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May 7, 2005




May 7, 2005


860 Words

You don’t need two legs to logroll in the Senate. Arthur Trant hadn't even chosen where to display his purple heart in his new office when his phone started ringing. Three years later allies and rivals within and across party lines still relentlessly sought his endorsement despite his past stances, or called in favors for projects they’d freely supported. The fatigue wrought by three long years of deal-making drained the strength from his flesh and prosthetic alike.

Exhausted and disillusioned, Senator Trant caved into the Majority Whip and confirmed his intention to vote with his party tomorrow. He hung up on the breathless prattling man and waited. Like shrapnel the news exploded from the Whip’s aides in all directions, bouncing and ricocheting between Senate offices, across party lines. No doubt it would reach Senator James Morse within minutes.

The power Arthur wielded unsettled him. With one phone call he had potentially undone from within what no enemy had succeeded in damaging from without. He braced himself for the expected confrontation as the footsteps echoing down the hall grew louder.

“I just got a call,” Senator Morse said, rushing past Arthur’s secretary. He grabbed the edges of Arthur’s desk as if he was going to fling it aside. “A call I couldn't loving believe.” He looked for a reaction in Arthur’s unblinking gaze. “Tell me it’s just a rumor. It’s hollow gossip from some partisan hack trying to ruffle some feathers. Tell me they got it wrong, Arthur.”

“I got my orders.”

“Bullshit.” Jim jabbed the space between them with a trembling finger. “Since when do you vote the party line?”

“Since when do you form exploratory committees? Since when do you have executive ambitions?”

Jim halfheartedly swatted the accusations away.

Arthur pushed himself out of his chair. “You told me you were ‘a man of the people.’ That you belonged in the legislature. You wanted nothing to do with the corruption and unconstitutional power-grabbing of the executive.”

“That’s nothing – absolutely nothing - to do with this vote tomorrow.” He took Arthur’s glass encased Purple Heart from its shelf. He clutched the medal as if it were Arthur’s true moral center, as if he could pump some good sense into Arthur if he just squeezed hard enough. “Whatever I've done,” Jim said. “If I've done something that doesn't sit right with you, I am sorry. But don’t do something repugnant as some sort of political tit for tat.”

Subdued and pleading, Jim betrayed his panic. The firebrand that had stormed into Arthur’s office was the warrior who’d wooed Arthur to abandon his party in order to fight for worthy causes. Arthur could see Jim slipping, down the polls, down the Senate hierarchy, without their partnership.

A handshake, a parting word of hope and this ugly business could be over. “The bill’s not so different than our Banking Initiative, Jim. And it can be improved upon. Just give it a chance.”

“Don’t you dare compare this monstrosity to our good work!” For a second Arthur thought Jim was going to fling his purple heart at him. Instead, he reverently placed it where it had rested.

“I’m tired of the wheeling and dealing. I’m sick of reaching across the aisle and getting a handful of new extorted obligations.”

“I put up with the same drat crap. And it’s worth it. We get results.”

“Now I know what you were after.”

Jim stormed towards the door, but stopped mid-retreat unwilling or unable to walk away and end it. He scanned the framed newspaper articles along the wall with headlines trumpeting the passing of bills they had championed and the defeat of ones they had opposed. “You’re a real sentimental son-of-bitch you know that?” Jim made an about face. “So you’re just going to follow orders now? Huh? gently caress it? Is that the new plan? How’d that work out for you before?” He buried the barb with a nod toward Arthur’s prosthetic leg.

Neither Arthur nor even Jim knew the purpose of attacking Arthur’s service and sacrifice. But they could both feel the effect.

Arthur lowered himself into his chair with practiced poise.

“I hope ya’ll have enough votes to overcome a filibuster,” Jim said, fleeing.

“Not my job to count the votes,” Arthur said to Jim’s back.

The next day during his first of many vengeful filibusters, Senator Morse spoke of duty and loyalty, often in a ranting aimless effort to kill time. He publicly called out Senator Trant for caving to partisan pressure and abandoning his convictions. Again and again he came back to the source of his orders, pounding on his chest, or pointing to his heart.

To Arthur it appeared that Jim was just indicating he did everything to further his own selfish interests or vendettas. Their accomplishments had always just been another feather in Jim’s cap for some future campaign or worse, payback for a broken promise. All the favor trading and political wrangling, the logrolling, had served Jim, because he alone knew the ultimate destination. Until Arthur found his footing the only prudent course of action was to keep to the solid group of partisanship.

May 7, 2005


Hardyssey and Deepiad
98 words

Brianycus’s body burned with unquenchable rage. His horde coursed through the city drowning the defenders and peasants in a flood of steel. He and his men swept over the resistance, crashing towards the temple.

“Archer on the rooftop!”

“Chariot in the alleyway!”

Brianycus breathed in deep, he was almost overcome by the melody of screams and the aroma of flesh burning.

An enemy streaked by. Brianycus’s lance skewered him. “Is this all?! Pathetic!”

