|# ¿ Feb 12, 2016 23:11|
|# ¿ Nov 23, 2020 17:01|
96) Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance
He saw her, and then he didn’t.
It was like someone had turned off the only light in the room she was in, only she was outside and it was still just light out. She hadn’t moved at all. Mercy was running by the ally between Domino’s and the storefront law firm on Cicero, just as he had to every day, and for the first time in a long time, something was different. Today, he saw her.
Then, just like every other day, Hal’s van came careening over the curb on the corner and sent him back up.
Mercy only knew the guy’s name was Hal because the first day this happened, they met in the long, straight line into post-life. They died pretty much at the same time, after all, and it might have been a slow day, too. Getting to the line was like being a fade in on a new scene, which Mercy figured helped the shock a little bit.
Well, not so much for Hal.
Hal was pissed about being dead.
“God bless it. God bless it,” was the first thing Hal said, after a few minutes of betrayed panic and confusion. Then he saw Mercy.
“Well, if that don’t beat all.”
Mercy waved a little, trying to offset the sheepishness of his smile.
“You were the one? I hit you, right? You ran out in front of me?”
A small nod was all Mercy could manage at the moment.
“That little cream-cake son of a harlot. If the little troublemaker finds his way up here, I’m going to personally strangle him and find a way to send him back down.”
“Who?” Curiosity got the better of the knot in Mercy’s tongue.
“That feces-eating cat of mine. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.”
The line shuffled forward, and the two of them shuffled along with it.
“I’m Hal. I’m real sorry about running you over.”
“Mercy. It’s okay.” They shook hands. Hal was all dimples.
“Wouldn’t have happened if my cat Bandy hadn’t gone off in a tizzy.”
Mercy had never really liked cats all that much, and now he knew why.
Hal did most of the talking while they stood in line for a few days. He seemed like a lonely person who had a lot of practiced stories he didn’t get to tell often. When the registrar came up, he gave his personal information, and the person-like being behind the podium blinked a slow and powerful blink, and Hal was gone.
Mercy stepped where Hal had stood for a moment before.
“Where did he go?”
“Name, birth date, death date, and location of both.”
The being’s voice seemed to come from all sides at once, crisp and airy.
“Mercy Kevin Behrens, born October twelfth, nineteen ninety in Oakland, California, died October thirteenth, twenty fifteen, in San Fransisco.”
“Mercy.” His name had never sounded so sweet and ominous.
“Come back tomorrow, Mercy.”
And when Mercy blinked, he opened his eyes to his bedroom, and it was nighttime.
He had tried to find his body, but he didn’t know which morgue it was in. At some point he saw his mother put an urn on the mantel. He watched her for a little while, but it was awkward to watch people when they thought they were alone, so he stopped.
About ten til seven, Mercy found himself running to catch the bus on Cicero, just as he had been the day before. He ran past the Domino’s, past the empty alleyway, past the law firm, and was hit by a van.
This time, Hal wasn’t in line. When he got to the podium and listed his information, he heard, “Come back tomorrow, Mercy,” and he was in his room once again.
Mercy stopped hanging around his house. His mother was too sad, his brothers weren’t much help to her, and try as he might, there just wasn’t any way to communicate with them. While the world moved forward, Mercy just reappeared on that corner around dusk every day and got hit by a van.
He never saw Hal again. Sometime early on, Mercy tried to get a glimpse of the person behind the wheel, and he was shocked and actually a little amused to see a grey cat, paws at ten and two, very attentively running the van over the curb in Mercy’s direction.
Then, she showed up in that alley.
She was holding a talisman or something, a stonework shape that glowed a little from the center. Her eyes were fixed dead on his, and her mouth moved, though he couldn’t hear any words. There was something odd about the way her entire person looked, though he couldn’t quite place it. And then she was gone.
Mercy explored the city a little more each day. He looked for her, but the city was huge and there were so many places to be. The van was a time limit.
The line became routine. Early on, he tried just running to the front, but found the thought blew out of his head like a piece of paper. His name, dates, and locations became a memorized hell, and “Come back tomorrow, Mercy,” ran like a constant mantra in his head.
It was, by his attempt at a mental count, the six hundred and fifty-fifth day after his death that he saw her again.
It was the same as every other time. He had been following a man with an interesting-looking instrument case when the next instant Mercy was chasing his bus. The Domino’s on the left, the mouth of the alley, the law office, and there she was, standing on the corner facing him.
The front tires of the van bounced over the curb and she threw out the hand holding the talisman as though to catch it.
He heard her voice now, heard it shout with the motion and taper off into a mutter. The van was frozen in place, dirt flying off the tires stuck like dust motes in the air, the cat’s eyes wide and wild.
When she stopped muttering, the girl smiled.
“Hey?” Mercy ventured.
“Come here a second, will you?”
He shambled a little closer. He realized as he drew near that her sweatshirt was a faded red, and it was the most vibrant color he had seen since he died. He was just now figuring out the world had no color, it was just light and shadow. He vaguely wondered why this hadn’t been apparent.
She held out her hand. His crept up to it, then decided to take it.
She guided him up the sidewalk on Cicero a little bit and gave him the talisman. It was the stonework face of a crow, long and furious with a screeching beak. “This is the last time, okay? You won’t come back. You need to give this to the registrar.”
“I mean, to move on. To see me.”
“Who are you?”
She smiled, then pointed at the cat.
“Not my name, but that’s me. And that was like, seven reincarnations ago. But I’m done with that part now. And I guess it’s your turn.”
He looked back to the corner. He knew exactly where to stand, how to position his scrawny body.
“Did you kill me on purpose?”
Her laugh was kind of shocking in context. “Nothing happens for a reason, Mercy. But I can tell you, I make it up to you.”
