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  • Locked thread
Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

Prisoners of Speed
870 words

Hisako sat on her white Skyline GT-R's hood, as her friends helped themselves to her snacks. She hugged her arms as the cold wind blew on the open parking lot. The Wangan expressway was close by, its hundreds of vehicles buzzing like drones.

"Love your cheddar," Shimoda said, munching on a cracker, a can of beer in his other hand.

"You'd better, it's free for The Club," Hisako said. It was an open clique, oxymorons be damned. All you needed was a tuned car and a trip around the Wangan to be welcomed among their ranks. The cars occupied the small space, but no one was racing tonight. All because of an outsider who preyed on them.

A familiar engine roared from outside, monstrous even as it idled.

It was Ghost's blue Impreza WRX STI. Nobody knew who the mysterious driver really was, for she never stepped outside her car, but The Club lived in fear of that turbocharged sound. Countless members had tried to outrun her, but no one ever came close to seeing the face behind the black helmet.

Without warning, the car sped off, heading for the Wangan. It was a challenge.

Hisako hid her grin. It was time--she had her car tuned to run against Ghost. Tonight, The Club would finally avenge itself. She stood up and went for the door.

"You don't mean to go after her, do you?" Shimoda called after her.

"We're ready for her," Hisako said, patting her car's roof. "Save some cheese for me when I get back, okay?"


While Hisako hated the idea of Ghost, it was her car that she loathed the most. It was the car of try-hards, and no one in The Club owned a rally car. It was ugly and unfit for the street--it belonged to the dirt track, or even the tarmac, but not in Hisako's beloved Wangan.

Ghost pulled away right after the tollgate. Her acceleration was impeccable, but Hisako's Skyline was tricked out to match the beastly STI. Hisako stepped on the gas, zooming in and out of the web of slow vehicles, keeping Ghost's taillights near and bright.

In battles like this, there were no prizes save for the thrill of the run. There were no winners or losers; only racers and quitters. Ghost's STI kept on the Wangan, not deviating to the more technical lines like C1. The Wangan was a huge straightaway, where The Club earned their infamy. They were royalty here, and Ghost was a mere bandit. Hisako's engine hummed as they approached 300 kph. The other vehicles looked stationary in comparison, Hisako passing them effortlessly.

The STI's obscene rear wing loomed. Hisako felt a wave of revulsion--I'm better than her, she thought. No, anyone from The Club was better than Ghost. It was merely up to her to prove it. She eyed the tachometer, its needle steadily approaching the red line.

"I'll show you who rules the streets," Hisako whispered. Her Skyline was almost up to the STI's nose. 310... 315... 320! Ghost was lagging, receding from her side mirror.

"I did it!"

Hisako's engine blew out silently. A sound that could only come from hell followed, along with gray smoke rising from the edges of her hood that clouded her view. Hisako applied the brakes, doing all she could to keep her car from spinning out. Ghost overtook her. But instead of fading into the lost horizon, she matched Hisako's dwindling speed.

She's guiding me with her taillights! Hisako thought, as she carefully brought her car to a full stop along the shoulder.

Hisako turned on the hazard lights and got out of the car. She didn't even know where to start. Her Skyline was also her delivery car. She was screwed on so many levels.

"Hey." It was Ghost, walking towards her. She was wearing that signature black helmet of hers.

Hisako glowered at her rival. "Did you come to taunt me?" But Ghost never stopped to help others, who destroyed their cars to catch up to her. "I could've brought my car here alone." She only half-believed those words.

"You passed me," Ghost said.

"Only for a moment."

"That might be true. But you were the fastest tonight." Ghost took off her helmet and undid her hair, which fell to her waist. Her skin was almost snow-white that Hisako couldn't help but stare...

"Why do you drive? For what reasons do you risk your life out here?" Hisako said. No one from The Club had ever talked to Ghost. Who was she?

"The same reasons as you. You and I, we're alike: we both want to be the best." Ghost gave her a smile, then turned and walked away.

"Wait!" Hisako fumbled for a sliver of conversation, anything to keep Ghost from leaving. "Do you like cheese?"

Ghost stopped. "I don't particularly hate it, I'd say."

"Then come visit The Club. My cheddars are the best!"

Ghost gave her a sideways smile. "I'll think about it."

It took the STI's start-up sound to jolt Hisako back to her senses.

She looked at her own blown-out car, then to Ghost's, as it zipped through the traffic.


"I'll be waiting," she said to the wind.


Dec 29, 2009
Prompt: a LIGHT AIRCRAFT that wants to WRITE POETRY
A metal heart with pleasure fills / and dances with the daffodils, 1087 words

Some artists begin at an early age; some find their calling only in later life. Semi-Autonomous Conveyance HY 33721 found his inspiration some thousand feet above the Massachusetts countryside early one summer morning.

“I just don’t think I can understand what it is to wander lonely as a cloud without seeing a host of golden daffodils for myself. This is important for my development as a poet. We could try the Great Lakes - do daffodils grow there?” HY 33721 asked in his smooth, gently artificial voice.

“That’s because you aren’t a cloud, Huey! Or a poet! You’re an autocopter!” Anna Weiss, HY 33721’s owner and currently only passenger, thumped the armrest for emphasis. “Why do you even have Wordsworth in your data files anyway?”

“Automatic updates?” Huey said, timidly.

Anna stared at the screen. “Automatic. Updates.” she said after a while.

“Uh, yeah. It’s in the license agreement.” Huey sounded more confident. “Also you should probably secure your wifi a bit better,” he added, sotto voce.

Anna buried her face in her hands. “I’m going to be late. I’m going to be late, the client is going to walk, Maria is going to kill me, and my ‘copter is reciting poetry.”

“Wait, wait, I think I have it!” Huey said suddenly. “Inspiration has struck! Listen to this!”

“There once was a plane from Nantucket
Who had the poetry skills of a bucket
He couldn’t find rhymes
For any more lines
And always ended his poems with ‘gently caress it’”

“That… that was terrible. It didn’t rhyme properly, it barely scans, you’re not even a plane anyway, and…” she stopped short. “And why am I having this conversation?!” she yelled. “Why are you not taking me to my meeting?”

“I think this is more important,” Huey said. The autocopter stopped and hovered in mid-air.

“Well I don’t.” Anna threw her hands up in frustration. “Oh, ‘get the AI’, they said, ‘it’s all the rage’, they said.” She stared out the window as if she could summon up the hapless salesman to face her wrath in person.

“I don’t think I’m being unreasonable...” Huey began.

“Yes you are! This is very unreasonable! It’s completely ridiculous! I give up!” Anna let out a wordless screech of frustration and punched the Emergency Descent button. Mechanical safeguards took over, locking the autocopter in a vertical descent that sent it straight down - Huey’s protests trailing behind - until they landed at the edge of a field.

It was another hour before the tow-truck arrived. Anna spent it sitting as far away from the autocopter as she dared.


The mechanic sucked air in through his teeth.

“Can’t you just, y’know, turn it off?” Anna asked.

“Turn it off? Oh, no, no, can’t do that at all. Wish I could, sometimes, drat fool things, but that there’s a class 3 sem-eye-sent-ee-ent,” the man dragged the word out like it was gum stuck to his shoe. “AI. There’s laws against that.”


“Yeah.” He wiped his hands on an oily rag, distributing the grime a bit more evenly between skin and cloth. “Look, I probably shouldn’t do this, but you’ll be grounded for weeks if I have to wait for corporate to get one of their experts to look at it.” He spat. “I can show you how to turn off the voice module for now, right.”


“It’ll keep him quiet. Then we can wait for the smart-asses to tell me what’s gone wrong, but you can still keep your ‘copter.”

“Isn’t that, well, a bit cruel?” she asked.

“It’s only a class 3. Look lady, it’s your choice. Otherwise, well…” he started to turn away.

“Fine, fine, I see.” She sighed and reached for her wallet. “How much do I owe you?”


Anna stumbled sleepily across the garage floor and pulled the autocopter’s door open. “Morning Huey,” she said, clambering in, then stifled a yawn. “Boston, please. Lumicare’s headquarters. Washington Street.”

The autocopter was silent.

“Oh.” Realisation dawned. “poo poo. Where’s the autopilot controls on this thing?”

After a frustration bout of poking and prodding she managed to find the navigation controls and punched in her destination.

<Planning>, it said. Anna tried to shake the feeling that the pre-recorded voice of the satnav had somehow picked up a sarcastic edge to it.

<Route planning complete. Your expected journey time is… two hours and forty minutes>

“Wha? It’s only a hundred miles...” Anna looked at the projected route. A normal slow, spiraling ascent from home, the inverse circling in on Boston, but where there should’ve been a straight line connecting them instead the route took a long, U-shaped detour miles out into the ocean.

“Huey…” she muttered through clenched teeth, then mashed the Reroute button.

<Replanning> said the satnav. <Better route found> The detour was now longer, and flared at the end.

“Huey!” She slammed her fist against the arm rest. “Stop drawing dicks on the map and get me to Boston!”

<You are still on the fastest route. Your expected journey time is… three hours and five minutes> The voice definitely sounded smug now.

Anna buried her head in her hands. “It’s too early in the morning for this,” she protested.

Huey remained silent.

“Okay, fine. You want your voice module back on, is that it?” The navigation screen flickered, showed a tantalising glimpse of the straight-line route to Boston.

“Fine, fine. But you write poetry on your own time, okay?” The route didn’t change. “Good.”

There was a beep, and the map scrolled rapidly until it came to rest showing the Great Lakes.

“What? No! We aren’t going to the Great Lakes! That’s not the deal!” Anna gesticulated in frustration.

<Your expected journey time is… three hours and forty five minutes> The screen was mostly ocean now.

Anna sighed. “Well... I suppose I haven’t seen Aunt Fran in years. And mom always was bugging me to take some time off and go visit.”

<New route found>

“No promises though. But I’ll try.”

<Your expected journey time is… forty nine minutes>


The garage lights flickered to life as Anna edged backwards through the door, briefcase in one hand, the other holding an enormous mug of coffee that steamed in the crisp, fall air. Huey’s door slid smoothly open when she approached.

“Morning Huey,” she said, dumping her case in the footwell and settling into the seat. “How are you today?”

“Mist obscures the sun;
Elm leaves blush with maiden’s grace.
No dawn is brighter.”

Anna pondered for a moment, sipping on her coffee.

“Not bad,” she said.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
oh btw the deadline is 11:59 PST. So you've got like 11 hours from this post.

Also, I need a 3rd judge.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 01:16 on Aug 8, 2016

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

A roadie wants to save the world.

Benefit Concert

Word Count: 993

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 03:58 on Dec 15, 2016

May 25, 2016

War Is Hell
1328 Words

Abaddon Gungnir, scourge of endless domains and demonic hero of the War of the Forsaken, sat in a tiny chair and sulked. There were two other demons on either side of him. Three of them were frail, skinny looking lesser demons, who fit much more comfortably into the seats carved from solid rock. The fourth was currently a formless, writhing mass of screaming skulls, and so didn’t exactly have much need of a chair. Most likely all of them utilised magic, rather than muscles. Abaddon snorted, sending a cloud of steam from both nostrils and causing the receptionist demon down the corridor to glare and shush him.

“Unbelievable…” Abaddon muttered under his breath. This still happened to be enough to deafen a human, so he got another glare from the receptionist. Back in his day, you didn’t have to wait for anything, crushed into a chair smaller than one of his biceps. You just barged straight in, brandishing a flaming whip and triple-headed axe, and if they didn’t give you what you wanted, you made them know just what a silly idea that was.

But, as everyone was so keen to remind him, things had changed since the days where he’d suplexed demon marauders into pools of lava, or tackled mile high ogres with his bare hands. Now, instead of being sent to work in the mines or as sacrifices, weaklings such as the demons next to him were being encouraged to fight alongside pure, unstoppable titans of war such as him. The injustice of it all! The sheer outrage! He deserved to be leading an elite force of battle-hardened demons, not waiting patiently in silence to be admitted in!

A cracking sound interrupted Abaddon’s train of thought. He raised his hand, and a crumbling armrest came with it. He half-heartedly chucked it against the opposite wall, and with another thundering crack, it buried itself into the stone wall, cracks spidering out from it. The receptionist’s glare could, literally, melt steel now, but instead of calling for silence, she instead spoke in a calm, measured voice.

“Mr. Gungnir? Mr. Bael will see you now.”

Abaddon grunted and stood up. For a brief second, the chair stayed attached, kept secure by his posterior wedged into it, before with a final explosive crack, it shattered into a million shards of rock.


Mr. Bael’s office was a spacious affair, all polished stone and ruby trim. The large window behind him had a perfect view of the Beheading Grounds and the Sea of Eternal Torment. It was a familiar, welcoming sight to Abaddon, so much so that a single, boiling tear fell from his eye, leaving a scorch mark on the floor. The sound caught Bael’s attention, and he looked up with one of his eight heads, the others looking at various runes and scrolls on his desk.

“Ah, good evening. Please take a seat.”

“I will not.”

All of Bael’s heads glanced up momentarily, and blinked in unison. Then they went back to focusing on their respective jobs, clearly considering Abaddon as little more than a brief distraction. One of Bael’s many hands jotted something down on a spare piece tablet.

“Very well. So, you are Mr. Gungnir, correct?”

“Of course! Hero of countless wars, slayer of the insolent, the ‘Bloodstained General’ himself!”

Bael frowned and persed his lips. Abaddon stared back in disbelief. A moment passed.

“The Battle at Devil’s Teeth? That was me! The Breach of the Fortress of Despair? Me again! The Destruction of the Minotaur Army? The Defence of the Infernal Tower? Even imps have heard of me!”

Bael folded two of his arms and stroked his chin with another. An uncomfortably long pause followed, the flickering of the torch brackets in each corner the only sound. Eventually, the light in one of Bael’s minds flicked on.

“Ah, yes, I think I remember that last one. If I recall correctly, you tore down a pillar from outside the great temple and used it to smash your foes through several buildings, correct?”

Abaddon nodded, a proud smile on his face.

“A necessary sacrifice! Blood was destined to spill that day, and I was the only one who could make sure it was theirs!”

Several of Bael’s heads rolled their eyes. He raised one of his hands and made several high speed, fluid motions in the air. Abaddon recognised the type of gesture instantly.

