Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bail House

I'm the one who dared Zak to go into Bail House that night. I was twelve, and he was nine. What happened is my fault.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Contest Winner!

Thanks to, um, ALL the entrants :). I enjoyed them both. Close game, but the edge goes to wordswithsharpedges in an entirely arbitrary decision based on the fact that I liked the piece's energy and felt the storyline was a little clearer. This was harder than I thought it was going to be, with only two entrants :)

Thanks to both! Words, contact me at j d p a r a d i s e at g m a i l period com to arrange your prize!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Okay, your turn.

I've been posting stories here for a while, and never thought to do this before. But now I have.

Write a story in the comments to this post, using three or more elements from the writing prompt box at the right. 500 words or less. And there will be a prize; my favorite will get a paperback or hardcover book in the genre of their choice (within reason!) randomly chosen off my rather extensive bookshelf.

You have 'til 11:59 PM ET on Friday 11/8. Enter by posting a story as a comment. If you want to include the prompt box text at the end of the story, that of course won't count against the wordcount.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Byrhtnoth's Dying

The steel tide is rising.

The invader before me goes down in a spray of blood and broken links of chain as my war-spear rips free of his byrnie. But behind him rush a hundred more, a thousand, more than I can count. Roaring like the sea itself come to take us away. It is no matter. We must stand. We will stand.

The men roar as I step through their ranks into the chaos, spear-head darting and flashing before me. Here bursting through a young man's throat. There through an eye. The heavy spear is lightning the invaders' thunder-god could have been proud of.

Around me my fellows war with renewed vigor. Earl and churl alike, we club and stab and cut and still the enemy comes on.

But we will stand. We will not be overcome.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Meeting

As the meeting dragged on, and on, and on, Ted found himself unable to take his eyes from Darla. He couldn't help imagining what she would look like later that night, stripped bare of her skin.

Another /r/writingprompts story: Tell a horror story in 2 sentences.

The Red Stapler and What It Means

It's only a stapler. They don't really need it, and I do.

That's what I tell myself as I look at it on my desk. A Swingline stapler, perfectly quiet, perfectly innocent, red as the nails of a dead hooker.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Seven Days With the Dragonriders

On the first day of my captivity, Essen showed me the rows of the dead. Laid head to toe and draped in white muslin, flies buzzing drowsily in the cold air around them, there had to be fifty of them. All very thin, but all different lengths. Some very short indeed.

I steeled myself into expressionlessness so the hitch in my chest could not be seen. The Brothers of the Sun were the ones with the dragons. If they chose to wage war against the Empire--

Essen left me in the cold room with the buzzing flies and the silent rows. That was the first day.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Unicorn Thief

The griffon was screaming at the fat man outside its cage. The fat man's hands were swollen with scrip. The seller's dark eyes were round with possibility.

Callie slid past them into the market proper, the braided horn warm between her breasts. Hoping the old lady would still be there. Hoping she'd found another unicorn.

Hoping she hadn't.

Friday, October 4, 2013

East Canton, Ohio

The bar I managed when I was eighteen was owned by an old woman named Hanna Novak. It was in East Canton, Ohio, which is about as glamorous a place as you might imagine. Looking back, I guess Hanna wasn't that old -- maybe in her sixties--but when I was eighteen that was old. Hanna had grey hair pulled back in a bun, arthritis that had turned her hands into knobby claws, and the upper body strength to carry kegs in from the beer truck. 

I was still on my way west after the thing at the school, but I was out of money and needed work badly. A help wanted sign leaned against the window. The woman who turned out to be Hanna was working behind the bar, a cigarette in the corner of her mouth. She wore a ratty tee-shirt that showed amazing sleeves of tattoos starting at her wrists and running all the way up to the ragged sleeves. No pictures, only swirls and jots of color. It looked like a parrot had exploded on her arms.

This was back in '89, I think. I'd never seen a woman with tattoos before, much less an old woman with tattoos. So I was a little intimidated. But I tried to act older than my age and experienced, which mostly meant that I shut my mouth and grunted a lot.

I remember Journey was playing. Don't Stop Believing was just blasting away. It had always been one of my favorite songs, so I took it as good luck. Hanna turned down the music, asked me if I was there for the job. She had a thick accent that sounded a little like Ivan Drago in Rocky 4. I said yes. She asked if I'd ever managed a bar before, and I said yes, of course. She asked if I could keep my mouth shut, and I didn't say anything. She gave me a little closed-mouth smile at that.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I'm a Dropout

Like the title implies, this happened back in high school. Which was a long time ago and a long ways away, but some stuff stays with you. I've never told any of my psychiatrists about this, but this feels like the place to talk about it.

