Argus ApocraphexOf the many tiny beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead, two fell down, further soaking his already dampened brow. Suspended, he floated upside-down in a padded room, dreaming without consciousness of his body or its position in space.
His mind reeled from slide to slideimages of adolescence pooling together and then streaming into an old time film: The Life and Times of Donald A. Silver. The yellowed silent movie showed a young man smiling and leaning against an old Chevrolet sedan. Cigarettes burnt the corner, and he was dancing with the woman he'd asked to marry him. But in the center of the shot, a blur grew from the inside of the lilies on her wrist. A quick rewind to remove the obstruction, but instead it continued to grow across the bare chest of a flexing boy at the public pool. And finally, it consumed the picture and gnawed it to the pit, leaving behind a carcass to rot in its old age.
The man awo
Changing GearsMy morning oats taste particularly bland this morning. I look outside the clouded windows and see the city across every inch of my vision. Buildings of all shapes and sizes are formed from copper, brass, and iron. At all times of the day, the city's Gears are churning.Changing Gears3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The Gears are the machines that run the city, the country, possibly even the entire world. Metals are formed together to form them, robotic men designed to replace our government. Their voices boom over the industrial noises of the factories and drown seem to drown out all individual conversations. We're free, I suppose, but they all say that there was once a time when freedom was all we had.
Across the street, I see Thayoden. He's a boy who works in the aircraft factory, constructing engines and attaching steering wheels and dials to bi-planes. I met him in Industry class when we were both eleven years old. Ever since then, we've grown apart, but I still see him and think of how much I miss being with him. But we're dif
Imitating NatureThe morning sun streamed through a series of large plate glass windows lining the library's east wall, its rays warming the room's wooden paneling and illuminating the cavernous space. Tall bookshelves stuffed with literature from across the world towered over polished oak reading tables, each furnished with a plain, green-shaded banker's lamp. On the far side, a massive painting gracing the west wall depicted the solemn face of Saint Patrick, whose protective presence could be felt watching over the library's sole visitor.Imitating Nature3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
All was perfectly quiet, save for a tap, tap, tapping that echoed in the otherwise silent room. Seated at a desk near the door, glued to the screen of his laptop, Eoghan quietly tapped his pen against the notepad in his lap as his eyes scanned through the different news reports.
Another roadside bomb outside of Kandahar, three dead, all soldiers. God frowns upon careless mistakes gentlemen. You should have noticed the dead dog along the side of the road.
of the ground-of the ground3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It was Sunday night when Geo climbed into my room from the fire escape. I was painting my toenails and listening to the sounds of the city: police sirens, pulsating bass, the kids in my tenement running guitar riffs back and forth with the street musicians on the sidewalk. That was the year I turned sixteen and took a two-month vow of silence to honor the death of autumn. A premature snow had robbed the season of its delicate warmth and color, forcing the maples to weep their leaves into the gutters. All that rainwater, all that decay. How could anyone create when October was dying outside their windows? Pete and Jake practiced acoustic that entire month. The rest of us were too fragile to play in suicide weather, when the right chords might move us to open our veins.
Geo sat down next to me, examining my bottle of red lacquer. "'To Eros is Human,'" he read, and rolled his eyes. "I'll keep that in mind."
I offered him my shoebox of nail polish. He selected a purple the color of opium
Whiskey Laden DreamsBitter eyes and tears might taint a drink, but sitting in this bar alone with your stool pulled out next to me, and the Martini poured regardless of your presence still brings a smile to my face; despite the taste. I'm having a whiskey myself; dry. Yes, I know I don't drink, but every once in a while you need whiskey to solve an intricate problem, and mine is the distinct lack of alcohol in my life.Whiskey Laden Dreams3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
There are people everywhere and it amazes me how none of them are you, from the woman in the black dress coming down the stairs to the signing couple in the corner, laughing silently. They're not you at all, and that's what's amazing in an ocean of coal you're a marble pebble, smooth to the touch and pleasant to the eye, and you don't leave me scarred.
