Friday, December 25, 2015

Breakroom

[MP] drip coffee and dead bodies.

Nov. 10, 2015

Sal watched in earnest fascination as Kelly bypassed the brewing coffee and opened the fridge pulling out a battered jar of instant that looked like a tired relic from the 1970s.

She scooped in a couple heaping spoonfuls and then ran tap water on top of it. Just barely warm enough to dissolve the chemical slog that was instant coffee crystals.

"You're disgusting, Cowbell," Sal said, holding her own coffee with both hands and blowing on the steaming liquid, before taking a pull that warmed her insides.

"That's why you love me," she said, making sure to slurp her lukewarm brew loudly. Sal shuddered.

"That's how I know you're dead. Pulse or no pulse, drinking whatever the hell you call that is unholy," said Sal.

"Hey, when you shuffle off and find out that the hot stuff takes layers off your skin, see how keen you are to keep up with trends," said Kelly. Her next sip was quieter. "Still need the caffeine though. That's messed up. What's on the agenda for today?"

"Got ferals down by the river that need corralling and then there's the vigilants that are sniffing up trouble downtown," said Sal.

"Vigilants again? Do you think they'd stop if they knew they were just making things worse?" asked Kelly. Sal snorted and finished her coffee in one big pull.

"Last time they tried to take out the Church of the Newly Risen they ended up first-timing at least a dozen warmbloods," said Sal. "I think they only managed to finish off three of you weirdos."

"Oh, we're the weird ones - I don't keep up with the news, but I'm pretty sure there hasn't been a bomb set off by a revenant lately," said Kelly.

"Don't get touchy, Cowbell. You know we love you and think the Vigilants are nutters," said Sal, laying a friendly hand on her co-workers shoulder. She was very gentle, knowing that too much pressure could cause issues. Kelly assured her that sloughing off of skin didn't hurt, but Sal knew she didn't want to look like a rotting shambles.

Kelly finished her cold slop and shrugged into her modified shoulder-holster. It was designed to go on loose and then be snugged gently against her torso by pulling the adjustment strap. It was padded to avoid chaffing.

Sal grinned as she watched her partner get ready.

"You are such a delicate flower for someone who crawled out of her own grave," she said, handing Kelly her silk blazer that slipped over the holster.

"Well, I know we're taking your car and how much you hate it when I shed," she said, grinning back.

"If you do, you can just pay for the detail work," said Sal.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Heart Healthy

[WP] Your house is possessed by a demon that feeds off of positive emotions, and it is doing everything in its (admittedly ill-informed) power to give you the time of your life.

Oct. 31, 2015

She's coming back. He thought to himself as he put the finishing touches on the set-up in the living room. The door creaked open and Lizzy's eyes widened briefly before she leaned heavily against the doorjam, the keys jangled from the doorknob and her purse slumped to the floor.

"Not again," she groaned. Leaving her keys in the door, she tromped over to the closet and pulled out her broom. It had stopped being scary around the fifth time it happened, but for some reason she couldn't stop the tears as she swept up the rose petals from the floor, pausing only to blow out the candles that were lit on the mantel piece, and turning the gas off on the fireplace.

Rantix watched her from his pocket dimension with a quavering frown. She was crying again. He couldn't understand how he was screwing up the ritual. He watched all the human movies he could find on making a woman feel wanted and the flower petals and candles was always a hit. Rantix's stomach growled as he watched Lizzy brush the flower petals into a dustpan and dump them in the bin. She picked up the goblet of rare French wine and dumped it into the sink without even smelling it. The demon chewed on his knuckle - that had cost him three goats and one first-born.

Lizzy shoved the broom back in the closet and slammed the door.

"What do you want from me?!" she screamed to the empty house.

Rantix hesitated, then sighed and unzipped his pocket dimension. He saw the woman stiffen and turn the color of curdled skim milk. He knew he was breaking several inter-dimensional treaties by manifesting, but he was starving. He knew he looked bad. Knobby horns curled out of his forehead, rubbery, slightly damp skin the color of cooked beets, and stubby vestigial wings that did nothing but make him look like a lame bat.

Lizzy's knees gave out and she fell on her ass, hard. Pain exploded as she landed squarely on her tailbone.

"Sonofabitch," she gasped, tears streaming down her face for a whole new reason. She shook her head and then stared at the demon that was standing in her living room. He was clutching a heart-shaped box of candy.

"You!" she said, understanding washing over her, followed closely by anger. Still nothing he could eat. "You're the one who's been stalking me!"

"Wh-what?" he stammered. This was going so much worse than he had ever seen it go.

"The flowers! The love notes! The jewelry!" with each declaration she jabbed her finger into his chest.

"Why didn't you  like it? I did everything like I was supposed. But you hated it. I don't understand ..." Rantix said, black tears welled up in his eyes and spilled over his cheeks.

Lizzy suddenly felt a stab of shame. Yes, it was clearly a demon, but it was also ugly-crying in the middle of her living room. She trotted to sink and pulled off a sheet of paper towel and handed it over to the sniveling thing. He wiped his eyes, and dabbed at the places on the carpet where his tears had fallen - they were smoldering slightly. He blew his nose and the paper towel caught on fire. He looked stricken for a moment, then he ate it. His skin tone tinged towards eggplant.

"Why are you doing this?" she asked, her voice quavered, but Rantix could taste the flavor of real curiosity on her breath.

"Because you're my assignment. I'm supposed to make you happy so I can eat. Happy thoughts are..." he searched for the word. "Filling. But you don't like anything. And it's been almost a month and if I fail this assignment I get demoted to boggle."

"You eat happy thoughts?" asked Lizzy. She sat down on the floor next to him, and laughed for the first time. Rantix jumped, surprised and he felt refreshed for the first time since he came here.

"I thought you were some kind of stalker," she said. Then she laughed again, and Rantix laughed too and clapped his knobby hands. It felt wonderful.

"I never would have thought I'd be so happy to have my house possessed by a demon," she said, and she smiled at him. He smiled back, his mouth full of needle sharp teeth. Lizzy found is strangely adorable and on impulse pulled him in for a hug.

"Alright, no more rom-com crap, okay?" she said.

"I... I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

"Don't worry. I'll make you a list," she said.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Intergalactic Pit Stops and Other Bad Ideas

[MP] Just one more.


Oct.29, 2015

Just one more, they said, Slink thought to himself as he huddled in the air duct listening to the sound of distant plasma explosions. One went off on the other side of the wall he was on, made him close his eyes and press his hands over his ears. He had to clench his mandibles together to stifle a chatter.

He tried to creep along, cursing inwardly every time his exoskeleton scrapped along the metal. How was I supposed to know they were dangerous? They were so soft and pink - like Spiro's Salt Taffy.

They had almost bypassed the planet. It was the last day of school break, and they needed to get back. But he had wanted to just see one more planet before returning to the grind. Maybe get a pet.
Honestly, it had been how cute the puppies looked asleep that had made him grab this particular bunch. With no chitin or mandibles he didn't even bother to lock their doors. Which was why they had been able to access the armory. And then the killing began.

He'd seen Brib take Laser-filimented knife to the eye, while one of the pink puppies gave a blood curdling cry of rage and defiance, spraying a hideous clear spittle in Slink's face. Some of Brib's green blood had gotten in his mouth, and he gagged thinking about it.

I bought him 'Bleakers Revenge' to play on his Mind-Station for his birthday last week. I was going to show him how to beat the Tiger-wasp level. Slink stifled another chittery sob, with a segmented leg.

Inching forward, he knew if he could just get to the other end of the duct, he would make it to the escape pods.

There was an explosion of gunfire, and holes perforated the duct and Slink couldn't stop a high-pitched clicking, or the sudden spray of pheromones. The acidic smell filled the air.

"One of them is in the ducts," a voice said. And within the space of his double hearts beating, there came a deafening pounding on the metal, and Slink could see them bludgeoning their way into the duct.

He ran, his hooked appendages slipping on the smooth metal, but he moved swiftly once he found purchase on the riveted seams. He was working his way into a rhythm, each of his six feet moving in syncopation that calmed his mind from the numbness of panic. The noise faded into the background, though he was sure they would find a way to track him.

The pods are just ahead. The pods are just ahead.