And the next instant, he was in front of the van as it pounced, his heart pounding and feeling the warmest it had ever felt for someone.
|# ¿ Feb 15, 2016 07:52|
|# ¿ Feb 16, 2016 14:44|
Excerpts From the Journals of Dr. Lorraine Felt and Subject One
The boy was kicked in the head by a horse. Luckily, there is no cranial damage. The offending hoof snapped his neck and severed the spinal cord eight centimeters below the necessary length for transplant.
This is a tremendous find.
The brain, aged twelve years and three months, is in the perfect stage of adolescence for accelerated growth. By inundating it with sensory information combined with a balanced cocktail of hormones, once activated, the mind should interpret information at a rate thousands of times faster than our current rate.
I believe I have all of the pieces now. I just have to calibrate and connect them to fabricate one unified apparatus.
The cadaver is more recently deceased. The "iron heart" machine my former partner left in my care is keeping it in operable condition. The boy's brain has been suspended in a conductive jelly and is connected to the smaller iron heart I finished last week.
Everything is going swimmingly.
I should be exhausted, but I keep finding myself out of my bed and on the stairs to the basement. His vitals are fine. Heartbeat is slightly accelerated, but nothing beyond normal. He is recovering nicely.
It seems my process is effective so far; at least, the first and most difficult steps have been.
Outside my orb of achievement and gratification, there is a pool of fear waiting to suck me in. I have artificially reinvigorated dead tissue with life. Whether it is a conscious and cogent life remains to be seen. And what will the old tissue retain? The cadaver has twenty-six years of neural impulses etched into every nerve. Research indicates the brain’s memory center will have atrophied slightly, but who knows what images remain buried in that grey matter?
Or will there be anything left of his humanity at all?
The subject has regained consciousness, albeit only briefly. His eyes can open and focus on their own, and he exhibits moderate control over his vocal cords. No finer muscular control yet, though the fact that the brain has perfected such control over the eyes is impressive.
The experience of watching him attempt to move his limbs was akin to that of watching a rabid dog overheat.
I sedated him.
Still no sign yet whether or not the subject remains sentient. The incision has healed fairly rapidly, leaving a fine scar around the dome of his skull. Hair will hide most of it, but he will always have a thin red worry line across his forehead.
Provided, of course, he recovers fully from death.
Physical therapy progressing as well as can be expected. Nothing to do about the rigor mortis, which seems to have set particularly heavily within the quadriceps and lumbar muscles. John seems to have a sunny disposition despite it.
The subject is not progressing as rapidly as I’d like in regards to his accelerated learning. After the first few iterations of my “information register helmet” failed, I’ve since resorted to hiring a schoolteacher for house calls. He is an average student, at best, despite the precise administration of hormonal supplements and mental stimulants.
It was funny, the other day he accidentally called me ‘Mother’.
There was something latently naïve in his eyes above those dark bags, something very sweet but disturbing from a face so weathered by adulthood.
I may have sounded stern in telling him off, but it’s important for his development that he doesn’t see his doctor as a parental figure. Nothing more than a guardian.
News of my venture has reached the medical world despite my best efforts to keep it secret. I cannot know how it happened, but have no one to blame but myself. Initial reactions were less than positive, ‘abhorrent’ and ‘desecration’ being a couple of the milder descriptors, but I have garnered some legitimate interest.
A group of doctors in the United Kingdom would like me to present my process under public panel. If accepted as legitimate medical practice, I could be presented as one of the foremost leaders in the field and accept my place in history.
I have yet to tell John about this. I think perhaps it’s best to wait for public reaction to finalize in our favor before I go raising his expectations.
He grows more and more curious about life outside my supervision. Even after months of observation and therapy, he is still reticent to discuss what he remembers of his life. I’ve encouraged him to start writing a journal so that he’ll not only improve his literacy, but also have another medium in which to organize his thoughts.
I leave for the panel in a month, but already the trepidation is overwhelming. Over the course of that month John will be studied by experts in the medical field and my process will be under the deepest of scrutiny. Then, I will leave him for London.
Who I’ll hire to watch him, I’m sure I have no idea.
England was a tragic mistake. They’ve accused me of fraud and say my process is nothing more than a sham, despite it being examined and analyzed several times over.
My second subject, exhibited for the public panel, did not survive the final stage of the process to horrifying results. With the final push of electrical stimulation to restart the heart, there was some sort of malfunction having either to do with the reliability of the instrument or the cadaver itself.
I just found a bit of retina from his vanished right eye in my hair, so I am somewhat distracted from the idea of whom to blame.
I am disgraced. I refuse to return to society. With that, I end this journal.
~ ~ ~ ~
Today I fell over and got rite back up agin by myself.
Legs were littel tricksters. I felt like Right Leg just did not want to walk any mor. He planted him self rite on the floor and staid their. And I just toppeld right over like a fool.
Doctor Lorraine is gone. She sed she was just leaving for a littel bit but I now she left for good. Nurs Roberts and Nurs Hilda ar really nice to me, but I miss Doctor Lorraine so much it makes Heart squeeze up in side my chest.
The other Doctors stoppd coming. I do not mind that. Their poking and jabbing and shining lites were not so nice.
I hav not told the Nurses, but I am going to run away tonite.
I can not stand these littel tweeks and twitches. Som times I will smell a thing in the air or tuch a thing outside and my nose or my finger will go all elektrik and I want to think of a thing, but I do not now wat that thing is.
I want Doctor Lorraine back so she can explain it to me. She under stands every thing.
I have walked and hitch hiked the miles to where Doctor Lorraine probly is. It is easyer than I thot to travel so far. The longer I go South the hotter the air gets.
