Anything you can find:"They're wicked," whispers Deputy Mack, when he thinks we aren't listening. "Beautiful, but wicked."
It makes Noah smirk from the front desk, where Clara Wynn, the dispatcher, is sneaking him sips from her hip flask while she profiles him. DePrince, she writes, Noah Thomas. Age: 12. Hair: Black. She puzzles over the color of his eyes before penning gray on the line, a rarity that gives us an edge, which we use like a scalpel. Noah flickers eyes like new nickels whenever we want something. Today is the Friday after the funeral and we are sick for answers, so we ask Clara if she will take our mug shots.
"I'll find some film," she says, disappearing into the back room. The door taps shut behind her. Deputy Mack and Sheriff Spellis are still arguing about us in the office, their voices a low rumble of contention, so we slip off our chairs and spread out through the station.
"Obituaries, photos, police reports," says Noah, fanning a stack of files across the desk. "Hur
The TypewriterThe TypewriterThe Typewriter3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It began and ended with a word.
Not a particularly strong or powerful word, but a word that changed everything. It wasn't too long or difficult to spell. It wasn't uncommon either. In fact, it was a perfectly ordinary word, but, I suppose, its commonplace origin is what made it so special.
I loved that word.
But the word doesn't mean much without the story along with it and I was always one for telling good stories.
I ignored the call from the other room and remained seated. That tone wasn't unfamiliar. Taking a bite from my toast, I waited for him to call again. It wouldn't be more than ten—
"Sammy! Come quickly! I've gone an' done it!" he shouted. I turned just as he poked his head into the room with a bright smile across his face.
"What did you do?" I asked as I walked towards his study. Chris had said those same words nearly twelve times this week. Every other day he had called me in for some discovery.
I pushed open the door t
Conversation"I am driving in a Hummer. I am on a two lane highway. I was listening to Counting Crows before panic threatened to cut off my air supply. Air supply is a band. I have no idea what they sing. I'm pretty sure they were a clue on Jeopardy once. I…I…have to pull over so I can breathe."Conversation3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Omar put on his blinker and steered the over-compensation-mobile to the shoulder of the road. He fumbled with the lock on the door and his heart felt like it was going to burst through his chest when he tried to get out of the car and couldn't. Seatbelt. It was just the seatbelt. His hands were slick with cold sweat by the time the belt whizzed cheerfully back into its place and he managed to slide out onto the shoulder of the road.
He was glad it was so late and glad that the highway was so deserted. He was trembling so hard that the change in his pockets rattled and he never would have been able to speak if someone had pulled up and offered to help. He hated for people to witness his panic.
A Reason to LiveIf only she had the guts to actually do it, to just leap among the cold waves and sink in death among the fish. She breathed in the smell and taste of saltwater, and water sprays hit her face, neck, and chest. She shivered slightly in the breeze from the waves, but she wasn’t really bothered by the chill. What weighed on her mind was something much deeper than the weather.A Reason to Live3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
A pang of apprehension penetrated her heart as she envisioned her body being plunged into the water and weighted down by the strong waves. She thought about what it would be like to gulp in mouthful after mouthful of water, choking and never feeling any relief, but she didn’t think the pain could be any worse than what she was already dealing with.
“Aimée!” The young woman moved her arms in circular motions as she tried to keep her balance. Her mother’s call startled her, and for a brief moment she thought God might be
PREY NO MOREPREY NO MOREPREY NO MORE3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Rope dug into Patrick’s wrists as he struggled to free his hands. His hot, damp breath washed over his face, trapped by the fabric sack secured over his head.
A floorboard creaked. Patrick froze, his back rigid against the chair, and strained his ears. Another creak.
“Hello?” he called.
The sound of swishing fabric.
“Who’s there? Where am I? Why’d you bring me here?” Blurred memories swam through his mind: drinking at the bar; stumbling home; a shadow sweeping out from an alley.
Fingers grasped his chin and jerked his head upward. “Hush.” A woman’s voice.
The pressure released and Patrick clenched his jaw, his nostrils flaring. He heard the strike of a match and a blown breath. The smell of acrid smoke filtered through the hood. The hand returned, grabbing his head and ripping the hood off, taking a fistful of hair with it. Candlelight flickered from a table beside him. He looked at the woman, but
JoyceHaving kicked the man in the balls and relieved him of his belongings, Joyce wasn't quite sure what to do next. She could run, but he might come after her the next minute. If she tied him up here, in the middle of nowhere, he might be eaten by wolves; or starve to death. Besides, she didn't have any rope. She could kill him... perhaps. The thought left a bitter taste in her mouth.Joyce3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
'What am I to do with you?' she sighed.
