I'll warn you upfront: this isn't glamorous.
At first, I thought I was in a car or on a plane. I woke up in an uncomfortable chair with an incredible headache and no idea where I was. My eyes slowly adjusted to the sickly yellow light, and I saw a ceiling with water damage. I didn't recognize it. I smelled mildew and smoke, which would've startled me if not for the headache.
I started to rub my head, but I couldn't move my hand. I looked down, and my wrist was stuck in something. Actually both wrists. And ankles. I didn't like where this was going.
Ugly laughter erupted from across the room. "About time you came around!" someone shouted. I rolled my heavy head to the left and saw Seth and Nate. They were sitting on an unmade bed, smoking.
Seth was not one of my favorite people. He worked at a bar I avoided, and he was why. He and I went back ten years, so we knew a lot of the same people. Like Nate.
Nate wasn't a bad guy, or at least wasn't till recently. He was lonesome and impression
FFM21: The Dragon ThingFor the third time in a week, Joey woke up crying in the middle of the night. It was a behavior that, like most children, he had left behind years prior, along with diapers and pacifiers and Elmo. It was only in the recent months that it had started again, infrequently at first but worse with every passing week. What made this night particularly notable was that, unlike the previous dozen occurrences, he could actually remember what he had been dreaming about.FFM21: The Dragon Thing4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"I was flying," he groaned into his mother's collarbone, sniffling and rubbing at his eyes. "I was flying over the mountains. I had these big wings, and everything looked really tiny."
"Aha," she murmured softly, smoothing his hair. "So you were afraid of the heights? It's just a dream, sweetheart, you don't have to worry about falling. That happens to me sometimes, too: a scary dream will wake me up, and sometimes it makes me want
Victory Keep: Chapter 1Edgar stepped into a clearing and found a centaur suckling her child. He threw his hands over his eyes.Victory Keep: Chapter 14 years ago in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
'I am terribly sorry, madam!'
'It's all right.'
Her tone was scornful, but with better things to worry about, Edgar did not take it to heart. He uncovered his eyes. She was feeding the child like a mare, not a woman, so he felt no need for embarrassment. He stooped down a little, trying to determine the gender of the young one. As with foals, it was easy enough to tell.
'What a delightful little boy,' he said.
The mother smiled. 'Thank you.'
'Do you mind if I sit down here for a few minutes?'
'I am very tired.'
The centaur made no reply. She stood with arms folded and her back legs slightly apart, gazing out into the forest. Edgar was disappointed. The significance of the situation had not escaped him, and he hoped she would talk to him.
The first thing to do was find somewhere to
The Witching HourFreshmen don't get to choose their dorm rooms. There are a few that are set aside specifically for freshmen: the small rooms, the ones with awkward angles, the ones farthest from the Dining Hall. But when the entering class is larger than usual, some of the rooms usually reserved for upperclassmen are opened up. If you're lucky, you could get one of the best rooms available.The Witching Hour3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I had a large class. And I got lucky.
My room wasn't huge, especially for sharing with a roommate, but it was on the top floor, right by the Bell Tower. It had a soaring ceiling, with windows nearly as tall. The first thing I did was shove the provided armchair (1960's orange and hard as concrete) up against those windows. When I was satisfactorily perched (far too uncomfortable for lounging), I leaned on the window and gazed out over my kingdom. The room overlooked a private courtyard, filled with silver-green crabgrass a
AnchorAn anchor had five minutes in which to reorient themselves. One.Anchor4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I stared at the heavy steel loop around my thumb. My world was a sand castle, constructed by the subconscious in a vain hope that it would stand up on such a treacherous foundation. The ring was an unfamiliar weight and the foundation of my castle started to crumble. I did not remember it. The tide was ebbing in around my mind, whispering that my carefully imagined world was wrong. That it was lies. That the 'when' and the 'where' were pure fancy. I stirred in the nest of wires that poured information through my brain. There was a man with me, his bare back against mine. He, too, was lost.
An anchor's duty was to the pilot and the pilot alone. Not to their employer, not the guild, not even to themselves. Two.
There was an image engraved on the ring, a nautical anchor from the days when man sa
plainlookplain3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
see how the brittle grass bends
as though bowing at the knee
and the wooden fencepost
with its halo of rusted iron
still longing for the lost days
when it too
could move with the wind
surely our old gods slumber
in the womb of this land
where clouds ceaselessly tumble
toward a stark horizon
and the dirt roads
on an altar of earth
in the distance
a brown sparrow
his tail feathers braced against
the bitter autumn frost
his mirrored eye flashing
with the steady hymn
DefectiveDefective3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Chad stood in his driveway, admiring his handiwork. The vintage Mustang gleamed like some giant emerald. There was still wax to wipe off, but not on the paint.
