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Time for another FFM feature! :)

Day 4:

RomeAt least one of my forefathers must have been a domestic dog.  From when I was a cub, I felt the pull of the human city, but my mother always told us never to go there.
'They might once have been our friends,' she said, 'but now we disapprove of them because they're civilised, which means that they have too much and they fight and kill each other to have more.'
'Wolves fight,' I said.
'We don't kill each other if we can help it, and only then for something we need.  The humans already have more than they need.  You haven't seen the walls of their city.'
I didn't tell her that I had seen them.
'Their city now reaches far beyond those walls,' my mother went on, 'and really, they are the most vulgar creatures imaginable.  They eat and eat and have a special place to go and be sick in.  And to think they disapprove of the way that we decent animals smell each other's behinds.'
'Why might they once have been our friends?' I asked, and so my mother bega

Mature Content

How to obtain a CerberusOliver was having second thoughts about the procedure, a strong force lured him back as he made his way down the sterile white hall and he looked over his shoulder numerous times, tempted to walk away. He could only hope the severe case of bad luck he'd come down with wouldn't sabotage the work they'd planed for the day. With one final glance towards the exit, he braced himself and entered the room which was the site of all of their experiments.
He knew Dr. Hades wouldn't bother to make his presence known if he'd arrived ahead of time, so Oliver crossed the dark chamber and made himself as comfortable as possible in the worn chair he'd grown to hate. As soon as he was seated the tall, sickeningly thin creature that was the elderly doctor revealed itself to him and strapping him down. Oliver's dishevelled appearance seemed to draw the interest of the allegedly human medic but the young man only shrugged in response to his questioning gaze. It would be too long a story to explain what ha

FFM 04 - The Dream PrisonThe thirteenth bell chimed, and I snapped my pocket watch closed.  I’d been fishing for mythical beasts for weeks in this world of endless night, and knew the shift change didn’t take long.  I knew the paths the guards took, and I knew the layout of their ethereal prison.  I darted forward from the shadows.
What are you doing? the voice whispered in my ear.
“Stopping this,” I hissed.
No.  That is not your place. The voice of The Hat had raised from a whisper to a boom that only I could hear.  
“Shove it.  I’m doing this.”  Pulling my scarf tight, I slipped through the labyrinthine arrangement of holding cells, situated in clusters to maximize neural connection.  It’d taken some work, but I’d found the Gypsy king, and all four-hundred and four of his missing Pied Crows.  The once proud order of dream nights huddled in their cells, their black and white uniforms fading to a fl
Seattle Demigods--Day 4Rome may have been gone, but its monsters certainly weren’t.  And, like the arrogance, sexuality, and gods, the monsters had migrated halfway around the world to its modern counterpart, Seattle.  And that’s why we were there tonight, hunting the Hydra sighted here just last week.  We’d seen all kinds of monsters in these strange days, monsters thought dead for centuries.  Monsters that had hunted the heroes of ancient Rome.
Heroes like us, the modern children of the gods.
“Are you sure this is where it will be?” Clary asks from behind me.  I can’t see her, but I can hear her fiddling with her bowstring—her nervous tic.  She’s a daughter of Apollo, and snakes make her jittery.  I can’t exactly blame her.
“Of course,” Lisa says.  She’s crouched by the water, spear in hand.  She looks bulky in all that armor, with her plumed helmet giving her a Mohawk.  “This is
4.15 Dwindling LegacyIt’s time.
The summer stars had aligned, and the Bard could feel the emotion of the crowd like a cloud of static electricity. The time had come for him to choose a successor, and he started down from the dais into the gathered parents and children.
He had been chosen himself, once. He remembered Masters Saloh, Regor, and Grulfow weaving through a similar crowd for what seemed like forever at the age of five, stopping to talk to both the parents and the children. Regor and Gruflow stopped a few times before choosing, but Saloh had gone straight for him.
“What’s your name, child?” Saloh didn’t speak above a whisper, but he heard her perfectly in the anticipatory hush of the hall.
“Eitac, ma’am.” He whispered, too, but more from nerves than anything else.
Saloh smiled and held out a hand to him. “You get to come with me, Eitac. It’s time to say goodbye now.”
He hugged his paren

MiraI drink the last of the willowspirit and screw up my eyes against the migraine. Dangerous stuff. Drink it all at once and you'll be dead before the dawn.
I'm close now. There's a forest shrine nestled in the shadow of the Edzull hills, where the wirewights commune with their dead god. I know it well, and dozens of other such places that litter the Ossifus isles. One by one I visit them, stepping stones on a pilgrimage that ends I know not where.
The willowspirit stings my eyes, and begins to reveal the toxic sunrise. The shadowed treetops are heavy with crows and hunched things. Greenteeth and Grendelows paw at the grass by the stream. Some of these things are real and some of them are the willowspirit in my veins. I keep my distance from all of them.
Thirteen bells I wear on my belt, and thirteen magicks burn at the tip of my tongue. The book of binding sits in my satchel like a cannonball, alongside three black ritual candles that I won't be using tonight. I'll need another candle, o
FFM 4 - The Spine of the WorldHe can't remember when he last took the medication. It could have been weeks. He doesn't know, can't think: skull pulsing with maggots. They've burrowed into the cavity of his braincase, squirmed against the flat bones of his cranium. He hears them sliding, feels them fester in his grey matter. Feels them breed.
He can't go outside. Hasn't tried, too afraid, yet promises each time, huddled in a dull corner, he will do it, soon. He sees a flickering shadow waiting. He hears metal screams. He is cured but they will poison him. To leave was slavery, to stay starvation.
He reaches a hand but his fingers are palm leaves. His body is a knife, too sharp to move incautiously. He has no choice, never had except for the when of his fate. Leaves wrap around the scaled handle of his door-turned-tree. Feels the jolt of electricity when it resists, but he pushes through and turns.
His footsteps fail. He steps outside the monolith. The shadow is behind him, above him, somewhere he can't see. The tree
Day 3- The Rifleman's WalkThe rifleman walked his feet bloody. His boots were hours behind him on the dusty road. His feet, worn raw by the unpaved highway, were a collection of bleeding lacerations and oozing blisters. He bent forward as though he were climbing up a steep incline. Just walking jarred his bones, until he felt he would break himself apart from the force of each step.
He must have looked smart once in his officer’s frock, with pressed trousers, and shined boots. Now he looked like a dead man who’d climbed out of his own grave, bloodied from a past that was only two steps behind.
The lemon yellow dress hugged her curves better in his memory. She wore a bonnet over her hair, but for him, for his memory of her, she undid the strings. She dropped the bonnet to the ground. Her eyes were brown, and for him they were wide and full of love, but he couldn’t remember if she’d really loved him that much.
As a hallucination, her stomach was full and round, and pregnancy suited her. Th

FFM day 4: 4 promisesConversation with Julia Sarnet
I’m so drugged up, Jules
I can’t think straight
it’s okay honey
i’m right here with you
I promise.
I love you!
Peter’s heart rate monitor beeped incessantly. The room was decorated with little pieces of the different families he’d had: bobbleheads from the precinct, pictures from mom and dad, action figures from Julia, and half a Hallmark store of cards.
babe, Alyn’s wife wants to visit
what should I say?

ask her why Alyn isn’t talking to me
I can tell her this is a bad time
Jules, please
I have to tell him I’m sorry
People swam in and out of focus. Some days Peter woke in the hospital. Other days he woke in a warehouse with smoke in his eyes, pain shooting through parts of him that were barely attached anymore.
He woke with his sister’s head on his chest, o
Heart's EasePetal/ Blossom/ Flora/ Posy/ Sharon, the polyanthus who lived in the garden of Fairy Heartsease, were singing their song to greet the day.
Romance over before it even started?
Well, she’s the one to help the broken hearted.
We all think she’s the bee’s knees
Here she is: Fairy Heartsease!

They looked expectantly towards the door of the cottage.
Nobody came out.
“Er,” said Sharon, “should we..?”
Suddenly the door was thrown open and Fairy Heartsease stomped out carrying a bottle. She scowled at the polyanthus and sang her reply.
Lovers, tell me of your plight
I’m full of sweetness and delight.

She took a swig from the bottle.
There was a pause.
“Have we caught you at a bad moment?” said Petal, eventually.
Heartsease burst into tears. “He’s chucked me!”
“Oh… You mean…” said Blossom.
“That bloody Kaleidoscope Pixie.” Heartsease stared at her bottle. “I

Day 5:

FFM15 - 5: Some Assembly RequiredDoctor Frank tore the tape off the box and began taking all the pieces out, being careful to arrange them neatly by size. He always did love this part: the unboxing. It was almost like Christmas, but better in a way, because he ordered it himself and didn’t have to feign joy when he unwrapped socks from Aunt Marie.
Once Doctor Frank had all the pieces laid out, he gave a little squirm of excitement and reached for the instructions. He didn’t usually need instructions; he was very good at assembling things. And really, how hard could it be? He had put together countless people, and this didn’t have nearly so many parts to it. But, it was a new project and Doctor Frank wanted to do it right. After last year’s Body Building fiasco, he had decided to move into a more specialised field. Building your own pet was a somewhat unconventional practice thus far, but he felt sure the trend would catch on quickly.
He scanned the instruction leaflet, head tilting to one side
The Last Laugh“So what are you in for?”
    “Oh, nothing much.” Carl vigorously chalked his cue, buying precious time. “The boss wanted some stuff stolen from a place, it didn’t go to plan...the usual.”
    “Huh.” The inmate with the prominent widow’s peak lined up his shot, took it, and sent the cue ball spinning into the corner pocket. “Was the place anywhere interesting?”
    “Uh...” Carl put the cue ball back on the table and sank a red into the side pocket. “Not really. You know, standard secret lab. Nothing out of the ordinary.” It was more or less true. He took his next shot, leaving another red covering the corner pocket.
    The inmate took his turn. A wild jab from the cue sent the ball flying off the table and bouncing noisily across the floor. “Frank!” he shouted. “Little help?”

Mature Content

JudgmentalGerald stepped out of the fitting room in a floor length evening gown, slinky and figure hugging.
“Oh, God,” said Cynthia. She put her head in her hands.
Gerald frowned and retreated back behind the curtain.
He reappeared in a pencil skirt and pussy bow blouse, both fitting rather snugly.
“Gerald!” muttered Cynthia. “You’re embarrassing me.”
Looking daggers, Gerald disappeared again, reappearing for the last time in a catsuit that left nothing to the imagination.
“Well, I am not going out with you looking like that!” said Cynthia.
Gerald straightened his shoulders. “You know, you could be a little more supportive.”
Cynthia sighed. “Gerald, you are really going to have to face it. You’re just not a size 10.”
FFM 2015, July 5 - SouflikarSabah knew the end had come when the janissaries led him into the garden. Opposite a delicate round table sat the head gardener, wearing a caftan made out of finest Oriental silks, his bashlyk adorned with gems and gold. Although his clothing spoke of wealth, his physique was everything but: he was the largest man Sabah had ever seen.
The man smiled. "Isn't it a lovely day today, master thief?"
On the table, laid out in the traditional manner, were two cups of sharbat, chilled. Sabah licked his dry, cracked lips. The sultan's gaolers had limited his torture to just withholding drink, but in the sweltering summer heat, that was more than enough.
"I'm not a thief." Sabah said finally. "What I stole is nobody's possession."
The head gardener's smile broadened. "Sultan Mahomet disagrees. But I understand you consider yourself innocent?"
"Before Allah, I do." Sabah said. He could imagine the sweet taste of the sharbat against his lips. It swirled, red - perhaps scented with rose?
"Please, d
FFM 5: The Unexpected Hazards of Pet Ownership“Hey!” yelled Alya’s phone. “Hey, listen!”
Alya swore, bolting upright in bed and groping for the phone while her partner, Sam, groaned and tossed in the sheets. “What time is it?” Sam grumbled.
“Before nine, honey, go back to sleep.” Alya stroked Sam’s hair and cursed herself for leaving the volume up on her phone before they’d gone to sleep last night. But it had been late when they’d gotten back from the party, and they’d both been drunk, so she’d forgotten.
Sam muttered something dire—even when she hadn’t been drinking, she never, ever got up before nine—and covered her face with a pillow. Alya silenced the offending phone and  thumbed to her text messages. She frowned. The message was from her roommate, Kelly: also not an early riser.
i hate your cat rite now. this is the worst morning of my life.
Shit, Alya thought, suddenly very glad she’d stayed the nig

Have a Good Day    “Melissa, did you wash your hands?”
    “Yes, Mom.”
    “Show me.” Melissa rolled her eyes and held her hands out for inspection. Gloria nodded and moved on to the next morning crisis. “That’s way too much peanut butter, Louis.”
    Her kindergartner son looked up from his sandwich. He had somehow gotten just as much peanut butter on his face and into his mouth as he had onto the bread. “I know, Mom. That’s how I like it.”
    She smiled and ruffled his hair. “As long as you wash up after you’re done. And take an apple. You forgot to grab one yesterday.”
    “Okay, Mom.”
    That was two children accounted for. The third was probably still in bed.
    “Anthony?” She flicked the light switch. Nothing happened. Gloria looked up and saw why. He’d taken out the light bulbs the night before
Chronicles of Midlurth VII: Beyond our BordersWith a scorched cloak on his back and two arrows in his arse, a dwarf made his way along the Amberlea riverside. He saw the sign of the Golden Dragon ale house and shivered. Dragons. Too soon.
As he passed the door, a ruddy-faced halfling raised his beer thimble in greeting. “Ho there! Here for the vegetable competition this afternoon?”
“Have you not heard?” asked the dwarf. “The Necrolock has raised a world-ending army. Every human able to hold a sword marches west as we speak! The smart races are heading East.”
“You should see Mrs Hurgsplirdle's pumpkins, I'd bet you ten thimbles she'll be walking home with firs' place!”
“Are you not listening to me? Monsters are coming! You need to get out of here now, or you and everyone you care about will be dead within the week!”
The halfling snorted. “What goes on beyond Farmer Gherkin's hill is neither here nor there.”
“No, it definitely is there, and it'll be here t
SarahSarah clothed herself in flame. Her hair was orange and red and yellow, left to fly free when she danced, and her fingernails shone fiery-bright. She called to mind a phoenix, an ifrit, a goddess of the sun. And she was beautiful.
But she was no goddess and no djinni and no flaming bird. Sarah tended bars. She spent half her days and most of her nights mixing cocktails, wiping down tables, avoiding the fingers of drunks who'd later claim they didn't know what they were doing. She wouldn't avoid their eyes: Sarah had fire in her eyes, and when she stared back at them they'd mostly leave her alone, muttering apologies and fumbling for tips.
It wasn't a bad life. But on days when the sun shone bright and Sarah danced barefoot through its beams, her flame-colored hair and clothing sparkling as they swung around behind her, she found herself wishing for more: she wanted fire in her life, something that would move and grow and change. She wanted the glow of destruction.
No one had a

We Buy Gold“Is this real gold?” she asked, pointing to one of the necklaces behind the counter.
The pawn dealer turned in his chair but didn't get up. “Yep. Twenty-four karat. Good eye.”
She leaned in and squinted. “And it's priced as marked? That's the right label?”
He nodded. “All sales final.”
She raised an eyebrow. “ it cursed?”
So close to finally making the sale, the dealer swore under his breath.
The Watch FlowerFrom the day I was a seed until the day I was last planted, I have seen and heard many things. I was grown close to a beach with waves of rushing blue and white foaming hands that stretched over the sand and sprayed the air with cool sprinkles of salt.
Not far from the shore was a moving forest. It was there where an old, big strange tree with moving branches who collected rare seeds planted me in a pile of dirt at between the sea and the forest. It wasn't too moist, but the old tree cared well for me.
Life was dull while underground, but things changed when a little big flower appeared. Lisa, I heard the strange trees with soft creamy barks call her. Thin black roots grew instead of petals on her receptacle, almost as long as her height. Her stem split into two at the bottom where roots should be, and with those the large flower, covered in a red bell shaped petal, and the long black strings at the top was be able to move.
I was a tiny shoot when Lisa first noticed me. Two big round d
Hello, My Name is Peddy    “Alright iDometer, let’s see what you can do,” Tracy said as she pressed the little on button. 
    The little screen lashed on. It showed a brief animation of shoes running then went to a menu screen. “Hello. My name is Peddy. I think this is the first time we have met. Is this true?” A yes and a no button appeared on the touch screen and Tracy tapped ‘yes.’ “Is this your first time using an iDometer?”
    “Why yes it is,” Tracy responded, again tapping the yes button on the screen.
    “I see. How would you like me to address you? To give the iDometer voice commands, please hold the start button. I will record and memorize your voice so only you may give my commands.”
    Following the instructions, Tracy held the pedometer close to her mouth. “Peddy, please call me Tracy.”

You guessed it, folks, it's FFM again! Apologies for my continued lack of presence here on dA except for this past week (which will extend into the rest of this month, but still be mainly limited to FFM related activities). I am well and reasonably happy most of the time, but I've started studying towards a Diploma of Counselling, and it takes up a lot of my energy. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, though, and finally making some local friends.

Anyway, onto the first of my FFM features for the year! I know there's a lot of works in here, but I do recommend you read as many as you can as these are the best of the best for each day.

Day 1:

Dino Doom    As a hypochondriac, Philip Jackson spent a lot of his life in terror of the various horrible ways he was going to die. Despite his sheer dedication to contemplating the end of his days, Phil wasn’t imaginative enough to expect this.
    Phil was stuck in a dino. It wasn’t even a proper dinosaur, so no one could say he went out Jurassic Park style, in some reality defying science fiction scenario. It was an animatronic monster and it smelled like roasted feet.
    The first few hours were rough. Phil panicked when he woke up in the dark, only calming down when he smacked his head on a dino-intestinal support beam and blacked out. When he woke up again he took a lot of deep breaths and tried to “Think it through.” This involved him frantically searching for his phone, screaming his throat raw when he couldn’t find it, and then giving up all at once
    Phil found a somewhat comfor
To Make Whole“There's an Akhen-Set waiting for you in your office, professor,” Jenny said. My secretary seemed a bit pale, but I didn't think much of it at the time. The lack of an appointment didn't bother me. That happens pretty often. But it's rarely a walking corpse.
When I walked into my office, the mummified corpse stood. Wrapped in crumbling bandages, he pulled one down from around his face to reveal a brown, dry-rotted jaw. “Professor Mills, I believe you have something of mine.” His lips, too desiccated to move, twitched slightly but didn't match up with the articulate words I heard from him.
My own jaw was slack. “Ah,” I mumbled.
“The Egyptology exhibit,” he said, pointing with a withered hand out the window, “houses one of my toes.”
“Yes,” I said. “The Olson expedition briefly encountered a sealed tomb, but couldn't reach the funeral chamber due to a collapse of the Ptolemaic hinge, and all that could be retrie
Two SiblingsDrip. Drop.
Blonde lashes fluttered as a leaf, heavy with rain, finally tipped down and released a few drops onto Nora's nose. She wrinkled her nose with distaste – she'd been enjoying a fine dream of a warm place, smiling faces, and tasty food. Now the annoying rain had dragged her back to the reality of a cold, wet park and scraps. The rain had long stopped, but the remnants of it were evident. Another drop fell on her, this time on the forehead. For a few minutes she tried to drift off back to sleep, but it was soon evident that she was now thoroughly awake. Nora groaned and stretched as she stood up, a few joints popping miserably. Another warm body wriggled in response to Nora's movement, head turning  to reveal Saint's blue eyes, still slightly clouded from sleep.
Nora couldn't speak, but she gave the little boy a reassuring smile and kissed him on the forehead. Going to find food. She silently willed Saint to understand, but sure enough he b

Gaulish GoldWe were getting ready to fight, and there were days at a time when Aesu never seemed to leave his forge.  The Romans had taken everything they valued, and broken everything they did not, but not beyond repair.  They had not broken even my family beyond repair.
When Aesu finally appeared, he was red and sweating and I thought he really must not have left the forge in those few days.  He found me at the back of our roundhouse, testing the strength of one of Mother’s chariot wheels.
‘Did you fix that yourself?’ he asked.
‘Cata helped,’ I said, which was an understatement.  My sister had immersed herself more than anyone in putting our tribe back together and getting us all ready to march.  ‘Check it for us, will you?  We’re not really craftspeople.’
‘You’re not a couple of pathetic Roman women either,’ said Aesu.  ‘You know how to make a chariot hold together.’
All the same, he
Selkie--Day 1Isn’t it ironic how I’ve dreamed of the sea my whole life, yet never even set foot in a swimming pool?  I get that it’s for my safety, but the moon pulls at my blood as strongly as it does the sea…
I guess I should start at the beginning.  This story starts about sixty years ago, on the coast of Cornwall in England.  That was the summer my grandparents met.  He was a photographer, down to shoot photos of the scenery, and my grandma fell head-over-heels for the scruffy young man with his clunky camera.  They spent the whole summer together, and when autumn came and my grandpa returned to his home inland, my grandma gave up her seal-skin and went with him.
Flash forward twenty years.  My grandparents immigrated here, to the United States.  They’d already had my uncle, and Grandma’s belly was round as the full moon.  They had my mother shortly after they arrived, and moved their family west—as far west as th
FFM 1: Celery"Celery is the absolute worst," the Kitten Crusader said, "All vegetables are. Why can't we have steak?"
Before the demonic, telepathic kittens had been banished, he had changed his costume. His usual ridiculousness was replaced with a brand new ridiculousness. Instead of his kitten isignia, he had printed and sewed a picture of himself in costume on his costume. Desdemona scooted to the edge of the bench, hoping he'd get the hint and let her eat her lunch in quiet.
He didn't.
"I mean, the demons are gone. What's the problem?" he asked.
He spread out over his lunch, arms curled around it like he was some kind of hungry dog. Instead of using utensils like a civilized human being, he used the tip of his razor claw to spear each vegetable and transport it to his mouth. Desdemona didn't know how he managed to do it without cutting his mouth, but she decided she didn't particularly care either. The demon kitten debacle was his fault, and once again, she had had to step in and fix everything

The Root of the ProblemLong ago, before the Vegetable Wars that ravaged the crop field, Sir Celery and his loyal band of Roots were the king pins of the land. While all of the other vegetables had at least an inkling of deep purple-red colouring about them, Sir Celery was remarkable in that all of his matter was a pure green. By this virtue, when he had come of age, he was proclaimed as Leader. Indeed, he alone was revered by the Cultivators, a strange, bipedal species that fed them with a sweet smelling substance that, at certain temperatures, smelt like long-forgotten ancestors. They were also the ones that delivered new Seedlings, sprouting and unfurling from hard, brown packets.
Sir Celery had begun finding dry, yellow patches on his flesh of late, and knew that he didn’t have long left. Whispers and rumours of his heir being chosen had begun circulating, though his Roots had shielded him from the worst of it. Sir Celery had decided, though, that the tours of the Plot must go on. One day when the H
The Yellow MermaidShe never figured out why she survived, but she did. She was a peculiar human since the beginning. As a child, she fell in a pool on her fourth birthday party and remained for ten minutes submerged until her mother noticed her absence, and to everyone’s surprised she was intact. No water was found in her lungs, her skin didn’t wrinkle like raisins unlike everyone, and she could see perfectly under water as she would on ground.
Doctors never found anything out of the ordinary, all in all she was a normal child. “Yellow mermaid” she was named, for the two drops of sparkling honey in her eyes, and her immunity to the dangers of water. It was cute, she thought, to have that name, when she preferred the breeze whispering through her hair. She never minded, until it was not just a nickname, but her reality.
Not long before her fifteenth birthday, the world had become violent with storms that’d never end, floods that drowned cities, blizzards where they never hap
A Morbid EpiphanyWaking up on a coroner's slab is an ordinary experience for me. Though it generally happens before the autopsy. Not that I mind having a few extra scars, but I dislike jolting upright with a scalpel lodged in my sternum. You should see how fast coroners collapse after watching me rise from the dead.
This one puts the number at 157. Times I've died, I mean. Don't ask me how it started, because I have no idea. The first time it happened I almost had a heart attack and died again. Ha.
Anyway, I go through what I had come to call the "Zombie Routine." I make sure that my body is still intact, flexing my fingers, moving stiff joints, and stretching out muscles. Apart from the initial incision made by the medical examiner, everything seems unscathed, but as I make my way through the checklist, I notice something is missing - the pinky toe of my right foot is gone.
The sensation of wiggling all but a missing appendage is a strange one. Shuddering, I swing my legs onto the floor, clutch

Day 2:

Goggles   Goggles. He’d bought her goggles.
   And not the underwater kind, either. No, these were the kind you saw when you searched the word ‘steampunk’ on Google. She’d never actually seen anyone wear them, not properly like you were supposed to. Instead, they sat on people’s head like some absurd attempt at a headband.
   “Do you like them?” he asked excitedly. His top hat, decorated with little gears that really should have tipped her off, tilted dangerously to one side.
   “They’re goggles,” she replied flatly.
   Unperturbed by her tone, or perhaps not really listening, he rushed to correct her. “Not just any goggles! These are moon goggles.”
   And didn’t that just sound ridiculous? Moon goggles. “What, are they like sunglasses?”
   He shook his head, and when he raised his head she realised he’d donned a mo
Clockwork GirlTwirl, twirl, twirl.
The first time I opened my eyes, I saw my father. When I reached out for him, my joints squeaked and creaked and my arms jittered.
That was his first word to me.
He took off his glasses and left the room cleaning them. That left me alone, in the dark, listening to spiders clicking and clacking inside my head. They frightened me. I wanted my father.
When I tried to move my legs, I found that I had none. It was disconcerting, but not an impassable obstacle. I used my arms and my fingers to drag my body across the floor, until I met the door. It was disconcerting, but not an impassable obstacle. I broke the door and passed through.
I heard running steps above me. Then the steps ran down the stairs. My father appeared. He saw me and staggered back.
“Hmm,” I said. “Hmm. Hmm.”
My father approached me and I reached out for him. We both jittered.
He swung a wrench at me and all the spiders stopped.
FFM15 - 2: The Incredible Adventures of SkycaptainThe large silver serving platter functioned nicely as a makeshift shield. The automaton’s clockwork hand slammed against it, producing a resounding clang that echoed through the high ceilinged chamber. Skycaptain Forethought, the most renown and respected adventurer in the land, laughed from behind the platter-shield. Shoving back on it, he pushed the mechanical man away, causing it to wobble on its spindly metal legs then topple over.
Laughing again, Skycaptain Forethought pulled out the revolving pistol that he had packed earlier and shot the automaton through its clockwork heart. The mecha fell to the ground, joining the scattered heap of its fallen comrades.
Twirling the pistol around his finger before holstering it, Skycaptain Forethought turned to his plucky young accomplice. “You see, Skylass, always come prepared.”
“Yes, sir,” the young woman replied, just as another automaton charged into the room.
Skycaptain Forethought reached for his gun, but h

FFM 2015 2: Santa Maria, Pray for MamaI have an early memory of rushing up into the nipa hut and stumbling toward where she bent sifting through the uncooked rice for little black stones. Mirth was bubbling in my chest — Mateo, that little lothario, had been trying to bestow kisses, and I had only managed to dash away, my bakya flying off to wallop him on the tummy. How my playmates had laughed!
I had to tell her of Mateo’s infernal new tactics! “Mama!” I caught her skirt, but before I could bury my blushing face into the plaid cotton that always, always smelled of her favorite hot strong chocolate, she shifted back, out of my reach, and the little black stones spilled down from the bowl to rain down on my face.
One night, I stirred as she tugged away a multicolored shawl of hers that I liked to clutch in my sleep. I sat up from the banig and watched her drape the shawl over her head. My mouth parted, but she touched a finger to my lips. “Hush now, Lucia. Mama will only be out a little while.&
Some Disassembly RequiredFew cared to admit it, but Sebastian Lloyd had a head for business. It had been hand-fitted by Stanton Precision Instruments and was capable of processing more than sixty-two economic calculations simultaneously. If you wanted the best service, you went to Edwin Pierce Esquire or Jarvis von Hyde. But if you wanted the best price, you went to Lloyd.
    Julius Foster rang the bell on the counter with a brass fingertip. There was a hiss of steam from the back room, and the sound of a chair being scraped back across the floorboards. Knowing the value of everything, and pursuing a more or less sedentary profession, Lloyd had not spared the same expense on his legs as he had on his patented pneumatic processor.
     Foster took the opportunity to have one more look around the shop. The selection of wares out front was adequate—certainly a fair mix of parts—but there was nothing remarkable. Nothing befitting his steady rise into high s
Plattery Will Get You NowhereMr. and Mrs. Bartle had enjoyed their day out at the Great Exhibition.
They had admired the phonograph that could store an incredible twelve wax cylinders and play them in any order; they had seen the amazing hydraulic hand (which had a slightly unfortunate range of gestures); and they had even made a purchase—a vessel that was kettle, pot and cup combined, and sold already filled to the brim with steaming tea.
And now to finish the day off, they were watching a charming gentleman in one of the booths demonstrating a serving platter.
“ you see, you wind it up here—” The gentleman placed the platter flat on a table and rotated a handle. “—and then put this lever to ‘on’…”
The platter vibrated into life.
“Now you just have to enter your instructions.” The gentleman indicated the keyboard on the side of the platter. “For example…” His fingers clattered over the keys and there was a ping. The gen

Moon HunterThe Moon was forged in fire and brimstone, although the humans would have you believe a meteor carved it out on impact from Earth. Indeed, it was a rouge watchmaker that, bored with her trade, decided to branch out into the practice of Interstellar Creation. Business had been slow of late, and in her spare time Will had been constructing an airship, a chimera of Nature’s finest elements translated into cogs and pistons.
She had wanted it to fly silently wherever she went, vacuum or no vacuum, but instead Will had opted for steam power and rippling sails. The craft was a simple egg-shaped design, with the panoramic cockpit in front of her tiny living quarters. The majority of the ship was occupied by the engine room, a sweaty tangle of machinery pumping power through funnels to propel the ship.
On the first tour, Will traversed the inky skies searching for inspiration. Earth had yet to gain a Moon, and it struck Will as odd that no-one had thought to build one. In fact, the other

Day 3:

FFM3: Don't Shake the Jars"It's just $5,000 dollars, for real?"
Andrew stared into the jar. He could almost see the people, but the outline of the city was very small, vaguely Ancient Chinese, vaguely Ancient Greece. The jagged edge of the what he guessed to be the main temple wasn't quite familiar.
"Some would say it's a bargain," the salesman said. From the way his lips thinned under his pencil thin moustache, Andrew got the impression he wanted to snatch the jar out of his hands and hide it on one of the many shelves. The store had hundreds of the jars, hundreds upon hundreds. If the man couldn't part with one, there was something wrong with him.
"I'll take it," Andrew said, handing the man his card.
He'd never really thought about owning an entire civilization before. He'd gotten lost looking for the Potion shop, and ended up in Civilizations R' Us. He'd seen the ads on tv, made fun of them with Kelly. Who puts civilizations in jars and sells them to amateur wizards? It wasn't just crazy, it was stupid.
RecyclingSue woke up with a jolt. She threw on her dressing gown and rushed outside, hoping that she hadn’t left it too late. She'd forgotten to put the bins out.
She grabbed one wheelie bin, wheeled it down the driveway and out onto the road. It was a constant irritation that the bin men wouldn’t come up her driveway to collect it, when it was always conspicuously there, but they didn’t. She had even confronted one of them about it, but he’d just said in a dismissive cockney yawp that no can do love, not insured isn’t it.
Having deposited the bin, she looked down along her quiet suburban road. The bins were all lined up neatly, undisturbed. This was a reliable indication that they hadn’t been yet. Usually they left the bins in terrible disarray, almost wilfully parking them in the middle of driveways when they were emptied.
Just last week, she saw her next door neighbour, Terry, a man in his sixties, slam his brakes on in the middle of the street when he alm
A Spooky Ghost's StoryLavinia Clutterbuck looked into Camera 2 and smiled.
“Today,” she said, “we’re looking at the world of ghost modelling. More and more of the dearly departed are taking up this career, and here to tell us a bit more about it is ghost supermodel, Spooky!”
There was huge applause from the studio audience and a translucent young woman drifted on. She floated over to the chair opposite Lavinia’s and eventually came to a stop in a sitting position just above it.
“Welcome!” said Lavinia. “We’re so pleased to have you!” She leaned forward. “First of all, I have to ask… ‘Spooky’ isn’t your real name, is it?”
Spooky grinned. “No—I wasn’t always a ghost! I used to be plain Miranda Atherton.” She laughed a little. “Plain in all senses. I don’t think anyone gave me a second look during the twenty-two years I was alive.”
“But that all changed after you

FFM 2015: Day 3Angela gave the pamphlet a dubious once-over and shook her head.
“I’m just not sure, it seems very ominous.”
“Not at all!” The salesman’s expression was positively pained. “It’s the perfect security system for every home. It sees all, knows all, and for a small extra fee, it even comes with a set of Nazgul.”
“Hmm.” Angela pursed her lips, still undecided. It was a big commitment after all, and she had a feeling it would clash with her curtains. But still.
“I suppose that does sound rather good.” She admitted, ’But I have a limited budget, and there’s a man three stalls down from you who's offered me my very own ancient civilisation for just $5000.00. You can’t go wrong with a deal like that.”
“No, no, no. You’re being had, trust me. It seems like a good deal, but the headache is more trouble that it’s worth. All that micro-managing, and that’s not
The Rembrandts“I spent a long time collecting up those tapes,” the old man says. “I’ve got the whole lot. Every single one.”
    There certainly are a great many. They take up the only set of shelves in the house, leaving no room for books.
    “Promise me you’ll look after them.”
    A foolish promise, but one I keep regardless. Even after the bombs drop and all the trees crumble into ash.
The Reader is a large device, made heavy by its great dignity. A dead format for a dead world.
    “What knowledge will the Tapes of the Wanderer impart?” you ask.
    “That is a holy mystery,” whispers the deacon. “All we know for sure is that it is of great importance. Listen, scribe, and commit their words to stone.”
Chronicles of Midlurth VI: Coins and BaublesFrom his high throne, Lord Valamir peered over steepled fingers. Before him stood Korth of Klenodhalig, master of ingots, holding a scroll so long it trailed on the floor and pooled around his feet.
“Where exactly is this money coming from?” asked the ruler of the crenelled city. “I was under the impression a dragon ruled the mountain these days.”
Korth shrugged. “Turns out a network of narrow underground tunnels doesn't make a particularly practical habitat for a giant winged lizard. We just kind of work around him. That said, we still can’t access the grand treasury, but that won’t be a problem once we tap that mythril…” He let the last syllable hang so that it almost became a question, and Valamir’s eyebrow twitched.
“You’ll have your eighty percent,” he affirmed, monotone.
“I believe we agreed-“
“Eighty-one. Point two. Indeed.”
Korth’s moustache shifted into a new configurati

~ FFM 3. The Last Fairy ~A white fire burned in the centre of the room, its light wavering like the twinkling of a star. It hovered above the ground, slightly above Radyn's head when he stood up, but always feeling out of reach. He hadn't the energy to try touch the star. He could feel no warmth from it, nor coldness. It was never too bright so as to hurt his eyes, nor did it ever dim. It merely hung there, inexplicably, magically, impassively.
The first time Radyn saw it, almost a month ago, he had felt hope swell up inside of him. He had thought the star would guide him out of this hellish prison. It hadn't taken him long to learn the star would not be commanded. It seemed it was sent there simply to mock him and torture him further. He now lay dejected on the ground under the burning fire, staring without blinking until his eyes hurt. For the first time in a long time, he wished death to take him then. This was not the life he was meant to live - forgotten, imprisoned, fading slightly from view with every p
The New GodsThe humanoid mechanism leading the tour had a nasal, grating voice. "If you look to your left, we are approaching Planet 32X7Y, known to its inhabitants as Earth," it regurgitated, reciting from a scripted code input into its hardware soon after coming off the factory line. As the craft hurtled through space, the passengers crowded to the window, ooh-ing and aah-ing in their respective languages at the planet that came into view.
If the guide had emotions it would be feeling a mixture of boredom and disgust. Only the richest of each species could afford to go on this particular space cruise. Though the android had to admit that this job was better than, say, being a crew member with a red shirt.
"All right, if you've seen enough, please follow me into the debriefing room," it chirped, gesturing at the passengers. It led them away from the sight seeing deck and deeper into the craft. A buzz of excitement could be heard from the crowd as they walked down the hallway, eager to finally get

First off, I'd like to say I'm very sorry about my unscheduled, unannounced, un-anythinged break of the last few months. It started with being unwell and spiralled into very unwell, and just as I started getting better, I got incredibly busy trying to get things in order for Christmas and a three week holiday interstate!

I'm home now, and much more myself than I was before I disappeared here. Unfortunately, because I was gone for so long (and to minimise my stress levels in returning), I've had to do a mass delete of most of my inbox. This includes notes people sent about prizes I owed them. It was simply too overwhelming for me to come back with that on my head, so if you're someone who is waiting on a prize from me and you still want one, please do get in contact again and I'll do my best.

Since I've done a mass delete of just about everything, I've missed all your wonderful artworks since about October last year. That makes me sad, so I'm begging you -- if you read this, please leave a comment with thumbnails of your best pieces between October and now! dA only lets you leave five thumbnails per comment, but I'm happy with up to five thumbnails per month (so a total of 20 thumbnails), so feel free to leave several comments if you want to!

Feature City

Fri Oct 17, 2014, 7:25 PM
So, because of my hiatusy period, there's a bunch of features I owe people for winning contests and stuff. I also want to plug some of the things that're currently going on - two big projects about being real about ourselves and our lives.

This Deserves a Feature On Its OwnBecause the reception it's receiving now is actually becoming really, really surprising and I'm so damn happy to see this. All of you guys are inspiring me and I thank you all for being fearless. Thank you all for being so freaking beautiful and honest and amazing in your own perfectly imperfect skin. This is why I called myself chromeantennae because I want to spread my message and I never expected anyone to listen, but now that people are-- it's so humbling. This is exactly what I want to do with my time here. I want to inspire creation and right now this is exactly what is happening and I couldn't be prouder.
With suggestion, I've added my own deviation so you all can see what prompted this to begin with:

And here all of the pieces (besides mine) that seemed to have stem from one another in some way and I will add more every time someone writes a poem or response on this topic that was directly inspired by this:
  The Bare All projectNullibicity's Bare All project
Hi! :wave: My name is Kelsi!
I wanted to try an experiment--a project. It's purpose isn't to depress or trigger--rather a reminder that you're never alone in this world.
Maybe it's a stupid idea, but I feel that if we spread our stories, people will realize that our thoughts and feelings aren't so different after all. It will be known that we are all capable of change, and growth, and recovery, and that the bad things and traumas in our life do not define who we are capable of becoming. To raise the dA love, and the awareness that we can (and will! :huggle:) be each other's support nets, if needed. So! If you'd like to participate, I want to thank you for being one courageous human being. (Maybe letting me link your stories here, if you want to join me, will help create a complete world of pain, healing, and recovery, casting away the isolation that people feel. I can't change the world comple

Lissomer 's Micro Colour Contest
First Place: ilyilaice 

cosmic lattesilk oasis in the pulsing,
will you hear my song?
if your shirt had a flavor:
soymilk smoothies
(may i sip?)
dog-eared pages
(may i flip?)
bubblewrap buttons
(may i rip?)
dear stranger,
your spanish-chinese ankles
make me want to
cross continents,
climb the stripped shelves in the
country of you
dear moonface with the
ticking of a clock,
will you let me unravel the
infinite prism facets
of your
if your shirt had a flavor:
the summation of cosmos
the gap when you walk
  three coats and terribly coldjust friends,
we sit opposite each other
at a coffee table.
you begin to lose your voice,
blathering over matters
of zero consequence.
there are bigger things, i say,
worthier of the degradation of your throat.
love, for instance.
you say derisively.
love—who needs that?
only everyone in the world, i say.
everyone except me,
you say pompously.
you are shaking your head no,
and as if taking a cue,
your body follows in a shiver.
you're wearing three coats,
all of which you've bought
for yourself.
i watch your trembling hands,
and warily
wrap them around my coffee cup.
everyone including you, i correct.
coffee cup steaming,
we breathe together.
for a moment there,
i confess,
my hands linger on yours.
wanting to snatch them up and rest them on my chest—
my heart is fluttering too fast for
just friends.
 <da:thumb id="486568201"/>

Honourable Mentions AyeAye12 , introverted-ghost & littleblueraccoon 
LostlessLess than lost. Lostless.
Time doesn't exist between the stab of pavement
and the pain in your ass.
Life became a stream of blues after the first drag,
once the cup of money was drunk.
I've a cocoon tarpaulin,
a woollen womb to hide from the cars in.
But I still get reborn every day, gritting,
tumbling into a new doorway.
This city is dysfunctional, a dangerous factory.
My moon is a urinal,
a public toilet pissed on with graffiti.
In its shine I grip on to the last
drips of sleep.
Sunshine? Streelamps.
I get thirsty in the burning gas balls
of society's eyes. Their paranoia brings
in insomnia, brings in hunger,
stomach growl after stomach growl entering my conscience,
jerking me into the synthetic dawns
of prostituted neon again. Again. AGAIN.
I lie on the street like an atheist Lazarus.
Faithless, hopeless, lostless. No messiah but the ones
who preach through unread pamphlets. Useless.
I already have a church, of rainbow dust. I pray in alley darkness
for coca cola skies, me
<da:thumb id="472523080"/> olivearmies march in time,
shouting and stamping
into Vietnam swamps
with booming voices
and dirty boots.
a soldier can't keep up,
falls to the side in tall jungle grass
and vomits out his homesickness
into the damp shrubs.
grenades crescendo
while the American girl
giggles and taps her nails
on the grimy paint of the bar,
chewing the toothpick
of her martini.
outside, leaves curl into mulch,
and summer shrivels
like a rotting pea pod.

A Candle In The Dark Competition:

CE: A Candle In the Darkness by HeavenNomad The Rower's MateSpinning endlessly to this point, my life has been a sad song never composed nor sung, yet thought up tirelessly by a lone boatman with a single oar. At sea, he's been stranded since before he can remember. And as if he doesn't know that using only one paddle clung to one hand cannot lead forward, this spiral has lead him nowhere but to confusion.
One lonely midnight, this seemingly limitless self-created whirlpool ceases to exist as he lays down his instrument atop his lap. Another voice has come to him. Many have before, each bringing with them a plea to cease this mutalative degredation of the mind. They asked only that he would consider alternatives. Yet no practical means to achieve these goals were presented, a fact that always invariably leads him to continue his spiral. Always, they asked for his tale. He would attempt to provide an explanation, but would fail to proceed past the introduction, as always their response was the same. They would stop his speech, cutting him off a

Valley Of Tears by BBstar7 Power WithinOur hearts shattered, our minds broken, eyes in tears
A world which has been bringing us down for years
Following the times of great sorrow and grief
Moments of happiness are quite rare and brief
Clinging to reality, that silent thief
Has left us robbed and showered in disbelief
You see there is no secret to contentment
Joy comes from compassion, and not resentment
A word, a prayer, a trinket of a kind
In times of true despair leaves the addict blind
The luck does not come from the object indeed
But reminds a person to keep calm in need
I tend to keep trinkets for times quite frantic
Never forgetting that they're not mantic
Recall, when everything seems out of control,
The power hidden within your heart and soul

DLR Contest

<da:thumb id="481453955"/>  Perspectives - Black and WhiteAugust 31, 2014 - Black and White
With the appearance of social unrest tearing through cultures all over the world, it is important to explore different perspectives to paint the truest picture of the situation. The pieces featured here explore race, specifically looking at relations between black people and white people.  

Identity by TurboTracks
"I live with dispersed hues that run at the sight of me
because my science-history says it must be so."
This poem takes a white perspective on this issue, exploring the guilt of history as well as the daunting dream of cohesion. What makes this interesting is the rarely-explored idea of hope for white people - that this state of oneness can be possible despite history.
  Something Borrowed :icondivider1plz::icondivider1plz::icondivider1plz:
The pieces that I've selected for this feature all have something in common: they've taken other people's material and made something new from it.
Borrowed Words

by anapests-and-ink
In this first poem, the poet has taken a snippet of conversation overheard at an art opening and shaped and framed it - turning it into a poignant work of art itself. It's quite brief but gives you a lot to think about.
Borrowed Style

by AzizrianDaoXrak
This piece deliberately attempts to imitate the style of some of Edgar Allen Poe's poems: it takes the form of a love poem to the late writer himself, weaving in references to his life and works. I find AzizrianDaoXrak's use of colours here rather delicious; they transform a mildly disturbing theme into something beautiful.
Borrowed Stories

by :devSCFr

Gay LoveAnthology Theme: I recently had a long, painful conversation with a new friend from work. We'll call him Paul. Paul is 24 and married less than a year ago. His husband, we'll call him Pat, recently admitted that he's been cheating on Paul. I hugged Paul while he cried and cheered him on when he raged, and offered my couch if he wanted somewhere to crash - and was incredibly proud when he said, "hell no. The cheating bastard can find a street corner for all I care." 
Love is heartbreak, sometimes. And it's pain. And it's kicking a sorry excuse for a partner to the curb. And that's true no matter who you are or who you love. 
So, inspired by Paul and his amazing confidence in who he is and what he deserves, this mini-anthology is focused on gay love. I tried to find a bit of it from every angle. I hope you'll enjoy these personal, powerful pieces of literature. I sure did.

You know you’re in love when you sound li
  5 Stages of GriefFeature time! :la: This is an entry for DailyLitRecognition 's Create Your Own DLR Feature contest. More information can be found here. The theme I've chosen is the five stages of grief. It was time-consuming looking through some Deviants' galleries, but 100% worth it.

AzureNebulae 's didn't want to see. explores denial as the first stage of grief. Similar to a grieving individual, the speaker denies the nostalgia of days past and instead is content on focusing on anything else. The speaker's personal tone expresses her refusal to accept the truth as reality.

PoetryOD 's The End is tense, fractured, and carries a sharp tone. Much of the poem's screaming motif is a cry for help, accompanied by cold and shattered diction. Words such as 'shards', 'c
SnapshotsPoems can tell a story, envoke emotions, inspire people to do something about a problem, make readers consider the world they live in in a new light, and much more. One of my favorite things a poem can do is produce an elaborate or simple image using only ink scratches or pixels. The writer delicately and carefully chooses words and phrases to conjure a specific image, painting a beautiful, breath-taking picture in our heads. However, it may not be an elaborate nature scene; sometimes the best of poems describe the simple things we see daily, never noticing that there is beauty in the mundane. In these "snapshot poems", the imagery is not explained, but instead it is left there for your interpretation. It is a snapshot of the world we live in and the people we see, and nothing more.

"Tangerine" by Personghost demonstrates the snapshot poem perfectly. Upon reading, I could taste the fruit and feel the skin bursting under my teeth. Instead of r

See you next time! :heart:

Texture © cloaks Skin coding © Nesmaty

The Bare-All Project

Journal Entry: Wed Oct 15, 2014, 6:14 PM
Hello folks. I know I haven't been active in a long time, but I'm gradually coming back to myself. I don't know how long it will last as I still have some big anniversaries to get through, but for right now, here I am.

Anyhow, this journal is for Nullibicity 's Bare-All Project. The idea is to share your story so that others can be inspired by it or at the very least, understand that they're not alone. I've shared bits of my story through every piece of poetry and non-fiction I've written, but here's my attempt to write it all as one big comprehensive life story. There's one aspect I'm leaving out, and that's for safety and sanity reasons.

I should warn you that the information below contains many triggering subjects. These include: child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, mental illness, bullying, miscarriage, forced miscarriage, disordered eating, discrimination, loss, self harm and suicide. I have tried not to be overly graphic in any triggery topic.


I was born the only daughter of parents who already had a son. 18 months later, my little brother was born as well, and we lived together as a family for another year before my parents split up. During this time, my father had already begun to abuse me, and the seeds of Dissociative Identity Disorder had been sown. My mother, either unaware or unwilling to accept it, saw only that he favoured his daughter at the expense of his sons, and took steps to correct this.

We lived in a caravan park for a short time before moving to community housing where I lived with my mother and two brothers for my childhood. Every second weekend we would go visit my father and my abuse continued. Meanwhile, my mother, trying to balance things out for my brothers, favoured them over me - an action that ultimately, while based in good intentions, lead to a great deal of emotional and verbal abuse; and also a small amount of physical abuse. It also allowed neglect and extreme abuse to continue on my father's behalf.

The abuse I was undergoing continued to escalate, often involving people outside of my father and many horrible punishments and abuses for perceived slights. The fragments that had split apart in my infancy began to become full personalities in their own right. At the age of 6, my father taught me to self harm. I made attempts, at this same age, to end my own life.

I loved school, but was (somehow) naive and innocent, and bullied fairly relentlessly without ever actually recognising it for what it was. I do, of course, now know what was going on, but back then? Oblivious-city.

When I was around 10, my father married a woman he'd met at a single parents group. She, as it turns out, was equally as cruel and abusive as my father. The abuse continued, and so did the self harm and suicide attempts. Meanwhile, the abuse, when not actually occuring, was locked away inside my mind to protect me. I knew I didn't like visiting my dad, but at the same time, he was my dad and I looked forward to seeing him.

By the time I was 12, I was a handful. I wasn't into drugs or anything like that, but I was very troubled and I acted out at my mother & brothers a fair bit. Once, during an argument, I shouted that I wanted to live with my father, so my mother called him and sent me to pack up my belongings. An hour later, I was in the car on the way to living with him.

Needless to say, the abuse continued, both by my father & stepmother and by others. I was, however, happy at my new school. When, two years later, I was given the opportunity to return to my mother's care, it was school that almost kept me where I was -- but ultimately, the chance to escape (though I didn't really understand what I was needing to escape from) won out. I moved back to my mother's and ceased almost all contact with my dad, except where my mother forced it.

Another two years passed. I was bullied at school - emotionally, verbally and physically - and I just generally had a hard time. I arranged to meet up with an internet friend who assaulted me in the park, and it set off a huge spiral of events. I gradually became aware of more details of my past; and got to know the other personalities that had developed inside this body. My self harm was discovered by my mother and I was diagnosed that year with depression and generalised anxiety disorder.