I keep finding things about her. She is less and less in the papers since the London thing. Just by chans I found a man who saw her in a show in New Orleans. I will see her tonite.
Too exsited to rite. Will talk soon.
I do not now why she shot me. I will never under stand.
I watchd her in the show in the big tent. She was all dressd up and laffing and screaming. A big bolt of elektrisity shockd the man on the table and he got up and started moaning like a dim wit.
I went to ask her if that is how she thot of me, and she screamed and shot me and I hit the gun away and ran.
It dos not really feel all that bad. I can still run. I am not like other peopel. The others need food and shelter. I am stronger.
One day Doctor Lorraine will want me around, but I will be watching her until she knows it. I will watch her paint her face and witch doctor her fake Subject on a slab. And I will wait.
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2016 04:57|
A Duck's A Duck
She walked into my life on those big webbed feet and swam away even quicker.
The first time I saw her, it was like I'd never seen a pair of drumsticks before. Saxophone music played in the back of my head. I lit her cigarette and she looked up at me with those sultry black eyes, giving me only a breathy "Quack."
"So," I says, "you here for a P.I.?"
"Caught the drake with lipstick on his collar?"
She nods again.
"Who's the lucky duck?"
She waddled over and put a picture on my desk. It was the biggest duck in the dynasty- Mallard Malloy.
"A high profile case like this," I says, "might ring up a pretty big bill."
She flashes me a handful of cash. Looks like she's got a few bills of her own. I take the job.
Three days later, I got a gun in my mouth and Mallard Malloy's long face about 3 inches from mine. The dame who hired me is hanging off his wing with a coy little smile.
"Keep those sticky little fingers out of Mr. Malloy's business," the shrimpy little man on Mallard's other side sniveled, "and we'll have no trouble. Got it, gumshoe?"
"Got it," I says as best I can around the muzzle of the gun.
This is what I get for chasing a little tailfeather.
|# ¿ Feb 22, 2016 20:06|
|# ¿ Feb 23, 2016 04:53|
In with a for science paper week. Just couldn't make that poor ostrich gently caress a dude.
|# ¿ Mar 15, 2016 05:30|
your knight has sworn to respect and protect the flag of their country.
The Feudal Struggles of Boyhood
The sun finally rose, and the air shifted from grey to gold. Lawns began to fill with life: Mister Fisher with his mower, the Hollins twins in their abandoned doghouse, Jim Cortney lighting a spliff in his beach chair. A dozen garage doors lifted, a dozen bicycles bore their riders to clandestine locations.
Over the asphalt at the top of the eastern hill, the ghost of a guitar wailed through a curtain of heat haze. Growing in volume, drums began to beat beneath it, driving the sound to the top of the mountain. At the combined chorus of Jefferson Airplane, a dark figure mounted the hill’s apex astride his Huffy Radiobike.
Mister Fisher killed the mower to accentuate his shaking head. The twins retreated to their doghouse. Jim puffed his spliff and nodded along to the tune.
Sir Randy, Flagbearer of Radkeep, descended upon them with all the bestowed omnipotence of the Summer King.
He rode on in the direction of Oakforest Treecastle.
“His eminence Sir Randy,” the squire lisped. Randy noogied the kid’s curly mop as he passed the threshold. The squire was his best friend’s little brother Max.
“The King is in his chambers—aw, dog nuts, I mean…” but the title had been spoken, and not even Max’s speedy backpedaling could undo that.
“I’ll see myself in,” Sir Randy intoned.
He climbed the fencepost ladder to the second level, much smaller than the first. Here there were stacks of comics, a book or two, and a transistor radio.
Randy knocked on a branch. The sound was flat and depressing.
“Enter,” came the reply, and Randy moved toward the easy chair from whence the call emanated. He gave a little sardonic half-bow. “Lord Marquise of Oakforest.”
Lord Mark smirked in spite of himself. The expression disappeared more forcefully than it came.
“I guess you’re here to swap out the flag?”
“I guess I am,” Randy replied. “You know we always start with the last stronghold.”
“And end with the new one, I remember. It was only two years ago I received you to swap in my flag.”
“You knew I was coming back.”
“Remember how we got this chair up here?” Mark dropped his Peter O’Toole impression. “It took all three of us, you, me, and Maxey. We built this together. We forged this throne with our own hands. I deserved this!”
Lawrence of Arabia was back. Randy shook his head.
“Allen is Summer King now.”
Mark stared at the hollowed knot where he kept his harmonica and marbles and other sundries.
“I’m here to change the flag.”
“Then do it,” Mark said sullenly, “but there will be no ceremony.”
Sir Randy edged around to the front of the chair. His brown eyes implored Lord Mark’s tan ones.
He bowed. Then he left.
The flagpole was the same one they had robbed from a metal dump on Irving Avenue. Randy remembered how hard it had been carrying it between the bikes. They dropped it a couple of times, but it made it to the Treecastle in one piece. Now he was taking Mark’s flag down and replacing it with King Allen’s.
Admittedly, the flaming lion’s head looked way cooler than Mark’s crude skull and crossed bones. Allen’s sister really knew how to sew.
After the fifth time hearing himself announced, Sir Randy, Flagbearer of Radkeep was getting really sick of his title.
The satchel on his bike was very nearly full, and the Anointed Backpack hung deflated on his back. This was the last swap.
The double doors of Barnhold creaked open, and “Sir Randy, Flagbearer of Radkeep” was welcomed with a flourish of kazoo. Two levels of subjects applauded him. A fresh mug of icy lemonade was handed to him.
“Well? Let’s get to it!” roared the black-haired Anthony, Duke of Barnhold.
