Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fighting Demons

Zhang Pi wakes to the snores of the apprentices. Slipping from his straw bed, he pads shoeless past the forge, to Master Ma's sword in its place of honor on the smithy wall. The simple white hilt smolders red in the forgelight.

When the others awake, this will seem a thievery. It is regrettable. But Pi's sword was  left behind, with his true name.

Pi grimaces, and lifts the sword, and does not feel the slightest eagerness at its perfect balance in his hand.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Next Big Dragonslayer

The Next Big Dragonslayer
"Thing is," Ril tells Norry, "I'm not even sure she wants a new broom. But day after day--"
"Lannald will give you credit," Norry says. "Let tomorrow worry about itself. A happy wife makes a happy husband, I say."
Ril shakes his big head ruefully. "I'm more than this," he says, sweeping his hand to take in all of Slayer's Rest. "One day, Norry."
"One day we'll all eat cake and--hold on. Who's that, then?"
That is the tall, fierce-bearded man leaning casually against the bar, talking to Jick, the owner.
"Dunno." Ril squints through the torch-smoke. "Looks tough enough. Think he's a slayer?"
"We're about to find out," Norry says.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Filling the Void


That night, we occupied the bar in the windowless room within B-'s favorite mansion, before the curtain that led to the door that would almost end the world. For the past few weeks I had been handsomely paid to tend the bar at these events, to ask no questions and spread no tales; tend the bar I did, and if I had questions or tales I kept them to myself.

As had become the custom of late, Charisse stood blindfolded on the low table at the center of the room. For the amusement of all, one of the ladies had gifted Charisse with leather underthings, and of course there were always fresh stockings. The heels were the same that she'd been wearing the first night, when the men had taken her.

Roger was piloting Charisse, blindfolded himself. The better to focus, he had told me the first time I had witnessed the exercise of his talent. Privately, I had always thought it an affectation, but given how this all ended--well, perhaps I was wrong about that, too.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Scary Story in Three Sentences


Moonlight through your baby girl's window and the doll’s cradle by her bed crawling with chittering white-toothed shadows; for just a moment, even before you start to wonder how they got there in the first place, you can’t understand why the fuck the rats are eating the doll.

And then the bloodshitfeardeathsulfur reek, the empty toddler bed and the broken circle, the realization that rats don’t have tentacles.

And the whispers in your head like screams that never end.



-----

Chuck Wendig asked to have the shit scared out of him in a three sentence story of less than 100 words.

I think this one's okay.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Black-Clock Dreams


Yuri learned of the old man from Gregor, who had it from Peter Samovitch, whose prababushka forbade him to tell anyone what she knew. Ordinarily this hearsay would carry all the consequence of a sugar cube, but everyone knew Peter's prababushka for a witch, and a powerful one at that. When she finally died at one hundred and thirty-two, baking cookies for her pravnuks, the residents of every village for fifty kilometers had braved the bitter cold for her pogrebal'nyi. Hers were not words to be taken lightly.

And so the distance has passed under wheel and under foot, and now Yuri finds himself a hundred and fifty kilometers north of Volsk, standing outside the old man's door, one gloved hand in the air and the other clenched around the pistol in the pocket of his fur-lined parka. A large black bell hangs from the iron hook by the door.

Yuri inhales deeply so that the cold bites his lungs. When he exhales, the moisture turns to snow that whips away on the wind. He breathes again. He is not ready for this.

Just Curious

Do me a favor, would you?

If either you've come across this blog serendipitously, or if you've initially arrived via link but have come back because you like what you find here, do me a favor and either say hey in the comments or click one of the vanity radio buttons at the bottom of this post?

If you're only following links and don't plan to come back unless I shove another link in your face, I'm glad to have you... but I'd love to have an idea, a couple months into this project, if my stuff is being read by anyone just 'cuz they like it. :)

Thanks!

Coming Home

Truck paused at the base of the stairs to look up into the shadows. The light was out at the top. Dory wasn't expecting him.
That shouldn't have hurt, but it did.
The smell of boiled cabbage and fatty meat hung in the air, oppressive as poverty. His fault. If he'd stopped for that light--
Truck stood the Mulick kid's bike up against the wall, and started up. The wooden stairs were sticky. They creaked underfoot. By the time he was halfway home, he was clutching the railing, his heart pounding, the darkness blurry before him.
"Stay another night," Dr. Simkins had urged him. "Just for observation." But Truck had been in a coma for seven months, and another night was a lifetime.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Endgame


The wicker basket is precisely centered on a table in the back of one of Atlanta's better steakhouses. The scaly black talon that prods at the rolls within is attached to a multi-jointed arm. The arm terminates out of frame.