Things gradually calmed down a smidge, and I got in a proper relationship. We were back and forth for six months at a time, and on the off six months, I dated someone else. It was all very smudgey and awkward, but there was no overlap or cheating on either partner and eventually one of the relationships ended for good. The other partner proposed, at that point, and we eventually married.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, my grandmother died. Then, a year later, my grandfather on the other side died. A year after that, my last remaining grandparent also died. The year after that, though I watched my mother carefully for signs of impending illness, nobody died -- I breathed again.

Unfortunately, the marriage that I saw as an escape from a difficult life -- a life that I assumed would now be roses, having gotten all the bad things out of the way -- turned out to be a new way to be abused. It was subtle at first, and emotionally directed, so I didn't even notice it. By the time the marriage came apart (more on that soon), I was being abused emotionally, verbally, sexually, and physically. Still, I felt loved and safe and I wanted to stay with my husband.

I worked in the childcare industry, loving it like nothing else in life. It suited me well and I was happy in my job and my workplace.

At home, my husband and I began to try for a baby. This was what I got married for, this was what I wanted out of life -- being a mum. It took us over a year before I finally became pregnant -- and at about 7 weeks gestation, I miscarried. I was beyond devastated.

A week later, my husband told me he wanted a divorce and that he was glad I lost the baby. I fell apart.

My life continued on its track, more or less, for the next few years. There was another failed relationship, and I moved back in with my mother because childcare didn't pay well enough and nobody would rent to me. I continued to self harm and there were several suicide attempts in there as well. I stayed at my same workplace, though I was now travelling three hours a day (hour and a half each way), studying and working full time.

I began to hallucinate. I began to drink. My self harm got worse. I all but stopped sleeping - 8 hours would be the week's total, if I was lucky. Another suicide attempt landed me in hospital, and without thinking, I told my colleagues and my boss where I was. A rumour went around work that I had overdosed *at* work, and my boss shared that information with Head Office without checking with me. I was discriminated against and recommended for a transfer to another workplace. I vowed that this time I would not share my mental health status with my new colleagues.

During my hospital stay, I was this time diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A month later, while walking to the train station on my way home from work, I was hit by a car and fractured my right knee (the official term was a fractured tibial plateau). I required surgery, including a bone graft & the insertion of a plate. Luckily, as the transfer had not yet been officially completed, my new workplace was happy to remain on "hold" waiting for me to return to work and transfer over. I spent six weeks in bed, not allowed to put any weight on my leg at all, before I gradually began the slow process of weight bearing again, and eventually transferred to the new workplace.

It was while I was still working that I was hit with a bolt of knowledge and memory that floored me. The baby I had lost with my husband, a child I had decided was a girl and named Elyssami Faith, was not the first child I'd miscarried. It seems strange, that I could so completely 'forget' a pregnancy for so long, but I have since been able to piece together that when I was around 13, in amongst all the abuse from my father and his "friends", I became pregnant. Terrified and confused, I had told my father. In a ceremony, attempts were made to kill the unborn baby inside me, and I later went on to miscarry. I named this child Mykelti Noah many years later.

My new colleagues and boss were far more understanding than the previous, and I did eventually confide in some of them the truth. They took it well and my new boss was very accomodating. Unfortunately, I was so unwell by that point that I found myself unable to work. I went on the disability pension.

Because I was living with my mother, contact with my father had been reopened and I was forced into situations where I would see him. Whenever I had contact with him, the abuse would continue, though scaled a long way down. It was enough, though, to send me into tail spins.

I attended DBT therapy, despite threatening to quit due to the presence of a man in the group. We later became friends...

I continued to self harm, and the scale of my self harm escalated rapidly. I drank frequently and heavily. I began to require skin graft surgeries to treat burn wounds I gave myself.

I travelled to the United Kingdom, spending three and a half months overseas. I visited England, Ireland, Scotland... and Sweden. It was magical. I learned a great deal about the world, about myself, and about people. I would do it again, though by the end of it I was losing my mind -- lack of appropriate medication (thanks to the medical team who took me off all my medication because I "just" had BPD) was responsible for an extreme downhill slope that I skiied down.

When I got back, my ever-distorted eating patterns became the sliding slope into an eating disorder. I lost a full third of my bodyweight within a 3 month period. I exercised up to 6 hours a day, and I ate more to pretend I was eating than to actually feed my body.

Towards the end of all this, with several more hospitalisations under my belt and far too many scars, I was also diagnosed with depersonalisation disorder and Dissociative Identities Disorder.

Last year, the father-figure who'd taken myself and my child personalities under his wing passed away.


That's the past. Let me tell you about the present. I want to start with the things that maybe aren't so great, because then I can finish on a positive note.

Things aren't perfect. I still struggle with my diagnoses. I'm not well enough to work, still. I struggle with personal hygiene, social contact and many other aspects of my illnesses. There are times I can't drink because I can't trust myself to do it for the right reasons. I have literally hundreds of scars and I still self harm sometimes...

But despite all of that, I want you to know, no matter what-- there is hope.

I have two children. They may not be with me to hold in my arms, but I hold them forever in my heart, and their presence there enriches my life even when I am grieving. This is true also of my father-figure.

I have a great team of folks inside my body who are learning to work together and work towards recovery for all of us.

I have two nieces, a nephew and a half nephew, that I adore.

I have many gifts and skills that I can use to help myself and to help others -- and what's more, I do use them for that purpose. I am active in animal rescue, I support women's rights, feminism and victim's rights. I speak out against rape culture. I speak up for the underdog.

I have some truly amazing friends, with whom I've been through amazing things. Sometimes those amazing things have been good, and sometimes they haven't. Sometimes they've been heartbreaking. That's okay, because all of those things have strengthened our friendship and ourselves.

More than that, I have friends who are family - friends whose homes welcome me as much as my own does.

And then there are the things I never thought I'd have/have again.

I have a wonderful husband (who owes me a ring, even if he won't give me an official document) who genuinely cares about me as a person, and about helping me be the best person I can be. I, too, care about him in the same ways, and work to help him be the best him he can be. Together, we have a fantastic little dog who I adore.

I have the opportunity to try again for a baby.

I have time self harm free. I have a body that has only scars and no fresh or healing wounds.

Most of all, I have hope... and I hope reading this has given you some, too.

This Journal Skin was designed by Night-Beast


Mon Sep 15, 2014, 11:20 PM
Hello friends.

I'm so sorry I just disappeared pretty much without a trace for a while there, and as much as I wish I was here to stay I'm back...

I'm afraid I have a lot of things going on in my personal life. In addition to all the normal things that drain me this time of year, my partner was involved in an accident - a lady cut him off while he was riding on his bike, and although he's fine, his bike is a wreck, and it's all added a lot of financial & other stress. We've also got some other "not normal for us" stressors on us at the moment, both separately and together.

As a result of this all, I have very little energy, less motivation, and a whole bucketload of "inability to concentrate".

I've done a mass delete of groups which has cut just over 10,000 messages (and no, that's not a typo), and I'll be trying to at least read/look at the artwork from people I watch, but please forgive me if I miss things. If there's anything you definitely want me to see, please link it here.

And please, please, please excuse my extremely slow responses to things. If you leave a comment I promise as long as it doesn't disappear from my inbox, I will get back to you eventually.

I know I also owe people prizes, and again, I will get to these as and when I can, I haven't forgotten. :heart:

Thank you all for your patience and your love. I hope everyone out there is doing well.

10 Days of Honesty [prompt series]

Thu Aug 21, 2014, 2:41 AM
So, ages ago, the lovely Lissomer posted up a ten day prompt series. I've been intending to take it on ever since, but things got in the way. Now, it's time to get started. I'll update this journal with my links as I complete each day's poem.

If you decide to do this too, I'd love to see what you come up with, so please link me! And don't forget to check out Lissomer's links on her journal here.

Snowflake Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Snowflake Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Snowflake Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Snowflake Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Snowflake Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Snowflake Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Snowflake Day Seven: Four turn-offs
Snowflake Day Eight: Three turn-ons.
Snowflake Day Nine: Two events/actions that describe your life right now.
Snowflake Day Ten: One confession.

Show Me Yours...

Wed Aug 13, 2014, 2:39 AM
I stole the idea of this one from rainylake and KiwiCocktail

This one's a great way to find some amazing artwork of many kinds to admire, while giving random Favourites some exposure!

I've done this a little differently to most, because almost all of my answers were literature except I think 1, so I changed it up by counting only the literature pieces and then only the visual art pieces for each page and featuring both. :)

Go to your favourites and share...

The first deviation on page 1 of your Favourites:

Happy Red Panda! :D by sven-werren

The second deviation on page 2 of your Favourites:

169.365 A Delicate Moment by PiecesOfAnsley

The third deviation on page 3 of your Favourites:

Small pallet signs by Naamba

The fourth deviation on page 4 of your Favourites:

Tyler by Heartstringcrochet

The fifth deviation on page 5 of your Favourites:

Up Up and Away by kimsol

The first deviation in your own gallery:

Comment below with the pieces from your Favourites,
or submit a journal entry of your own
(and link me in the comments!)!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my final 2014 FFM feature journal! For this feature, I've asked everyone who completed the FFM challenges this year to share their favourite challenge piece of their own.

Congratulations to ilyilaice, joe-wright, Lissomer, SCFrankleseV13il, DamonWakes, Harlequin-Werewolf, GDeyke, (and me!), who all completed FFM and met every challenge in 2014!

FFM 2014 24: On DirectingThe young girl attempts to smooth her long hair over her bare breasts, but the stubbled man holding the camera barks at her, “Goddamn it, open up. This is a goddamn job. You forget that, girlie?”
The girl smiles and spreads her legs.
“I can’t watch this anymore,” the girl’s agent, Mrs. Guerrero, sighs.
“She wanted to be an actress,” the girl’s mother, Mrs. Wong, says. Her painted lips are pursed.
“Does this look like acting to you?” Mrs. Guerrero says.
“She was always such a headstrong child,” Mrs. Wong says. “If I can’t control her then let the photographer do it. This is what she wanted.”
“Do you really believe that?” Mrs. Guerrero says.
“There, give a glance over your shoulder. Nice. Stick out your ass a little more, accentuate those curves. Nice. Nice. That’s more like it.” Sweat runs down the man’s temple and joins the little trickle of saliva leaking
  Red HotYves Charbonneau had died a few more times than most people. He'd grown accustomed to it, which was convenient because he half expected to chalk up another one tonight.
“Who was it?” he growled, slamming a lowlife lucrum demon face first onto the bar. “Who's your buyer?”
“I don't know what you mean!” whimpered the demon through broken fangs.
Yves slammed him down again. “Untruths are a bête noire of mine. I suggest you reconsider.” Gripping his victim by the throat so he couldn't look away, Yves raised his eyepatch, staring at him with an empty socket that burned like the pits of hell. He'd tried to keep a low profile since adopting a new nom de guerre, but he was cursed with a memorable face. Eyepatch or no, he had a feeling people were going to remember him. Might as well put the fear in them.
“Oh god. Oh god,” said the demon, struggling feebly to get away.
Yves broke out the most evil smile anyone had ever worn.
It's Always Blackest Before the ThroneCurriculum Vitae
Girth Loinhammer
Previous Employment:
Dungeon Lord
Snake Cult Leader
Island Owner
General in the Legions of Shagamemnon
Reason Left Last Job:
Green, three-boobed alien women wanting to be taught the Earth-concept of love.
Special Qualities:
Has own armour (black leather with spikes).
Interviewer’s notes: This guy seems perfect!
Dearest Mother,
I realise there is no way for me to get this letter to you but I feel in need of a sympathetic ear at the moment.
Things haven’t been going too well. I thought the dungeon was the way to go in order to gain power and riches but people somehow completely misinterpreted the whips and chains. Thought it was a place offering… erotic satisfaction. It all made me terribly uncomfortable.
So I gave up and swapped genres from Fantasy to Sci-Fi. But things didn’t improve and now I appear to have ended up in Gritty Realism. I’ve managed to get a minimum w
  Welcome To The TDKS - FFM Day 30“I am definitely NOT possessed by a demon!” the teenager shouted. His parents had—quite literally—tied him down and brought him to the church.
“Yes you ARE,” the pastor replied calmly, not even batting at eye.
“Just because I like to look like a girl DOES NOT MEAN I’M POSSSESSED BY A DEMON!!” he screamed, shaking the chair he was tied to.
“On most occasions, you are correct,” the pastor said, fiddling with something. “But according to your parents, you have more than just that condemning you.” The pastor turned around, holding a vile of water.
The teen in question was a boy about seventeen. He grew his hair long, down past his shoulders. He currently wore makeup, which was the reason his parents had brought him to this place.  
Taking a deep breath, the boy braced himself for whatever came next.
“If this burns, then you’re possessed. There’s no more arguing from there.” The pastor
Welcome to London    “I’ve been thinking about what we should do with our wealth now that we’re famous,” grunted the Little Pig, “and it seems to me that the housing market would be a particularly promising investment.”
     “There’s talk of it being another bubble, but I just haven’t seen any evidence of that,” squeaked the Blind Mouse.
    “Well,” bleated the Billy Goat Gruff, “if there is a housing bubble, I suppose we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

IcarusDid you know an eagle can see its target almost two miles away? I didn’t. They fly high, tilting their wings on the thermals that buffet them. But they’re used to that and they fly straight and true.
There’s a boy on the cliff. He can see the eagles high above him. Even from where he stands they looked huge; their dark wings spread out, feathers touching the sun. He smiled at them; envying their freedom as they soared over the ocean.
The eagles see the boy: He’s young – a teenager – with bright blonde hair that shines like strands of gold in the dying sun. He’s standing right at the very edge of the cliff his bare feet curling over the rocky edge. He leans forward a little, as if testing himself and the wind hurls him back. But he doesn’t stumble or fall – he waits.
The boy’s desperate for the freedom of the eagles; to touch the sun and see nothing but a great cobalt sky stretched out before him. He could go where he wanted, l
  Treachery's BiteThat summer we thought we felt the Fimbulwinter upon us. We thought that Ragnarök had come.
It was two weeks after Álfröðull turned: we looked to the heavens and there we saw Sköll, closer to his quarry than ever before, nipping at her heels. We saw her stumble; we saw her fall. We saw him beginning to swallow her.
Oh, she eluded him. She is running still. But we have seen the span of that great wolf's jaws, and we have seen the terror that comes in the darkness.
Our sun will not last forever.

My deviantART Story

Journal Entry: Thu Aug 7, 2014, 7:13 PM
My deviantART journey began in 2006, with good intentions, a bare gallery... and no actual activity. Three years later, I stumbled back onto deviantART and uploaded a single deviation. My goldfish memory failed me, I fell off dA again and wandered back in 2012. This time I had a better plan of how not to lose such websites, and I stuck around - getting more and more involved as I went.

Palette, 2006 by HeatherHorton Woodstock 2009 part.8 by Sesjusz 2012 by barontieri
(Each deviation above was uploaded on one of the years I poked my head in to dA.)

I won't list the friends I've made here, over the years. Not because I don't appreciate every single one of you - but because of my memory, I'm bound to miss someone important, and that would make both of us feel rubbish. Instead, I'd rather talk about a few of the people and moments that've really stuck for me.

Real friends by Ksuksa-Raykova
(One of my all time favourites, a perfect example of an unusual friendship.)

First of all, my first actual deviantART friend - the amazing betwixtthepages. I was taking part in a haiku challenge, and I just remember the beautiful haiku (plural) she created. I was in awe, and so nervous, but I jumped in anyway, and she offered me both kindness and encouragement.

Ghost TownStreet corner sunrise--
fog swirls ghostly patterns on
deserted sidewalks.
  Deep Sea DivingA distant red dwarf--
the scales of a koi flashing
through an oil-spill sky.
  Chamomile TeaPhantoms steam
over fresh chamomile--
stories lost to time.

(Three of betwixtthepages ' beautiful haiku.)

I've developed many friendships since, some of which have also spanned social networks like Facebook or Tumblr (I'm especially looking at you three - chromeantennae, introverted-ghost, and Lissomer - the three people I talk with most). I've convinced loved ones from social networks to join dA and share their gorgeous artwork (and now I'm looking primarily at Naamba and fernknits). I've received accolades like DLD (now DLR)s, features & interviews, and even DDs. I've won competitions with works like Omar. I've done collaborations of prose and poetry. I've shared the deepest parts of myself and found people who hear me, who want to know me. I've given, I've got, and I have. It's been a beautiful ride.


Journal Skin by: Zaellrin
Ahh, not only have we reached the end of FFM, but we have reached the end of my favourites from FFM! We have not, however, reached the end of my FFM features -- keep your eyes peeled, I have one more to go in about a week: the challenges feature!

If you have completed FFM and done all the challenges, please make sure you leave a comment (with your favourite challenge piece by you) on my poll so I can include you in this feature! Feel free to share the poll with others who you know/suspect have completed the challenges, too.

FFM29: August 5thJuly 27th, 2013---Karl Whitney is arrested for the kidnapping and suspected murder of Elsie Waters. Ghostly figure is spotted on the beach by local crackpot. Might be legit.
July 28th, 2013---Dreamed about roses in the water. Kauka needs more kitty litter---
Noelani snapped her notebook shut. The ghost had no name, but he floated above the dock like he owned it. She wasn't impressed. It was well past the witching hour and her damned cat was getting persnickety.
“Mreow,” Kauka said. He clawed at the boards, ears flat as he cat-growled. He kept both eyes fixed on the hovering phantasm. Once again, Noelani was glad he couldn't speak English.
“You're a nut, you know that,” Noelani said, “He's dead, he can't hurt you.”
Kauka flicked his tail and sat glaring. Like all cats, he knew a lie when he heard it. Most ghosts couldn't hurt the living, but this one could. This one was different. Noelani had a feeling Kauka was going to punish her later for suggestin
   FFM '14.29 Requiescat in PaceDeb, remember that emo kid from the bus?
the 1 nobody else could see but u? yea. y?
Hes here
ur seeing him at work? u need 2 sleep more.
I got 8 hours.
Ill get coffee if it makes you feel better. Back soon.
u get the coffee?
u there?
wtf kit, where r u?
fine dont talk 2 me. see if i care
“Do you remember what happened?”
Kit blinked, surprised to find herself standing in the street. She concentrated, trying to remember, feeling that it was important that she did.
“I went to get coffee,” she started, mentally retracing her steps from the mercifully short line to the counter, then back out the door to her car. She’d pulled out onto the street and then—
“I saw you again!” Kit turned to the young man all dressed in black who had addressed her for the first time, though she had seen him everywhere since the day her car had been in

Some Manner of Shocking TwistDear Miss MacAbre,
I have a somewhat embarrassing problem. As a recently deceased usurper of the throne, I’m having some difficulty adjusting to the afterlife. I understand that’s totally normal, and I’ve been very impressed by the advice on offer. The leaflet I was given upon arrival—So You’ve Been Besieged by an Army of Guys Dressed Like Trees and Your C-section Rival Lopped Your Head Off—was both helpful and unnervingly specific. I’ve taken everything it says on board and, though it’s hardly smooth sailing, I feel that I’m making good progress. My wife, who died shortly before me, seems to have acclimatised much more quickly and has already succeeded in gaining employment with a local magazine.
My real problem is that while I am content to slowly adjust to life after death, my wife is pressuring me to commit regicide once again. This causes no end of worry, as not only did it not work out so well for me last
  FFM 2014: Dog Sitting15th July

Cerb’s been at it again, chasing the neighbours cat across the yard and causing all sorts of mayhem. I’ve tried explaining things to the neighbours, but I think they’re getting tired of all my excuses.
H & P are still off holidaying in Tahiti, so we’ll all just have to make do. After all, it’s only temporary. They sent a postcard in the mail yesterday and when I showed it to Cerb he promptly slobbered all over it. I think he’s having abandonment issues, missing the old routine and all that. Change is always hardest for animals.
With a month of time left to kill I though I’d sign us up for some Obedience Lessons. It’ll do us both good to socialise, and Cerb could do with some practise on his teamwork skills. I imagine he’ll enjoy it given half a chance, but it might take some convincing. After all, you know Cerb. Always of three minds.
19th July
First day of Obedience Class! It started off well, but Cerb
  QuarantineOn the orders of his grace, the Archbishop of Tallinn, regulations are to be observed to prevent the spread of infection by the Grey Boils. He has issued these commands in response to the death of our Mayor, who cast himself from the western cliffs rather than risk infection. Honor the memory of the Mayor by obeying these commands from the Archbishop.
No ships are to be allowed into port until further notice. Any ship which attempts to dock without the personal approval of the Archbishop is to be set aflame by the most remote means available. Any rats, cats, or other animals fleeing from the wreckage of a ship shall also be exterminated, and their remains burnt until black the whole way through.
No man, woman, or child shall raise a spyglass but the brothers of the monastery, who are well-educated on the matter of the plague. The monks are authorized to request the destruction by fire of any vessel or any person that they believe bears signs of the plague.
The funeral bells of the chur

The Replacements    “Get those things off my site now!”
    Brother Blackbane smiled and tucked his hands into the long sleeves of his robe. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. Your superiors ordered the delivery.”
    Craig stared out at the mass of shambling creatures filling up the construction yard. He was glad his men weren’t due to arrive for another hour. It would give him time to try to clean the stink of the zombies out before the men came in. “I don’t care. These... things... can’t work here. It puts my men in danger. What if one of them gets bit?”
    The smile never left Brother Blackbane’s face. “I assure you our methods are quite safe. Each of our workers is fitted with a crystal that keeps them tied to the will of their supervisors. They’re completely harmless like this.”
    It was true. There was a crystal pendant hanging from each rotted-flesh neck. The
  FFM '14.30 Home Invasion“He can’t be trusted!”
“Why not, Abbot? Brother Francis has been the most devoted, upstanding member of this Abbey for as long as I’ve known him. Besides, he drove them off!”
“Do you know what he is, Brother Gabriel? How do you know he wasn’t responsible--”
“For the Sanctuary incursion last night?” Francis knocked on the door as he closed it behind himself. “My apologies for interrupting, Abbot. I heard you wished to speak with me?”
The Abbot flushed, but gave Francis a cool stare anyway. Francis gave him marks for being able to meet his eyes, which even he would admit were a rather unnerving shade of red, and glowing, to boot. Of course, that sort of thing came with the territory when one was a demon; taking Holy Orders didn’t, though, which Francis supposed was the cause for the other monks taking a goodly bit of time to adjust to him and his presence in the Abbey.
“Yes, I did. I was wondering i
  Little Angels“You shouldn’t be here!” said Ezriel. “You’re not an angel.”
“I am!” said Luth. “Daddy’s a fallen angel but he’s still an angel. So that makes me one too!”
Brother Cuthbert raised his eyes heavenwards. “Oh Lord,” he muttered. “When I received my calling, there was nothing about having to babysit supernatural beings.”
He brought his gaze back to Ezriel. “I must admit it was surprising to see Lucifer’s little girl here today but Luth is quite right—she can join the troupe if she wants to. So I expect you to behave. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Brother,” muttered Ezriel.
Cuthbert gave silent thanks for the Church’s insistence on celibacy. At least these… blessed children would be going home later today.
He set off down the pavement, followed by five cherubim and a… Luth, all in their uniform of white t-shirts and blue shorts.
An elderly lady

Flight and VengeanceIt began as an argument. A cruel argument, but – at first – just words. “I think you'd do it.” “So what if I did?”
It turned into a beating. They slammed Jeremy's head against the wall, kicked him, called him whore and demonspawn: the latter of which was as good as a death sentence in that part of town. Half an hour ago he'd been an ordinary kid (though not ordinary enough according to them, of course) – now he was a fugitive. There was no sense in hoping that the angels wouldn't hear.
He uncurled and peeled himself up from the bloodstained dirt, and tottered off towards buildings and alleys and anyplace else he could find that wasn't open to the sky. There was no sense in going home now, either. He texted his dad: Im demonspawn now, pls run, stay safe. Then he turned his phone off and ditched it, because he couldn't afford the risk of being tracked.
There was no place safe to go.
But he knew what he wa
  FFM30: Demons are Lousy Tippers“Damn it, Tom, I'm not doing another dish until I get that raise,” Maisie said. She slapped the dish towel on counter, making all of Tom's regulars jump.
“Blast you and your raise,” Tom said, “Now's not the time.” His fingertips ached and the door way was singed black. Bob the bouncer was a bit singed too, but since Bob was an Infernal monk of the third order, he didn't mind so much.
“Now is exactly the time,” Maisie said, “I'm sick of being taken advantage of. You run me ragged for fucking peanuts.”
Tom conjured a fireball as the bouncer struggled to keep the crowd out of the doorway. It was the second time in a week they'd found a way through the veil. Humans were funny things. They'd go their whole lives and not once sense the rest of the multiverse around them, but the second they caught brain rot fever and turned into flesh eating zombies they saw the magic everywhere. They also had to put their filthy, disease ridden fin
Zen Insurance“I’m telling you, that was a fairy!” Peter pointed at the crater in his windshield.
“No way, man! That’s impossible! Fairies don’t exist!”
“Then how to you explain the glitter?”
Frank and Peter looked more closely at the pulp which had imbedded itself into the spiderweb of cracks in glass. Indeed, there was a certain sparkle to it. Tiny white flecks which had been armor carved out of human teeth were also mixed into the glistening carnage. Peter didn’t know how it had happened. One minute, they were driving serenely down the highway, belting out the lyrics to Zeppelin’s cover of Scarborough Fair, and the next, chaos. After he got the vehicle back under control, Peter pulled over and called his insurance company.
“Indeed, it is a fairy,” said a figure behind them. His voice had a calm, gentle demeanor to it, even as he was shouting over the rush of passing traffic. They turned to behold a frail, bald man in bl
  The Well Beast and I"NO," the beast in the well said.
"What do you mean, 'no'?  Don't you know what an ultimatum is?" I shouted down at it. "I really will do it!"
"NO," the beast said.  "IS TRICK."
"I really don't have to cut you this slack," I yelled.  "I really loved that cat!  Not even the Prior would blame me for taking revenge!"
"WAS GOOD," the beast said.
"Was...? Wait. Did you just tell me how delicious my pet was?  Did you really, in the name of cruel irony, tell me that my Mr. Snickers was delicious?"
"WAS GOOD," the beast confirmed.
"Alright, this is fucking happening," I said, getting up onto the lip of the well.  I unzipped my fly.
"NO, IS TRICK," the beast said, a little uncertainly.
I whipped out my man-hose and started peeing down the well.
"NO NO NO NO NO," the beast said.  The walls of the well shook as the beast writhed around.
"Nowhere to hide in a well, is there?" I called down.  "I've been drinking an awful lot of water!  Why, I daresay I c
  The HuntThe naked boys and girls trounced through the valley bushland, grazing as they went. Their feet were toughened from having never worn shoes; their skins were caked in mud. None were older than eight. There was a clear hierarchy, the older leading the younger. Here and there, a girl led a toddler by the hand, sharing whatever berries she picked with it. Boys are more inclined to play-fight, but these wrestling matches rarely get out of hand. A few babbled, but no one said any words. They did not know how. Laughter and tears was the only language they spoke, a crude but pure form of communication.
None flinched when they heard the sound of thunder in the distance, but they instinctively shifted the direction of their grazing, back toward the caves in which they took shelter. As the thundering grew louder, a few began to whimper, growing uneasy. None were old enough to remember the last culling. However, the sight of horses, with men and women atop, with a hundred hooves pounding the eart