The flagpole rose majestically as a centerpiece, with the two floors constructed around it. Duke and subjects applauded the ascent of Radkeep’s seal.
After a short and uneventful chat with Duke Anthony, Sir Randy drained his lemonade and exited to the front lawn, where he had left his bike.
The grass, however, was unhindered by the Huffy Radiobike and its satchel of defunct flags.
The grass tilted, from Sir Randy’s perspective, very sharply to the right.
Someone had stolen his steed.
Randy snapped his head to the left, breaking his state of shock.
“Get me a bike,” he screamed over the fence towards Barnhold, “some turdbreath stole my Radiobike!”
Sir Randy rocketed towards Radkeep on his borrowed steed. So swift was he that the three accompanying guards provided by Duke Anthony panted to keep up. Radkeep was behind the house at the tip of a cul-de-sac on the north edge of the Summer King’s territory. Randy cursed the distance of the stronghold as he buzzed around each corner of the lazy suburban streets.
Ten minutes later, he was screeching to a halt.
The mouth of the cul-de-sac was blocked off by a line of velocipedists, all masked except for the one in the center. There, astride the Huffy Radiobike so treasured by Sir Randy, was Lord Marquise of Oakforest.
From the radio, Pete Townshend was singing about how he could see for miles.
“Might as well go home, Randy. Radkeep is ours now.”
The browned skull and crossed bones still flew from the peak of Radkeep. There was no movement inside.
“Where is King Allen?”
“Al’s explaining to his mother why he would throw a rock at one of my subjects,” Mark smirked, “the same as all of his knights. You’re lucky you were on the move, Randy.”
The silence in the no-man’s land between them almost crackled with electricity.
“You really think you can take on all of the other lords? They elected King Allen for a reason.”
“They elected Allen because his mom’s got a boat and he promised them all they could drive it,” Mark spat. “His clubhouse is a dump. Tch, Radkeep. More like Radcrap.”
His army tittered behind their masks. Randy hadn’t found it actually all that funny.
“Gimme my bike, Mark. You know my brother gave it to me. Your ugly butt doesn’t deserve to sit on it. “
“Oh yeah? How about you duel me for it?”
Randy tossed his leg over the back wheel and let the borrowed bike fall to the ground. He drew his wooden sword like a chef unsheathing a knife.
The former Summer King kicked the stand into place and held out his hand. One of his knights handed him a baseball bat.
Instinctively, the boys circled up around the combatants.
Mark started with a swing towards Randy’s shoulder. He blocked it, but the bat was heavier than his sword and the blade shook a little. As Mark pulled back for another swing, the Flagbearer got in two jabs to his ribs.
The circle was a whirlwind of chanting and fists.
The bat caught Randy in the belly and his breath escaped him for a moment. He swung wildly in Mark’s direction, clipping him right above the eyebrow. A scratch trickled a tiny bit of blood.
Mark bared his teeth like a panther and leapt at Randy, swinging the bat behind his head and coming down with full force.
Randy’s blade connected with Mark’s right shoulder midswing, just above the armpit, and Randy heard a strange popping noise. The circle silenced instantly.
Mark dropped his bat and began to moan, then wail as he tried to move his arm. He began to stumble off in the direction of his house. Randy started after him, then thought the better of it.
Without a word, he picked up his Radiobike and slowly cruised down toward Radkeep to swap the final flag.
|# ¿ Mar 21, 2016 08:00|
|# ¿ Mar 22, 2016 01:05|
This is a really stupid idea this week because I'm insanely busy, but IN
|# ¿ Mar 22, 2016 02:09|
Word Count: 1476
Word Count: 484
“Why didn’t you make a coat out of it?”
Smoke puffed from my mouth along with the question. The bursar had taste; the cigars weren’t terrible.
“There’s no need for a coat in the rainforest,” the bursar replied. “Besides, we were leagues away from any tailors.”
My eyes lingered on the scaled skin hanging on the north wall of his den. Somehow it gleamed greenly in the candlelight as though still moist with river water.
“And you had nothing but a hatchet and machete? Not even a pistol?” I tried to make my eyes gleam imploringly as I asked. So far he seemed quite enamored with my sinless persona.
“It was more than enough. Back then, I could’ve wrestled the thing with my bare hands and he’d’ve submitted. I was strong as a giant back then.” Henry Goodling the bursar laughed with the weight of nostalgia then stood and made his way toward the wine cabinet. He pulled something from the top shelf without looking.
As he poured, I tried to count all the things that gleamed in the room behind his back. I smelled the age of the books on his shelf and listened to the bell tones of his wine glasses cut from crystal. The air in this house felt rich against my skin.
“You know,” he turned, “I have never met a woman who could keep up with me whilst drinking and smoking. So far, you alone have that distinction.” I reached out for the glass he offered me and replied, “Then you can’t have met too many interesting women.”
I looked again at the crocodile’s skin on the wall. It was obviously much older than Henry Goodling, the mendacious braggart. The methods used to preserve it looked absolutely ancient. Yet, the color suggested if one ran a hand over its ridges, the skin would writhe as though pining for its original owner.
As the bursar’s guest, a traveler whose arranged taxi seemed to have misplaced itself, I kept him well entertained and made sure he drank just as much as I did. I held my breath at intervals to flush my cheeks with blood. I stumbled as I rose to use his water closet. Little did he know I’d been drinking since my early years, and had probably twice the tolerance of the big man.
When I started back from the water closet, a low grunting snore greeted me from the direction of the den. The old fool.
From my sensible travel bags, I gathered my rope, knife, and a long cylindrical leather bag, and replaced the empty vial of morphine.
When he woke, tied to a chair and groggy from the morphine, he would find himself one crocodile skin and a whole roomful of trinkets poorer, with nothing to show for it but a fake name and the description of a girl wearing a wig and a stolen dress.
