Thursday, December 31, 2009

Imagine All the People

That morning, Burt had ignored them tying his shoelaces together and stealing his keys. He aimed for them on the road. It was silly, of course, trying to run over imaginary blue men the size of dolls, but it eased his burden to try.

Muller came by, dropping off a report. Burt noticed his eyes dart down to the desk, where the blue men were converting a stapler to a catapult. Burt goggled. “You see them!” he cried.

“Who?” said Muller, stricken.

“Wait,” said Jenkins from the next cube. “You two see them, too? I thought it was just me!”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Story of His Life

"Hello," said Marivel.

The paper man turned his blank white face toward her. He raised his pencil and drew in a smile. Marivel waited. The paper man sketched in a pair of raised eyebrows.

"Can't you talk?"

With a rustle, he erased his questioning brows and drew a frown.

"What are you writing?"

Rustle... scribble... angry now. He shooed her away.

Marivel tried to lean in and see. The paper man pushed at her, but he was made of paper. He crinkled beneath her.

"Ha!" cried Marivel, reaching triumphantly. She froze then at the unmistakable sound of tearing paper.

Neither moved.

A World of Rocking Chairs

"Fetch my blade!" cried Prince Sarib.

The weapon clattered to the tiled floor. Sarib hissed and leapt down after it. It spun several times before he managed to hook one paw through the handgrip. He stalked three-legged for the door.

"Perhaps," suggested his majordomo, "a duel is not the ideal solution? In your current condition?"

"I may be an ensorcelled cat," Sarib spat, "but that man is a flea-bitten dog who dares touch my sister. I shall teach him a lesson regardless!"

Sarib stood in place, shedding angrily. "Well?" he said. "Aren't you going to open the door for me?"

The Last Desperate Stand

Se-Rok-La, the Blade That Thirsts, lay shattered on the ground. The hand that had wielded it rested nearby. The rest of the hero was not in evidence, at least in the immediate area. Crimson splashes on the ground suggested, to the inquisitive mind, the disposition of the other remains.

The princess and the wizard huddled in the base of a shattered tower. The princess was sobbing loudly.

"Impossible," growled the wizard. "I refuse to accept this. There has to be another way!"

A shadow fell over their hiding place, horned and terrible. "No," said the Demon King, "there really doesn't."

Keeping Up With the Jonezzezz

It's super-story day as I catch up with the three days of holiday traveling I did. Whee!


Chad and Lisa watched the new house crumble in the breeze. It was made of sand, though patterned like brick. They were so busy staring out the side window that the doorbell startled them.

The form outside was nominally female, clad in an apron, rubber gloves, and full-face gas-mask. She bulged oddly, as though made of clay that was constantly being reworked.

"Yes?" said Lisa.

The woman's voice was a layered buzzing, strangely resonant. "Borrowzz... zzugar?" Her hand came up, clinging to a dirty measuring cup. Several ants fell out of her sleeve.

Lisa glanced at Chad. Chad nodded urgently.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Matter of Degrees

“Nothing!” Doctor Geisteskrank threw the alembic across the room. “Truly, this must be my greatest moment of failure yet!”

“What about the crossbred gerbil-cobras?” said Bartlett, heading for the broom closet.

“Feistier than intended, yes, but-“

“Or that perpetual motion machine that you hooked up to your blender?”

“Probably nearing the Earth’s core, admittedly-“

“The time you built a robot powered by human despair!” said Bartlett. “No way that could go wrong, right?”

“It was such a ubiquitous power source! At least those projects did something, even if it was not intended.”

“You fail a lot, is all I’m saying.”

Friday, December 25, 2009

Someone Comes, Someone Goes

Donny was sweeping dust at the Wall of Faces when he noticed something strange.

“Hey, Mitch!” he yelled. “C’mere and take a look at this!” He pointed. “Ain’t that a new one?”

Mitch put down his mop and came over to peer at the writhing marble, the carved features contorting in silent screams.

“Don’t recognize him,” Mitch said at length.

“No one’s missing, though.”

“That ain’t right. Someone comes in, someone goes out. That’s the rule.”

Mitch shrugged. “Maybe they’re expanding operations.”

“Figure we’ll find out, soon as the new guy gets in,” said Donny. He glanced up at the firelit ceiling and the saw-toothed trapdoor.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

Naughty and nice isn’t the half of it.

Examine the patterns. The color of the ribbon. The fractals hidden within drawings of jolly reindeer. Even the nature of the toys.

Everything contains a message. Or perhaps it is a message, all of it, a code so intricate that it cannot be perceived. We are ants attempting to view the globe entire.

It is hard, to know everything. Even now, the red-clothed form twitches in a trance, eyelids flickering. He will begin his work again, soon, and we are no closer to an answer. Is the message even meant for us?


A part of Advent Ghosts blog event.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sustainable Anthropophagy

“…and then he asked what they’d feet the rats on, and they said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. We feed the cats to the rats, and get the skins for free!’”

“That story doesn’t make a lick of sense, Lincoln.”

“It came to mind, that’s all. I always think of it when it’s my turn.”

“Get on with it. Knife’s not getting any sharper.”

“Meat for the pot, Lincoln.”

“Look, it’s my damned arm, okay?”

“And it was my leg yesterday.”

“And my shoulder the day before. The nanites’ll grow it back in a week. Just get on with it; I’m half-starved.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The First Step to Acceptance is Understanding

“I used to be afraid of them,” Vitari said. “Something in the mind just… recoils. Too many legs, moving too many directions.” He scratched at his ear. “They’re not like us. They’re alien. We can’t understand how that kind of brain can work, and so we fear them.”

Mari kept her back to the wall, watching wide-eyed.

“You have to open to the possibility. Once you understand them, the fear goes away. I know you’ll see. You only have to let them in.”

His eyelid twitched, then bulged, as something with too many legs began to push its way out…

Monday, December 21, 2009


The battle raged for a night and a day. Five men were killed. The phoenix, glorious and deadly, spread its flames with abandon. The dragon, though twisted and loathsome, moved with cunning dexterity.

Then the Debate Floor doors slammed open. An aged man strode in, clad in the rags of a business suit and bearing a battered briefcase. “This villainy must cease!” he cried. “Sancho! The injunction!” He held out a hand.

A bolt of phoenix-fire incinerated him on the spot, moments before the dragon’s jaws closed upon his blackened body.

Everyone agreed it had been a most profitable debate.


For reference.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Debate Floor

“The Senator from Arizona is out of line!” said Chairman Gordon.

“I demand the right to speak,” growled Senator Krantz.

“I invoke Rule 714-point-3,” said Gordon. He rose, his hand rising to the shimmering talisman at his neck.

“So be it.” Krantz narrowed his eyes and stepped from behind the podium. With a sharp gesture, he snapped the ruby off of his tiepin. It flared with crimson light, and the phoenix burst forth in a gout of flame.

Gordon clutched his viridian stone and the winged saurian form of his own guardian emerged, hissing. “Let us now debate!” he cried.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Captain Jennings gave the alien a level stare. "Tell him my government objects most strongly." He glanced at the interpreter.

The interpreter sighed. "Most strongly?"

Jennings nodded.

The interpreter flung his hands up, then snaked down in a sinuous dance. He lifted one leg and emitted a high-pitched squeal of flatulence, face a mask of concentration as he modulated the tone. The alien watched intently, scent-pores dilating. Then it opened its toothless mouth. A fleshy, viridian tongue flicked out and slapped the interpreter twice.

"He's willing to negotiate concessions," said the interpreter, dripping pungent slime. "And he complimented my accent."

New Wave

“What are you guys doing?”

Zini was lying on the floor with a book across her face. Syd rested her chin on the coffee table, staring fixedly at an immobile snowglobe. Kev had his face pressed into the corner and his hands cupped at his ears.

“Oh, hi, Sam,” said Logan. He was kneeling by the couch, one ear against the upholstered arm. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” said Sam warily. “You?”

“Just listening, man.”

Sam looked around. “Uh-huh.”

“Aren’t you listening to anything?”

“My iPod, when I jog.”

Logan actually sneered. “Man, get with the times. There’s music in everything.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Infinite Possibilities

Dodd stumbled. The portal hissed closed behind him, water on a hot skillet.

He clenched his fingers, felt smooth sand. He stood.

“Where am I?” he said. An indigo sky filled with arcing lights shimmered overhead. An old fisherman sat on the beach.

“You’re in the endless world of thought,” the old man said, twitching his rod. “The lights of all the minds that are, were, and will be shine over us. Anything is possible here.”

Dodd stared down. “And you?” he asked. “What are you doing here?”

The old man gave him a withering look. “I’m fishing,” he said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


“The question, of course, then becomes ‘How do we capture his exact likeness?’” said the shifter, smiling genially at the bustling technicians. “After all, someone once had to have done it, and with prehistorical technology, too, or the stories wouldn’t exist.” He grew a pair of donkey’s ears and waggled them.

The light flashed. The shifter smirked. “Too slow,” he said.

One of the technicians, unable to contain himself, violated protocol. “The picture is transmitted through the cable in less than one millionth of a second,” he told the shifter.

The shifter nodded. “Nothing ever stays the same for long.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dregs of Beauty

He was ethereally beautiful, a creature of pearl and night. The high priestess was a mere shadow of her fiery glory, compared to him.

He knelt and plucked up a flower, holding it like a wineglass. He stared at it. The watchers held their breath. This was why they had summoned him, a being of true beauty for this ugly world.

He lifted the flower to his lips, as though swallowing a liquor. When he was finished, all that was left was a withered tangle of thorns. Eyes gleaming, he turned his gaze to the crowd, drinking in their loveliness...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Falling on My Head

“It’s been kind of weird.”

“I guess we’ll get used to it eventually.”

A car splashed through a puddle on the street. “Ow, ow,” said the puddle.

“I think my toilet tried to grope me the other night.”

“The toilet?”

“Well, you know, the… inside.”

“Ah. I’m amazed you can still use it. Mine kept making retching sounds. I rented a Port-a-Potty.”

They walked in silence down the rainy street for a time. A stream of water chuckled darkly as it slithered into a storm drain.

“It’s just been weird, is all.”


“Wheeeee!” cried the raindrops as they fell.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lord of the Greenwood

“So you’re a prince?” said Brian. “What are you the prince of?”

“I rule this wood, from the first oak to the last sapling!”

Brian glanced around. “That’s about three trees.”

“Insolent!” said the Prince. He waved tiny fists. “A dark cloud the size of an apple appeared. A minuscule lightning bolt flicked out, stinging Brian’s nose. “Teach this impudent whelp a lesson, minions of the forest!”