His hairs extended in all directions.

He looked up, but never saw the bolt thrown by Zeus Himself.

Dust danced in the wind, licking flickering flames.


Jagermonster fucked around with this message at 17:46 on Jan 14, 2014

May 7, 2005



For the love of god, Muffin, what have you done? Weren't these mini-epics supposed to be only til the result thread was posted?

May 7, 2005


Rest for the Wicked
994 Words

Brandon clung to sleep through the creeping dawn and his campers’ stirring until a child’s screams tore him awake. With blurry vision he scanned the cluttered bunk. Shane’s bed lay empty.

Brandon found the boy teetering on one foot by the latrine, scraping his flip-flop against a log, his t-shirt pulled up over his nose. “I stepped in it,” Shane whined to his counselor.

Brandon gagged as he entered the bathroom. Excrement coated the floor, walls, doors, and shower curtains. Flies darted between every defiled surface.
Outside, another camper stabbed a speared turd into an ant pile. Brandon tore the stick from his grip and threw it into the woods. “Did you do that to the bathroom, Nathan?”

“No!” Nathan said backing away. “I found it like that.” He ran back to his bunk, his untied shoelaces flecked with poo poo and streaming behind him. “Somebody pooped all over!” he called to the rest of the boys.

The boys’ counselors flung accusations at an impromptu breakfast meeting. Brandon defended his own like a mother bird. “Shane always takes a shower early, before the hot water runs out. I caught Nathan red-handed.”

“I wish we could just pin it on that little spaz,” Nathan’s counselor said, “but he never left the bunk last night. He pissed his bed twice, waking up half my kids each time. What about Joey, Robert, what was he doing sneaking around?”

Robert sighed. “He was visiting a girls’ bunk. They backed him up.”

“Enough,” the Assistant Camp Director said. “I’m sorry you guys had to clean that up, but this isn’t going anywhere. Cut rest hour and make them all pick up litter as a punishment.”

“That hurts us more than them.”

“Then withhold dessert until one of them tattles, it’s up to ya’ll.”

At the Art Barn Brandon grabbed a camper’s wrist moments before the kid plunged his colored pencil into his neighbor’s arm. “I said stop fighting, you two.” He slapped the table in front of the camper across from him. “Marcus, don’t color on the drat table.”

The Crafts Teacher waved him over. “Get them out of here.” Brandon started sputtering a question when her ponytail nearly whipped him in the face as she motion to the bathroom. Blobs of poop dotted the toilet seat and sink. Her eyes narrowed until they were swallowed up by the bags underneath. “Now.”

Hours later at the ropes course, a cacophony of squeals interrupted Brandon’s fumbling attempt to secure a harness on a wriggling camper. Another counselor stood guard at the nearby restroom. The boys scattered as Brandon approached the crowd. A turd lay nestled in a coil of rope. Brandon wheeled around. “Are you loving kidding me!”

“You guys are done,” the Ropes Course Coordinator said, letting the camper she had on belay freefall before catching him an inch from the ground. She threw her gloves off and began tearing at the knots tied to her harness.

At dinner Brandon tried to recall everyone who’d left his sight that day. Two more locations had been hit: a canoe and a saddle had been used as toilets at the lakefront and the stables. He stared down each of his campers. They silently traced the table’s wood grain rather than risk meeting his eyes. When one of the kitchen staff came by with a box of ice cream sandwiches, Brandon waved her away.

“It’s not fair!” Shane said.

“Who was it?”

A chorus of whines and “I don’t know” answered him.

“Can I go to the restroom?” a camper asked.

Brandon yawned while the camper squirmed. “Nobody leaves the table.” He fumed that other boys were still freely roaming the dining hall after the day’s incidents.

The Kitchen Manager slammed a ladle down on a nearby boys’ table. “Which one of you little monsters just did that to the men’s room?” Her head pivoted along the boys’ side of the room.

The Camp Director gathered the male counselors together in front of the dining hall while the campers fidgeted in single file lines. “You all are going to take shifts standing guard tonight. Three at a time. Spread out along the boys’ cabins. This isn’t happening again.”

“We barely sleep as it is,” someone complained.

“Tough. Some of you are under suspicion too. Watch everybody.”

“What about the girls? And their counselors?”

“The girls’ activities kept them far from the boys today, but I’m not ruling out anyone. It’s not a witch hunt either. Just keep your eyes peeled.”

The boys’ counselors could barely drag themselves to the next night’s campfire. Their campers, having been banned from most of the camp, were restricted to an isolated field. The hyper tweens had drained their counselors, body and mind, as they required constant, varied activity, supervision, and all their meals prepared for them.

A slumping phalanx of counselors now fanned out along the campfire’s perimeter. Brandon stood at the edge, his boots sinking into the soft mud at the lakeshore as the kids mumbled songs. He gazed into the dark water, fantasizing of leading his campers into the woods tomorrow and abandoning them there.