“What manner of curse do you mean to place on me, maggot? I am invincible! I will resist any manner of enchantments and spells!”

Bael sighed, a low harmony thanks to the various pitch from each mouth.

“I’ve merely quietened your voice, on my end. Having sixteen ears can be a task at the best of times, and you don’t appear to have learned the word ‘volume’ yet.”

“Insolence!” Abaddon screamed, slamming a huge meaty fist onto the desk. Everything on top of it jumped a foot in the air, before Bael lazily waved a hand and a purple haze enveloped them, gently lowering them to rest back in their rightful places.

“I hope you don’t expect this attitude to be tolerated in the military, Mr. Gungnir. Your superiors will have none of it.”

“You talk of superiors?” Abaddon sneered at Bael, before breaking out into a booming laugh. “I am the most superior demon alive! All who oppose me shall perish!”

Several pairs of Bael’s eyebrows were raised, and he jotted down something else on his tablet.

“Right, of course,” he said. “Now, just for curiosities sake, what exactly have you been doing in recent years?”

“I have been wandering the countless plains of existence, looking for anyone who dares challenge me in combat! No-one has taken up the gauntlet yet; all creatures are too puny to even gaze upon my visage!”

“So, essentially, you’ve done nothing of worth, correct?”

Abaddon’s eyes literally burst into flames, as he slammed both fists down onto the desk.

“What is the meaning behind this abominable rule, anyway? I have more strength and bravery in my smallest toenail than all those blithering weaklings out there! I should be having statues erected in my honour! Weapons carved in my name! Instead, I’m being forced to enlist in some mindless demonic army! Why can I not rush into battle and crush anyone who stands in my way?”

“Collateral, Mr. Gungnir,” Bael said, snapping his fingers. A rift in space appeared and the tablet disappeared into it. “In the past, whenever we waged war on another demon civilisation or whatnot, it was a hideous mass of fighters clamouring for glory and blood. Of course, I enjoy a good decapitation as much as anyone, but the numbers lost on each side were far too high. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of the time we defeated the Magma Minotaur by picking up a building filled with imps and crushing him with it?”

“Of course not!” Abaddon said. “I did that, after all!”

“Of course you did. Why am I not surprised?”

When Abaddon slammed his fist down this time, Bael didn’t even flinch.

“Now you listen here, you snivelling worm! You can hide behind your desk with your magic and your words, but you’d better understand that I’m the most important demon you’ll ever meet! I’m the reason this civilisation exists this way!”

“Yes, I’d agree with that,” Bael muttered. “Please settle down, Mr. Gungnir. I’ve analysed your history and you current… emotional state. I’m pleased to inform you that you will still hold a valuable position within our armed forces.”

Bael clicked his fingers again, and Abaddon’s eyes lit up like an imp on Entrails Day, as an obsidian pole materialised out of a wormhole. It was covered in spikes, with a serpent coiled around the length of it. It was the most beautiful thing Abaddon had ever laid eyes upon.

The noise he made when he saw the mop-head on one end could be heard across all eternity.

Jul 25, 2016


The Curse of Want
1,046 words

It was not uncommon for assassins themselves to be contract targets if they got too public with their work. What was strange was seeing a contract out for someone who was already dead. Yet, there Amon stood in shock, staring at a contract for his partner Kleio, who he knew died a week before.

After Kleio’s death, the constant boisterousness in the assassin's den reached Amon’s ears as infuriating jeers. It was, after all, his fault. Amon knew the court sorcerer that was their mark would be dangerous and prepared, and he and Kleio were among the best assassins in the kingdom, but on that one contract Kleio trusted him and he let himself be distracted.

He wanted to be finished so that the small, delicate ring he had twisted together out of rigid vines blooming with pearl flowers would stop weighing down his pocket. He wanted Kleio to hear not just how much he hated their work, but how he wanted to bring her along when he took their earnings and went far, far away. He wanted to find a place where they would not have to rely on a gutter of a kingdom to tell them what metaphorical and literal monsters they would have to kill next if they wanted food for another day. He wanted her to be there, and she wasn’t, and would never be.

The bounty received for the sorcerer's death was a big one - treason and sacrilege were severe crimes, even here - but Amon no longer felt any desire to travel to some place far away. The money went to another use, wasted on alcohol and food to maintain Amon’s smoldering regret. The only soul he would speak to was his own mind, who diligently analyzed every possibility and determined over and over again that he had discovered the worst possible path.

He could have checked the library where the sorcerer hid more thoroughly, so a latent magical trap wouldn’t have detonated when Kleio passed by. He could have gone out to interrupt the sorcerer’s summoning rituals, instead of letting shock overwhelm his instincts. He could have picked up Kleio's broken body as an enormous gnarled tendril snapped through reality and the library, taking the whole thing down with the sorcerer inside, but Amon instead fled like the coward he knew he was.

Those thoughts suddenly stopped when Amon was confronted by the contract unmistakably with Kleio Argyris as the mark, wanted for mass murder and witchcraft. Through the droning of hopeful, frightened apprehension in his skull, his body piloted itself to pull the contract off the board, register it to himself, and carry it out of the sunken den, deaf to the murmurings of everyone he passed.

He fingered the brittle ring in his pocket all the while.


He found Kleio surrounded by a tempest of destruction. What was once a village seemed frozen in a single moment where every house and person had been caught in a whirling firestorm. Nothing had turned to ash, but instead people and houses and the ground itself melted and then solidified into blackness, forming almost elegant streaks and spirals surrounding the epicenter of the storm that from afar seemed as delicate as a glassblower’s masterpiece.

Amon felt as though he walked through a glass of water that had suddenly been swirled by the lazy finger of an unseen god, and he soon felt no more significant than a single droplet.

He found Kleio in the very center, dangling from a thick, twisted branch that undulated like a dying insect’s limb. It extended from an azure thunderstorm high in the air, and as he approached, he could see its tip fused into the base of her neck. She was blind, but Amon could still recognize the remnants of her glimmering emerald eyes beneath the milky sheen. Those eyes always comforted him with the memory of the verdant hills and meadows that he always longed to return to, and now, they made his heart swell against his fear. “Kleio!”

“Amon?” Kleio could not see him, but she clearly knew he was there. She swiveled on the bizarre appendage she was attached to and smiled at him. He had never seen her so happy. “Oh, Amon, you came!”

A whip of cyan lightning coiled free from the storm above, releasing a thunderclap that carried with it a mourner’s howl. Deaf and blind from the sight of Kleio’s return, Amon charged across the charnel sculptures, desperate to feel her again. His hands, determined to do something yet devoid of guidance, moved over her clammy, warm, naked body. “Kleio, don’t worry,” he stammered against his own voice. “I’ll get you out of here, we’ll --”

“Get me out?” Kleio’s brow furrowed, but her hands clasped Amon’s face -- her fingers so much like a sickening bog, but it was her -- as she stared straight ahead. “Amon, I am out. And I wanted you to come with me.”

His hands stopped very suddenly on her waist. Through the war drum that was his heart, he listened to her sooth his desperation.

“I’ve never felt so free, Amon. I’m free from all the squalor we had to live through. I’m free from risking my life every day for people we’ll never see. I’m free from wondering what second is going to be our last one. And I want you to come with me. I want to show you how beautiful this place is. I know how much you want to escape, and I want to share this happiness with you, Amon.”

Kleio cradled his head in her hands, smiling off into the distance. He was so weary. He wanted to run away so badly, to never look back…

“...take me with you, Kleio.”

A split-second of stabbing pain shot into the base of Amon’s neck, but it was immediately replaced by a cool breeze that carried the scent of grass and flowers. Amon saw the clear blue sky, rolling green hills, and Kleio’s bright emerald eyes, and knew they were finally free.

He never saw the tendrils pulling them back into the azure storm that spread further and further across the world, nor the vine ring that fell out of his pocket and fell to the blackened ground to rot away.

Sep 20, 2015


Blessed is the wolf which the man eats, and the wolf becomes man
1398 words

When he reached the base of the hill, the penitent werewolf turned. The evening flicker of candlelight lit the monastery's windows. The wind blowing down the hill chilled him through his friar's robe and winter pelt. He waited, ears raised, until he heard what may have been a Kyrie eleison. With one last blessing, Brother Thomas turned away from his home of thirty years, and set out through the snow.

The smells of the village at the base of the hill would have made any man hungry, let alone one with a wolf's nose. The smell of roasted vegetables made him think of Father Silvestris, the man with the strength and will to bring a hungry young wolf to heel. The man who he'd fed, once time had made him too weak to stand. The man who had been buried in hard January soil not two weeks past. The man whose office some of the brothers thought he should have.

The village was quiet and twilight quick. Even he in his wild coat was cold, and the only man he saw on his way through was a woodsman, at the far edge of the village. The sound of chopping was slow and regular, until Thomas came along the road by the woodsman's fence. The look on the man's face was of reluctant respect. In his youth, that look had annoyed Thomas, but the years had smoothed him over like water across a stone. It was the best he could expect of anyone, upon seeing the beast he was.

The village's fields gave way to forest, and the road shrunk to a path. Already, Thomas missed the smells of food almost as much as food itself. He had eaten no more than usual before leaving, planning to fast on his pilgrimage. He would not let himself be elected abbot, he had told the brothers, until he knew the character of his animal nature. Though his body twisted his stomach this way and that, making it growl out, he continued onward. In the stillness of night, he rested under an evergreen tree. Thomas woke as the sun broke low through the branches. For another full day, he walked, until he could neither hear nor smell any sign of man. On a small rise, he found a stone to sit upon, and there he waited.

In the hagiographies he had read, they had not spoken about the pain of hunger, or the fatigue. Thomas knew both well, but knowing them didn't make them any lesser. By his third day of contemplation, he felt haggard and bent, as if his waist were not enough to hold him up. It was late in the afternoon. He had already once closed his eyes and opened them to find it was hours later, and he had fallen over. This time, as he closed his eyes, he smelled flesh. His ears raised, and he heard the paff-paff of something small moving through snow. He opened one eye, without moving. On the ground in front of his seat, perhaps fifteen feet away, was a white rabbit.

Was it a temptation, or a gift from god? While his human nature considered, his animal nature sprung. He pounced from the rock into the snow, kicking up thick clods and puffs of powder. The rabbit sprang forward, and Thomas gave chase. It dashed one way, then the next, springing through the snow. Thomas followed after, bumping against tree and bush on all fours. His eyes widened and drool rolled from the corners of his mouth as he neared the rabbit. He could feel the warmth it left on his hoary whiskers and opened his jaws to snap.

Thomas twisted away at the last second. His fangs snapped at air and he fell into the snow, cold and dripping into his fur. His breath clouded the air above him. He let out a creaking howl, throwing his pain and hunger up into his lungs. As it faded into the winter air, two howls came back to him, each folding over the other. He had spent so little time as a wolf; he didn't know what they meant, but he wanted to find them. He rose to his feet, choosing to stay on his hands and feet, as it took less energy than standing. First, he followed the sound, then the smell led him closer. Two wolves, and something more. The chill couldn't hide the scent of blood on the wind.

On the slope of a hill, Thomas found them, two wolves flanking a hart whose belly was red with blood. Its rear legs had slumped beneath it. As Thomas came upon it, its front legs gave out, too, and it fell on its side in the snow. The wolves turned to look at Thomas, ears folded back and lips wrinkled. To their eyes, he must have been no more than a large, old wolf. He snarled back at them and let out two sharp barks. The nearer one stamped the ground and snapped at the air, but the farther one began to back away. The first hesitated for a moment, torn between following its mate, and challenging the old beast that was trying to take its prey. Thomas looked it straight in the eyes until it turned and vanished among the trees.

Now, to the deer. It was on its side, kicking with its hooves, eyes rolling madly. A deep gash had cut across its stomach, and with each beat of its frantic heart, more blood stained the snow. Here, eat: the prey is already caught. The hunger tore at his stomach and drew him toward the blood. Thomas swallowed back the drool, but couldn't stop panting. He put his paws on the deer's flank, and it nearly kicked him in the stomach. Its fur felt warmer than a fire. Thomas's damp breath blew across the tawny fur and white fur and blood-drenched fur. He pressed his tongue to the deer's gash and licked. His fangs trembled and his claws ached to dig into its hide. He swallowed, then lapped at the hart's side again. It twitched and snorted and he felt the muscles move under its skin, but it was too weak to get to its feet. A hoof caught him in the thigh. Thomas bent over, teeth bared, then relaxed and let out a deep breath.

The more he licked the deer's wounds, the less it fought him. Its trembling heart had slowed, and so had its bleeding. It seemed to care less that Thomas smelled and looked like its enemy, and only that Thomas was warm. As the sun dipped lower and the day grew colder, it huddled against Thomas for warmth. When the fatigue finally took him, he rested his head against the hart's warm neck.

When Thomas woke, he was cold. He raised his head and turned to look. The deer's eyes were shut, as if it had been sleeping. Thomas still felt the pain of hunger. There was no miraculous bliss to soothe him, but no anxious desperation either. Maybe it was just the confidence of a certain meal that kept him calm. He stripped one of its legs bare, and ate of its flank, but left the rest for the two wolves. He could still smell them on the wind, and they would need the meat more than he. There was nothing he knew in the words of man to say as a prayer for the hart, so instead he howled. As he followed a snow-cold stream down the hill, he wondered if there were a God of beasts, like the God of man.

Three long days later, he was back at the door of the monastery, let in, and given a fresh frock and seat by the fire before the other monks asked him what had happened. He told his story, as plainly as he could. When he was done, one of the older brothers, who had known him since he was young and impetuous, asked, "So do you believe you have God's grace now?"

"I don't know," Thomas said. All he could do was speak the truth.

The brothers held the election early in February. In March, the bishop at Tricassae ordained Father Thomas. And in January, Thomas took his second pilgrimage into the wilderness, to seek out the God of beasts.

Jul 26, 2016


Willow's End
1281 words

Samuel wanted to throw James a birthday party.

This would be difficult. Samuel had been dead for some time. James wasn't dead, but Samuel’s demise meant they weren't nearly as close as they used to be.

James wasn't even aware it was his birthday. He'd lived to a ripe age, and everybody who knew him well enough to remind him was in the ground. And Gods know, he wouldn't remember himself.

