Friday, July 31, 2009

Bad to the Bone

Heading on vacation for a couple of weeks, so updates may be a day or two late. I will do my best to keep them steady, flitterfic fans (all three of you), but please do not be overhasty in mocking me should the day's story be uploaded tardily.


Dirk pushed into the bar with the attitude of a prowling dog. His leather jacket was studded with metal. On the back, an airbrushed skeleton in a similar jacket menaced a poorly-clad woman. There was a motorcycle. “Bad to the Bone” was written beneath it in letters of blood and fire.

Dirk headed for the counter, but was arrested by a grip on his shoulder. A cold, bony hand.

A skeleton whose eye sockets flickered with blue fire stood behind him. “Come out, brother,” it said, grinning. Dirk felt something shift and break, somewhere inside him. Down at the bone.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


The grove was filled with color and motion. The leaves and flowers of the trees were of every color imaginable, a riotous and chaotic burst, and they rustled as they tumbled from the branches to the ground, drifting and falling one by one.

“It’s amazing,” Sandra murmured. Her feet crunched on the forest floor.

“Your kind do not often come here,” said her guide.

“What are they?”

“The trees? Every scrap of happiness, every beautiful thing grows into a blossom. When it dies, it falls to the forest floor.”

Sandra paused and stared upward. Around them, petals dropped like rain.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


“There, see?” Dad pointed down at the sand. “They’re called hermit crabs because they don’t have shells of their own. When they get too big, they go find a bigger shell to use.”

Allie squatted and watched the naked crustacean scuttle away. “Where do the big shells come from?”

“Oh, all sorts of things make their own shells.” Dad sighed and stood. “It’s all part of the circle of life. Which doesn’t really help us much.”

He turned to regard the gaping hole that had been their house’s foundation. Water spurted uselessly from broken pipes, gouged by enormous claw marks.

Philosophies of Life

“My existence is precarious,” said the see-saw. “I am now of one mind, now of another; I never achieve perfect balance, for always there are pressures on either side driving me.”

“I am lowly,” said the swing. “I hover at the bottom, yearning for the heights; reaching ever upward, but always settling to my lowest ebb; I return, no matter how greatly I strive.”

“There is no compromise,” said the slide. “One direction and one alone. They try to defy me, always, and always I send them tumbling backwards. Skinned knees upon them all!”

“I’m a pigeon,” said the pigeon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And the One After That

He let the bundle drop. It squished, leaking dark fluid onto the floor. “It’s done,” he said.

Teeth gleamed in the darkness, pale and needle-like things. “Good. Your next task is awaiting you outside.”

“My next task…?” the hunter muttered. “When will I be finished? When is this done?”

His master shifted its obscene bulk. “Do not ask questions to which you know the answers.”

“I was young when I made the bargain,” the man cried. “Please, I didn’t fully understand. I made a mistake.”

“Yet the choice was made,” the voice burbled. “Your next task is awaiting you outside.”

Lester's Doomed Love

Sorry about this weekend. Combination of factors, primarily being bone-tired. Expect more sporadic updates for the next month; I'll be at the beach, then GenCon, and finally at a friend's wedding. I'll do my best to keep the ball rolling, however!


“The pipes in the restroom sinks are clogged again,” said Lauren. She rubbed at her left ankle with her other foot. “And I think… I think there’s a rat in there.”

Ned nodded. “I’ll get on it, miss.”

He set up the yellow warning sign and wheeled his cart inside. “Goddamn it, Lester, you addle-brained son of an octopus!” he snapped. “I’ve done told you about stayin’ out the pipes.”

With a gurgle, slender black tentacles emerged from the toilet bowls. One of them opened an eye.

“And you’d best stop gropin’ the ladies afore someone gets suspicious,” Ned said.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Fruit Cocktail

The revelers were stumbling around, blind and deaf. It made Didi sick, not just with revulsion, but also with fear. He swiveled his ears. Trying to find one individual in this swarm was nearly impossible.

A young female lurched toward him, her fur matted. She flopped a wing around Didi. “Y’wanna havva taaste?” she slurred, proffering a gnawed-on chunk of long-fallen fruit, fermented sour.

“I don’t eat windfalls,” Didi said. He fluttered into the air. “Shimsi!” he called. “For God’s sake, come back to the cave! It’s nearly dawn. You’ll be caught on the ground!”

Only drunken laughter answered him.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mile a Minute

The old buildings were covered, absolutely covered, in trailing vines with wide, flat leaves.

