Thursday, March 31, 2011

Old Books

Tomkins pried the lid from the wooden shipping crate. A puff of sawdust filled the air. He tugged the first book free and tore away the wrapping. There was something scrawled beside Frederiksen's name on the frontispiece.

"Tomkins - I know you'll find a way to steal my library once I'm gone, and I know your part in my passing. I wanted you to know. I have won."

There was a rustling sound and the smell of musty paper. Something massive loomed behind him, blocking the light.

The shipping crate, still nailed shut, eventually sold at auction for a pittance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rare Specimens

"This is the butterfly room," said the gray-haired majordomo. The walls were covered with small glass-fronted cases. Kitty examined them with polite interest.

"But these are all the same!" she cried.

I leaned over her shoulder. Every pattern was identical, like some trick in a hall of mirrors.

"The Master is very intrigued by iterations these days," said our guide. "Please, wait here. I will see if he is ready."

I sat. Kitty continued examining the cases, as if hoping to find one butterfly different from the rest. She didn't see the previous guests leaving.

Like some trick with mirrors...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Anchor Changeling

"Absolutely not!"

"Don't see why," the goblin sniffed. "Writ down, 'tis!"

"Because he wasn't born in the United States. You swapped him with another newborn."

"Same thing. He come to the world in that time and place."

"Under a false name!"

The goblin blinked at the ICE agent. "All names be false. How d'ye come to be a heapin' big feller like yerself wi'out knowin' that?"

"Look, he's not a citizen, and you can't use him to stay. End of discussion."

"As ye wish," the goblin grinned. "I've a new request."


"Me adopted son wants to visit his homeland."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Light for the Walk Home

Here, boy, just down the hall. Aye, 'tis a great many stairs, and hardly a window t'see by even in the day. Can't afford the tallow, half the time.

Nay, come in. Ne'er fear, I'll no assault ye, unless ye're selling that as well. Just the pennies, then? Rest yerself for two shakes.

Oh! Ye startled me, boy, a-comin' up on pitter-pat cat feet. I'm seeking my coin-purse, don't ye fret... here, what's that? The shadows gi' ye a strange look...

Oh. I see.

Do it hurt much? Good on ye, then. As much mercy as I've earned, I s'pose.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Terrible Lizard King" at Pseudopod

This week, Pseudopod, the premier audio horror podcast and a personal favorite, is running my story, "Terrible Lizard King." The motifs may be familiar to long-term readers, as it involves small children, imagination, and a permeable membrane to reality. Have a listen and defend my honor on the forums, Shardies!

(Splinters? Fragments? Fraggles? I dunno. What should we call fans of Mirrorshards, anyway?)

Further flitterfic updates are forthcoming later today; I'm busy switching over to full nocturnal mode, so I'm a bit discombobulated at present.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Light Above, Shadow Below

The City of the Damned is a dark place to a visitor, though the inhabitants move about the streets as if they are lit by noonday sun. At every corner, there is a stout oaken pole outfitted with a rough hemp rope. Each rope is wrapped around the neck of a virtuous soul. They hang, eyes bulging, the unlucky few still slowly strangling, and below, the accursed throngs chatter gaily, in utter darkness save for faint traceries of molten rock.

"What light they give!" the passersby say. "So pure and fine!"

The lowering shadows of the city swallow them all.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Murder God

He shares his gifts freely. The good news is for everyone.

Tag! You're it!

Some souls live entire lifetimes without the revelation of their part in the game. They dwell in peace and contentment, which their former brothers regard with horror and pity. They have lost their joy.

Tag! Knives next!

The memory of a soul is long. They remember their allies. They remember their enemies. Everyone has a chance to free another from the flesh-prison.

Tag! You are free! Free to see your next role in the game. Remember me, brother, when you return, and grant me the same!


The store was filled with the sounds of rapid, panting breath and the wzzzk-wzzzk-wzzzk of running legs.

"This is the athletic section," said the clerk. "We've got running shoes, jogging shoes, sprinting shoes, walking shoes, even a small selection of running shorts."

A pair of these last trotted past, waddling to keep its crotch from touching the ground between steps. The boxes on the shelves rattled and shook with the repressed energy of the shoes within.

"Mind your step as we head into the next area..."

"Gwah!" I shouted as my legs flew from beneath me.