An elderly badger struggled from its burrow. Brian rubbed his nose as the badger solemnly gummed his sneakers. Brian glanced at the self-proclaimed monarch.

“There have been some regrettable cutbacks,” the Prince allowed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


“Yup. He’s at it again.”

“At what?”

Cory pointed. “Look there, the fingertips.”

“Looks fine,” said Otis. He lifted a hand and squinted. “Wait. It’s a little dinged up. Crumpled, like.”

“That’s the sign.” Cory hefted the controller and started the lift up again. He reached out a hand to pat the pitted metal surface as they rumbled slowly past. “Don’t worry, big guy,” he said. “We’ll patch you up.”

Overhead, the streetlight eyes blazed open. The iron jaw creaked, emitting a deafening but piteous moan.

“Sounds like he’s working on another ulcer, too,” said Otis. “I hate internal surgery.”

Girl Stuff

“Widen your stance, Abigail,” Marian instructed. “You’ll tip right over if someone charged you.” She pushed on the girl’s shoulders to demonstrate. Abigail swayed like a sapling in the wind. “You’ll never defeat anyone if that’s as stable as you get.”

“Keep your blade up, and between you and whatever might be coming for you.” Marian flicked a sweaty braid out of her face and raised her own sword. “Now get ready!”

“Hey, Marcus!” cried Abigail, spotting her older sibling walking by. “You wanna practice swords with me an’ Mom?”

Marcus sneered. “Why would I wanna play with girl stuff?”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Revolucion Will be Televised

“Ben, can you bring the toolbox over here?” 

Ben entered from the side where the front wall ought to have been.  “Que?  No comprendo que me dice.”

“Crap, it’s gone on the fritz again,” said George.  “Picking up Telemundo or something.”  He reached up and banged on the ceiling.  The garage jumped, growing fuzzy. 

“I think you fixed it,” said Ben, before tripping over the knee-high white letters that formed as he spoke. 

The laugh track cut in, rolling across them as they sat frozen in place.  “You lot shut the hell up!” snarled George. 

The laughter only grew louder.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Down to Here, Down to There

“Get a haircut,” grumbled Stockton.

“Whatever, old man!” said the long-haired youth.  “You just can’t handle it.  This is what’s coming!”

Stockton shook his head and walked away.  Soon, the hair was everywhere.  Men, women, boys, girls, everyone with luxuriant locks spilling down their shoulders, their backs, even further.  Everyone (except Stockton) rejoiced in the new and exciting fashion.

Then a cat was photographed with a mop-top.  A horse sporting dreadlocks was spotted.  Everyone was mostly calm, though the question of how was raised.

Then came the day a window-washer found the first new hairs growing from the thirty-ninth story…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

There Is

Listen!  Listen!  Listen quickly, there's no time!

There is a beach, I don't know where, and on the beach a crab is crawling up the sand.  The waves come in - whoooosh! - and wash the crab out to sea.  There is wisdom here, listen!  He crawls back.

Somewhere else, an ant carries sand.  She piles her grain with the others - so many others! - and there is wisdom in this.  Listen!  A boy, a small boy, he watches, and when the anthill is complete, he jumps - crash! - and kicks it away.  The ants carry it back.

Listen, listen to me!  Won't you listen?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Giant's Marrow

It bled a little, but it had to be done.  He gave up on the cleaver early.  It was too clumsy.  The mechanical grinder was worse; it used him up so fast, besides making an awful mess.

In the end, he used a long knife to make thin slices of meat, starting from the feet and working up.  Then the bones went under the mill-wheel, one at a time, each making a handful of flour.  While his hands held out, of course.

He was no Englishman, of course.  It spoiled the taste a bit.  But he had his daily bread.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dress Codes

“Simmons, I need you to… uh…” Muller trailed off, his brows furrowing, then slowly lifting upward.

“Yes, boss?” said Simmons.

“I… uh… you… what are you wearing?”

Simmons glanced down, then back up, smiling.  “Casual Friday, sir.”  He rustled when he moved.

“That’s a bear skin.”  Muller’s tone was flat.

“Yes, sir.”

“And… burlap pants?”  He couldn’t restrain a wince.

“Yes, sir.  The code of conduct doesn’t specify any of these as contraband,” Simmons said reproachfully.

“Look, the thing with Jenkins was bad enough.  This is-“  He froze.  “Did your belt just move?”

“Garter snake, sir.  Couldn’t find my belt.”

Dead Inside

“I look at the trees, green and growing, and I see a ruin of skeletal limbs, black bark against a stark white sky.  Winter, forever.  Or, worse, just a stump.  Nothing left at all.”  He wouldn’t meet her eyes.  “It’s the same… with everything.  Inside, there’s a death, clawing its way to the surface.  Inevitable.”  His hands wrung each other, pale fish writhing in a sunless well.

“Look deeper,” she said.  She held out the bit of spongy wood she’d taken from the trunk.  The soft white bulb of a mushroom clung to its surface.  “Just a little deeper inside.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Happy birthday to me!

Yes, I'm a year older today, but seemingly no wiser (nor any closer to actually being published.)  May the Wisest Stone bless us all with his insight and general truculence in the coming holiday season. 

If any of my fan(s) knows more about migrating Mirrorshards to its own website/server, let me know.  As far as I'm concerned, the computer is the Magic Box that does stuff when I push buttons.   I'd like to be able to mirror this on its own webspace; I'd feel more like I was accomplishing actual "publishing" that way.  ;-)


The farmer found, to his dismay, that the stone which had halted his plow was rather larger than he'd thought.  His digging revealed what was almost a boulder, out of place in the soft loam of the countryside.  He nearly dropped his spade when the stone spoke.

“What are you doing?” asked the stone, in a polite but disinterested baritone.

“I'm a farmer,” the man answered.  “I tame the wilderness to bring order and plenty.”  He indicated his plow, horse, and tools.

The Wisest Stone thought a while.  “I do not feel particularly tamed,” he said.


“It is to be war,” said the young man, his eyes as dark as his hair.  “There is no other way.”

The old man turned and opened a bamboo cabinet.  He removed a laquered tray, two cups, a black teapot.  He doused the utensils in hot water and began laying them out for the ceremony.

“What are you doing?” growled the young man.  “Did you not hear?  We are at war!”

“Yes,” said the old man.  He did not look up as he lit the fire.  “And you have already lost the first battle.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

See Manuel for Instructions

I make no apologies. 

Well, except for missing yesterday.  This is another travel weekend, so I'll get caught up when I can, 'k?


The ship groaned and rumbled again, great shudders passing through it.  Carrie dragged Traci forward.

“The bridge is through here,” she said, pressing the button in forlorn hope.  The door didn’t move.

“Hey,” said Traci.  She pointed to a small, red lever labeled “Manuel Override.”

“Ha!” cried Carrie.  She pulled the lever.

There was a blur of motion and a man stood before them.  He had golden brown skin, black hair, closely cropped, and a small red toolbox.  “Si, miss?” he said.  He glanced at the door as the ship trembled again.  “Ai.  This will be time-and-a-half.  And hazard pay.”

Friday, November 27, 2009


Another flash, and a fallen leaf exploded into terrible radiance, throwing June to the side.  She didn’t move.

“Don’t you see?” said Rae, taking another step forward.  His foot crackled when it touched the ground.  “You live in a house of springs, wound tight enough to squeal.  It takes so little, so very little, to push those springs out of alignment, and then…”  He gestured, and a pebble detonated, leaving an irradiated crater.

“It’s so hard, June,” he said.  “It’s like walking on eggshells.  I feel it, inside.  I just want to jump up and land with both feet, hard…”

Thursday, November 26, 2009


“I’m thankful for flowers and ponies and all the pretty things in the world,” said Becky.  “What are you thankful for, Dad?”

Dad smiled.  “I’m just thankful for my family.  What time I have with them, anyway,” he added wryly.  “Dear?”

“I’m thankful to still have a job,” said Mom.  “What are you thankful for, Robby?”

“I’m thankful that school’s out!” said Bobby.  “What are you thankful for, Kra-Zar?”

Kra-Zar inclined his shining head with a whir of servos.  “Why are you human weaklings not bowing before me?  We will crush this puny planet!

“Good enough,” said Dad.  “Let’s eat!”


The wooden surface stretched off into darkness on either side.  There was a metallic clank from one side, then another.  Silver rods, larger than tree trunks, settled into place.

Overhead, the shadows shifted and retreated, revealing a red-tinted face, larger than the side of a skyscraper.

“Are you shellfish or salad?” rumbled a deep voice, felt more than heard.  Crimson hands lifted the silver rods, revealing wicked prongs at the ends.

“Neither!” cried Dortmund frantically.

“Hmm.”  The oversized features wrinkled in thought.  The left hand retreated and came back with a daintier utensil, still taller than a man.  “Dessert, then?”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Of Both Worlds and Neither

I think I'll just do eating-themed stories for the rest of the week, in honor of the somewhat silly holiday which approaches here in the States.


“Your tine is nearly up!” cried Dartmoor, swinging his silver-handled spoon.

Pitch ducked neatly.  “You’ll find me more than a mouthful,” he retorted.  “Taste your just desserts!”  His return swipe nearly speared his opponent’s hat upon his middle prong.

“I’ll serve you on a platter!” Dartmoor snarled.

They leapt and swung, but their blows impacted not upon their respective foes.  Instead, with a solid clang, each was intercepted by tines blunt, short, and softly curved, wielded with consummate skill.

“Why do you battle, brethren?” asked the soft voice.  “Come, let us put aside our quarrels.”

“Lord Runcible!” they cried simultaneously.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Way Downstairs

 The stairwell stretched down.  After three flights, the light from the door gave way, and only the faint gleam of gaslight on polished wood delineated the lower levels.

“How deep do they go?” asked Timothy.

“No one knows,” said Roweena.  “The most successful team made it to the four-hundredth landing, establishing several base camps.  The bones of less cautious men litter the stairs below.”

“Wow,” said Timothy.  He fell silent for a time.

“Are you reconsidering, now that you have seen the Stairwell itself?”

“What?  No!  Here, help me up.”  Timothy scrambled for the banister.  “This is gonna be sweet.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009


It wasn’t that the sculptures were bad.  Far from it, really.  Visitors to the gardens remarked with awe and envy at the artistry of the carefully-pruned plants.  Lord Trevor had had several offers for his gardener, in money, land, and… favors, to put it bluntly.  He’d thus far resisted, but the plants were unnerving.

