Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.
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 Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution ParadigmThe Substitution Paradigm 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
The Dead Bee SyndromeFamily and friends would often comment how great Mr. Sharma’s life was. The house in Mumbai, the son overseas, he was living the Indian Dream.The Dead Bee Syndrome in Short Stories More Like This
He had retired two years ago, with sufficient income to support his wife and himself. The son in the UK did wire some money now and then, but that was just frosting on the cake, the pension made sure of that.
The son would call them almost every fortnight, the ring of the telephone echoing through throughout the empty house. Every time, just before ending the call, he would ask them one thing, and the answer was always the same.
Mr. Sharma loved his freedom much more.
But the retired Quality Head was bored. For as far as he could remember, his life had been like a bee, always humming. Until his retirement though. At his retirement, the bee died. Watering the plants, reading the papers, house-chores had replaced carrying out quality audits, shouting at people, and having fun. Life had hit the brakes, but Mr. Sharma wasn’t loving i
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 You 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
of the ground-of the ground 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
Anything you can find:"They're wicked," whispers Deputy Mack, when he thinks we aren't listening. "Beautiful, but wicked."Anything you can find: in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
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
singles.Cooper is twelve years old and a treasure in his tennis whites, and I am unremarkable, eleven, blurred at the edges like some uncertain shoreline. He only speaks to me because he sees Coach Drown's hands linger too long on my hips when he's teaching me topspins. We're pairing up, Cooper declares, claiming me from across the court with the wide end of his racquet. He spends the rest of practice serving straight down the line, aiming to concuss. Cooper Corentin plays tennis like we're in trenches. Come on, kid, fight back, he says. If I were a fucking truck, would you just stand there on the dotted line?singles. in Short Stories More Like This
Coach Drown is a truck. Every Thursday afternoon, he rakes me over for roadkill, and I lie there bisected below him with the taste of gravel in my throat. I should be used to it by now, but sometimes he still catches me full in the nerves like headlights. I'm practicing my backhand these da
101 Ways to Prepare Pond ScumTolly Spellis was a miracle in the kitchen. There was an admittedly small market for post-nuclear cuisine, but Nora had been eating out of cans for the bulk of her life, and she knew the difference between nourishment for the sake of survival and complete transformation of the edible world. This was more than aimless garnish, shriveled ryegrass on a mutated flank. With an arsenal of spices tucked in an old grenade pouch around her waist, Tolly laid out the carcasses like fine music, attuned to sizzle and smoke and the dying hiss of stubborn bacteria. She monitored her work with scientific diligence: two dozen cuts of mutated cow, soft marbling of fat, dust of tarragon to neutralize the taste of the rads. The Mites couldn't pay her; fallout currency was split somewhere between coinage and lead shot. Even civilized people still bartered with bullets. Tolly only asked for protection. Plates, ingredients, and prot101 Ways to Prepare Pond Scum in Short Stories More Like This
Peace*Peace in Scraps More Like This
Miss Wallace could have compressed the entire file into one four-second video: Elliot and Jack standing in the clearing, watching Peace's empty body fill with rain.
Instead, she created a new memory bank and named it "Mortality."
Her knowledge of the subject was limited to the definitions they'd fed her at Parent Programming: a condition of impermanence, potential for termination, the impossibility of repair. Descriptions of life, not the end of it. They told her she wasn't manufactured to understand death. What, then, was a twelve-year-old boy who had been emptied of his internal organs?
It was nothing a soldering gun could fix. It wasn't a rusty actuator, or a ruptured filament. This was human life spilled across a forest floor, and Miss Wallace--who knew nothing of transience--had never seen anything so final.
"Peace," Elliot whispered.
The world was blurred and unsteady through the live feed of her son's anesthetized synapses
Automatici.Automatic in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"So where are you from?" The boy leans toward me, questions swimming in his eyes. I smile.
"Oh, I'm from Boston."
"No, I mean, where are you from?" My smile falters as I realize where this is going. It's an all-too familiar conversation, one I've been having since I was old enough to reply.
"Do you mean where was I born?"
"I was born in China."
"Do you speak Chinese?"
"Does your family speak Chinese?"
He looks befuddled. I sigh.