I went to a small school in an almost dead mill town in upstate New York. We graduated eleven people the year before I dropped out. My class was nine. Five guys, just enough for a basketball team. (Which, amazingly enough, we fielded. Even won a few games, because our point guard, Jimmy Piersall, dropped 50 every time he stepped on the court. We were all sure he was going pro, but after what happened to him at UNC, he never played again. But that's another story.)

It was a gorgeous May day, not a cloud in the sky, when I jogged up to the school that Monday morning. I was twenty minutes late, so I was hustling, but I came up short when I saw the sheriff's car idling empty at the curb in front of the school. The shotgun was gone from the rack behind the driver's seat.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Calling the Bonegod

The stolen cube shatters in Cheapgrim's hand and its callingspell spirals around the burial hill. Eternities pass. The spell sinks in. For hours Cheapgrim prays.

And Galia wakes.

Human, it rumbles.

Cheapgrim fists his trembling hands.  "Great One," he pleads. "Your enemies approach. Feigning a wedding party."

Scarlet eyes flare within deep sockets. The bonegod's snarl rides an osseous splattering dustspray. Desssstroy.

Galia thrashes free of its prison, the splintering clatter obliterating Cheapgrim's triumphant cry.

But first, Galia growls, I feed.

Cheapgrim stands stricken, a sculpture in skin.

How could he ever have believed his vengeance would require no price?


This was a 100-word story challenge from Write a 100-word story with a beginning, middle, and end; the story  must contain the words cube, heap, hill, sink, and splatter.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What is Absurdism?

Overtly Absurdism seems to me to be about imagery and incongruity and the illogical extension of logical conclusions.

Secretly, it's a matter of putting the correct badgers in the correct desk drawers.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tethered (NSFW)

The idea of atomic funerals has always captivated Willow-in-Clay. There's the reek of brimstone about them, the feel of a dark and disfigured god laughing at Man's latest doomed attempt to avoid the Plague's spread. She prayed her way through her share of gravesites, back before she came to realize that it was all for nothing. The bomb is just the next evolution.

So now she lays naked in the lead-bottomed gondola of a hot-air balloon over Mad Hat Canyon, waiting for the updraft. Her companion of the moment, a deceitful little mandroid named Silas-of-Truth, slumps barechested in the bottom of the basket across from her, picking at his fingernails with a rusty pocketknife. She wishes she could hate him, but he's just a generic Bad Boy Survivalist package, not even real enough to despise.

Flames flare above them, and the balloon bobs at the end of its tether.

"What I mostly hate is how cynical it's made me," she tells him, continuing a conversation they'd never begun.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fears of a Clown

In the bed before him, her hands were thrown above her head as if she were a drowning woman in need of salvation. With the portal's green light washing over her in waves, it was an apt comparison. Chuckles couldn't help but smile, but it wasn't a happy smile at all.

He took a breath and bent near, painfully aware of the sour tang of his own sweat and the greasepaint's bitter odor. But the drugs had done their work, and she did not so much as twitch at the smell of him. Chuckles carefully placed the white knight on her nightstand for her family to find, and let the breath free.

"Here we go, then," he told himself, and picked her up. He stepped into the portal.

On the other side, Dr. Mendoker waited, gowned and gloved in the gleaming operating theater. "I was worried," he said gently.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Love Underground

The vampires drop in flights, their shadows blocking the starglitter as they fall. Cameras capture the images but no one watches the cameras anymore.
Tonight in the shelter, Sumi huddles with Allison, bodies pressed together in the dark, breath mingling.
"At least it would be over," Sumi breathes.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

After the Plague (NSFW)

If it was only the memories that the Plague stole, we could have found a way through. We could have talked for days, watched all those videos we never quite got around to playing back, read all the notes that we wrote in the days before it all came apart.
But instead, the Plague stole him from me, left me with the thrashing body, the stream of vulgarities, the piss and the shit, the erections he'd pound until his hand was slick with blood. It stole him and left me, and I stayed, and I stayed, and I stayed.
And now he's dead, this glorious man I gave myself to until death do us part, now he's dead now he's dead, and all I can think now is thank God now I'm free.


This one from a /r/WritingChallenges challenge - "Move me in 5 sentences." How'd I do?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

One Last Stitch

Given that his operating theater was an open casket, Alvin Marks thought he was actually doing a damn good job. If Oretty Whiting hadn't been so determined to find fault with his technique that she ripped her late husband's arm off, no one would even have noticed the way the flesh gave beneath your fingers like squid sushi. And that could hardly be blamed on him.

Besides, Alvin wanted him whole.