Trevor was taking a constitutional, somewhat nervously, when he came across the gardener, digging beside the topiary lion.

“Working already?” said Trevor.

“Got unruly last night,” the man grunted.

Trevor hesitated.  He spotted what looked like a skull in the man’s hands.  “Oh.  Er.  Carry on.”

Friday, November 20, 2009


The blinds were closed.  Outside, the crowd rustled and murmured and flapped, jostling for places on the windowsill and gutters.  Less fortunate individuals clung to the telephone wires, waiting for their chance.

They never raised their voices.  Anything above a whisper would set off the whole lot of them, cawing and croaking.  She cringed when she heard the scuffling in the chimney.  A sooty lump of a bird fell into the grate, crawled out, coughed.  It struggled to the old woman’s feet and collapsed by the couch.  Far overhead, rheumy eyes opened.

“Welcome back, Grandmother,” Shona said from the table.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It was harvest time.  Torvald hated harvest time.  It wasn’t bad with animals, but... 

He mounted his tractor and sat for a long moment before turning the keys.  The engine rumbled to life.  The blades in the back glinted as he drove to the north field, which as usual was filled with song. 

The corn was first to spot him, being the tallest.  “Farmer Tor!” said the nearest stalk, and the cry spread down the field. 

“Have you come to water us?  It’s still so early,” said a pea pod.

Torvald shook his head.  “Afraid not,” he said.  “Not today.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Invasive Species

It sat on the kitchen table, a speck of dark light, shifting through an array of geometric shapes.

“I don’t know,” said Adie.  “When I woke up, it was in my hand.”

“Were you dreaming?” asked Teri.

Adie blinked.  “Yeah.  There were… trees… or curtains… and I had to push through to get… somewhere.”



“Plant that puts its seeds in a shell with hooks.  They catch on animals’ fur, and the animals spread them to new locations.”

Adie watched the thing morph into a pyramid, then slowly elongate.  “Will it grow a dream?”

Teri shrugged.  “Or a nightmare.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


“Why do I let you talk me into this stuff?  First the whole foods, then the yoga, and now this.”

“Be quiet,” Sunbeam hissed.  “He’s an actual god.  He’s got to be way better than just some human doctor.”

They fell silent as the shimmering nude form of the god walked through the door.  He didn’t bother to open it first.

“So,” said Patten, “am I dying, doc?”

Glowing white eyes fixed on him.  “Yes.”

Patten paled.

You are always dying.”  The god shrugged and picked up a stethoscope.  “I’d try not to worry about it if I were you.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Double-post today, to make up for yesterday's Travel Holiday.


“Eureka!” he cried, trailing papers behind him.  He held a scorched alembic in one hand.  His beard still smoked, his hair a matted birds-nest atop his head.  He grasped my arm, his palms sweaty.  “Listen!  The secret!  I’ve found the secret!  You don’t have to turn anything into gold.  It’s already gold!  All of it!  It’s all made of gold!”

I shook him off, hurried away.  He shrieked away, down the street.

My skin itched where his dirty hands had touched.  I scratched at the spot, felt it peel away in thin strips, saw the metallic sheen glinting from beneath…

Grasping-Tree Hill

“I see you’ve been on Grasping-Tree Hill,” said old Darby.  “There’s a tale to that place.  They say old Porter – this being Porterston, you follow – he went down there at the last and sealed himself away in his tomb, all surrounded by his gold and jewels.  They say all that treasure is still there.  Porter sleeps now, unless someone is foolish enough to take something from his hoard.”

Clem swallowed, the gold coin in his pocket suddenly burning cold.  Atop the hill, the thin white branches of the tree crackled, then curled gently in on themselves to form a fist…

Saturday, November 14, 2009


He was born so full of sustaining air his cheeks bulged.  In the early moments of his youth, he played with other youngsters, swimming in tight circles, even blowing small bubbles at each other.  They would regret the waste later, of course, but the young are always foolish.

When his lungful grew stale, he sought love.  One of his childhood playmates, a button-nosed brunette, was amenable to his initiating gestures.  They came together, clung to one another.  He breathed his air into her, saw her swell with the stirrings of new life. 

His lungs ached.  He sank, holding his breath.

Believe Your Eyes

Yesterday's, up late.  Sorry!  Went to sleep right after work and drove all night.


The doors slid open with a whoosh and a ding.  E119 darted out.  “Sir!  Report from eye level!”

The Colonel snatched the sheaf of papers.  His expression fell.  “This… what is this nonsense?”

“Sir, I don’t know, sir!  I’m only a Junior Floaty Bit, first class!”

The Colonel bent his speaking tube forward.  “Get me the bowels.  This has to be a figment.  If they’ve been mucking around again…”

E119 laughed dutifully.  The Colonel glared.

“Sorry, sir!  Thought you were making a joke.  Bowels, muck…”

“This is Logic, son.  We don’t do humor,” said the Colonel.  “That’s two floor down.” 

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Like a green tower, the stalk grew into th esky.  Asphalt and paving stones lay scattered at its base, remnants of the tremendous speed of its growth.  It pulsed with verdant life 

At the top, nodding gently in the violent winds a half-mile up, a bud the size of a freight-liner gradually softened in the growing light.  The sun broke the horizon, and the petals opened in a glory of colors.  The people in the stopped cars and lopsided houses below gasped in wonder as the scent wafted down.

Then they heard the first ominous hum of a bee's wings...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


For reference


As Leon settled in front of the television, the house rocked from a heavy impact.  Leon turned to regard the luminous eye at the window.

“Good night, Zither,” he said.  He stood and reached out to scratch behind one enormous ear.

“Mrrrudnite,” said Zither, crawling into his garage.

On the television screen, a talking head was spouting opinions.  “...driving the other day and some maniac on a chihuahua comes barreling up behind me, barking like mad.  My car was up a tree for hours until he calmed down.  They shouldn't let Mexicans on American highways, I say...”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sea Monkey

“You have to relax,” said Sydney, “or you can't see it.”

“I can't see it anyway,” Pat grumbled.

“Just sit  on the deck-chair and sip your drink and let your mind... wander.”

There was a silence.  “Holy crap,” said Pat.  He turned his head.  “Hey!”

“Don't look directly at it!” said Sydney.

“A monkey...”


“It was blue.”  Pat looked down.  “What's in these drinks?”

“I don't think it's the drinks,” said Sydney, pointing.  At the buffet table, a bowl of oranges stealthily hovered, lifted by invisible paws...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Man and Pack

Another corner. Another dark hallway. The glimmering gems in the floor no longer tempt me; my pack is full to bursting. They'll do me little good if I never escape this maze. Their luster dissipates quickly at a touch. At least I can tell where I have been already, so that I rarely backtrack.

I grow weak with hunger. Visions of succulent fruit dance before my eyes. I dare not stop. These caves are haunted by ghouls. Only the light of the stones holds them at bay, and that fades with every breath.

There must be an end, mustn't there?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hide and Seek

Izzie slipped through the dangling shirts and giggled to herself.  Beside her, someone moved.

“Oh!” said Izzie.  “Are you hiding, too?”

“Yes.  I must hide from Mother.  She will be frightfully cross with me if she finds me,” said a small voice.

Something sounded strange to Izzie.  She peered down.  There was a shoe visible, polished black with a buckle.

“How long have you been hiding?” asked Izzie.

“I know not.  A long, long time, I think.”  There was a cold breeze. 

Izzie looked out again.  Suddenly, the department store seemed very far away indeed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Smell Like a Fungus

In the northern United States, there is a fungus.  It is miles across, the largest single organism in existence.  Dig into the ground anywhere and you'll find it, or a part of it.  Remember this.

There is a smell to hotels, a hotel-motel smell, an old-carpet-cheap-cleanser smell.  The air thickens with it.  Open any hotel door anywhere in the world and you'll smell the same acrid scent in all of them.  It is like a fungus.  

Whatever you do, wherever you go, please, never go down into the basement of the hotel.  It's important.  Promise me.  Promise me you won't...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

“The exits aren't even numbered anymore,” said Shannon.  “I think it's the same one every time.”

“So what happens if we take it?” asked Dan.

“Find out,” Shannon ordered.  “I'm getting sleepy.”

The road rapidly petered out to mere dirt tracks.  Only the lights through the trees kept them moving forward.  The sign declared it the “Furnall Inn.”

Behind the counter, a gaunt man turned to regard them as they lugged in their bags.  “Stay a while,” he intoned.  “Stay... foreve-

“Screw this,” said Shannon.  “I'm sleeping in the car.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gifts of the Fae

“She'll be here any minute,” Mom said.  “Just put it on!”

George sighed and pulled it over his head.  The cheerful reindeer began to dance and frolic on his stomach.  “Hooray!” they cried in tinny voices.

“There.  You know how she loves to see you wearing her gifts,” said Mom.  The doorbell rang.  She ran to answer it.

“Helllloooo, dearies!”

“Tania, darling!”

George waited through the interminable greetings.

“And I've got a little present for Georgie-porgie!”

George opened the little bag.  “Rocks?” he said.

“Gravel, dearie.  Magic gravel.”

“Say thank you, George.” 

“Thank you, godmother,” George managed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Life and Times of Otto von Maark and His Prodigious Beard

In honor of my one-year anniversary, here is a not-quite-a-short-story which I wrote in pretty much one sitting a month ago. I hope you all enjoy it. Feel free to spread it around; it's under Creative Commons like everything else here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


“I shouldn't go,” said Errol. “I've got that thing that's going around.”

“Pfft,” Dean chided. “Everyone's had that. No one cares anymore. It'll burn out in a few more weeks.”

“They say it's a pandemic,” said Errol. “I'm trying to be responsible. It's really contagious. I caught it from less than a minute with Kathy.”

“That was last week. Just don't cough on anyone.”

“I don't think coughing is really the problem,” said Errol, shifting the phone to his other hand. He looked at the flames, flickering steadily up past his elbow...

Monday, November 2, 2009

The VCR in Heaven

“Home movie time!” cried God. He was lugging the old cardboard box of VHS cassettes up from the basement.

The cherubim and seraphim on the couch nodded, their grins fixed.

God knelt by the television. “Has someone tampered with this?” He asked. “It’s blinking twelve again.”

“We had that power outage,” volunteered a cherubim. “It probably reset.”

“Hmph,” said God. “It better not eat my tapes. I lost the one of the birth, you know.”

The angelic crowd knew. None of them would admit it. It was perhaps the only decent thing the Lightbringer had done for his fellow angels.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's November 1st! Time for our monthly dose of the Wisest Stone's very best advice. This is the one-year anniversary, roughly, of Mirrorshards and my daily writing exercise. My audience is small, but apparently loyal, and even includes several members not related to me. I'm glad you're all here, and I look forward to another year of strange fragments and odd windows into other worlds.