A loud pop followed by a dull thud announced the collapse of a heavy log into the bonfire’s core. A flurry of sparks danced into the night sky. In the flare of light Brandon saw his scowl reflected back at him. He stared into puffy tired eyes. His face softened and then faded back into the shadows. Darkness again enveloped Brandon, so too, did realization.

As he crept up to the boys’ latrine, shuffling and scraping from within confirmed his suspicion. He kicked open the door and trained his flashlight, one by one, on the Crafts Teacher, the Ropes Course Coordinator, a lifeguard, a kitchen staffer, and a horseback riding instructor painting the walls and doors with human excrement from coffee cans. Their bright bag-less eyes betrayed the extra sleep they’d gotten since banishing the boys.

May 7, 2005


Noah posted:

In, requesting a flash rule and a decade from someone.

Decade: 1810
Flash rule: someone related to the protagonist must die

In, also requesting a decade.

May 7, 2005


The Covenant
Decade: 2050
996 Words

“It’s just like plowing a field,” Private Amalya Nadel said to the assembled Pakistani villagers as she followed behind the Fallout Vacuum. She knelt down and stuck a Geiger prong into the dirt as the machine plodded along its programmed course. “You’ll need to run it over any soil you intend to plant crops in.”

Most of the men had stopped listening to her. Instead they followed the tractor-sized vacuum.

She showed Elder Kamran, the only one left listening, the toxicity reading. “Not only does it scrub 99% of radiation from the ground, but it’s also powered by it.”

Kamran’s skeletal body trembled as he hunched over his walking stick. “And is this gift, like the others, free of charge?” Kamran asked, looking at and speaking to the translator nestled in Amalya’s ear. “I wonder how much Israel will give before it expects to collect.” The old man punctuated the question with raised eyebrows of thin stubble as he met her eyes.

“All we ask in return is that you remember who came to help. The machine itself is actually aid from Korea. These supplies are the last that we’ll deliver, unfortunately. We ship out soon.”

“To another village?”

A smile crept across Amalya’s lips despite her best efforts to maintain a professional demeanor. “Home.”

“Back to your bubble?”

Amalya studied his pock-marked grinning face. He hadn’t meant to wound her, but a familiar feeling of shame flushed out her joy. Her two year tour had done little to dampen her memories of her exultation twisting to horror after the Shi’a Caliphate’s warheads detonated “harmlessly” against the Israeli Defense Grid.

She gritted her teeth as she recalled the footage of millions dying in agony from the fallout. The Caliphate Generals, like the Japanese a 100 years before, couldn't believe a technology existed that could defeat them. So they had ordered another suicidal strike, blanketing most of the world, especially the lands to the East in more radioactive poison.

She began packing up her supplies. Her father’s voice reverberated in her head. You should have fled to the U.S. or E.U. rather than be conscripted to thanklessly salvage broken nations and atone for others’ apocalyptic belligerence. At least it’s over now.

“I didn't mean to upset you,” Kamran said. “We do not blame you for this.” He placed a withered hand on her shoulder. “We are grateful for everything you've done.”

She silenced her father’s selfish counsel. “I’m just overwhelmed with this decision before me. Some of the other soldiers in my unit are thinking of reenlisting. Some want to join an international brigade.” The reports of the apathetic, isolated Americans unplugging from the net and their VR games to pitch in mocked her. “My Government still won’t send aid or deploy troops to the former Caliphate states.”

Kamran rested his chin on his cane. “And you wish to join them?”

“I’m ready to go home.”

The laughter of young villagers drifted over as they passed a soccer ball back and forth with IDF soldiers. The children doubled over and wheezed after each kick.

“They couldn't even stand when your unit arrived,” Kamran said. “They were dying. We were all dying. Your medicine and machines strengthens them daily.”

“You are very lucky to be out here so far from the cities.” Her hand reflexively dropped down to her sidearm. “I am sure you will have your fair share of bandits and warlords who will try to horde supplies and intercept the drops.”

“Do not worry about us when you leave.” A squadron of drones passed by overhead taking samples of the radioactivity in the atmosphere, scrubbing fallout, or both. Kamran closed his eyes and waited until the distracting humming subsided. “You have done much for this village, and I’m sure for many others too. No one will blame you if you want to rest, to return to your life. You have the strength and the ability to choose.” His eyes still closed, he smiled.

The villagers who had gathered for the Fallout Vac demonstration returned. They propped up their elder with sickly white, red inflamed, and dirt-smeared brown hands. They muttered thanks and farewells to Amalya before shambling back to their homes.

Shimmering streaks of unnatural greens and silver mixed with the soft orange and violet rays of the sunset. Amalya thought of home, and made her decision. She returned to the IDF barracks to pack up and ship out with her unit for the last time.

One week later Amalya stepped off the transport craft. Her thick soled boots protected her feet from the irradiated sands of the Republic of Iraq, former province of the Shi’a Caliphate. She joined the crew of Chinese and American and A.U. volunteers constructing radiation scrubbing irrigators. Under all her protective gear, she didn't miss the weight of a gun on her hip or back.