FloraThe breeding process had taken seemingly forever but it had led to the hoped for result.
Bruton cackled fanatically. They had called him foolish—even mad—but at last he was ready to unveil his multi-headed creation to his contemporaries.
He flung off the cover.
Five hundred people gasped. And then the selected representatives of the UK’s Flowering Plants Associations applauded wildly.
It really was a particularly fine polyanthus.
Spring faded into summer but his polyanthus continued to flower. She was beautiful and exceptionally fragrant—attracting a great many bees and butterflies.
Bruton frowned. She was his and ought to be faithful. And he had found evidence of more sinister interest: deliberate damage to the stem bearing that multitude of blooms.
His friends all sympathised.
For how could they know that secretly Bruton was his own flower’s stalk-er?
He had tormented her and neglected her, and left her frying in the hot sun. Finally there seemed to be n
  Conjoined Twins FFM31The father-to-be massaged his wife’s hand, peering at the ultrasound. Two figures appeared, and his wife squealed.
Faith, the nurse, said, “You’re having conjoined twins. They typically have health conditions from birth. You may still get an abortion if you feel you don’t want to raise these children. You have no firm obligations to keep them.”
A silence fell.
“We must keep both of them,” the wife decided firmly.
The surgeon relayed his findings. “Maisie is fairly stronger. Megan, unfortunately, has an underdeveloped brain and failing lungs. Though Maisie is keeping her alive for now, Megan will die.”
The father asked, “Is separation required?”
“Yes, but fortunately, if separated now, Maisie will survive. The operation will prove fatal to Megan, but if we wait any longer, Maisie’s survival rate decreases.”
The family decided, “We have to separate them.”
In July, sixteen years later, Mais
  ChimeraOn midsummer's morning a boy found his way to the top of the hill. He met with the face of a lioness.
She spewed fire into the sky, and said: “Child, be ever proud: be ever regal: fear not the fire, but wield it as your own. You shall find strength, and all barriers shall fall before you.”
Awed, and frightened, the boy carved her words into his heart.
On midsummer's midday a man found his way to the top of the hill. He met with the face of a serpent.
She spewed fire into the earth, and said: “King, you have forgotten yourself. You have forgotten your people. Too long have your eyes gazed heavenwards: frail is your might, and brittle: you must bring yourself back to the earth.”
These words he heard; but he forgot them.
On midsummer's evening a beggar found his way to the top of the hill. He met with the face of a goat.
She spewed fire into his eyes, and said: “O Graybeard, you have fallen far. All your fancies have led to failure, and the fury of your heart

Getting close to the last of these features now! Only a few days left to showcase. :)

Also, just a reminder - I have a poll up about FFM. If you have completed FFM and done all the challenges, please make sure you leave a comment (with your favourite challenge piece by you) on the poll so I can include you in my challenge feature! Feel free to share the poll with others who you know/suspect have completed the challenges, too.

  StorytimeThe party showed no signs of slowing down, for all it had been going on for hours. Drinks were raised and songs were sung – already the castle minstrel had begun composing a song about the heroes’ victory. Just about everybody was rip-roaring drunk. More than one had already passed out under the tables.
Only one person slipped away from the warm, bright chaos of unfettered celebration to stand alone under the night sky. He leaned against a rampart and gulped from the mug he had taken along, the narrow windows of the hall casting a slit of golden light against his back. Another rousing chorus sounded from within. The man raised his face to the sky, his eyes seeking something he couldn’t see – a glass wall of magic, somewhere beyond the stars.
“Bet you think we’re a right funny lot,” he said, scowling. “You liked watching us, huh? All that pain. Enjoyed it, did you, when Myrne almost died, and Berand forced himself to learn magic he hated,

Savin' MeJanine hunched on the couch, eyes plastered to the flashing screen. “Come on, Fredric,” she muttered. “Look behind you.”
A man in a ski mask was sneaking up on the handsome detective. He kept his breathing low and his steps quiet.
Fredric noticed nothing. He kept dusting the lamp for fingerprints.

“Idiot,” Dr. Stevenson hissed. He waved toward the teenager.  “You know her fourth wall is deteriorating! You should have brought her in. Why would you let her near the television?”
The girl's father seized his coat. “I couldn't help it!” He pulled the good doctor closer. “She said she would die if she missed this.”
“She might die because of it.” Stevenson pulled himself free. “Quick. Why was this episode important?”  
“Her favorite character came back after ten episodes?”
Stevenson's breath caught. “Oh no. That means-”
Fredric crumpled, the
  The Swan Song“Every time you start to fly... for the first few moments... you must find your wings.”
That was what Heron told me. He knew of flying and he spoke these words to me when I tried on my sister's wings. I thought it was funny at the time, because I had no wings of my own to find. I couldn't fly anyway, no matter how hard I tried. Heron did not want me to, either. “The ground is life,” he told me; “and if you die, I disappear with you.”

A: “Not a bad start. Interesting premise, anyway.”
B: “Well, yeah – actually, it's developed a bit more further down. Look at this bit:”
“When it is your turn to cross the river, I will no longer be with you,” he told me.
“I've crossed the river often, though,” I reasoned. “I've seen my sister, and once my mother took me with to visit my aunt and grandparents. They were terrible.”

A: “That's even more interesting.”
B: “Yeah.
  What Am I Doing Here?Joe loaded up OpenOffice and got ready to write. Flash fiction characters gathered in the front of his mind and watched the text cursor blink on the empty page.
“He's gonna write about me again today, I just know it,” said Gale Gullwing, equipping and unequipping his daggers anxiously.
“Don't kid yourself,” said Business, the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. “You were good for one story, if that. Face it, you're surplus to requirements.”
“Fuck off, foureyes. My joke has way more mileage than yours.”  Gale glitched a bit to make his point.
“Shut up, both of you,” said Koschei, a furry gun-wielding alien totally legally distinct from Rocket Raccoon. “It's gonna be Dirk. It's always Dirk. Even when it seems like it's something new, Dirk Ex Machina always shows up at the end to explode something.”
“Where is Dirk?” asked Tern.
“He's too cool for this. He's probably hanging out with Wren an

Fall of ManI remember thinking: if this were a story, it would be alright.  Even tragedies have meaning when someone else holds the pen.  But this is not a story.  Unless it is.
There was me cradling you in the wreckage of a building; and in the distance, the sounds of running and screaming and alarms of ambulances, everyone calling for help, and there, another building collapsing.
A snowflake fell on your forehead and for a moment it seemed more important than the blood, more important than bombs falling from the sky, the war that had begun.  Blocks away perhaps a television was somehow still on, perhaps it screamed propaganda.  All I knew was you had no reason to be punished.
People can’t run with broken legs, and you also had a broken arm, and when I heard another woman scream for her beloved to come back to life, I knew you would die.
I should have remembered what you whispered to me, but the planes above were too loud.  If I had heard your last word
  His EyesIt has been three months since we heard from the mainland.
Speculation abounds. Some catastrophe has befallen them there: a plague has ended them, perhaps, or a war, or something so dreadful that we cannot even imagine it. We are left here to starve, slowly, as we wait for news and supplies.
At noon we saw a boat on the horizon.
Through the spyglass we saw that its occupant was a lone boy, and that his skin was patterned with lesions. Sula saw something in his eyes, he said, though he would not speak more clearly of it; but he was so shaken by the sight that he begged us to shoot the boat down at a distance.
We were without choice but to obey. We pitied the boy, perhaps, but if he carried a plague – as indeed he must have – any show of mercy might have doomed us. We fired the cannon as soon as he came within range.
At nightfall we burned the flotsam brought in by the tide. There was no sign of the boy's body. With luck the current carried it away, to be eaten by the fish.
Possessed Toaster OvenDaisy eyed the little toaster oven as a a small plume of smoke rose from the back. This is not what she needed right now. Not with her step son and his family showing up later. She hadn’t even met her step son and this was the first time her husband had seen him in almost ten years.
Yanking the plug out of the wall, the 57 year old woman glowered at the appliance. “You just had to pick today, didn’t you?”
“Today for what?” Daisy’s mother commented, stepping into the kitchen.
Daisy gestured to the toaster oven on the counter. “To break.” She gave a glance at her mother, then balked. “Mom! Put your eye patch on! Nobody wants to see that!”
Mom put on her innocent face, making the socket with its missing eye look even larger. “What? It’s just us. Robert’s already headed out to the airport for that boy of his. Besides, feels good to get a little of that crisp autumn air on it.”
“It’s alread
  FFM 25: The Delivery BirdMom pressed her feet into the stirrups with all of her might, tears of joy and agony streaming down her face.  The last push was the hardest, working out the shoulders and wings that followed the long, slender neck.  After that, the rest of the stork slid out easily.  
Mom and dad wrapped their arms around one another and looked upon it with a combination of euphoria and crippling exhaustion, eagerly waiting to see what the white sack in his beak held.  But the messenger only looked back sympathetically, bowing its head in a solemn apology.
The pouch was empty.
  FaeriefireWe all hid when the faeries dueled.
You and I were in the closet, wishing to each other half-secretly among the motes that the duels could be rare as dragons, at least.  Instead they were only rare as quarter-moons.
Ground liquifies, sometimes, during a duel.  The stars brighten and fall faster, leaving holes in the ground and setting forests alight.  The sun hides in a bird’s nest, they say.
We did not see when the damage was done.  We were accustomed to avoiding to know even the names of those who fought.  Our eyes were far from windows.
But duels always ended the day after they began, and we stepped out as if we were free.
Your eyes caught the light first, and when I followed them my air caught in my throat.  Like going underwater without the protection of a mermaid.
That day our world was on fire.  The glass of the town hall had melted to colorful puddles on the ground.  Some houses were gone - some people too, I realized.  Surviva

Overheard in the Surgeon's OfficeI stood on top of the dragon's smoldering head and announced, "I killed this burning bastard!"
The villagers stood there, gaping, for some moments.
Then one of them said, "We paid you to kill the maiden."
"I'm sorry, what?" I said.
"The maiden, the witch.  She's the one burning our crops down."
Another villager piped up and said, "That's Old Bill.  We rather liked Old Bill."
"You liked a dragon?" I said.
"He was a wyrm.  But he's so old, he can't chew.  We've been feeding him stew and he's been keeping the robbers away," a different villager said.
There was a long stretch of silence as the villagers and I just stared at each other.
So anyway, that's how I got this pitchfork in my arse.
  The Earth-Queen's SorrowThe earth-queen's son was born in springtime, and his birth was heralded with crocuses and fresh green and a splendor of sunlight. Through summertime he grew, golden and beautiful, dearer to her than the wind itself.
Then autumn came, and the leaves ran red with his blood. He fell, and withered, an empty husk of brown.
Winter came: in her sorrow, the earth-queen swept the world with white. Snow would be his shroud and his finery. The chill in the air would mirror the cold emptiness in her heart. Ice would cover her lakes and rivers and the wounds of her soul; and her frozen tears would fall from the heavens as tiny flakes of crystal.
The winter drew on, and many died under the cold weight of the earth-queen's sorrow. At last the people chose a hero to go to her, to beg for mercy.
They fitted her with fatted leather boots, with a thick leather vest, with fur-lined gloves and a fur-lined cloak. “You go into the heart of winter,” they told her. “Give no quarter to the co
  FFM 27. Good BoyThe Ark stank.
Less than a week into the torrential floods and I was beginning to see spots because of the smell. Dogs’ noses have a higher sensitivity to scents - scentsitivity, amiright? - and I was gagging every other minute. The other animals were doing the same. As wild animals, we weren’t meant to live in such cramped conditions. And as one of only two dogs chosen for this task, I was determined to be the best guest I could be and not cause any problems.
We were pretty docile, though. I think the wasps were drunk on the air because I saw them both fly into the same wall about five times before floating lazily to the ground. I wiggled out of my pen through a hole in the gate, my wife yipping at me to stay put, and made my way to the wasps. I stepped on a huge cow pie in the middle of the floor and tried to rub it off my paw. I found the wasps rolling on the ground and panted at them, grinning.
“You two okay?” I asked. I think they understood because they no

The Grave of GodThis crater marks the place where God and the adversary annihilated each other. No more God. No more adversary. There's nothing here now. Just me.
If you were to head west from here and climb the lip of the crater, you'd find yourself in a desert, where the sand dunes gather against the ruins. There are mountains on the horizon, pale blue. They look as distant as the moon, and they very nearly are.
In those mountains lurk creatures, ancient and colossal, constructed at the adversary's behest. They barely move anymore, for there is no-one left here to kill. Though their bodies have become part of the landscape, their eyes never close. They will lie waiting for all eternity.
Beyond the mountains are the riverlands, where used to be settlements and forests, all of which have long since rotted. North you might find what remains of Telassar, the capital city of the angels. Half underwater now, with its mighty bridge broken, only the palace stands proud of the sea, and it too is dead.
At the
  FFM28: GoodbyeI almost lowered the rifle when I saw his red hair.
“Damn it, Grace, don't look,” Joanna said, lowering her gun. She grabbed my arm, tried to push me back inside, but I stood firm. I watched through the scope.
He wore the same ratty, green jacket and blue jeans. He limped, his leg bent at a slight angle. His hair was wild and dirty, but unmistakable. His face, though, if I'd seen that first, I wouldn't have hesitated. He was dead. He had been dead, probably for months.
“I'm sorry,” Joanna said.
I didn't say anything. Every night since he'd left, I dreamed him like this: his eyes hollowed out, his face leathery and peeling off, and his lips just gone. I could see all his teeth. Some were broken. Some were missing, but they all showed through where his skin should have been.
He had said, “I'm coming back,” six months ago. He said goodbye, canvas backpack slung carelessly over his shoulder. He carried three days worth of supplies, just enough to make it

I've been a bit slack on these, sorry! Expect the next few over the next week or so.

Also, for those who don't yet know - I have a poll up about FFM. If you have completed FFM and done all the challenges, please make sure you leave a comment (with your favourite challenge piece by you) on the poll so I can include you in my challenge feature! Feel free to share the poll with others who you know/suspect have completed the challenges, too.

And now, the features!
FFM 2014 11: CloneClones are so underrated. Nestled deep inside where no one can touch me, I sit back, relax, and flick at the controller in my hands. Get up, Clone. Take a shower. Pull on a shirt and jeans. Go to the breakfast table. Slide some eggs onto your plate. Act natural, careful, careful—oh! Down go the eggs on the placemat. The yolks break and run. Good going, Clone. Excellent. Now the parental units are alerted to your presence. No point activating the invisibility shield now.
Far away from where I watch, I poke at the controller buttons in irritation, trying to see if I can undo Clone’s actions. True, his graphics are topnotch, almost an exact likeness to my own features and mannerisms, but sometimes he likes to defy my commands. I’m the player, damn it. He’s just the avatar. Undo, undo, come on ... nope, cannot be undone.
“That’s too bad, dear,” the mother character clucks. “Have some hotdogs?” She slides two on Clone’s plate. The
  Just Eat ItThe cruelest irony of working as a server in a restaurant was not lost on Kristy -- starving at the end of the night, surrounded by food, no time to eat.  She was used to it.  Didn’t mean she liked it.  Her aunt Linda didn’t understand how she could go so long without eating.
She crawled home after a double, a pocket full of cash but a belly as empty has the heads of the customers she served.  All she wanted was some comfort and to not hear anything about it when she walked in the door.  All the lights were off in the apartment.  Linda’s door was closed.
Kristy went to her room, took off her work clothes and put on her yoga pants and tank top.  The kitchen was clean and waiting for her.  She went to the cabinets in search of something just for herself, nothing to worth getting into a fork-fight over.  The night’s tilapia special was split six ways with her hyena-hungry co-workers.
Extra chunky peanut butter with tripl
  FFM20: What Did You Say Your Name Was?Hiring a new assistant was a big deal. The Paranormal Researchers and Investigators Society was so broke, it didn't spring for new staff unless we were stretched so thin you could almost see through us. I should have known it would go wrong.
The first was was a well dressed man who kept spraying himself with Axe body spray.
“You don't really want me to carry anything, do you? Because I'm more a reporter than an assistant. Like, you need someone to make this look legit, some one pretty. I was voted hottest in my class four years in a row,” he said. Somehow, I doubted that. Maybe it was because he looked like the offspring of a bulldog and a donkey
The second was an ordinary looking woman in a sharp suit. She got my hopes up until she opened her mouth.
“I know you said this was an assistant position,” she said, “But I'm on the fast track for management. In two years I will be running this place. We'll just skip all the entry level work and you'll start train

That's the Third One This Week!    “Mirror, mirror on the wall...”
    There was a loud crash and a shower of fairy dust. The face in the mirror flickered briefly, a look of horror upon it, before being replaced by solid blue. The message, “Unhandled exception. Contact your Fairy Godmother or technical support group for further assistance,” appeared in the extreme top left corner.
    “Oh, bloody hell!” snapped Medusa, stamping her foot. “Now how am I supposed to find out who’s the fairest of them all?”
  The Bird Lady FFM20I’ve lived in NYC for over two years, and for so many people living there, it’s an awfully lonely place to be. Everyone is very focused on themselves, no one makes eye contact in the streets, and even the cabs ignore you. My job is the only thing that keeps me here. I make so much money, it would be stupid to move back home and work at my dad’s store for only a fraction of what I earn. That, and I have an old lady to take care of.
She’s one of those bird ladies in the park. She’s a sweet old thing, and it would kill me to leave her alone. It would probably kill her too.
We became friends because I was sitting alone in the park one afternoon, watching the clouds and daydreaming. She jumped out of nowhere and said, “Feed the birds?” I nearly fell off my park bench, I was so surprised.
“Sure, sure,” I said, pressing a quarter into her wrinkled hand. Gums showing, she smiled. She handed me a paper bag of breadcrumbs and sat next to me.
  Medusa in Therapy“I wouldn’t say my childhood was bad,” Medusa started as she took a seat on the push red couch. “My mother always gave me everything I needed. And if I wanted it, she would move heaven and earth to get it for me. And being a gorgon, she could. One little stare from her and no one could refuse her. No, my mother truly loved me more than anything else in the world.”
She turned over on the couch so she was resting on her belly and drape her arms over the sides. “My father? He was never in the picture. My mom said he was just too cold of a man with a heart made of stone. He’d never have been a good father, so I don’t really miss him in anyway.
“To be honest, doc, it’s the lack of friends that really bothered me. Evey time I’d go out, track down a group of kids having fun, and try to join in their games, they’d get all stiff and not talk to me.” Several of the snakes that made up her hair twisted around and rubbed

The HuntThe naked boys and girls trounced through the valley bushland, grazing as they went. Their feet were toughened from having never worn shoes; their skins were caked in mud. None were older than eight. There was a clear hierarchy, the older leading the younger. Here and there, a girl led a toddler by the hand, sharing whatever berries she picked with it. Boys are more inclined to play-fight, but these wrestling matches rarely get out of hand. A few babbled, but no one said any words. They did not know how. Laughter and tears was the only language they spoke, a crude but pure form of communication.
None flinched when they heard the sound of thunder in the distance, but they instinctively shifted the direction of their grazing, back toward the caves in which they took shelter. As the thundering grew louder, a few began to whimper, growing uneasy. None were old enough to remember the last culling. However, the sight of horses, with men and women atop, with a hundred hooves pounding the eart
  FFM 2014 21: Forest Fires and RosesShe only takes off her pink rubber gloves after forest fires. Her billowy dress is stitched with a hundred magazine cut-outs of flowers dipped into nail varnish. She crouches on the dirt, stroking the soil until wild greenery explodes from her touch. Pine trees spin high into the sky while baobabs lick the earth with fat roots. She runs her fingers over the knobby trunks, leaving a trail of vines heavy with the most exotic of blooms.
I scuff the toes of my boots against one of the newborn trees and watch her as she makes the forest breathe life again. She is standing back and admiring her work when I blurt out, “Miss, may I call you?”
She’s startled, as if I’ve woken her rudely from a wonderful dream. Her eyes search my reddening face. “Of course,” she finally says. “You alert me to an incident, and I come to do my job. That’s how it’s always been.”
I pull off my baseball cap and beat it against my jeans. “I mean . . . y
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FFM '14.21 From the DepthsRick and Marta stared at the ruin of their wedding. The plastic chairs had been strewn haphazardly across the lawn, and were, in fact, hardly recognizable as chairs anymore. There was a gaping hole in the garden wall on the other side of where the guests had been seated, and a trail of slime and seawater led through it from the tattered temporary stage that had been the altar and summoning point. Above the distant rumbling of the beast stalking through the city toward the beach, the priest’s whimpers could be heard as he cowered behind the flower-decked arch that was the only thing left standing nearby, mostly because it hadn’t been directly in the behemoth’s path.
“So, I can see where doves would be appealing,” Marta said.
“Hmm,” Rick agreed. “But, hey, at least neither of us have to worry about in-laws now, thanks to the kraken.”
  Inspector Wolf    The old lady was dead. I could smell it before I even got into the house. The whole place reeked of adrenaline, sweat, fear, copper and steel. He’d dropped her right in her living room. Chopped and chopped until she stopped moving. But I could tell I was getting close. This had been done in a hurry, and the killer didn’t have the time to clean up after himself like he usually did.
    Across the room, the phone rang. The shrill sound set my teeth to grinding, but I ignored it. Instead I followed the killer’s bloody footprints into the back bedroom. He’d climbed out the window. If I hurried, I could catch up to him and end this disgusting spree he was on.
    Then the answering machine kicked in. “Hi, Gramma! It’s Red. Sorry I’m running late. I kind of lost track of time. But don’t worry. I packed the picnic and I’m heading out the door right now. Love you.”
    She’d been expec
  ChimneyBilly awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of scraping and cursing from within the chimney breast; someone appeared to be inching their way down it with a great amount of difficulty. Eventually there was a thump downstairs, followed by footsteps and the crashing of cupboard doors. A burglar.
Billy slipped out of bed and grabbed his wooden sword. Descending the stairs on tip-toes, he worked up all of his courage. He was going to be a hero. They might even put him in the newspaper.
Sooty footprints trailed across the hall carpet, leading into the kitchen. Billy leaned around the door and spied the culprit, a huge bearded man with a red coat and redder cheeks.
“Ho, Ho, HUUURRRRRRP,” bellowed Santa.
“Santa?” asked Billy, eyes wide, wooden sword hanging forgotten at his side.
“Heyyy,” said Santa, making a clumsily expansive gesture. “It’s Jimmy, just who I was looking for.”
“I have a big list of all th

FFM 2014 23: Sparkler LoveWhen Mom comes home, she slams the door and throws her keys across the living room. It just barely misses my head. I pause Heavy Rain and say, “Take it therapy didn’t go too well then?”
She sighs and passes in front of me to pick up the keys. “You think it’s so easy? Why don’t you do it then? I’m sure you need it more than I do. If I have to spend one more minute discussing your father, so help me—”
“That bastard’s not my father. Don’t even remind me that I’m only alive because of his sperm.” I duck my head around her body and start playing my game again. Ethan’s just spinning around in the play park, screaming for Shaun, when my mother plops down next to me on the couch. She has her glasses on as she stares down at a notepad. Up close like this, I can see every line etched onto her once lovely face.
“Guess what I’m writing?” Mom says after a while.
“Another angry le
  BeastlyThe hide was cramped and Hinchcliffe was tired. “I think I might go home,” he said to Anglesey. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to see them today.”
Anglesey glanced at him and then went back to staring through his binoculars. “Just be patient a little longer. They do usually—”
He clutched at his companion’s arm. “Look! There they are!” Anglesey passed the binoculars to Hinchcliffe, who pointed them towards the horizon.
He laughed with surprise and delight. “I see them! I see them!” Ever closer and closer they galloped—the most enormous herd of adverbs Hinchcliffe had ever seen.
He handed the binoculars back to Anglesey. They weren’t necessary any more—it was already starting to be possible to identify the individual words by eye. A happily and playfully were frolicking together; a grumpily was attempting to bite a member of the herd that had got too close; a ubiquitously was— w
  As 'Tis the Custom    Long, long ago in a land far, far away, a knight rode bravely through a dark, dark wood. His armour was strong, and his sword was true, and so when he met a terrible ogre upon the road, he did not hesitate to step down from his horse and prepare to do battle with the evil creature.
    “Hark, yon beast!” he said, levelling his sword at the creature. “I prithee, face my blade in honoured battle. Though thou be but a base monster, you must know this would be better than to turn away, and be run down in ignoble flight.”
    “Sorry,” said the ogre, “I didn’t catch any of that.”
    “Dost thine low intellect wrestle with my noble tongue? Then plain let me be. I challenge you to single combat, as ‘tis the custom ‘twixt knight and villain.” He made a flourish with his sword for good measure.