It's also NaNoWriMo, which I will be sort of participating in. (I've got over fifty thousand words already; I'm aiming for another fifty thousand and an actual finished novel instead of one that cuts out halfway.) Happy November!


“It is the problem of all buildings,” said the Wisest Stone, as Taku worked to dig him out of the soft sand.

“I think it is a problem of sand,” Taku said.

“The sand cannot be blamed. The trouble comes in the weight of the thing.”

“You should not land upon the beach,” Taku pointed out. “We have spoken of this before.”

“It is best,” the Wisest Stone went on, as if he had not heard, “to build upon a foundation of rock. But even piling rock upon rock, at some point you will still be building upon the sand.”

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Morning Breath

He’d fallen asleep in his car. Sleep came hard, especially on the edges of the forest, but driving into town after last night would have been tantamount to suicide.

He woke in the early morning darkness. His breath had fogged all the windows, cocooning him in his own white-walled world. For a moment he could not tell what had awakened him, other than the pain in his neck and back.

Then, ever so gently, a soft scraping. Something sharp against the outside of the car.

It couldn’t see in. It didn’t know he was here. He tried not to breathe.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Prayer Upon Crossing the Highway

Though I walk now among the Thin Branches, drawing near to the Shadow That Roars, I shall not fear, for You, Lord, are with me. Be thou a tail to my soul, O Gatherer, who caches the hoard that never empties. I scent the hot and sticky sweetness of the Shadow, baking black and yellow beneath the heat of the sun. The bones of my brothers lie at the edges. One sad corpse lies, headless and disfigured, upon the yellow lines.

The air chokes me. The surface is hot beneath my feet. I must cross now.

O Gatherer! Preserve me!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Our Monster

Engines filled the city with noise and heat, choked it with diesel fumes. Tanks rumbled to themselves. Teams of soldiers with rocket launchers and artillery sweated in the heat of the sun. Great banks of anti-vehicular missiles stood ready.

On the shore, the water slowly washed away the man-deep footprints sunk in the sand. The ocean sat quiet, unruffled, its surface stirred only by wind. No vast bulk rose from the depths. No reptilian behemoth surged toward land.

In the city, they waited. Everything was in readiness for his arrival. Where was he? When would he come back to them?

Source of Capital

“This is the way it works,” said Mr. Bark. “You louts do whatever I say, and I don’t throw your worthless monkey asses out onto the street.”


“No buts!”

“You can’t-“

“I can. I just did.” Mr. Bark rustled his leaves, a sure sign of growing irritation; he didn’t move if he could help it. He’d never held with this new-fangled locomotion business. “Get moving.”

Fred and Claude trudged outside, shovels over their shoulders.

“This sucks,” said Claude. “I wish I could quit.”

“What are you going to do?” asked Fred. “It’s not like money doesn’t grow on trees.”

Money Tree

“Another late night?”

“Well, the seedlings need to be repotted, and that late fertilizer shipment just arrived yesterday, so we’re still dealing with that, and…”

“This is ridiculous. He works you too hard.” Somehow, it didn’t sound like Fred’s welfare was really the first thing in Fran’s mind.

“I don’t really think so,” Fred hedged. “It’s literally a matter of life and death for him. Once he manages to flower…”

“He’s been promising that payout for years now,” said Fran. “Face it: you’ve been duped. He’s not really a money tree. I always said he looked more like an oak.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

In the Back Seat

“I feel awful,” said Beta. “A couple of millennia ago I almost threw up.”

“Maybe you should,” said Alpha, faintly red-tinged. “It might help. Get whatever’s bothering you out of the system.”

“But I’m feeling better now. I’m less queasy.” Beta flared his arms for emphasis.

“I bet it’s all those Type Ones you keep around,” said Alpha.

“I like them,” Beta said. “They’re pretty.”

“They’re not very stable. They’ll all burn out in a dozen epochs.”

“Shut up!”

“You shut up.”

“Both of you be quiet,” snapped Prime, turning around, “or so help me I’ll turn this universe around.”

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apples Awaiting Their Day

“I wish I was a maple,” sighed Kreti. “That looks like a lot of fun.”

“Pfft,” said Gonju. “Have you seen the written tests they have to take to get the flying license? And even so, without practical experience, they end up crashing into stuff early on half the time anyway.”

“Or pines. Those things are rad, with the armored scales and all.”

“Pain in the butt to clean. No, this here is the life.” Gonju leaned back and sighed. “Warm, soft, sweet-smelling; nothing to do but get fat and then drop.”

“The hard part comes after,” said Kreti darkly.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


“And what are you supposed to be?”

“I am the End,” said the little boy. “I am young now, fresh-faced and innocent. But sooner or later I will grow up. I will gain knowledge and wisdom, but also cynicism and bitterness. I will grow old. I will gather wrinkles with each disappointment, each failure. One day, I will look out at my world and see only broken dreams. At that moment, I will truly die, though my body may live on for months or years.”

There was an appalled silence.

“Okay, I’m a cowboy. Can I have some candy now?”

Friday, October 23, 2009


“It’s reverse psychology,” said Dalton.

The big red button flashed softly, safe beneath its domed plastic cover. It had a large yellow-and-black label reading, “DO NOT TOUCH.”

“Obviously you’re not supposed to push this button,” said Carlie. “I bet it sets off the self-destruct. We push this and we win!”

“No,” said Dalton. “They know how we think. No human could resist a big red button with a warning on it. They want us to push it.”

“Well, sitting here won’t solve anything,” said Carlie. He pushed the button.

Deep in the bowels of the ship, something began to move…

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And the Sound of Waves

It was not easy. Santa Claus had reindeer and a sleigh. Witches had magic flying broomsticks. But the Sandman had no options but walking. There was a long, slow slog to each house that needed his attention and a longer return trip.

And now this. Always this.

The Sandman ignored them for the time being and pushed inside his little bungalow. He dropped his empty sack on the pile and went to fetch the wheelbarrow.

"Beachfront property," he mumbled, trundling out to the comatose sunbathers, "is more trouble than it's worth." Gentle snores emanated from the rolling dunes of sand.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Final Round

For reference. Again, I don't do continuity much, but sometimes things just stick in my mind.


"This is it," said Stiletto. His left eye was swollen shut and his tunic shredded. Even his deadly electric lute had a broken string.

"I don't have anything left," said Big Gunderson. "I'm running on empty."

Crashbang didn't say anything, but he was nearly as badly beaten as his drum kit.

"We can do this," said Stiletto. "We out-bassed the trolls. We out-sang the Sirens. We're the best. We can win this."

The stage door flared with sudden light. Firelight.

"He's killing out there," said Big Gunderson. "We can't top that."

"He may be killing, but we're going to slay."

Highway Robbery

“This is a troll bridge,” said the troll. It scratched under its loincloth. “You gotta pay the troll to cross it.”

Hawthorne clutched at his briefcase. The cars were backing up behind him. “This is extortion! Robbery!”

“It is what it is.” The troll extended a gnarled hand.

“Villains! Criminals!” Hawthorne cried. He fumbled in a pocket and came out with a small spray can. “Back off, troll! I’ve got MAFE1 Spray!”

The troll grinned, displaying its fangs. It rummaged at its belt and came up with a laminated badge. “Tsk. Assaultin’ a city employee. The toll just doubled, chump.”

1 – Metallic Anti-Faerie Emergency Spray

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Fundamental Equivalence of Pixie Dust, an Electrical Socket, and the New Baco-Splosion Deluxe

Larry watched the elf blithely hand over a twenty-dollar bill. He didn’t even wait for change, but sashayed into the food court, plunking his tray down on a spindly-legged table. Larry followed more slowly.

“How did you do that?” he asked, sitting down as the elf bit into his Baco-Splosion Deluxe.

“Do what?” the elf mumbled, tiny mouth full.

“Pay for the food. You don’t have pockets. You don’t even have pants!”

“Oh, that,” the elf waved a thin-fingered hand. “It’s all the same. Magic is money, money is potential, potential is energy. I just manipulate the rates of exchange.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

One Night Only

Eric blinked in the spotlights. There was a crowd out there, somewhere in the darkness behind the blinding glare.

A dream? The wooden boards beneath his feet felt real. And he sure felt like he’d just been woken up. He yawned, which triggered a burst of laughter. Eric became conscious of his shirtlessness. He tugged at his pajama bottom. The laughter increased. Eric tried to leave the stage, but helmeted men with sharp prods warded him off. Growing increasingly frantic, Eric finally ran for the front and dove out into the darkness. The crowd surged.


Paula blinked in the spotlights…

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Take Me Out

The batter kept his eyes on the pitcher and ignored the barely-audible stream of muttering.


The ball screamed toward the plate. There was a sharp crack and two piercing shrieks as the batter swung and connected. A dopplering cry trailed off to left field.

The outfielder gauged his distance, shifted, and raised his glove. The ball was done screaming by the time it landed, but it whimpered in his hands.


He grasped the ball and threw it to the infield. It went wild. He stood there, arms and legs shaking.

Most rookies didn’t last out a full season.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A New Plague

“It’s a recurrent theme in horror movies,” Shannon pointed out. “’The Birds’ is the most famous one, but they’ve done frogs, worms, cats…”


“That Stephen King one. I mean, the cats were there to kill the monsters, but it still kind of counts, I think.”

“Okay, fine,” said Dan. “So a bunch of scary movies had plots about animals gathering and staring at people. They’re right. It’s really creepy.”

“I think they’re cute,” said Shannon, picking up the nearest one. It turned its lambent eyes slowly back to Dan.

“But koala bears? We’re not even in the same hemisphere!”

The Herd Stock is Nearly Impossible to Feed Properly

“And this,” said Jabrik, “is one of our most popular models. The couch
is covered with real Brontosaurus leather.”

Kim nodded. “When are you bringing it out?”

“Ah,” said Jabrik. “That is its particular virtue.”

“I don’t understand,” said James.

“Do you know the color of Brontosaurus skin?” said Jabrik.

“Er, no,” said Kim.

“Nor does anyone else,” Jabrik announced, pleased with himself.

“Because they’ve never seen one. They’re extinct.”

“Partly true, and yet not wholly,” said Jabrik. “Things which used to be and are no more are rare and precious, but the true sybarite gathers things which never were.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ground Pounder

The heavy treads displace enormous amounts of the soft mud, even wide as they are. The sheer bulk of the mining robots threatens to stretch the earth to its breaking point.