So close to ground zero the sky oozed unnatural metallic hues, intensified by Isreal’s electromagnetic shield to the West. The same image that had flashed in her mind with Kamran appeared again. Multicolored stick figures holding hands ringed a crude globe. “Tikun Olam,” - “Heal the Earth” - scrawled in a rainbow hovered above the world. The mural on a wall of her grade school seemed like a laughable fantasy to her even as a child.

Amalya flipped down her helmet’s visor against the bright sun and radiation. Humanity had to fight to the brink of annihilation in order to join together to claw their way back. They set their colors in the clouds, a man-made mockery of God’s rainbow, reminding themselves and their progeny – never again.

Israel had won the war without firing a shot, but its true success came in setting the example of unleashing its armed forces in a humanitarian Diaspora across the world. Amalya delighted in the thought of returning home one day. In the meantime, she dragged heavy equipment across the salvageable wasteland, and promised herself to see mankind’s victory through.

May 7, 2005


In with Unobtainium! Finally, an opportunity to workshop my Avatar fanfiction!

In with Sulfur

May 7, 2005


Toil and Tenure
Inspired by Sulfur , 1005 words

Budi sat cross-legged on a boulder, chewing betel. He stared at the smoky crags rising above the village. “Was anyone killed?”

“No,” Wibawa said. “We found Harta’s goats in the lower slopes, all of them slaughtered. We only caught glances of the mountain spirits darting between rocks and scurrying about. Mostly we could just hear them hissing and sniggering.” He thrust his spear into the ground. “If only we could fight back against them. It’s as if they exist solely to confound us.”

“It is only a matter of time before they start attacking us directly for our encroachment.”

“The people are restless. They want to move on from this place.” Wibawa sighed. “But there is no where left that is safe from the warring tribes.”

Budi could feel the great weight of his people’s welfare fall to his shoulders. The vast jungle that Wibawa had led them out of weeks before surrounded the village, threatening to swallow them back up. Fresh water bubbled up warm from the ground and rich soil in these foothills promised bountiful crops, but death lurked above.

“I have a theory,” Budi said. He plucked the vine from his mouth. “Do you remember the old stories? How our ancestors once lived in trees, fearful of the spirits of the land? It was only through gathering the fruits that fell from the branches, then hunting the animals of the earth, and finally cultivating crops in the soil, that we were able to claim the land.”

Wibawa furrowed his brow.

“Surely you’ve heard the tales of how man conquered the shallow seas. In the old days the water spirits could drag a man from the shore and drown him if they pleased. It wasn’t until our brave forefathers began fishing and navigating the waters with boats, that man added the seas to his domain.”

“The spirits still control the deep places,” Wibawa said. “And it is such with this mountain, Budi. Smoke and fire rise from the crevices. We are very close to the underworld here. That is the undisputed domain of the spirits. Are you suggesting we can claim it?

“The depths, no. But I think we can take the surface. There is unnatural heat and twisted bone-like formations, but there is also soil and water.”

“Soil that belches choking fog and water that boils.”

Budi slid down from his perch. “The only other option is to turn back and submit to one of the barbaric tribes. We have run out of places to go. I will test my theory. If it fails, we will have lost no more than if we had not tried.”

“I will assemble the men for battle.”

“No,” Budi said. “You know that is futile. I will do this alone. Gather the tribe in case I am unsuccessful and it is necessary to leave.”

After collecting his supplies, Budi ascended the gravelly path. When the rocks became sharp and jagged he carefully placed each footfall, all the while keeping an eye out for the mountain’s inhabitants. A thick stench soon alerted him that he was close. He untied one of the bamboo baskets slung over his shoulder and fished an egg from the pouch at his waist.

Budi crept up to the crater of bubbling water and knelt. He dropped a basket in, then an egg.

He looked back to find the way blocked by a writhing mass of shadow. A group of spirits pressed together to observe what he was up to.

Budi rose slowly. Chest out, he strutted to the next boiling pool and set the land’s resources to work with another egg and basket.

The spirits crowded around the first pool. Oozing in and out of the water, they jostled the basket. The ones at the edge began swaying back and forth. Their translucent amorphous forms undulated, then spasmed into opaque angular bodies. Swaying turned into frenzied dancing.

High pitched chirps and squawks called to Budi as he made his way from the third to the fourth pool at a calm, steady pace. Dark, spiny crab-like creatures skittered past him on both sides. Something hard and sharp clawed at his calf. The spirits swarmed, taking his legs out from under him.

Budi crawled, clawing at the coarse sand. He threw his remaining baskets at the boiling water feet from him. One landed half in. He reached for an egg, but it cracked in his hand as the spirits raked and battered him. Budi lashed out, flinging yolk and slime in all directions.

Budi hit and kicked at his attackers. When his fists or feet tried to connect with them the spirits faded into immaterial shades, but in that state they couldn’t harm him either. Flailing wildly he made a break for the fourth pool and threw his remaining eggs in the basket.