I'll kick back the tumbler for now, refilling your drink when necessary, despite you never having it. The waitress will look at me with tired eyes and concerned words, but I'll insist I'm drinking with a friend, whilst that sad g
Fire and WaterIt was raining in Lancaster on September 3rd 1555, and Jane Ask loved the earthy smell that it coaxed out of the soil.Fire and Water3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
She wiped away the sheen of rainwater from her forehead with the back of her hand and set her small basket of nettles down by the front door. Later she would dry out the leaves and reduce them to a powder; the substance worked wonders on small wounds which refused to stop bleeding.
Jane had always been something of an herbalist. Growing up with only a father, and two older brothers from his first marriage, she had spent the majority of her childhood outdoors. Now practically a spinster at the age of twenty-two, she knew the Lancashire countryside as though it were the dearest friend, and for years now its other residents had come to her for aid. She knew which plants could heal or, if nothing were to be done, could simply ward off the pain.
She sniffed, wiping a drop of cold rainwater off the end of her nose, and looked across her herb garden at Sally. Sally was her co
Confession of Betrayal"There was a time when I feared you, avoided you, for what you were - before I knew the person you were. A time, even, when I believed that because of that, you would have to die. That you were evil because of that irrational fear, and that all things 'evil' must be eradicated." She sighed deeply, clutching his hand for support as she spoke the truth that she'd never told him.Confession of Betrayal3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"When you first spoke to me, and I answered, I lied. I was willing to sacrifice my own morals if it meant reaching my goal. Killing you."
He watched her expressionlessly as she confessed what she had meant to tell him long ago, but had never had the chance - or perhaps the courage - to do so.
"And what made you change your mind?"
She blushed and glanced downwards, before continuing. "I-it... Honestly, I don't know. I was..." She mumbled incoherently to herself, and he patiently waited for her to speak up again.
"Every day, I plotted against you, even while I gave you fake smiles and claimed to be some
The Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution Paradigm3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Ramu came up to our table. Glaring at me, he said, “You either order something or get out.”
I glanced away from the threat, and turned to Raghav. A single drop of sweat was running down his brow. Ramu saw that too and identifying his prey, he sprung.
Swinging around, he faced Raghav, “Order something or get out.”
Then Ramu just stood there. It was not as if we had rehearsed it before hand, but he knew. He knew that my co-occupants generally folded in the first round. Only the stout made it to second level, but they too buckled under Ramu’s relentless gaze.
I always had a policy of not spending on other people’s problems. My purse was already slimmer than the waist of a size zero model. So, I simply sat there, watching the lion circling his prey.
A few seconds later, the prey went down. “Two coffees”, Raghav said, wiping away the sweat with a handkerchief.
Ramu turned his head back, gave me a leering smile, and we
Night Chaser02:37am 22nd July - depart from London by commercial jet, business class.Night Chaser3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
00:53am 22nd July - arrive in New York an acceptable 7 minutes behind schedule.
Slaying an archangel is hard work. It takes a great deal of study, picking your mark, separating fact from legend, learning your target's tells and vulnerabilities. Even if you succeed, and when I tore Gabriel's crystal heart from his open chest I became one of the precious few who have, there is still the matter of retribution. Angels never forget the death of one of their own, and a legion of these creatures now wait to descend and deliver their vengeance. My only sanctuary is the night. Angels can only exist in light of the sun and as such I owe my continued existence to the wonders of modern technology, which is capable of sending man half way around the globe faster than the approach of the morning sunrise.
I chase the night. Or at least I chase the processed luminance of airports and rail terminals.