Word Count: 492
The songbird’s voice bounced through the trees, blessing the branches and leaves with its music. The bird was a plain one, by rainforest standards, but his chest shone with a most vivid teal. Some of his brethren had brighter yellow in their tail feathers or heads as brilliant as blood, but none could compare to the shining glory of his breast.
He burst through a patch of wide leaves and happened upon a long stretch of river so wide it split the canopy like a canyon. Sun slanted through the clouds and illuminated the water with silver. The songbird’s mating call became a high whistle of ecstasy, and he dove and skipped across the rippling mirror of water.
All was silent.
The songbird glided across a wide, flat expanse where the long branches and vines on the river trees dappled the sun with shadow. A lone log meandered along the center of the river, and the songbird alighted upon it.
The log turned its head and glanced at the songbird. A spray of water puffed from the log’s nostrils. The songbird froze, gaze locked with an eye that was only slightly smaller than his own head.
The eye winked.
The songbird blinked twice, rapidly and confusedly.
The log dipped its head back into the water.
The songbird puffed out his chest, coasting along the surface of the river on his steed, the mighty Crocodile.
The two sailed together as the sun buried itself beneath the trees, the songbird voicing his chirruping mating call at intervals and the Crocodile responding with a puff of his nostrils.
Then there were drums.
The Crocodile must have felt them thrum through the water. He dove beneath the surface, surprising the teal-breasted avian. Water splashed around his wings as he frantically flapped and took off. He could barely see the shadow of the Crocodile cruising the river below the surface, but he could see where the shadow’s path lead; to a large raft crewed by strange bare mammals.
One of the mammals spotted the Crocodile’s fading V of a wake, and the drummer accelerated his rhythm so that it was at once inviting and frenzied. The others prepared a woven net and a couple of long spears tipped with sharpened stone.
The mammals heaved the net in one synchronized movement over the shadow, and the encumbered Crocodile burst through the surface of the river.
His size struck the songbird with total awe. The Crocodile’s maw was wrapped tight in one end of the net, which held fast despite his head snapping back and forth to free himself. The spearsmen thrust again and again, into his belly, into his neck, into his side. He squirmed as the others hauled him onto the raft.
The songbird threatened to dive bomb one of them, but lost his nerve before he got too close, instead singing a final goodbye to his brief friend and winging off to a more pleasant safety.
Word Count: 500
Nick St. Jerome wakes up an hour late for office hours with a bottle of Canadian Club soaking into his bare mattress. His shoes are unimpressed.
Nick hops out of bed and tosses a ragged towel on the whisky. He flaps the wrinkles out of one of the shirts on the floor, squeezes into an old pair of slacks, and shoves his feet and yesterday’s socks into the indignant pair of crocodile skin shoes. This pair of shoes tells a story of the affluence once afforded to Nick St. Jerome, Ph.D. It’s the last thing he owns that does.
The shoes enjoy the clammy morning air whipping by on the streetcar. Nick dashes into a gutter puddle when he hops off, and for an instant the shoes are back in the blue Nile, hunting for prey. Nick curses the day and the god watching over it.
There are three men waiting for him at Nick’s office door.
Well, one man, two bodyguards.
“Nicholas St. Jerome?” the man being guarded says. His shoes are brightly polished leather. Nick’s shoes think they’re tacky.
“You’ve got him. And you’re Len Tirell?” Nick ventures. The name is a familiar one. He’s a union man, advisor to the mayor, and has a minor side job as head of the Irish mob.
Len gestures toward the door. “After you.” The bodyguards wait outside.
Nick offers Len a drink, Len says “Whisky rocks.”
Nick says, “No rocks. I usually go to the corner store to get some after lunch.”
Len scoffs. “Neat then.” He lights up a cigarette, and Nick’s shoes notice despite his silver case, the man rolls his own.
“I’ll get down to it,” Len says as he sits. “I’m a man of information. I thrive off of knowing things about certain people and places, secret things. But sometimes,” his stare intensifies here, “people don’t want to tell me things. Things I need to know.”
Nick’s mouth is kind of half-open as he listens. His shoes would tell him he looked moronic if they could speak.
“I need something that’ll make people give me good information. Make sure there aren’t any spyers and liars in my crew. That something you can find for me?” Len’s staring at Nick from underneath his eyebrows.
Nick starts to say something, then uncrosses his legs. His right heel taps the floor beneath the desk nervously. He’s thinking.
“Thalomoxyhydrin,” Nick says. “We call it a candor inducer. Some of the funnier guys call it a truth serum.”
Nick’s lying better than his shoes have ever seen.
“I can get it, depending on your offer.”
Len crosses his legs and leans back. “Ten thousand,” he says.
Nick’s leg stops jackhammering. He, too, leans back.
“It’ll be in aspirin bottles,” Nick says. “Nobody will tell the difference.”
There’s a pause.
Len stands. Nick follows.
“It’s a deal,” Len says.
Nick St. Jerome, Ph.D., just sold aspirin to a mob boss at a nine hundred percent markup, and his shoes couldn’t be prouder.
|# ¿ Mar 28, 2016 03:33|
I humbly accept my loss and blame the fact I had never read a time travel fiction story and wanted to see what I could do.
How dare you be humble you piece of poo poo
|# ¿ Mar 29, 2016 02:35|
Anybody up for a crit for crit on week CXC?
|# ¿ Mar 30, 2016 04:56|
me! me! pick me!