Yesterday, there was a great deal of excitement. One of the robots veered off course. It broke the perimeter, heading for the spaceport and the landing strip. It left devastation in its wake. The damages totaled over ten million dollars.

Today, the robot was repaired and returned to work. Even now, its treads gather mud and filth as it turns its optics skyward, where shuttles soar into endless night.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can Humanity Survive?

There was a scratching at the window. Lilah ignored it. A pathetic yowl soon followed.

“No!” she said aloud. “No more food for you. You’ve ruined your last flowers. Get your handouts somewhere else, you pests!”

A series of meows distracted her from her work. She resolutely kept her gaze on the dishes. Then the tapping started. It was regular, almost patterned, like Morse Code. At last, Lilah gave in and looked up.

She met the startling blue eyes of an enormous Siamese. It lifted a single paw and placed it flat on the window, displaying the tiny, perfect thumb.


We had a couple of missed days in there, so I'm playing catch-up. Here's the one from last Thursday or thereabouts.


Leon reined in at the rest area and dismounted, wincing at the pain in his thighs.

“Prrrrirrow?” said Zither. “Tuuuna?”

“Sorry, pal,” said Leon, reaching for the spigot and a bowl. “I don’t have enough money for premium. It’s going to have to be the generic meat blend.”

“Pfeh.” Zither dropped his enormous head to his paws. They fed the new tabby models well at the breeding factory.

“Tell you what,” Leon said. “I’ll spring for a sprig of catnip.”

Zither perked up.

“But not till we get home. I can’t have you flopping over sideways on the highway.”


Voices on the Wind

She walked in darkness, her white dress rustling in the directionless wind. “I have come,” she said.

“Yes,” said the wind.

“Each time before, you have prevented me and sought to devour me. I have always escaped.”

“Yes.” There was a shifting in the darkness, a hint of form, black on black.

“Now my people are in danger. I must succeed.” She stepped forward, her back proud and straight.

“You may pass without harm.”

She hesitated. “Why?”

The shadows looked on her without a face. “We consumed a saint, once. We understand virtue, even if we do not practice it.”

Monday, October 12, 2009


“Jim has fallen!” Slim cried, waving his bloodied knife. “He will trouble you no more! Now I am the King of 42nd Street!”

“It really is amazing,” said the bartender, “how strong that man was.”

“It’s true!” added a bar floozy. “I once saw him lift three people on a park bench right over his head.”

The drunk in the corner mumbled unintelligibly. The bartender nodded sagely. “That’s right, Sham. He was a legend.”

Slim shook his fist. “Don’t you understand? He’s gone. Defeated. I defeated him.”

The bartender shrugged. “That’s as may be, but his story is still his.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Elegy for the Nostromo

When they awoke, they were angry, like their parents and their parents’ parents. The anger was bred into them, now, laid with their eggs. It burned like the acid in their blood. It seethed like the pulsing membranes of an implanted embryo.

Every time they awoke, they were still not home. They had forgotten what home looked like, but they would recognize it when they saw it.

When it was over again, when the ship was quiet in the darkness of space, they would lay new eggs and sleep once more. Their anger would sleep with them. For a time.

Friday, October 9, 2009


“What do we want for lunch?” asked Marcel.

“Beans!” cried a chorus of high-pitched, slightly muffled voices from the vicinity of Marcel’s gut. “Beans beans beans!”

Marcel sighed. “I know you guys love those simple carbohydrates, but-“

Another voice cut him off. “Whatever you eat, make sure you lick your fingers.” It chuckled, a dry, throaty sound.

Marcel glared at his left ring finger. “You assholes are getting washed off. With antibacterial soap.”

The piping voices from his bowels went quiet. Marcel flushed. “I wouldn’t do that to you guys,” he said, wheedling. “You know that.”

The silence stretched awkwardly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Construction Delays

“What do you mean?” Josephine snapped.

“The Bridge to the Future is out,” the orange-vested man repeated.

“It can’t be out. It doesn’t go out.”

“We’re working on fixing it.”

“Look, this is pretty simple,” I broke in. “No bridge means we can’t get to then. But since we were just then,” I pointed over my shoulder, “and now we’re here, obviously we can get from then to now. So the bridge can’t be out, or we’d’ve been stuck then and not now. That means you can let us cross.”

The man rubbed his head. “Let me get my supervisor.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Playing Properly

“Don’t even talk to me about local courses,” Raymond sneered. “Manicured lawns and geometrically perfect ‘lakes.’ Those places are about as real as a pornstar’s tits.”

“Then where are we going?”

Raymond pointed. Ahead, the woods closed in around them, an old forest-god, grinning snaggletoothed and hairy, with entwining vines and mysterious culverts. Water dripped down unseen pathways. In the distance, something howled, abruptly cut off.

Smiling, Raymond set down his bad. He withdrew a club, one with a spiked handguard on the grip and a jagged razor on the reverse of the head. “We’re going to play real golf.”

Monday, October 5, 2009


The wind whistled through the open sides of the building. Bare girders limned with mosslike insulation stood sentinel along the outer edges. The floor was a checkerboard of concrete squares and open spaces.

“Forward now.”

“Step by step.”

“Just as we told you.”

“I’m afraid,” said Annalise.

”Do not fear.”

“We have told you how.”

“You must do as we say, quickly.”

“But I’m almost to the edge,” Annalise said. “What do I do when I get there?”

”Keep walking, child.”

“One foot in front of the other.”

“Then you will fly.”

“Then you will fly free, with us, forever.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Heroine Addict

(For reference.)

After Brian had gone, Dr. Gillicut sat for a time, contemplating the vial in his hands. Distilled. Isolated. Purified.

Moving hesitantly, Gillicut stood and approached the small refrigeration unit. He opened it with a puff of icy smoke. Rows of similar vials stood within. He fondled the vial in his hands, then turned.

He crossed to the closet. Inside, the mask and cape hung, still bearing the stains from his struggle against the tidal wave. “I’m supposed to be preventing this,” he muttered. “But I can’t stop. I can’t. Not yet.”

He downed the vial and reached for the costume.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Answer Unspoken

“This is the Dun Tolg,” said the guide. “Legend holds that he was bound to the roots of the world and made to swear an oath to speak only the truth. Should he ever utter a falsehood, the chains of calamity will be broken, unleashing the four Floods, the three Winds, and the final Fire.” The rocky form loomed overhead.

“For that reason,” the guide went on, “he has spoken not a word since the inception of the universe, and eventually turned to stone.”

“Oh,” said Chuck. “How’s that working out for you, big guy?”

The walls began to tremble…

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Centrifuge Test

“Yes, it seems to be heroism,” said Doctor Gillicut, peering through his microscope at the vial of Brian’s blood. “Unusual that you don’t seem to be exhibiting any symptoms. In a case this advanced, I’d expect to see more visible signs. Notable feats, grand triumphs, that sort of thing.”

“I’ve been doing really well on MMOs,” said Brian. “I soloed Onyxia. That’s not even actually possible in the game,” he added at Doctor Gillicut’s quirked eyebrow.

“Hmm. Virtual expression.” Doctor Gillicut scribbled something on a pad. “Keep that up, Brian. You may have found the cure we’ve been looking for.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Debate

It's the first of the month, and that means, as is our fledgling tradition at this fledgling story-blog, that it's time for a Wisest Stone story. Yaaaay.


“My beliefs are not important,” said Taku. “It does not matter much to me either way. Still, he is the wisest of his kind and he has warned me of the consequences. Please, you must listen…”

“Bah!” said the lordling. “You talk nonsense. Stones do not speak. Stones do not fly. We will continue our attack until-“

There was a whistling sound, followed by a crashing of roof timbers and a squelching noise.

“I had a rebuttal,” announced the Wisest Stone from the place where the nobleman had stood. “I find, however, that I have forgotten the rest of it.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Super Soldier

They’re still trying to puzzle out what happened to me. The doctors say things like “bio-mechanical enhancement” and “pseudo-conscious endocrinal control” and “cyborg” and “super-soldier.”

“Will the subject please address the test unit?”

I step forward. The machine is like a barbell attached to a crane. Testing lift capacity, they said.

I’ve tried to explain, but they don’t understand. The thing that drives me, the glands and chemicals… it’s fear. It’s the force that drives a fist through glass. Or gnaws off a foot at the ankle.

“Begin test.”

I close my eyes. The Fear swallows me in the darkness.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prince Charming

The knight brandished his sword. “Milady, I am here to rescue you from durance vile!”

“Oh, sir,” sighed the maiden. “You are not here to ravish me, I hope? My virtue must remain intact.”

“What? No, nothing like that. Just, you know, slaying.” He gestured with the sword. The dragon blinked.

“No ravishing?”

“No. God, no.”

“I see.”

“I mean, ugh. Just… no.”

“I get it.”

“Not in a million years.”

“I understand.”

“Plus, you haven’t bathed in, what, a week?”

“Screw this,” snapped the princess. She turned to the dragon. “Kill him first and then you can eat me.”

Sunday, September 27, 2009


“I’m a little overwhelmed,” said Gregory. “I really wasn’t expecting divine intervention.”

“What?” asked the angel. “I can’t hear you. Hold on, let me land.” He set them both down on the top of the pillar. The waters still roiled below the bridge. “Sorry. The jet-pack is awfully loud,” said the angel after they’d stopped.

“You’re not what I expected.”

“Sure we are. Angels are divine, so we have to be the most awesome things in the entire universe. For you, that means robot ninja dinosaurs with lasers and jetpacks.”

“I’ve got butterfly wings,” put in a Dipolodocus, hovering nearby.


“Josh! Joooooosh!”

I turned, hitching up my backpack. Sure enough, there he was, in his rattletrap truck. He’d stopped in the middle of the intersection.

“I will be there in two days, Josh,” his thickly accented voice said. “Two days.”

“I know,” I said.

“I will bring with me the bottles.”

“I know that, too.”

“Then you know I must be paid.”

I tried not to shudder. I thought I could hear the clattering motion in the back, even over the rising horns.

“The price is higher this time, Josh. You will be ready.”

I nodded, feeling my heart sink.

Friday, September 25, 2009


“Carson is a solid team player and a great athlete.”

“He’s weak outside of genre. Coach tried him on freestyle poetry last week. He ranked fifth on the whole field.”

“You’ve got to consider stats, Stan. The boy puts out over three thousand words a day, with a seven percent cut rate on the editing sweep. Talk about output ratio!”

“Can’t ignore the doping controversy, though. He tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.”