'Well,' he groaned while giving her a look that sent shivers down her spine, 'You can run, but that won't help you, cause I will find you! So you just wait another few minutes until I get back up again - and I mean úp- and then, I'll do you like there's no tomorrow! Which, by the way, for you there won't be!'
Well, that sure narrows down my options, she figured as she bent over and closed her trembling fingers around a good, fist-sized rock...
It wasn't much later when the road took her out of the forest and into the farmland. When she spotted the little v
Naughty Irish SpiritsPoor Molly Deegan was so very tired. She had done her nightly rituals in a stupor and when her fiery red head hit the pillow, she was gone into dreamland without a stray thought.Naughty Irish Spirits5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Her corgi's barks jolted Molly back to wakefulness and this, she couldn't ignore. With a muttered oath, she flung the blankets back and swung her feet over the side of the bed. She cringed at the cold air and grabbed a throw from the foot of the bed and wrapped it around her self. A blue streak of curses trailed along behind her as she stomped into the kitchen to investigate.
She was momentarily shaken out of her foul mood when she saw that the kitchen was undisturbed. She stood in sleepy dumbness until she realized that there was a glow from the garage window.
Walking outside, Molly saw that the garage door was ajar and peering inside, she saw Aedan heaving the last of the broken shards of glass into the recycling bin, the partial logo on the shard revealing that it was one of her college bar glasses.
for all intensive purposesi am accused of beingfor all intensive purposes3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
a category five--
but i will not excuse the way my skin aches.
i want storms.
i remember the way Katrina screamed &
if you press your ear to my chest you will hear the same.
the moan turning into a pitch, the pitch
screaming until the throat is too raw to be
more than a whimper.
the way it stops
silently racked until it bursts forth once more.
i will not apologize for being demolition.
scars exist on every woman
too powerful to contain herself.
Moving: A YaduWe keep a homeMoving: A Yadu4 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Of unknown hums
And lonely cats.
The sky cracks but
He lacks a raincoat.
Fueled by smoke and
Words he lands on
A branded street,
Knows the sweet rage
Of meeting too soon and late.
This town belongs
To a song man
And wrongful ghost.
He is most sure
The coast will fade their remnants.
Of Birds and Wings.Mr. Chuges was a man that didn't like going astray--he had never strayed from the normality of life and would never plan to, that's for sure. He was a man who would rather expect what would follow to having to deal with surprises and turbulances. Mundane prosaism was enough for him to be satisfied. His appearance gave out that much; mahogany, dull eyes which reflected no light, no life, looked through a pair of perfectly-squared, thick glasses. His lips were usually set on a hard line, their corners never lifting up to even fake a smile. A short, pointed beard covered the tip of his chin, giving him an austere look that made his students flinch in fear. Being wrinkled, his face was the proof he had completed at least fifty years of his life, even though none of them had been eventful. Whenever he spoke, his voice indicated no feeling, no emotion. To one, it sounded like it was emanating from a deep, hollow cell as he narrated today's Latin Lesson. He was lifeless. Moving automaticallyOf Birds and Wings.3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Ottumwa ShamanIn Iowa, weeping willows dream ofOttumwa Shaman5 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Tigers, born in pagan fog, their
Coat of stripes singing shaman
Songs; shrill symphonies of grief.
Heaven tilts, crashes, and we race
The dirt to get away. We drink the
Earth with bullets of air and grow
Dizzy, light-headed from breathing
Some far off flame. Perhaps a poet
Who braved the fog of Ottumwa, and
Caught fire. Every cowboy has his
Six chances before high noon, before
The fog forms wispy jackals to take
Them home again. Every son inherits
An empty gun, six voids to fill with
Answers, skimmed and guessed from the
Covers of books their fathers used
To read. There is no other way.
In sleeping, I have been to Iowa,
And I learned where wiccans go
To make their bed. I do not know now
If I had dreamed the weeping willow,
Or if it had bent low to dream of me.
In Iowa, there is no such truth, only
Depth, and the shaman's song of grief.