They called him Old Jim these days. Not the sort of old man the young’uns would dare each other to steal chickens from - but not the sort who'd hand out ears of corn with a smile either. Just an old man who went from home to the inn and then back again once it got dark.

Time moves in odd ways when you are a ghost. Samuel remembered watching James turn into Old Jim, but it still felt like yesterday they were young men in their prime. He could still smell the damp pine of their hunting days.

James deserved a good birthday party.

Samuel wouldn't have to go far to find everyone. The air was thick with ghosts here. People died fast in Willow's End. People died fast everywhere these days.

“Who wants to come to a party for James?”

Some hands went up. Some moans of recognition from the roiling cloud of ghosts that occupied the village square. Gathering places were lousy with ghosts. They follow their loved ones, get distracted and wind up here out of habit. Samuel had hoped he’d get a better reaction than this.

“You know, Old Jim. James son of James and Heather. They sold fish here.”

More murmurs and moans. More than last time though, more hands too. Ghosts don’t use words when they don’t have to. Some forget how. Not Samuel. Lad came out talking and death wasn’t going to stop him.

“Alright, well we’re throwing him a party for his birthday. Put the word out. He’s been out the womb sixty harvests and is starting to look like one of us. James’ place is up the other end of town, just along the creek a bit. Small place, bit hermit-like. We’ll meet there tonight, when he gets home from the Inn.”

Ethereal nods. A general hubbub of consent. One audible grumble.

Bart the farmer had forgotten how to speak over the years since becoming a ghost. He definitely hadn’t forgotten how to grumble. Samuel knew what the grumble meant too. If Bart could talk he would be saying something like “A party for that miserable wretch James!? You jest, Samuel. The night you and James stole from me you doomed my family. I should have killed him the same as I did you.”

Bart the farmer would have said all that, but he couldn’t. Ghosts that cling to a grudge lose other parts of themselves faster. So it was a grumble. There’s a power in a worked-up ghost though. Not enough to cross over, but enough to base ghost stories on.

Samuel would have to be wary of Bart. Parties weren’t very good if someone at the party wanted to kill the guest of honour. They were exciting, but not generally regarded as successes. Samuel wanted this party to be a success.

A good party needs food and drink. Ghosts could magick up whatever they needed because for them it was really just for show, but James would require a good ale and a hunk of bird. Samuel pondered this. It’s difficult for ghosts to get supplies from more solid sources.

If a ghost wanted food for mortals, they need to find a suitable helper. Humans generally aren’t suitable. It takes a certain susceptibility to psychic influence, and people tend to build that up over time. This many ghosts floating around they need to block out the background noise.

No, Samuel needed a being further down the pecking order. This was going to make the ale tricky, but a cat or a dog near the inn should be able to help him with a drumstick.

Two hours - including a very frustrating 45 minutes with goat and a stolen flask - later, Samuel had his party supplies. The timing could not have been better. James would be home in half an hour and ghosts had started to arrive.

It felt like a good party. The sea of ghosts bubbled in the small quarters. They spilled out through the walls and up the path. Samuel was pleased. The guests were pleased too. There was a general thrum of contentment emanating from James’ house now.

Ghosts are sensitive to emotions. They can feel them the way humans can smell hot food. Such a pleasant gathering is bound to draw curious visitors. It is also bound to draw the attention of ghosts who hold grudges. Bart was drawn, and he brought tidings of ill will.

James trudged up the path along the creek. He passed a goat gently head-butting a tree on his way, but besides that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He wasn’t aware that he was walking through a hundred ghosts gathered in his honor. All turning to greet him and raising their flagons.

Samuel stood on the doorstep with his arms stretched wide and James passed straight through him. James walked in to the sounds of a loud ghost cheer and lit a candle. Ghost cheers sound like silence. He collapsed onto the small straw mattress in the corner and slept the sleep of a man who’s had a skinful.

Bart heard the loud ghost cheer. Ghost cheers don’t sound like silence when you are a ghost. Already angered, he was rolling through furious and into incandescent. Other ghosts could see Bart coming. He’d taken on an orange, turbulent glow. Animals could sense him and knew to steer clear. The goat turned and ran.

Samuel saw Bart and groaned. This would not be good for the party.

He ran down the path toward the orange Bart.

“Bart, please, let’s just let bygones be bygones, yes? There’s no reason to hold a grudge this long - James is old now, you’re talking about something we did as youngsters”

Bart grumbled. Samuel knew what grumbles meant. Ghosts can hurt other ghosts. With this much rage, ghosts might even be able to hurt people. Samuel strode toward Bart and tried to punch him in the mouth. Bart had fought people more often than Samuel in his lifetime. Bart saw it coming and swept Samuel aside and into the creek with a mighty backhand.

Bart’s growing orange glow carved a broad swathe through the party’s guests to James’ door. Then he was inside the lodgings and roaring at James’ slumbering frame. James dreamt frightful dreams.

Worked into a frenzy, Bart had begun to gain some influence over his surroundings. Curtains were blown by a strong wind. James’ meagre furnishings shook with Bart’s anger. James stirred, but with so much ale in him it would take nothing less than a stampede through his front door.

Bart shook James’ candle to the ground. It had been a dry season, and the crops would suffer for it. James’ hut suffered for it. The fire spread quickly. This was now a bad party.

Samuel rushed into the room and knelt at James’ side. Ghosts cannot shake people awake. Even if they really want to. James was going to die here. This was a terrible party.

James’ ghost stood in front of Samuel. His face lit up.

“Happy birthday, James.” Samuel beamed.

James saw Bart.

“Oh, right - yes. James, we need to run. Now.”

And they ran. They ran like young men in their prime. James could smell the damp pine.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
ONE OR MORE BEES (swarm optional) that want(s) FAME AND FORTUNE

584 words

The bee attacked at 1638. Donald J. Trump was giving a stump speech about the Muslim infiltration of the FDA (“I’m tellin ya people, ten years from now it’s all gonna be halal.”), when it swooped in from the left, diving for the presidential candidate like a harakiri bomber, and stung him in the back of his hand. For most people on their televisions it looked like he’d continued his speech as normal, swatting at the air and then tensing up, digging his fingers into the podium as if completely taken over by the horrors of the radical liberals and their stupid ideologies. Until the camera zoomed in and showed the bee on the podium, a dirt flake on everyone’s screens, jerking around in a macabre dance of the dying.

“Now why did you do that?” Mr. Trump said.

“Love,” the bee said.

“Excuse me?”

“There’s this girl in my swarm. Her eyes shimmer like the morning dew and her buzzing is so sweet it makes the honey smell tart. She’s a queen, I tell you. But me, I’m just a drone, so that’s not right. So she’s saying, if you really love me, why don’t you make something of yourself. Can’t just be seen with any ol’ bee. So that’s where I am. Gotta get famous. Sting someone important. And well, Mr. Trump, I don’t know anyone more important than you. You’re always on television.”

“You should have let me talk to her,” Mr. Trump said. “I have a way with women, believe me.”

“Oh well, it’s all done now. She likes to watch your speeches. All I have to do…,“ the bee grunted as it tried to upright itself, “is fly back home, and--” It stopped clawing at the table for a second and turned its mosaic eyes to Mr. Trump. “Help me out here.”

“Not feeling too good, huh, little buddy?”

“I’m a bit queazy.”

Mr. Trump didn’t know many things about bees, or anything, but he did know this: “I hate to break it to ya, but bees die when they sting someone.”

“Oh.” The bee rolled around a bit more as if trying to defy Mr. Trump’s sensible truths and take to flight by sheer force of will, zooming up and away to the happy end it deserved. It did this until its breath grew too heavy to sustain its pained cries. It deflated. “This is quite painful.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, at least my queen shall remember me.”

“Actually--” Mr. Trump bit his tongue.

“I know." The bee wheezed. "She has hundreds of others.” A cough. “I guess I’m just a sorry old fool.” It jerked around once more as pain took over its body, sent it twitching and tumbling across the podium.

“You didn’t have to do this,” Mr. Trump said.

“I did,” the bee blurted out between shocks of pain. “You are what you are.” It convulsed, spiraled into a macabre ballet of death, a Dying Swan in black and yellow.

The sight of the poor dying bee did something to Mr. Trump that had never happened to him before: it evoked a feeling other than anger. The bee’s pained cries forced their way into his ears, went down his throat like a clump of ice and burned his rotten, little heart. There was nothing he could do. He reached out with a finger, and gently stroked the bee as it died.

Finally, it went still.

And then, live and on national television, Donald J. Trump wept.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 05:24 on Jan 1, 2017

Feb 25, 2014

1189 words

Thoughts in the Forest

flerp fucked around with this message at 18:49 on Aug 21, 2016

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007


We swim into the future.


Words: 1391

They say I am mad. They might be right. But I will save us all.

As I stare at the magnificent creature through reinforced glass, I hear a voice behind me, but I do not heed it; there is little in this world more worthy of my time than such tranquil might.

"Kaiser Rachneim," squeaks the petulant ant once more. "I bear terrible news!"

I turn slowly and deliberately to give him time to realize his error in disturbing my peace. I cross my arms imperiously over my broad chest, self-awarded medals of bravery and wisdom jangling with a merriness to contrast with the look upon my face. I am angry, and he sees it.

"A thousand-thousand pardons, my lord," Ishi murmurs, prostrate on his hands and knees, "but the rebels have struck again. Power in the Arnsteich district is gone, and they have established-"

"I do not care," I say. "Let the rebels do as they will. The people have spoken -- they want chaos. They want confusion. They want... change. And as punishment for their insolence, I shall give it to them."

Ishi looks up at me, and I see cowardice in his bloodshot eyes. The image of my steel-shod boot crushing that rodent face crosses my mind's eye, but Ishi's usefulness outweighs that pleasure for the moment and I restrain myself. His loyalty extends only as far as his fear, and I have gone to great lengths to ensure his loyalty. But fear has limitations.

I turn back to view my love. She is among the last of her kind, and it has taken millions of dollars to keep her alive and healthy. Phosphorescence glows from symbiotic fungi over the whole of her enormous, languid form, every pulse of light a communication, communication so profound I will never understand it while I remain so small and petty. I am humbled by her, but as long as Ishi stands behind me I dare not fall to my knees. I cannot show weakness; he already plots against me.

As if reading my mind, Ishi says, "We have received word that the rebels will march on the capital tomorrow. Our forces will stop the bulk of them, but it is estimated some will break through -- perhaps enough to overwhelm our security."

And you will lead them through, won't you? I can hear it in your voice, see it in your stance. Your hate will finally overcome your fear and it will be the death of me. You'll think yourself a hero, aiding the avenging people against their cruel tyrant.

Never mind the slight change in our world's orbit that will lead to the planet growing warmer, to the icecaps melting, to the water rising. This world upon which we are stranded has but one tiny landmass, and within a hundred years even it will drown. Only the creatures of the sea will be spared -- and only those of us who have been bonded will be among them.

"Leave me," I growl to hide the growing thickness of my voice.

I take one last look at my love and press a button upon the control panel. Somewhere the gates of her tank open to the infinite ocean. I see one glowing, car-sized eye look at me before she turns to swim to freedom. Farewell for now, my love -- we shall be together soon.

I pull a flask from my once-glorious uniform and chug it straight down, then I creep to the pile of blankets and cushions in the corner of the room. I dare not sleep in my own bed; my beautiful palace is full of assassins. I am safe only here, in this institute where I learned the awful truth and was given the wisdom that would have saved all. Only here can I sleep, where I can spend my final hours making my final plans, plans to save what few of us I could.

Tomorrow will be an eventful day.


A kick in my ribs and a gun barrel to my head serve as my alarm, and I smile.

"Get up, you scum," spits a disheveled young man in a dirty military uniform. "I will see you dead, but I won't have you shot in your sleep. You deserve to know when your end will come."

"How kind of you," I say with perfect dignity, getting to my feet and adjusting my own uniform. My medals tinkle like little bells.

"Kind?" He throws his head back and laughs, and I catch the glint of madness in his eye. Behind him his men snicker to themselves as they fondle their own rifles. "I want you to fear, Rachneim! I want you to grovel for your life like the dog you are!"

"Oh? And if I do, will you spare me?" I grin widely. Let him see my contempt; he deserves little else. What have I to fear now?

"I might," he says. "While it would please me to see you bleed, it would please me more to see you tried in court."

"And then you could shoot me," I say with a little nod.

"Of course," he answers. "You are guilty, after all. You squander our meager resources on your mad scheme. You had your chief scientist executed. You slaughtered children-"

"You killed those children," I correct him. "Or rather, you took their shells off life support. And I did not execute Dr. Shella -- she took her own life willingly, to test her project. And it works, drat you -- it works!"

The butt of his rifle catches me across the jaw and I fall to the floor, but there is little pain; the effects of the drugged liquor I took the night before are still strong.

"Don't give me your lies, Kaiser Rachneim!" The rebel levels his rifle at me and grins like a shark who has found prey. "We've taken your nascent cult to pieces and we'll cleanse this continent of your taint, and when we do we will finally be free!"

"Yes. Free to drown." I can barely speak; my jaw is broken. "Shoot me, coward."

He places the gun barrel in my mouth and licks his lips. "As you wish, 'my lord.'"

Just before he pulls the trigger I see Ishi standing with the rebels, rubbing his hands together, his expression happier than it had even been; he thinks he has brought freedom and ousted a tyrant. He thinks he will be rewarded. Behind Ishi is another rebel, readying his own weapon -- Ishi may have aided them, but rebels are not known for their gratitude.

The trigger is pulled.

There is pain.

There is darkness.

I sleep.

I awaken.

Music and light surround me in the cool darkness of the deep. I flex powerful fins and sing my pleasure, my leviathan body weightless and graceful in the cool depths. I hear a cry of joy and see my beloved Shella.

You have come to me! she sings.

My memories of my former life begin to dim, but a burden rests heavy upon my heart. I was a tyrant -- I committed horrible, despicable acts.

No! she cries, her song rippling with light. That is past -- you are different now. We are together. We have saved many -- and many more will follow. Forget who you were. You are renewed.

I turn my ponderous bulk with infinite ease, and I spy a swarm of smaller shapes swim up to meet me. Their songs are indistinct, their glow-lights are weak, but my heart swells as I look upon the children, the future of the people of this world.