I've got an hour and
Talking to YourselfWind drove snow over the trees with such force they seemed to step into the distance. The whiteness in the air covered everything until it was as faded as an old scent trail after a rainstorm. The snow was already deep enough to suck in a man's leg past the knee if he wasn't wearing snowshoes, but the figure trudging through it was no longer a man.Talking to Yourself3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Wendigo had given up on snowshoes long ago in favor of simpler footwear. The straps challenged the clumsy fingers of his stolen human body, and he could never figure out how to move in them without tripping. He lurched onward with the tenacity of a wolverine gnawing through an inch of deer skull to get the gooey treat in the center. The pain in his stomach howled to his feet. He gave little thought to their control. His mind was focused on making the most of sensory information diminished by the storm. Sounds and smells were difficult to pinpoint. He almost felt as if the wind were a rival, come to mask the trails of prey to keep for itself.
The Waste WorldShe said create the world, so I did. I made it dark and dusty, coughed up from my own black lungs. I gave the trees an ashen hue and the ground a color to match the starless sky. The creatures were murmuring oozes, globs of drying acrylic that inked across the orb of my bubbling imagination.The Waste World3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Repulsing, it was in fact the product of an industrial mind. I was born from man's smog goddess and, if memory serves me, her breath was laced in exhaust which I inhaled nightly with her songs. She was soothing and complacent, her voice smokey like a hazy bar. No one could deny her features were hideous beyond belief. Her skin dripped pollution like morphine into veins, into deep red rivers to turn them ebony and clogged. Her eyes glistened obsidian, sharp and cold if you didn't know her at all. I knew she was lost and ashamed, as her mother, my grandmother, would often remind her of the destruction her presence caused. I loved her like grandmother nature never could.
Grandmother was ,indeed, a gra
Across the Sea and Around the KotatsuSpringAcross the Sea and Around the Kotatsu3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
Mom starts with rice. Japanese rice, one, two, three Japanese cup-fulls of rice grains into the cooker, because Sis eats a lot of this stuff. It's one of her favorite dishes, taco rice, and Mom's always happy to make it for her because it's the only way Sis will eat her tomatoes. But back to the rice. "You want to rinse at least three or four times, until the water's kind of clear," Mom says as she cups her hand under the cooker pot, letting the cloudy water wash over her hand.
Rice cooking's easy though – just fill enough water to the point the rice's covered, punch in a time (or set it to "Quick Cook," which with our creaking rice cooker still takes about an hour) and let the cooker do its thing.
Ground meat goes into a well-greased and heated frying pan. Break up the block so that it crumbles into fine little pieces, and do this with wild abandon, because this is taco meat. Mom uses any taco seasoning that happens to be cheap; most seasonings rack up t
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and WaitI don't know when we first went underground. I don't even know if it was one mass exodus, a swarm of mankind trickling through the earth's crust so vehement we carved our own caverns by the force of trampling feet, or whether it was a gradual process, perhaps even a repetitive one, a family here, a neighborhood there. For all I know, the echo of the damp subterranean machine has always reverberated off the cave walls, created long past by the Angels, who think of our well-being even while they shake their heads helplessly at our flaws.They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They say that those who remained on the surface were raptured away in a great flash of light, like a million suns converted into raw energy all at once. While it was rumored once that the flash was our doing, our own horrid creation, we all know better now. It was the Maker who brought it forth from the void and cast it onto the earth's crust, as though shot from an immense sling, taking only those who were brave enough to trust in Him. We, who live in t
Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.Russian Roulette3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call h
The Green of my Heartbeats5: Red, rude, a bully.The Green of my Heartbeats3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
She was bored, propping her face up on her palms. Her teacher, high-voiced and chirping in fuzzy green flurries, was writing rows of sevens on the board. White chalk. The sevens were glimmering in turquoise, and she smiled.
Sevens were nice, friendly. Seven would never eat nine. Nine was just a baby, like her brother at home.
She was only five. Fives were bullies, nasty. Bright garish red, like B. B was red, but he was not as rude. He forgot things though. Like his keys. Impatient.