Done and done
|# ¿ Mar 30, 2016 13:58|
Oh my god can you suck worse
This from the ignorant taint-sniffer who prefers pissing and moaning about brawl toxx rather than just reading the rules laid out in the first loving page
|# ¿ Apr 1, 2016 06:10|
In with Half A World Away
|# ¿ Apr 5, 2016 13:17|
In with a for being too terrible to post last week. Bring on your best flash rule, nerd.
|# ¿ Apr 12, 2016 00:27|
The Family Business
Bristles poked at Vashti's fingertips as she ran them over her scalp. She was still getting used to the immediacy of sensation where before her hair had provided a barrier. "Turn left here," she instructed her sister.
Mer pulled the wheel around, accelerating to beat the oncoming SUV. They weren't late; Mer just hated waiting for other drivers.
"God, these people are going to suck," Mer complained. "Nobody who lives in a suburb is ever worth talking to."
"We're from the suburbs," Vashti snorted.
"Well yeah, but we don't live in a suburb anymore," Mer retorted. "And I can promise you right now you won't catch me dead in one, either. I'm going to die on a mountaintop or in a gutter in Paris or something. At least somewhere with a modicum of intrigue."
They pulled into a driveway and Vashti admired how the street went on like two mirrors facing each other, every house just a reflection of the one across from it.
Mer grabbed the bags from the back of their mother's coupe. She puffed a preparatory sigh. "Ready?"
Vashti nodded in response.
"Let's wake up a dead guy, then." Mer knocked on the door.
The dragon screamed somewhere from the depths of the Cataclysm. "I got the wrong one," Vashti struggled to say. "The dragon's holding him hostage."
The wife of the man they were attempting to resurrect stood against the wall gripping the doorframe with one clawed hand. She watched for half a second more, then made a panicked dash to the other room.
"You have to make the call now, Vashti. I can only keep his synapses running for another minute, tops." Mer was clasping the corpse's head between her hands while Vashti manipulated his soul through the man's stomach.
The dragon screamed again. It was getting angrier.
"I can't drag that monstrosity back up with him," Vashti struggled to say, feeling the man's soul grasp at her fingertips. "We have to knock it back. We hav--"
An eruption of fire spouted from the dead man's mouth. Mer moved her head, like a friend giving room to a drunkard nearing vomitus.
Vashti crawled backwards, eyes shimmering with an excess of liquid.
"It's the end of days," she moaned. "It's the end of days."
|# ¿ Apr 18, 2016 07:00|
My writing is monumentally lovely.
In for the prompt.
|# ¿ May 25, 2016 16:56|
I'm in. I will never turn down a chance to annoy the blood queen
Also, to make up for week 199.
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2016 01:39|
I'm in, so you can boil me mash me stick me in a stew
Dear Blue Wher,
This memo is to inform you that you will be using the word "callithumpian" in your story. Please enjoy this flashrule, and rest in the knowledge that my motivation is purely random.
Suck a D,
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2016 21:55|
Also, in for Monday's prompt, but can I request a sebmojo flash?
|# ¿ Jun 4, 2016 22:12|
She was falling behind, and there wasn’t thing one Martin could do about it.
Martin never wanted to sign her up at all. He thought the Special Olympics were an outdated concept, a misguided gift passed down to keep his daughter shielded and separated from the ‘higher class’ of human. When he and his wife Louisa began talking about adopting Alex, they had made a decision. She was human. She had been born with a condition. It was no different than a person with severe asthma or an irregular heart. She would struggle, and they would be there.
That’s what made it hard. Watching Alex run, her cheeks ruddy with effort, as she slipped from first to second to fourth, creeping in reverse upon the end of the line—it was hard, because he knew that they had provided her with hope, only to have it slapped down like a well-spiked volleyball.
“Go, honey, go!” Louisa was waving the neon-blue poster board with such gusto that she hit the man in front of them several times on the back of the head. Martin offered an apologetic look and a half-extended hand by way of consolation. The man just shook his head. Surely, he understood.
It was Louisa who had the Olympics idea in the first place. A couple of the other mothers in their local DD support group had entered their children, and Louisa thought it might be nice for Alex to compete against her peers.
“She is competing against her peers!” Martin had exploded, trying to unstick his mouth from that manic smile he always got when they argued. “She goes to school with her peers. She socializes with her peers. ‘Peer’ means ‘person who’s in the same age group.’ We decided to keep her with her peers whenever possible, whether they’re developmentally disabled or not.”
Louisa, in all her infuriating calmness, walked to the bookshelf in the den, pulled their dictionary from the bottom shelf, and leafed through it.
“Look,” she had said, pointed, and added insult to most grievous injury by reading aloud to him. “‘Peer, definition two: any person of equal ability, qualification, age, background, and social status to another.’ Can we say, one hundred percent honestly, that she is equal to everyone of her age group in ability?”
Martin had been dumbfounded for a moment. How could this woman’s thinking, this woman whom he had loved for over a decade, with whom he had suffered injury and miscarriage and death of loved ones, grind against his own way of thinking like one mismatched gear turning opposite another? He didn’t know. Somehow, though, she had convinced him, and at this moment, he had no idea how she’d done it.
As Alex slipped back to second to last, Martin felt tears rise and choke in his throat. She was equal, goddammit. She was so kind and so hardworking. This child, whom he had taken in and loved and nurtured, she was the best person he knew, the most wonderful person he had ever met. To watch her fail was a cosmic injustice.
The day she found out she was competing, Alex insisted that he drive her to the community center so she could run the track. She had always been a natural runner. Louisa’s nephews introduced the concept of racing to Alex on one family vacation—a race to the tree and back, winner taking first dibs on the inflatable tube roped to the back of a speedboat. On your mark, get set, go! and Alex dashed from one end to the other and back, the nephews a good yard behind her. Since then, she called races to the car in parking lots, to the beach, to the front door, basically anything that involved moving from one point to another on foot. Louisa had to ban racing in the house, it had caused so much destruction.