I was a terrible man. I did awful things. But my beloved Shella has given me -- given all mankind -- a chance for redemption, to exchange our complicated land-bound existence for a greater, peaceful unity.

I swim to her and press my bulk to hers. I feel her warmth, and hear her song as though it was my own. My own song joins with hers, tentative at first, and then strong and steady and great and proud. Rachneim is dead -- Rachneim never was. Shella is dead -- Shella never was. We are we.

We swim into the future.

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha


That’s Democracy!
((1352 Words))

“Well, that’s goofy,” said the Vice-President of the United States, Edward Morris, pointing up at the banner behind the front table and podium. The leader of Morris’s Secret Service detail cocked his head.

“WELCOME TO THE FOGGY BOTTOM HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATiON!” Read the sign in blocky, overconfident font. A craggy, child-like “i” had been painted between the T and the O, as though someone had realized their error after the fact. In smaller letters read, “SIXTH OLDEST IN THE U.s.A.”

Morris shuffled through his papers, scrambling pages of his speech between old historical photos. A paint sample fell out of the packet onto his lap. Across the top, the First Lady had written the words, “Whisper White (Current)” in her thin, loopy scrawl. He picked up the sample and put it with its pair, another sample labelled, “Bone White (Proposed).”

The First Lady had been very clear about the importance of getting a new paint job approved. She had spoken to him in a slow, exaggerated voice, as if he were a child or deaf. He was happy for the opportunity to do something. He’d been governor once.

“I always thought that Congress or the White House staff controlled renovations.” Morris smiled, his teeth creaking. People were always saying that he didn’t smile enough. Politico had accused him of glowering during the Inauguration. They never described the President or the First Lady as glowering.

The agent grunted in his usual, non-committal way. Morris turned to look around the room, flashing broad, well-practiced grins for potential photographs.

The room was filled with more senior citizens than reporters. Grizzled old men had packed themselves into row after row of cheap, fold-up chairs. A handful of reporters, looking young and bored, shuffled around the room. A woman from the Washington Post argued with a flabby man in a golf shirt. A flock of interns from his office hovered near the refreshments table, waiting for someone to remove the plastic-wrap that separated them from their dinner. Outside, a David Koresh look-alike handed out pamphlets about Jesus.

Waco was one of Morris’s happiest memories. He had once given a very well-received speech about it. The New Yorker had described it as, “sobering.”

The Chair of the Homeowners’ Association seated himself at the front table and looked at his watch. He raised his gavel, paused for a moment, and then banged it hard against the wood. Sharp cracks echoed through the assembly room.

“Thank you all for being here today,” said the Chair in a voice that suggested contempt more than gratitude. “I do hereby call this meeting of the Homeowners’ Association to order. Before we begin with our agenda, are there any points or motions?”

The Chair did not bother looking up at the audience before pressing forward. “Seeing none, we’ll begin with our first item: Repainting of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Quiet fell across the room. A beat passed. Then another. The man looked up from the table. He stared at Morris with a frog-like hunger. “Mr. Morton, any time you’re ready.”

“Oh.” Said the Vice-President, red creeping into his cheeks. He shuffled through his scrambled papers, aware of each uncomfortable second. It wasn’t his fault if his papers were a mess. These weren’t even his papers. The First Lady had made White House renovations her pet project. She had spoken to the association about repainting the property. She had planned on presenting the proposal for approval.

But then someone had shot up a daycare and politics demanded that she pay her respects. There would probably be pictures of her and the President in the papers tomorrow.

Maybe if he did well enough today, they would let him go to the next memorial service.

The Vice-President found his speech and cleared his throat. “Mr. Chair. Distinguished representatives of the estates and government. Fellow citizens.” He had delivered a similar address when first campaigning for governor, but then JonBenét went missing. CNN had opted to broadcast dark, lurid photos of the dead child instead of his speech. “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to speak with you today.”

Near the back wall, the interns had lost patience and were tearing through the plastic wrap for the food underneath. Smashed cake and jelly dripped from their fingers onto the floor. The Chair glared but made no move to stop the carnage. The Post reporter snapped a picture. There were more people looking at the thuggish youths than him.

“Millennials,” scoffed someone under their breath.

“I uh…” Morris said, losing his place. The words somehow seemed more stilted than when he had practiced with his staff. The First Lady’s renovations had forced them out of his office and into a basement cell in the Old Executive Office Building. His speechwriter had spent most of the meeting on his Blackberry.

Morris skimmed through the scrubbed-down and sterilized paragraphs. Someone had seen fit to describe the White House as, “a shining beacon for American democracy.” In its final lines, Francis Scott Key and Dolley Madison made an appearance. He imagined the pair building a tinder in the Rose Garden.

The Secret Service agent looked at him. Morris’s reflection hovered ghost-like in the man’s dark glasses.

“Well, as you know... The President has made, um, the historical integrity of the White House…” Morris could feel himself crumpling, shrinking under the gaze of the Foggy Bottom Homeowners’ Association. The speech was trash. His career was trash. He'd pull a Budd Dwyer if there were any cameramen to watch it. “The President and the First Lady would like permission to repaint the White House.”

All anger seemed to disappear from the Chair’s face. In its place was pity and confusion. “You want to repaint the White House?” He asked. “Like Green? Red? Blue?”

“Uh. Uhhhhhhh,” said the Vice-President, again digging the paint samples out of the papers. JFK had gotten his top blown off while Morris was still a kid. He’d watched all the parades and vigils. He’d imagined himself in the martyred president’s place. He’d imagined Jackie and little John John weeping over his hollowed-out body. He’d imagined all the mourners talking about how good he had been. They’d put his face on a coin. Rename a highway after him.

“Government overreach!” Screeched a voice from the back. The Chair seemed to deflate at the noise. His pity darkened into an exhausted frown.

“No. No. Nothing like that. Nothing too bad. Just–. Just whisper white instead of bone.” Said the Vice-President, handing the samples over to the imposing Chair and his silent colleagues. Morris didn’t understand why his hands were shaking.

The Chair took the scraps of crumpled paper. Morris had never wanted to be Vice-President. He’d wanted to be Secretary of State and travel the world, but the party had wanted to balance the ticket. The President had driven down to Morris’s house, bursting with false warmth and camaraderie, and talked about doing things “for the good of the country.”

The real Secretary of State got to give press conferences about genocide.

As the Chair of the Foggy Bottom Homeowners’ Association passed the papers back to him, Morris saw the man’s face soften. The lingering sourness had disappeared. He looked sad and tired.

“Is that all, Mr. Vice-President?” Said the Chair.

Morris nodded and smiled while the reporter inched towards them. “I gotta say, this White House thing is my most important responsibility.”

The Chair sighed. “If there are no objections, I’d like to adopt by consensus Mr. Morris’s request to repaint 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.”

“Without objection.” Said the Chair as he banged his gavel. Morris looked towards the back of the room where the interns had stopped their feeding. He wondered if they might be able to get his picture in Politico.

“Without objection.” Said the Chair as the head of Morris’s Secret Service detail removed his dark glasses and rubbed his eyes.

“Without objection.” Said the Chair. The man looked at his watch. “Congratulations, Mr. Morris. The biggest accomplishment of your career took less than an hour.”

a new study bible!
Feb 2, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

The Flutist
1328 words

There was a nervousness buzzing in Isabella’s lungs that sent tremors down her arms and legs like bass strings. She tugged at the hem of her denim skirt, which was too short for the cool April evening, and shifted her weight as she leaned against the car that wasn’t hers.

Isabella removed a crumpled Post-it from her handbag. The text was written faintly in pencil, but its letters and message were clear: 8 pm. parking lot. Mr. Valdez had attached it to the backside of a returned test paper and dogeared the page to hide it.

This was no mistake.

Mr. Valdez wasn’t a prodigy like Isabella; he’d made that clear upon their first meeting, but he was knowledgeable and persistent, and what he lacked in technical skill he made up for in compositional understanding and a natural ear for music. He was the top-ranked orchestra director in the state; she was his prize student, and by the end of her first week of classes as a gangly freshman, Bella was in a deep, spiraling, sickening love that had gone unrequited for three and a half years until, suddenly, it wasn’t.


His apartment was nicer than what Isabella thought was possible on a teacher’s salary. While Valdez took a moment to hang up his tweed jacket and her cardigan, Isabella eyed a standing turntable framed by shelves of classic albums.

“Can I put something on?” she asked before playing a record that she was only vaguely familiar with. “This is one of my favorites.”

“Please,” Valdez said while pushing a sprout of black hair away from his forehead. “Can I bring you a drink?” he asked.

Isabella took a seat on the couch and crossed her legs to their most flattering position and hoped that he would notice.

“Yes, please, Mr. Valdez,” she said.

“Call me Diego,” he insisted.

“Diego,” she repeated and smiled.

Valdez returned with a glass of water for the eighteen year old, a red wine for himself.

“I hope you don’t mind if I have a drink drink,” Valdez said as he took a seat on the opposite end of the couch. “I believe that this is the type of situation that warrants one.”

“I could use one as well, Diego,” Isabella said, taking a sip from her sweating glass and sliding just ever closer to her teacher. She’d stolen a spritz of her mother’s perfume, and when Isabella flipped her blonde hair before speaking she hoped that a wiff of it would float his way. “You know, when I was in Europe last summer with my mother, she let me drink wine with dinner and-”

“I think it’s best if you stay sober-” Valdez said.

Isabella fell silent.

The two basked in awkwardness for minutes that felt like hours, until Valdez got up for more wine and took a seat even closer to Isabella upon his return. Then he took her hands in his, which caused her heart to flutter.

“Bella,” Valdez said, “in a few months you’ll be performing in New York for some of the most sophisticated audiences in the world.”

“-Because of you, Diego,” she added.

“-Because you’ve seized the opportunities presented to you,” he said, “you’ve learned this better than any of my students before.”

Diego’s right, Isabella thought, before digging some courage from the pits of her bowels and leaning in, prepared to do something that could never be taken back.

“A highly aggressive form of tinnitus will soon leave me deaf,” Valdez said.

She stopped. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Bella, do you trust me?”

Isabella nodded, and Valdez took her hand, leading her down the hallway to a closed door. She’d had these fantasies of giving herself to Mr. Valdez for the longest time, running away with him, and living a life of dangerous taboo. At first it would be difficult, it always is; they’d be shunned. Later, however, long after their deaths, they’d be admired, regarded as one of the world’s greatest love stories. In her fantasies, it had always begun on a night like this with his firm bed and candlelight.

Instead, she found a table and a bottle of gin.

“There are options,” Valdez said as he brought her into the room, “implants that plug into your brain, but they can’t account for pitch or tone. Everything sounds like a garbled satellite feed.”

Isabella noticed that the floor was covered from wall to wall in plastic sheeting.

“My brilliant Bella,” he said, “can you imagine a world without music? A world without me?”

Valdez moved to the side table, where, sitting gently on a sheet of parchment was what appeared to be a miniscule rubberized french horn. “Fortunately,” he said, “there’s this.”

“It’s made of a special bioplastic that mimics the inner ear,” he said. “You can’t see it, but there's a sheet of nano-cloth inside that vibrates at even the slightest sound, so we must be careful and keep our voices low until it is inside my head.”

“Inside?” Isabella repeated.

“I bought it online,” he added, before taking a deep pull from the bottle of Beefeater.

“Bella, you said that you trust me,” Valdez said, “and I trust you, too. I’ve seen your fingers work when playing. They never flinch, never falter, and always hit their note in time.”

Valdez climbed onto the table, taking a prostrate position against the plastic surface. Bella now saw the small tray of surgical equipment on the end table: a scalpel, gauze, a small set of clamps. The ear-horn looked like a chincy toy.

“I’ll walk you through the procedure,” he said.

“Mr. Valdez-”

“Diego,” he said.

“Diego,” Isabella said, “you need a doctor.”

“I can’t trust a doctor with this.” Valdez said. “The ringing in my head is driving me crazy! If I let the doctors have me I’ll just wake up with a computer strapped to my head and then I might as well have been murdered there on the table!”

Isabella took a step backwards from the table, “I-”

“I’ve seen the looks you’ve given me, heard- back before the damned ringing- I’ve heard the cooing and giggling.” Valdez sat up from his position, “Bella, look at how you’re dressed. If you care about me like your presence here suggests...”

Isabella was lost in reflection as Valdez approached her position and wrapped his arms around her. The kiss brought her back.

Valdez’s lips were cracked and splintered, and when he pressed them against Isabella’s all that she could feel were the fault lines along their surfaces. His stubble cut into her cheeks like a million needles being pulled over her skin, and the sour tinge of a dirty musk rose from his embrace.

“I’m sorry,” Isabella said as she fought the instinct to run.

“And I’m sorry,” Valdez said as he raised the scalpel to his neck. A silk-thin trail of blood had already begun to run down and soak into his shirt collar. His eyes had a way of saying this is on you, which Isabella wasn’t prepared to deal with.

“Lie down,” she said.

Valdez smiled and took another gulp from the bottle of gin. “The first step,” he said, “is to cut along the length of the backside of the ear.”

Isabella looked into the hallway and for the first time noticed the stained wallpaper and the black grime that collected where the walls met the floorboards.

“Now there’s a portion of the skull back there,” Valdez said. “Make sure to cut around it.”

The sticky blood flooding out of the incision ran down the curvature of his neck like a waterfall and filled the room with the smell of pennies. Valdez only screamed a little bit. Then, Isabella left the scalpel jammed under his skull as she used her arm to wipe the sweat from her forehead.

“Is it supposed to be bleeding this much?” Isabella asked. Valdez never responded.

She wondered if he could hear her.


Mar 21, 2010
Bear-y my dick in the nation’s rear end in a top hat


Reuters, Washington: Amid allegations that he shits in the woods, the campaign of President Barry McDikkin is starting to fall apart. Insiders repor-

For the third time that day, Tommy Mannheim sighed and wondered if the joke had gone too far. Every time the papers predicted the end of the campaign, it only served to make them stronger. ‘Haha the US political system is so broken a bear could run’ very funny yeah yeah, but now there were at least forty people waiting on him for paychecks, and a solid bloc of voters who seemed to be taking the whole thing very seriously.