"Well, that's unsettling," Coop mutters into the earpiece in John Hartlesby's left ear. "Give me Three."

Hartlesby teases the joystick to back Three's focus away from the table, so it takes in the human diners immediately around the pair. He taps a button and the display on the main monitor shifts. The diners are being paid to eat, and they do a wise job of ignoring the players. Eye contact is strictly prohibited.

The guards, of course, have been coached where to stand to remain off-camera.

"This lowly one simply does not understand how one monkey could have so long evaded us," Chirp says through the translator bug in John's right ear. "But you have found him, magnificence. And, by your leave, this humble one finds himself hungry."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Novice Conquers the Rhythm...


Thorn leaned over the study desk, eyes squinched in concentration, tapping the words out against the wood with the sides of his thumbs. The air smelled of musty parchment and his tutor's spicy perfume. From the enclosed carrels around him came similar tapping, quietly furious. Exams were coming.

Leaning over his shoulder, Abby was a petite furnace with long dark hair that tickled his cheek.

"A novice revenges the rhythm?" he guessed.

"Close," she murmured, her voice gray velvet in his ear. He felt her hair move against his face. Then she was reaching past him, to indicate a group of scratches on the scroll. "Try this bit again."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eliza on the Line (fragment/part 2)


Edgar pressed 1. The connection clicked, clicked again. Edgar's heart pounded into the silence.

A woman spoke, sleepy and very much human. "Japeth Rosswhiler, you philandering son of a bitch. I'm not your 3 AM--"

Edgar didn't wait. "Hello? Who is this?"

The woman's voice sharpened. "Who is this?"

"Where is my daughter?"

A silence. "Mister, I don't know who you think you're calling, but it's ass o'clock in the--"

"Is this Eliza?"

She hesitated. "It is."

Now it was his turn to be confused. The woman wasn't hostile or threatening. She sounded like . . . just a woman.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eliza on the Line (fragment/part 1)


At the end of the day, Edgar Horton was just trying to run a business. Sure, it was a bit of a sketchy business, and maybe he didn't quite dot all the Ts and cross his Is, but he was making bank, and wasn't that the American dream?


Ring.


To pick up, or let it ring? It was probably downtown, and that was just going to piss him off even more. But it might be a customer. Times were tight and those signs didn't come free.

Damn it. He punched the Speaker button.

"Computer Repair Experts."

A woman's voice, distant and mechanical: "Hello. This is a recorded announ--"

His thumb jabbed at the button. But then his daughter's voice overrode the recorded announcement. "Daddy?"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Zoo and What Was Found There


This happened to a friend of mine. You probably didn't know him, a guy named Tree. Seven feet tall or so, lived on protein shakes and Red Bull, used to be in the Marines? He hasn't been around for a while, but you'd remember him.

The last time I saw him, we were at the gym. We were working in on the bench, and between his sets he's telling me about Afghanistan, the time he shot some hajji between the eyes because he thinks he's going for a gun and it's just a chocolate bar the guy wants to share. I don't know what to say, but Tree just laughs about it.

Like I said, you'd remember him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dinner At Clingman's Dome


It was dusk by the time they reached Clingman's Dome, and Camille was covered in sweat. With her short legs and waddling gait, she wasn't much of an outdoorswoman, but she was game, and Henckel loved her for it.

"This is amazing," she said, and Henckel had to agree. The sun blazed red between the mountains. Red sky at night, Henckel thought. They were alone in the observatory, the way he'd hoped. He had a few delights in mind for himself.

Lately, she'd been putting on a little weight. It wasn't her fault; they were middle aged and they loved their Haagen Daaz, and he was never going to be confused with a telephone pole himself. But as she'd gotten heavier, that little up-turned nose had started looking less cute and more snoutish. As she'd gotten older, the bristles on her chin had started going unplucked. Her eyes had started to sink into her head, gotten smaller. Her hair had thinned, revealing the spotted pink skin  beneath.

Henckel reached into the pack he was carrying, handed over the water. She chugged greedily. Piggishly, he thought.


Henckel loved a good wild boar roast, but Camille had been a vegetarian ever since he met her. He'd always accommodated her; love made you do that. Twenty-three years had gone by, the way they do. Henckel never forgot the taste.


"Where's dinner?" Camille asked. She'd watched him pack it away, back at the campsite.

He'd emptied the pack before they'd left. No sense carrying extra weight. He reached back into the bag. Pulled out an apple, and the knife.