"Oh!" I see the light bulb over his head go off in a shower of sparks. "Do you know who your real parents are? Like, your real parents?" My temper flares. I stifle the urge to throw something.
"You mean my biological parents?"
"Oh." There's an awkward pause. I have learned to wait it out, to prepare my next automated response.
"When were you adopted?"
"When I was a year old."
"Did you live in an orphanage?"
"Like in Annie?"
Rolling my eyes seems appropriate.
"No, not l
For My DaughterDear daughter-I-do-not-have-yet,For My Daughter in Letters More Like This
You will be my perfect. You will be my proudest moments in one small person. You will be made in love, or maybe anger, or maybe even desperation. But that won't matter. What matters is what you will be made into.
You will have Daddy's hair and his nose, and my eyes and my smile, the smile that happens not because someone with a camera told you to, but because you're genuinely happy. But you will have your very own heart and will be full of all the things that give you your you-ness. Whether you sing in the bath or make Valentines for everyone in your class or give your last homemade chocolate chip cookie to the boy sitting alone at recess.
I will write you poems and stories about how you are my miracle. I will read them to you sometimes, just to remind you. As you grow, not a day will go by that I'm not thankful for everything you are. You will be dazzling and beautiful and brilliant and compassionate and playful and curious and all of the things
Joyi.Joy in Drama More Like This
"How do you know?"
"Who's else would it be?"
"I dunno. G'nite."
"Oh good, you're alive. I thought you had a heart attack on me or something."
"I've been getting sick every morning. It sucks."
"I'm due in June, just before school ends. This actually works in my favor; I have the whole summer off."
"What are we going to do? Devon, we're seventeen."
"I don't know, Lisa, I don't know."
"Devon, it's a girl."
"Is she beautiful?"
"Devon, she's still just barely past the embryo stage. She looks nothing like a human yet."
"I bet she's beautiful."
"C'mon, Lisa, don't cry..."
"Do you even remember what happened?"
"No, not really."
"We were at the park, I think..."
"Yeah, because you came home with grass stains on your dress."
"Oh, that's right. And you said something along the lines of, 'stop worrying, nothing bad is going to ha
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.Argus Apocraphex in Short Stories More Like This
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
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. 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
Send Me the Raintoday, they're all talking about the fires.Send Me the Rain in Free Verse More Like This
the people on TV, the voices on the radio,
the mouths that open and whisper
and softly touch tongues. even the sky is
revealing black plumes of smoke,
flaunting shameless and seductive curves.
the rain's been too dry and the lightning
isn't wet enough, panic is
rising out of control in this
burning city. that's
we have a crisis on
our hands- the balloons are
running out of air and even
the experts don't really know why,
and on top of those sinking rubber toys
my soul is losing moisture
faster than the crackling grass under the duress of flame.
i'm starting to see the subtle luscious contours
i might not exactly be news-worthy
but if i catch, then
the forest might too.
i'm considered a reasonable loss, however.
they heard it might storm tomorrow. and everybody knows
that means they'll be safe-
because they all talk about it.
it almost stormed-
the sky spat and then
thought better of it,
chromaWe were merely children when the stars came.chroma in Short Stories More Like This
They rained down from the sky in a burst of light, like shards of glass pouring down from the heavens. Supernovas blooming in the night sky, petals raining down onto the barren earth - angels, falling with their wings sheathed, glowing, as they glided down. We watched, starstruck, as the glow overtook us - we were mesmerized. We waited with bated breath as the meteors landed, the celestial light subsiding as dark forms started to pick themselves up from the dust.
They moved towards us with an otherworldly grace, their steps leaving no marks on the earth as they descended upon us. Frozen to our spots as they approached, our bodies simply unresponsive in their wake. We were paralyzed. They stretched out their wings, embracing us in a softness unimaginable - a polymerization of silky feathers made of pure light, like a soft touch of a rose petal - and suddenly, our eyes were opened. The world was the same, yet so new, as it was washed with a gl
((across))he binds her heart away in ace bandages,((across)) in Free Verse More Like This
compresses her lungs and
cracks her ribs
keeps her up at night and makes her stare into the mirror-
he hates her.
he hates her so much.