“God, how old is this place?” Cathy asked.

“Probably abandoned in the fifties, judging by the gas pumps,” I said.

Cathy raised skeptical eyebrows.

“They call it the ‘mile-a-minute vine’ for a reason,” I told her as we stepped under the leaf-covered awning. The plant filled the space, covering even the cafe tables. “It doesn’t take long-“ I cut myself off when the solid mass shifted and we saw the woman, mouth gaping in a silent scream, her body still warm.

Something brushed against my ankle.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

All Smiles

Teeth together, firmly. Pull the lips back. Up, up; don’t grimace. Smile. Smile! Yes, that’s it. Keep smiling.

It’s been a long day. Flashing teeth at everyone, coworkers and friends, supervisors and strangers. Always the wide grin, teeth locked together. Imagine they are fused. Imagine they are growing larger, too large to keep inside. Let them out. Keep them showing. Smile.

Almost over. Keep that smile going!

Ignore that sound. You’re imagining things. Keep your jaw closed. There is no voice. There is no frantic scrabbling. There are no tiny fists beating on the inside of your teeth.

Keep smiling.


“Well, I’m afraid we’re running out of options,” said Diane, pushing open the door to the back room. It, too, was lined with cages. “These are some of our troubled occupants. Biters, behavior issues, that sort of thing. Some of these guys have been here a long time.”

“What’s this doggy’s name?” asked Lilly.

“I am the Darkwalker,” growled the shadowed form. “I am the end of all life. I will devour this world and every other. Release me and I will slay you quickly and without pain.”

“I’m going to call you Bubbles,” Lilly informed him. “Or maybe Sweetypants.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The line didn’t seem to be getting any shorter. They wound back and forth in the roped-off corridors. In the distance, a terrible light obscured the front. There was a faint suggestion of wings.

“I’m so excited,” Geraldine confided.

“Sure you’re… going up, then?” said Paul.

“It’s probably the backlog. You know, the Apocalypse and all. The anticipation makes it better.”

“I wonder,” said Paul, “wouldn’t we be happier if we actually knew? I mean, where exactly are we now?”

Geraldine didn’t answer, but her brow wrinkled with new concern. In the distance there was a cry, abruptly cut off.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jenkins in Spring

“Jenkins!” said a muffled voice. It was followed by a bone-rattling sneeze. Muller pushed his way through the leaves to peer rheumy-eyed down at Carter Jenkins. “What’s all this… this foliage about anyway?”

“Sorry, sir,” said Jenkins. He shook his head, setting his branches shaking. “It’s springtime. I always get lots of new growth.”

“Your productivity is down five percent.”

“I haven’t gotten enough sun…”

“Now, Jenkins, we’ve been more than understanding about your… condition, but- is that a pear?”

“Looks like, Mr. Muller. I’d hoped for citrus again, but-“

“I do like a nice pear in brandy,” Muller mused.

Inch by Inch

It was raining. It always rained.

The swampland quivered under the deluge, the water pattering on swollen leaves and the patches of open ground, rapidly turned to soupy mud. The rooftops had long fallen in, but the columns were still standing, and some of the walls.

The statue regarded the scene. It still held its marble sword upraised. Its expression was still the triumphant sneer of the conqueror.

The rain fell. The statue slipped another fraction of an inch into the swamp. It was up to its waist.

It held its sword high. There was nothing else it could do.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Clarence ducked behind the wooden trough. He dodged to the side, firing his trusty revolver. He saw the spray of blood, hot and red. He shouted in triumph only to dart for cover when his shots were unexpectedly returned.

“I shot you, Black Bart! You’re dead!” he called.

“I’m tired o’ losin’,” snarled Black Bart. “I wanna win this time.”

“You’re wearin’ the wrong color hat.”

“How ‘bout we go’n be spacemen agin? I di’n’t mind them tentacled fellers so much.”

“The ship’s broke, Bart. You know that.”

“What if we was crash-landed?”

Clarence considered. “I s’pose,” he said reluctantly.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Stool Pigeon

I'm writing this so I don't waste time actually composing an entire short story based on hard-boiled noir parakeets.


“How did we know?” the detective had sneered, looking down his beak. “Your buddy talked. You oughtta know not to trust a magpie.”

The memory haunted Kikri as he shuffled along the low branch. The watering hole was a few hundred yards away, barely any distance by wing. On foot… He waddled to the trunk, feeling his new balance shifting oddly. With beak and toe he clambered down the rough bole.