The duct came to an end, and he peered through the slotted grate. The airlock seemed empty. His antennae twitched, but he couldn't scent a single puppy in the room. Slink clamored down, trying to walk softly, but knowing it was futile. He rushed to the pad and clicked in his code, the door opened with a 'whoosh' and he slipped in and hit the lock code.

He began the launch sequence when the pod was rocked by an explosion. Slink screamed and began mashing the controls with his hooked appendages.

"Leave me alone," he screamed. The thrusters kicked on - and he realized he hadn't buckled in when his head slammed into the overhead paneling. The world went black.

Slink woke up to the gentle beeping sound of the pod's homing beacon. His head throbbed and he gingerly touched it. The carapace didn't seem broken. But as he turned to sit in the cockpit, he froze.

"Can't let you infest my planet," said the pink puppy that had been waiting in the pod. Slink didn't even hear the plasma rifle fire. But he could smell it.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Women in the Moon



Oct. 23, 2015

Cora stepped inside the room and looked around. She was surprised by the warm and homey smell of baking bread.

"Hello?" she called out. "Am I in the right place?"

A woman holding a wicker basket, covered with a blue and white checked towel, turned around from the oven. She was pleasantly plump, and looked to be in her 30s, her midnight black hair braided back from her face rosy face.

"Oh my, is it that time already?" she said. "Come in, my dear. Take a seat by the window - I always loved that seat."

The younger girl slipped her feet out of her shoes, and padded over to the overstuffed chair near the window. The carpet on the floor was thick and lush, and shone silver.

"It's warmer than I thought it would be," said Cora, easing into the big chair. "You must be Per--"

"Not anymore, sweetheart. I'm changing jobs, just like you. Soon you won't be able to keep track of who you are either. That's just the way of things."

Cora smirked, but didn't say anything. It was ridiculous to think that she would be anyone but herself being the moon didn't matter so much. The older woman - Persephone, Cora thought with rebellious flair - plopped the basket down in Cora's lap. It was warm and the smell of fresh bread wafted from it. She peeked under the cloth and admired the round, golden loaves nestled inside.

"Try one," said Persephone.

Cora picked one up, it was about the size of a softball, had it been made of dough pressed into a half globe. Heat gently radiated out from it, and the young girl broke it in half. Crumbs sparkled as they fell to the carpeted floor.

"I use stardust in my recipes," said Persephone. She leaned against a pale wall, and pushed a grey streaked lock of hair away from her face. "It is later than I thought, isn't it? How silly to think I could stay so long."

The young girl looked at the other woman, whose shoulders bent under the weight of years, and the bones of her skull seemed visible in her face. Her skin was translucent, like spider silk.

The crone sighed, setting the basket down and dusting the shimmering crumbs from her hands. "Take care of it, will you? It all happens so fast."

The girl watched as the old woman hobbled to a door on the far side of the room that hadn't existed before. The hag looked over her shoulder, and despite her eyes being milky with age, looked at the younger version of the moon and smiled kindly.

"Goodbye, Persephone."

The first loaf was already eaten - and the woman could hardly remember the taste. But there were more loaves in the basket - and she had to make more before her next guest arrived.

"Farewell, Hecate," she said absently, looking out the window as the far door closed with hardly a sound.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Without Hope


Oct. 7, 2015

The bed was soft, heaped with pillows and puffy comforters of various sizes and colors. It looked like a patchwork cloud - silly and yet so inviting. Hope shook his head and smiled.

"You didn't have to do this," he said, and then smothered a cough.

"I wanted you to be comfortable, and that is hard to find these days," said Death, who toddled into the room, her silver hair done up in a prim braid and she carried a black iron teapot in her hands, using a towel to keep from burning her palms. She poured the steaming liquid into a porcelain cup that rested next to the bed.

Hope sighed, knowing it was useless to argue. He took his shoes off - ragged things with holes in the bottom - and placed them neatly by the night table. Death helped him remove his jacket, which was hardly more than ragged tatters, and she tsked over its condition.

Hope settled onto the edge of the bed, sinking into the blankets and pillows and he felt tears spring to his eyes. It was far more comfortable than it looked.

Death had shuffled into the kitchen and he could hear her clinking and shuffling things around. She returned bearing her own cup of tea in one hand, and a plate of small cakes in the other.

"Take your pick, dear," she said.

Hope chose the middle cake, it was round and drenched in honey and he could smell coffee and spices, and see the raisins and nuts that speckled it. Death picked the smallest cake and bit into it, making a noise that indicated she was satisfied with her work, but not overly impressed.

Hope ate in silence, tears spilling over his cheeks as he chewed and swallowed. When he finished, he sucked his fingers clean, and went searching for stray crumbs on his shabby pants. Death leaned over and picked up his teacup and pressed it into his hands. He could hardly feel its warmth, despite the steam curling from the surface.

He sipped it and tasted orange peel and cloves. Flavors that he hadn't tasted in eons.

"I miss them all so much," he said and his shoulders shook. Death reached out a wrinkled hand, and ran it through his hair that had long ago turned the color of dust and cobwebs.

"I know, dear, I know. I miss them too," she said. She took the empty cup and placed it on the nightstand. With touches as gentle as a breeze, she nudged him into bed, and wrapped him in blankets. She leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.

"Goodbye, love. you always were my favorite," she said.

Hope faded into nothing. Death shook her head, wiped her eyes on the hem of her apron and then went back into the kitchen to clean up.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fine Print


Sept. 27, 2015

(NOTE: This wasn't technically a writing prompt, but a discussion on the /r/rpg forum. But it did prompt me to write, so here you go).

It stood there, twenty feet tall - slaver and dark ichor dripping from its serrated teeth. Leathery wings brushed the vaulted ceiling and every time it exhaled, noxious lavender fumes plumed through the air. It fixed its strange gaze on the mage, who was still clutching the thick tome of summoning and then sighed.

"Do you have your permit?" asked the beast, its voice grating like bending metal.

The mage, a young elf who had just counted his first century, didn't reply. Instead he dropped the book and jumped clapping his hands together.

"I did it! I bound a fifth level apparition! Youngest in my class!"

The gargantuan creature placed its razor sharp talons gently on its face and stifled a groan. Then with its free claw, traced a glyph in the air.

"Dispatch," said a disembodied female voice, sounding annoyed. She was audibly chewing gum.

"Hi Shirley," said the creature. "Could you send Les to my twenty?"

The mage stopped reveling.

"Who are you talking to? I didn't give you leave to speak, animal!" he said. He bent to pick up the book flipping through the pages, with a sullen frown.

"Is that you, Bix?" said the voice. "Isn't this the third time this week? You should talk to the Magus. Les is en route."

"Who is that?" muttered the mage. "Who's Les? I demand you tell me, fiend!"

The demon sat down in the summoning circle, smudging some of the runes and causing minor conflagrations. Where it sat, bricks cracked and shuddered and it finally fixed its red-black gaze on the tiny mage-boy.

"I'm going to take a nap, child. You'll meet Les soon enough," it said. "Wake me at your peril."

Then it wrapped it's wrings over its head, and with a move that would have been cute had the demon been a puppy, it snuggled into the floor and went sleep. And its snores sounded only a little like a broken sawmill clogged with dead bodies.

The mage stared at the slumbering demon and opened his mouth, but a rare thread of common sense wiggled into his brain stifled his outburst and he turned his attention back to his book. Under the page with the demon's name, (a name that stretched the length of both pages), was the description for the summoning. He had missed the asterisk.Close reading hadn't ever been his forte, and he had good spell components riding on the successful completion of a level five binding. He read the footnote:

These sage beings are under the austere protection of the Council of Bund. Anyone attempting to summon from this plane any of these noble beasts must have obtained, in advance, permissions in full by the Three Shadowed Chair-beings of Bund, sealed and witnessed at the Dust Grove by no fewer than two (2) ranking clerks. Any who fail to do this will be subject to full prosecution and binding with punishments up to three (3) years of magickless living.

There was a knock on the door. And without waiting for an answer the door opened. A woman, hardly more than four feet tall stood in the yawning portal, wearing the plain gray uniform of the Iron Ring. Her mouse-brown hair was pulled back into a tight bun, and she was wearing standard-issue glamour-resistant eye-wear.

She looked around, taking in the snoozing demon and the mage reading the book.

"Are you Maester Twill?" she asked.

"Look, there's been a mistake," he said.

"I need you to drop the book and step away from the summon," she said.