it would be better if she had never existed.
there's a thought growing in her mind-
and then he's there
with his perfection and
she doesn't want to be herself anymore,
she wants to be him.
every actor needs a persona.
bittersweet.and i'll never leave herebittersweet. in Free Verse More Like This
i'll stay in your heart forever--
or as long as you'll have me.
i'll wake up with you every mornin'
i know how you like your tea;
milk, no sugar
and i'll take my coffee with two sugars
and what a wonderful pair we'd make--
when we're not busy lunging at each other's throats
and tearing all the things better left unsaid out
when we're not squeezing salt and lemon juice into wounds
that never really healed
when we're not onesided, messed up, masochistic, fucked up--
we'd be a wonderful pair.
resipiscenthe was one of those dick-faced kids in shades of bright polyester salmon who seemed to always be laughing or looking at me. an ambiguous-named, feminine-famed all-school american douchebag in those quality leather sandals in the wintertime and golf-green shorts.resipiscent in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
ta give you some background i'm about as far away on the social scale from him as one can get. you know how all the little groups overlap and flap together, pushed around in the wet sand like wave-rivulets blending little facets of stones together until it makes a dune? well our groups---they didn't even touch. i mean you could go from pop-jock to lacrosse to dipper to weed-dealer to hipster to artsy kid to photographer to theatre kid and MAYBE just MAYBE make a weak little chain like one o em shitty-ass jump rings that connect dollar-store lockets. but anyway the point i'm trying to make is we sit on opposite sides of the room and let sociology take its toll.
of course murphy's law works in that i never know anyone. is it that
i will not liei am a sleeping dogi will not lie in Free Verse More Like This
and i will not hesitate to bite
the hand that feeds me.
i've bitten my own hand
enough goddamn times.)
working titlewhat an odd thing it is to be human andworking title in Free Verse More Like This
but to look upon beauty and say,
'i must have it'
not him, not her, as the ugly ones are named
but a gene
a physical longing for perfection
how strange it is to long to pass down druxious
skin, the strongboned jaw of the father
the mother's longing lips
as if to pass down in time a sign
'please, take my daughter as your
lawfully wedded wife'
but we, the
sit and wait for the mouldering
sins of the flesh to
hesitating to see
what maybe lies in the underwires
scavenge and pick from the blunt-shiv
The Doppelganger 2The book still sings to me, and that's when I pull it from under my bed and stroke the cover. But I never open it, because I know what happens if I do it wrong. It's still blank; but only of ink. I know the secret, you see. It's how I understand the songs, and know the melodies it echoes up to me, through time. There are impressions hidden in the pages- spilled mead and raucous laughter, summer sunshine and frost on dead leaves. The last time I tried feeling them from start to finish, I passed out from the sheer weight of knowledge, and it left my brain scrambled for ages.The Doppelganger 2 in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I found out things about my past and my family's past. I have Irish on my dad's side of the family, stretching back generations. I'd have said I was surprised when I found out, but that would have been a lie.
People say I've changed since last spring. My face is thinner, my eyes are brighter, I've been "brought out of myself." What they don't know is that I've actually met myself. I've taken to wearing rich, d
The DoppelgangerThe first time I saw the other girl, I was standing on one side of the high street. Because it was the end of September, and we were in Britain, it was raining, but the main bulk of water had passed before lunch, so all that was left was the kind of rain that's annoying in its intermittency.The Doppelganger in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
I watched her look in both directions and then cross the road, stepping carefully through the pool of mingled rainwater and rainbow engine oil in the bus bay. She was unusual, not just because she wasn't carrying a handbag, or wearing a coat, but because she was dressed in a chain mail and leather dress, and leggings. The second strange thing was that no one else, and this was a busy street, even in the rain, gave her a second glance. Their gazes slid benevolently over her, like she was an endearing, but not unfamiliar, child. Her booted feet crunched over some shattered glass as she approached, and then the third strange thing happened.
As she got to within a few feet of me, she winked out of exis
Paint the DreamsEvery night, on the insides of my eyelids,Paint the Dreams in Free Verse More Like This
I paint the Universe with the ink set of imagination
And the charcoal sticks of memory,
Then flip it upside down and the wrong way round
And let it snag into focus-
On my sleeping synapses, the branches of the Inspiration Tree .
