if they passed through its line of sight, though as catastrophically (and expensively, though again, 'money' was a theoretical construct for the NPC population, and most of them thought it was too silly to be real) overpowered as the First Person was, "barely bothered" tended to obliterate a few neighborhoods every time someone misjudged the placement of their hit boxes.

Now, though, it was moving.  It found the streets deserted, and though it might have entered the buildings and slaughtered every living thing inside quite easily (every year, another NPC inventor insisted they'd found a way through the invisible walls that penned them into their levels, but none had ever worked), it ignored the doors and alleys and ladders, instead plowing straight ahead, guns bristling, only firing off a rocket to jump from every now and then.

No one knew where it was going, but everyone wanted to keep out of its way.  On the other hand, no one wanted to let it completely out of sight, either.  Better to know which way the danger might be coming from.  So the NPCs trailed along at as safe a distance as they could manage, across the miles and through the levels.  Cycles passed and animations reset.  Items spawned and despawned, and still the First Person walked on.

Then, at last, they saw something coming the other way.  Another armored colossus, another following cloud of terrified NPCS.

Another First Person.

No one in the crowd had known there could be more than one (though the NPC poet-historians could recite the oral history of the servers and their long, slow decline.  Ping, ping, lag, went the mantra, in pursuit of the mystic state of latency).  A second First Person.  It seemed somehow obscene.  How long had it been since anyone had seen another?  How long had it been since anyone had even learned the word "multiplayer"?

They thought they had seen destruction.  They thought there was no more that could be done to them.

They soon learned otherwise.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Fun Factory

Jake found happiness under the couch cushions.  It was drippy.  It had been there a while.

Years later, the factory was fully automated.  Extractors, dehydrators, compounders, filters.  It squirted seltzer into bottles dosed with the minimum active dose of essence of happiness, added sugar and a label with a barcode, and shipped them out in pallets.  The trucks never stopped.

The main laboratory was off-limits to all non-authorized personnel, which at this point meant functionally everyone.  The sealed titanium "Happiness" cannister had long since fallen empty and dry as dust.

What Jake had discovered was that it didn't actually matter.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Good Cop

Ramsey pulled the badge off using both hooves.  The slick plastic stuck to his wool and squirmed from his grasp as if alive; it had, after all, been designed for someone with claws.  Lupine sniggers filled the locker room.  No one met Ramsey's gaze when he glanced around.

"I think it went okay out there today," said Doulpho.  He was Ramsey's partner, gray fur showing all around his muzzle.  Doulpho didn't like the situation, Ramsey knew, but Ramsey gave the old wolf credit for keeping a positive attitude on the outside.  For trying.  "It's hard for anyone to be the first."  Doulpho coughed and scratched at his chin with one paw.  "Hey, look," he said slowly, "it's Friday.  Everyone's going down to the watering hole after work..."

Ramsey could sense ears pricking up all around them.  Barely suppressed snarls vibrated in a dozen throats.  Inside his head, Ramsey adjusted his opinion of Doulpho sharply upward.  Assuming the offer was genuine, Doulpho had just made a lot of enemies for the sake of a comradely gesture.  Ramsey forced a smile.  "No, thanks, Doulpho.  I've still got those night classes.  Maybe next week."

Doulpho nodded his understanding, his predator's eyes wide.  The tension in the room ebbed slightly.  No sheep in the bar, not yet.  Ramsey worked his bulletproof vest over his horns, which just this year had started to curve inward at last.  Fuck the night classes.  He'd go home and watch television, then sleep.  Then on Monday he'd come back, and the job would start again.  He'd wear a badge.  He'd carry a gun.

He would be a cop among wolves.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Linkdump, of sorts.

Recent stories that I have neglected to announce here:

"The Strongest Man in the World," at Daily Science Fiction - Surreal circus-flavored creepiness.

"Enginesong" reprinted in audio at Podcastle - Trains got legs? 

From eons past here at Mirrorshards, "Traveler in a Distant Land," as the drabble for Drabblecast #316, where the main story also features the vocal talents of my lovely spouse.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Jenkins' Job

“Look, Graham, before Jenkins gets in,” said Mary, “I just... I wanted to warn you not to say anything.”

“About what?”

“Shh!  He’s here!”

A small orange tomcat padded into the office, a tiny briefcase in its mouth.  It leapt onto the desk and sat to wash its face.  Then it abruptly stood and darted back outside.

“He forgot the files,” Mary sighed.  “Typical.”

“You could have just said he was a cat,” Graham snapped.

“What?  I just meant you shouldn’t mention his operation.  He’s very sensitive about it.”

Graham blinked.  “He’s neutered?”

Mary gave him an odd look.  “Declawed.”

Friday, May 2, 2014


You can get used to anything, my uncle Otto used to say.  That’s probably pretty true.  I don’t think about it much because the Noise gets louder when I do.

For me, the Noise sounds like an alarm clock in the next room.  Most of the time it does, anyway.  Sometimes it gets closer, when... you know.

Yeah, don’t think too hard about that.   Did it spike?  You’ve got to be careful.  That looked like it kind of hurt.

Oh, I don’t remember much before the Noise.  I wasn’t born with it, but I was pretty little.  I’m almost as good as most of the younger kids; they don’t even have to try to avoid thinking wrong.

What?  What?

Hold on.

Sorry.  I was... I got distracted.  I was confused.  I’m okay now.

Oh, I was telling you.  I was telling you something.  Acclimation.