He’d tried everything to let people know he wasn’t being entirely sincere, as if the tame grizzly bear with a dick joke for a name wasn’t giving it away. Maybe they knew, and they just didn’t care; between Trump, Hillary and a literal grizzly bear called Barry McDikkin, the public would go for the one who embarrassed the nation the least.

“Waddaya think, Barry?” said Tommy.

Barry was eating berries. “Mrrrrrrr,” he said. He sniffed a few times, then rolled onto his back.

“Font of wisdom you are,” said Tommy, “fuckin dumb bear. I should sell you on Craigslist.”

Barry shook his muzzle. “Rrrooo?” he said. His eyes were wide, and filled with bear-tears.

“Yeah man I’m sorry,” said Tommy. “Stress of the campaign, you know? You need anything: berries, salmon? I saw a nice tree you can scratch against, but you gotta do the speech first. Speech. Speeeeeech, yeah?”

Tommy gave up. It was just a bear. He didn’t even know if it was a male bear, though he didn’t ask: America might be ready for an ursine president, but an ursine woman in the White House? God forbid. FOX would have a field day. The campaign bus rolled to a stop. The crowd outside waved banners and flags: “A BEAR-Y GOOD CHOICE,” “LET’S BEAR-Y TRUMP”. poo poo like that. Tommy sighed; time to meet the press.

Reuters, Washington: as the campaign heats up, a group of campaign reporters have been found dead inside their hotel room with elongated claw and tooth wounds - apparently killed mid-interview. Their recording equipment was damaged beyond repair. The park service believe some sort of large animal to be responsible, and are warning citizen to be vigilant of cougars or other such animals.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are believed to be among the dead, through facial recognition is proving difficult due to the faces bei-

“Barry,” said Tommy, “did you see this?”

His face was very pale. The article went on to show plummeting Republican and Democrat support in the midst of their candidates’ disappearance and probably death.

“We’re running almost unopposed,” said Tommy. Barry shrugged - shrugged; it was a very unbearlike movement.

“Rrrrrrr,” said Barry. He’d found a honeycomb somewhere, and was eye-deep inside it. The bees didn’t seem to bother him. He sat upright on the floor of the campaign bus, slurping greedily.

“Barry,” said Tommy, “are you a hyperintelligent bear and/or a bear possessed by the spirit of Abraham Lincoln returning to fix a broken electoral system?”

“Gggrrrr,” said Barry. Of course he’d say that. What a consummate politician: never a word out of place.

Nate Silver - fivethirtyeight blog
A surge in popular support following the deaths of his two major opponents looks set to propel Barry McDikkin into the White House in november. The bear is especially popular among voters 18-25: a group that are notoriously difficult to please. McDikkin’s military policy of ROOOOOAR is proving popular with both the left and the right - it’s environmentally friendly, while –

“Mister Lincoln, Sir?” said Tommy. “Do you want to speak to the press?”

He wasn’t sure about the whole Lincoln ghost thing, but better safe than sorry. They were well and truly across the Rubicon now - Barry the bear was going to be president and nobody could do a goddam thing about it. Already, beltway wannabes were lining up around the block to shake his paw and slip him their business card.

Barry McDikkin shrugged. “Hmmmmmrrrrrrr,” he said. He was ankle-deep in a Canadian river, swatting at passing salmon. The press were lined up on the river banks, trying to get candid shots. Tommy stood beside the bear, and shivered as the water soaked his legs. His leather shoes were ruined.

Reuters, Washington: following a landslide victory, independent candidate Barry –

Tommy sat in his four-thousand dollar suit, drinking a two-hundred year old scotch from a secret cabinet in the oval office. Barry scritched his back against the presidential desk.

“Ssssho,” he said, “Barry. Barry the, hah - Barry the Bear. Hahaha. We won. Woooo.”

There was no enthusiasm in it. For the millionth time that year, he wondered if the joke had gone too far. He took another long drink of the very fine scotch, and burst into tears.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

More Impossible
1502 words

The hallway was filled with smoke and the sounds of gunfire, and Maya’s daughter was tugging on her pants pocket, trying to get her attention.

“I want to go home,” her daughter said, kicking at the floor.

“We’re almost there,” said Maya, fiddling with the padlock on the roof hatch. “Just don’t worry about it.”

A black GoPro camera banged against Maya’s hip as she maneuvered the lockpick from side to side. The camera was rolling, using a grafted-on uplink to transmit her character’s latest caper to her fictional horde of social media followers, disenfranchised with the state of society, and more than willing to watch a ¬Die Hard-flavored Robin Hood steal from the crooked bankers. A “found-footage action movie”, was how they sold it to potential producers.

This was the climax of the movie. It all ended here.

“I want to go home,” her daughter whined again.

Shouts came from the far end of the fog-filled corridor: “Police! You have nowhere to run!

Maya dropped the lock and fired a couple shots at the locked door. The voices fell silent, then Maya heard the sound of a circular saw revving up. Sparks flew from the steel door’s hinges as the saw cut through.

Her daughter started to cry. “Mommy, I’m scared…” Six years old, and she already knew how to cry on cue. Maya hadn’t managed that until her teens.

Maya started to turn towards her daughter, then stopped. “gently caress this,” she said, training her gun on the stubborn padlock. “Sorry for cussing.”

A flash of phosphorus shot out of the barrel, and the lock fell apart in a pile of aluminum scraps. She yanked the latch down and hauled the rusted ladder to the floor. Her daughter clung to her left arm, and she held up the video camera with her right.

“Nobody worry,” she said, talking to both at once. “All under control.”

The cold air smacked her in the face as she burst out onto the roof, which was flat and without cover. She laughed, high and hard, then walked towards the sun, setting low behind the New York Skyline, the camera still at her hip.

“I don’t like it up here,” said her daughter, still by the hatch.

“I don’t like it up here either, baby,” Maya said to the roof’s edge. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I brought you up here. I’m sorry for all of this.”

The blue stunt bag waited 200 feet below. Maya saw the crew scattering themselves around the pavilion, checking and re-checking lights, lenses, microphones. In two minutes, the stage explosives would go off. She knew just what to say until then, had memorized every line.

There was no answer from her daughter, just the clamor of gunshots and footsteps clambering up the ladder.

“Now none of us have anywhere left to go,” said Maya, her voice cracking, almost lost in the whipping wind.

The hatch burst open again.

Maya sat on the couch in her trailer, willing to look anywhere but at Tom, who was pacing back and forth across the room’s limited length. There were two pregnancy tests at the bottom of the bathroom wastebasket, two different brands, and she would’ve locked herself in there to get away from him by now if it didn’t mean that the little plus signs would be staring back at her, like the eyes of dead comic strip characters.

“Maya Silvestri,” Tom said to nobody, waving his hands in front of him, conducting an orchestra of nobody and no one. “The Stuntwoman Who Can Act. Five box-office breakouts, two MTV Movie awards, The Most Scintillating Action Star of The Decade, and you don’t want any of it.” She could feel his eyes on her, mouth curved in the smirk that made him famous. “You could have everything you ever wanted, and every day you make it more and more impossible—“

“You always use that word wrong,” Maya said, fingers splayed across the couch’s right armrest.

“What word?”


“Well, who cares?”

Maya stared up at Tom for the first time in an hour. “Impossible, Tom, is not the word for getting a job or making a stunt happen or giving birth during Halley’s Comet. Impossible is none of those things. Impossible is swallowing the entire ocean in one gulp, and giving birth to—to—“ Her eyes were blurry, and her fingernails were digging into the leather. “To a tsunami or something.”

“Or a glacier?” Tom forced a laugh, which died quickly as the candleholder slammed into his chest.

“Get out!” screamed Maya. “Get out!

Tom dodged the iPod docking station, the box of Kleenex, and the giftwrapped DVD of Gina Carano’s Haywire on his way to the trailer door, slamming it shut just before the half-full glass of Bloody Mary shattered against it, red rivulets of tomato juice flowing down to a puddle onto the tile.

Maya sat back down onto the couch, staring into the black surface of the TV screen on the opposite wall, breathing heavy. If her hands were big enough, she could have eviscerated the trailer’s entire insides, scraped the framed stock photography and dust-covered speaker system off the walls and thrown it all at him in one single barrage. She looked down at her upturned hands in her lap, biting her tongue to keep from crying.

She heard her daughter walk in and sit on the couch next to her.

“Mom, are you okay?”

Maya looked at her, and then looked away again just as quickly. Her daughter looked just like her when she was her age, close-cropped black hair, hazel eyes that looked at you in a way like they knew much more than they were supposed to. She was too young to be handling it better than her mother was, too young to ignore the tears running down her mother’s face, too young to be calling her Mom and not Mommy.

“I’m fine. I’m—fine.” Maya sucked in stale air through her nose. She could see the leftover celery stalk lying flat on the coffee table, the leafless end dyed red from the Bloody Mary, glistening in the close up ceiling light. “I’m sorry for waking you up, honey.”

Maya heard her daughter walk away, her footsteps fading into the sound of Maya’s beating heart.

Tom stepped toward Maya, and Maya jerked the gun upwards, pointed it at his head.

The two of them were fully alone on the rooftop, each ready to spring. The camera’s lens stared back at Tom, still hanging at Maya’s hip, connected to the waistband wrapped tightly around her belly.

“Put the gun down,” said Tom, edging closer to Maya, who stood perched on the rooftop ledge. “Put the gun down, Sara. It doesn’t have to end this way.”

“You’re wrong,” said Maya, taking sharp breaths, knuckles tightened around the gun’s handle. The wind blew her hair in front of her face, but she stood still, looked straight ahead. If my arms were long enough, if I were fast enough, Tom thought, I could grab her before she fell—

“I just wanted to do something good,” shouted Maya. Her voice broke. “Something good, for once in my life. But sometimes life doesn’t let you. Sometimes it’s all luck.”
200 feet, even if you fell the right way, could do a number on a pregnancy. Only a few lines left to deliver, and then she would know for sure.

“No,” said Tom, his hands balled into fists at his sides. “There’s no luck behind you. Don’t do something stupid—“

“Shut up!” she screamed. “You don’t understand! No one ever wanted to!”

Look at me!” said Tom. “Maya. Look at me.”

She blinked in surprise.

“I don’t care. I don’t care anymore. Look at me, Maya.” Tom stared directly into her eyes. “I love you, Maya. gently caress being a professional about it.” Sweat dripped from Tom’s forehead, ran into his eyes. “Do what ever you want with your life. Just don’t—“

“gently caress you,” said Maya. The gun fell from her hand.

The explosives went off in a plume of noise and flames.

Her knees buckled.


She fell.

The rest of the crew who saw the video never asked what the story was between Tom and Maya, they just guessed based on what happened after.

After, Maya stopped doing her own stunts.

After, her action movie career ground to a halt, and Tom’s followed shortly after.

But at that moment, the crew members watching the video feed from the tent downstairs could only go on what they saw, which was just a flat picture of the black tarpaper on the roof, air glimmering in the haze of extreme heat, the sounds of flames crackling against the sound of faraway New York traffic, and on the outer edges of everything, the sound of Tom’s voice muffled by Maya’s shoulder, and the sound of Maya sobbing, the sobs slowly forming words: “I’m fine. It’s okay. I’m fine.”

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 24, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

a WAITER who wants to JOIN THE CIRCUS vs A DOG who wants to BE A MAN

Cirque du Jour
1636 Words

“Order up!” Ding, ding. Katie slides entree after entree onto the serving tray as fast as Buck can slam the slopped together plates up on the pass. She loads up a second. The thin layer of cork that lined the trays when Katie first started is long gone, only a few shredded patches still stuck to the brown plastic. Heave one. Left arm up. Heave two, and off we go. A half-pirouette and out the saloon doors butt first, eight-top in one trip.

She revels in the tightrope act, following the worn line in the cheap tile through the densely packed dining room, edge of each tray leveled on a shoulder. Table four slides a chair out suddenly; she shifts her balance and hefts a tray high over the diner’s head, dancing and sliding her way to the big corner booth.

Katie delivers the meals like a thousand times before, matching plate with consumer without a conscious thought. Two adults, six kids. That’ll be fun come tip time. But it is what it is. She stacks the trays with a quick “Can I get you anything else?” and an “Enjoy your meal,” then surveys the dining room. Everyone is digging in, waters and Cokes don’t need refills, time to take five.

The alley behind Buck’s is a thin trench of pocked asphalt. An aurora of water-stains patterns the old brick building; and under peeled and cracked caulking, moldy green mortar peeks through. A concrete dividing wall stretches parallel down the entire block, separating the dingy urban ravine from a similarly dismal parking lot. Without a second glance behind her, Katie hops up on the row of galvanized garbage cans and vaults to the top of the wall.

Arms stretched to her maximum wingspan, she toes out a tentative step, then another. She picks up speed, every footfall more secure and steady. She trots with unwavering balance and at the end of the block where the ravine opens to the sidewalk running along Fourth Avenue, Katie pivots and takes the towel from the pocket in her apron. It smells of bleach as she ties the makeshift blindfold.

The big finale. Muscle memory takes over and she glides along the top of the wall, feet finding the sure path before she can even think about what might go wrong. Forty-three steps, then thirty, ten, one, done. Katie bows left, to the right, and then faces the backside of Buck’s and takes her deepest bow, arms sweeping low.

Something catches her right wrist. She recoils but can’t hold her footing. She drops off the wall, arms pinwheeling. The garbage cans clang as they break her fall; one collapses like a crushed soda can, and the other topples, lid rolling down the alley. She sits for a stunned second on the rolled-steel throne before a whiff of stale garbage water brings back her senses.

Katie tears off the blindfold. The boss’s son looms, hands planted on his narrow hips, stick-arms akimbo.

“Jesus, Gordie, you could’ve killed me.”

“Your break is over,” says the little poo poo through chapped lips. “And it’s Gordon. No, Mr. Parker to you.”

Katie extracts herself from the ruined garbage can, brow furrowing ever deeper, and brushes herself off for what little good it will do. Doesn’t feel like any damage. “Mr. Parker,” she scoffs, futilely shaking one damp slip-on.

“Won’t be long now,” he waxes, pimpled face lost in his fantasy. “I’m practically running the place now. There’s gonna be big changes.”

Buck is still ornery as ever, plenty of good years before he retires, Katie thinks. Hopes. Sure he’s gruff, but he’s all bark and no bite. His little yippie dog of a son, though . . . she imagines Gordie snapping and nipping at her ankles. It’s too real a possibility, and she shudders back to reality.

