Monday, December 30, 2013


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

These things had all been noted.

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

They’d come to kill Time.

Monday, December 23, 2013

No More, and No Less

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And the Answer Like a Stone Upon His Heart

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

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

The demon waited, watching me with dark eyes.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

To See What He Could See

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

“Better off without it.”

“Oh, yes.  Just weighing us down.”

“I felt so much better afterward.”

“Joyful, that’s what it was.”

“So freeing.”

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

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

“Well, obviously I’ve been up.”

Friday, December 20, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

At last.


Part of the Advent Ghosts annual microfiction event.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

The door closed.

“Cheapskate,” muttered the deliveryman.