The forest looked different down here. Kikri told himself it was just the new perspective that made the trees loom overhead, but he couldn’t forget that he’d been betrayed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flight Risk

“It’s only for a few weeks,” said the officer, a blue and yellow budgerigar in an official cap. Kikri hadn’t asked his name.

“Just do it,” he muttered.

The officer hesitated, then nodded to the black-feathered nurse, who pecked at the keys awkwardly, not using her toes. “Restriction or full grounding?” she asked.


The machine whirred to life. “It won’t hurt,” the budgie assured him, bobbing. “They almost always grow back.”

Kikri extended his wings and allowed them to be guided into the dark recesses of the clipper. Like having your nails trimmed, he told himself. He looked away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


What had been done to him was shocking. His wings were stripped and broken. Chains of fire held every limb in a cruel grip. The scent of burning flesh was strong.

“We must free him!” said the sorcerer.

“Stop!. I must remain bound. I was judged and sentenced for my deeds. If I am freed, that would be a travesty of justice.”

“And if you were judged unfairly?” asked the demon.

The angel looked upon him. “Then that, too, would ultimately destroy the idea of perfect justice. I must remain bound. It is the only way justice will be served.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Journey's End

He stood on the beach. The damp sand was firm beneath his feet, but every wave that washed across his ankles scooped a little more of the earth away, leaving him slowly sinking in a soupy quagmire.

A frown creased his lips and furrowed his brow as he turned and regarded the path that lay behind him. Footsteps across the sand. Beyond that, they stretched across the entirety of the continent. This was the edge. He could travel no further.

After a time, he turned and strode forward again. The icy water washed against his thighs, his waist, his chest…

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Deer and the River

When Deer came to the river, he paused. The river was deep and wide, cold enough that chunks of ice still floated within.

“River,” said Deer. “Lower your waters, that I might pass.”

“Alas, I cannot,” said the river. “I carry the snowmelt down from the mountains and out to the sea.”

“Can you not refuse the water?” asked Deer.

“I am a river. I have not the freedom animals have, to travel wherever they wish, to stop or move on a whim.”

Deer glanced backwards and listened for the hounds. “We all have that which drives us,” he said.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The End

For seventy years, the house had been silent. Wrapped in a soundless cocoon, even the creaks of ancient wood were muted. Birds did not sing in the trees, but stared with beady black eyes. Footsteps were muffled. Passersby moved on tiptoe without knowing why.

In the attic room, an old man wrote with a pen into an open book. Similar tomes littered the ground and the shelves. With a flourish, he finished the final line. He was nearly at the end of his self-imposed exile. He looked up at the narrow window and smiled.

He opened his mouth to speak…

The Beachhead

For a time, it was the talk of the neighborhood. Jennifer used to take the other children on little tours, wearing a hat and jacket from her dress-up box.

“It’s the world’s largest anthill!” she’d proclaim proudly, gesturing with a flourish to the chest-high mound of sand that filled a corner of the empty lot, covered in wriggling motion. The house would probably never be built, now, though they’d broken earth for the foundation. Money troubles, supposedly.

It was a seven-day marvel, and then forgotten, becoming just another background detail. They never suspected just how far the tunnels were running…

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fill It Up

Harold slotted the nozzle into the gas tank and glanced to the other side of the pump, where a blond woman was filling up her little two door.

“Wish this place was a little more convenient,” he said. “It’s the only place between home and work to fill up, though.”

She glanced up and smiled. “It’s out of my way. He insists on it, though. He likes the taste.” She patted her car’s trunk.

Harold chuckled, until she turned to hang up the nozzle and he saw the tongue dart out of her gas tank, lapping up the spilled droplets.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Haunting in the Living Room

“So that’s the haunting?”

“Yup,” said Charlie.

The blue triangle hovered in midair, making a soft humming sound. Florence scratched her nose and cocked her head to one side. “What’s it the ghost of?”

“Dunno. Not a person, definitely.”

“Jackie’s house has a ghost. It manifests as an insect swarm.”

“Sounds gross.” Charlie continued playing his video game.

Flo shrugged. “Keeps the floors clean. You gonna get it exorcised?”

“Nah. It’s got a nice kind of white noise tone. Maybe if it starts dumping squirrel carcasses again.”

“Was it doing that?”

“Either that or a stray cat. Not sure which.”