"Slippers," the clerk explained.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Angel of the World

The Angel of Art is a slapdash thing, a riot of red hair and a tiny frame, barely able to contain her boundless energy. The Angel of Dance is sedate, stately, almost phlegmatic, but his slightest motion is grace enough to set a thousand butterflies to flight.

The Angel of the World is like none of these, and more terrible than them all. Its hands are bloody, its feet stained with soot; its depthless eyes rarely emerge from the shadow of its brow. It is the angel to whom all prayers must travel.

That is where the blood comes from.

Friday, March 18, 2011


The world was being perfected. The gleam of gold and stainless steel cracked the old cities. The sand on every beach was pure white and smooth. Every roadway was immaculate, clean enough to eat from.

Except no one did much eating, or anything else. There was no room in perfection for change.

Their quest ended in a dank, swampy wood, perhaps the last one remaining. The edge of perfection was miles away, but advancing inexorably. The temple still stood here, the place of defilement, of death and filth and muck, the throne of the Rotlord.

He was their only hope.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

As Well Call a Physician a Taxidermist

Dokie's car rumbled tussively and lapsed into silence.

"You need to take it to the vet," Rovin said.

"You mean the mechanic?"

"No." Rovin glanced from side to side. "Look, I know a guy. He's the best you'll ever find, but if you call him a mechanic, he won't work for you at all."

Dokie turned the key again, and the car reluctantly caught. "Crazy people aren't generally good at fixing cars."

"Well, that's the thing. Humans go to human doctors, but we take our animals to the vet. TS-197 is to simpler machines as we are to our pets."


He checked the pots when he came in from digging. They'd need a good, deep hole for the transplant. Set down some serious roots.

The first pot contained a chip of glass and nothing more. The second, a twist of wire. Both sat stubbornly unchanged in their rich loam. The third pot, however, brought a smile to his sweat-stained face. The chip of concrete had swollen, grown rectangular. He could see the first budding partition of an internal wall.

Outside his crude hut, the trees loomed close, but he ignored them. The city would come back.

He'd plant it himself.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The hungry gods cut through the salty waves, sleek gray forms with basalt eyes. They were small gods, with a small place in the world. They had no temples, but only the half-hearted scraps of their Family's worship.

It was enough.

They circled the boat where the dark man, the Other, bent now over the fallen form of the Family's youngest daughter. He paid the gods no mind. He thought they had come for the girl's blood in the water.

And so they had.

They scraped the boat's sides with sandpaper skin. It tasted of vengeance.

Tonight, the gods would feast.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If You Love Something, Let It Go

When the demons came to take our souls, most people were quite upset. The only faction unopposed were the strict materialists, who maintained that they'd never needed souls before and the demons were welcome to them and would you like a glass of Coke before go, Mr. Elzebub?

"You can't do this!" everyone else cried out, as black and dripping claws plucked the damp shreds forth to dry in the sulfurous heat. "Those are ours!"

The demons heard this and laughed, great bellows of hilarity like cannonfire and lightning. Overhead, the pale scraps of soul danced on the burning wind.


A green-skinned woman clung to the wooden post. Overhead, the sign read, "Sycamore Lane."

"You know that's not a real sycamore tree, right?" said Donny.

The dryad turned nut-brown eyes to him. She nodded.

"Don't you gotta live in a tree?"

Another nod.

Donny scratched his head. "So how come you're here?" The dryad turned to look down the street. Donny followed her gaze. "My house is the fourth one down," he said.

"I am the last," said the dryad, not turning around. "The others... did you not wonder at the name of your street? This is our only memorial."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trust but Verify

Dr. Gillicut shuffled his notes. "Our AI has run extensive models and determined the sky is not, in fact, blue. There is no such thing as blue at all. It's a shade of orange with unusual properties."

A reporter raised a hand. "So... what are the practical implications?"

"Well, um, we have to... rename... things. Since blue isn't real."

"But if everyone sees it as blue, why not just call it blue?"

Gillicut's cell phone buzzed. He glanced down. It was a message from the lab: "LOL!"

Dr. Berhaus leaned over. "I told you he was messing with us again."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Information Age

Alucard was using the Internet again, which never failed to amuse him. "Grigor, look," he called.

"It is the day, Alucard. I rest upon my native soil, as you should."

"Come and see," Alucard insisted.

Grigor pried the top of his coffin up. "More of your Inter-net cobwebs?"

"Web pages. Here, I have found this."

Grigor peered at the screen. "Alucard, this is a recipe. Why do we need recipes?"