Chad hardly could have asked for a better Saturday. Summer was over, but warm weather had returned for one last gasp. After two weeks of sweaters and corduroys, he circled the car in a polo shirt and shorts, not a care in the world.
As one awakened from the best dream ever, Chad was slow to source the sound. Mosquitoes? Surely not, though there might be some at sunset. Birds? No, way too ugly, unless pterodactyls were back from the dead. And besides, those technically were lizards anyway.
There it was again. Tornado siren? Fat chance, without a cloud in the sky. Maybe an ambulance, or a fire engine off in the distance
Chad could feel it in his teeth, and his nails to a lesser extent: the change was upon him. Instinctively, he backed away from the car, so as not to scratch it. We all have
Coyote EnvyJeremy Driggers didn't just love coyotes. He envied them. He wanted to be one, and gradually grew less and less guarded about it. He drew coyotes in his notebooks in class. He watched Warner Bros. cartoons and rooted against The Road Runner. He wrote letters to the editor defending coyotes going through garbage cans in suburbia.Coyote Envy4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Jeremy wasn't very outgoing in or out of class, so no one paid much mind to him or his coyotes. He wore coyote T-shirts to class and even put a tail hole through a pair of pants, but no one asked him about it. At night, rather than socialize, he would lie outside and stare at the sky, obsessing about being a coyote.
This continued from high school into college. Jeremy signed up for several clubs where he hoped to meet like-minded individuals, but they never came at it from the same angle. They cared about camping and hunting, or endangered species, or Native American culture. No one else expressed interest in becoming a coyote, so he wasn't about to volunteer i
Transdimensional Super TeamNotice: The full length version of this tale, which is far more palatable, is available right here.Transdimensional Super Team4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The magical computer pool glowed. We stood around it like gods.
"Place your palms upon the unimetriscope," said the man in the top hat. "Validate your identities to Her Majesty, the Queen of the Multiverse."
It all seemed a bit hoity-toity to me, but there's a lot to be said for peer pressure when some extra-dimensional fancypants tells you your "peers" are a lady with wings, a James Bond looking guy, a giant robot, and a little girl and her psychic-bondmate, a white pony.
The guy in the top hat called himself Jeremy Flavius Beedle, and he twirled his mustache when he spoke.
He'd found me in San Francisco. I wasn't even working. I was sitting outside the ferry building munching down on a pastry from the shop there when he approached me.
Top hat and cane, fancy suit, and a giant
Journey of a Coin.Penny's life started just like every other coin's long life: having been melted, flattened, punched and inscribed, she was finally born into the world in 1971. Along with her 1,521,666,250 sisters, Penny was introduced to a new life of travels and adventures and hardships, beginning in the bottom of a Tesco cash drawer.Journey of a Coin.4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It was lonely there, certainly not one of the high points of her existence: none of the other pennies were particularly verbose and the majority of them were dull, rusted and squalid. However, as one of the newest coins on top of the heap, Penny didn't have to stay there long.
On her first day on the job, she found a new home in the hands of a four-year old boy: his hands were sticky and grubby and soon both of Penny's shiny faces were thick with a mixture of soil, saliva and sugar. It was almost a relief when he set her on the counter in his kitchen, but when the child's mother came into the room and beat him violently for taking ten pence from the coin tin, Penny wish
The Broken WallMilo woke up one morning in a different bed than the one he had gone to sleep in. Even so, the bed he was in now was still his own. He looked up at the ceiling and saw patterns there that he had never seen before and yet he knew they would be there. Sunlight slanted through the window in a line different from what he had expected.The Broken Wall4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
He spent the rest of the late morning wandering through the house. It was full of knick-knacks from places he was sure he had been. Every thing that he found there was his. Every thing that he found there was new to him.
In a daze, he sat down at the kitchen table. His mind was running, but it was buzzing, too. He couldn't keep his thoughts straight or even pick them out of the eternal hum. It was as if his mind was deliberately keeping him from thinking too much.
Outside he found a garden, full of plants he loved. Down a path he found a bench around a huge oak tree. He suddenly had a vague memory of having planted it, but that could not be possible. He sat d
Opaque Seas of TransienceHeidrich walked briskly down the open hall, his feet echoing sibilant metallic notes between the polished steel support beams. He wasn't in any particular hurry, though his quick pace said other wise. He figured it was the many years spent living in this bustling city, running to and fro in the almost oppressive crowds, every single person he had ever met always in some kind of urgent hurry. He mentally berated himself for missing this opportunity and slowed to an even walk. The appointment was still a good thirty minutes away, it made no sense to run. Heidrich was determined to glean a small portent of unhurried peace before he found himself busy again.Opaque Seas of Transience5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
And, for but a few precious little minutes, he found his peace, and that made him happy. He had never really thought to stop and actually see what he saw every day. The thought had simply never occurred to him. And yet here he was, thirty long minutes away from a procedure that would change his, and humanity's, life for good, at perfec
FFM 2011, 29.7 - The Tower"Dora speaking."FFM 2011, 29.7 - The Tower4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Mrs. Appleby? This is Aimee Bonner. I don't know if you happen to remember me..."