"Hey, I know my rights! I want my inter-dimensional advocate!" he cried, his voice becoming shrill.
Les stepped into the room, reaching behind her to unhook the manacles from her belt.

"Come over here, sir. No need for this to get stressful. You'll be coming with me one way or the other," she said. Her voice was cold, and rather bored.

"You have no idea who I am!" he said, and he drew on her - his wizard rod was already glowing and a beam of white-hot energy shot through the air, followed by a nearly deafening sonic clap. The smell of ozone filled the air, and the smoke cleared to reveal the mage prone on the floor. The stones were blackened with soot, and his robes smoldered. A ring of undamaged cobbles surrounded Les, and she shook her head.

The demon lowered one of his wings, taking in the scene with one red-black eye. A horrible noise, like squelching mud and forks on chalkboards indicated Bix was laughing softly.

"What are they teaching them these days?" rumbled the creature.

"Beats me, Bix," said Les as she stepped over to the smoking mage. She quickly clapped the cold iron shackles on his wrists and was sure to beat out and of the still glowing embers. She picked up the wizard rod, looking at the blackened twisted mess it had become. "We don't keep the Repulsion Vests a secret, but you'd think they come from the Whisper Order based on how these college kids act. You able to disapparate now?"

"Oh, he bungled the runes so badly I could have eaten him and left before he finished the incantation," said the demon. "But I wanted to stay Material-side and watch you work. I also thought maybe you'd want to grab a coffee?"

Something that might have been a blush crept up Les's neck.

"Sure, Bix. That sounds nice."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Contract Negotiation

Sept. 21, 2015

“I’m sorry, but that’s against the rules.”


"I'm sorry, but that's against the rules," she said. A tear that was hanging on to her eyelashes, fell, skipping lightly against her cheek before falling with a plop on the floor.

"That's stupid," he said, and he smashed his fist into the meaty part of his thigh. The pain was too brief. He wanted to break things, rip the walls to pieces, cut his skin on broken glass. Push those feelings into something he could deal with. Something that had a chance of healing.

"You knew that when you agreed to the rules," she said.

"But I didn't know you then. You were just a picture," he said, his voice cracking. "I can't let you -"

"We have to finish the story," she said. "I'm sorry you came in at the wrong part."

James thought over the - was it only a few days? It must have been. Everything seemed like it was suspended in a thick fog. The curio shop, the woman behind the counter wearing a navy blue dress with the high collar - all the way up her neck - with brass buttons. It had looked so elegant and old fashioned.

The advertisement had said he could meet the girl of his dreams during an amazing adventure. James was even allowed to pick the story - whichever story he wanted. Fairy tales. There were hundreds to choose from, and that story would have his true love. He had signed heaps of paperwork, so much that his fingers had become stained black, and his hand had cramped.

Then incantations, ceremonial baths, and the oath. He had to follow the rules, and the story had to come to an end. Happily Ever After had to happen or the story wouldn't exist.

He didn't really care for folktales growing up - they didn't make sense to him. So he had just flipped through the book and picked one at random. The Goose Girl.

He was the prince and he met the princess, fell in love. Except the woman wasn't the princess - she was a servant who had tricked her lady into switching clothes. The actual princess was a stranger James had never met.

"We can run away together," he said, reaching through the bars to touch her hair, but she pulled away.

"Please, stop," she said. "You're making it so much worse."

With a strangled cry, he turned from her and left her behind in the cell. In the courtyard, the joiner was hammering away at the large barrel - big enough to fit a person inside. Large iron spikes had been hammered over its entirety, protruding into the keg by some length - a couple inches anyway. Hundreds of them.

His true bride - James coughed out a bitter laugh - had asked her once-servant the proper punishment for stealing her royal silks and taking her royal place.

"That wicked person needs to be rolled off a cliff in a barrel studded with nails," said his love, staring into James' eyes.

He stood looking at the barrel, running his hands off the bumpy heads of the iron nails. They were cold.

He began to push the thing across the yard and up the hill. No one thought to stop him. After all, in this story he was the prince. No one tells the prince what to do. Up the hill he went, some curious stares followed him. And his new, soon-to-be wife saw, and called to him from the balcony. But that was too far, and he pretended not to hear.

"I should have read the story, baby. I'm sorry," he said. Making sure it would roll towards the cliffs, he climbed into the barrel and changed the ending.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Key

A key.

Sept. 6, 2015

(Note: I responded to this prompt and sent it to my friend for his birthday, rather than post it to the subreddit. He insisted I post it here, so I am).

The root was set deep, and I had to grasp the base of the weed with both hands and jimmy it like a stuck door. When it finally came up, a mound of topsoil, gravel and detritus came with it. I shook it, trying to leave some of the good stuff in my poor, neglected garden when something shiny fell back to earth. I tossed the plant into the embarrassingly large mound of weeds and took off my glove and poked about in the dirt after the shiny thing.

My fingers grazed something cool and smooth and I picked it up.

Even caked with dirt, I could tell it was a key – those old fashioned kind with long stems that fit in old-style keyholes. A real key – not those bits of toothy metal we use these days. It rested comfortably in my palm. I brushed the dirt away and realized that the key was made of glass.

“That’s silly,” I muttered to myself. “How would you turn it?”

And I wanted desperately to find what it opened. And it made sense to dig – because maybe the treasure chest or door wasn't too far away.

My hands were blistered and bloody by the time I found the box. It was about the size of a shoebox and made out of glass, but it wasn’t clear like the key. It was black – and though it caught the light of the setting sun, rather than reflect it, the box seemed to suck it up like a cloth. The keyhole was perfect.

I slid the key inside, and the noise it made sent a shiver down my spine and I gasped as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. There was something secret in the box, something different, beautiful and not quite right.

I turned the key and it snapped in my hand as the tumblers in the box fell into place. I lifted the lid, and felt a warm breeze – like a breath being exhaled in my face. Then they poured out. I’m guessing they must have been more demons and hell spawn to darken the world.

“For fuck’s sake,” I grumbled, and slammed the lid shut.

#
“Pay up,” said Hermes, a shit-eating grin on his face.

Zeus’ face darkened, but he fished in his coinpurse, removing an errant thunderbolt before tossing the drachmas to his son.

“We could do this a million times, and she would open it every time,” said Hermes. “What we should have bet on was whether or not you’d fall for it.”

There was a rumble of thunder,  but Hermes had already put a soothing hand on his father’s back.

“So, what did she get for a consolation prize this millennia?” asked the thunder god.

“In addition to Hope – the great standby of mankind – I left her chocolate. Felt right,” said the Trickster.

“Fair enough,” said Zeus. “I’ve got this scheduled again for this time next eon.”

“Perfect.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Routine Checkup

He has many teeth.

Sept. 14, 2015

"Looks like they're coming in nicely, Mrs. Gleeks," said Dr. Bruns, as he peered into the mouth of the woman's son. The long metal instrument scraped and prodded, and the boy did a decent job of not squirming too much. Satisfied there were no obvious cavities, he gave the nod to the hygienist to start the flossing procedure.

"I'm a little concerned about the fourth row, a few there seem a little crooked, but we'll know when he loses set number two," said Bruns. "What we really want to be careful of is that the other rows that come in aren't crooked."

"Oh dear," said Mrs. Gleeks. "Is there anything we can do?"

"Has he been sucking his tentacles?" asked the dentist, looking at Mrs. Gleeks over his glasses that had many magnifying attachments.

She rubbed her appendages together and flushed a deeper shade of blue. "Yes," she said.

"Mom!" said the boy, who had paled to a rubbery shade of gray.

"Easy there, sport," said Dr. Bruns. "I just need to get the whole picture - I won't be telling your friends."

The doctor placed a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder and smiled. "I sucked my thumb until I started high school - and even then my mom had to remind me now and then if I got stressed out."
This seemed like small comfort to the boy, who cringed away from the dentist's touch, and slumped in his chair, tentacles twitching this way and that, like an annoyed cat's tail.

"If you look at the X-ray, you can see why there's a concern. If this row gets too far out of whack, it will start to push into the rows that are coming in. The longer you keep it up, the worse the problem gets," said Dr. Bruns, flicking on the light screen behind the X-rays in question. Back lit, four rows of edged teeth could be seen, and sure enough row four had a distinct kink where some of the teeth looked like they were folding in on themselves.

"What happens if he doesn't stop?" asked Mrs. Gleeks.