“Coffee, whiskey, and unfiltered cigarettes. Shame, that. Still, that was ten years ago. He’s moved on and so should we.”

“Looking forward to tomorrow’s match?”

“You know it.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Structural Integrity

The earthquakes had been increasing in intensity. The expedition team had returned, breathless and secretive, bundled away to the hidden base before the press could get more than a word or two out of them.

“Well?” growled the Commander. “What’s the situation down there? Is the source in the mantle?”

“I think we can say that we have, indeed, pinpointed the source,” said the lead scientist, who’d spoken with the expedition team. He was pale. “However, ’mantle’ may not be the most accurate term to use anymore.”

“What word should we use, then?”

“I think ‘yolk’ might be more appropriate.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pit of Bar-B-Q

It wasn't until he'd joined the circle and gotten his paper plate of charred meat and heartburn-inducing sauce that he thought to check.

Undead, all of them. Skeletons. They didn't realize he'd picked up on them.

“This is pretty good,” he said, taking a bite of the barbecue. “Where'd you guys pick it up?”

“We know a man named Bill,” one said, his voice somehow at once guttural and hissing.

Another nodded sagely. “Bill makes the best barbecue.”

He stared at the nameless lumps speared over the fire. The zombie turning the spit grinned at him.

Bag of Tricks

Whoops! I fell asleep yesterday and forgot I hadn't posted yet. Here's the one for Tuesday!


“One? One!? I've got more than one trick! Here, do you have a deck of cards? No? Well, I can tell you what card you'd've picked anyway. It's the King of Hearts. It's always the King of Hearts. Or, here, I'll pull a coin out of your ear. Bend over so I can reach.

“No, you know who's got only one trick? The stupid fox, that's who. His trick is being a lying, self-important douchebag! He only tells that story to make himself out as some kind of James-Bond-MacGuyver badass. Well, who got caught, butthead? Yeah, that's right.”

Monday, September 21, 2009


“Man, the clipping plane is really close in today,” said Bentley.

Anderson gave him an odd look. “It’s foggy out, yeah.”

“The processor must be overtaxed. Something big going on downtown, maybe?”

“There’s no processor,” said Anderson. “It’s just fog.”

“Crap! I forgot my keys in the office.” Bentley glanced at the thick walls and the closed security gates. “Here, hold this,” he said, handing his briefcase over. “I’ll be right back.”

He ran through the walls and into the building. A few minutes later he returned.

“Wallhack,” he admitted sheepishly. He blushed. “I don’t use it for serious competition.”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saltwater on Ivory

We burned the photos today, in a big pile out back. It wasn’t much like burning leaves. Smelled awful.

We’ve tried other things, naturally. Salt across the thresholds. Dreamcatchers in the windows. We’ve tried to move, but the house won’t sell.

Tonight, Robby will lie on his mattress in my room. Lise will be on the cot. None of us will sleep, because as soon as we cross into that liminal half-drowsing state, she will come. It’s not her death’s-head, nor even the chill touch as she drains off our life to sustain herself.

It’s the tears we can’t take.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Looking In

It is cold outside. I am outside. I am cold.

I see you, through the window. I remember what it was like to be inside, in the light. To be warm.

It is cold outside. You cannot know how cold, not until you feel it. I could show you. I could show you the frozen trees and the spearhead icicles. I could show you the unmoving river and the hollow at the bottom, where the water still runs frigid over my body. I could show you everything. I would like that.

It is so cold, and you are so warm.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The water was deep here. No light reached them as they floated. No currents pushed at their hull. All was darkness and silence.

They discussed what had happened in the world above. Corporal Lundt believed war had broken out and the world had burned, so fast no one had time to warn them. Captain Barnaby favored a disease, a terrible plague. Private Timon mumbled they’d simply been forgotten, the entire planet marching into the future together, save for the crew of the submarine.

They told stories, but they never dared rise again to the surface. What if they were wrong?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


“We’re going to be late for class!”

“I’m almost ready,” said Carla. “Just having a hard time with this… thing.”

Jeanine sighed. “Come out and let me help.”

Carla appeared, her head encased in translucent pinkish rubber. It inflated as she spoke. “I don’t think the seal is supposed to be this tight.”

“Of course it is,” said Jeanine. “It wouldn’t be much of a prophylactic if it let stuff through.”

“I’m getting light-headed.”

“What, you want to go without any protection? Just let whatever ideas into your head you like? I swear, Carla, it’s like you don’t even care.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Thomas awoke. Downstairs, thumping and banging announced the presence of strangers in his house. He dashed down the stairs and narrowly avoided singeing himself on a white dwarf star.

“Installin’ yer solar system,” grunted a rotund man with a hard hat and a clipboard. He spun at a loud crash from the next room. “Nichols! Careful with that! Don’t worry, mister, we’ll patch that up with some dark matter, no problem,” he said, turning back to Thomas.

“I didn’t order…”

The man scratched his head. “Ain’t this 674 Primrose? Well, shoot. Sure you don’t want one? They’re damn useful things.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The house is dark when I arrive home. I am tired. I need rest.

Something crunches under my foot as I mount the steps of the front porch. I withdraw my foot. An insect. No, not an insect, but a carapace, a shed skin. A remnant, left behind when its occupant grew too large, moving to the next stage of its life.

I scratch idly at my chest, feeling the scales flaking away beneath my shirt. The surface beneath is hard, black, and chitinous.

Stumbling inside, I make for my bedroom and I wonder: what will I have become tomorrow?

Monday, September 14, 2009


“Hey, guys,” said Sam. He swung down from his perch near the ceiling, dangling from one leg before somewhat clumsily grasping ahold of the lower platform.

“You’re really going through with it?” asked Darnelle.

Sam plucked at his patchy fur. “Scheduled for complete transition next week.”

“And you’re happy?” Jason frowned.

“Sure,” said Sam. “It’s as good as any of the alternatives. The world doesn’t need another human, but it’s still got room for monkeys.”

“It’s unnatural,” said Darnelle. “Animals don’t even have souls.”

Sam shrugged, a more complex gesture than it once was. “Maybe we’ve just never seen one.”

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The needle sank into Andre’s neck.

“Ouch!” he said.

“Don’t squirm,” said the doctor.

“So this’ll protect me, right? From everything?”

“Well,” the doctor said quellingly, “I wouldn’t go right back into the clubs. You’ll actually be more sensitive for a day or two. Maybe even phantom symptoms: unfocused craving, inexplicable fondness for strangers, light sensitivity...”

Andre was already out the door and into the waiting room.

“All done?” asked Cass with saccharine sweetness.


“You know what this means?” Her eyes narrowed. “If I catch you with that vampire slut again, you won’t be able to blame the venom.”

Saturday, September 12, 2009


With thanks to the emergency assistance of your friend and mine, Spielorjh


The barroom went dark. Sam the piano player stopped cold. Black Bart and Mauve Bart paused their card game.

The floor creaked under enormous metal feet as, with a hydraulic whirring, the Deputizer-7800 entered. “CITIZEN - MAUVE BART - YOU ARE UNDER ARREST FOR THE FOLLOWING CRIMES: ASSAULT. THEFT. JAYWALKING.”

“Like hell!” Mauve Bart leapt to his feet, hand going for his holster.

The magazines spun behind twin barrels, filling the saloon with noise and shrapnel. The remnants of Mauve Bart dripped to the floor.

The Deputizer tipped its automated hat. “GOOD DAY CITIZENS,” it shrilled as it lumbered away.

Friday, September 11, 2009


The candle flickered in the darkness. It reflected from the polished stage floor, eerily still. It illuminated her torso in shifting shadows. Of her face, only her chin was visible, crimson lips stark against the bone-white skin. She moved, a doll brought to life by the puppetmaster’s strings.

“You used to love to watch me dance,” said her voice in his ear. He could not answer her. She’d seen to that. “You took that away from me. You took everything.”

On the stage, she hung poised on a single toe. Her lips curled faintly upward. She blew out the candleflame.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today's story courtesy - both inspiration and gracious permission - of the deliciously minimalist flash game Canabalt, by Adam Saltsman.


I run.

There is no other option. I run and I do not look back. I know they are there. But they are not why I run.

Ahead is a window, plate glass. I feel the servos in my legs respond to my mental commands, increasing speed. Outside, the Guardians continue their work. The flash and rumble are audible even here. It is too late to save the city. That is not why I run.

My cybernetic limbs catapult me forward. The glass shatters. I am bleeding from a dozen cuts, even through my nano-armor. I am alive.

I run.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Looked for a Round One, But This Was All They Had

The bare bulb buzzed overhead, illuminating limp posters that hung from whitewashed cinderblocks.

“So this is it?” he asked.

Art brushed crumbs off the card table, setting it wobbling. “Times are tough, but I’m sure we can bounce back. We just need more support. Your support.”

“Look, I’m only here because Jenny…”

“Never mind that. Will you join us in our quest?”

Lance cast a glance at the corner, where a senile old man in a bathrobe muttered to himself. He thought about his apartment. He looked at Art’s eyes, shining beneath his cardboard crown.

“My liege,” Lance said, kneeling.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eight Times as Productive

No one else seemed to notice that Mr. Feinricks, the new Director of Accounts, was a snake. Patrick could see the arms of the suit, hanging limply. His thick, scaled body was squeezed into one pant leg, with a pair of shoes tied to his tail-tip like decorations on a honeymooner’s car.

He explained the whole thing to Karhou as they shared a beer after work. “I can’t work like this,” Patrick moaned.

“He gets things done,” said Karhou. “Nobody wants to rock the boat.”

It didn’t become unbearable until the next day, when Mr. Feinricks introduced the new webmaster…

Monday, September 7, 2009

Piano Man

Twofer today 'cause I missed yesterday due to commuting and sleep. Maybe one of these weeks I'll give myself a day of rest, but I haven't run out of ideas yet.


Calliope took a step onto the gleaming ivory stair. It sank beneath her feet, chiming gently.

“C,” she said. “Sounds a little flat, though.”

“That’s good,” said Periwinkle, hovering beside her. “You don’t want to hear a sharp note. Not here in His Lordship’s tower.”

“Why not?” asked Calliope, curious but trusting. She checked the walls. According to the key, E was the next flat note. She stretched her legs to reach it.

“Metaphors have teeth.”

“What happens when we get to the top of the scale?”

Periwinkle shimmered green for a moment, wings beating. “The hammers,” she said faintly.


“Now, you need to be careful at intersections…”


“Just write it down in your book, Julie,” Professor Hilbert said wearily.

Julie scribbled dutifully. “Oh!” she said. “Okay, then what?”