"Is this the best you can do?" Paul S. Whiting, Esquire, asked from the casket. "I can pay more, if that's the concern here."

The concern wasn't Paul Whiting's payment schedule, though. It was the smell. Paul Whiting smelled like . . . well, he smelled like a dead man too long in the coffin, was what he smelled like. Alvin only hoped the body would hold together long enough to sew.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scene from a Post-Apocalyptic Amusement Park

On the ninth day west of Des Moines, the little company came across a crumbling Ferris wheel tilting drunkenly above a starveling cornfield. Here and there, crows picked among the scant remnants. They showed no alarm at the squeaking wagon's approach.

 Angler flapped the reins and Missus Hammeril's pair of horses came to a halt.

 "Oh," Missus Hammeril said, a little sadly. "Orry and I rode one of those, when he was first courting me."

Angler, facing forward with his mistress behind him, rolled his eyes. Exactly who he was rolling them for, he could not say. The crows, maybe.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crawling Back (NSFW)

When Chrysta's eyes rolled back, when she warned us about the storm, she'd said nothing about dildos rising on the floodwaters.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Resistance (Incomplete)

Haven't done a Chuck Wendig challenge piece in a while, so here's something.

This one's incomplete, more of a scene than a story - I'm not sure where to take it in 1000 words or less in the time I have available, so I'll leave it sitting here at 500 words or so and pretend it's a whole story.


The pickup bounced by, not on the road but in the high brown grass alongside. Its driver, a Melp with a bunched hairy face and a fat pair of lower lips--typical Melp ugly--clutched the steering wheel in its hair-knuckled fist and squinted into the afternoon sun. The pickup left behind a trail of molten stone. The prairie burned.

Fucking Melp bastard.

Jurgen Jonson watched the truck disappear into a cloud of its own smoke, and with an effort that almost hurt, he relaxed his grip on the battered Bushmaster.

The Felesin wouldn't let the prairie burn, that was sure. Which meant that soon enough there would be the saucers hovering in the sky, the heavy poisonous foam, the unbreathable air.

And everyone would  see the digging.

Miks pulled herself from the hole in the ground. "Monkeyshit," she said. She was wearing a half-shirt and a sunburn and about thirty pounds of dirt and sweat.

"Cover it over," Jurgen told her. "We'll come back tomorrow."

"Bollocks to that," she said. "I need half an hour. Less, maybe. You think the Felesin will get here by then?"

"It's not the Fellies I'm worried about. It's the drones from down Durban way."

Her hand fell to the pistol at her waist and for a moment he thought she was going to draw on him. He might be able to get the Bushmaster turned on her in time, but she was snake-quick.

"You've got a rifle," she said.

He spit. "And they've got the army."

"I do like their hats. You could get me one, if you loved me."

"But I don't love you." He came closer. She smelled rank, dirt and sweat and the too-sweet reek that told them both that she was digging in the right place--the cache her old cellmate had planted there. Before he'd killed himself in a Joburg alley with three shots to the back of his head.

Filthy as she was, his cock still throbbed with the heat between them.

"You're a terrible liar."

Something roared behind him, saving him from a reply. He turned. A lion had burst from the high grass, bolting away from the flame. An old, toothless thing, half-dead, still refusing to die.

Like us.

The old verzetsman had told her what he'd buried would be useful to the Resistance. A burr under their saddles at least. And if it went better--if they could get a sample to the lab buried outside of Pretoria, and if the brainsmen down there could tear it apart and build themselves vast quantities of enhanced synthetic--then maybe they'd end up with a Melp invasion force drugged to the gills, or even better, detoxing all at the same time.

It wasn't much of a weapon. But it was all they had.

"Can you do it in fifteen?" he asked. Already scanning the sky. Nothing, but that meant nothing. Already, satellites could be focusing in.

By the time he dragged his gaze from the southwestern skyline, she was back down the hole.


Prompt was to write something based on a picture from the  Secret Door website, which is awesomeness. Having no clue what to write about a pickup truck seemingly spreading fire behind it, I used a random character goal - "to grind something". Jurgen apparently wants to grind down the invaders. Sure, why not. If I was going to pursue this piece, I'd probably start at a different point and put the motivation in conflict with Miks.

If anyone still reads this blog, feel free to finish the story in the comments.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Haiku, and you?

Haven't done a challenge post in a long while (been working hard on stuff to send out to paying markets), but this one (3 linked haiku, combining to tell a story) seemed too easy to pass on. 45 minutes and 15 versions later...

 Titleless, for now.


the Visitors fell,
yes, you say that i saw but
i can’t remember–

how could i lie to
a jumper cable with my
legs bound apart dear

god i would tell but
the black-jacket man had such
forgetful needles