The spirits, slithering, tumbling, leaping, closed in on him. Black tentacles wrapped around his ankles. His chin slammed into the hard ground. They piled on his back and tore at his flesh. Yet, despite their increasingly frantic attacks, their blows fell weaker and weaker.

Budi threw the creatures off of him. Some splattered into a puddle of goo when they crashed into the ground. Others sank down into the dirt. The bigger ones charged right back at him.

Budi made a run for the first egg he had set to boil. He tore the basket from the scalding water. He plucked out the egg and held it up to the peak of the mountain. Blood and yolk ran down from the corners of his mouth as he bit into the egg, shell and all.

The spirits shrieked and thrashed. They clawed at the ground as they sank back into the depths, squatters banished by a superior title. A great rumbling shuddered through the mountain. Fissures cracked open and released clouds of blinding miasma.

Budi limped to retrieve the other eggs. After retrieving the products of his toil, he retreated, choking and coughing and spitting up blood.

The assembled tribe wept and wailed as the mountain erupted. Ash and debris rained down. Surely Budi had failed.

Budi hobbled out of the thick haze. He flicked egg shells to the ground and called out to his people, "The taste of victory is good!”

Wibawa ran through the cheering crowd and grabbed Budi’s shoulders. “What happened?”

“I boiled some eggs.” He took a long wheezing breath. “As long as we continue using the land, the mountain will be ours.” He popped a yolk into his mouth and smiled with broken, bloody teeth.

Jagermonster fucked around with this message at 22:06 on Feb 9, 2014

May 7, 2005



Brother's Burden
200 Words

"My recommendation is immediate termination, sir," Surveillance Lieutenant Gregor said.

Sedition Commander Peters thumbed through Gregor's report. "I'd like to keep monitoring this Edgar Wills. He may lead us to more disloyal saboteurs. What does he do mostly, when he's not slandering the Republic?"

"He, um, he looks at pornography. And he, you know."

"That's his main activity?"

"Yes sir. He's a real deviant, this one." Lieutenant Gregor cleared his throat. "Many of the men I monitor do unspeakable things when they're alone. As you know I've been on monitor duty for several years now sir, and if I may speak frankly, I believe I've shown superior dedication and loyalty to the Republic. Is there any chance for a promotion? I believe I would be more valuable to this great nation in a more substantive role."

Commander Peters looked the young haggard officer up and down. "You're a good soldier. Keep it up. One of these days, there may be something for you. That's it for now. As you were."

As the Commander left, Lieutenant Gregor gazed longingly and the pipes crisscrossing the ceiling of his sub-basement monitoring station and wondered again how much weight they could hold.

May 7, 2005


"In," Jager monstered.

Please hit me up with a flash rule, Oxxybaby

May 7, 2005


Never Sicker
933 Words
Flash rule: Your story must take place in the aftermath of a drinking contest.

“That’s how you shotgun a beer,” Wade trumpeted. He spiked the empty punctured can. It bounced off the porch slats, striking his still-chugging opponent in the shin. After five chugged beer with five wins in under ten minutes, Wade still couldn’t anesthetize the hurt from seeing Brett leading Meredith into a room upstairs.

Wade’s popped-collared opponent dropped his unfinished beer. It hit the wood with a thud and watery froth seeped out. He puffed out his chest. “You got a problem, bro?” he fronted, taking a step forward.

“Go again? The secret is to chug, not sip,” Wade mocked. He fished another two cans out of the cooler and punctured one with his keys. He tossed the other beer to this latest stranger he’d goaded into chugging. “Chug, or get off my porch, fratty,” Wade challenged. “Who do you even know here?”

Popped Collar spit and then departed the crowded house party porch with his friends.

Wade watched them strut down University Avenue as he shotgunned the beer. The rush of near-freezing liquid burned his throat and made his eyes water. Still, the image of Brett hand in hand with Meredith, closing the door was as sharp as ever in his mind.

Bass thumped through the open door of the house Wade shared with five other guys. Drunk and getting-there students gyrated and dry humped to the music. Somewhere inside Wade’s ex-girlfriend Tina searched for him, or bided her time for a confrontation.

He crushed then tossed the empty can over the wooden railing. Alone amidst a deck full of acquaintances and strangers he grabbed a half full handle of Jim Beam sitting on the corner of the beer pong table and took a pull. The liquor warmed his stomach like the nervousness and excitement had the first few times he’d hung out with Meredith. He took another pull when he started recounting all the missed opportunities and fumbled moments with her the past few weeks.

Wade lowered the bottle long enough to notice Tina cross-armed and staring him down from the doorway.

“You’ve been avoiding me all night, Wade,” Tina sulked. “Are we going to hang out or are you just going to pick fights with douche bags and get wasted by yourself?”