Camille squealed like a pig when he stuck her.

But she was game, and Henckel loved her for it.

---------------

This one came out of a reddit thread about the chef who cooked his wife. I am not a well person.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Clockwork Vengeance


A Clockwork Vengeance

In the corner of Cornelius Drudge's room, the massive clock counts away the hours of the night, its brass gears meshing smoothly, each chuck of the escapement another miracle.

The fixer has carefully folded up the frayed sleeves of his tweed jacket and tipped back his ancient bowler. His wrinkled hands bathe one another, a fly set to dine on a battlefield corpse.

By the half-empty green glass bottle on the table before him, he has been drinking. By the blown veins in his eyes and his nose and his hoary cheeks, he has been drinking for quite some time.

Across the narrow table, overflowing the apartment's other battered wooden chair, sits  Maximilian, with his eye patch and his hangdog lower lip. In his impassivity Maximilian might have been painted by an Old Master, Still Life with Muscle and Scar.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Run to Traitor's Gate


The Cut was stalking Yavi from stall to stall through the Rain Market, so close it might as well have been stitched to his shadow. The Cut was more than just irritating. It would be his death if he wasn't careful.

Once, the Cut had been Simon from Beggar's Gate, Simon who shacked so close to Yavi's family that they could have wiped each others' asses without raising their arms. But that was then. Now,  Simon was a nameless soulless gods-be-damned Cut, with nary a flicker of recognition in his eyes for Yavi the dirtlow he'd once been brothers with.

Yavi slid down an alley where the shadows were darker. The Cut followed. He turned into the crowd around Cripple's Gate before doubling back along his path. The Cut stayed with. Damn it to the thirteenth hell.

Nacker had told him to meet up at Traitor's Gate at the gloaming. Show up late and you were on the other side, and once Nacker and his crew had their hands on the pishlak, well, you wouldn't want that. But Yavi couldn't show up with a Cut on his tail. Not if he didn't want a good sharp stoning for his troubles.

In the center of the Rain Market, in the press of the dirtlow, Yavi wheeled on the Cut, looked up. Way up. "Oy. Cutty."

The Cut--not Simon, never again Simon--looked down at him, its moon-face almost aglow against the sooty overhang of the upper tiers. Impassive beneath the mask of stitches that held it together.

"I ain't eaten in three days. I'm hungry enough to fry my own asshole in butter. If I could afford butter. Or a knife. Which I can't. So step off, eh?"

He was only half lying. The knife tucked into the small of his back was as sharp as a dragon's tooth. But his insides had been so long empty that the gutaches and headaches and dizzy were old friends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Victory's Lament, or, a Comedy of Terror


The trell hiked up her skirt and lowered herself onto the privy seat. Constant licked his lips, leaning over the black basin on his table, the better to watch the image on the water within. Better than I'd hoped for. The image was beyond good. It was perfection. He could see every hair in the downy white fur leading up the trell's lean, muscular thighs. And the faintest suggestion of the heaven between.

Beneath his robes, Constant was granite. But he would not touch himself. With his wife in her laboratory down the hall, that would be suicide.

But he was so very uncomfortable.

Well. Maybe just a little.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

An Act of Valor


Jeff Wilcott had lost track of the funerals he'd been to over the years. Dozens. Hundreds, maybe. More than any fifty-three-year-old man should ever see. But funerals, like bad chicken dinners, were something that politicians endured. They should have made it easier. By volume alone, they should have prepared him.

They didn't.

He leaned with his elbows on the big dark desk, staring at the photograph. Jeffrey, the week after graduation, smiling back. Shotgun tucked into the crook of his arm, that damn Astros cap tipped back on his head with Daddy's thick hair bushing out beneath it. Senatorial hair, silver, just like Jeff's own had been since he'd been his boy's age. Jeffrey, smiling at the camera as if he'd live forever.

But, of course, he hadn't.

A Real Find for Horace

This isn't a complete story - it's a little sample I threw together for a writing discussion on a reddit thread. I was trying to find the funny in a scenario and I'm not sure I succeeded. If I actually have any readers (feel free to say hey if you wanna), and you have any ideas as to how to make this work better, I'm all eyeballs.

--


The door smacked against the wall as Horace burst through, beaming with his latest find. He held the box up in two hands. "You'll never guess!"

Sighing, Caroline pushed her goggles up.