"Well, worst case is some of the teeth point inward and will actually in-grow. This can cause infection and necessitate removal and immediate braces to correct future rows," said Bruns. "More than likely, it won't come to that. Since it seems like an occasional issue. If you can get it under control, it could even work itself out by row seven. But that's only he if stops the habit now. Whaddya say, sport? Think you can give it up?"

"Whatever," said the kid, not looking at either of the adults in the room. "Can we go?"

"I'm all set. Good job with that brushing sport - I know how hard brushing and flossing so many teeth can be. Keep up the good work and you'll have the scariest set of chompers in your class," said Bruns. He took off the paper bib and pushed the button. The chair hummed and grunted as it sat little Master Gleek in his upright position.

As they slithered out leaving a glistening trail of mucus on the carpet, Bruns rolled his eyes at Cindy, who shook her head.

"How old is that kid, eh? 13? Yeesh, if he doesn't stop now the opinion of his dentist will be the least of his worries," he said

"Give him a break, Larry," said Cindy. "Your mom still keeps your room in order, remember?"

"You're killing me, Cinds. Remind me never to tell you anything," he said, pulling the elastic bands from the mask off from around his curved, wicked looking horns.

"Well, in better news - your one-o-clock cancelled and you get a long lunch," she said, and he could see her grinning under her mask.

"I thought this morning would never end," he said.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Procrastinator

[WP] You always save the day, but at the last minute and in the laziest way possible. You are...The Procrastinator.


Sept.  9, 2015

There. All of the windows had been washed, laundry folded, and floors swept. Cara eyed the gunk around the edge of the sink and picked up the toothbrush and began to scrub it furiously. But the pit of her stomach still felt like an acid bath, and she glanced at the clock.

"I still have time," she muttered, and continued to scrub the sink.

She paused to turn the radio on, and caught the final seconds of a really great song. Then it cut to a news break.

"Figures," she said, rinsing the toothbrush in the sink. Reports of the alien threat were rolling in. The ships had been in the sky for nearly 12 hours. All attempts at communication had failed - the last had failed catastrophically, with a beam of lavender light destroying the envoy aircraft. There wasn't any debris, just a puff a purple smoke. No known survivors.

Then the countdown had started - it had taken the world’s most brilliant minds to determine that's what was happening. Even with that breakthrough, they hadn't been able to actually speak with any of the alien crew.

Cara opened up the cabinet that held all her plastic storage containers - three tumbled to the floor and she began to pull them all out of the cabinet.

Lids over here. Containers over there. Wait - this lid doesn't fit any of these. Why do they even make bins this size? I never use these. I swear the damn things are designed to warp after two uses to force you to buy more.

Live coverage of the countdown filtered through her thoughts and she sighed. They would not be going back to the rock music. Cara did some quick calculations on her fingers and then sighed again.
She touched her earring and a small supersonic vibration tickled her ear. A voice crackled over the line dripping with syrupy excitement.

"Why if it isn't Cara-who-only-calls-her-mother-when-she-needs-something?"

Cara winced.

"Hi, mom," she said. "I called on your birthday, too."

"Oh, please, honey, just get to the point," said her mom.

"Well, it's the Humphries. They decided now was a good time to invade Earth," she said.

"Those little shits" said mom. Her mother sighed and Cara felt a pang of dread. "If I get rid of them you have to come and visit me."

"MoooOOoom," Cara groaned. "You know how nauseous teleportation makes me."

"If you want to take care of it on your own, be my guest," said her mom.

The countdown continued on the radio. Just a minute to go.

"Fine, I'll visit," she said.

"Great, I'll put you down for this weekend."

"Jesus, ma - I was going to clean the apartment this weekend," she said, trying not to look at the spotless apartment she had just binge-cleaned.

"This weekend or find a new planet to slum in, young lady," said Mom.

"Fine, this weekend. Thanks," said Cara.

"Love you, Cara-bear," her mom said and the line went dead.

The countdown was under twenty seconds when the sky turned an alarming shade of beige, and every tenth ship vanished. Cara could hear the unmistakable lilt of her mother's voice over the radio as she took the Humphries to task for their unwarranted invasion in their native tongue. Mom was informing them that they should feel lucky they were only being decimated for the obscene lack of protocol when Cara flipped the radio off.

With that done, Cara flipped open her laptop to check her Facebook page.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Summer in Maine

Aug. 31, 2015 (My porch was the prompt this time)

Crickets call – so many it’s a quiet cacophony. People think of them as night creatures, but only because that’s when they quiet down to actually hear them. The air is silky warm, and a little thick. I can hear the kids playing with their toys – scraping them along the windowsill and humming as tunelessly as the crickets.

Clouds are smeared over the sky like thick frosting, with only cracks and crevices of pale blue showing through. A breeze, like cool silk passes over my skin – then gets stronger and the sun makes a languid appearance.

The guttural sound of a motorcycle rumbles by, but fades and the wind picks back up, tickling the wind chimes.

The wind pushes the frosting of clouds aside, but the sky is so pale it’s difficult to tell cloud from clarity.

My eyes keep finding the gobs of silk spun by tent caterpillars – mounds of silvery-white twisted over leaves and branches, filled with crawling larvae and rotting leaves. The could almost be pretty, but they will never be that.

The humming birds are strangely absent.  And then they are summoned by this very sentence – pausing their didgeridoo wing-noise to take sips of the syrup from the feeder. Then gone again. I’ve been out here for two hours and that was their first visit. Mind readers.


Andy, the night cat has come to call, as I sip my wine and try to focus on work. Which I do, from time to time.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Laid to Rest


Aug. 28, 2015

(Note: Made a couple small changes from the original post)

"We're mostly interested in the dead," said the tall man. "But maybe you will be useful. Step into the light."

I slid my foot into the flickering circle of light thrown off by the lantern, dropping my eyes as I pulled myself into the glow. I could feel his eyes on me. And I glanced up, and they were pale, the color of skim milk with black pupils that stood out in stark contrast. He was so tall that his hat brushed the curved ceiling and he had to hunch slightly. The seconds slipped by and I could feel the blood crawling in my cheeks - I disliked being looked at. It was worse when I was caught, like a little mouse.

The woman behind him continued her work, laying out all manner of tools on the velvet cloth. Small knives, tubing, pumps, saws and gew-gaws I didn't recognize.

Usually the catacombs were empty, and made for a great place to sleep in the winter. Never too cold, never too hot. The guards didn't come down much. The bodies made them nervous. But this city had the best caretakers in land, and there was little to fear from the dead.

But I had forgotten it was execution day.

"Hector, we need to get working. The sun sets in two hours," said the woman.

"I am aware of the time, Olivia," he said, not breaking his gaze with me. "You will help us prepare their rest."

I saw the woman straighten slightly, and she gave me a look that I couldn't read. Surprise, maybe. Or relief.

"What do I do?" I asked, peering at the line of dead people laid out on slabs.

"Come," said the woman, Olivia. She reached out her hand, and after a moment's hesitation I reached back. She took my hand by the wrist and pulled me to her side. She smelled like lavender. She took my lank blonde hair in both of her hands, and twisted it into a ragged bun, tying it off with a cord she had hidden under her sleeve.

"You don't want anything to get in your hair," she said, and smiled, even as my eyes widened. Our of her pocket she produced a small jar, and when she opened it I could smell lavender and a strong whiff of camphor. She dipped a finger and put a dollop under my nose, making sure some entered my nostrils. My eyes watered.

"It will help with some of the smells. Though these are fresh, you are a green stick - and even though I'm old, I remember being the green stick. Hector doesn't even use it any more, but I do," she said, placing a smear under her own nose.

Olivia began explaining the instruments and their grim uses. Hector had already begun undressing the first one. He gestured for me to help. I tugged off the worn-out boots, but hesitated when he gestured for me to take the pants.

"I'll see his man-things," I whispered.

"He won't know the difference, and will have more dignity if you help us do this than if you quibble like a child, girl. Remove his trousers," he said.

Blushing furiously, I undid the belt and began to try to remove the pants. Which was harder than I thought when the man in question was stiff as stone. Olivia helped prop up his back so I could slide them under his bum, and then it became as easy as pulling them off his legs. I peeked at his nethers, but looked away when I saw Olivia grin at me.

