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.
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
of the ground-of the ground4 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 Dreams4 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
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
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 Betrayal4 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 FountainThere were sixteen tall windows. She'd counted them over and over when she was small, her chubby finger outstretched as she spun in tiny circles. Eight walls, sixteen windows, thirty-two black curtainsthe arithmetic of her childhood.The Fountain4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
"Eight window seats, Daddy. Eight buttons on eachsixty-four. I counted."
The fountain stood dry and dead-center in the middle of the black and white tiles. Eight sides, eight lion-mouth spouts. Sixteen limestone mermaids poised gracefully around the edge. Four thousand and ninety-six blue tiles. Five hundred and twelve white.
And two doors. Always the two doors, huge and solid and radiating a sense of looming disdain. The rough oak had bitten her hands and it bit them now, when she pressed her palms against it. The doors eased open like wings outstretching, coming to rest against stone doorstops.
Her boots clicked against the marble flooring as she advanced, each click reverberating through the silent room. A mute ghost of a man stood in
The CartI always got my best book recommendations from my old library cart. Well, the library cart wasn't really mine. I was a shelver at my town's library, before I started college, and I would use their carts to do my job.The Cart5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I first noticed something was up with the cart when I was shelving juvenile paperbacks. These were the lightest books we owned (and kept in the worst shape - kids are brats). But when I was rolling the cart, it was heavy. It groaned when I pushed it, and steering it was a mini-workout. It wasn't this hard to move a double-stack of adult non-fiction.
What was really odd, though, was as I removed more books, it barely got lighter. Finally, when all of the Fairy Princesses, Mary Kate and Ashley's, and other stupid books were shelved, its weight became normal. Only R.L. Stine's Goosebumps remained, and it was actually pretty light, even lighter than I'd expect.
I shrugged the incident off. But then I noticed it happening more and more. And then I noticed patterns
The Price of Dying“I want to be interred after I die,” Mr. Peters said. He made that clear to his family while he was still lucid, before old age and illness rendered him unintelligible. Seventy wasn’t that old, but he recognized the symptoms that were creeping up on his ailing body – the aches, the fatigue, the feeling of helplessness and despair. Despite his daughter’s attempts to assuage his concerns, he sensed his own mortality.The Price of Dying3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The worst part about dying, Mr. Peters thought, was what happened afterwards. Even since he was a small boy, he had been afraid of fire. He could never forget the scorching heat of the orange flames searing his skin, the dark billowing smoke entering his nostrils. The time that his house burned down, the fire almost took him with it. How ironic then, to escape the fire only to be fed into it after death.
So one day, he sat his son and daughter down after dinner. “I want to be buried whole,” he said, emphasizing the
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,
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 Yourself4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Prankster 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 pr
Forgiveness EconomicsGenesisForgiveness Economics4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But for the small purple stain on its border, the banknote was non-descript.
It had a value but men value things in different ways and by different means. It had a value, but its value is not it's story.
It landed on the church plate face up, coming to rest softly on the flat silver base amongst the loose change like it was tossed to the cloth of a gambling table, soundless but with a small sense of resignation. A man paying for luck, a man asking his God for a favor.
It came from the wallet of a small sad man, who feared the Good Lord daily. The banknote was the weekly price of his penance, the bill of sale for those half-remembered crimes of a misspent youth and other things unmentionable.
The small sad man's hands were fat and white and callouses sat on his thumb and forefingers, the scars of a bank teller, a money counter, a man who knew about value. The hair on his head was grey and his eyes were blue below his wrinkled forehead and tonight would be the last time he
The Troubles of DatingThe Troubles of Dating (and Time-Travel)The Troubles of Dating5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
I suppose she was the first girl I fell in love with because of something other than a nice pair of breasts, and therefore, the first girl I fell in love with whom I actually succeeded in asking out on a date. More than anything it was her hair, the way it was neither curly nor straight, but wavy, and in a dark and dreamy shade of red that nearly seemed black. It reached down beyond her shoulders, and I could find myself staring at the back of her head for hours during our classes, mesmerized by it. Breasts weren't half-bad either though.
And she was a nice person. At least, that was the impression I had gotten during our after-movie dinner at Alessandro's. Passionately interested 70s music, loving long walks in the wild, preferred old-school horrors to the film we'd just seen which we both agreed was tragic. All in all, we seemed to go along quite nicely. After finishing our capricosa, I led her to the car thinking this might as well have been
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
the Chandler's Around the WayThe hose slipped out again. Chan cursed, and shoved it back into the incision he'd made, adjusted his mask, and bent over the pump. He yanked the cord, and the pump started to life with a cough of biodiesel. It bounced on the sand as it grumbled away. Chan kept one hand on it and held the hose in place with the other.the Chandler's Around the Way4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If fucking Fathers would spend the bone on a new one, I wouldn't be all night at this, Chan grumbled. He ached for a smoke, but didn't have the hands to spare. Plenty of hands here, he thought as he glanced at the riverbank. Some of them even had a pulse.
"Hey," he said to whoever was closest.
It was a sunbather. A walker who drew enough bone to slot time on the beach without having to fight for it. She had each arm draped around a man, both of them tattooed in the same place with the same sigil. Chan was jealous. Someday he'd have his own numbers, but they'd be women. All of them. He was old-fashioned like that.