In my ivory skull-box of random echoes,
Every melody, every voice, is re-written and rescored,
For a symphony of electricity, crisscrossing nerves ,
And running down, like liquid lightning
Into the ears of the dormant soul.
Here, this is that part of my chaotic desk
Where I re-write physics to suit myself,
Redesign monsters and angels to my own specifications
Until the lines between them are blurred out of recognition.
In this drawer, I keep my nightmares
Under layers of fine, crinkled tissue paper, bound with laughter
And interspersed with the dead bodies of silk butterflies
This rack, here, holds the satin ribbons and velvet strings
Of the slipping, crackling madnesses that only come out when I call
UltraVioletThis is the colour on the other side of lightUltraViolet in Free Verse More Like This
Somewhere between purple and infinity
It's dark light, can't-see-with-it light
This is what they use for mysteries
Luminescent, not-there light
Only visible by the glowing
Of ghost-white sheets
It tells you when something isn't true,
For killing disease, turning you into gold
This intangible light whispers things
Secrets about the Universe, and atoms
It's the blood-light, the hunter's friend
It can make softness hard, invisible ink
It burns, divides, heals, protects
This ultraviolet light
Th' Braw MountainsCome to the wild places, the high and lonely places.Th' Braw Mountains in Free Verse More Like This
Inhale beauty, in the form of icicle air and pine dust.
Touch it, the cold mountain soil, and rejoice.
Let the wind fill you and find the point inside all of us,
Where you reach out over the forest,
And fly without leaving the ground.
Sure and proud, like the eagles around you.
Let your hair lift and whip, flushing your cheeks
And awakening your bones. Spin at the peak of mountains,
Glorying in the cold clean height. Laugh for it.
And when you are tired from the air,
Come and rest on the rough hills, amongst the brown and gold gorse
And feel sunlight thaw the wind-seeds. Watch the loch and love it.
Not for the beauty but because it is there. The comforting age,
The bedrock of your soul.
Stand in the bitter river on sharp stones and know you live,
That the land loves you for its Maker's child.
Exult in the cold and the warmth and above all the immensity
Of the weight of the world around you.
Wrap the landscape around your body,
The DreamerThey say there are many Universes.The Dreamer in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Exactly who says this and exactly how they know is not recorded in the annals of history.
They are, however, right. Were they to take this a step further, someone might hypothesize that these Universes entwine. Hence objects moving in a haunted house, mysterious noises from thin air. Many of the same people who hypothetically hypothesize subscribe to the same theory; that everything has to happen somewhere. And it does. Quite why football happens is a mystery as yet unravelled, but presumably it has to be a mystery somewhere. Thus is philosophical equilibrium achieved.
Ideas come in dreams. It is a well-known fact. On the other hand, what is less well-known is that Idea Dreams are only one of several kinds of dreams. There are in fact three kinds, and the other two come under the category of Time Dreams, Past and Future. After all, Universes work on different times, and the majority on different rules. So when your mind is in a suitable st
Fire GirlFire Girl in Free Verse More Like This
I'll be fire-dressed
Darkness at my feet
I'll be in the dark
But not of it
I'll beat it down
Force it to bow
And swallow it whole
Because if I ever gave in
It would swallow me
Child of the UniverseFar away, amongst the star-dust space clouds, on the other edge of the ether, I was born in the storm of galaxies. I was given interstellar space for pupils and planet-light for hair. My heart beat is the orbit of planets and my lifespan the length of the Universe.Child of the Universe in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
When I was complete, they let me out of my comet-cage and gave me a dress of photons to remind me where I came from and a sword of anti-matter to remind me where I was going.
When I was one cosmic second old, I set out across the landscape of time. Once, I stopped and stared in amazement at a tiny speck of living matter passing before my eyes. I blinked in astonishment and sent the green-and-white planet spinning away, caught on the solar winds of my irises. I strode on, feeling the impact and implosion of a million ribbons of stars against my skin. Planets caught in my hair; sometimes gaseous, sometimes rocky, but they sparkled like jewels, or would have done if I knew what jewels were.
At last, I halted at the omphalos of