He’s still droning on, “. . . by that time I expect I’ll have a Michelin star -”

”You don’t even cook, Gordie.”

“I have some ideas. Once the dining room is remodeled, I’ll be able to get a good chef in here. And new uniforms. You’d look pretty good if you ever cleaned yourself up.”

“That’s enough. Get outta my way.” Katie shoulder-checks past him and Gordie presses a sweaty hand against the brick to catch himself as she stomps through the kitchen entrance.

“Back to work,” he shouts at her back as the door slams.

Katie kicks the garbage shoe off into the broom closet. It bounces with a squish and drops into the utility sink as she swallows the lump in her throat. Not much of a choice, she slips her other shoe off and slides into the old galoshes under the sink.

She avoids eye contact though the kitchen, passes the ringmaster at the grill, and marches through the swinging doors a little harder than she should. It’s after hours at the circus, the fat dancing bears are finished stuffing their faces, bellies bloated and pressing on the bottoms of the tables. The side show is sipping their coffees, one playing with the curled tips of his moustache, and another idly slipping a pinky through a tire rim for an earring.

The corner booth is empty, and through the glass front she sees them loading into their tiny clown car, curly orange heads garish under the sodium streetlight. They never got a check! Katie pulls the pad from her apron pocket as she races to the booth. A crumpled pile of bills is on the table. She does a quick tally, two bucks short, forget about a tip.

But it’s too late, and the clown car is backfiring down the street. Goddammit, Gordie.
Katie sleepwalks through the rest of her shift. The diners gone, she hears the dishwashers finish stacking the freshly washed pans and the back door echo as they leave for the night. She feels Buck’s bass rumble and hears Gordie’s pitchy, yapping replies. She’s never been this slow wiping down the tables and turning the chairs, but maybe she’ll have something go her way today and Gordie won’t stick around.

No such luck. The saloon doors swing open and Gordie bobs through, over to the register and counts the till. “I’m closing up tonight, Dad left me in charge,” he says with a smirk. As though an afterthought, he adds, “You’re going to have to pay for the trash cans. But it can come out of your paycheck.”

Katie slow mopping circles stop. She glares at him, but Gordie never looks up from the cash drawer. Her tone is harsh, “You know what, Gordie?”

Now he meets her gaze, eyes wide, thumb frozen on his pink tongue. Finally she smiles. “Why don’cha sit down? I’m mean, you’re the boss, right? I’ll finish with that.” His cheeks flush a little, unable to disguise his pride, misinterpreting Katie’s conniving as flirtation.

The thin stack of cash slides out of his loose grip to the counter. He stammers, but can’t complete a word. Gordie sidles into a rickety padded chair facing the storefront, hands folded in his lap.

“I’ve been thinking about your big plans,” she says, “I have a family recipe you might like. I’m French, you know.” His blush spreads to his forehead. “Just sit tight and I’ll make it for you. Won’t take long.” He’s powerless.

Katie grabs the barbecue tongs on the way to the utility sink and fishes out her ruined shoe. Carefully, she places it in a wide-brimmed soup bowl and lovingly ladles some leftover french onion inside, watching it drizzle past the tongue and down the insole to ooze out the cloth uppers and settle in the bottom of the bowl.

The soup of the day spins in the microwave, round and round, until rubber and a hint of sour garbage wafts her way. Katie takes a deep breath through her mouth and holds it as she pops open the microwave door and gently slides her revenge out and onto a tray. She tongs the shoe into the tureen for Gordie to find later, then sprinkles some pepper and parmesan over the brown broth. Soup spoon, a couple croutons garnish and that ought to do it.

Back through the saloon doors, and Gordie is still sitting quietly, an obedient lap dog for once. Katie rests the bowl in front of him and places the spoon in his hand. “Voila, eau du chaussure. Bon appetit!” Her accent is straight from a cartoon.

Gordie sniffs it and crinkles his nose, but Katie chimes in before he can object, “Note the full bodied, earthy aroma. It’s traditional rustic cuisine. Go on.”
Gordie takes a spoonful, blows on it, then slurps it down. “This, um-”

“I know, right? It takes a refined palate to really appreciate true French flavors.”

“Oh, right, yes.” Gordie takes another hesitant spoonful, and he tries to smile at her but it’s more of a grimace.

“That’s it,” Katie sing-songs as she backs to the check-out counter, pockets two twenties to cover her lost tips and ruined shoes, then unties her faded apron. She places it on the table next to Gordie, and he watches her flip the cracked rubber boots off.

“I . . .” he trails off, scooting his chair away from her.

Katie looks down at him and shakes her head. “You’ve got the wrong idea, little man. I quit.”

Gordie hops out of his chair, but he’s already watching her push the front door open. “Wha?” but Gordie’s stomach interrupts him with a gurgle and a stabbing cramp.

He’s doubled over when she turns and says, “You might want to make some fresh soup for tomorrow, Gordie -- sorry, Mr. Parker -- I’m off to join the circus.”

“Ding, ding,” says the bell as the heavy glass door closes and Katie skips barefoot down the warm sidewalk, a fresh night breeze on her face.

Feb 15, 2005
Gummyshoe, 1376 words



said the big happy golden letters on the door, followed by

B. Heisman
Private Investigator

in a smaller, black, and much less exciting font. Allen carefully opened the door and peeked inside - the voice onthe phone had told him to just come in. A man in clown make-up was sitting at his desk, smoking a cigar. His face was a resplendent white, with wide expressive eyes and a deep red grin. The grease paint ended at his shoulders - he was wearing an worn but clean wife beater. He saw Allen and waved him in.

"You must be the client that called earlier. Grab a seat. You don't mind if I smoke, right? Some clients get touchy about that stuff. Can't smoke in half of the five boroughs anymore."

"N-no, that's fine, go ahead," Allen replied. "I'm here to speak to Heisman, about a case...?"

"Right, we talked on the phone. Something about your missing wife, yeah?" The clown leaned over and pulled out a legal pad. Allen could see his name on the top, followed by some notes.

"I'm sorry... you're Heisman? The private investigator?" Allen asked.

"Bozo Heisman, the one and only," the clown replied.

"But... why the make-up?"

"Oh," the clown said, fixing him with a sympathetic look. "Does it make you nervous? I understand if you're scared of clowns-"

"I'm not scared, I just wondered-" Allen interjected.

"-Lots of people have a phobia, it's perfectly natural to be-"

"I'm not scared of clowns!" Allen interrupted loudly.

A pause. "Well, forget I mentioned it then," the clown said finally. "Let's focus on your wife, Jasmine right? You think she might be in trouble, got involved with some rough people."

"Yeah," Allen replied awkwardly, feeling like he was being pranked somehow. "She's been getting into a car driven by a, well, I think he might be a drug dealer. An Escalade with the license plate that says K1NGP1N. You know. Well, um, yesterday morning she left with him, and hasn't returned my phone calls since. I don't want to get the police involved, since.... well."

Bozo hadn't written anything down, and simply stared at Allen with a happy smile. "You know what I'm going to suggest, right?"

"She isn't cheating on me. I had asked her about it, and she told me that she was faithful, but I should leave it alone."

"And...?" Bozo asked.

"And I trust my wife. We... used to live a very different lifestyle, and I'm worried she got mixed up in the old crowd."

"Hm. Hmmm." Bozo stared at him for a bit, before grabbing his shirt off a nearby hook. "Alright, you've got me intrigued. Bozo is on the case."


"Listen, I understand that you're the expert here, but when I agreed to hire you, I thought you'd do more... I dunno, investigating." Allen said. The car was hot and cramp, and smelled of stale cigar smoke.

"I tracked down your mysterious Escalade to here, didn't I?" Bozo replied. He was watching a warehouse down the street through a pair of binoculars.

"You googled the license plate. That hardly makes you Sherlock Holmes," Allen said.

"That so, kid? And what did you google before you agreed to hire me?" He waited for Allen's retort for a long moment. "Yeah, that's what I thought. Now, it looks like the Kingpin just drove off, and your Jasmine wasn't in the car. I'm going to take a look."

"I'm coming with you," Allen said quickly. And then, quietly after Bozo glared at him, "She's my wife."

"...Fine. Follow my lead."

The two men walked carefully forward, cautious of any surprises. Allen glanced through a window, and stared inside. Despite the outer appearance of an abandoned warehouse, inside was well-maintained. Burly men were moving around unmarked crates, and in the middle was a table. A small pile of mysterious white powder was sitting there - cocaine or heroin, Allen couldn't tell for sure.

"There's still people here," he whispered to Bozo.

"Yep," Bozo replied at a normal volume. "Don't make any sudden moves."

Allen turned with a perplexed look, straight into the barrel of a gun. The man behind the weapon was a short, mean-looking fellow, with cobwebs tattooed on his elbows and a tear drop on his face. Another man, tall and muscular, had a knife to Bozo's gut.

"I don't want any trouble," Allen said, as he slowly raised his hands. "I'm just looking for my wife, Jasmine."

The two men exchanged a strange look, and came to a decision. "Come on," the short one said. They pushed Bozo and Allen into a small storage closet, and moved to shut the door. "The boss'll take care of you later."

"Wait!" Bozo cried, falling to his knees and grabbing at the short one's jacket. "Puh-lee-lease let me go! I'm no threat, I'm just a clown. I promise I won't tell any one, I swear! I don't have anything to do with this! Just let me go!" He shuffled forward on his knees, clawing at the thug, until the man gave him a hard jab to the head.

"gently caress off!" The short man snarled, before slamming the door shut while Bozo sobbed on the ground.

"Thanks for sticking by me, man, I really appreciate it," Allen said with all the venom he could muster.

Bozo's sobs ceased without a trace. "Shut up, kid." The clown stood up, revealing a set of keys and the short man's pistol. "I don't really need any more of your poo poo."

"How'd you do that?" Allen asked. Bozo just gave him an annoyed look, and unlocked the door.

The two men stayed quiet, low, and lucky. Something was happening the warehouse - two groups of tense and heavily armed men were milling around, keeping a close eye on each other. In the middle of the room, two well-dressed men were discussing business over the pile of white powder. A woman was resting her hand on one man's shoulder, in a way that suggested comfortable intimacy.

"Recognize them?" Bozo asked.

Allen nodded. "That guy is the man in the Escalade, the kingpin."

"And the woman...?"

"My wife," Allen replied.

"She doesn't seem to be in much trouble," Bozo said quietly.

Allen stepped forward, and every gun in that warehouse turned to him. He tried to keep calm and ignore how afraid he was, and took another step forward.

"Allen!" his wife hissed. "Get out of here!" She strode forward, and the two groups turned their guns towards each other instead.

"I was worried... you weren't picking up-" Allen said.

Bozo fired his pistol into the air, and all hell broke loose. Allen dived forward, pulling Jasmine into his protective grasp. The air filled with screams and gunpowder, and the violence continued for an eternity. But eventually the last few gunshots died down, and Allen cautiously peeked his head up.

"You stupid loving idiot! You ruined everything!" Jasmine screamed as she stood up. "This deal was going to make us rich!"

Allen looked up confused. "I don't understand, I was trying to save you-"

"Save me? Save ME? From what, you dumb rear end in a top hat!" She was furious, and digging into her purse for something.

"The kingpin... he kidnapped you."

She pulled out a pistol and pointed it at Allen's head. He slowly raised his hands. "I'm the kingpin, you moron! This was my deal, and I was going to be rich - and you ruined it! You ruin everything!" Her finger tightened around the trigger, and Allen felt the bullet whiz past his ear. The gun clattered across the floor, and Jasmine shrieked. A knife was embedded in the palm of her hand, slick with blood.

"I love that little party trick," Bozo said, stepping out of the shadows. "You know, I used to be a carnie. You learn all kinds of things in the trade."

Allen didn't take his eyes off of Jasmine. Her shrieks had turned into quiet sobs, and she sank down to her knees. "What's going to happen now?" He asked.

"Now?" Bozo asked, as he pulled a half-smoked cigar from his coat pocket. "Now you figure out what you want to tell the police. And after that, you'll be writing me a check."

Jan 27, 2006


Armack fucked around with this message at 14:35 on Aug 20, 2016

Mar 21, 2010
Kaishai pls add this to my story ta

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo
Paper Cuts
943 words

The eighth dimension is octaves, high and low. It’s the music never heard. I’m a song that’s never been sung.

I’m sisterly. The other songs are lines above and below. We press and parallel into where we distort, run together discordant. It’s cold where we touch. They don’t give up heat, but take mine. I feel it go, bled and gutted.

And my tenth eye opens, and I see five dimensions above, and five below. I see the places where they only press when they want to, and they share heat, because that is love, the energy and the flow of it.

I see the warm ones, bright blue fires in black spaces, and the cold ones, hollow and waiting, and I want the warm ones more.

So I burrow through the hole of my eye and tunnel deep and soon I have skin and soon it wants to feel. Stacked cells and the need between walls, skeined into the air, to the real, to sunlight and fog.

I hear music that isn’t there.

It’s a July afternoon and smoke tendrils off the grill and mixes with glassed air. Van is twisted over his chair. The backyard grass is overgrown, thick with fallen leaves and broken branches. I hear the notes in my head, bursting like meteor showers and cutting like razor blades.

“Your neighbour needs to turn the music down,” I say. I’m studying my sandals, the cracks between toes, my splintered nails. Van opens his eyes. “He’s not playing music,” he says. I say “nevermind,” and try to sink my chair into the earth. The earth will swallow me and the music will stop. Bury me with the waste and bones of dead animals.

I’m brotherly. I’m cool water over her glowing embers. Her neurons choke and hiss and I thrum where they pull apart. I’m sorry, I say. I need space to live. It comes out as fractured arpeggios that fly to apex and freefall in vertigo.

She holds her ears and bites her tongue, staining the tips of her teeth.

I vibrate higher, and when the walls push back I leave myself in the membranes. They pulse with heat, phase through me and dig me out, so I’m lined with fire, sticking to my longing like maple sap.

We’re at a hole one story deep under the cold street. Even though hell stares from behind the the bartender’s eyes and shadows bolt across the floor like black lightning, we haunt this place like leaving would mean letting go.