"They're just boxes now, Green Stick. We just put the boxes in other boxes - like a puzzle," she said.
Once all were stripped the real work began. Mostly Hector and Olivia worked in silent concert. Inserting a needle into the arms and pumping out the blood into a drain in the floor. Other fluids were pumped in.

"Removing the blood will keep most resting," she explained. "But sometimes it matters not. And with murderers and rapists even less so."

Hector sliced open the chest of a great bear of a man, his long and slender fingers holding the knife with a gentle grip, skillfully slicing through layers of fat and tissue with practiced ease. He removed the insides, popping them into jars of liquid. Olivia named each of the things he removed: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys. Olivia helped with the ropes of intestines and even with the ointment beneath my nose I was gagging from the smell."

"If you must vomit, the drain is the best place," said Hector.

Once the guts were sealed away they sawed off the head and placed it at the feet. A stake of ashwood was driven into the corpses chest. Hector had me bind and stake the ankles, wet leather was wrapped and knotted around the legs, then a smaller ash stake was shoved behind the tendons.

"This prevents them from walking," said Olivia. "The one in the chest calms their anger and stills their limbs. Most of the time."

By the time we had gotten to the last corpse it had already begun to rise. Its eyes were bright red, and its voice was gurgling groan.

Olivia grabbed the beast by the forehead, pushing it down on the slab. I moved forward to help, she grinned at me again. This time I grinned back. Hector sawed through the neck and placed the gnashing skull at the feet. Once the beast was staked, the limbs stopped thrashing and the rest of the job became considerably easier. Soon his innards were jarred, and all it could do was gnash its teeth at the air. Eventually it got tired of even doing that and closed his red eyes.

"Hector was right about you," she said, wiping her hands clean on a towel. "I wasn't sure. But you did well, Green Stick."

"Indeed," said Hector, but a small smile curved his lips. "Do you still wish to sleep with the bones, or would you like to come to the our hall?"

Olivia handed me the towel and I had to dry my eyes. It felt like coming home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Seeing Red


(NOTE: I've stopped responding to prompts in the threads of reddit)

Walls shook and shuddered and with a hideous groan, the earth tore itself asunder and Gund Galrun rose from the pits of his realm. He stood 12-feet tall, bathed in the warm blood of the fallen. His eyes were voids of darkness, and horns curled from his forehead, brushing against the lace canopy of Ellie's Hello Kitty Princess Surprise bed.

"I am Gund Galrund, lord of wounds, heart's liquor and sacrifice for grim victory. You have called and I have come," his voice shook several plastic horses from the shelves, and a pile of chapter books fell in a heap.

"Be careful! You are messing up my room," said Ellie, stopping to re-stack the books and rescue the ponies, which were various shades of lavender and pink.

"Sorry," said Gund Galrund, who bent down to assist, only to rip the canopy that had become tangled in his horns.

"Oh, no!" cried Ellie, her eyes going wide and then brimming with tears. "You ripped it?! What am I going to tell mom?"

"I..." Gund Galrund made a fumbling attempt to get the lacy thing back together. "Wait, why have you summoned me?"

She stood up straight, all of three-foot-ten-inch frame bristling with indignation. Arms filled with plastic ponies and a slight quiver to her lip, her blonde hair caught up in pig-tails.

"I am Ellie Fitzhubert, age 6 and I will win Mrs. Gibbons' Annual Spelling Bee, and Sally Higgins won't stop me," she said.

"You wish for me to spill her blood with bees?" asked Gund Galrund. "I've never done that before."

"No, Goofus, I want you to make her spell sanguine wrong. She thinks she's so smart," said Ellie popping the horses back on the shelf more forcefully than she needed to.

"My name is Gund Galrund, not Goofus." He said, peeling the lace off his head. It dripped red, and Gund frowned at the girl.


"I don't care if you're name is Mary Poppins, I summoned you by the last rite of Dane Gah'nechth and you are bound to do my bidding," said Ellie with a smile. "First, fix my bed. Second, take me to Sally's house."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mid-life magery

[WP] A world where magic exists, and is tied into the caster's emotional state. Young, passionate people can cast powerful but fleeting spells, older and wiser folks cast more enduring, practical spells.


(It should be noted that I did not post this on reddit, though I did read the prompt there)
August 3, 2015

The curtains caught on fire. Again.

The fire alarms burst into raucous life for the third time that morning and it wasn’t even 9 a.m.

Sandra clapped her hands and a small thundercloud appeared over the cheerfully burning drapes and a small downpour extinguished the flames. A wave of her hand sent the smoke out the window and tousled her hair, and electricity still crackled around her eyes as she stared at Maeve. The two-year-old was still screaming, waves of heat were rippling off of her.

“That was naughty!” she said. “You could get a boo-boo and you ruined your curtains.”

More screams. Sandra took a breath, and the air around her became cool, then cold and she scooped up the toddler, who buried her face in the crook of her shoulder and neck and sobbed. Maeve felt like the heart of a star.

“Shh,” said Sandra, trying to feel her own cool, but even though she could see her breath dance in front her eyes, evidence of the cold, all she could feel was the heat. She began to hum Maeve’s favorite lullaby and the heat began to ebb, slowly at first. Soon the only thing that remained of the toddler’s outburst was soggy singed curtains, matted sweaty hair and a tearstained face.

“Let’s get a snack, bug,” said Sandra, letting the girl down gently and taking her by her hand. The girl scrabbled up into her booster-seat, only threatening to fall out once – well, technically twice, but Sandra only saw the one time.  The enchantment laid into the floor would allow for an uncomfortable, but safe, bounce on semi-rubber surface. The runes for rubberization were expensive but had prevented trips to the ER on more than one occasion – it had also saved her crystal punch bowl. Sandra had stepped on a wooden block barefoot and dropped it while clutching at the arch of her foot.

The doorbell rang. Sandra drew in her breath sharply and handed Maeve her bowl of banana and apple slices before peeking through the glass. A spike or irritation at not being called was mixed with the sheer joy of not being alone. She opened the door and smiled, absently touching her hair that was clumped into a loose and stringy ponytail.

“Hi, Mom,” said Sandra.

The smaller woman, silver hair popped primly in a bun, stepped forward and cupped Sandra’s face with the palm of her hand, she then smoothed it through her hair, and Sandra felt cleaner and more put together. It was wonderful. When she touched her hair, an intricate braid had woven itself in her hair.

“You look beautiful,” said Blanche.

“You’ll have to teach me that one,” said Sandra, and her mom smiled.

“Gammy!” hooted Maeve from her booster seat, and bananas splatted to the floor. But when Blanche bent down to kiss her granddaughter – the bits of fruit marched themselves over to the compost bin.
Blanche straightened and opened her mouth to say something when the earth shook beneath her feet and she steadied herself by holding on to the wall.

“My goodness, what on Earth was that?” she asked, her silvered eyebrows arching.

“Next door,” said Sandra with a sigh. “Candice’s daughter stayed out past curfew. Candi has gotten really good at her bindings – but I think Samantha is tinkering with her Wrath of God invocations.”

Blanche laughed.

“You used to be amazing at those. Broke all the windows in the house when I grounded you for seeing that Connor boy,” she said.

Sandra rubbed her hand over her reddening face. “Don’t remind me – I can’t wait until this one starts up with that.”

“Oh, there’s plenty of time for that,” said Blanche, pulling Sandra in for a hug. “You’ll be fine.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Late Blooming

You've finished a meal you've no money for.

July 27, 2015

It had been so long. How long was hard to say since there was no light here. For days - maybe years or centuries - I had refused to touch the food. Banquets of heaped food left in piles to rot. I would not eat it.

The dead milled around it, looking at the food their master had laid out. Their eyes held confusion - as though they recognized it as food, but no longer knew what to do with it. The dead eat little.

But it was the seeds. I have a thing for them - comes from my mother. So I would walk the garden and brush my fingers over the strange fruit that grew there. The skin felt strange - dried, like leather. But it was fruit, and my stomach growled.

The juice was dripping down my chin when the Gardener found me, crouched in the corner, the rind of the pomegranate at my feet. They tasted of blood and life and they stained my teeth and filled me with strange life and stranger death.

I had no coins to pay. We all knew I would be paying with currency that was my time and my body. I licked my lips, feelings the seeds in my belly and I smiled, and the Gardener recoiled from the sight. Already roots were pushing through my body and blooming in this dark place.