"Ms. Bonner? Of course I remember you! You were my star pupil in the 7th form. I'm so glad to hear your voice."
"That's right! That's right, Mrs. Appleby. I'm glad you remembered me. Um. I know this isn't strictly according to procedures, but I was wondering if you could help me with...a thing."
"You're being awfully secretive, Aimee. I can't promise anything before you tell me what it is."
"Well, ah, you see, it's a matter of...uh...invading realities? Maybe I better explain...."
"Ms. Bonner, if you have a haunting or a poltergeist or anything of the kind, you really ought to be calling the authorities, not me."
"If you'll just let me explain Mrs. Appleby, please."
"Oh, very well."
"It's like this. I have a freezer in the cellar, where I keep frozen berries and mushrooms and things. It's quite roomy, although I usually manage to keep it filled to the brim. Anyway, I was going down there
Tea for TwoI observed her fragile corpse upon the cemetery seat, looking to and fro like a lost pigeon. She blinked her watery green eyes at me just once as I approached, then let them oggle wide.Tea for Two3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Madam," said I, "have you any need of assistance?"
A soft moan echoed back across the dying rhododendrons.
"Are you tired? Lost?" A quick glance at her spittle-slathered chops. "Hungry?"
She nodded vigorously and a bit of froth flew loose to stick upon a nearby leaf. I watched as it slowly slid its way to the very tip and plopped with a light "thwack" upon the freshly upturned soil.
"Er, there ought to be a dead squirrel or two out back by the fence. I imagine Mortimer left something, he's always forgetting what he's doing and scampering off, you know how those crazy groundskeepers can be . . ."
She made a sound a bit like the braying of a hound.
"Perhaps you don't. Anyhow, come along."
When dealing with the dead, it's best to be polite. I suppose I would be anyhow, though, I can't help it. It's simply
The Furnish Is EverythingIt was 183 days ago when Minerva Kisling the Yiddish Mentalist first came to my train station. She toured the Neptune-Aries circuit in vaudeville. I had seen her glossy photographs a few times outside of the Easton theater and The Springhouse when she played there, but I never saw her in person. At least, I never saw her until the locomotive that was supposed to be bringing her husband failed to arrive with said husband.The Furnish Is Everything4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As a redcap for the Southwest Lake Station with a half-dozen sisters, I scarcely could afford the ten cents or the time to see a vaudeville show on a regular basis, but the children working near the tracks would put on cheap imitations of the more popular acts in hopes of getting pennies rained on them. They would dab burnt cork on their cheeks, bug out their eyes, and sing or tell jokes. Often they received the most money when they stopped singing and went back to carrying bags. What the children failed to re-enact, they retold to me on slower days. I was more than pr
The WeekendI show up unannounced, like clockwork, and when you let me in, the act of opening the door flows smoothly into the act of pulling me against you. This is our weekend. We won't leave this room for another forty-eight hours.The Weekend3 years ago in Scraps More Like This
You pull me over to the couch and ask about my week, and we trade stories of minor frustrations and negligible disappointments. The sun sets in a glory of flame, and our weekend officially begins.
Usually these things are unplannedjust a shapeless succession of quiet momentsbut you've planned something this time. You have a horror movie. Popcorn for you. Crunchy fruit-shaped candy for me. "You know me too well."
"Of course I do." The DVD player humsthe soundtrack to the next two hours or so of the senseless darkness and gore that's become our guilty pleasure. We haven't seen this one before. I jump with every sudden image. You don't. You just sort of absorb it, and that seems fearless to other people, but I know better. It'll haunt your nightmares f
IntroductionSometimes what you want for Christmas won't make you happy.Introduction4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Roy! So good to see you!" I beckoned my old friend inside and hung up his coat. "How are you?"
"All right," he replied, "but I still can't grow my own coat."
I laughed at the inside joke. Roy and I had more than one common interest, but our obsession was movie monsters. We pored over pre-code comics, and he envied the werewolves even though they always died horrible deaths.
"I see college hasn't changed you," I said with a smile.
"Unfortunately not," Roy sighed. "You know what? I don't want to be a werewolf. I just want to see one. To see one and meet one, and then I'd be happy."
"Really?" I asked, skeptical.
"Really," Roy answered. "I just want to know it's for real, and move on. It doesn't have to be me, or bite me, to satisfy my curiosity."
I paused. I had a surprise for Roy, but it wasn't ready. On the other hand, Roy wouldn't be home again until Easter. I paused longer than intended.
"What?" Roy snapped. "Spill it."