Right, yes.  It was Tony.  I mean, Tony isn’t here anymore.  That’s a thing I had to get used to.

Ow.  No, I’m fine.  I said I’m fine.

Anyway.  Tony.  I saw him last, you know?  I’m the one who had to...  He was always in the basement.  He called it his “laboratory,” but it was a stupid basement and that’s all it was, okay?

Five years.  He was five years older.  So he had, you know, he knew Mom and Dad before the Noise came and taught us the right way.  To think.  The proper way.  Not many people remember moms and dads.

Tony kind of helped raise me.  Like a volunteer Mentor.  I mean, everyone does it now, yes, of course, and that’s the right way and proper, but this was before, in the early days.  The chaos.  He did it because he wanted to.

Ow.  Right.  Yes, of course everyone wants to, that’s the right way, yes.  That’s the right.  Way.  But it was different somehow when Tony.

What?  What?

Sorry.  No, I was just.  Thinking.  Tony was bad, okay?  And it’s hard for me because I liked what he did, what he was in those.  In the days.  Before.  But he was bad.  He did bad stuff.

It was in the laboratory.  He made a bad thing.  I went down there.  I went to get him because I had some food.  Some cans.  It was.  I had to work hard to get them.  I think.  It’s.  I can’t remember.

I went down and it was quiet.

Ow.  No, look, this is important.  I can do this.

Ow.  No!  I will.  I’m going to say it.

It was quiet.  And he.  Tony.  He looked up at me with a big grin, his big stupid teeth.  He looked at.  Smiled.  At me.  And he said, “I did it.”  And I didn’t ask him what.  Because.  It was quiet.

I had to.  The Noise shows us the right way.  He made it stop.  His machine.  I had to stop him.  I had to stop the quiet.  That was... the right way.

No, I’m fine.  I’m okay now.  It’s... everything’s fine.  Just remember.  You should.  I can’t.   Remember.  What I told you.  You have to.

Listen.  You have to.

Hear that?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


 “The name was your mistake,” I growled.  “Arrogant.  ’Bottom Shelf Goods?’  What are bottom shelves if not low racks?”

“Yes, very clever, Onceler,” he responded.  “But nobody needs you.  Not anymore.  I’ve got what they need.  I’ve got what everyone needs.”

“Well, I’ve got this.”  He didn’t react to the gun, but I could tell he was surprised by the tilt of his mustache.

“We were almost finished here anyway,” he said.  Then he simply picked himself up and carried himself away.  I didn’t shoot.  I didn’t dare.

After all, one day the Lorax and his friends might come back...

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Storm-God's Lover

After she had cleaned up the floodwaters and chivvied the snarling clouds back into their pen, she returned to the bower, where her lover sat, hangdog and fuming.

“I didn’t mean to ruin it,” he said, before she could speak.  “I wanted to make a beautiful storm for you.”

“I didn’t ask,” she answered.  “But tell me, since you bring it up: why?”

“Because I’m not divine.  I’m just a man.  I wanted to do something.  To be something.  Why would you love me otherwise?

“Silly,” she said, wrapping her arms around him.  “You are special because you are mine.”

Sunday, March 30, 2014


He finished the e-mail and paused to reread.  He was disconcerted to see, instead of a polite request to be removed from the course, nothing but “FEAR IS WHAT THE PREY CAN CATCH FEAR IS WHAT THE PREY CAN CATCH FEAR IS WHAT”

He hit control-A and delete almost instinctively.  The page was blank, and he was suddenly unsure what he’d seen.  Control-Z.  Nothing.  He pressed a button experimentally.  “B” floated peacefully on the screen, as expected, black on white.  He started retyping the e-mail.

The letters appeared one by one, not at all matching his busy keystrokes:

“E-H-I-N-D Y-O-U”

Saturday, March 29, 2014


It was the one hundred and fortieth day in the bunker, and the sixtieth straight day of rain.  Today, the head-height clouds were charged with electricity, and your hair stood up on end if you walked through them.  Gigi had a red mark on her cheek where a wee lightning bolt had earthed itself.  The tiny droplets pattered down, already half an inch deep.

As a miniature waterspout formed over Kathleen’s bowl of cereal, sucking up Cap’n Crunch pieces with its tiny, terrifying windspeeds, Kathleen shrugged.  “If it’s this bad in here, just imagine what it would be like outside.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

Already Here

We didn’t find out about the invasion for a while.  They said on the news the aliens looked like us and talked like us and were generally exactly like us except they came from space and we didn’t.  They came down and lived among us, infiltrating every country, every institution, every life.  But there was a test, they said on the news.  And they started bringing people in, one by one.

The news has gone quiet since the tests finished.  Every last one of us tested, and now we know who the aliens are.  They’ll make the announcement any minute.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stonebones at BCS

Stonebones is currently available at Beneath Ceaseless Skies for Science Fantasy Month!  Hooray for dead dragons and guns that don't work!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One for Everyone

The bowl was full of Death, individually wrapped.  The skeleton sat on the porch with the bowl between its knees.  A sign taped to its ribcage read, “One per person.  No exceptions!”  The huddle of plastic be-masked elementary schoolers huddled at the end of the sidewalk, unwilling to move forward.

“No one wants to go?” said Mike, who had been unhappily drafted into trick-or-treating duty.  “Well, then let’s get to the next house.  C’mon, chop chop.”

There was a cough from behind them.  “The sign,” said a hollow voice, “is clear.  One for everyone.”

And that’s the way it was.