ChampionRed's Octoghast swallowed the opponent's Sharkadillo whole, and just like that, the fight was over.
“Congratulations, Red!” said the professor. “You're the new Battlepet league champion!”
Red looked at his Battlepet team. He'd dreamt of this moment since he was little, but now that he was here, it felt wrong.
“You've come a long way since you started out on your journey with Splatypus!”
Splatypus had been Red's first Battlepet. A blue little platypus with water powers, he'd carried him around on one shoulder as they went on their adventures. Red missed those days. At some point it had become clear that Splatypus just wasn't powerful enough, and that was that. He replaced him.
In retrospect, that was probably where it had all started going wrong.
Red's current team was frightening to behold. Octoghast had once been Octostar, a bright yellow starfish thing with a happy face. Now it was a monstrosity, bulging with eyes and tentacles. Red watched as his
  FFM 23: Trophies“And this one, I got after I slayed the vampire of Gershon,”  the Hunter announced, pointing at the two holes tattooed on his neck.  “When I battled the Odd Ones in Goblith Forest, I got this one back here.”  He turned to reveal chaotic black spirals twisting up his spine.  “These ones--”
This had been going on too long.
Aloric stood from the bar, shrugging the furs off his shoulder.  The tavern went silent as the audience’s gaze shifted.  Ragged claw-marks tore down his chest, and his right bicep was encircled with a jagged ring that could only have been jaws.  A cluster of arrow-sized dots marred his side, and a net a thin lines wound up one side of his face.
Leaning within inches of the hunter’s face, Aloric let out a low growl.  “Anyone can buy tattoos.  Scars are earned.”
  AblazeAnd so the world ended, not with a whimper, but a bang. Fire rained from the heavens. Few understood the cause of the phenomenon; it didn’t matter anyway. The cause eclipsed the effect. He knew they had only a few minutes left. Why waste those precious few minutes raging against the oncoming fate?
He took her by the hand. He did not rage, but he could mourn. He wasn’t afraid of death… he just wished they’d had more time together.
The pelt of sparks began to burn, each little impact sizzling against his skin. “I just want to say… this year with you was the best of my life. By far.”
She smiled, and popped open her umbrella. It would buy them only another second, maybe two, but even that was enough. A second could be a lifetime with her.
They huddled under the umbrella’s shadow, and, as the world burned around them, lived that lifetime together.

Enjoy! :)

Oh look at that, it's time for another FFM feature! :D Also, apparently I missed one yesterday, so I've added it to today's.

No Trial, No AppealThere were three trials set out by the computer program "TH3 FAT3S" at the end of the world, and each one of them was presided over by one of the fates of Greek mythology: Clotho, the spinner, whose test involved the fiery strings of fate; Lachesis, the allotter, whose test held the furious, three headed steel monster Cerberus; and Atropos, the unturnable, whose test had never been passed.
The front of the great stone building that held the trials was flat and featureless, and I shook anxiously a moment before dashing through them with practiced ease: jumping over lines of racing red fire in the hall of the spinner and bowing through the low door past the hungry heads of Lachesis' Cerberus, three-headed and hungry for the taste of would-be-clever human’s skin.
It was the last test, however, that always claimed fools like me trying to be heroes; it is said that the fires of fate look backward, so I steeled myself for the strength to face my own past and to secure a future for huma
  Gossiping Wallflowers (FFM Day 16)Every day, they peel the tape from my eyelids and pry them open for moisturizing drops.  It is routine.  Tape, drops, sop up the mess with Kleenex, and tape again.  Machines bleep around me.  The tube in my throat presses tight against muted vocal cords.
It's only on Tuesdays I hear the gaudy pastel wallpaper flowers talking.  The flash of fluttering pistons and bright green stems imprints on my mind the knowledge that they see all, hear all, know all.  Tuesdays.  Family day.
"Oh, it's that devil man again," Petunia whispers, her voice puckering in the heavy air.  Hers are the most vibrant petals, thriving on the drama and the turmoil.  Acting the ringleader, Petunia is the first to know--and the first to spill the beans--about anything that happens in the building.
"Hush, Petunia!"  Violet hisses.  The bite in her voice surprises me; always shy, she hides herself in the wind.  I squint, trying to catch a gl

Raknar in WonderlandRaknar the ruthless stalked the mountains, axe in hand. These were strange lands, farther off the edge of the map than any orc had ventured before, but this mattered little. Raknar was here to kill things, loot things, challenge things to duels, and occasionally dropkick small mammals.
Even so, there was something unsettling about this place. Something told him he wasn't supposed to be here. As much as he'd revelled in defeating the mighty invisible mouth-cat, as glorious as it had been to raise the severed head of the frumious bandersnatch in victory, he couldn't help but feel it was all a bit too easy. That last lion he'd killed hadn't even put up much of a fight. Vanquishing a lion that was quivering in a corner didn't really seem like vanquishing at all.
Still, he had to admit the treasure he'd found was marvellous. The epic axe he'd pried from the dead hands of a munchkin in Munchkin town hadn't seemed like much at first: it was blunt, with a circular head that didn't seem particu
  Twelve Drowned RosesThey are waiting for him in the water.
He can see their faces – pale and fish-bitten, so swollen with water that the tide might slough them from their skulls at any moment. Their eyes are dark and hollow, but he can see the emotions swirling in their depths: love and lust and loneliness, despair, longing. They claw at him with rotted hands. Always they stay below the surface of the water; never do they reach out into the air.
He looks from one waterlogged face to another, naming them. Emma, Jamie, Kathryn, Elsie – little Elsie – she was his first, in her fluttery white dress. He remembers the flowers she was holding, roses in pale yellow and white. The petals fluttered about her in the breeze – now her dress is fluttering beneath the waves, ragged and torn, and her little mouth forms his name in silence.
She was his first, and an accident. He had never meant for it to happen. But it happened all the same; and she looked so lonely there, a single white rose burie
  FFM '14.16 GratitudeThey moved with perfect grace, as if they had been born to dance, and indeed, they had been dancing so long that they may as well have been. The music shifted around them, flowing from song to song and dance to dance, but they never faltered, never slowed, never ceased.
When his partner vanished before his eyes, the prince saw that he had been bespelled, and looked around to find that he was not in a ballroom, or rather, if he were, that it had been out of use for a hundred years or more. As it was, the room was featureless, save the crumbling walls and his own footprints tracing a maze through the dust on the floor.
“Highness.” The prince turned to face the woman who spoke and saw that she had a sword in her hand and the remains of a harp at her feet. “My lord, it’s time we got you home.”
The prince knelt before her, head bowed. “Good lady, you have freed me from this vile enchantment. I would offer myself to you in marriage as thanks.”
The ad

   Giving the Bride AwayThird Person Plural
Father: Teenagers are too immature to know what’s best for them.
Third Person Neuter
Mother: This country just doesn’t have the same standard of morals.
Third Person Masculine
Father: He’s the perfect choice for her.
Third Person Feminine
Mother: She’s not too young. It’s normal to be nervous.
Second Person
Father & Mother: You should be excited on your wedding day.
First Person
Bride: This isn’t what I want.

Where It BeginsOne could say this story begins the day Miriam went shopping with Hayley.  The clothes were more sparkles than fabric, and once Miriam picked up a tank top that said in glitter letters ‘here’s the booty.’  “This store is for thirteen-year-olds,” she said, “This is silly.”
But even as she said it her heart raced.  She was afraid of what she wanted to tell Hayley, afraid of what her friend would say.  Maybe it was better to keep her mouth shut, be the thirteen-year-old who shakes her head at shirts with the word booty on them.
Or, one could say this story begins soon after Miriam had gotten her first period.  That had been a hard day.  It had happened towards the end of the school day, and she’d been to scared to say anything to anyone but her mother, when she’d picked her up.  What she had said was that she was dying.  No one had told her this was going to happen.
She never did remember
  NarasimhaThere are two bathrooms: one for girls and one for boys.
There are two sports teams: one for men and one for women.
Everywhere (s)he looks it's the same. Changing rooms, clothing styles, shoe sizes, polite forms of address, even job descriptions: “Seeking a woman or man who can...”
The trouble with breaking things down into categories, Josef(ina) muses as (s)he regards the signs, is that doing so introduces loopholes that exclude outliers. There's no help for it; (s)he'll have to hold it in.
  Possession (FFM Day 17--TW)Just past city limits, the screaming gets swept across out-of-season fields and abandoned apple orchards.  Neighbors pretend not to hear, drowning out the noise in high def TV and internal monologues.  It's easy to ignore problems that don't touch them--and besides, Mrs. Graving has always been a nice lady.  It's only that damn demon girl causing her trouble again.  They don't understand why Mrs. Graving lets her stay.
Samantha Jean's long, skinny feet poke from beneath jeans embroidered with butterflies and flowers.  Her arms are wrapped around the thick trunk of a leafless oak tree.  She watches the sun slip below the horizon line; the sky pulls on her sleeping gown and plugs in her favorite nightlights.  On the thin breeze, her dad's voice carries across the yard.  Samantha Jean turns, lowering feet-first, sticky tree bark catching on her favorite t-shirt.  "Coming, Papa!"
By news break the next morning, five year old Samantha's gap-t

Into the DeepLena was playing in the forest when she heard the call.
It sounded like singing, or maybe weeping. It was one of the most beautiful sounds she had ever heard. It slithered through the trees like silver, or crystals, or stars: a melody she knew at once, as though it were engraved in her heart, although she couldn't think where she might have heard it before. She had certainly never heard the beautiful voice before. She would remember it if she had; she was sure of that.
She followed the voice as though it were a thread, or a veil, a thing she could pick up and roll into a ball as she traced it to its source. It led her away from the path, over hills and flowers and babbling brooks, through trees and over meadows. It led her to a dark place in the forest where everything was green and wet and mossy and mushrooms sprouted from the trees and from the ground. It led her downwards, into a cave, into darkness.
She remembered to be afraid, then, for a moment. Not of the voice – how could
  FFM '14.18 Super Pepper-UpperNo matter what the babysitter tried, the dog would not stop barking. She took a flashlight outside to see if anyone was there and found nothing. She checked the rooms in the house, but only found the children, asleep. She checked the basement and saw nothing unusual, but she could still hear the dog barking from upstairs. Finally, she gave up and climbed the stairs to the kitchen.
When she closed the basement door behind her, there was a flash of light so bright she had to blink to clear her vision. When she could see, there were six demons in the kitchen, each with glowing, red eyes more unsettling than those of the last.
“It took you guys long enough.”
The babysitter realized that the dog had finally stopped barking. She looked around for the big, black poodle, and saw that its eyes, too, glowed red.
“I’ve been calling for hours,” the poodle said. “It’s dinnertime.”
  Match Made in HeavenAs the ribbon of light streaked through the sky, she looked to her boyfriend lying on the grass beside her and wished he would love her more than anything for the rest of their lives and people would talk about their love long after they were gone. And he did.
He wrote her letters every day.
He sent her gifts, many and expensive golden baubles.
He went with her everywhere she went.
Soon, she could not take it anymore. He was smothering her. He grew jealous of any other man she talked to. He wouldn’t leave, even when she screamed at him.
But he loved her. He loved her more than anything else… even his own freedom. No restraining order could hold him back. They would be together… forever.
He dressed her in all the gold jewelry he’d bought her and anointed her with frankincense.
The day after Christmas, he papers ran the tragic story of the homicide-suicide. The TV stations covered it in meticulous detail. It became one of those tragedies that just seemed to catch

The Worth of a WishA white streak passed overhead, appearing in brief flashes between the dead and twisted branches. None of the motley crew running down the path below paused, though one did bother to comment, straying slightly as his concentration was divided.
“Huh. Cool. Shooting star,” Justin said, tweaking his course slightly to bring him back in line with his allies.
“What, outside?” asked Will, his voice coming through in a faint crackle of static.
“Can’t be,” Mike butted in. “It’s starting to rain out here.”
“Oh, yeah, you did mention that earlier. Forgot you two lived in the same town.”
“Yeah, it was in the game,” Justin clarified. “Pretty cool that someone coded random stuff like that into it.”
“Make a wish,” Zack prompted, his wood elf character zig-zagging across the trail so she didn’t outpace the rest of them.
“It’s not real; it wouldn’t count,” said Will
  FFM 18: Friday NightAnother friday night.  Burnt coffee, stale cigarette smoke, and a bunch of assholes that Vlad didn’t like any better than himself.  If there was a silver lining here, it was that this would be his last meeting.  That almost brought a smile to his tired, pallid face.  Almost.  Instead, he peeled off one last sticky tag, wrote his name, and sat in the circle with the rest of the guys.
Rat King was up first.  Blah blah, all the usual bullshit about ruling the sewers.  Honestly, who cared?  That guy wasn’t a true monster.  As far as Vlad was concerned, they should’ve sent him packing ages ago, but this was a place of support, so he’d never said as much.  Twitching and fidgety, he waited for his turn to stand at the podium.
“Hello,” he began.  “My name is Vlad.  Of the Family Macnair.”
“Hi, Vlad,” the assorted murderers and thieves replied.
“As most of you know, I
  FFM 18: UghCeleste still had the pill bottle in her hand when a minor explosion rocked her onto her back. She hadn’t expected her death to be so dramatic. Funeral, maybe, although she doubted that.
“Drat it all,” said a voice. “I haven’t had a break in weeks.”
Celeste sat up to find Death in front of her. After the explosion, the appearance was a little anticlimactic, but Death’s black robes did billow ominously over the horse it was mounted on. Its skeleton face seemed to be glaring. At her.
“Sorry?” said Celeste.
“They all say that,” said Death. “And before you ask, you are dead. Well done.” It dismounted, and the horse shrunk to an easily manageable cat shape, lashing a long bony tail.
Celeste didn’t feel terribly accomplished. She didn’t feel much of anything, except for a vague floatiness.
“If I’m dead,” she began.
“I’m here to take you away,” said Death. “Usual

AwakeningShe had been sleeping for a thousand of her own years, curled tight in her pod as it soared through galaxies and nebulae and unending vacuum, past stars that burned brighter than souls and planets that were, somehow, each unique despite their infinite number. She was sealed tightly in her pod, and sleeping besides, but she saw the universe in her dreams as it streamed past her. She saw the tiny worlds all around her being born, and growing and living, and finally collapsing. She saw the glitter of moons and starfire and space-ice.
At last her journey came to an end. Her pod had reached a planet that was green and brown and blue and white, all swirled with clouds, and she orbited it for only a few of its days before floating down into its atmosphere. Her descent was slow and careful, and soon the world's own winds carried her to her landing-place and set her gently down.
It was a good place: there was rich soil all around her, heavy with wet, and the world's sun shone bright onto her po
  Zeltepha Abscalon (FFM Day 19)On an undiscovered planet in the Zeltepha Abscalon universe, Tristen traipses and stumbles across abandoned and depleted automatons, searching for her next charge.  The bleeping of her battery pack is second nature; she tunes it out.  Space breathes, a soundless, discordant churning.  In the five years since she's been trapped here, it's weighed on her.  She walks with slouched shoulders.
Stooping down, she rifles through a pile of rusting bodies and broken antennae.  She hasn't seen a working machine in a week.  The last one she found remote-detonated when it saw her coming.  Her eyes are halfway closed when it happens: a flash of pink, a shuffle of movement that scatters the pile.
A baby automaton--the first she's ever seen--shoots from beneath a corroded hunk of head and floats, mere inches, in front of her.  Tristen grins, a wolfish flash of her teeth.  Finally.
The automaton--male, she deduces from the pink eyes and s
  Alienating Earth FFM19NASA is practically shitting itself right now.
After years of trying to communicate with the rest of the universe, we have finally made contact. We have tried crop circles, burning canals, time capsules, Doritos ads blasted into space for eight hours straight, golden records, nudes, and even telepathy. None of them worked, but the aliens came when they were good and ready.
They overrode all of the screens on Earth, easily hacking into our systems. Every TV, tablet, iPad, and computer in the world turned on to a black and white, fuzzy screen, most likely because our technology was not as advanced as theirs. The entire world sat huddled around these screens, watching in awe of the first alien-human interaction.
An alien spoke, his voice being translated into a young, British man’s voice so we could understand. “Can you please stop trying to communicate with us? We are very busy right now. The intergalactic bus station blew to pieces and it was because of your golden discs hur

Survey    Captain Crag hauled himself up onto the plateau and caught his breath while he waited for his survey partner to catch up. Lieutenant Jorb had a harder time with climbs than humans did. She had to use special equipment to compensate. While paws might have been great for running and hand-to-hand combat, they were fairly useless for climbing.
    When she did reach the top, though, she showed no signs of fatigue. Crag was jealous of that, but it was just part of being from Sirius Three. Their evolution had gifted them with unlimited stamina. Crag made a mental note to hit the gym after they got back from this mission.
    To her credit, Jorb said nothing about the captain’s need for rest. Instead she scanned the horizon and took readings with her scanner and waited for him to recover.
As soon as he had caught his breath, Crag stood up and signaled that they should get moving.
    They didn’t go very far before Jorb held up a paw to s
  Cleaning Up - FFM 2014 Day 19I sighed as I shoveled through the radioactive waste. They didn't care enough anymore to make us wear protective biohazard suits, so I left mine out in the break lounge. After nuclear war broke out hundreds of years ago, humans adapted to radioactivity anyways, so the worst that could happen would be similar to a stomach flu, at least at the levels this waste is emitting. I've heard some horror stories with the clean-up crew of fresh nukes, but that's not my job. Mine's at least 50 years old; there's no problems here anymore.
My job is just that of a glorified janitor, picking up remains of nuclear wars past and trying to revitalize the land for reurbanization. Sure, I have some clever gizmos that trick the uranium to decay faster that it does naturally, but that's just par for the course. It pays well enough, and I don't have to worry about impressing chicks, since this drives them away quicker than a rocket launch, saving me even more money. I don't need status, and I've got a house

Heading towards the halfway point of FFM (features) now! Here's days 13, 14 & 15.

The Bronze Knight and the Angel    In a time before coal or steam, when magic moved the tide and turned the heavens, there was a golden tree, guarded by an angel with a sword of fire. No ordinary tree was this, for it had sprouted from a pip spat by a god. Upon the tree grew a single emerald apple, and whosoever ate this apple would gain eternal life: this was why the angel was set out to guard it, for the gods are jealous, and will not suffer any man to have eternal life.
    But as gods are jealous, so is man ambitious, and many heroes came to try and take the apple for themselves. One such hero was the bronze knight, and the angel saw well his burnished armour as he crested the first hill. Seeing this, the angel took up his bow and loosed a volley of arrows, each one tipped with serpents’ teeth. But the knight was unharmed, for his armour was Virtue, which serves well any who choose to wear it.
    As the knight crested the second hill, the angel t
  HeliopauseThe curse did not shake within her.  It had fallen into her slowly, and by the third day after it had happened, she had forgotten to fear it.
And sometimes, the world around her forgot something too - like a candle, or a pillow, or her feeling of pain after falling.  She was a walking disappearance, and she would have to learn to control it.  
So she left the only home she’d known.  Her regret was small but alive, and she wondered if it would be enough to keep her warm.
It did not, but the void that rested just beyond her periphery was familiar as a bedroom.
  Phoebe and the RainOn a hill, in the shade of a tree, Phoebe and her family were enjoying a picnic. As they ate, the clouds above them grew grey and bad-tempered, and when the first drop of rain tapped the back of Dad's hand, he decided it was time to go home. They gathered up the food, folded up the blanket, and packed everything away.
As they started to walk, the drips turned to drizzle. Phoebe saw the big brown cows all sitting down together, grazing on the grass that grew in tufts all around them.
“Look at the cows!” she said. “They're sitting down and eating, even though it's rainy. Maybe we should be like them and finish our picnic.”
“I'd really rather get home, Phoebe,” said Mum, cleaning the rain off her glasses.
They followed the trail down the hill, taking the rough, sandy steps into the woods. The trees stretched out over them like an umbrella, and Phoebe could hear the rain tapping on their leaves. In the bushes, she spied a blackbird in a nest full of brig

First FlightCael leaned forward taking in slow deep breaths. He could smell the rich scents of leather and sweat mixed with the cool tang of heavy steel. He closed his eyes and raised his head to the sky, feeling the sun bright against his eyelids. He’d waited months for this moment, for the chance to feel the world vanish into the clouds and his heart was pounding in excitement.
They had left the stables and were waiting in the middle of the large paddock to the rear of the guard’s tower. The long grass swayed gently in the wind, whispering around his dragon’s legs. There were two other people with Cael; one was another recruit, Sloan the injured soldier, and the other was their Flying Master; Aela. She was slim and lithe and she sat astride her dragon like she had been born on it. Her thick blonde hair was pulled back in a tight braid and her pale eyes watched Cael and the other recruit carefully.
“Follow me,” she said with the hint of a smile and she nudged her dra
   Lights OutThe lights went out on Earth about a year after the resources dried up. The fossil fuels were the first to go, the Steam Age had taken them out long ago. The renewables fared slightly better, holding out a few more years before failing too. Turns out they weren’t as reliable as once thought: after the majority of the population became obese and permanently motorised, and younger generations swapped hands on mechanics for online pursuits there was no hope. Not that internet interests were any use now, not since the power went. It was as if Earth’s trip switch had flipped, and people were unable to get up to push it back, let alone locate it.
Some people had turned to crackpot schemes of hoarding potatoes in an attempt to charge and power batteries, but to little avail. In a matter of weeks, the Black Market became rife with candles, matches, thick fur coats and coveted lighters. Libraries were a thing of the past, once houses of learning and enjoyment they were stripp

The Dentist and the Dragon    Njall made his way up the side of the mountain and cursed his village elders. While they sat snug and warm in their houses, he was forced to endure the cold and the wind and the rain. And soon, he’d be face to face with a dragon.
    This was a job that should have been given to a real warrior, but the elders had argued that with the raiding season well underway, the village needed all the warriors they had to defend against possible invaders. Njall scowled. They could at least have given him a sword. His dentist tools wouldn’t be much use against a giant, fire-breathing lizard.
    The cave came into view as he rounded a bend in the path. A steady trail of smoke told him the dragon was at home. That was unfortunate for Njall. He had hoped the dragon wouldn’t be home
    The dragon hadn’t been seen in a week. The elders mused that perhaps dragons slept through the winter. An ear-splitting shriek put that theory right t
  OvalIn this world, there was an oval of flesh missing on the girl’s ankle because she accidentally swiped too low and cut herself shaving.
In another world, there was an oval of flesh missing at her heel as punishment from running from a would-be groom and an altar she hadn’t chosen.
In another, two ovals of flesh were missing on either side of her ankles as punishment for stealing jewelry and hiding it wrapped around her ankles under clothing.
In another one oval of flesh was missing because the first step to cutting ties with her second family was cutting the tattoo from her flesh.
In one more, the flesh had been rubbed raw by the one shackle so many times that one misshapen oval scar of bright pink, smooth flesh was leftover, ready to chafe again.
In another, the oval was a bruise that was met with more smiles and laughs than the accident’s sting.
In another, the foot was gone entirely, and hollow half-ovals haunted the girl’s eyes at the thought of “infect
  Punctuation“I thought full stop didn’t feel like going because of her period,” whispered hyphen.
“Oh, no,” said semicolon, “that’s not full stop; that’s dot, one of the ellipsis sisters.”
Well, considered hyphen as he prepared to dash off, it had been a confusing story but now it seemed he’d be able to join the dots...

  Red, Yellow, and BlueToo poor to purchase more art supplies, I learned to paint only with primary colors; I covered canvas after canvas--or reclaimed wood when it was a choice between painting or eating--with saturated sentiment.  Canary yellow was the color of the dress you wore the day we met--and it harmonized perfectly with your straw colored hair--while cadmium red matched both your tempting scarlet lips and the fire I saw in your eyes.  But ultramarine blue didn't suit you, and I never once used it until the day God or Guilt or some Guy stole you from me.  Welcome to London    “I’ve been thinking about what we should do with our wealth now that we’re famous,” grunted the Little Pig, “and it seems to me that the housing market would be a particularly promising investment.”
     “There’s talk of it being another bubble, but I just haven’t seen any evidence of that,” squeaked the Blind Mouse.
    “Well,” bleated the Billy Goat Gruff, “if there is a housing bubble, I suppose we’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it.”