The Business Wolf stopped gnawing on his third plate of Lapin Bleu d'Auvergne and pointed at Deer with his fork. "The problem," he said, "is that you've got a bum deal going on with your agent. You're paying him far too much if all he was able to get you was public affection. I mean, there's what-- thirteen million white-tailed deer in the United States alone, right?"The Business3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Deer looked down at his glass, which was half-full of some white wine. He was a little unsure whether or not he liked it, as he didn't really know what made wine good or bad or even what type of wine it happened to be. He'd looked at the menu, become flummoxed by the French, and had simply asked the waiter (in English) for something vegetarian with a suitable wine. This was his second glass or maybe his third; he'd already forgotten. He swished it around a little.
"Thirty million, actually," said Deer. "Not thirteen."
Retrograde Scents from inside the suit intertwined their intentions with the sights of tangled and tessellated hair illumed by firefly LED's, spiking my circulation with memories and murmurs of dopamine.Retrograde4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I took her by the gaze; she steered her sight away from mine. I led her through a glance that involved no scuffling of hands.
She was one of two wayward strangers passing in the cosmos; two separate glances met as objects in motion tending to motion. People aren't the same however.
Drifter was the term we were known as, people cast off of vessels and ships, mostly by accident, condemned to trudge about the universe until starvation kicked in or their oxygen-starved filters were finally incapable of operating. My unplanned departure from the mysteriously flaming
DelilahWhat everyone knows about Delilah is that she's gorgeous. She's tiny and permanently pre-teen in appearance, with cartoon-big eyes and perfect skin. Her body is immaculate; she runs around the lake every morning, ear buds jammed in, tiny feet pounding furiously as she runs almost impossibly fast. Everyone knows she knots feathers in her hair, ties them to her clothing, hangs them from her rearview mirror. She's childlike, with her tiny wrists and her wide sad eyes, and so everyone touches her head or pulls her to their body or picks her up and dumps her over their shoulder, which makes her shriek and giggle but I know it also makes her a little sad being that helpless.Delilah4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
She loves fantasy novels, loves every facet of them, and if you ever met her you'd know this by the end of your first conversation, guaranteed. She is known for her silliness, which is, to be very honest, really the only thing that let any of us love her at first. She's just so damn gorgeous, it is impossible not to be j
Girl in the WarIt did get easier, once I started to imagine things were moving fast, too fast to fathom, too fast to see the stars but only feel them intrinsically on my skinlittle pinpricks, little bubbles of air to touch my cheeks or take my breath. Or, you know. The sort of rambling things I was letting myself think, so long as it kept me distracted and living.Girl in the War3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The window was damp with me leaning against it, and in that position the teeth-rattling rumble of the ol' greyhound's engines was churning my stomach much the same way a headache had been thrashing behind my eyes for the past month. I rubbed my ragged sleeve into a patch of fogged glass and turned away from the dark outside and looked instead to the darkness within. A few lights pricked the arid gloomreading lamp, a cell phone or so. It was a heavy sort of stifled, in here, and it smelled like old cloth and travel and musty seats. Someone was coughing.
But cold. Why is every freaking bus always so cold? I hunkered down, tugging
VisionsThere's a saying among my people. It was something about how you have nothing to fear from a pond full of leeches, how it's not the pond's fault. I used to remember it a lot more clearly, but that was before the loss of cohesion.Visions4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The elders say I was sent as a warning of things to come. The medicine man never said much of anything. He waved his bones and feathers and trinkets around, he lit his grasses and fanned his smokes, and after singing his songs he just stared at me with a deep pity shining out from under his skeleton make up.
I am subject to visions. They are sudden and striking and painful to the point of debilitation. When they come, my senses stagger and die off. There is always a great sound like a huge zipper being pulled, and as it unzips, all other noises fade into nothingness. Gray static envelopes the edges of my visual field and creeps slowly and deliberately in, turning my surroundings to an indistinct slate.
I discovered this gift when I was fourteen. A robber had b
SaxLulinda died today.Sax4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I find out when I see Bobsy at the club. I'm taking out my sax and he's playing with a hat when he just says "Lu's dead," just like that, almost like talking about the weather.
I say, "what?" and he just looks at me and keeps playing with the hat so I know it wasn't a joke and I turn around to stare him full in the face. "How'd she die?" I ask him, and he drops the hat and moves to his piano without picking up his feet. "How'd she die?" I ask again, but he opens the cover to the piano and that is Bobsy's way of saying he's done talking.
So, we go to Eggs, sax and I, and he's just drinking some liquor at the table with his chin and his hands so I don't see why I can't ask him. I sit down beside him; sling my sax across the chair, and say, "How'd Lulinda die?" Eggs's eyes get really heavy when he drinks, heavy like they are right now, and he looks at me with those basset hound eyes and says, "Lu? Dead? Oh, I dunno." I'm about to ask again when Lori and Bobsy come to t