Seeds are my domain and the lord of death would see spring. I would take root in his grim heart, and push it apart to see the sky once more.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer Foal

July 26, 2015

[OT] Sunday Free Write: Leave A Story, Leave A Comment - Space Walk Edition! 
(NOTE: I actually got the idea from the title of a post in the thread).


"The damn thing's breech, Sara," Jed said, and sweat trickled down his forehead, threatening to seep into his eyes. He rubbed his face across his shoulder. He braced his feet, and grabbed on to the slippery fucker with both hands.

Though he'd birthed foals dozens of times on the farm, this one was going down in Harkin history as the worst he'd ever dealt with. The mare had bit him on approach, which was his own fault for being careless. But she'd tried to kick him every chance she got - the numb bitch had no idea he was saving her life. Which was par for the course when it came to horses. And as horses went, Nandy was thicker than most.

All of this would have been fine if the temperature hadn't been hovering around 100 in the shade. And the smell. He knew he was just in a bad mood for this sort of thing, but the smell was just making him nauseous and prodding at the headache that was growing behind his eyes. The blood and mucus and manure all mixed together coating his nostrils and tongue and gagging him whenever he took a deep breath.

Usually doesn't bother me, he thought as he fixed his grip on the foal and heaved. I like the smell of horse.

The thing got stuck, and he spat a curse that his wife would give him hell for later, but for now she just wiped his forehead and waited for him to get the animal out of its mother so she could help.

He heaved, knowing that if he wasn't quick the mother could go into shock and die. And she was too young for that. He felt rather than heard a bone pop out of joint, but then the foal lid from it's mother, neat as could be. Well, neat as any birth can be.

"Mother of God, Jed, look at its back," said Sara.

Normally, Sara swearing would have been enough to send Jed ducking for cover - but he'd seen it too, as the foal landed in a tangle of legs on the stained blanket his wife had laid out: Wings. One was flopping loosely on its back, but the other stretched, still covered in the slime and blood of birth, and then folded like a bird's. They were complete with little spindly pinfeathers and down, matted with bloody gook.

Both of them just stared in silence, the mare began to lick the birth off the baby and it staggered to its spindly feet and began to look for her teat and its first meal.

"We need to kill it, Jed," she said, her voice hard and her eyes wide. She didn't wait for him, and had already crossed the barn and picked up the maul he used to split firewood. He noticed that she was white as milk, and semi-circles of sweat had stained under her arms and along her back.

Jed moved over and looked at the baby. Despite her earlier grouchiness, the mare let him check over the foal, content to clean it. The thing had latched on to a nipple and was having its first meal. It shivered as Jed touched it's limp wing, and by feel he could tell it was only out of joint. He wiped his hands on his coveralls, then took hold of the wing, and with a deft movement popped it back in place.
The foal paused in his suckling to give a pained cry. Nandy's ears went flat, but once the foal settled she continued to ignore Jed.

Sara was looking at him, wisps of her dark hair had come free of her braid. She held the maul and both hands and was staring at him, her lips pressed into a thin line. Jed knew as well as any man the signs of his wife's smoldering temper. But there are some things a man won't do.

"I ain't killing our foal, Sara Harkin. Stop being foolish," he said.

"It's a demon," she said and hefted the maul and made to shove past him and he took it - not from her, but held it with her. She tried to move it, but Jed Harkin was many things, but weak wasn't one of them, and it felt like trying to move a hundred-year-old oak.

"It's a horse. Nandy's been with the farm since we been wed, woman."
She tried one last time to move the tool, and then let go. Jed knew that he would be eating leftovers for dinner.

"The neighbors won't like it. Us having a demon," she said, but her voice had softened. A silvery tear dropped from her eye, missing her cheek entirely. "I told you Old Bill weren't the father. Nandy would never let him near her."

He released the maul, and wrapped his wife in his arms. She was stiff at first, but as he held her, she eased her head on his shoulder and tucked under his chin. He touched her soft hair.

"Neighbors don't like our pigs, neither," he said, his voice gentle rumble in his chest. "Help me wash him down. You'll like your demon better once he's had a bath."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Something Blue

Blue

June 29, 2015

Sapphire.

Liquid blue light, carved into facets and set in twisted metal. And it was mine.

I lifted the pendant from the box, and it flashed in the darkness - laughing at its newfound freedom. I stared at it, seeing its soul, hearing its song. It felt warm in my hand and I laughed with sheer joy, no longer caring if they heard me. She loved me so much and I loved her.

I could feel gentle fingers cover my hand, bending my fingers away from the stone - pulling her away from me. Sadness, also blue - but not blue like she was. Darker, like the deep night and it filled me.

"Please, no. I love her," I said, and tears filled my eyes. Filled my whole body.

"Quickly," said the voice. "It may already be too late. Quickly, damnit."

The lid was snapped shut and her light was cut off. And they closed the lid on the box and I know I was screaming, but I couldn't feel my throat. I couldn't feel them pulling me away.

I just saw the blue that was gone.

"I know," said a voice that sounded so far away. It sounded sad, and kind.

"It will be all right," said the voice. I sensed them putting me in restraints, but I stopped resisting.
I looked at the man, I remembered him only vaguely - he owned the museum. He was... my mark? I closed my eyes and sobbed. Nothing made sense.

"Look at me," he said. And I did, my eyes still spilling tears. My heart still breaking again and again.

A bottle was pressed to my lips and hot liquor poured into my mouth. I gasped and choked, and suddenly he was clearly in front of me.

"Oh, shit." I said, I was in a wheeled chair, arms bound, the man I was supposed to rob standing with three armed men. He waved away my words like they were troublesome flies. Unconcerned with things like robbery.

"We both got lucky, old man," he said. "Too much longer, and it would have been too much for you. Too much for either of us. Honestly, chum - I don't know what to do with her."

His eyes held something familiar in them. Something blue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to school

This is another SCBWI WriteThis! prompt that didn't make the top 20. I still enjoy it.

Three tails twitched in time:  Gray, black and marmalade. The great yellow beast shuddered to a stop, and opened the doors with a creak and a hiss. Without a word, Tabby, Tom and Mal hopped on the bus and went all the way back - where all the cool cats sit.

Friday, August 28, 2015

In Season

A group of friends meets up for a discussion. by kamuimaru in SimplePrompts


June 28, 2015

Platters of cheese, crackers, chopped veggies and dip cluttered all the available surface space. Summer maneuvered a crock of salsa onto the crowded coffee table keeping an eye on the basket of corn chips sliding precariously close to the edge.

The timer in the kitchen began beeping at the same time that the doorbell rang.

"It's open!" she called as she flounced into the kitchen. She could hear the door opening. She grabbed her thick oven mitts and slid one on each hand. She opened the oven and inhaled the heat and scents of cooking pie. The filling had pooled up over parts of the crust and bubbles popped thickly, releasing the scent of hot peaches and cinnamon.

"Holy crap, Summer, there's only four of us coming, you made enough for the Russian Army," said the voice from the living room. Still holding the pie, Summer poked her head in and smiled at Spring, who was hanging his coat on the rack next to door.

"I get excited when it's my turn," she said. He looked at her pie and shook his head with a smile.

"Will you put it down, so I can give you a proper hug. And turn off the damn oven, you're the only one who likes it this hot," he said.

Summer slid the pie onto a cooling rack near a window, and pushed the button on the oven. When she re-entered the living room, she flipped the switch for the ceiling fan and then Spring had caught her up in a hug. He spun her around and she laughed.

"Well, you look wonderful, woman," he said setting her down and patting her cheek.

"Aw, thanks," she said, her cheeks turning pink. And despite the fan, the temperature in the room rose at least five degrees.

"Stop it, or I stop complimenting you," he said, but he smiled. "I would have thought I'd have been last. Where're Winter and Autumn?"

"Beer run. Sorry, bud - you're always late," she said. "Hey, try the goat cheese spread. I got it at that farmer's market you told me about."

The door burst open and Winter, her arms laden with paper bags that clinked as she moved. A sharp breeze followed her into the house.

"Spring finally made it!" she cried over her shoulder.

"Ha! I knew he'd show up when we went for the beer. It's the only way to get him to show up," said a deep voice from behind Winter.

They put the bags down and hugs were doled out and backs were slapped. Winter gave spring a gentle kiss on the cheek and she smiled as warmly as she was able.