“The store is on Sutter Boulevard.”


The professor tapped Julie’s lexicon again.

“Oh, right.” She jotted the word. “Ah, I see.”

“Excellent. We need bread, milk, and fruit – apples or grapes. Cereal, tomatoes, butter... Maybe you should write the list down?”

“No, Professor,” said Julie. “I know all those words already. I’m learning more every day. I’m ready to go outside.”

Hilbert hesitated. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, you are.”

Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Advice

I've had a piece of flash fiction published over at Hypersonic Tales. It's called The Lady of Tilmarine, and it has an audio version and everything. Très chic. It's not a pro sale, little more than token, but it's a sale, at least. A bit of balm for the bruised ego as I approach the triple digits in rejection letters.


The first e-mail I got from me was almost banal. “I saw you today, walking around,” it read. “I like your hat.”

I didn’t own a hat. But I had seen a hat I liked the other day. I bought it and wore it on my first date with Zeya. It worked wonders.

The messages were infrequent, always helpful. I followed all my advice. Yesterday, I got a new e-mail. “You fucked up,” it read. “You fucked it all up. God damn you to Hell.” Nothing else. Nothing since.

What should I do? I don’t know. What will I do?

Friday, September 4, 2009


Martin and Deirdre lay on the grass and watched the sky, holding hands in the approved manner for young lovers in that situation. They also partook of the accepted pastimes.

“I think that one looks like a train. See the smokestack?” Martin pointed with his free hand.

“The sky is so blue. Dark blue, almost like water.”

“Maybe it’s the firmament.”

“What, like the Bible?”

“The water was all in a big sphere overhead. Until rain was invented, anyway.”

Deirdre giggled, but stopped as they heard a roaring sound. They looked up again to see the clouds froth into foam...

Thursday, September 3, 2009


“2012! The world will end in 2012!” the man on the bus shouted, waving his arms. He spoke to nobody.

“Lies!” cried a burly, bearded man. “The Lord vouchsafed unto me that the world ends on Christmas in 2033.”

“Idiots,” sneered a slick-dressed man. “The world will end in a few billion years, when the sun burns out.”

As the bus erupted in a welter of conflicting prophecies, I turned to the pale woman beside me. “Don’t you have a date for the Apocalypse?” I asked.

“Oh, yes,” she said, turning wide, dark eyes to me. “It was last Tuesday.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Open Minds

After returning from his adventures, he wanted to share his new-found insights with the rest of his people. He led them through the tunnels, far beyond the limits of their burrows and hunting grounds, past the wellspring and the steam vents, up to where the rock mixed with soil. He showed them the cave entrance, let them see the vast dome of the sky, speckled with pinpricks of shimmering light, let them feel the air move upon their faces, carrying a thousand new scents.

In the morning, the sun’s rays touched his battered body, lying alone at the cavern mouth.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


And so, with August caught up barely in time, we move to the lovely month of September and my impending unemployment. In the meantime, here is the Wisest Stone to guide us on our way as the year circles toward autumn...


The boulder clipped the top of the curtain wall, knocking several smaller blocks loose. “Hello,” said the Wisest Stone amid the settling dust. “You folks seem more reasonable. Now, this territorial dispute you’re having…”

“A talking stone!”

“It’s of the devil! Fling it back!” Soldiers scattered.

“You are the Wisest Stone!” said a small block. “Why do you not simply leave?”

“Ah,” said the Wisest Stone, “but here, traveling between the two sides yet bound to neither, I am in a unique position to arbitrate.” Rough hands strapped him into the catapult. “I’m sure someone will want to listen. Eventually.”

Monday, August 31, 2009


“Man, that movie was messed up. Deep, but messed up,” said Jerry as they exited the theater.

“What do you mean?” asked Matt.

“Well, all the stuff about racism and desperation.”

“Didn’t see any of that…” Matt said doubtfully.

“It was metaphorical.”

“Tsk. You know why you see all of that stuff?” He tapped his head. “Because it’s inside you. It’s all in there.”

“And it’s not in you?”

“Not anymore.” Matt said. He grinned. “Rose-colored contacts. My heart is pure. I’m keeping my brain clean.”

Without noticing, he stepped off the curb into the path of the oncoming truck.


The dirt floor of the tunnel was scalloped and uneven. He glanced back over his shoulder at the fading light of the basement and clutched the mop handle tightly. He’d tied the long knife in place with surgical tubing.

“Little mouse…” the voice hissed, reverberating through the narrow space, echoing all around him.

He swallowed and edged forward. A shining scale, the size of a dinner plate, crunched beneath his foot.

“Little mice never come into my burrow,” said the voice. “They know what happens to little mice who do not know its secrets.”

The light disappeared, blocked from behind.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hazardous Materials

Junkies are the worst.

“Look, man, two hundred dollars, right? Two hundred. Just open the spigot for like a second.” The guy was scrawny, but he had the telltale potbelly of a junkie. It’s really the eyes that give them away, though. His were like open sores.

“Everyone gets their fair share,” I said. “I’m not having some woman in Toledo kill herself because you had to soak up her dose.”

He spat and ran outside. I watched him, making sure he didn’t bother the truck. It gleamed in the sun, adorned with the warning sign - CAUTION: Liquid Hope.


The strays gathered around the garbage cans at night, pawing through the scraps. Sometimes there were fights. Sometimes a pair wandered away together.

Tonight, Ben, who claimed to have been a doctor, was diagnosing illnesses and wrapping wounds. He was clean and spoke softly. The women all smiled at him. Two propositioned him on the spot. He declined.

Overhead, one of the hovering spheres coughed, emitting a gout of flame. The crowd around the cans darted for cover. It would be long minutes before they reappeared.

Ben left, too, more slowly. His eyes narrowed as he frowned at the sky.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


He hauled on the rod, the line taut and trembling in the water. The front fender of a red convertible appeared slowly. Beside him sat the pile of other objects fished from the depths: jewelry, golf clubs, a laptop.

“How about that, huh?” said the worm from his hook.

“I told you what I want,” the man growled.

“There’s gotta be another way!”

“Just catch a damned fish.”


He tossed the line and the worm back out with a splash. A few moments passed. A dark shadow moved beneath the surface, rising like an island. An island with teeth…

Friday, August 28, 2009


He laid the offerings upon the table. A lock of hair. A crumpled photograph. A metal locket, carved with an intricate design of vines and flowers.

“A trade?” rasped the cloaked figure.

The man nodded.

“This is paltry. Worthless!” The trader leaned forward. The man smelled cinnamon. “You would not offer it if you still wanted it. It has no value.”

“It is what I am willing to trade.”

“You treasure something more than your blood-kin? Your memories? Your love?” Teeth gleamed in the darkness. “Trade that to me.”

The man shook his head. “My revenge is all I have.”

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Nothing moved in the kitchen. Chandra eased in, half-crouching, keeping her center of balance low. There was a clatter from the cupboards. Chandra spun and raised her knife reflexively. The faucet dripped softly into the sink. Chandra balanced her hand on the counter and carefully stood on tiptoes, cracking open the cabinet door with the tip of the blade.

A twiggy, black-skinned arm shot out of the garbage disposal and wrapped impossibly long fingers around her wrist. Chandra shouted and flinched, but she was held fast. Her gaze darted around and settled on the wall.

And the little electric switch.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Construction Zone

Dave didn’t notice the suspension bridge until it crunched under his foot. He shouted and cursed, hopping up and down on one slippered foot. One of the pillars had lodged in the ball of his left foot.

“What the hell?” Dan slumped back onto the stairs and clutched at his lower leg.

An ant with a clipboard and a hardhat clambered up the banister beside him. “You’re in violation of code,” she informed him.

“What? What code?”

“This whole area has been zoned commercial, not residential,” said the ant. “I’m going to have to report this. You’ll probably be fined.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Witch Woman

The bar noise swirled around them. In the darkness, no one saw the trickle of blood. It gleamed black in the infrequent flashes from the dance floor.

Helen gripped his wrist more tightly, drawing the wickedly curved knife across her own palm. “Blood to blood,” she chanted, following it with a series of words in a guttural language Willett couldn’t understand. “Take now this curse unto yourself,” she hissed. The lights flickered. Her eyes snapped open and met his.

There was a pause. The music vibrated in their bones.

“Did it work?”


He frowned. “Well, let’s try it again.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

War Unending

Tyler regarded his scattered Lego bricks with dismay. “My city was almost done,” he said, his voice quivering with barely-restrained tears.

“It’s the way of the universe,” said G.I. Joe. He bent down from his high shelf and surveyed the destruction. “Things fall apart. It’s scientific.”

“I spent a long time,” moaned Tyler. “Now I gotta do it again.“

Joe saluted. “The battle against entropy can only end one way, but I salute your bravery, son.”

“You didn’t see who did this?”

“Sorry,” said Joe. He rapped his face with the butt of his gun. It echoed hollowly. “Plastic eyes.”

Pollen Shining Like Stars in the Night

Yesterday's and today's. I'm just going to play catch up for a while and get us up to where we ought to be. Tomorrow's the 25th and I've only got twenty two posted, counting these.


“Lookit all them bugs,” said Grigor, pointing to the pointing to a buzzing cloud near a sporadically-lit streetlights. He reached into his pockets for his tobacco pouch.

“Those ain’t just moths and such,” Grigor went on. “Those are glow-bees.”


“Ayuh. Just like reg’lar bees collect nectar to make honey, glow-bees is the ones that make the light and fills up the streetlights.”

“But what do they collect? And why?”

Grigor lit his hand-rolled. “One o’ life’s mysteries.” He flicked the match out into the night. Something intercepted it in midair. The tiny glow winked out.

Overhead, the light flared.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Look Up and See

Sorry about yesterday; 14 hours in a car. I'll post again later tonight and resume double-posts on Monday.


It was a Tuesday. Nothing ever happens on Tuesdays, except maybe two-for-one specials at the local burger joint. On this Tuesday, however, the angels came. Their wings blotted out the sun and brought the night, but their flames lit the ground regardless. We were spellbound. All across the world, the masses of humanity played their roles to the hilt. First staring. Then shouting. Then fleeing. When it was over, the great cities of man were rubble, and we were still looking at the sky. It was all that was left to us.

They came in fire. We called them angels.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Secret Lives

When Brian returned home, he discovered his secret had gotten out. It clung to the ceiling above the couch, chittering and clacking its beak. He shut the door quickly. He couldn’t call anyone, not for this.

He tried a broom, but the secret was fast. He clambered on the furniture, knocking everything askew, leaving footprints on the cushions. It evaded his every attempt.