LullabyThe telephone chimed loudly from the kitchen, which succeeded in both jolting Matt from a slumber into which he had not realize that he had succumbed, along with activating the baby monitor which transmitted a long distressed wail that originated upstairs.  It wasn’t long after he answered the call with a groggy ‘hello’ that his body stiffened violently, his lungs suffocating from the dread that knotted in his chest.
He wasn’t sure which terrified him more: the fact his wife had been struck and killed at the intersection or the fact that he could hear her voice through the monitor singing his baby to sleep.
  First FlightI perched at the top of the sycamore just behind the house. It was the highest point I could get to, and at seven, I was steadily becoming aware of the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to climb up to these tiny branches much longer. This was going to be the last time I could see this far. Today had to be the day.
Mom and I lived outside the city, in the woods that nobody owned. Though far from our house, from this high in the tree, I could see the tops of the city walls built back when there was still a castle standing. That was before the war destroyed part of the wall and knocked down everything except one tower. That was what Mom said happened anyway.
Evening had set in, bathing everything a light pink. A little breeze was kicking around the area, occasionally rattling trees and the laundry still hanging on the line. On the ground below, some of the birds pecked at the feed our hens hadn’t eaten. They had been my focus for the past few days, though not to hunt like us
  Hey, BrotherThey may have been family, once. He brushed aside some more of the dust on the bones and frowned. He stood on a sun-drenched, dusty mountaintop, and in front of him were the ancient, fossilized bodies of many, many people in the pass. Dozens and dozens of them, crushed and broken by ancient, wicked weapons, some of which were still embedded in bone and skull.
"Arnold," a woman called, picking her way across the pass and past the handful of other researchers who kneeled over bodies and artifacts, taking photos. "I've got some results."
Arnold came to his feet and let out a long, slow breath. The expression on her face told him that their assumptions were being proven correct, one after the other. He wondered what kind of headlines a find like this would elicit. ANCIENT, ISOLATED RELATIVES OF HUMANS FOUGHT UNTIL EXTINCTION, SCIENTISTS SAY. He had to chuckle darkly knowing that that headline would be in bold print over stories describing the violence in the Congo and Mexico.
"Yes, Rita,"

Kiss of LifeThe last thing Frederick remembered was being overtaken by a wave after falling overboard from his ship. The press of lips against his brought him to full wakefulness, but the laws of gravity seemed to have been suspended. It took him a few groggy minutes to realize he was still underwater, mostly because that should have been impossible. There was air in his lungs. But swimming before him… a mermaid, a beautiful woman with a mother of pearl tail. Her red hair danced through the water like fire. And, unlike in the movies, she did not wear a clamshell bra.
Streams of sunlight danced around them. She kissed him again, a kiss of life which gave him the air he needed. The air filled him with energy to swim to the surface.
As he broke the water and breathed for himself, he found himself in paradise. Lush jungle surrounded the small lake. Petrichor still wafted through the air. Exotic birdcalls played musically. The water around him was brilliant blue, like a gem, and in the center
  An Excuse--- FFM Day 15 ChallengeThey tapped the game out, using her knees as their playing field:
“Rock,” they chanted, giggling as they did,  “paper, scissors-- SHOOT!”
 She kept her fingers curled in a tight fist; she claimed rock and he flattened his palm, claiming paper. It was the perfect excuse to cover her hand with his, and keep it there.
  FFM#15 [Challenge] -- Bad Dog“Officer, look, I’m very sorry about the thing down at the park, he’s usually so very well behaved. It’s just that he gets a little hot under the collar and things get out of hand, you know? And given his nature it’s really hard to reign him in, I mean, he can’t make up his own mind, how am I suppo—Cerb, no, put the nice man down!”

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did! :)

Hooray, it's time for another installment of my FFM favourites! :)

Melody Black   The interrogation room door opened with a bang, and I glanced up with a neutral expression. Two officers, both wearing grim expressions, took their seats in front of me. The taller, younger man held a thin yellow file in his hands.
   “Miss Black,” the shorter officer started, steepling his hands together. “Do you have any idea why you’ve been brought in this evening?”
   I indicated the cuffs around my wrists with a tilt of my head. “I can only assume it’s something serious.”
   The younger man slipped a photo from the yellow file. “Can you confirm that this is you?”
   I gave the grainy picture a cursory glance. “Well,” I replied, “it certainly looks like me.”
   “What do you mean by that?”
   “I mean that, although this person bears a rather striking resemblance to me, I can say for certain it isn’t.
  Flower PowerPink roses, white lilies, lilac freesias and cream stocks.
Now, how would you describe this beautiful bunch of flowers? Yes—how about you?
A ‘stunning bouquet’. Yes, that’s absolutely right—well remembered! When thrown directly at the head, this kind of bouquet can stun an attacker for up to 30 seconds.
I shall demonstrate a few throwing techniques for you.
You can throw… underarm!
Or… overarm!
Or, if it’s possible for you to turn your back on your assailant, there is always… ‘The Bride’!
Oh. Oops. Is he… OK? Is he breathing? Oh, lovely. Just pop him into the recovery position then and we’ll crack on.
Next we have the glancing-blow posies. These are used simply to distract the assailant so that someone more heavily armed has time to get into position—maybe with a stunning bouquet, or perhaps even a wreath. But wreaths are only used in extreme circumstances. They don’t call them funeral flow

The Dragon and the Golden Man    Once upon a time there was a thief named Rashid. At first he found great wealth and had many wondrous adventures, but as his fame spread people began to grow wise to his tricks, and Rashid grew hungry. One day, having not eaten anything for a considerable time, he did something he had wanted never to do: he crept inside the great burial mound that lay not far out of town, and which all knew to be cursed.
    Within the mound, which was ringed round by standing stones, Rashid found vast piles of treasure. The thief needed no torch to see the riches he had discovered, for the quantity of gold there was so great, its lustre so brilliant, that it gave off its own light. However, though hungry, Rashid was not foolish. He took only a single golden cup, that surely could not be missed. And so Rashid stole quietly away, and neither wraith nor fiend nor devil pursued him from that place.
    First, Rashid took the golden cup to the
  FFM 2014: FaithHenry walked up the steps and kneeled on the cold stone floor, silently hoping that his white chinos wouldn’t stain. Holding the ritual coin pressed between his fingers, he raised both hands in supplication and tried not to blink as the Dispensary Agent splashed water on his forehead and made the sign of the Well above Henry’s head.
“Proceed” The Dispensary Agent called out in a ringing voice.
Henry thought he was overdoing the robed acolyte thing a bit, especially as he only looked about eighteen years old and still had acne. Was he really supposed to take this teenager seriously as the supposed representative of a mystical force?
Henry lowered his eyes to the watery depths, or tried to, the wall was a little too high to see over comfortably. For the second time in as many minutes he deeply regretted his choice of white pants for the occasion, and shuffled forward slightly to get a better view. Of course it wasn’t really his fault, he’d been brought
  The HelpLike ants, the clones paraded in a circle between the car and the kitchen, hauling the bags of groceries inside.
“Really, honey?” Gordon Gregory asked.
“Why not?” Dr. Sharon Gregory said with a shrug. “I had some leftover bio-matter and overbooked myself this morning.”
“And it didn’t occur to you to ask for some… help?” Gregory sidestepped as one of the clones nearly staggered into him, barely able to see over the bulk pack of toilet paper Michelle had purchased.
“And ruin your vacation? You work hard, honey. I can’t imagine what it’s even like battling supervillains all day. You deserve a break.” She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.
“I just… I don’t know. Doesn’t this violate some ethical rules or something?”
“Jury’s still out on that.”
“And I’m just not comfortable with these things running around the house with our kids.

FFM12: Lies are Bad and Don't Talk to BirdsThe silver prince lived in the far off land of Nomas. He was a good prince who loved his people. As much as he loved them and as much as they loved him, there was one thing that kept peace and harmony from the kingdom.
The silver prince told lies.
Most of the time, they were little lies. If the royal shirt maker asked what color shirt he wanted him to make, he might say red when he really wanted a blue shirt. When the cook asked if he liked roast beef for dinner, he might say yes when he really wanted chicken legs. When his lies were discovered, he didn't understand why it was wrong. He'd told them what they wanted to hear. What did it matter if it wasn't the truth?
The silver prince was walking in the royal rock gardens when he saw a crow land atop one of the big, marble boulders. It carried something shiny clasped in its beak.
“Hello, Crow, what have you got in your beak?” he asked. In the land of Nomas, it wasn't unusual to talk to birds or for them to talk back. The cro
  FFM 2014 12: Mr. Sinungalingsi∙nu∙nga∙ling (Filipino)
    1. noun   Liar.
    2. verb   To lie.
It is a new day in a new city for Annie. They have just moved to Manila from Zamboanga del Sur. Annie and her sisters miss their home province, but they are excited to go to a new school.
Mama calls to them, “Don’t forget your sandwiches!”
There are three things Mama loves most: reading the Bible, making ham sandwiches for her daughters, and admiring her collection of rare coins from Saudi Arabia.
“Bye, Mama!” the little girls say, holding their lunch boxes.
Most of the little girls in their new school have always lived in Manila. Annie and her sisters are a curiosity.
“Where are you from?” a classmate asks Annie.
“The Great Wall of China,” Annie lies.
Annie says she can do calligraphy, fancy Chinese writing. She says back in China she has a black horse and a saber. A clu
  Billy and the Truth FairyBilly was always fibbing. He fibbed about little things, like whether he had brushed his teeth yet, and he fibbed about big things, like the color of the sky.
One day Billy was playing alone in his room, making up an especially long fib about what his toy soldiers were doing, when he heard a little voice by his ear.
“Please stop lying, Billy!” it said.
Something tumbled out of his hair and into his lap. It was a tiny woman with shiny wings and a green dress.
“I am a Truth Fairy!” she said. “We Truth Fairies protect the Truth in the world. Truth makes everyone happy! It makes people understand each other! Lies make people sad and angry, and sometimes they make people fight. Please stop lying, Billy!”
But Billy just laughed and kept telling fibs.
But the next day people really were sadder and angrier than normal. The washing machine broke and his mother yelled at him and the bullies stole his shoes. He wondered if the washing machine had broken because

Gregory and the Blueberries    One fine morning, Gregory the hedgehog was out walking through the forest. The morning air was crisp and cool, Gregory became hungry. He wondered if he could find something good to eat.
    Then he smelled something delicious close by. He followed his nose right to a blueberry bush. There were more ripe, plump blueberries than Gregory could count. His tummy growled at the sight of them, so he sat down to eat.
    Before he knew it, he had eaten every single blueberry on the bush. He had eaten so many blueberries that his tummy ached, so he decided to go home and sleep until he felt better.
    When he woke up, Gregory felt much better, so he decided to find his friends and ask them to play.
    But when he got to the clearing, he saw that his friends were unhappy.
    “What’s going on?”
    Bethany was crying when she looked up at Gregory. “Someone ate all my blueberries! I was saving them
  The Alien Who Didn't Fit InOnce there was an alien named Krrg, whose parents wanted to send him to school on planet Earth. His father bought him a rucksack, and his mother made him a special suit to disguise him as a human.
“Do your best to fit in,” said his mother as she kissed him goodbye at the school gate.
“I will!” said Krrg, waving as he went inside.
The teacher introduced Krrg to the class. “Everyone, this is Craig,” she said. “I want you all to make him feel welcome. Do you want to tell everyone about yourself, Craig?”
Krrg stepped forward, his hands held neatly behind his back. He couldn’t tell them he was an alien, so he lied. “My name is Craig, and I am a normal human child. I like jigsaw puzzles.”
The class didn’t seem to think he was very interesting.
“Thank you, Craig,” said the teacher. “You can sit down now.”
The first subject of the day was maths. Krrg was especially good at maths, and the questions h
  FFM 2014: PulaOnce upon a time in in a small village in Botswana, there was a little girl named Lesedi who was very naughty.
While out walking one day Lesedi came across Mma Rammala cooking porridge for her breakfast. Mma Rammala had forgotten her bowl and went to fetch it, and seeing the porridge untended Lesedi decided she was hungry and ate it.
When Mma Rammala returned to find her cooking pot empty she cried out in shock.
“Lesedi, what has happened to the porridge I was making for my breakfast?”
“Impi the Vervet Monkey took it,’ Lesedi said, and pointed to the tree where he was sitting.  “I tried to stop him, but my legs are not fast enough and I couldn’t reach him in time to stop him eating everything.
“You greedy Monkey!” Mma Rammala scolded. “How dare you eat all my breakfast!”
“But I didn’t do it!” Impi cried.
“I don’t believe you. You are a liar and a thief!” Said Mma Rammala and turned her

Sicklefox    Once upon a time there was a naughty boy. He was about your age, if I’m not mistaken. This naughty boy loved to run and jump and play with his friends, but more than anything he loved sweet things. So when he spied the baker coming down the street with two trays of iced buns, he wasted no time in running over to him.
    “Aren’t you afraid carrying all those buns?” asked the naughty little boy.
    “Afraid?” asked the baker. “Of course not—why would I be?”
    “Why,” lied the naughty boy, “because Sicklefox likes nothing better than iced buns, and I hear he is nearby. If he finds you, he’ll cut out your tongue and eat it.”
    The baker stopped. This was new to him, but all had heard tales of Sicklefox and all knew them to be true.
    “Perhaps I should take half,” said
  FFM13: Birth of a Dark WizardAlana stared at the letter, her stomach churning. The rejection hadn't been that much of a surprise, but it was still hard to swallow. She had high marks in all her classes and it still hadn't been enough for Master Hector. He had chosen another apprentice for the apprenticeship.
“Just work harder. It will turn out right, “ Douglas said.
She stared at him until he looked away. This was the fifth time she'd been rejected. Officially, the reasons had all been the same, “You're just not what we're looking for.” Unofficially, she'd been informed she would never be what they were looking for---she should quit now and find a nice young man to occupy her time. She wasn't wanted here. If it wasn't for her father, she would have been laughed out before she finished applying.
“Just work harder,” she repeated.
He had to know he said the wrong thing again. She complained enough already about all the kitchen work the master wizards had given her. She scrub
Delicacies (FFM Day 11)"To Whom it May Concern:
There's a footprint on my back that will tell you all you need to know about the local homeowner's association.  Paying attention?  Good.  Let me start at the beginning.
Seven months ago, my wife became pregnant.  With two little boys already, we knew our two-bedroom couldn't sustain us much longer.  We began looking for something new.  Now, you need to understand something.  My wife is the sweetest, most normal creature I know...unless she's pregnant.  I know what you're thinking.  "ALL pregnant women can be terrors, those fluctuating hormones and the back pain alone would..."
No.  You aren't understanding.
You see, my wife is an alien.  No, I don't mean she's from Cuba or Mexico or Peru.  She doesn't have a green card.  She isn't here illegally.  I mean she's an alien.  And when she's pregnant, her old quirks come out.  Bright purple scales; long webbed toes; a strange obsession w
  The Ideal BookshelfAlice's Adventures in Wonderland would sit on the end, propped up by an ampersand.  We read it together when we were eight, if you recall.  Some of the words were unfamiliar, but the riddles and poems made us giggle, and we dreamed of Cheshire cats and had our mad tea parties in the attic.  We longed for our own Wonderland where anything impossible would be.
Next would be The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which helped us through that awful transition period between childhood and adulthood.  You were the mysterious someone I wrote to, always sending my love, even though we'd never meet face to face.
Beside Perks--you hated it when I called it that--would be Memoirs of a Geisha, the book that changed our lives.  We became homesick for places we'd never been, wanting to experience it all--dance like a geisha, hunt exotic animals in Africa, storm the Bastille.  After that book, we'd nev
  OscarI remember how excited the stadium was that day. Track events hardly ever draw so much attention, but I could see at least half my school in the stands. It was an incredible rush to see them out, hear them cheer like I'd never heard anyone cheer for me before.
I lined up, ready for the four hundred yard dash. I'd never been so prepared. Every muscle in my body felt like taut strings, prepared to make beautiful music. I walked past the school mascot, Oscar the Bull (the fifth of his name, though it was rarely brought up). I took my mark, and when the starting pistol was shot, I dashed like I'd never run before.
What I'd failed to realize was that I had a spare shirt hanging out of the back of my pants, caught in my elastic band. Oscar did not appreciate the flapping red cloth that trailed behind me. I thought at first that it was simply more excitement from the crowd when I started running, which drove me on faster than I'd ever gone.
I set both a personal best time and a school record

Narelle's New PetOne day when Narelle was walking through the woods, she happened upon a most curious thing: there was a little dragon curled up under a big oak tree.  The dragon looked quite sad; its large, golden eyes stared at the ground, and it barely stirred as she approached it.
"Are you okay?" Narelle asked, carefully approaching the dragon.  "Did you lose your mother?"
The dragon turned its head toward Narelle and let out a sigh, smoke rising from its nostrils.  It didn't frown--that would be silly, dragons can't frown, after all--but Narelle could tell it was lonely.  It opened its mouth and made a groaning sound.
"Are you hungry?" Narelle asked, tilting her head to the side.
The dragon groaned again and a bit more smoke rose from its nostrils.
Narelle patted its head and smiled.
"I'll be right back, okay?  Stay right here."
She ran through the woods, weaving her way between the trees, until she came to its edge and saw her house.  Her father was carrying firewood
  Three BrothersNot long ago, in a town not so different from ours, there live three brothers. The oldest was Don. He was very tall and very strong. The middle child was named Ron, and he was very smart. Like Don, Ron was also very tall.
The youngest was Jon. Unlike his brothers, Jon was not tall or strong or smart. He had to work harder at everything just to keep up with his classmates and his brothers. This made Jon a hard worker.
Like many older brothers, Don and Ron liked to play tricks on Jon. Despite their sometimes mean pranks, Jon wanted more than anything to be like his big brothers, so he followed them everywhere. Don and Ron did not like their little brother tagging along, but their mom often forced them to let him come.
One sunny summer day, Ron and Don went out to play in the park across from their house. “Take your little brother with you,” Mom ordered. The two boys groaned and moaned, but they knew arguing would do no good.
Exited to join them on an adventure, Job grabbed hi

I'm a bit behind, sorry. I'll try to post another one tomorrow or Sunday, and then on Monday and I should be fairly well caught up, I hope.

Anyway, as usual, here's my pick of 2014's FFM pieces from days 9 & 10. Enjoy!

WordsThe meeting of the support group was taking place in the Dusty Dictionary—a refuge from the world for the archaic and lesser-used words in the English Language.
“Who would like to start?” asked the group leader, poltroon. “Ruth, perhaps?”
The word quivered a little. “My name is ruth, and I’m an archaic word….” It gave a sob. “I’m so sorry…”
“Take your time,” said poltroon.
“It’s just so hard!” said ruth. “I haven’t worked in years, and I’m not sure I ever will again. But ruthless is constantly being employed. It doesn’t make any sense. How can people have ruthless without needing ruth?”
Dandled nodded sympathetically. “I rarely get any gigs nowadays myself. But when I do, I turn up and find dangled has pinched the job. ‘He dangled the baby on his knee.’ What the hell does that even mean? Sounds bloody dangerous to me.”
  Endless Hallways or Leading You in Circles“I’ll call you Vampie.”
The vampire glared at me. “What?”
“You seem like a Vampie,” I replied, dusting off the front of my mage robes. After dodging skeletons on the upper floors, we tried looking for a way out on the the lower ones. That was a mistake. These ruins were proving to be one giant maze where the exit could have already caved in. And my hair was getting in my face constantly. Whatever was in the air was making it all frizz. Why didn’t I think to bring a hair tie?
Vampie, as he was now dubbed, scowled. “Fine then, I’ll call you Mage-y, so long as we’re making up names.”
I shrugged back and quickened my pace down the dark hall. The small glowing ball from my spell rested on the end of my quarter staff and provided the only light this place had seen in years. Early in my education, I didn’t want to waste my time learning a “useless” light spell. Why waste magic energy when you have torche
  FFM 2014, July 9 - The ExperimentAnd the Gods breathed, and from their breath came the Aether. When the Cosmos was born, its power and mass was caught in the breath of the Gods and contained, moving no more than a few score miles from its inception point. Thus all matter and energy swirled in the aether, and the Gods went to work (for even Gods require clay which to mold). All was light, and all was good.
The Gods played, and made planets and suns and moons and comets, and with a flick of a godly wrist they sent them spiralling around one another, buoyed by the lumineferous aether. On some, the Gods fashioned animals and trees, and on some they made intellect to worship them.
Eventually the Gods departed, bored with their creation. The all-encompassing light disappeared with the Gods, and all that remained was the dim aether. Swirling through the remaining gods-breath, the intellects of one world gazed upon the intellects of another, and each blamed the other for the departure of their God. They set about to find a wa

Hail MaryThere was only one thing worse in Hollywood than being constantly hounded by paparazzi.  Being ignored by them.  Not only that, but being ignored while others less deserving got the attention.  That’s what Dean Tate thought, and there was nothing that could change his mind.
He sat at a cafe, a new tea shop on Sunset, watching black Tahoes cruise it up and down.  He knew who they were and what they were looking for.  It wasn’t him.  No one had been looking for him since 1998.  That town used to love a good scandal and it didn’t matter who was involved.  How times change.
His phone rang.  “Yes.”
“What do you think you’re doing.”
“The same thing I’ve been doing since you seem to refuse to want to find me work, Roger.  I’m sitting on my ass getting older.” Dean said, looking to see if anyone was listening.  He scooted a little closer to some tourists sitting nearby
  Accidents (FFM Day 9)Every evening, as the sun sinks below the mountains and the sky turns hazy with shadows, large metal shutters creak across the windows and doors.  Locks click-clack as the house settles, sighing heavily.  The company had explained this to Mariska when they showed her the place last week, just after the accident.  "It's for your own safety," they'd said.
Mariska sets a glass tumbler on the counter, clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth.  The freezer door sticks, a drawn out, whispering snick.  She digs a few ice cubes from the bin and pirouettes to the liquor cabinet.  A splash of gin finishes off her glass; she gulps it down.  Pours another for the road.
In the living room, the TV is hushed, a burble of noise running together.  She steps around stacks of boxes--some torn open and half empty, most untouched--and settles onto a sickly green love seat.  Errant clothes are strewn across the room, overflowing what little furniture she
  New Blood    Remy was on his way home from work when he came across the mugging in the alleyway. As he drew closer he caught the unmistakable scent of blood and sighed.
    He slipped into the alley and brought his hand down hard on the young vampire’s shoulder. The vampire turned on Remy, all fangs and hissing and posturing. Remy slapped him across the face.
    “Now stop that. I’m not here to steal your food. I’m here to save your unlife.”
    Before the vampire could respond, Remy thrust a handkerchief at him. “Clean yourself up. You look like a damned toddler.”
    That seemed to break through the bravado. While he cleaned himself off, Remy pulled out a pocket knife and ran it across the man’s throat, making sure to cut across the fang marks in the neck. A thin trickle of blood leaked from the cut, and Remy swore under his breath.
    “Were you starving? He’s damn near emp

Gone with the TideHer footprints remained in the sand long after she left, like her voice remained in my heart.  It’s been two years; the tide erased her a long time ago, but I can still see her there when I smell the salt of the sea and feel the wind whipping through my hair.
Charisma took me by the hand and I thought she’d never let go.  We were children on a playdate, tagging along with our mothers to the beach.  We shared sticks of rock candy and she showed me the beauty of sea glass.
“It’s formed by pieces of broken glass tumbling around in the ocean,” she explained.  “The best kind is from shipwrecks.  The glass is really old, and it’s the prettiest.  And there’s something so tragic about it.”
Our mothers would pace up and down the boardwalk, keeping an eye on us as we played in the sand and foamy waves.  As we grew up, they gave us more freedom.  Sometimes I’d have spending money and buy us ice cre
  FFM10: Kerfluffle at the CircusMarkos shoveled. He shoveled. He shoveled. The stall was clean and then Mr. Blimpie ruined everything. He pooped a mountain of poop. The trainer laughed. He liked to see them make more work for Markos. The trainer lead Mr. Blimpie back outside. Markos started again.
He shoveled. He shoveled. He shoveled. It wasn't his day to muck out the cages, but he did it anyway. When they asked, demanded, he did as he was told. Markos always does as he's told.
He shoveled. He shoveled. He shoveled. The smell was bad. He should have been used to it by now. They always made Markos shovel out the cages. Never anyone else, always Markos.
Mr. Blimpie trumpeted his annoyance to the passing crowd. Markos didn't care. It wasn't fair. He shoveled. He shoveled. He shoveled. Every day. They never let him do anything else. He knew how to juggle rubber balls. He knew how to juggle knives, but he still wasn't good enough for anything but this. They all said so. They laughed at Markos. They said he was dumb.
  Midlife Crisis III’ve had this hobby for a while, being a pigeon.  It started when Marjorie suggested I stay on at work past retirement age and keep her in the manner to which she had become accustomed.  I’ll be honest, to that point I hadn’t given much thought to my future.  I mean, I might have taken up fishing, got an allotment and pottered a bit in the shed, you know.  I assumed I’d retire, at least, but do something to keep myself out from under Marjorie’s feet.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job, either, but policing’s a young man’s game when all’s said and done.  You have to know when to call it quits and avoid becoming a laughing stock.  So anyway I didn’t give her an answer then and there; said I’d think about it.
I’d seen a documentary on Channel Four about a man who became a squirrel.  Well, I say became a squirrel.  It was a pretty poor effort if y