"It is called a turducken. A turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken."


Alucard's eyes gleamed, and his fangs extended unconsciously. "It has given me... an idea."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Alchemist

"It looks like water."

"And so it is!" Luchyenko took the simmering beaker off the tiny flame with the tongs and poured it gently into a bowl made of silvery metal. He swirled it, keeping the steaming surface well away from his face.

"Is the medicine ready yet?" Tribby rubbed a foot against his calf.

"No, not yet. Drinking it now would kill you in an amazingly horrible way." Luchyenko wafted some steam toward his nose, nodded, and upended the bowl into a dark wooden cup. "There! Now it's medicine."

"It still looks like water. What's different?"

Luchyenko smiled. "Context."

Monday, March 7, 2011


Hello, Animal Control?

Yes, this is Father Deagle. We've got a problem at the old church.

The one up on Haynes Street, yes.

Well, the old bell-tower hasn't been cleaned in a while and it seems now I've got some bats in my belfry- Hello?


Well, sugar!

You know, this is the same thing that happened when I called that toy company and reported that, after several games, I'd discovered I wasn't playing with a full deck. Why do you think this is happening, Sister Drusilla?

What do you mean, "miaow"? Is that French?

You know I don't speak French.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fundamental Attribution Error

"Do you want to know what makes a true hero?" Timor the Bold asked as the slavering Negahounds approached.

"More than anything!" the chipper little bastard sang out, sword at the ready.

"It is not birth or power." Timor laid a hand on the youth's back. "What it boils down to is being in the right place at the right time."

"Nothing else? Not bravery or nobility of spirit?""

"No," said Timor, and shoved the brat down the stairs. That would keep the hounds busy long enough to escape.

He'd saved the world before. He'd manage it this time, too.

Mightier Than

"At last! The Mighty Pen!" cried Oswald.

"What's so special about it?" I asked. Oswald is usually good for ten minutes' entertainment when he gets wound up.

"It is the master of all spelling and grammar. I can rewrite the very language with it!"

"Everyone does that," I said. "It's called 'linguistic drift.'"

Oswald glared at me. He retrieved a Post-It note, wrote "hair" on is, and stuck it to my forehead.

"What're you-?"

He reached up and added a smooth curve. A "C"?

"Oswald, what-?"

An abrupt weight pulled my head forward, and I heard a distinctly wooden clunk...

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Old Standby

It is cold where they are. The warrens are full of movement, full of fur and ears and twitching noses, but cold nonetheless. They do not groom. They do not quarrel. There is nowhere to go; the warren has no exit.

At intervals, the Glove appears. It selects a rabbit at random, and they await it in frozen silence. The Chosen is both lucky and cursed. Lucky, because once above the Hat's brim, he is able to feel warmth and see light again. Cursed, because he hangs for that moment above the Hat.

The Hat, and the icy tunnels within.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


"It is mutiny, then?" The Master stroked his chin with one finger.

"Mutiny? Rebellion! We're taking our land back!"

"So." He stood, his eyes shadowed. He smiled thinly. "I think it only fair, then, that I reclaim what is mine. I have paid you well for your services. A salary, they call it. From the Latin salus, for salt, in which their soldiers were paid." He clenched his fist, and the leader of the rebellion grew pale. He stammered a few incoherent syllables and collapsed.

The Master opened his fist and watched the white grains sift down. "Get back to work."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Brindle purred on his back in the sunbeam. Dust motes danced as the sun drifted lackadaisically toward the horizon. He flicked his tail, threatening to smear Hardod's scroll. The wizard jerked the paper away, muttering imprecations. Brindle sneezed merrily.

"It's all very well for you," Hardod grumbled. "Cats serve no lords, so what have you to fret about? All whimsy and carelessness."

"Of course we are frivolous. It's our only defense." Brindle opened his eyes. "Have you never thought, O Wizard, what it means to serve no one? Cats are beholden only to ourselves, and there can be no excuses."

Missed Opportunity

When his chores were done, Droog spent his time hating the Master. It was easy; the Master did not exert much effort to make himself lovable. His castle was dark, damp, and full of screams. Droog's plans were complicated by the fact that no weapons were allowed within the Master's castle, but he was sure he would find a way, sooner or later.

When Droog found the Master lying dead, he was a little taken aback. There was no sign of who had done it; just the gently spreading pool of blood.

Droog shrugged and began to scrub the floors.