Brian was so engrossed that he didn’t hear the door open. Steve stared up at him.

“I can explain!” cried Brian. “It’s not actually mine…”

Steve chuckled. “You mean you didn’t know? It’s been out for years.”


He wielded the knife deftly. A slice of meat shaved from the slab drifted down, caught in nimble fingers. He laid it across the piece of bread. It was so thin one could see the surface beneath it, pockmarked by yeast as the bread had baked.

He put the meat away. It could hardly spoil, of course, under the circumstances, but everything had its place. He would make it last, this time. Infinitely divisible. In theory.

Outside, a bird hovered in the sky. Cars stood frozen on the streets. In the great clocktower, the pendulum moved an imperceptible moment forward.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken Little

He staggered out of the trees, dripping feathers across the clearing. He’d never been able to fly, of course; his ancestors had long since lost that ability. Now he didn’t even look like he could, his wings ragged, the long guard feathers filthy and worn.

“I told you!” he cried. His eyes gleamed, rolling and red-rimmed, alight from within. “You wouldn’t listen!”

He pointed to the sky, where the blazing red disc hovered in a cloud of darkness. Sizzling tendrils sparked where they brushed against the upper atmosphere.

“I told you all!” he screamed.

The house remained dark and silent.

Too Kind

It’s hard to walk down the street. I end up stopping twice on every block, holding my breath against the reek, dropping dollar bills into hats or plastic cups or guitar cases.

She was emaciated, a living skeleton. She didn’t even have a cup, just sitting there huddled in her ragged shawl. I pulled out a dollar, held it out. I expected a murmur of unintelligible thanks and a quick getaway.

Her hand shot out, grabbed my wrist. “You’re too kind,” she said, her voice ringing. I glanced up and met her eyes. I wish I hadn’t. “Much too kind…”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It could have been worse, of course. She knew that. She tried hard to remember it. When she arrived at her desk, she had to sit for several minutes with her head down, waiting for the scratching at her ribcage to stop. During lunch, she couldn’t speak her order to the lady behind the counter; wings were buffeting her lungs. She lost the afternoon’s work when the sharp little beak jabbed her esophagus.

And on the ride home, she ran into him again. He smiled, as beautiful as ever, and she felt the feathers tickling the back of her throat.


We now return to your regularly scheduled extremely constrained daily entertainment. I'll be doing two flitterfics per day until I catch up on the missing five; that way we won't have a giant backlog pushing everything off the front page.

Gen Con was fun. Several of these (including today's) were inspired by overheard comments or strange statements.


Cheri began sneezing the moment the door opened. They were violent outbursts, doubling her over with the force of the nasal explosions.

“We’ve – achoo! – got to – achoo! – get out of here!” she managed.

Durgan looked back from the edge of the forest. “Are you okay?”

“Aller – achoo! – allergies…” Cheri staggered outside and tugged at Durgan’s arm.

“Well, you should definitely get back into the transport,” said Durgan. “But I’ll be fine. I’m not even sniffling.”

“No! Both of us – achoo! – have to leave.”

“Why?” Durgan folded his arms.

Cheri gasped as the dark shape rose up behind him. “I’m allergic – achoo! – to werebears…”

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The stand was made of cardboard and markers. “Free Lemon Ade!!!” the sign announced.

“Would you like some?” asked the little girl, perched on an overturned milk crate.

Mrs. Titchley smiled. “You're just giving it away? That's not very good business sense.”

The girl's brother poured a glass and handed it over. She sipped. Her eyes widened, then rolled back. Her sip became frantic gulping. Rivulets ran down her face as she drank without stopping. She held out the empty cup, gasping.

“Another!” she demanded.

The boy's smile thinned. “Only the first one is free.”

Interesting Facts About the Octopus

Finally gave up and paid the exorbitant fee. I need the connection too much to make due with sipping from the public lounge at odd hours. So here are Tuesday and Wednesday; Thursday will have to be later on today, because I'm running two games tomorrow and I should really get some sleep at some point.


George choked and spluttered to the surface, tasting chlorine, pee, and used Band-Aids. Becky floated nearby. She regarded him solemnly.

“The octopus is one of the smartest creatures in the ocean,” she said. Behind her, painted numbers announced the depth. Ten feet, twenty... George stopped at the middle five thousands.

“It is a voracious predator, strong and tough,” Becky went on. “Its beak can shear through bone.”

The pool deepened into shadows. George could no longer see the bottom.

“It has protective camouflage,” said Becky. “You never see it coming.”

Something slipped around George's ankle.

Monday, August 10, 2009


And I'm off to Gen Con! No, not as any kind of guest of honor, unless you count running enough games to get a GM's badge. I think you need more than four non-blood-relation fans before you get to be a guest of honor. At least five, I'm sure. Anyway, we *should* have internet access at the hotel, but we *might* not, so again, please be forgiving of any delays which may or may not occur. And if you're going to be there too (and I'm not already, say, sharing a hotel room with you), feel free to drop by and say hello.


Burnson was at low ebb. Seventeen irate customers firmly believing the “no refunds, returns, or exchanges” policy surely didn’t apply to them.

He saw a customer in Produce. “You don’t want us, miss. We’re spoiled,” said a tomato.

“Oh,” said the woman, crestfallen. She moved to replace the fruit.

“Ma’am,” said Burnson shortly. He pointed at the large print sign directly above the display. It read: “PLEASE DISREGARD ALL STATEMENT’S FROM TOMATOE’S OR CUCUMBER’S.”

“Oh!” The woman smiled and tucked the tomato into her bag. Burnson turned away, ignoring the tomato’s vile curses. “They never read the signs,” he muttered.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


“Breakfast of champions,” Steve murmured, snagging a jelly doughnut and a cup of coffee from the break room. He nodded to Robert on his way back to his desk.

“Say, Steve…”

“What’s up?”

“Why is Gary on the ceiling?”

Glancing over, Steve saw that Gary had moved his chair and monitor up to the acoustic tiles. The cord dangled down to the hard drive, which was perched precariously atop a corner of his cubicle. He was trying to sip coffee but was having difficulty getting it to flow the right direction.

Steve shrugged. “He said his vertigo was acting up.”

Lost Children

Lisa stood with arms akimbo. “You can stop pretending,” she said. “I know you’re not my real shadow. You keep swinging the wrong arm.”

Her shadow cringed. “I’m sorry. I really am your shadow, though. Didn’t you ever wonder why shadows never look just like the people they’re supposed to be? I’m just not very good at it yet. I’m not used to seeing from this side.”

“This side of what?” asked Lisa, sitting down. “Where are you?”

“I’m where all lost children go, eventually.” The shadow paused and thought. “It’s very cold here,” it added, in case that helped.

Saturday, August 8, 2009




With both hands, Rikit brought the steak knife down on the taut string. The plastic spoon, released, launched the walnut toward the ceiling, where it was caught midway by one of several spatulas. Step by step, Targo's machine unfolded. At last, the heavy jug of rice toppled off the countertop, dragging more string with it. The refrigerator door creaked. Rikit and Targo held their breath. The door swung shut again. The tiny figures sighed.

Nora sighed, too, her head on her paws. She knew who would be blamed for the mess when the Master arrived home.


Because it's been a while since I indulged my fondness for gnomes (or did a particularly light flitterfic), and you can really never have too many gnomes, can you?

The Distant Light of a Rising Star

Internet putzed out on me yesterday, so here's the followup, with today's shortly afterward. I know my previous lunges toward continuity have rarely met with success, but for some reason I was really struck with several images after the first "Rising Star." (And I still haven't managed to work the original idea into a flitterfic yet.)


The advertisements were the worst part. “Our prices haven't changed in thousands of years!” one ad boasted. “Everybody wants some,” crooned another. “So quick, so easy!” announced a third.

Onsler stalked through the streets, hands stuffed into his overcoat pockets. Gremlin clung to his shoulder, oohing and aahing at the colorful posters, tugging on Onsler's ear to point out especially attractive ones. Onsler could feel the tiny demon's presence in his soul. The ads promised the world, but in the end, you got what you paid for. He shot a glance at Gremlin. Meager soul; meager demon.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Interview with a Rising Star

“Oh, the great Lords of the Pit can destroy cities, even entire countries,” said Malvoris the Sorcerer. He settled into the overstuffed armchair and swirled his Scotch, the ice cubes clinking against the side of the glass. “But there are many smaller imps and minor devils, and all of these, too, can be bound to one's will, if one is determined. No, the real revolution of demonology will be in the countless creature comforts now available to even the poorest of the poor, for every man, no matter how lowly, possesses the collateral.”


“A soul.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The wind whistles in my ears, sends my hair whipping across my face and neck. I can still smell the smoke, even as the wind thrusts it violently behind me. Scorched feathers, singed flesh. Above me, the smoke is a dark spiral against the white of the clouds, and farther still the shimmering Gate, its light narrowing to a pinprick as it closes, leaving me outside. Forever.

That won't be a problem for long. Far, far below, so far that I can see only a green and blue smear, is the ground. Approaching.

I smile, the wind in my hair.


He shuffled down the hallway, pushing his broom and bucket before him. The building thrummed around him, shuddering with hidden energy. The laminate floor and the acoustic tiles seemed to fade as each ripple of force passed through them, revealing dark stone like smoke. Through the ebony surface, one could see thin black legs and wriggling bodies, scrabbling at the surface as though digging to escape, to burst from the black rock into the world of light. The janitor whistled a jaunty tune and stopped to mop another section. Behind him, the shadows flailed at their prison with silent fury.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pizza Express Delivers in Thirty Minutes, Guaranteed

Milo was running late. Twenty-nine minutes and counting. His tires squealed as he rounded the corner. The speedometer registered nearly fifty. As Milo struggled with the wheel, a child darted across the street. He slammed on the brakes, skidding to a halt mere inches from the terrified little girl.

The family at the house was very understanding. They paid for their pizza even though it was a minute past the Delivery Promise. Milo had been late, but he'd gotten paid. That counted, right?

Something shifted in the darkness behind him. “You have broken the agreement,” hissed the sibilant voice.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Among the Fallen Stones

Taku moved slowly through the rubble and scree. He called every now and then, but without much hope. There were many boulders of sufficient size, and more that had been shattered by the force of their impact. Taku was worried. His friend had been silent a long time.

At last Taku sat to rest, holding his head in despair.

“Hello,” said the Wisest Stone from beneath him.

Taku jumped. “I could not find you amid the stones!” he said. “Why did you not answer my calls?”

“I knew which one I was,” answered the Wisest Stone.