Mollie's Ribbons I grew up in a small town just a few dozen miles from the closest water sourcea slowly shrinking aquifer that squatted underneath the seat of Thompson County, our neighborly border. Fortunately, we hadn't yet been quite as devastated by our annual droughts as those in Oklahoma and Texas. Rumors would occasionally drift in with a tumbleweed traveler about how bad the deep South had dried up into nothing but an old dusty lake bed, but these flashes of news were too few and too far between to be counted on as up to date or even true.Mollie's Ribbons5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Once, I heard one of my distant cousins, a boy by the name of Harold, was said to have been caught up in a barn somewhere in Oklahoma during a storm where only the dirt blowsthe dust and dirt block out the sun and the air until you get blown away with it. Apparently, poor old Harold had been caught up in that barn for so long (five days according to old Miss Harris) he eventually just smo
Ode to my grocer...The grocery cart had old fruit smashed and dried to its grated floor.Ode to my grocer...3 years ago in Urban & Spoken Word More Like This
"Someone really ought to hose that off," thought I.
I've had this cart before,
and thought the same thing then.
The parking lot was conspicuously short on cars.
Saturday morning is usually busier.
A corporate megamart has opened
just five minutes from here.
I pushed the cart into my familiar market,
defiantly devoted in the face of change
to my beloved grocer, unpolished, unrefined
and unapologetically human.
The Pinova apples are painted vibrant shades of yellow, pink and red.
Perfect in their imperfection. Better there be scars than a thick polish of wax.
And the voices around me are they from Russia or Ukraine?
Is that Farsi or Arabic? I'm too ignorant to tell, but I love them all.
Alien music wafts through the aisles like invisible fog over a transparent bay.
Languages I don't understand, unique rhythms and instruments, too.
Wait! Is that Alsu singing Inagda? I haven't heard that since I was in Moscow.
ButterBreakfast was real oatmealButter3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Every morning in Taos,
Served at the kitchen table
By the window. Ravens
In the courtyard.
You always put a dab of butter
In my bowl, covered it
So it would melt completely.
Everybody knows this is nowhereSorting second hand carsEverybody knows this is nowhere3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
it was just a robot,
as we flicked off the radio,
sick of the hard rock
we'd been bouncing to for miles.
Joe was playing with his lighter,
a nice piece, skull-shaped.
We got out, circled it.
When he moved in, a little dust
was blowing up off the ground.
Its body suit caught quickly.
We watched it striding away
across the desert, flame-
swept, a dwindling candle.
We were kids. Just kids.
Helicase Helio and I were always sitting on the stairs, chatting about the lamina and occasionally making snide remarks about ribosomes. There wasn't much for us to do. Our job was to simply be, and let the RNA polymerase scribble down the letters on our foreheads when they came around every once in a while. Helio was a G, I was a C. It wasn't exactly fulfilling, I suppose. There wasn't much to be filled. So to pass the time, we talked.Helicase3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"You ever wonder?" Helio asked.
"About...well...what's out there." Helio and I were rooted to the stairs, quite happily, but it was awkward to move in. He kind of twisted in the general direction of the closest pore. "Out in the cytoplasm."
"I haven't," I admitted. "What's there to wonder about?"
"That's exactly the thing. I have no idea." Helio sighed, gazing into the distance. "Somehow it feels like we pl
lemonwe walk down the streetslemon3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
of a city named after the last thousand years.
a breeze floats by
and for a moment your hair lifts off your shoulder.
the way it doesn't touch you,
i want to touch you.
there are traces of lemon in your light,
a vague sense of mint on your fingertips.
the way honey tastes
drifts inside your shirt.
entering the city
walking calmly while the light falls
is like listening to your voice,
like waiting at the bell by the river
for a clamoring to do justice
to the patterns on the water.
the way the bells never end
i want to brush my hand against yours.
the way you drop lemon into your water
i want to live.
Apologies to LaoEach day is its own microstep--Apologies to Lao4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
since I woke from my mother's womb,
I longed to mimic new words, trammel
the sound until it blossomed
like a newborn, and oh how I birthed
stories--told them how I wanted
the author's sacrosanct title
once I've grown. But growing meant
learning the practice of citizens
and their due contribution: beast-slaying
nature of please, thank you,
an apology: sincere
or not. Then there is time--the first
breath of nine, exhalation
of five, the suffocating mandate
of overtime. You grow used to it:
the cyclical disappearance of parents,
pervasive need of sleep, a home-
cooked meal's gradual transmogrification
to a microwave's impatient beeps,
the drive-thru's static, monotoned voice
by a man who has already learned
what I am learning: to cherish
the alarm's morning hymn over my mother's--
now I'm rarely late for work--can navigate
those can-lined aisles, the cold-grey
of the warehouse with deep strides
until I lose track of every step within
my eight hours--my mind
Goodnight Enigmatic SongShe was the song you hear and, at first blush, don't like.Goodnight Enigmatic Song3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Well, you don't know how you feel about it so you keep listening in an attempt to discover how exactly you feel and then you reach the end of the song and you realize, you don't like it; you love it.