"No, honey, this is incredible. He dropped the box on the workbench with a heavy thud. "I was down on Market, you know that shop there, the one with the gargoyles? One of them called me over, I swear. Not really, but, you know. The way they do." His hands had already moved past the flaps and into the box. They emerged with -- what in Christ was it?

Then she figured it out. It was a chainsaw. Orange with rust, festooned with thin leather gloves.

"Okay..."

"Don't you see? It's an automatic face-slapper!"

"Oh, sweetie," Caroline said, gently so he wouldn't bruise. "I don't--that's an art project at best."

"No no no!" Horace protested. "It still works!"

Monday, August 27, 2012

EULAugh But It's Bad Out There.


Jeremy Jones clicked the checkbox, unclicked it, clicked it again. There was no reason on God's green earth to share his predilection for monkey porn with anyone but BonoboLuvrs.com, there really wasn't. But. Mega Dump Truck II, Return of Mega Dump Truck! He could practically feel the dirt cascading off his rounded shoulders.

Little did he know: each click was a submit, each moment of indecision transmitted to the Mega Dump Truck team. The whole of it broadcast on a live wire with the A/V stream from the camera he'd already authorized in the unread EULA for Mega Dump Truck. His indecisive finger-sweat sucked up by the cushy keyboard, analyzed within the free-with-gas-purchase KP Lovinger laptop, sent to RainForest FoodShip with nutritional information (salt, electrolytes, blood sugar) and to every employer within a 500 mile radius who'd integrated the new Workforce Audit package (free trial, just click this checkbox!) into their desktop data delivery feed.

By the time Jeremy clicked Submit, he was unemployable in three states and a case of baby spinach was already on the way.

On the plus side, Mega Dump Truck II was awesome.

--

Another from a BoingBoing thread.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Ghost Weather

Thin white clouds have been skidding across the sky all afternoon, and Bryce is well ahead of us, chasing them up the switchbacks toward the pass. Mom and I are taking our time, pedaling alongside one another. Still working hard, the Rocky Mountain air too thin for anything else. But the trail is wide and there's breath enough for Mom to talk at me.

"What happened," Mom says. "Bryce and I are working it out, Sarah. He's a good guy. Can you just trust me on that?"

Above us, Bryce hits the last switchback and starts the climb toward the cliff-dwellings he told Mom about that morning. He'll be crowing when we get there.

Or maybe he won't. "Mom." I point over the pass. Dark clouds are piling up on the other side.

"Oh, haggis." That's Mom, right there.

"Can you make it?"

"Can you keep up?" Teasing and concerned both.

"Try me." That's me. Tough girl.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stabenaw's Demon


The demons arrived flat-packed, much to Stabenaw's chagrin. Thirteen long black boxes chased in silver crosses. The UPS guy did his best not to grunt and swear but boxes like these are what grunting and swearing were invented for. He left the boxes upside down.

This wasn't why Stabenaw did not tip the man. In a few minutes . . . a few hours . . . unfolding the instructions, pictures of tabs and slots and curling horns and blister-packs of virgin blood, he thought maybe days might be more like it, but, fuck it, at some point this millenium tips were going to become a thing of high irrelevance.

"Oh, honey," Janice said when she saw the wreckage spread across the living room floor. "You know the Hendershotts will be here in fifteen minutes, right? I told you not to start this until--"

Janice was a sweet woman, beloved wife and mother to Stabenaw's seven amazing children and he wouldn't trade her for a buschel basket of B√ľndschens, but the allen wrench had recently skinned his fingertip and the last fucking thing he wanted to hear about right now was Clarence Hendershott's latest hemorrhoid lasering and the most recent car their juvie spawn had stolen.

Consequently, he invited her to leap from the nearest window. The Blasphemous Heart of Hrrjen (M) glistened with fresh dripped blood (not shown), and Janice did not bother putting on her shoes before she leapt. So that was settled.

Part of Stabenaw was appalled, but as he'd already gotten so far as to insert Talons (V) into Toebones (Q) and wrench them into place, the greater part thought that the Hendershotts would make a pretty fine meal regardless of whether Janice was there to cook.

--


This came out of a BoingBoing discussion thread.

Why This Blog?

Why this blog? Because obviously there aren't nearly enough fictioneers blogging about their cranial catastophes. There's a need, people. And I'm here to fill it.

Or maybe it's because I just need a place to post flash fiction, bits of stories, and the like, and to see what the world thinks of them. Because even humble wordminers like yours truly are vain SOBs when it comes to words on page. 

And who knows; if I ever hit it big I'll need a place where folks can find me. For now, here 'tis.

Enjoy! And if you're reading this and NOT a family member, say hi!