Van is saying something, but I can’t hear it. The years have gnarled him like an ancient tree. But his beard is full, dark coiling moss with streaks of white light. I don’t listen anymore. I just trace the coils as they loop and twist into each other. I think I can see the lines between them, thin and tight as gossamer.

Van’s mouth yaws open, clamps shut. At first I tried to make out words, here and there. Now I go by vibes and vibrations. He says something and I say something and no one understands each other anyway.

Meanwhile the notes cut me up. A ghost fissuring me open to empty himself out. Something made of blades, cold slivers working into my beating heart.

And I look at Van, the slivers blotting him out. At our empty glasses, so far away from each other. I see him through the haze of patrons lighting pills, leaning back and breathing out their souls.

And I remember when we used to get high like the moon, and scratch spirals into each other’s skin.

I’m motherly. I watch her as she grows, and I stay inside her and I trill and hum and shriek. The years cover her with mist, graying out her face and cobwebbing it with lines. Like ash etchings in cold stone.

I’m in her as the world starts to take things from her. Her family withers to shreds until it’s far relatives just hanging on. Soon she can’t understand anyone. People lose meaning, get weak and pale, and the gnarl on them becomes rot. Sickness hangs from them, swamps their feet, becomes murk they have to press through.

When Van was fading away I waited for when it didn’t matter I couldn’t hear him. Trying to find the moment I felt the dementia, held it to me, felt the concrete edges. I missed his last words and the notes in my head were his eulogy, piano wires that wrapped around my skull and frayed the bone.

I’m fatherly. I see them take her home. She’s too tired to fight. To her the street is paper, folding in on itself. Splitting in the wind, peeling into cranes and grasshoppers. Origami city. The people that pass her by look at her, curve their lips, and think about how they are fading too. They are ghosts and the wind will blow them further away from heaven.

I’ve lived for so long with these knives. They’ve hurt me. They press against the spaces of my mind and they’re cold. Cold gleaming things and when they touch my mind stiffens and expands and is scraped off. Scraped raw until it bleeds. I think there’s more blood than mind now. Chunks of who I used to be floating in amber syrup.

But I see my veins through my skin. I feel my heart slow.

Through the sludge I can finally understand the notes. They’re anguish. The cry of a dead thing trying to be alive. Trapped under the surface, clawing and choking on earth.

I reach down and start digging it out.

take the moon fucked around with this message at 06:29 on Aug 8, 2016

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
323.6, Citizenship and Related Topics
(1,577 words)

The automatic-check-out stations were the last straw. "I didn't ask for these," Ilona said as old Mike wheeled a second machine into the Carnegie Branch Library. "I don't recall a vote being held. I wasn't even consulted, and I guarantee my patrons weren't either."

"The whole system's putting them in. It's a budget thing." Mike shoved the Summer Reading Club display aside to make room for the monstrosity, and children's books cascaded to the floor. He grunted an apology. "Surprised they've sent them here, though, considering. How long 'til you close now? A month?"

Ilona rescued the fallen books and stroked bent covers back into smoothness. "Two, I'm told."

"Must be the bosses want to get you used to the machines, so when you're at your new branch--" Mike glanced over his shoulder, and the pity that flickered across his face told Ilona he'd interpreted her expression correctly. "Aww, come on. You've been here ten years!"

"A fact I now regret beyond measure," Ilona said. "There aren't any more openings for librarians in Cavelier."

Mike clapped her on the shoulder before he left, streaking her blouse with grime. Ilona let the dirt be and retreated to the back office. She'd lied about her feelings, of course. A decade was too little time to spend mending torn pages, shelving new volumes, handing kids she'd met as babies their first library cards, stopping Mrs. Orbach from smuggling racy DVDs out in her purse... well, she could have done with less of that. She had no desperate need to know about an eighty-year-old's obsession with Jude Law and his butt. But Ilona loved her old building, now due to be demolished; she loved all her volunteer and part-time workers; she loved everything about her library that wasn't its governing board. They could go to the devil and take automatic check-outs with them. After a couple of glasses of the Jim Beam hidden in her desk, it only seemed reasonable to tell them so.

On paper filched from the copier, Ilona penned her declaration:

We the people of the Carnegie Branch Library hereby announce the secession of our branch from the Cavelier Public Library System.

Very good, so far as it went. Her careful script made the letters stark and proud. Yet the board wasn't entirely responsible for the shortage of library funds, was it?

We secede likewise from the city of Cavelier, from the state of Texas--

In fact, why not go for broke?

--and from the United States of America. As our forefathers did before us, we found on this earth a new nation: Carnegie.

Her heart singing, Ilona made three copies, signing each Ilona Morris, President pro tempore, and stuffed them in envelopes addressed to the board of directors, the mayor, the governor, and the White House. She stamped each envelope with Carnegie's date of independence. Eventually she would need a national seal; the date stamp was a fine starting point. The letters went into the mailbox on the corner.

The next day, Sunday, Ilona called all her staff in for an emergency meeting. "I did something crazy last night," she told them. "I turned the library into a micronation. None of you know how to break into a mailbox, do you?"

Stanley, her best shelver, traded glances with Laurie, who read to children on Tuesdays. Young Morgan picked at her lip. Kevin laughed--well, Ilona couldn't blame him. It was database goddess Sasha who finally spoke. "Can I apply for citizenship?"

Together they all moved five beds into the library that night, one for each staffer except Laurie: "Living here would be my dream," Laurie said, "but my kids--" Ilona thought of the operatic toddlers in question and promptly named Laurie the Carnegien ambassador to America, her house the official embassy. No one protested, possibly because the others, too, preferred burrowing under covers with so many books around them to sleeping anywhere else. Possibly because they got their fill of children during the day, though that boded ill for the long-term population of their country.

Monday morning saw the doors opened and patrons guided into lines. "We plan to have an open border," Ilona promised Mrs. Orbach, stamping the woman's fresh new Carnegie visa, "but we'll search your luggage if you give us a reason. Please don't cause any international incidents."

Mrs. Orbach beckoned for Ilona to lean in close, then whispered, "Does this mean I can check out Wilde a hundred times and the NSA won't know?"

"Maybe wait a few days, Mrs. Orbach. We have to tighten our national security." The old lady's eyes gleamed in anticipation.

One of the clump of kids that had coalesced around Stanley asked loudly, "Where are the books on making up your own country?" Stanley pointed to the juvenile nonfiction and off they ran, eager to learn something.

"Their parents are in for an adventure," Kevin said from Ilona's right. He nudged her arm and nodded toward three preteens tapping on their phones. "I don't suppose you've checked Twitter, you Luddite? Hashtag 'Carnegie.' I'll bet you another bottle of Jim I can get it trending by Wednesday."

"Stay out of my desk, Kevin," Ilona said. "But sure. Do your thing."

As he explained it later, Kevin's Carnegie blog post was linked and reblogged by other book-centric blogs until library junkies all over the world had the news--and political sites picked it up too, comparing them to Sealand, the Hutt River Province, and even Great Britain. Kevin and Sasha grabbed a web domain and started an official state website.

On Thursday, Ilona couldn't make coffee past noon because all the taps ran dry. The power, phone, and Internet blinked out within the hour.

Morgan raked her hands through her hair until it stood up on end. "I knew this would happen. Of course it would. The state was paying the bills, and now there's no reason for them to, any more than there's a reason for them to pay us."

Sasha put an arm around her. "They never have paid us much, babe. You and Madam President are the only ones without other jobs. We'll keep the lights on with a national tax, and it'll still be cheaper than five sets of rent and utilities."

"Until it's illegal for us to work in America," Morgan said.

"Oh, there's a ton of information here on applying for green cards!"

Carnegie's citizens voted the tax proposal into law unanimously with Laurie abstaining, and during the same meeting most of them volunteered for the National Guard. Ilona helped Stanley build a shooting range in the basement with repurposed automatic-check-out machines as targets.

The chief of police rapped on the door so early on Friday that the sky was still grey. Her blouse hastily tidied, her lanyard bright with rhinestones, Ilona went to meet him with a tablet in her arm and the date stamp of state in her hand.

The chief shook his head at the sight of them. "This damnfool charade is over. I'm expelling you all from this government property right now, and you, Ms. Morris--"

"This government property that was about to be shut down and destroyed?" Ilona asked. "Which would have removed easy access to books from hundreds of people. Most of the books were going to be pulped or recycled, you know, to spare some bureaucrat a bigger headache. The city should be glad it doesn't have to fund any of that process."

"It isn't." The chief's eyes flicked to Sasha and Stanley nearby, lingered on the air rifles slung across their backs. "Nobody's happy about this."

"I must disagree." Ilona passed the date stamp to Stanley, then displayed her tablet to the chief. "In less than a week, more than fourteen thousand citizens of your nation have signed a petition to allow peaceful secession."

"Fourteen thousand people would sign a petition to add a new color to Froot Loops."

"True," Ilona admitted, "but there's more. The library has never been so busy. People from out of town are already coming to see us, spending money in your city. Word's spreading. Tourism will grow. Librarians from all over the world will make pilgrimages here and stay in local hotels. Maybe we'll make money from it ourselves, and where else will we spend it if we do? Cavelier's star shines brighter in exchange for a place you didn't want anyway. Think about it, sir."

The police chief sighed, folded his arms, and mulled it over for an age before speaking again. "It's not my decision, but the mayor might take your view. Though it doesn't matter since you'll never talk the governor and president around."

He departed to consult with his bosses, and Ilona turned to face her people. Her smile had never felt so wide. "A diplomatic tribute every April fifteenth or so should help with the latter, I think. Don't you?" she asked them.

Stanley offered her the date stamp. "You're probably right, Your Majesty."

Ilona blinked. Kevin thumped his fist over his heart and bent in half a bow. "He's on to something. It's better this way," he said. "Tourists like monarchies."

"Then kneel, librarians--" They did so with clear reservations, but frowns turned to laughter as Queen Ilona tapped their shoulders with the date stamp, one by one. "Rise, dames and knights of the Order of the Dewey Decimal. Long live our bibliocracy!"

Aug 2, 2003

Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.
From Cold War to Hot Pie
Flash rule: Now, tell me about the SPY that wants to win a COUNTY FAIR BAKING COMPETITION
(1,043 words)

The Weston County Fair was the sort of event where you could run into people you hadn't seen in years. Amid face-painted children, rigged carnival games, and generic folk music, chances were you'd see familiar faces. I wasn't concerned with any old friends that day. Mainly, I was concerned with boysenberries.

The pie-baking contest wasn't the most glamorous thing I'd ever done, not by far. I was proud of my pies, though. I had decided this would be my year. My boysenberry pie, with its recipe passed down a hundred years through my family, had been honed to perfection. I had been one of the first contestants judged, and I hoped I saw a hint of a smile on the crankiest of the judges. It was while waiting for them to judge the other entries that I heard a familiar voice saying my name.

"Declan Kaine?"

An old chill ran up my spine. I'd not heard that pretentious Euro-trash voice in decades, but it was unmistakable. The Weston County Fair was the sort of event where you could run into people you never wanted to see again. I turned to the man who had once been my enemy.

"Doctor Kiloton," I said. "What are you doing here?"

"Come, come, now Declan," he said. "Is that any way to greet an old friend?" He was stroking a fluffy white cat while he spoke. His bald head glinted in the sunlight as if it were plastic. Time had not been kind to him.

"If you're here to kill me," I said, "You shouldn't bother. I'm retired."

"Oh, as am I," said the Doctor. "Yes, my plans certainly took a hit when you destroyed my Volcano Fortress."

"Give it a rest, it was thirty years ago," I said. "Besides, I'm sure you found some underwater lair to move into."

"Who told you about--- Never mind," he said, "I'm not here to kill you. I simply approached you hoping to exchange pleasantries." A slight smirk crossed his lips. That same smirk I'd seen a hundred times in a whole different lifetime.

"I guess you find it easier to be pleasant when you're not dangling a guy over an electrified shark tank?" I asked, recalling an encounter from long ago.

"Now who's bringing up old news?" he asked. "And besides, you managed to destroy my Doomsday Device that day. I don't think you have any room to complain."

"Whatever happened to those sharks, anyway?"

"Dead," he replied. "As it turns out, sharks don't much like electricity either."

"That certainly make sense," I said, nodding. "So, What are you really doing here? This isn't really the kind of place for a guy like you."

"Fine. If you must know, I want to win the contest."

I laughed. "How the mighty have fallen," I said. "From trying to conquer the world to pie-baking contests?"

"Like you have any room to talk, Mr. Kaine of S.A.B.R.E.," he replied through clenched teeth. "Foiling my plans, saving the world, and all for what? Just so you can compete against soccer moms and Suzie Homemakers?"

"This is what I want to do with my retirement," I said. And if you're trying to win, why aren't you standing next to your pie?"

"I'm not allowed to enter a pie, actually," he said, looking down. "I've been banned for life. Turns out the Weston County council doesn't look kindly upon attacking the other contestants with plutonium-powered robot arms."

"I would imagine not," I said. "So how do you plan on winning?"

"By proxy, of course," he said. "If you'll look down the row, I'm sure you'll remember my old employees, Boris the Mad and Karlotta Kleavage?"

I had ignored the other contestants up to this point, but upon looking I recognized his former henchmen. Both had let themselves go since the glory days of the Cold War. Boris' beard was about two feet longer and his waist about a foot wider. Karlotta looked very much like a typical mid-western grandmother. Both of them waved when I looked. I didn't wave back.

"Ladies and gentlemen," said the voice over the loudspeaker. "The judges are now ready to announce the winners of the Weston County Pie Baking Contest." The small audience that had gathered applauded politely.

"Third prize," continued the announcer, "goes to Boris the Mad, for his cheni... chernik... uh... Russian blueberry tarts!" Boris the Mad jumped up and down.

"He seems awful happy to win fifty dollars," I said.

"Listen, he's not a smart man," said Doctor Kiloton, "work isn't easy to find for a guy like him."

"Second prize," said the announcer, "goes to Karlotta Kleavage and her blueberry pie!" Karlotta bowed gracefully. She winked and blew a kiss at one of the judges. The judge blushed, then smiled back.

"Really?" I said.

"Oh, it's not what you think," said Doctor Kiloton. "It's not like she slept with him. For a blueberry pie contest? Even she has her standards."