She sighed, her head slipping and resting on her wrist. She could feel her pulse on her cheek.
"Seven!" said her teacher, continuing to fill the board. "Say it with me. Seven!"
Later, they got to practice identifying numbers. She had learned before, at home. Kindergarten was not meeting her new knowledge expectations.
Sitting at the table, she strived to make conversation to ease the ache inside her brain. "I like sevens. Aren't they the prettiest color you've ever seen?"
They boy next
Deja vu. Again.I had moved here two weeks' ago, but had never visited this section of town so late at night. I had been invited to the pub by my neighbour, to make me feel welcome. An hour ago, she had phoned to say she had been asked to work overtime, and wouldn't be able to make it. Seeing as I was there, I drank a couple of cocktails. I was now walking back home.Deja vu. Again.4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Drunken people yelled out across the street. A couple of cars drove by, their horns blaring as the inebriated stumbled into the road. A bright yellow car stopped, flashing its headlights. A woman in a red dress banged on the window. The passenger door was opened, and a shouting match started between the woman and the driver. The woman slammed the door closed, and walked away. My stomach churned. I felt as though I had witnessed this before, and a weird protectiveness came over me. I had a strong urge to warn the woman about her actions, but warring partners were not unusual on a night out, and it wasn't my place to offer advic
On my way homeBy Romy LaraOn my way home3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I exit the studio, sighing at the sight of the sun quietly hiding behind the trees and buildings. Turn to the right and keep walking. Cars are passing by, people in black suits get out from the nearest buildings; none of them care about their surroundings. I lift up my head and notice in big steel-letters the name of the company that owns that peculiar orange building in the corner of the street. It's the first time I see it. The sky is painted blue with some dabs of gray, just as if somehow the color of the concrete street had been absorbed by the clouds.
Behind me there's a couple discussing something about a house. She doesn't sound happy. And he's just getting mad. She shouts and speeds up, him trying to catch up with her, but it's futile. She is a very good runner despite her heels. The man glances at me. I toy with the white cable of my earphones and pretend I didn't hear anything. I pass him. He just stands there. I wonder what would he do now. But I have no time to
A Night at Pinetop's TavernSomewhere in the back alleys of the city's older section there was a crumbling brick building that had been around since before ragtime music was popular. Hanging above a faded green door that led down to the building's cellar was a wooden sign, and despite the peeling paint, you could still make out the bar's name: Pinetop's Tavern. Nobody really knew when Pinetop's first opened; local folks would tell you it had been there since time began, and the world had grown up around it. It was one of those places where the lighting was always dim and the cigarette smoke never dissipated and the cloud you were breathing now had probably been around since W. C. Handy was still alive.A Night at Pinetop's Tavern3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Pinetop's Tavern was a blues joint, and it had been around almost as long as blues music itself. Blues music was a lot simpler than most kinds of musicsimpler chords, simpler lyrics, and most blues musicians couldn't read sheet music. The genre was born on some unknown plantation in the forgotten Deep
Mechanical DeathEven mechanical things can live.Mechanical Death4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It stirred, steel tendons and synthetic muscles twanging like sad music in the cold silent dark. In turn, the dark hissed back, a noiseless sound from the furthest depths of blackest space. The thing with the tendons of steel and the skinless hide glistening with oil twitched and spasmed and trembled, the mess of electric synapses it called a mind confused by the notion of life.
It felt. And what it felt confused it, for it had never felt before and it did not know what it was to feel. It felt cold and hot at the same time, two extremes of temperature that at a point became inseparable with each other. It felt and heard and saw a world that it did not understand. For it had never lived before now.
The mechanical pump at the center of its being fluttered uncertainly, a chaotic interruption of a carefully timed rhythm: Thump flutter thump click whiiiine. The hissing noiseless dark writhed in its corners of blackest black and waited.
