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.