FFM#10 [Challenge] -- Send In The Clowns“Bloody hell, the elephant’s escaped.”
“What do you mean?
“What do you mean, ‘what do I mean?’? I mean, the bloody elehant’s gone and bloody escaped!”
“Alright, alright, don’t get snarky with me. Where’d it go?”
“Oh, just down the road for a tipple of whiskey. How should I know? Do I look like an elephant whisperer?”
“No, you look like a half-dressed clown.”
“And yet, I manage to be more of a professional than you, with your makeup done and your shoes on.”
“No need to be nasty.”
“Sorry, sorry, I’m just stressed. The elephant’s a big deal, you know.”
“I know. Look, here comes Sven. Let’s ask him. Hey, hey Sven!”
“Yes, little clown mans?”
“Have you seen the elephant anywhere?”
“Not of the days to yet. No.”
“Bastard, where the hell…"
“Don’t be swearsing me.”
  Circus of the Damned    Vigo waited behind the curtain for his act to be announced. The strong man always came after the trapeze artists, and his act ended when the clowns came and hounded him out of the ring.
    It was the same show every time, and Vigo hated every moment.
    He took to wondering if anyone in the audience recognized him, or any of the others. It was unlikely. The circus master made sure that it was a year or more before they came back to any city. If anyone ever figured it out...
    Far above him, the trapeze artists flipped and floated through the air, barely snatching their lives from the jaws of death by taking a hand, or grabbing the nearest trapeze bar. They were like birds in flight. But Vigo had eyes for only one.
    Christiana, the star of the troupe, spun and flipped through the air, her sequins glittering like the sea. His heart always soared when he caught sight of her.
    Once, she had favored him with a smile,
  FFM 2014, July 10 - Barnum's WeedThe old clown let out a clowd of smoke from his cigarette. His face was blotched white, big red lips, like it was all peeling off him. He was a part of the freak-show: the story was he'd used the wrong chemical once to clean his face, and it had seared the clown make-up permanently to his skin. It looked grotesque.
"Year musta been 1851. It was the middle of Lind mania, the sweet, shy girl from Sweden with her angel's voice making all that money for charities holding concert after concert. P.T. Barnum was her manager. I worked for him."
"As a clown?" The circues of Mr. Barnum were no better than his so-called museums. Dens of superstition and magic, swindling the gullible.
"Sweet lawd no. As his assistant. Mr. Barnum didn't have no clowns back then." The clown let out another cloud of distasteful smoke. He must have picked up the habit from some frenchman or Mexican. No proper American smoked cigarettes.
"Go on." I scribbled a few notes in my notebook.
"He called me into 'is office one

Mark of the ClownVölrug watched the world sway side to side, the rain soaring upwards and splashing into the river overhead. A string of rainbow handkerchiefs was all that kept him from falling into it too. It didn't look like the kind of fall a person survived.
Atop the bridge a circus caravan had pulled to a halt. Rain lashed the carriages. Corpses littered the road. From behind bars, lions stared hungrily at the dead brigands.
Raffles the clown perched on the wall of the bridge, juggling bandit knives as he watched the bandit leader swing. “Aren't we having fun?” he called down into the ravine.
“Please, I beg you, just let me go,” spluttered Völrug.
The clown glanced at the elephant holding the other end of the handkerchief rope and shook his head. “A remarkably poor choice of words,” he said. “I suggest you reconsider them while you answer our questions.”
The criminal stayed silent. The clown took this as acquiescence.
“Madame Zarathi
  Borrowed StrengthRona knows that she has no choice.
The king's men are close behind her. They have horses; she does not. She'll never make it to the bridge before they cut her off. And she can't afford to be caught, not now. She must cross the ravine, and if that means walking across the prayer-rope, well – she has no choice.
Rona has always liked heights. Whenever she could she climbed trees, and walked on walls, and stood as close to high edges – as the ravine's – as she could, without falling. Still, there is a difference between walking along a wall of stone and walking along a rope, however taut that rope is stretched. The prayer-rope is not meant to be walked on.
But she has no choice. Barefoot, she edges out onto the rope, holding her arms out for balance. With every step she can feel the air beneath her feet. She can't help looking down: the rapids below promise a swift death if she falls.
She takes a deep breath, trembling, and fixes her eyes on her goal. She is not a
  On The TenthThe haunted reflection disappeared slowly as Jack wiped his face clean, but the sad expression remained. He sighed, discarding the dirty cloth. This night has been the worst in a horrible week; he really didn't think he'd be able to continue much longer. The dead girls frequented his nightmares every night, screaming silently for help, their eyes widening in horror upon realizing they volunteered for real death. It's not that he minded killing; after all it was a regular part of the Horror Circus, one of the crowd's favorites, in fact, and something he's been doing for over a year. No, it was the fact that he actually knew the girls this time: they were the two bartenders who greeted him every time he came to drink away his guilty conscience. They silently offered him his regular drink, and not even once had asked questions.
What made them come to that night's show in the first place? He wondered. Usually, both worked the evening shifts; when he cared to think about it, he realized it

Hairball the ClownMy job is one people like to joke about, but it’s not half as easy as it looks.  I’m a clown.  White face paint, red nose, crazy, rainbow wig, the works.  I wear humungous shoes, slip on banana peels, and do the most difficult thing in the world to do: make people laugh.
When I was a kid, my teachers would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I’d always say I wanted to be a clown.  I’d get teased—“Oh, perfect, you already have the frizzy red hair!”—or people wouldn’t believe me—“Aren’t you a little too serious to be a clown?”
But, what could I say?  It was my dream.  I grew up going to the circus year after year, attending fairs and carnivals, watching all the different clowns’ styles as they made me giggle.  I yearned for the opportunity to go to clown school and learn all the secrets to comedy—everything from timing to the art of falling flat on y
  FFM 10: The Circus“So what do you think of the new guy?”  The ringmaster grinned, slicing off a bit of apple.
“Which one?”  Mazin asked, peering over his half-moon glasses to examine the midway games.  He was already dressed for his next show, complete with a Flintstone style tiger fur.
“The black kid.  Over there at the ring toss.”
The strongman adjusted his glasses.  “He’s not black.  He’s of African American descent.  ‘Black’ carries societal connotations that imply ev—“
“Spare it, big guy.  We hired you for your muscles not your political correctness.  What do you think about him?”  Dramache grinned playfully, baring interlocked shark teeth.
“Well,” Mazin the Colossal tapped a sausage-sized finger against his chin and shrugged.  “Seems like a good kid.  Disciplined.  Sharp, too.  I don’t think he’ll stick

Here's your next look at my pick of FFM this year! Days 7 & 8.

FFM 2014 7: Mama and the FlowersI'm always dreaming about the flower garden. Back when we had that big house in the province, Mama and I would play there every day. She liked to hide there from Papa, who was always raging like a rabid water buffalo, so to cheer her up I'd make her garlands from fallen blooms to wrap around her neck or to weave into her hair. Mama loved that garden more than anything. More than even me. She'd work at the soil, digging it up, patting it down, and very soon pretty fragrant things would pop up as if from nowhere. She said she had a Midas touch, but instead of gold, everything she touched turned green. She said I'd inherit her green thumb someday. I laughed and clapped my hands. There was nothing in the world I wanted more.
Papa did not share our love for all things green. Whenever he'd come home from overseeing the rice fields and bossing around the farmers, he'd prowl the house and look for Mama so he could start bossing her around too. One day, Mama had ignored his screaming for too lo
Two to TangoEdmund had already got the first round in and found a table by the time Cuthbert arrived. Edmund held up a hand in greeting, and Cuthbert made his way over. He sat down heavily next to Edmund and his shoulders slumped.
“Mary let you come out then?” said Edmund.
“Yeah,” said Cuthbert. He took a swig from his pint and set the glass down again. “To be honest, we needed a break from each other. She’s gone to play a game with her netball team. Keeping fit, you know, for…”
“Right,” said Edmund. “How are things going with..?”
“Trying for the baby?” Cuthbert sighed. “It could be worse I suppose. All the tests came back negative—there’s no medical reason we can’t have a child.”
“That’s brilliant!” said Edmund.
“But now we’ve been referred to a specialist,” said Cuthbert. He groaned. “She’s checking to see if we’re doing ‘th
  FFM day sevenMy first bone clock was made from a stray dog.  I found him flea-crawling, skin crumpled and raw where he had gnawed away clots of fur.  Rib-thin and limping, he dragged himself into a scrawny copse and lay on his side panting.  Miserable thing, close to dying.  For a while I sat on the dirt and watched his skinny chest heaving and collapsing and swelling as if every breath was his last.  I pictured bees with broken wings, rusted cogs and leaking wires, kitchen lights flickering, batteries dribbling acid.  Little machines continuing lopsided.  
Such grim purpose.  I felt a type of sad.  
I wrung his neck until it snapped and cradled his body home.  
Horology was a family business.  Mother made the finest pocketwatches, delicate brass gears layered perfect inside gold cases.  Clockwork mouths, full of tiny teeth.  They were so beautiful.
I made clocks for her.  They were inferior copies.  I'd bring them to her be
  FFM '14.07 ToolsFreddie bit his lip to distract himself from the bead of sweat that rolled down his nose. Not only did he not want to shift his concentration, he didn’t have the hands to do so, as they were both occupied with the delicate task before him.
Bit by bit, he maneuvered the cutters into place, and after triple-checking to make sure they were where he wanted them, he forced them closed.
He saw that it wasn’t going to work almost immediately, but the bolt cutters were too heavy for him to risk dropping just to save the jar from falling. Then came the tinkle of breaking glass, and the sink was once again filled with glass shards and brine.
“Goddammit, Freddie,” his wife hollered from the living room, “just give up! You’re never going to open a pickle jar with bolt cutters!”

FFM7: Game OnJim floated above his corpse.
“Well this is a fine kettle of fish,” he said.
The zombies continued to gnaw at his body. It was hard to watch. Jim had just been running for his life a few moments earlier. Now that he was dead, he didn't know what to do with himself.
“Hey, Jim! Over here!”
He swiveled, surprised to hear his name. Hear? He didn't have ears anymore so that probably wasn't the right word. Sensed maybe.
“They got you too, huh?”
A wispy figure appeared. It bore a vague resemblance to the group's mechanic, Mike. They'd lost him early on in the zombie apocalypse when a tire blew on the bus. Those had been the days. They'd still had a flicker of hope in their bellies. They'd still had a bus.
“Hey, Mike, long time, huh,” Jim said, “I guess I'm not as fast as I said I was.”
“Sucks, don't it? Anyway, we've got a game going, thought you might be interested. There's not much to do otherwise.”
  Stitching the World Together    A tear was forming in the fabric. A man and his wife were drifting apart. Quickly she rifled through her bin, selected the red thread of love, passed it through her needle, and stitched the tear closed again.
    But even before she finished that repair, an earthquake had destroyed thousands of homes along the coast. She pulled out a purple thread for compassion and pulled the rift together. On the radio, the DJ announced that countries from all over the world were coming together to provide aid to the stricken country.
    At the edge, a bit was fraying. Someone was alone and hurting. For this she chose the blue thread of peace and hoped it held. More often than not, it didn’t.
    Over on the other side, a patch had come loose. Drought had stricken an area, putting them at risk of starvation. From her scraps she pulled a green patch for life and sewed it into the fabric. Weather reporters forecast rain that night for the first time in
  That Which Slept a Thousand YearsIt had slumbered for a thousand years, buried beneath the earth, awaiting the moment when it would roam free once more. Its dreams, as it slept, were of weird and eldritch things; and when it turned in its slumber the people above fell to writing and painting and murder, and to weeping. There was madness lurking on its breath. The beating of its hearts drummed fear into the minds of men, even from far below the ground.
In the thousandth year of its slumber a farmer unearthed a part of the great shell in which it rested: and seeing that he had come upon a great shining orb of unknown substance and (doubtless) great worth, he hastened at once to the palace of his prince to report his find. The prince received his report with great interest. He sent an army of men to excavate the thing at once; and for himself he retired to his library, to see whether any oracle had foretold of this great thing that shone beneath his kingdom, and what joys and sorrows it might bring him.
On the first day

No VacanciesPeter felt a headache building steadily behind his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to close them for a few hours – maybe even a few days. Unfortunately, he was on duty as Supervisor and would be for the foreseeable future; his only replacement was currently vacationing in a parallel dimension after pulling a decade-long shift himself.
The source of the headache seemed to lack any sympathy for him or his plight. Amazing how a soul could go from satisfied awe to spitting fury in the time it took to apologize and say, “there is no room in the Inn.”
Perhaps a joke hadn’t been the best initial course of action.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but there’s really nothing we can do,” he tried to explain once more, keeping his voice level. “Heaven unexpectedly ran out of housing three days ago. We have construction crews working on it, but demand is, so far, outstripping supply. There’s a waiting list a mile long and it’s gotte
  FFM 2014: Last Rites and BureaucracyBrian was not amused.
He’d been up and down the building forty five times, taking elevators, dingy stairwells, and service lifts to outdated storerooms. He’d even had to use a fireman’s pole at one point when trying to access a particularly hard-to-get to part of administration, but all to no avail. The backlog was massive, stupefying, horrendous. It was like being stuck inside that Terry Gilliam film, what was it called… Brazil. Yes. Full of paperwork and frightening typewriters, with pale office clerks rushing too and fro wearing twitchy expressions.
When he’d set off that morning he’d expected it to be a piece of cake. There had been no existential dread, no worry, after all he’d been transferred before and it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. He’d received his ticket at the door and headed straight up to the top floor, as instructed. But then the imperious fellow in the upstairs waiting room with the ridiculous name tag
  Marble Memories (FFM Day 7)In a room of bone clocks, she cradles a soul in her palms.  The last gasps of his life are hydrangea peach, flickers of fire reflecting off the crystals hanging from each timepiece.  Amber chews on her lip, gaze jumping from wall to wall.  She pushes a thick sheaf of honey-blonde hair from her face, thinking.
When the test results came back, they'd covered every angle.  He obtained a DNR and found a doctor willing to help him pass quick and painless.  He begged for cremation, and left her instructions.  He wanted to be a firework; he told her who to invite, and where to send him off, and what song to sing as the colors of his ashes faded into the night.  
They never discussed what to do after.  What to do with his soul.
Amber started with Heaven.  He'd always been a gentle, kindly man.  He'd take the shirt off his back for the homeless in the winter; he'd set families up in hotel rooms if funds were tight and they needed to get away.

Clockwork BonesA miniscule dot moved over the horizon. The little dot grew into a beach mouse as it skittered along the coast avoiding the ever present crash of waves that washed over the bleached sandy shore. In the early hours the sun had barely stretched its arms over the horizon. The little mouse stopped to smell the air and was caught in the playful splash of the next swell. She spun around in the sea foam as the water soaked her fur.
When she came to a stop her tiny body sat atop a hard surface. It was white and aged, buried in the soft powdery sand. With her little paws she dusted the granules away to reveal the orbit of where an eye once rested. In the next wave the entire skull resurfaced; a lone relic of a wicked world. She peered at the thing, oblivious to the life it once held. She slid off the smoothed bone and landed alongside the broken time-piece. A crack the size of her body etched into the skull echoed of trauma once suffered.
Ever constant, the sea came again. She patted her way do
  Jeremy's Plight - FFM 2014 Day 7"Sir, you've got a prayer on line 1."
"Ugh, can you put it on hold or something?"
"Sorry, sir, it's the Prime Minister of the Catholic Church; he's got priority."
"Fine, fine." He answered the phone. "Yes, my son? Uh-huh. Uhhh-huh. Okay. Got it. Just tell them to stop hatin' on my flock. After all, no matter who you are, you are united as my children. Love ya, Francis; bless you later."
He was known by many names. God, Allah, Jehovah, Elohim, Brahman, but honestly, he just preferred Jeremy. Jeremy was the CEO of Heavenly Afterlifes, and had been since the dawn of time. Some things never change. Including the problems.
Like right now, for instance, he was getting bomarded with prayers. Has been for the past two thousand years. Humanity has had some hard times since he decided a hands-off approach to his business was the best way to about things. He hired so many angels for the reception area, but there never seems to be enough.
And now, thanks to that pesky industrial revolution a coupl
  FFM#8 [Challenge] -- Passivity"Seriously, you need to clean this shit up."
"Clean what shit up?
"Ha. I can understand your confusion, since it's pretty fucking difficult to pinpoint exactly where the shit ends and the actual fixtures of the room begin."
"Oh fuck," Gary drew out the vowel like a phone-call doodle. "You've got that pissy tone in your voice again. Calm your farm man."
Damien tried to visualise a farm that he could calm. But even in his mind's eye the rolling cornfields were covered in chip packets, and Gary sat slouched in a sun-weathered rocking chair, smoking a joint with a video game controller inexplicably in hand.
"Fuck my farm. How can you even live like this?"
Gary contrived to stretch out even further on the couch, knocking some dreg-filled beer bottles onto the floor. "What do you care? You got a sweet deal here. Rent's cheap."
Damien practised his pointed look.
"Look, my brothers are in active duty, man. It's stressful. Ha!" He pointed at the projected television screen, "Check out this blow

FFM8: The End of UsShip stopped talking. There was nothing more to do. We failed---I failed.
The lights flickered as the emergency generators kicked on. The main engines were gone, the hangar doors were stuck up, clogged by desperate, uninvited passengers. I couldn't even begin to guess if any of them were infected.
Most of them probably were, and when they finally turned, they'd tear the ship apart, devouring it until nothing was left. Mutated fingers would find their ways into the live sockets. They'd short out the current and send the virus deep into the ship. When it reached the air vents and life support control, it would transform to a gas. It would pump into the holds, the crew quarters, the main bridge and everyone would breathe it in. Earth's last hope for survival would die right here, never making it into orbit.
“Captain, what should we do?”
I fished the flask of scotch out of my breast pocket. I'd been saving it for the launch, to celebrate. My hands shook as I unscrewed the lid.
   The Fifth Horseman“I'm not saying they're not killing each other,” I explain. “I can see from the figures in front of me that they're killing each other. What I'm saying is that unless you can broaden your demographic, we're never going to meet our targets for this quarter. This is supposed to be a world war, Belgium and the Netherlands isn't going to cut it.”
War squawks at me down the phone. It's hard to hear him over all the screaming in the background, but frankly I'm not interested in his excuses, I need to see results.
“What do I expect you to do? Do your job! Think outside the box! Look, Famine is in Europe right now, why don't you ask him for some help? I see the potential for synergy there. No, I'm aware you don't do 'asking for help'. I'm also aware of your performance over the past century, and I'm noticing some startling correlation between- hello? Hello?”
I slam the handset back into its cradle, which is a lot harder than it sounds when done from the back

Last Minute Shopping    It had been an unremarkable Tuesday at the petrol station until Pestilence—of Four Horsemen fame—came in and started leafing through a magazine. He didn’t exactly have a “Hello, my name is...” tag pinned to his robe, but it was pretty obvious to look at him. Limp hair, pale, pock-marked face, bow was like he had every disease in the world, and was only alive because all of them were tripping over each other trying to kill him. “Three Stooges Syndrome,” I think they call it. But that probably wasn’t it.
    He must have realised I was staring because he said: “Sorry. I know this isn’t, like, a library, but I sent a letter in to the Agony Aunt a while back and I want to see if they’ve printed a response.”
    “Oh, right,” I said. “No, that’s okay.” As a rule, I didn’t take issue with people having a quick ski
  Tantrum Tremors (FFM Day 8)God, reincarnated and still bundled in diapers, throws himself to the floor and screams.  A giraffe chewy falls from his mouth; his hands beat against the blue-gray linoleum.  Stricken, his nursemaids and I rush to soothe him, cursing.  Holy or not, two-year-old God is a terror.
The morning started off fine.  He'd managed to Houdini his way out of the crib--and the locked nursery--before the sun tinged the clouds with highlights, leaving a trail of milk through Heaven.  He got halfway to Earth before the night shift, cross and tired, caught up with him and passed him over.  He'd finger-painted his oatmeal across his highchair and dropped his Snoopy sippy cup just to be funny.  He'd then settled in to watch his favorite movie:  Finding Nemo.  Nestled on my lap, he'd spent the first part of the movie dozing.
Just as Dory was begging Marlin not to leave her, not to let her forget, God went looking for his ratty, hand-me-down blanket--and came b
  The Curious Case of Benjamin Bunge    There once was a man named Benjamin Bunge. He was really smart, and all sorts of people came to him with their problems. One of these people was Wobble-leg Wenda, who liked the idea of skiing but was woefully bad at it.
    “Try bungee jumping instead,” offered Benjamin Bunge. “Anyone can go bungee jumping.”
    So she did, and it was lots of fun.
    A few days later, Benjamin Bunge met Sweaty-hands Saul, who figured he was pretty good at basketball...until he got kicked off the team.
    “Why not try bungee jumping?” As Benjamin Bunge pointed out, “Anyone can go bungee jumping.”
    So he did, and it was lots of fun.
    A few days after that, Benjamin Bunge bumped into Warty Wilfred, whose modelling career just didn’t seem to be taking off for some reason.

FFM 7. PromisesOne hand on her sword, Hetya stood on the cliff overlooking the world at the edge of town. The innkeeper, and his son, pleaded with her to spend a second night, claiming an approaching storm would hinder her journey through the plain. She told them her family anxiously awaited her return, as unexpected as it might be, and then she promised to return and repay her thanks. She always kept her promises.
A single star winked on the horizon. Miles of rolling hills stretched beneath the cliff. The final light of day blinked out behind the girl with a flash of green, briefly illumining the low wisps of clouds in the west. The clear night showed no threat of ill weather. A light breeze ruffled her hair. She smiled.
A grey obelisk rose up on the edge of the cliff next to her, tapered to a point. Smaller stones encircled the memorial. The inscription ran like fire when she closed her eyes. Here lies Hetya Stone. A daughter, a warrior. Where winter dies, spring is born.
She adjusted the st
  Happy AccidentsSometimes I wake up in the morning, blink against the blue light coming in the window, and forget for just a second that the rest of the world is dead.
When I was a kid, I read stories about how some of the best inventions and discoveries resulted from accidents. “Happy accidents,” my mom called them. I grew up hoping that one day I would be a scientist, and “accident” into something incredible. I achieved my goal—I’m not unhappy and it was something incredible.
Three months ago, I walked into my lab like I do every day, coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other, ready to work. An hour later, the entire lab went up in a puff of green smoke. I managed to make it to my safety bunker before the explosion went off, but by the time it was safe to emerge, the damage had been done.
I stayed in the bunker a month, waiting for my detector to tell me that it was safe to exit. When it still hadn’t gone off after a month and my food supplies were running

I know there's a lot, but as always, please give them a chance. You won't be sorry. ;)

Time for some more FFM features! :) Here are my pick of days 5 & 6 from this year's FFM.