Wade took another pull. He was tempted to retire to his room with Tina and use her like the alcohol. He was tempted to open up to her about the whole Meredith fiasco. He sucked in air to suppress his nausea.

She watched him expectantly.

“What’s the point?” he despaired. He started slurring an apology, an explanation of how he knew it wasn’t fair to her, but she was already gone. He tipped the bottle back again.

“Careful there, Wade,” someone scolded. “Beer before liquor . . .”

Wade slammed down the plastic bottle. Spaghetti-legged, he half fell, half slid down the porch steps. After half a dozen stumbles he face-planted into the lawn.

The grass was cool and crinkly. Wade shook his head, dragging his face back and forth across the blades taking in every tickle, scrape, scratch.

“You ok, Wade?” a familiar feminine voice encroached.

Wade’s mental rolodex, sodden with bourbon and beer, worked to find a face. A match: Sally Bradley, a friend from Freshman year, a distance in time that stretched out over countless classes and parties.

Wade groaned a greeting into the grass. He wanted to get away from all women and sink into a drunken oblivion.

“I haven’t seen you this drunk since you and Brett played Edward 40-hands in Freshman dorms last year,” Sally reminisced.

Wade rolled over onto his back. He smiled to show he remembered.

Sally sat down next to him. She was cute. She was fit. She was fun. Wade wondered if there was something romantic between them. He pictured himself with her, and then caught himself. He shoved the heels of his hands into his eyes.

“Are you ok, Wade? Do you need water? Something else? More booze?” Sally offered.

“No,” Wade lied. He needed to end the cycle of infatuation that had gripped him almost immediately upon starting school.

“Nice party,” Sally complimented. “You guys always know how to throw a rager.” She looked up to the sky.

Wade looked up to Brett’s window. The lights were off. Maybe they had left. Maybe Meredith was back downstairs looking for him. He let that naive hope float away up into the night.

The stars swirled and swam around. By opening and closing his eyes, Wade could control their dance and stave off vomiting. “If you could see what I see right now,” he mused. “I’ve never mixed the spins with astronomy. It’s pretty awesome.”

“You’re a goof ball,” Sally teased. “Why aren’t you in there dancing? You promised a rendition of the famous Wade Worm in the evite.”

Her friendly overtures were a salve. He grinned. “Too drunk,” he informed her.

“And why were you challenging everyone on the porch to chugging contests?” she delved. “You were never the belligerent type.”

“I wanted to win,” he admitted.

“What did you win?” she pressed.

“Quality time with a good friend,” he epiphanyzed.

Sally rolled her eyes.

Wade’s eyes rolled back into his head.

As she caught him up on what she’d been up to since last they hung out he evaluated her again as girlfriend material. Again, he caught himself. He forced himself to push any romantic notions out of his head. Instead, he focused on the now of hanging out with a friend and not on the hangover and heartache that tomorrow promised.

May 7, 2005



May 7, 2005


1098 words
Flash rule: "All of us, we’re meant for the fire"

Rick took a deep breath and plunged his gnarled hands into the hot coals. His screams filled the soundproof confessional. He dropped to his knees, and with his scarred chin pressed against the edge of the brazier, confessed his sins.

He started with the offenses he had had to commit on a daily basis to survive prison. Theft. Intimidation. Violence. He gritted his teeth, whimpering and trying to focus. Tears streaming down his face, he fell back against the floor.

The claws protruding from his fingers, formally black and jagged, now orange and smooth, wilted like dying flowers. They hissed as they cooled. They hardened again and then crumbled into ash. His scales remained, crisscrossing his hands and arms to his shoulders.

He rose, quivering, unsure if he could continue. His phantom claws ached and burned. The pain would never completely go away. He bit down on his forked tongue. Somewhere outside the booth was the woman he had followed into church.

She’d never understand or forgive him unless he repented. Taking quick, shallow breaths, he psyched himself up. His throbbing fingers danced and wiggled. He plunged his hands back into the coals.

He brought them out, hands full. He shoved as many burning embers into his mouth as he could. Unable to mumble his crimes around the mouthful of penance, or in a language God would heed, he shut his eyes and focused on them. Drugs. Dealing. Manslaughter.

Cinders spilled out of his mouth. He coughed, choked, and then vomited into the brazier and fell to the ground. On his side, hugging his knees, he wept. His tongue sizzled. Deep in his chest the hard lumps remained unaffected. Trembling, he touched the dull protrusions around his clavicle.

Rick crawled to the door and out of the confessional. He walked across the back of the church searching the pews for Christy. When he couldn’t find her he ran out the door in a panic. He almost charged right into her.

She stubbed out her cigarette and exhaled smoke into his face. “You follow me here for forgiveness?” Her face was pockmarked. Blisters dotted her chin and trailed down her neck. She was no saint either.

“Yesh,” Rick said, trying out his tender reformed tongue. It burned with every letter he formed.

“You think that’ll save you?”