The final runner, a redheaded boy, was closing the distance between himself and Alex. Martin began to chant along with his wife, slipping his arm around her waist.
“Go, honey, go!”
“Go, honey, go!”
“Go, honey, go!”
They were at the final stretch. Alex and the last runner ran neck-and-neck.
“Go, honey, go!”
As long as she didn’t come last, Martin thought, he could save her. As long as she didn’t finish last, he could justify her competing in this distressing over-compensation of ableist guilt.
“Go honey, go!”
Twenty yards from the finish line, Alex’s bright blue eyes caught the sign of the same color. She saw her parents, and she smiled, and almost seemed to laugh. She began to skip lightheartedly, as though she’d happened upon a hopscotch grid on the track.
The redhead surged past her, crossing the finish line, and Martin crumpled to his seat on the bleacher. Louisa lowered herself beside him, and began to rub his back gently.
Twenty minutes later, Martin was holding his daughter’s hand in the parking lot. They wandered toward the car, Alex looking down and holding her participation medal in front of her nose.
“Are we getting tots?” she asked after Louisa started the car. Martin had been thinking of that last place boy’s red curls bouncing past his daughter’s face as he crossed the finish line. “What’s that, hon?” he asked in return.
“Can we pleeeaaase get some potato tots? I’m hungry.”
Martin turned, meeting her brilliant gaze. Tots were the known reward in their family. “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
Alex beamed as a reply. Martin couldn’t help but smile. “What are you so happy about?” he asked her.
“I came in last!” Alex laughed. “Nobody else had to come in last. I did it. Nobody else had to… had to feel left out.”
Louisa jerked the car to a stop in the parking lot, eyes wide. Martin barely even noticed.
“I came in last,” Alex said, and smiled out the window.
A man agonizes over his daughter.
“Last place at the retard race.”
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2016 05:16|
No story here. Muse death by heat, basically. Thanks, lovely California summers!
loving cop-out. Sorry to hear the gorgeous weather isn't enough to inspire the gods to spew forth their beauty through your fingers. Surely they'll be more merciful next time you drag your lazy carcass into the ring.
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2016 05:22|
IN for Mother Russia.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2016 15:25|
Yeah... I didn't know if there was any kind of etiquette around that, but the drat thing is such an eyesore.
Man, I'm wearing this thing like a badge of honor til I earn a new one with a win. Gotta pay the blood price, kid
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2016 19:00|
A New Friend
WC: 1374 (extra 500 from week 200)
The sword gleams like red fire in the sunset the moment before it severs my head from my body. I don’t really feel anything—a slight pinch, maybe, but it’s gone before I really notice it. What I do notice is the redness of the stones as I tumble from the edge of the cliff side, almost a bloody russet. The sky tumbles and rotates in a way I never could have conceived when my head was attached to my body.
With a thunk, my head lands on a plateau jutting from the cliff face. One eye can just see over the edge, deep into the darkness, not seeing an end to the cliff.
The executioner chants his prayer to the crevasse. That’s the last thing I hear from above me. By now they’re dragging my body off to be burned, just like all the other criminals, in a black mass grave a little ways from the executioner’s block. They’ll do their final prayers there and all go back to their homes and families and stupid little meals and forget the killing. Small-minded bastards.
I sit on the plateau, watching the darkness below me deepen to a pitch that is almost palpable. The sun finally sets and silence and darkness settle together, two somnolent beasts lying down together for the night.
From the pitch, the sound of pebble falling against stone titters against the silence.
It comes again, closer.
More pebbles fall. I stare into the darkness, unable to do anything except think, “Get back! Get back!”
“Snerb is here to help!” The response doesn’t touch my ears. It’s more as if I’m thinking it myself in a voice I’ve never known before. “Snerb is very pleased to make your acquaintance. Come?”
Without waiting for a response, Snerb grabs me by the hair and carries me as he climbs back down into the crevasse. It’s too dark for me to make out much, but his skin seems pale and there’s a sunflower glow to his eyes.
“Are you the angel of death?” I ask. “Are you the devil?” It’s very odd to be directing my thoughts toward another being. Snerb seems to understand me, though he ignores the question. “I am Snerb!” he responds. “What is your name?”
“Manya,” I offer automatically before I’m able to wonder if I’d really like this creature to know my name. “Where are you taking me?”
“Home,” Snerb says, and there’s a smile in his thoughts. “Home with the others. You will like it!”
We climb down, me swinging from his fist and sometimes bumping the wall. I’m not quite used to the complete lack of feeling, to the weightlessness in the way things move around me. The strangest thing is being completely unable to move my eyes. I can see only what is directly in front of me, where about an hour earlier a sword hungered for my flesh.
We arrive at what I can only assume is ‘home’. It’s the mouth of a cave, curtained with thick black fabric. We pass through into a darkness so absolute it makes the night laughable. I can hear Snerb moving, though, feet pattering quickly on stone. A couple of white hot flashes in the dark, and a fire begins to bloom. I realize he’s set me down on some sort of plinth carved from the wall. As the blooming fire grows, so does the room. First, a second fire mirroring the first emerges. It rises as the first does until I see it’s an oval of polished obsidian set into the wall. A chair grows from the ground in the orange light; and another plinth, across from mine; and then a row of inset shelving, featuring an odd collection of photographs and children’s toys and—
and five other severed heads.
“Snerb is home!” the pale creature cries gleefully, and he moves toward the shelves. “Snerb is home, with our new friend!”