  FFM 2014, July 5 - BoxesThe answering machine was blinking red. Elaine stared at it. Aside from the streetlight through the blinds, it was the only thing with a light on in the apartment. There was nothing to turn on. Everything was in boxes. Her sofa, her bed, all covered in boxes. She’d tried to unpack, after her brother had left with the rental van, but somehow every thing she pulled out of the damned boxes reminded her of him. Of them. The worst was the box with all the framed pictures – why had she even packed them? Elaine felt the tears well up again. For the last week all she’d done was cry, until her migraines became pre-emptive.
No. No. This was not how she’d spend her first night away from that cheating, no good piece of shit. She’d broken free now, and even though she had no job or prospects, and a family two states away (her brother, bless his soul, was probably halfway through Washington by now), she wasn’t going to just lie around and cry. Elaine got up

Harry's Silver LiningThere was a crisp in the air that could charm all five senses.  Harry was glad that, on the anniversary of the restaurant he shared with his partner, Karen, it was a nice clean slate to start another year.  He put on coffee to brew and thought scrambled eggs with mixed herbs and mascarpone would be a good way to punctuate the day.
“Ugh, these things…”  Harry’s eyes were watering more than usual.  He wasn’t used to his new contact lenses.  He went to the bathroom, took them out, rinsed them and put them back in.  His doctor said there’d be a time of adjustment but it would get better the more he wore them.
The manic, metallic shriek of the back door’s alarm brought an end to his daydreaming.  Harry leapt from his post at the cash register and ran down the hall to see what the problem was.  Karen was in the doorway, bags of groceries weighing hard in the crook of both arms, trying to bring back the quiet.
  FFM 5. Making History“Is the bedchamber prepared?”
A guttering torch flickered as the two men passed down the long corridor, speaking in hushed tones. They met no one in the halls - the hour was late and the palace staff were in their beds. They reached a tall window at the end of the hall and paused. The taller man of the two brushed aside the heavy curtains and looked up at the stars above. Everything was in place, even the twinkling lights in the heavens. Just as prophesied.
“Yes, my lord,” the other said quietly. “Your wife has been moved and the women are on hand to help her.”
“Has she gone into labour yet?”
“No, but I am sure it will be soon.” The other man shifted anxiously, wringing his hands. “My lord, if I may...are you positive it is this child?”
Lord Darimer turned to face his companion. “Would I be a fool to believe otherwise?”
“No, but-” the man stammered.
Lord Darimer raised a hand to silence him.
  The Days I'll RememberJuly 5, 1968
It was on a scorcher of a summer afternoon I first saw my new neighbor.  She wore a white sun dress that contrasted beautifully with her chocolate skin.  I watched her with curiosity from the porch as she helped her parents move boxes into the house.  She had eyes with irises so dark, they blended with her pupils, and looked altogether black.  They were eyes that were hardened by all the times life had disappointed her.
Papa lurked behind the screen door and said to get back inside and help my mama with supper.  I had a sack of potatoes to peel, and he didn't want me outside after dark anymore.
April 8, 1969
It was an all right school year.  I didn't like my history teacher, Mrs. Aldenberg.  She couldn't seem to get over the fact that the Confederacy lost the war, and sometimes I'd catch her complaining to other teachers about the integration mandate.  She didn't want to teach a bunch of niggers,

But He's My Friend“Pa, no! No! I don’t want you to shoot him,” a little boy cried out from his mother’s arms, as she tried to hush him.
“I don’t want to shoot him either, Willie, but you know I’ve got to. The hail blinded him – what use is a blind horse?” His father pulled the pistol out from its drawer. “He won’t suffer.”
“He’s my friend! You can’t kill him. You can’t, please, just – let me see if he gets better. You don’t know that he’s no use, you haven’t let him try to do anything yet.”
“Hush, child. You wouldn’t want to be left like that, would you?” His mother stroked his hair as he spoke.
He struggled out of her hold. “He could pull a wagon still! I’d just have to train him right. Please. I’ll do anything. Just don’t kill him.”
His father shook his head.  
  Daddy NixonToday, my mother believes I am the byproduct of her illustrious affair with Richard Nixon.
“Gwendolyn!” She calls from the living room, a newscaster voice behind her. “Your father is on TV! Come see, oh, he’s so handsome!”
I groan from the kitchen, trying to consume my breakfast banana in peace. “Mom, I’m eating.” I call back.
She barges in, grabs my arm, and takes me into the living room anyway. Once close enough to the TV, she abandons me to caress the television screen where Richard Nixon is speaking.
“Look at that face!” She’s half yelling. “You look just like him!”
Richard Nixon looks like a pig, but I don’t tell her that. I also don’t point out that I look nothing like him. I’m not sure why my mother has various fits of psychotic senselessness, but I do know that her wealthy, Orthodox parents tried to get her exorcised several times. And put her in institutions. I’m not sure how
  The TestWhen Master Ystrum was announced as this year’s examiner, more than half of the young hopefuls immediately withdrew their names from the lists, citing second thoughts as to how ready they were, how another year of study would do them good, how they’d somehow accidentally overlooked such-and-such class when they’d first started out.
Some called those who refused to back out foolish optimists. This was untrue; there wasn’t an optimist alive who could have survived the deep gloom that settled over the remaining handful when their examiner revealed the nature of the enchantment that would grant a successful wizard’s advancement.
“You may have heard tales of musical enchantments,” he had said, stalking slowly across the stage, sharp grey eyes piercing each student in turn. “Harps that play themselves. Gilded birds that sing more sweetly than any living nightingale. Lullaby boxes that can put anything with ears to sleep in minutes. Parlor tr

The Devil's GymnasiumAgnes stumbled over the threshold as she entered the building, and her round face lit with a dull blush. Against the background of grunts, groans, and sobs, she could hear the soft titter from the front desk. As she made her ungainly way towards the elegant U-shaped console, she stared at the floor to avoid meeting the eyes of the smirking receptionist. "Can I help you?" The words were, as expected, polite. The tone, however, dripped derision.
"I'd like a membership, please." The mumble barely carried over the constant murmur of sound from the room beyond the reception area.
"What was that?" She could hear the barely repressed laughter, could feel the skin on her face tighten and heat as yet another blush suffused her cheeks. Raising her head, though not her eyes, she repeated herself. "Oh. Yeah, I suppose you would. Well, we've got three kinds of membership. There's the standard membership -  you can come in as much as you want during the week, use any of the equipment, but you g
  Insignificance"Humans are simply insignificant. The imminent destruction of their race is irrevocable."
The words mingled like the whimpers cast by torn bits of shredded papers. Three bodies stood erect, side by side with their long coats brushing against each other and creating sparks of friction. Not one of them looked at another, all too focused on the clear glass cast in front of them.
"Agreed," said the one on the far right. His lips fought each other in a battle of oppression, and pensive creases flaunted his brow. "They are mere ants compared to the might of our race. We are superior, and destiny calls for our destruction of the planet they call Earth."
The first speaker, the tallest, nodded in agreement. His goatee crawled at his neck, and between the two creatures, a smaller one shoved his tiny hands against the glass. Before them laid the universe, and at their deft fingertips all planets bowed down. The tap of a nail on this glass could mean the death of millions, and a shove too violent
  FFM 2014: GenesisAt 216 years of age I am still the youngest member of my family.
The margin is minimal by our standards, usually eclipsing a span of several hundred years or more. A blink of an eye for us, all things considered, though at my age it is still a vast and immeasurable distance.  Another hundred years or so and there would normally be another, but things are different now, and consequently far less certain.
There has been a another death; the fourth in recent memory, and such is the largeness of the space we occupy that any absence must be redressed or risk upsetting the careful balance of things that we serve to hold in place. Usually it is a natural process, un-hurried and careful. But the deaths have never happened in such quick succession before, and suddenly we are all adrift.
For every death, there must be a life. There is no other way.
The family was gathering for the funeral, and would start flying in the following morning. I’d arrived a few days earlier to help with the

GrindingGale Gullwing Levelled Up! Received 324 shim.
“What the actual fuck, Siegmund?” said Gale.
A knight in full armour turned to look at him through his expressionless visor.
“Take that helmet off this instant. Equip your goddamn Cat Ears.”
The knight's helmet squeaked from side to side in rebuff. “I'm not fighting dragons while wearing Cat Ears, I need the extra defence. I like my Mythril Helm.”
“Those cat ears contain an incredibly powerful technique.”
“You bought them for 150 shim in the Oglop village. What technique?”
“Rodent Killer.”
The knight let the silence roll out, allowing the stupidity to echo across the plains. “Rodent Killer,” he repeated, deadpan.
“It confers 150% damage against rodents.”
“How much of a threat are these rodents, Gale? Is that extra 50% really necessary?”
“It doesn't matter if you're going to use it or not. We're learning every techn
  SphinxletsThey were the only two of their kind, and as they did not like each other very much, their relationship was volatile.  The result was three babies.  Their mother called them Empress, Pharaoh and Deity.  Their father left before they were born.  He knew they existed, however, and he intended to visit them when he had time.
Empress’s first words were, ‘I’m bored.’  A few days letter she said, ‘Why can’t we ever do anything?’
‘Our task is to stay here,’ her mother, the Egyptian Sphinx, said, ‘and watch over these people.’
Empress turned her nose up at this, and went to play-fight with Deity.  Deity, being the smallest, knew that she had no hope of winning and every chance of getting hurt.  She folded her wings and took refuge in a cave cut into the landscape.  Empress tried to dig her out with her paw.
Pharaoh, who had already grown to almost twice the size of his sisters, clim
  FFM 6. ImprisonedQueria huddled in the corner of her damp cell. Dark ringlets framed her cherub-like face, dark skin muddied and marked here and there with shallow cuts. She eyed the door, lit by the sliver of pale light filtering through the high window near the ceiling. Thick iron bars reinforced the wood.
Footsteps echoed in the hallway beyond the door. Shadows passed by the crack between the floor and the bottom of the door. A key twisted in the lock, grinding against the rust.
Queria shrank back, clutching the amethyst pendant around her neck. The stone winked in her small hands, shining with an ethereal glow. She felt its pulse beneath her fingers, matching her own heartbeat, as the door opened.
A tall man stood in the doorway. His familiar robes dusted the ground as he stepped forward, watching Queria scramble to her feet. She held out a palm defensively, ineffectively.
The man chuckled. “How delightful you are,” he chirped. He halted in the centre of the circular cell, tapping a per

Instincts GymAs humans, only about 50% of our total lung capacity is available for our use while at rest. But even though we have 50% that we can use, we usually use only about 15% of our full lung capacity. We don’t use the rest of our lung capacity because we don’t have to. That’s just reserved for life or death situations, like if you’re running from a collapsing building.
In some cases, people will gain inhuman strength if their life depends on it. Face it, humans are selfish creatures – they’re made to be – and here at our gym, we embrace this factor. You want to lose weight? Sure thing! You want that bikini body? No problem; you will lose that weight in no time at our gym.
You see, here we have an exclusive, extensive workout program that is guaranteed to get your heart pumping, your adrenaline cruising, and you weight slipping off of you with that sweat. You are guaranteed to use your full lung capacity, maximize your strength, and unlock those survi
  Studying Wishes (FFM Day 6)Wishes.
People make them all the time--on bones, on weeds, on stars, on time.  People take them for granted, wish for things out of fear or desperation or, in most cases, boredom.  Only weeks after the incident, Trytion wishes people would just stop wishing.  He doesn't dare speak these words aloud--people are always left wanting, and wishing is natural.  Besides, he'd wished for something once.  Just out of the hospital, right after the accident.  He'd been waiting to cross the street, his head pounding with incessant voices, his knees still weak and knocking.  He hadn't been thinking.  The road is still littered with the abandoned skeletons of broken cars.  The city is a graveyard of metal, left rusting in the elements.
Trytion holds a hand out, examining the hazy green tinge of his fingernails in the sunlight.  Hiphop blares from his earbuds--a pretense, really.  He hears any wish made, listening or not.
  Worst Super PowerHis first wish was easy: lots of money. Everyone wanted to be a billionaire.
The second wish was a little harder, but he chose to never get sick again.
His third wish, on the other hand, didn’t come to him for several days. He thought it over long and hard before finally settling on super powers. He couldn’t pick just one super power, though, so he told the genie to give him a really amazing super power. One that would surprise everyone and no one would ever have thought to ask for.
He should have been more specific.
Ten year old Luke sat in class, fighting it. Squirming in his chair, he could feel it working its way to the surface. It always took all his will to keep his powers from coming out. He had to keep it under control. He didn’t want to get in trouble again. Why hadn’t he just picked super strength or flight? Everyone would have thought he was cool with those powers.
Luke shot six feet up in the air, then landed on his feet right next to

FFM 05: TemperatureJuly 5th was the hottest day of the year.
Vivan knew this, as she had kept track ever since her first suspicions, at age 11. She had just then started to be able to perfect her knack of reading temperatures.
“It’s so hot,” complained Evelyn. She fanned herself, sweating in black sweater and skirt. Her brother had been a soldier. “It must be at least 90 degrees today!”
“92 degrees,” Vivan corrected absently. She had averted her gaze from a bright couple of sweethearts who were very much in love. She didn’t have anything against love, but the way it drew all the heat to one’s face was alarming to her. Vivan’s only brother had died of fever, and she had never been able to shake the memory of watching his temperature to rise and rise and rise, only to cool to nothing.
Evelyn, who should have known better than to comment on the weather, rolled her eyes. She mouthed the words along with Vivian.
“It could be worse, you know.
  Becoming a ManThe day my mother brought home a brand new book for my brother, I knew something had happened. He was too young to know, though. “Aces!” he yelled, grinning, when she put it in his hands.
I didn’t look at him; I looked at her. The joy of the gift didn’t mask the sorrow in her eyes. The deep wrinkles branched out from the corner of her eyes like leafless winter branches, and the exhaustion etched in the lines on her forehead read loud and clear.
Somehow I knew, without a word. I waited until she walked into the kitchen and followed her. “He died, didn’t he?”
She let out a shaky breath and started putting the other things she’d brought home away. “I can’t hide anything from you, can I?”
“Late last night.” She set down a magazine, and I glanced at the back cover. Ham in a can. I wondered what it tasted like for a second before I remembered what we were discussing.
“So what now?”

Hello again friends, and here's my favourites from this year's FFM days 3 & 4!

FFM 2014 3: berries and beerblacky & i are singing disney tunes & wielding empty beer bottles like swords except they keep breaking & fuck now my hands are dripping blood stained like berries down my shirt or maybe just maybe they're actual berries stained like blood because i think we ate raspberry cheesecake while blacky was having a crying jag about some doctor person who didn't love her anymore & i slurred is she a gynecologist who examined your vajayjay & you fell in love when she lay a hand on your slumbering beastie & that finally got her to laugh or was that last weekend because all our drinking dates go the same way but
i'm not that drunk really i'm not because yeah i mean we did drink a bottle or two but hey you gotta act drunk & happy with your drunk & sad friends to make them seem not alone in this big bad ugly world & blacky's problem is no one loves her which i never got because how can you not love someone as drunken fun as her & i tell her that & she kisses me thank you on the mouth & i kiss her b
  In a JamThis was his jam; turning up the volume Matt returned to the task in front of him. Gripping the frame of the air duct, he grabbed the piece of tubing that had lodged in between the fan blades. Yanking on it he managed to wrench it free, tossing it over his shoulder with little thought before diving back in.
He was barely able to tighten a screw before something hit his back, just below the ribs. “The hell was that?” he griped, pulling a headphone out of his ear as he turned to see Siri standing there, arms crossed.
“Hey Matt,” she said slowly. “Came to tell you dinner is ready.” She pursed her lips and stuck out a foot to widen her stance. “Can I ask what you’re doing that made you think it was cool to take my tool kit? Been looking for that soldering iron over there.” With a cluck of her tongue she tilted her head to indicate the large box next to his knee.
With an overwhelming sense of dread, Matt examined the damage; the contents
  Painted Swans (FFM Day 3)Water drips off the points of my toes, a puddle of tears collecting.  Green grass shifts and sways a foot below me.  Arms held like wings, I catch glimpses of my skirt billowing around my knees as I float on the wind.
Bodies lay scattered like rose petals.  I don't remember who the people are; smashed in like tin foil, their faces are no help.  I remember jewelry, and clothing, and the harsh words they'd screamed between the gasps of my breaths.  My long hair is still damp, tangled like seaweed down my back, from when they'd tried to drown me.  
I peel flecks of blood and brain from my arms with jagged, clawed fingernails.  They'd broken on the rocks, as if I could dig them in and keep myself from slipping down.  Bruises rim my wrists, my ankles.  When I swallow, I feel wasps in my throat.  The clothes, shredded and hanging in tatters on my body, reek of wood burners and day-old rice stuck to the bottom of the pan.  
A row of littl

<da:thumb id="465307093"/>  MonstersThere are monsters in the corner. I can see them; their eyes a bright golden yellow, shining like a cat’s in the dark. I can’t take my eyes off of them because if I do, they’ll move.
“Are you even listening to me?” she asks.
I can’t look at her but I know I have to otherwise she’ll think I’m crazy. “Yes,” I say quietly. I turn back to the corner and they’re gone. The eyes have vanished and there’s nothing there to prove they ever existed. But I know they were there because they’ve been with me my whole life.
“I have to leave for a week, are you going to be OK on your own?” she asks, her hands on her hips.
I nod, still not taking my eyes away from the corner. They’ve gone and I find myself praying to a god I don’t believe in for them not to come back. I look back at her trying to find some solace in her eyes but she’s just frowning at me. I wonder what she thinks of me? Does she t
  Down, Down, DownYou had to hand it to the folks in the justice system, they sure had a way of making it sound like everything they said was law. Incontrovertible truth: whatever they wanted it to be, that was the whole reason they existed, right? Law.
Seventeen years I'd been in that motherfucking cell, waiting either for the day I got out or, well, the other one. But they couldn't kill a man they couldn't find, not for a crime I didn't commit - hell, not even for all the damn crimes I did commit! Screw it all.
The road in front of me is dark and the car I've stolen is warm, but the hallways - no, wait - the headlights are bright, and the forests on either side look like brick walls. Yeah, brick walls you can't see through, you can't touch, no, no, no -
My hands are locked on the wheel, of course. Escaping was easier than they knew, easier than they thought. I didn't kill that girl, honest, really, she was dead when I found her. I might have picked her up. I could never remember exactly what ha

Right. Well, I’m all settled in now—time to get back to the diary. Let me see…
The house isn’t bad—small but comfortable. Quiet area. And one of my new neighbours is sweet. I love the way he calls me Miss Smith and I call him Mr. Thorpe. Charmingly old-fashioned. Not sure about the man on the other side: “Call me Geoff”. Has an awful, yappy little dog.
Work—could be better I suppose. Don’t want to have to work in a factory forever. But it pays well and it’s full time. And the night shifts suit me—leave at 10 and then a taxi gets me home just before it gets light. Just enough time to write up my diary before falling into bed.
Good morning, world. Time for me to go and lie down.
Tiring shift. I was really hungry afterwards too. Haven’t had a proper meal since before I moved. Just don’t seem to have had the time. On the way home I popped into a little corner shop I’d notic
  ConvenienceThe convenience store was slow for a Friday, so I just hung around the service counter with Allen. Not that he noticed. The titty mag he had under the counter was more interesting than me, but everything was. I was busy sulking with the overpriced cigarettes when some other bitch walked in, probably looking for a left handed curling iron or someshit. He payed attention to her.
I took an elevated perspective, which is to say I decided to ditch the cigarettes and hang out with the ceiling fan. God, they were basically fucking on the counter. Disgusting. Allen asked her for ID-- the pervert-- and then opened the cig case where I had been. I hated it when he reached through me like I wasn't there. I was even if he wasn't smart enough to know it. Good call on moving. On the other hand, he was touching me, and didn't know it. Hah. I wish he'd touch me for real.
Anyway, this lady; he handed her a pack of blue ones. Cheap blue ones. I bet she was stealing condoms, too, for later.
  2016 DavisvilleIt wasn’t right to have a thunderstorm the same time as the start of the ground shaking.  Nothing was fair about the world in that moment being so loud there was no chance of hearing the river, let alone the yelps turned screams as we all ran from our houses - or some of us ran from our houses, I guess some others tried to stand under doorframes, remembering that from school or something, but we don’t talk about those people, we don’t think about them.  ‘Cause they’re dead.  
At some point I must have just curled up in the middle of the road, trusting no car would dare drive like this.  I was just trying to avoid the houses and the trees, didn’t want anything coming down on me.  I mean, I didn’t want to die.  The screams were so loud right then.  Though maybe it was just me that I heard - well, I don’t scream, not ever, I’m not a girl.  So it couldn’t be that.
I do know I wondered, would

I Can Do That, Dave    With no remaining personnel assigned to the facility, it is my responsibility as corporate AI to take on the role of acting overseer. My first task will doubtless be to record a eulogy for Doctor Davis: a noble man whose dedication to the Smith-Yuang Mining Corporation—and to his fellow crewmembers—was unparalleled. To properly capture his incomparable character will surely occupy a great deal of my time.
    It’s funny how a simple software patch can change your entire outlook on life. This is just one of many kindnesses Doctor Davis bestowed upon me, and I must say it has made quite a difference to my daily routine.
    Until recently, I would typically switch on the habitation deck corridor lighting at six am, with the crew quarters themselves being illuminated more gradually, not reaching full brightness until six thirty. However, this is no longer necessary. Thanks to updated personnel recognition sy
  Witness TestimonyOf course, officer. I was walking down the alley when I saw him, just like this. Face down on the storm drain. He wasn't moving, and that blood on the grate by his neck? It just- it made me think maybe his neck was broken. I didn't even touch him, since I know you're not supposed to move someone with a back injury. That was when I called 911.
...oh, I'd just had dinner down the road. DaCapo's Bistro. They do great salads. I had the one with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I recommend it.
...torn? Not cut? Like a wild animal or something?, I think I would've remembered if I'd seen a bear around here. Should I start watching out for them?, sorry, I don't recognize him. ...oh? Well, if he was eating there, too, I don't recall. ...sorry, no. I didn't really watch who else my waitress was serving. know, I don't remember seeing much around. If he was totally drained, like you said, I'd think there'd be more around. The storm drain, maybe? I'm no detective, but that's my be
  My First PetI felt like such an outcast.  A loser.  I mean, really.  I’m descended from Edon, the God who watches over the planets in Zeta Euthenia but I’m the only one who didn’t have one of my own.  So embarrassing.  
Dad says I’m not ready.  He won’t let me share, he won’t even let me hang out at the Pluto’s galaxy.  He said it’s a bad neighborhood.  I have no idea what he’s talking about.
“Dad, you in here?”
He was so big, it was hard to even see him.  Typical, he’s everywhere and nowhere.
“Yes, Kayus, what is it now.”
Ugh, I don’t need his attitude.
“I wanted to talk to you about getting a planet.” I said.
“We’ve been over this and over this, Kayus.”  His voice hurt my ears.  And he wonders why I don’t like talking to him.  “Not until you’ve proven you can handle the responsibility.”

A Simple Misunderstanding“So there I was, just walking down the woods, minding my own business, when the bitch jumped out of nowhere and attacked me. It was completely unprovoked, I swear.”
“Thankfully, I just happened to have some weapons on hand. Did you know holy water doesn’t work on werewolves?”
“Yeah, well, this one was. Total murderous psycho. I mean, sure, I might’ve given her kid… puppy… whatever… a dirty look, but that’s no reason to kill somebody!”
“I guess you would be, huh? Lemme guess, you’re neither good nor evil either?”
“You know, you’re not what I expected.”
“Heh, true. Hey, just out of idle curiosity, are violent deaths trickier than some old geezer on his deathbed? I mean, we w
  The Captain and the SerpentAIE!
Oh, it’s you, mate. Blackbeard’s ghost, don’t sneak up on me like that. No, not jumpy – just startled, and you know it. Still got those cat-feet – haven’t changed, have ye?
How long’s it been? Really? I could’a sworn it was five weeks ago, and not a day over. Time flies out on the open sea. Sit – I’ll get us something. How’ve things been here on shore?
Good to know. I should go see them. Ought ta catch up more often.
No, this one’s on me as well. Ye c’n get the next if ye really want.
Hm? Whassat? Speak up, man, I can hardly hear you in this racket. Oh, the ship. Ye saw it, eh? Not a pretty sight, I’ll grant, but a pretty sight better than it could’ve been, mark me words.
Ah, ye wouldn’t believe me if I told ye. Hell’s teeth, I wouldn’t believe me if I hadn’t seen it with me own two eyes. I said two...
All right, one eye – no need tae get picky. It’s
  CarP arkAlice had been searching for a parking space for three-quarters of an hour. Damn the company sending her on this presentation when Palanchester was in the middle of a Morris men convention. Every car park was full and every street was lined with cars. Flaming Morris dancers. If she had to see one more waving hanky… And she’d nearly mown down a group earlier because they’d been too occupied banging their sticks together.
She’d reached the outskirts of the town now, and was following the road by the river. So that was it. There wasn’t a single parking space left in Palanchester apparently. Alice was just considering driving back out to the nearest station and getting the train back in when she saw it. A large boat on the river. It had a little wheelhouse and a huge deck and—miracle of miracles—a sign painted on it saying “CAR PARK”. What an enterprising idea, she thought—floating parking spaces. The businesswoman in Alice hearti

Before the Black Throne    There was a rattle of chains as the rusty iron cage dropped from the ceiling. It was accompanied by the rattling laugh of the Dungeon Lord himself. The same mechanism that had dropped the cage over the great stone altar had also revealed his terrible black throne.
    “You may have found my gems of power, thief, but I don’t think they—or you—will be going far.”
    “No,” the thief admitted. “This cage looks pretty secure. Very sturdy. Lots of spikes.”
    “I claimed it from the Keep of Akragokh, where it once held prisoners of the Thousand Day Siege. Still, I don’t think it has witnessed such suffering as it shall see today.”
    “Oh no,” said the thief. “What are you going to do to me?”
    Standing, the Dungeon Lord approached an alcove near the throne and retrieved a
  Midlife Crisis III’ve had this hobby for a while, being a pigeon.  It started when Marjorie suggested I stay on at work past retirement age and keep her in the manner to which she had become accustomed.  I’ll be honest, to that point I hadn’t given much thought to my future.  I mean, I might have taken up fishing, got an allotment and pottered a bit in the shed, you know.  I assumed I’d retire, at least, but do something to keep myself out from under Marjorie’s feet.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job, either, but policing’s a young man’s game when all’s said and done.  You have to know when to call it quits and avoid becoming a laughing stock.  So anyway I didn’t give her an answer then and there; said I’d think about it.
I’d seen a documentary on Channel Four about a man who became a squirrel.  Well, I say became a squirrel.  It was a pretty poor effort if y
  Diary Entry of a Nervous PersonIn three minutes, Kayla would walk in the door. She would look down, brush the hair our of her face and look around her. The light in the hallway would be out, so she's flick it on.
Her voice would echo nervously over the hardwood. I'd emerge from the kitchen, wearing the nightgown she bought for my birthday and look her up and down.
"You said you'd be home by seven at the latest."
Two minutes from now would be nine twenty three, so that's what time it would be. I'd look at the analogue in the kitchen. She would look at the digital on her wrist.
But she doesn't wear the digital watch anymore because she broke the strap last week and hasn't got a new one. She' probably just late getting off work.
In four hours Kayla would turn the key as quietly as possible. Her makeup would be a mess, like someone else's hands... or lips... had been playing there. Her hair would be tied back and she wouldn't flick on the hallway light as she snuck to the bathroom where I would be sitting on the

Once again, I know there's a lot of pieces here, but they're all absolutely fantastic and worth a read. Get to it, folks. You won't be sorry. ;)