That was Grace.
She was my coworker and she was my friend.
We carpooled together, I drove and she slept most of the way.
"Don't get much sleep at night, do you?" I asked her, catching those drooping lids mid-descent.
She looked out the window streaked with rain; it spoke in percussive touches filling the car with quiet overcast conversation.
I felt the warmth of her smile in the corner of my eye. The blur of her hand reached at the window to feel the cold of the droplets.
"When I was a girl, I used to race these. I thought it was funny the fat ones always won," she giggled and I imagined her as a little girl in the passenger seat then, legs too short to reach so kicking, and hair messed in the bac
Complex 57The slick of black, heady oil rolled across the floor, staining the raw surface of the clinic, and the young boy collapsed back into the examination table. He was pale, even for someone who had never seen sunlight, with milky eyes and black spittle hanging from cracked lips.Complex 573 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Of those we've seen, the virus has spread most quickly in this patient." Doctor Ripnar was a tall man who tended to sway when he walked, but had hands as deft and precise as any surgeon and he used them now to steady and restrain the boy. "His blood is turning into the same substance you see at your feet." he continued, "We might have been able to keep him alive long enough to find a cure, but we don't have the resources for everyone."
Adjudicator Lawrence nervously straightened his tie; his pink and sweaty face bulbous with stress. "Everyone?" he asked, "How many have been infected?"
"It's in the air supply, Adjudicator. We're all infected."
The Adjudicator lurched, virulent juices churning in his stomach. He hat
How to Sleep and Never Wake UpThe year they discovered my best friend, twenty years old and silent under the heap of her wrecked car, I learned one can sleep forever and never wake up.How to Sleep and Never Wake Up4 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
That year, her sister, only seventeen, ate magic mushrooms and lost her mind and her brother, fourteen, started running and stopped eating and I didn't eat magic mushrooms but lost my mind anyway as everyone watched my skin, too white to be real, disintegrate before their eyes.
That year I flew to Colorado to see an urn surrounded by pointe shoes. It reminded me more of a wastebasket than the last I would see of the girl who shared my soul. Her sister ran naked through the street a few days later after ingesting a certain fungus at her school's homecoming dance. Most say it was the drugs. Maybe, I said. But I knew exactly what it was. Her brother started walking with his feet turned out, a remnant of his ballerina sister instilled in him. I ripped the flesh from my arms, hoping to find her somewhere underneath my fingernails until a
EurydiceHis voice enveloped me, and I becameEurydice4 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Myself again--I heard it in the song:
A mordent on a note he held too long;
A stutter in his voice. I heard my name
In these and felt a happiness the same
As when I saw him first. Oh, I had longed
To hear him sing again, but this last song--
It was so beautiful. And it remains
The best of human works, though none shall hear
Its sorrowed notes; the lyre's meand'ring tune
Through vast arpeggios and Death's expanse
Except the dead. It will not disappear
'Till all the world's destroyed, and hell's exhumed--
Such music must be worth a backwards glance.
Such Bitter Hatred...Anger.Such Bitter Hatred...6 years ago in Fan Fiction More Like This
A steady beat of rising anger.
It was almost as though the primal beat of Zebes' molten heart had fractured, had split, and was slowly but surely making its way up. Devouring all within its path and leaving nothing but fiery caves and volcanic vents; sulphur laden air and a wavering miasma of pure hatred.
Norfair was angry.
And the Hunter did not blame it. She had often wondered if a planet could have emotion. If a compacted ball of rock and mineral floating in its predetermined course around a central star in the dark reaches of space could develop a sort of sentience of its own. Norfair had never been this active, she knew. Not until the Chozo had left. Not until the Pirates had come. Not until the once peaceful twisting maze of alien architecture had been twisted into a technological hotbed of experimentation and abuse. Just as Maridia encompassed Zebes' sadness and Brinstar its abundance of life, still scrabbling for purchase; just as Crateria showcased its desolation and th