“I jusht want to get straight with you.” He looked into her eyes. “I’m shorry. I’m out. I’ll never deal again. I’m shorry about what happened to Marcus. ”

Arms crossed, she stared him down. “So that’s it? You think you can apologize and move on?”

He sniffed. He wouldn’t end up like the proudly deformed or the deniers with twisted insides. They all do their time in the end. “I don’t know. I’m just trying to get right, you know. Come on, Christy.”

“How about you help fix this loving neighborhood.“

He searched her scowl for meaning. “How?”

“You loving figure it out. You grew up here. You know the dealers from the users. The cops don’t even try to tell their horns apart.” She nodded towards the shadowy figures across the broken street.

Even in the dark, Rick could tell the hulking pushers from the hunched, twisted users.

“Hey! Shitheads!” Christy shouted into the night.

Rick tried to shush her. It came out as a rasping hiss.

“Yeah, you, fuckers! Get the gently caress out of here!“

Voices percolated. Silhouettes slid to the edge of the sidewalk and shouted back. “What, bitch!” It sounded like gibberish to Christy, but Rick understood them.

Christy threw her arms wide. “I said gently caress off!”

Rick grabbed her wrist.

Christy cupped her free hand to her mouth. “Shove your drugs up your rear end, pussies! Pussies!”

He winced as he dug his raw fingers into her forearm.

Gravel crunched under boots. Rick’s breath caught in his throat when he heard a sickening click-clacking. One of them had hooves. He tried to pull Christy back inside. She jerked away from his feeble grip.

The crowd gathered at the foot of the steps to the church. “Come down here and talk that poo poo!” They shuffled back and forth. One repeatedly lurched up the first step then let himself fall back to the ground.

The hoofed one stood at the back, towering above the rest. Curled horns extended from each side of his head. His eyes locked onto Rick.

“You’re loving dead, bitch,” one with a long warped nose growled.

Another grabbed his crotch. His forked tongue slid back and forth across his lips.

“Yo, Rick,” the hoofed one said. The others fell silent. “When did you get out?”

Rick still wasn’t sure who it was. “Two days ago.”

“What are you doing here, Richy?”

Richy Rick. His lookout Benny used to call him that. The kid had risen in the game. Rick wondered how many bodies he had used as rungs. “This is the bitch who put me away. I was letting her know all the things I have planned for her. She’s mine.”

Christy’s eyes bulged with excitement. To the mob, she looked terrified. “Hit me,” she whispered.

Rick bit down on his seared tongue. He slammed the back of his open hand against her cheek.

Christy doubled over. “I forgive you. I forgive you,” she whispered. Blood dribbled down her chin.

Something in Rick’s chest loosened, softened. He could go back into the church and finish what he started. As excruciating and incomplete as it would be, in the end it would last thousands of times longer if he let it fester.

Benny’s booming laugh shook the block. The others hissed and chuckled in short hoarse breaths.

“Use it,” Christy said. She scrambled back inside, holding her jaw.

Rick hopped down the steps two at a time. “I’m going to draw it out nice and slow.” He winked at Benny. The crowd parted for him.

“I bet you will.” Benny put an arm around him. “How do you look so pretty?”

“Kept my nose clean in the cage. Can’t stack that cash doing time on top of time.”

Benny drew Rick closer, nearly impaling him with body protrusions. He turned to his crew. “Everything I know, I learned from this guy.” Benny led Rick down the block, the others in tow. “I’m going to set you back up and we’re going to take over this town, Richy.”

Rick clenched his fists to stop himself from trembling. As he brainstormed who he could go to once he infiltrated Benny’s operation, something sparked within his hardened viscera. A righteous warmth relaxed him. “I’m glad you found me, Benny.”

May 7, 2005


For sale: baby shrews, newly born.

May 7, 2005




May 7, 2005


A Song for the Road
1240 Words
Virtue: a jovial and easygoing affect

Gare plucked at his lute, eyes closed, trying to harmonize with nature. He wove the rustling of leaves, the gurgle of a stream, and the warmth of the sun into a lazy melody. He blocked out the incongruous sounds he had brought to the scene: munkrats sizzling over the fire, his boots scraping against the dirt as he shifted his weight on the log.

Percussive footfalls joined his tune. The rattle of chain links broke his peace and concentration. He opened his eyes. Three men approached, their hands on worn sword hilts. They fanned out, flanking him.

“Hail,” Gare said to the strangers. “I was getting bored out here on my own with no one to share in my mead.”

The little one to Gare’s left looked to the one in the center of the formation. Center straightened his left palm out parallel to the ground, signaling to the big one to Gare’s right. He may as well have announced his orders aloud.

“We’re pursing bandits,” Center said.

Gare shrugged. “I haven’t seen anybody all day. But I also haven’t strayed from the path. They say there are Quatches in these woods.” He strummed low, sinister chords.

The little one smirked.

Center spit. “What are you doing out here?”

“Just making my way on to Haverdale,” Gare said.

“You a thief?” the big one said, his dirt streaked fingers still resting on his hilt, anxious to get on with it.