The walker answered without raising her sungl
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
DragonsThe dragons just kept getting cuter.Dragons3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
I'd meant them to be scary, with snakelike heads and pearly fangs, but as my fingers gained more practice the dragons they shaped became younger and more innocent, their wings tiny and their eyes wide. Dull spikes lined their heads and tails, not yet sharpened by age. They lay on their bellies or sat up and watched with good-natured curiosity. They were friendly. They were sweet.
They were flawed, and there were a lot of them. I experimented with color and pose, sculpting the way others would turn a stress ball. Every morning I baked the newcomers in my oven, and within a week my desk was overrun. Rows of dragons pressed against my laptop from all sides. Some I enjoyed looking at. Others were a reminder of some mistake I'd made. Putting the horns on before the eyes. Making the legs too thin so it tilted drunkenly while baking. Not realizing that some clay changes color as it solidifies.
What to do with them all? I couldn't keep them even if I'd want
2: the first questionThe first thing I noticed was the fez on her lap. I saw it as I scanned the tube for empty seats; a flash of red in the corner of my eye. It perched delicately on her thighs like a small, unassuming puppy that stared at passerby with large eyes, silently daring them to challenge its right to be there. I gaped at it; the train started forward with a jerk and I had to grab onto the metal pole in front of me to keep my balance. The ungainly motion of my body lurching forward caught the eye of the fez's owner; I saw her look up at me quickly, then duck her eyes down to her hands, which were diminutive and pale and folded neatly in her lap, just behind the fez. I sneezed loudly into the sleeve of my trench coat and she smiled. It was for barely an instant—and, it was probably an attack on my limbs and their length and the strangeness with which they moved—but it was enough to cause an unfamiliar tug inside me, not unlike the movement of the train.2: the first question4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
WhitewashWhen you're five years old you set a promise in the dark, your sister's ice-queen eyes witness. Millie is sitting straight-backed against the headboard, face wide and earnest, and it seems as if the world has heaped itself on her shoulders, or maybe it's the strangeness of midnight.Whitewash5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"We can't make our wills or anything like that until we're eighteen," she says fiercely. "But I might forget this by then."
In later years you will find time to reflect that you're not as whimsical as Millie; young, you only think then that you could never forget something this important. But you can't argue with the three-years-older she holds above your head (the wisest bestest elder sister in the world.)
Your love for her borders on hero-worship, and looking back, you sometimes wonder if that's healthy.
The door bangs shut. "Jodie!"
How strange, the way it works: your hand is frozen to the table in the way it should have been on the phone, but that was minutes ago and maybe it was delayed-reaction, becau
AttentionMisha found America agreeable, for the most part there was the Boston traffic, but it wasn't as bad as Moscow's, and the food was overly rich and too abundant. But the people of the city were positively warm compared to the Spartan attitudes he knew, he hadn't had a single dollar stolen from him, and the university kids couldn't keep their eyes off of him. Not even the boys. He'd heard catcalls walking by a gathering of young men, the kind he'd learned to call "bros." It was his hair, maybe, or the way stubble refused to show on his face: in America, you could be anything other people wanted you to be, it seemed.Attention5 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
He told Sasha about it on the phone, who laughed at him. "You're getting a big head. The Americans are gawking at you because you don't look like them."
"I don't think that's it." Misha took a handful of almonds and threw them in his mouth. He knew Sasha would doubt him he always did, dwelling in what he called his "nativist cynicism." It didn't seem to involve m
The Solipsist's LotThere's something about yourself that you don't know. You probably don't remember the circumstances very well, but I do. If you enjoy things the way they are, if you revel in even the smallest speck of ignorance, you need not read ahead. I won't force you. But from what I know of you, you don't like secrets. Especially not when they are about you.The Solipsist's Lot4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
You see, when you were born, so at once was everyone else. Your mother, she sprang into existence, just like that, the instant your tiny infant brain achieved the smallest semblance of self-awareness. Woven out of the ether, she remembered everything that never happened, and she looked down at you, cradled and squirming in her loving arms.
"Oh," she said. "So here is life."
The doctor was there too, although a moment before if there ever was a moment before he was not. He just nodded, smiling assuredly, and said, "Here is the beginning."
Night Chaser02:37am 22nd July - depart from London by commercial jet, business class.Night Chaser4 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
Reverse Culture ShockFlying home was not flying home. Flying home meant grabbing the homing pigeon inside of me and twisting its imaginary magnet one hundred and eighty degrees to the north instead of southwards to Australia. The magnet still twitched stubbornly north even as the plane droned over Darwin, five hours before I finally reached home. Except it wasn't home. Sydney now looked as foreign as the glossy travel leaflets I grabbed from Singapore, its shine not quite matching the missing substance of my once childhood home.Reverse Culture Shock4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Thank you for choosing Singapore Airlines I hope you will enjoy your stay in Sydney, or a warm welcome home."
Winter air slapped me like a bucket of ice water as I emerged, searching for my parents and my sister. For eight years, their voices were tinny and masked by static on the occasional phone calls home. Today, they sounded as brittle as ever, Australian accents barely sheathing the chill emanating from them.
"Welcome home, sis," said my sister with an unusually bright v