Immediately, there’s a cacophony of conversation in my mind. A piercing tenor shouts down a woman’s mellow alto, an old man wheezes in response to someone’s harsh bark. A wavering pitch rises into the hodgepodge of noise, and I realize I’m moaning in my mind. The din ends, and though like me they can’t move their eyes, I feel every head’s full attention.
Snerb straightens, and I get my first good look at him. I notice his skin right off—it’s pale, as I had seen on the climb, but in the light I can see just how pale. His flesh is like a dampened cotton cloth, muddled and grey in places, but at its base a very pure white. The hands emerging from the tattered sleeves of his military jacket flex with an ape-like wideness. His smile looks sort of ridiculous on his gaunt features, but I can’t deny the joy I see in his reptilian eyes. It’s pure, and weirdly beautiful.
This odd creature throws his hands out to each side welcomingly. “We have been waiting for you, Manya!” he extolls. “These are my friends. Here is Ilya. Here is Andra. Here are Stefan and Dominka. And here is old Pyotr!”
He introduces, in turn, a wide-lipped man, a wrinkled matron, a boy and a girl who must be siblings, and finally a wizened old man who looks as though any day he will wake up a bare skull.
“Finally,” old Pyotr wheezes, “you have arrived. We have been waiting.”
“Waiting!” Stefan shrieks. “Waiting for ages and ages. What took you?”
Snerb shifts his weight between feet nervously. “Now, now, my friends,” he soothes, “Manya couldn’t help the late date. How could she predict the time of her execution?”
“She’s here now,” the grandmotherly Dominika pipes up. “That’s what matters. I saw we get on with it.”
Grinning, then nodding and grinning, Snerb shuffles through an archway into another annex of the cave. I direct my thoughts to my fellow heads, trying to form my question as carefully as possible.
“I feel… as though I know you. All of you. But I don’t recognize your faces. I know I should be with you, but I’m not sure why or how it is I came to do it. What… what is my purpose.”
Stefan jeers. Dominika scoffs. Ilya laughs a barrel-chested guffaw. Only old Pyotr answers.
“We are brought together by circumstance,” he says. “We have been centralized in the archaic religion of one ancient practitioner. Our mutual friend, Snerb, is serving his purpose to us, just as we are confirming the validity of his own beliefs.”
I silently try to work the meaning out of the old man’s riddle.
“Snerb is ready!” Snerb calls from the annex. He comes and collects us all, stuffing Stefan an Iya into his armpits and clutching the rest of us to his chest. His smile has only grown wider since leaving.
One by one, he sets each of us down, placing me down last. The five of us sit on our necks facing a second fire, larger than the last. He steps over me and I sense him standing directly behind.
“For those who are unmourned,” Snerb calls, “Snerb mourns for you. For those released from your bodies, Snerb carries you.”
A strange tune, like thread pulled over a violin string, rises and resonates within the room, and I realize for the first time I am hearing Snerb’s natural voice.
As he sings, he speaks in our minds. “For those who have fallen uncaught, Snerb sings for you. And for those of you gathered now, saved by the mercy of stone, I send you on.”
The fire goes out. Somehow, though, floating in the darkness, I see my other bodiless companions. They float bluely in the darkness—and suddenly I tingle, I shiver, I gasp. I watch as the bodies drip from the heads of the others in the same naked blueness. Soon we are whole.
We look at each other, smiling, and old Petrov looks up. I follow his gaze, and suddenly I am gone in a blaze of blissfulness, passed on.
|# ¿ Jun 13, 2016 03:59|
|# ¿ Jun 13, 2016 04:09|
In with with this little 130-calorie gem.
|# ¿ Jun 14, 2016 05:31|
To make up for no sub this week, I'm happy to do four crits if anybody's up for it.
I'm stealing this, but I'm just going to do four completely unsolicited crits whether you want them or not.
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2016 18:42|
I did this crit and realized later that it wasn't a cereal submission. I already did the work, so I'm posting it. Suck it.
Count Chocula's Lament
You're a newbie and I'm an old-time loser, which means it's my duty to cut you down early so you stop being so drat furtive and nice all the time.
This feels like a stab in the dark at Being Human and The Nightmare before Christmas. And man, it must be real dark where you are.
Your character's voice sounds to me like a crier at a circus. It's so fake and exaggerated that I can't even glean anything from him except for a trope of a storyteller. "Gather 'round, children, and listen to my tale!" Speaking of which, luring a child with candy into the woods definitely estranges your readers with images of a pedophile, and highlighting its triteness doesn't save that stereotype.
"oh I'm going to sit in the back, and nobody will bother me business,"
I'm not usually going to bust balls for editing, but I read this like he was quoting a leprechaun and that's hilarious to me. Hilarious.
Look, if we're going to do a story about "monsters trying to make it in the human's world," can we at least have some fun with it? I like the idea of your story basically being a monologue, but I have to believe that there's a reason this person is telling this story. A good example of what you're looking for is the Group Leader from Breaking Bad. If you haven't watched this series and you have no idea what I'm talking about, stop your constant masturbating and do some loving binge watching. poo poo's a master class in story telling, don't be an rear end in a top hat. There's no consequences for Count Chocula in his story, so if he didn't learn anything, why should any of the other monsters learn anything?
"You got it, Count Chocula!"
You've already taken me out of it through shear lack of interest, but if your entire story has been from a single viewpoint with no quotes. Please, please don't end on one. I feel like i just watched a cohost toss on an informercial.
You don't have to try to think beyond the hackneyed monster-real-world story. If that's the most compelling path for you to take, take it in a direction I haven't seen. Take it in a direction I care about.
|# ¿ Jun 20, 2016 20:03|
|# ¿ Nov 23, 2020 17:01|
for my week 202 failure.
|# ¿ Jun 21, 2016 16:16|