What is this
The PullWhen I was younger, someone showed me a video gametoo weird for me, but it made her laugh, and she was pretty. You played as this little guy with a squishy hammer for a head, and you rolled a sticky ball around in front of you. As you rolled it, things got stuck until the ball was gigantic. And then... I don't know. I don't remember the point of the game, nor do I remember the name.The Pull3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But that image comes back to me every time I am anxious. I am that little person running around, pushing a ball, and things stick to it. Only they aren't cows or trees or parts of buildings: they are things that make me nervous. The attention of people. My sparse resume. The way I can never look someone in the eye when we first meet.
Oh. And I don't have a squishy hammer for a head.
Regardless, today is like that. I've talked to too many people and some weird man had told me he was my father and my mother was on the back of a book with a different name but the same damn face.
While I was walking home,
The IdolI once saw a man on the television who was so afraid of fruits that when presented with a bowl of them, he fled the stage, knocking over the host and several other guests. Though I openly pitied the man for his obvious malady of the mind, inside, the small bit of sadism buried within all humans laughed at his bizarre affliction. How can one not find cruel amusement in the cowering of a grown man who has been confronted by nothing more than a bowl of peaches? But now I understand fear like no other. I now no longer find amusement in the terror of others, no matter how illogical.The Idol4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Now, let me tell you the story of why the sound of wind whistling through the trees in Autumn strikes me with a fear so immense that I can do little more than shake uncontrollably.
A good friend of mine, a young and upcoming anthropologist by the name of Henry Byrne, contacted me eight weeks ago. Though he refused to go into details, he excitedly explained t
Death of a Love.She hadn't moved from her window in over a day.Death of a Love.5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Watching for the impossible was something that she was content to do. It injected her with the faint hope that she might witness some of those precious memories once again. Maybe his decrepit old Clio, chugging along and spluttering to a grumbling stop right outside her house, or maybe the bicycle that he sometimes opted for instead, signalling his arrival with the ringing of a bell. It economised on both petrol and his nerves, he had always told her with a smile.
His smiles were gems. She had always watched in rapt fascination when his lips pulled back and curled upwards, his left cheek dimpling slightly when it lifted more than the other. His teeth were slightly crooked, the front two pushed back a little further than his incisors, always immaculately clean.
She shook her head, dragging her eyes from the unchanging scene outside. No point in dwelling on what was past, she tried to tell herself. Nothing can be done. He's gone.
Yet, in a
JuliaMetMichaelSamaraSawTheStarsGenevieveFoundFeari.JuliaMetMichaelSamaraSawTheStarsGenevieveFoundFear3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Tonight is different.
Genevieve pauses, watching layers of fog ascend forward from the darkness. The ominous mist slinks onward as it settles against her taunt muscles. Vapor coils along her skin like venom; tangible and prickling.
She allows herself timid inhales of February. Every breath sparks arctic shockwaves through her nervous system. Glacial streaks echo between her tissues; ever-so-silent, sickening her. Genevieve then slows, listening to iced-oxygen as it hardens between blood cells.
The cold feels like boulders in my lungs.
She begins to feel so unexpectedly heavy in her skin. Slu
Demons are Smarter Than YouThe mist obediently hovers within the binding circle, coming once more and tamely to my call. How raucous it was when first I summoned it! How loudly it roared its name to the ceiling—how silent were the heavens that night. But now it is silent when it arrives, as silent as the heavens when I call, for I have bade it so. With it comes the sulfurous reek of its home and its own pets—a pair of tiny bat-winged imps no larger than my hand—and a deepening of the shadows in my basement conjury.Demons are Smarter Than You3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
The fool has cast his spells of summoning again, and never were more clichéd words uttered than in this room. He thinks I am silent because he ordered me to be; I am silent because I know that were I to speak, I would reveal the true depth of his idiocy. And that simply would not do. Not now that I've invested so much time into making this little room homely. My "little" pets—if the stupid scholar knew their true shapes, he would die of fright—are