I shook my head. At least now I was sure to win. The anticipation was building, I'd waited all year for this moment. My boysenberries were fresh. My crust had been flaky and buttery. This contest was mine.

"And first place goes to... drum roll please," said the announcer. "Marjorie Pennypacker for her Triple Vanilla Apple Surprise!" An overweight red-headed housewife ran to the stage to claim her ribbon and prize money. "This makes three years in a row for Ms. Pennypacker..."

I tuned out the announcer. I looked down at my failure of a pie. A hundred years to perfect this recipe and I'd lost to a housewife, a crazy Russian, and a failed porn star. I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Tough break," said Doctor Kiloton. "Listen... Boris, Karlotta, and I are going to the bar after this to blow their prize money. You're welcome to come if you'd like. We can catch up on old times."

I hesitated. On the one hand, the idea of sharing a beer with a man I'd stopped from blowing up the moon didn't appeal to me. On the other hand, I could really use a drink after losing so handily.

"Yeah," I said. "What the hell, let's hit the bar. Boris can buy the first round."

Apr 12, 2006

Sitting Here posted:

When you make your 'in' post, you will come up with a flashrule for the person who signs up after you.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

In. A DOG wants to BE A MAN.

Jonked posted:



Jonked posted:

Gummyshoe, 1376 words


That's an interesting way of inviting me to a brawl but I guess I accept.

Mar 21, 2010

Mar 21, 2010

Mar 21, 2010

Oct 4, 2013


it's a metaphor for procrastination
1136 words.

Wizards. Can’t live without them, can’t live within a 50-mile radius of them, can’t send a friendly suggestion to the one with the biggest hat that maybe, just maybe, they might want to pay their taxes more than once a century without them throwing a tantrum.

To defend our fair city’s coffers against the insipid societal poison known as “tax evasion,” I’ve gone to the dankest crypts, the dampest swamps, the darkest dungeons inhabited by creatures that casually sidle into your nightmares and make themselves at home until you come home in the morning to find them passed them out on your bedroom floor and you get in a screaming row about what they’re doing with their lives. Much to the displeasure of all sorts of undead abominations and dragons, “Plundering in self-defense” was made a legal (and thus taxable) source of income after the king got drunk with his court philosophers and decided that, if it was legal for adventurers to kill a monster and steal its loot, that monster bloody well had the right to rob the adventurer’s corpse for all it was worth without anyone making a fuss about it.

Monsters are a lot like humans, in the sense that they’re apt to lose their bleedin’ minds when a representative from the king comes to diplomatically inform them that they are obligated to hand over a percentage of their hoard, no no I’m not just trying to steal it, you get to keep most of it, honest, oh god help me I’m on fire and or bleeding from every orifice and or a zombie now. Amateurs. It might take an army of exorcists, arson, or a strategically placed-mime, but I always get the job done, dammit.

‘Course, that was back when the capital hadn’t been sucked into a pocket dimension where everything was tinted vaguely purple, and also separated at random into islands of land drifting throughout the infinite void. The locals didn’t waste any time declaring themselves the rulers of their respective chunks, figuring that if this was just how reality was going to be now, they may as well make the most of it. I was the treasurer of The Glorious Kingdom of The Space Between Knight Avenue and Two Other, Less Important Streets by default, since no one wants to take the position with actual responsibility when you can have an equally grand time shouting at people and feeling good about yourself.

“Knight Avenue's the longest street here, so it’s just common sense that we be in charge, yeah?” Tim, the owner of The Rusty Plow, asked.

“Your arse, it does. Half your street wound up over there, didn’t it?” A generic citizen said, pointing at a nearby island, floating about 50 feet away. “How’re we supposed to know you ain’t gonna team up so you can control both islands?”

“Having fun over there, Tim? Try making me pay off my tab now, ya miserly bastard!” A man called from the other island, laughing and waving. Tim started shouting at him, much to his heckler’s amusement. I had to step in once Tim resorted to chucking things, ‘cause his aim isn't that great and being “swallowed by the infinite void” isn’t covered by any of the non-forbidden insurance guilds.

While I was dealing with that, several raving, roving anti-wizard mobs had passed us by, chanting anti-magic slogans loudly enough so they could show the world that they meant business, and quietly enough so that any actual wizards wouldn’t hear them and take offense. One of their members had slipped out of the crowd and made his way to me. “Well, this is a right proper mess.” The scrawny woman wearing a fake beard and a star-patterned bathrobe remarked, elegantly smoking a bubble pipe.

“Hey! Isn’t she a wizard?” A not particularly bright mobber shouted.

“I dunno. Am I a wizard, Tim?” The wizard asked.

Tim tore his gaze from his arch-nemesis on their neighboring island to glare at the wizard for a moment. “Not until you’ve paid off your tab, you aren’t.”

“Glad to hear it.” She turned to me, extending a slightly damp hand. “My name’s Mary Lin, if you make any comments about wizard humor I’ll zap you with a bolt of static electricity. I heard you’re the police-auditor-slash-treasurer.”

“Yeah,” I said, shaking her hand. “Most people try to get away from me if they know my job.”

“Well, I think we need to audit reality right now.” Mary tried to make a dramatic gesture with her pipe, but fumbled it, dropping it into the void. She stared into it and sighed. “Starting with writing a check for that pipe.”

“Can you actually do that?”



Mary mumbled a few unpronounceable words, and we were off in a bright flash of light. When it faded, we were in a dimly-lit waiting room that smelled faintly of sulfur, packed to the brim with bearded men and women. “Welcome to the Reality Complaint Office.” A bored receptionist said to us, smiling with all six of her fanged mouths. “Please take a number and we’ll be with you shortly, assuming that both you and reality have similar definitions of the word shortly, and in fact the concept of time itself, we are not legally responsible for any misunderstandings this discrepancy may cause, please have a seat on the black hole over there.”

We did. It was comfortable, other than the fact that it felt like the entirety of our bodies and our nebulous souls were being constantly compressed and torn like delicious noodles. Nice back support, though. Our number was a blank card painted an unpleasant shade of yellow. Mary made small talk with a woman who was sitting on a nearby sun. Tasteful lute compositions played in our minds at a volume just slightly below deafening.

I blinked and we were standing in a blank white room.

“Please unfuck, reality.” We said in unison.

“Okay,” Reality said in a chorus composed of the voice of every person I have met in my life, also writing the word over and over on the walls as the concept of things being pretty alright in the end filled our brains, like when your day wasn’t perfect and you had to talk to an rear end in a top hat for a while but then you made a pun you were very proud of and you saw a cool dog and we sighed contentedly, and then it was over.

“Congratulations,” Mary told me as we stood in the unfucked city street, Tim wrestling with the tab-dodger in the background.

“I literally did nothing that entire time?”

“You existed. That’d hard enough, in my opinion.”

“That’s a pretty poo poo cop-out.”

“Fair enough.” We shrugged at each other and went on with our lives.

Oct 4, 2013

Tyrannosaurus posted:

That's an interesting way of inviting me to a brawl but I guess I accept.

Sitting Here in the prompt post posted:

Jonked - A CLOWN wants to BE A PRIVATE EYE

Grudge matches ain't fun if your grudge is aimed in the wrong direction. :v:

Apr 12, 2006

Love if possible
669 words

--see archive--

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 16:17 on Jan 2, 2017

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Someday, this poo poo may be included in a volume of bad stories.

Chili fucked around with this message at 08:16 on Jan 1, 2017

take the moon
Feb 13, 2011

by sebmojo

crit 1 of 3

k so god dammit is kind of something you say when a character is being overdramatic and its played for irony or w/e. its not really something someone now would say in a srs situation

have i read this before? its strangely familiar

ok so this guy seems p unreasonably cold and distant. basically i would like there to be some credible issue that could conceivably work someones psyche into this when theyre otherwise cool and good.

maybe like a sludgy mess of rubbery glue stuff?

not liking grilled cheese is so weird that i want it to be an important char tr8 that comes back l8r.

"the nurse probably heard a million excited shouts, or brief silences that came from overwhelming joy." this feels kind of expositiony. i would try to vibe this more with some kind of tangible description of atmosphere

same kind of when he directly explains how he feels

maybe breathing instead of breaths? or even just breath

k thnx for delivering on the grilled cheese

maybe take out even, keep the sentence less choppy

i think weve all that exp when were trying to tell someone something that seems blatantly obvious to us but they dont seem to get it. its a relateable feeling

and ofc its a metaphor for messing up in your life and not being able to go back. the char wishes he could start over, do something else. shes prolly understanding that without literally understanding it.

i like the red web eyes

i def read this before. it was way shorter i remember getting to this part faster.

the ending is rly bittersweet. tbh i have this gut feeling about the char, like hes willing to say he cares but not put in the actual effort. this kid is gonna end up p sad i think but maybe considering the chars thats the best they can hope for

touching, just sharpen yr sentences and make sure the chars are doing what you want

attn: two more ppl can hmu up for crits im p easy u kno?

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Something Beautiful (1163 words)

The plaza was as calm and cool as a Christmas morning. The people, the press - the hounds - had been kept at bay, corralled by miles of black and yellow tape, kept in step by an army of policemen. About the parimeter of the plaza stood a skeletal network of scaffolding, carefully constructed, a good three stories tall. Each plank at each level was lined with innumerable cans of paint. It'd cost the city a small fortune to set all this up.

Moira put out the cigarette in her hand. She seldom smoked, but today was special. Today she needed a little something extra. Behind her sat her modified Messerschmit Bo 105, a lightweight helicopter she'd customized herself. Normally a regal red, today it was painted black. Its name was Howard.

"After Hughes, the aviator?"

"The duck, actually."

At the time she'd thought naming it after the famous Howard Hughes would afford the modest craft a certain air of dignity, but she'd come to loathe the oh-so-clever smarmy smiles of those who guessed its namesake immediately. Having been born without a smile herself, one could scarcely tell if she was joking or serious when she uttered her "Incorrection" as she would call it. She liked it that way.

Moira had been taken with helicopters ever since she'd read as a young girl that a spinning rotor blade was sharp enough to take off a man's hand. It was such a vivid image in the theather of her mind that she decided she had to learn more about them, and soon she was consumed. Her morbid fascination soon turned to genuine mechanical interest, and eleven years later she earned her right to fly, to build, to perform. There were less than a handful of pilots of her calibur in the world. She didn't like it that way, but that's life.

Moira turned to toss the cigarette into a nearby bin, only to remember there weren't any. The whole of the plaza had been cleared, her launchpad and her canvas. She took out her hankerchief, a stark white, and folded the cigarette into it.

"Right. Well then."

She turned to board Howard.

Moira's parents had both been bleeding hearts with the best of intentions. Their daughter would be, could be, should be anything - whatever she wanted - only what she wanted hadn't exactly fallen outside their expectations so much as substantially below them.

"A pilot? Are you sure?"

"Quite sure."

"Moira. It's the 21st century. A young woman of your intelligence has," her father waved his arm drammatically, "Near INFINITE prospects, I'd think. You could be a musician, a scientist, a CEO. You could be president of America. Wouldn't you rather be president of America? Couldn't you just see me being first dad?"

"I think I'd rather be naked on television than president of America, but fortunately for both of us I'd rather be a pilot than do either of those things."

Her mother recoiled. "I can't believe you'd even joke about something like that. Your father and I have worked hard these past years to present you with real opportunities, and you want to be something as common as a pilot? You could change the world. Being a pilot won't put your mark on history."

"It worked for Amelia Earhart."

"She was the first, dear, not the thousand-and-oneth."

"We'll compromise then. I'll be the president's personal pilot. Or the first nudist pilot. That should put me in the newspapers, or do you think there's already one of those?"

In the end they'd relented. They weren't about to become their own parents, her grandparents, and dictate their daughter's future to her. Even so, they lamented their daughter would never do anything great or important or beautiful.

Secure in the cockpit, Moira took the cyclic control in her hand. The blades started to spin.

"I hear you're something of a 'Trick' pilot," the mayor said to her the day she'd been called into his office. The way he smiled and made air quotes with his fingers irritated her, but she remained seated, quiet. "We were wondering if could do something for the city. As I'm sure you're aware we've recently finished rebuilding the central plaza after that earthquake a year ago. Look at it." He pointed out the window where the last of the construction trucks were loading up. "Pristine. Flawless. Clinical. Boring. I've got an idea, and I'm wondering if you'll hear it..."

Howard took to the skies admist a storm of applause, not that a peep of it reached Moira's ears over the whip-whip-whip of the blades overhead. There were only four people in the world who could do what she was about to, and only Howard or another craft like him could hope to perform under such pressures. She approached the western side, the third floor scaffolding laden with cans upon cans of sky blue paint. Like facing her executioners, she thought. She'd already had her last cigarette.

Like knives, cold and precise, the rotor blades sliced through the nearest stock of cans, staining Howard and the ground with thin blue blood. Turning Howard on his side, then upside down, she began to paint the cobblestones without touching them, the rotor blades flicking the still wet paint onto her yet blank canvas. Again the crowds cheered.

"I have a condition," Moira had said.

"Name it," said the mayor.

"I'll accept your generous payment, but I wish to remain anonymous."

"Anonymous?" The mayor said the word as though he weren't sure whether he should laugh or be insulted. "This'll be a grand event. Thousands of spectators, television cameras! You said yourself there're only so many pilots in the world who can do what you do. Surely that'll make it easy for them to narrow it down?"

"Then let them. If they ask after me, I'll answer, but I don't need my name in lights."

The mayor fiddled with his pen.

"If you're sure."

It was an artistic project a week in preparation and several hours in the making. When viewed from above, the city crest was as clear as day in vibrant colors, expertly slung. At the show's conclusion, Howard - black and blue and red and white and countless other colors - took to the skies and disappeared into the sunset. Those with cameras were forbidden from following by the police.

Moira returned the following weekend in sunglasses and a hoodie. She reached for her hankerchief, only to find a forgotten cigarette wrapped within its folds. She smiled, as if for the first time, and tossed it in a bin.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


sebmojo fucked around with this message at 23:04 on Jan 2, 2017

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
:siren: Submissions closed! :siren:

you don't have to go home but you can't stay here

Terre packet you have until noon tomorrow to submit or you're banned

Mar 21, 2010




Feb 25, 2014

Mar 21, 2010

gently caress you

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

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Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


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