“Nay,” Gare said, reaching into his haversack. “The only thing I’ve ever stolen was a maiden’s virtue.” He winked at the little one as he pulled out a jug.

The little one guffawed, and looked to Center who pursed his lips.

“Let’s have a drink,” Gare said. He pulled the cork from the jug with his teeth and spit it to the side. He took a swig. “Have a seat, lads.”

The men looked to Center.

“You’re welcome to search me,” Gare said. “All I have is food and drink. And you’re welcome to share in both. Where are you lot from?”

Center loosened his armor. The little one grabbed the jug from Gare, and taking a long pull, sat down beside him. The big one lingered, still gripping his sword.

The little one tipped the jug down and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “I’m Clay. This is Brion, and the big sour one is Thice. We’re Kingsmen. On patrol.”


Thice knelt behind Gare and to the right, still flanking him. Brion pulled a log over to sit across the fire from them. Their armor was mismatched and rusting. Their swords were dull and of varied lengths and widths. Clay hadn’t said where they were from, perhaps because they had never gotten that far in their cover story.

Thice grabbed a skewered munkrat from over the fire and bit into it. Clay offered the jug to Brion, who declined, but motioned for Gare’s pack. Clay tossed it to him.

Clay nodded to the lute. “You a bard?”

“I don’t play for coin,” Gare said, “if that’s your meaning.” His fingers started working out an upbeat drinking song.

“Why not?” Clay asked. “You’re pretty good.”

“I make music for the fun of it,” Gare said, playing louder. He slapped the lute between strums. “I guess it’d be like if someone tossed you silver every time you touched yourself for pleasure.”

Clay laughed and looked to his companions. Thice grunted and flicked the munkrat’s head into the fire. He threw his bare skewer in after it. Gare caught a signal from Thice to Brion out of the corner of his eye. Brion waved his hand parallel to the ground again. Thice sighed and took another roasting munkrat.

Brion looked up from the unremarkable contents of Gare’s pack. “So you’re a vagabond?” He tossed it back to Gare.

“In a matter of speaking,” Gare said. He started another tune, a traveling song. “I work when I need money. I hunt when I’m hungry. I sleep when I’m tired. I gently caress when I’m horny. Aaaand I hit the road when I get bored.” He stopped playing. “And I fight when the King calls in the able-bodied.” He pulled down his shirt collar revealing a white scar shooting down across his collar bone.” If Thice wouldn’t be swayed by jokes, song, or drink, maybe a war story would win him over.

Brion shot up and swatted at the air. He hopped away from the log.

“It’s just a bee,” Gare said.

Brion ducked. “I swell when they sting me.” He swatted at his attacker again. “And my throat closes up.”

“Well right now you’re telling it you’re sporting for a fight.” Gare pressed a string to the bridge, and plucked it. He let it vibrate for a few seconds and then plucked it again, trying to approximate a buzzing. When that failed, he reached into his pack for a jar of blackberry preserves. He pulled off the wax lid and the bee wove its way over to examine the sticky sweetness. Gare drew a dagger from a sheath on his belt below the small of his back and speared the insect.

Brion nodded to Gare and sat back down. Clay took another pull from the jug. Thice threw another bare skewer into the fire.

Gare put his lute on the ground, holding its bridge like an upright bass. “How about another song, gentlemen?” He plucked at low chords and slapped the wood, beating out a deep disjointed tune.

Clay tapped his foot. Thice sighed and drummed his fingers against the base of his sword. Brion looked to his joyless companion and shrugged.

Gare played harder, faster, hoping this one would work.

Thice stood and took a step toward Gare just as the trees across the road started swaying. Leaves shook and fell from their branches. Brion craned his neck around. Gare plucked out low notes as fast as he could.

A Quatch emerged from the forest, grunting and hooting rhythmically, matching Gare’s notes. It lumbered forward on its knuckles. Brion and Clay drew their swords and charged. The Quatch bared its teeth at the little men and beat its hulking hairy chest.

Thice hesitated, waiting for an opening. He looked to the stream behind him, then to the beast shrugging off blows from his companions. Before he could make up his mind to fight or flee, Gare wheeled around and sliced at his throat.

A back hand from the Quatch caught Clay in his ribs. He cartwheeled through the air and landed in a crumple heap. His sword protruded from his back.

The Quatch grabbed Brion’s sword arm and pulled him to the ground, wrenching his shoulder out of its socket. Brion looked back to the fire and screamed. “Thice! Gare!” Thice lay face down in a pool of blood next to the jar of blackberry preserves. Brion could just make out Gare bobbing in the stream, his arms straight up holding his lute out of the water, before the Quatch grabbed his scalp and twisted. His head came off like a cork.

Gare glanced over his shoulder when he reached the opposite bank. The Quatch lumbered toward him, then noticed the blackberry preserves. It sniffed at the jar and sat down. The Quatch licked at the sweet jelly. Gare plucked out a traveling tune on his lute and walked on.

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