"Summer, that place is amazing. If I lived here, I'd be broke. Did you know they had Balvenie 21?" Autumn asked, holding up the bottle.

Summer had grabbed a platter with some tumblers, ice cubes and spritz.

"You like it neat," she said and Autumn nodded and did a small little jig. Which was impressive for a man of his size. "I brought you some dates from when I visited Spain. To die for!"

Everyone picked up a small plate and filled them with snacks. Cups were filled with beers and wine and scotch. Finally each one plopped into an oversize chair. Stories were punctuated by explosions of laughter, at one point Spring was clutching his stomach trying to recover from the story Autumn had told about cows on a farm that had somehow managed to start one of the combines and started a stampede.

Summer rested her head on Winter's shoulder while Spring and Autumn went to get the deck of cards.

"It's been forever," said Winter, running her fingers through Summer's hair, that would shimmer gold or green or wildflowers.

"We all get so busy," said Summer, enjoying the sensation of cool fingers playing with her hair.

Plates were filled and emptied and filled again. Eventually the pie was sliced and handed out.

Autumn took the first bite and rolled his eyes up and sighed.

"Summer, dear, wars will be fought over your Peach Pie," he said and Summer giggled.

They played cards and everyone got quite drunk. And the hour grew late and then early again and Summer could feel it when it was time to end it and had to dab her eyes on her apron.

"I know, honey. I hate it when it's time to go," said Spring and even his eyes seemed overbright. She hugged him too hard, but he didn't mind, patting her back and pretended not to hear her little hiccough sobs.

He put on his cloudy coat, clasped Autumn's arm, gave Winter a quick kiss and slipped out.
Autumn took her hand and kissed it. "I love it when it's your turn, my dear."

His coat seemed to catch on fire as he donned it, and he waved over his shoulder as he left.

"It will be my turn next," said Winter. Summer hugged her.

"I can't wait," she said.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scattered Showers

[WP] Gold at the ends of natural rainbows is real.


6/14/2015
June 14, 2015

“A 10-00 has been spotted,” Sally said, her voice sounding tinny over the radio. She gave the location and static hissed as she disconnected.

I swore under my breath as I hit the button to turn on the blues, I had to swing a one-eighty to head towards Everitt’s Peak where the rainbow had been seen. I was on a hill and I could already see the traffic surging up the mountain. I grabbed the hand-set.

“325 Hanover, is anyone in the vicinity of Everett?” I asked. Last I knew, Henries was trying to scoff a burrito at Nickky’s Diner and Dominic was tied up with a domestic across town.

“Negative, 325. You’re the closest unit.”

“Fuck,” I said to myself. Pressing the handset button I acknowledged. I floored it and activated the siren.

I passed three accidents, radioing them in to rescue, but not bothering to stop. Two of the cars were empty and I could see the former occupants running down the road with their eyes on the rainbow that was bent over Everitt’s Peak.

One or two cars yielded to the lights and siren, but I had to PITT more than one, watching them career into the bushes. It made the newspapers happy whenever we ditched someone – they loved to talk about how we drive people off the road, but I had yet to see a reporter actually at the point of contact, so until that happened – or until Sarge decided I needed to cool it, the ditch it was. But I wasn’t the only one ditching cars. One car was on its roof, with someone pulling themselves out of the smoking wreck and walking on crooked legs up the hill.
I didn’t look too long. Had to focus.

Five minutes and I was at ground zero. Not bad, all things considered. I hit the release on my shotgun and exited the cruiser. There was at least one person ahead of me. The rain pattered softly in the dirt, and the smell of wet tarmac was sweet in my nostrils. I used to love the smell of rain, now it just reminded me of death.

The colors that touched the ground seemed to saturate everything they touched. Trees touched by the red, became crimson – root, branch and leaf. I found myself bathed in indigo, and it smelled of fresh breezes and lavender. I saw a woman ahead of me, sinking her hands into the cauldron. Next to her was the body of a teenage boy. The wound at his throat was ragged and still pulsed with blood.

“Hands in the air!” I called, my voice cracking across the silence.

She looked at me, her eyes wild, like an animal, and her lips peeled back from her teeth. But her hands never moved from the cool gold, smearing it in red.

“It’s mine!” she snarled.

“Drop it,” I said, my finger moving to the trigger. She lunged at me, and as the shotgun kicked in my arms the rain let up.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Water Marks

[WP] A short Horror story. Something to chill the bones in one hundred words or less.Writing Prompt (self.WritingPrompts) submitted 13 hours ago by AidanTheSmith


June 9, 2015

The wheel was pressed too far into her ribs and every breath, no matter how shallow, radiated waves of agony from deep inside her chest.

She could see, but the light was wrong. The noise of rushing, bubbling water muted other noises. She couldn’t feel her feet, but suddenly she registered the water that was rising up past her chest. So cold.

When she tried to move, the wheel, the belt and the pain kept her from moving more than a few inches.

She saw movement in the mirror, and sick panic rose with the water.

“Mama, get me up! Up!”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Spring in Maine

[WP] Go outside for ten minutes. Describe what's there in vivid detail.Writing Prompt (self.WritingPrompts) submitted 6 hours ago by Glarks


May 23

Even sitting in the sun, the day is a little cool when the wind blows. But it's worth it, just to feel it on my skin for a few minutes while the kids are upstairs - not napping, but not screaming either.

The porch holds on to the echos of the children's play - rocks piled and organized near the step; a small hula-hoop circles itself, a little 'O' of nothing on the planks; push cars plopped akimbo where they stopped for snack. But it's quiet, save for the breeze which tickles the wind-chimes and the new blossoms on the apple tree. A car or two meanders by on the road.

The leaves on the tree still look new and fragile. The sun seeps through them and they glow, like stained glass. The lawn is wild, with heaps of dandy-lions roaring at the birds. A fat bee bumbles through the pride, landing on each flower. Its so heavy the blossoms wobble as it sips at the nectar, smearing pollen on its head and legs.

Small, red capped birds peck at the ground, eating bugs or seeds or the leftovers from the kids picnics. They are far too trusting, considering the murderous leanings of the cat. He mews, and lopes over when he sees me, flopping on the dusty steps and rolling over for a scratch. The birds, seeing him, head for higher ground and peep at us from the trees. They won't last long at this rate, he's brought down faster, smarter birds. But for now, he lets me scratch his chin and tries to sit on my lap. But he can never stay for long, since he kneads my legs with needling claws and I have to shove him off, and scritch his ears instead.

The wind-chimes toll sweetly in the breeze, and I shiver and smile.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Weather

(The SCBWI Write This! prompt for August. I didn't make the cut for the top 20. But the ones that did were phenomenal.)

Yet, there it was: snow everywhere, piled in heaps and smeared over cars, sidewalks, and rooftops like thick, heavy glue. Branches bent towards breaking and cars skidded and slid on the roads, sinking into snow banks. The lights went out.


We weren’t going anywhere.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Rock Bottom


May 18

Light. It's the first thing you see: the sun rising over the ocean. Pools of liquid gold, and glittering flashes of red five over to the sharper flashes of white as it rises higher into the sky and the surf really starts to kick off.

That's odd, you think, because in the space of what should have been several hours the sun moved in mere seconds. You could trace its very movement across the sky. How blue is that? It's thirst-quenching blue, the kind that would stick to your fingers if...

Where the hell are my fingers?

"Don't worry about it," says a small voice and you look and see a beautiful stone. Gray with flecks of mica catching in the sun, and a belt of thick, white quartz spanning his middle.

His? How on earth do I even know that little stone is a he ?

"You're new here, right? And you're not wrong, I'm a dude. My name... Oh, shit. Cindy was right, you do forget after a while. I used to have a name like you. But, it kind of fades away - I think it's the tide that does it. Just a little bit at a time."

Panic swells in the pit of your something, it was highly doubtful it was your stomach, but it still felt like it.

"Easy, buster. It's been awhile, but I still remember my first day" he said, and you realize the water is rising. "Speaking of the tide - this is actually pretty awesome."

The water pools around and over you, obscuring your vision of the sky. But it didn't matter, because the water felt unlike any water you'd ever touched. It was singing gently, rocking you like a mother rocks her child who's had a nightmare. And you know all the words and sing them with her. And just as suddenly she puts you down, back on the beach. You want desperately to cling to her, but the fear  was less now.