If Thy Hand Offends

“So how’s the reduction going, Brian?”

The nutrient gel rippled as he replied. “Oh, pretty well. I got rid of my liver last week.”

“Hands and feet and eyes, I can see. Lots of sins you can see or touch or walk to. The digestive tract, okay, gluttony, sure. Your liver?”

“Metabolizes alcohol.”


“The pancreas, too; sugar is a temptation. Sight, smell, taste, touch; I’ve got them all covered.”

“Isn’t it your brain, though, that really understands things to be sinful and wants to do them?”

There was a pause. “I really wish you hadn’t said that,” said Brian.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Four Pillars

The great wings swept through the void as the black, horned thing flew downward. Distant lights glimmered in the darkness. The sorcerer was cradled in the taloned hands, nestled like an infant against the fire-scarred chest. It reeked of brimstone.

“We are passing now through the heart of the world,” said the demon. “The light you see ahead. That is the cavern of the Pillars of the Four Elements.”

The sorcerer nodded. “Yes, yes. I’ve read of the place. The foundations of all matter. Fire, earth, air, and water.”

The demon shook its head. “No. Faith, Hope, Love… and Regret.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Humble Servant of Science

“Everything I have done,” said Doctor Geisteskrank, “I have done to advance human knowledge and understanding. I regret nothing.”

The rhythmic slamming was growing louder as the door bent farther and farther out of its frame. The small closet was decidedly cramped with both of them in it.

“How exactly does this advance human knowledge?” asked Bartlett. A coil of wire had fallen around his head, adorning him like a necklace. The door squealed as it lost a hinge. A scaled claw was briefly visible in the gap.

The doctor considered. “It has, perhaps, at times been somewhat indirectly beneficial.”

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Take the Cup from My Lips

Lord Orvald looked across the table to Reisha and raised his glass in a toast. She smiled and did likewise.

“Ah, my love,” he said, “it saddens me to go. What would you do if I died in battle?”

“Were you dead, my lord,” Reisha murmured, “I would die as well, and gladly.”

He chuckled and made to reach for her, but his limbs became cold and limp. He stared in horror at the wineglass still in his hand, and then to Reisha, slumping down beside him.

“Poisoned? Why?” he gasped.

“I have told you already.” She smiled. “My lord.”


Jack clicked open a new tab. “GUARANTEED GROWTH!” trumpeted the header. It was flashing. And jiggling.

The graphic displayed a handful of pills in an outstretched hand. Then a whole bunch of testimonials and overwrought praise. Below, an order form. Jack tabbed back to his bank account. Just enough money. That was supposed to buy groceries, though. Bread, milk, fresh eggs.

“Well, what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. I’ll just get ramen and canned peas,” Jack muttered. She was always telling him he had his head in the clouds. He’d show her.

He sat back, dreaming of fallen giants.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nectar of the Gods

The alarm had already gone off twice. Time, he supposed, to get up.

Felt awful. Head fuzzy. Tongue tasted of asparagus. Also possibly fuzzy. Would have thought he had a hangover. The thought provoked, if not a smile, then at least the right frame of mind for smiling.

Something to wake him up, that was the ticket. A peppy drink. Ambrosia? Meh. Perhaps the mortals had come up with something interesting. He peered out the window, looking down at his world.

“Oh, stuff me,” he muttered after a long, appalled silence.

He went back to bed. Another millennium, at least.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


As they waited, the Wisest Stone recounted the story of his creation for Taku, who had not asked.

“The ground was shattered,” he said, “and fire rained down from the sky. The sea shook with the force of the blast. Great cracks split the island and smoke blackened the sun. My brothers and I screamed as we plummeted down, hurled into the air by the violence of the eruption.”

Taku wrapped his arms around his legs. “It sounds horrible. Why was your birth so traumatic?”

“There is always pain at a birth,” said the Wisest Stone. “Nothing new comes easily.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Raising a Stink

Robby was too slow getting out. The water swirled down the drain and carried him with it. He caught a last glimpse of the bathroom mirror, fogged over, before he was swallowed.

It was dark down in the sewers. A rat approached.

“Now you’ve done it,” the rat said. “It’ll have settled into your life properly by now.”

“What do you mean?” Robby blinked the filth from his eyes.

“Cause and effect. Something new comes in, something like it comes out,” said the rat.

“Won’t my mom notice?”

“Sure. ‘What a stinker that boy has been,’ she’ll say to herself.”