"See? Wasn't that great? It gets better every time. Don't worry about it, she'll be back before you know it. Look at that cloud over there, and watch as it floats through the sky."


The cloud was a fat cumulonimbus, and its outline undulated in the bold light of the day. But as the sun dipped behind the horizon the cloud exploded into so many colors. You could feel them all over, and they were warm. And music flowed from the colors and you were somehow singing with it. We were all singing it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wart

SCBWI Write This! Prompt for July was Wart. I actually finished the story, but since I'm looking to publish it, I'll just post the response to the prompt.

June 8, 2015

“They are not warts,” said the toad, with such indignation that the princess took two steps back. “I’ll have you know that I have thirty-six distinct bobbles on my person – each unique and beautiful. I will thank you not to call them warts, Highness.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

You... Do know I'm about to kill you, right?

[WP] "You... Do know I'm about to kill you, right?" A serial killer's latest victim doesn't seem to understand the gravity of the situation. submitted an hour ago * by Mazuna



April 29, 2015

“Oh, that makes much more sense,” said Jerry, his shoulders slumped as far as the canvas straps allowed. The middle-aged insurance salesman was a perfect fit – looked just like my shit-head dad, same job and everything.

“What did you think was going on?” I asked. He still didn’t seem the slightest bit scared, which was such a turn-off.

“Well, I thought Bill set this up for my birthday. He knows how much I’m into those serial killer shows. But it’s not like I’m all that close with Bill these day,” he said. His eyes were bright with tears, but I’d done this enough to know that he was upset because there was no cake and not because of the assortment of edged tools laid out on a grungy table top.

“How old are you?” I asked. That sounded pretty lame.

“Big four-oh,” he said with a sniffle.

“Did Bill say he was planning a party?”

“No. I just really wanted someone to throw me a surprise party. I never had one. And this looks like an awful lot of thought went into it. I mean, you even taped all the tarps in place. You have the special double-thick gloves and the butcher apron. Oh, man, you even have those big rubber boots – those are awesome. I mean, how perfect would that be for a serial-killer themed party?”

“Well, I mean, it’s like the perfect party, right? I mean I’ve got all the stuff?” I was more confused than I’d ever been. The thought of killing him just seemed pathetic, like I’d be letting him down. This was so weird.

“Sort of. Don’t get me wrong, this is awesome. But, I mean, no one is here to appreciate it. And once I’m dead, no one will even know you went to all this effort for me,” Jerry said.  “Could I blow my nose?”

I looked around – tarps abounded, but no tissues.

“Uh, hold on,” I muttered as I headed for the door. Down a narrow corridor was a disgusting bathroom and I was fairly sure I kept some toilet paper in there. Bingo!

When I came back, Jerry gave me a watery smile and then let me blow his nose like a toddler.

“Thanks, man. I know it’s not your fault. Don’t let me stop you from having your fun.”

I stood there awkwardly, I realized I didn’t have a trashcan to toss the used tissue. Usually all I needed for cleanup was a hose and a drain. The tarps pretty much took care of the bigger chunks. I just let it drop, but it grossed me out – which was also weird.

“Well, do you want to have a party?” I asked. “I mean, I’m not getting the thrill I’m looking for here, to be honest. And if it would make you feel better, I could keep Bill after and do him.”

“You’d do that?” he asked, and a small smile curved his lips.

“Sure, you call your friends and I’ll order from Dairy Queen. You like ice cream cake?”

“Do I?!”

Damned if You Do

March 9, 2015
[WP] A mercenary is paid to assassinate a mysterious man who the government believes to be the devil in human form.


Jackson thumbed through the file, glancing at the architectural plans, looking for security systems and frowned. A target this high-level with no security protocol?

"What the hell," he muttered to himself.

The photos were of a mom and her blonde boy who looked to be no older than seven. Both were to be exterminated for security purposes. You didn't get to Jackson's level of wet work without being a monumental risk to the public. But usually they were aware that someone was out for their blood. He'd never been assigned to a target in suburbia who didn't have so much as a burglar alarm.

"There has got to be some sort of mistake," he said, rubbing his hands over his forehead.

The marks' schedules ran like a day out of "Leave it to Beaver." Mom stayed home and kept house. Kid went to school, had high marks. Got in trouble for little things, but otherwise seemed like a typical kid.

He grabbed his phone and hit the number two on his speed dial.

"Hey, Jimbo, It's Jackson," he said.

"Hey, Jacks! What can I do you for?"

Fucking, Jim, he thought, rolling his eyes.

"What's the deal with this Nickerson folio?" Jackson asked.

"Hold on, buddy. Let me look it up," Jackson could hear typing through the phone. "Nickerson, Nickers - Oh, here it is. Shit, buddy that's a big one."

"I fucking know it's a big one, Jim, but have you looked at it? It's all manner of wrong. There's no security detail - just a kid and his mom. What the hell am I walking into?"

"Jeez, buddy, that is weird. But I don't know what to tell you. When I look for details it's fucking classified up the ass," Jimbo replied.

Up the ass? thought Jackson, who just sighed. "Well, if you find out anything. Call me okay? The timeline on this one is tight. I only have until tomorrow night to finish this. "

"Will do, bud --" Jackson hung up mid-sentence.

Well, the job should be easy enough. The pay was unreal.

He watched the house all day. The kid came home from school around 3 p.m., sporting a backpack with racecars on it. Eyes on the house revealed no visible camera, but he knew better than to rely on that. But even an electronics sweep didn't pick up any micro-eyes, or anything that wasn't a motion-sensor light. Not even a goddamn dog in the yard.

Jackson jumped when his phone started humming against his leg.

"Hey, Jim," he said into his cell.

"Jacks, I called in a few favors and got some intel on your job. It's weird, man."

"You don't have to tell me that, Jim. Spill it."

"Lynnie over at Central says that your hit is for the devil - with a capital D," Jimbo said.
Jackson laughed.

"Jim, if you didn't find anything you could have just said so."

"I'm not fucking with you, Jackson. I know that doesn't happen a lot. But, shit, man if you could see the file she sent me, it would curl your fucking hair. I wish - I wish you never called me about it."
Jimbo's voice sounded odd, choked. And Jackson realized he was crying.

"Just do your fucking job, Jackson and we'll all owe you one." Jimbo hung up and Jackson listened to the hissing silence for a whole minute before putting his phone away.

Hours crawled by. 3 a.m. was prime-time. Deep sleep happened then if it was going to happen at all. Even if someone did wake up, it would mess with their reaction time. As he approached he saw a light on in the kitchen. He could see the woman scrubbing the floor, on her hands and knees. Crying.
Well, that fucks things up. But he was out of time and that limited his options. But at least the door was unlocked.

He slipped inside and locked the door behind him. The woman didn't even look up, but she did stop scrubbing.

"Are you here to end it?" she asked.

When he didn't answer, she looked at him. Her blue eyes were red-rimmed and puffy from crying.

"They didn't tell you?" And she laughed, a watery hysterical noise that made the hair on his neck stand up. He had his nylon cord in hand.

"Can you do him first?" she asked, still kneeling and suddenly supplicant. "I need to see it. I need to know that it's done."

This is too fucking weird. Every nerve in his body was yelling at him to get out. But he was a professional. You finish your job or no one pays you ever again. Or worse, you get on someone else's to-do list.

"You have to be quiet," he said. Why are you even talking to her? You aren't supposed to talk to anyone.

But a smile broke over her face, and a look of such blissful relief.

"Thank you. God, thank you so much. You don't know what it's been like - "

He watched his hand snap out, and crack her across the face as though he had no control over it.
"Shut up and show me where he is," he said.

The woman pressed her hand to her face, a ribbon of scarlet blood poured from her mouth. Droplets hitting the floor.

Messy, thought Jackson. Amateur.

She stood and walked barefoot down the hallway. Leading him to a door that was covered with checkered flags and racecars. He opened it, and could see the form of a sleeping child inside.
The bed was the shape of a racecar. He adjusted his grip on the cord and went inside. Within moments it was around the child's neck and taut, cutting off blood flow to the brain in seconds. He held it tight for five minutes. The boy didn't even struggle.

The woman watched from the doorway, and odd smile quirked on her lips.

"I never get tired of watching that," she said. "I wonder how many will die before someone shoots me in the face. Do you think you can make it?"

Jackson knew he couldn't make it.