Flash Fiction Archive
Finally, she #indulged the temptation, absconded to a dark corner, and picked the itching scab. Its protective cover prized away, the wound gushed fresh pain and old disappointment. She dug her nail deeper and it poured forth its new blood, ghosts, and betrayals.
"I'm basically a #master strategizer," Tom said, taking Ed's rook.
"Improved since Korea, have you?"
"You still mad?"
"My leg? Not since the VA got me a new one."
"I got new knees myself last year. Know what that makes me?"
"Please don't say--"
Year Without Sun
The year without sun set the earth in tumult, and the gods were powerless. Melanoma was eradicated, but famine crawled across the globe. The whole planet seemed to sulk with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
All this because Helios #misplaced his chariot keys.
The #knocker fastened to the inside of Joe's door made him a time traveler. One knock bumped him a day, two set him back one. The bass-line for Stayin' Alive bounced him back to the 70s.
One day he tried Shave-and-a-Haircut; he got a response and was never seen again.
"Where's the pain?" the doctor asked.
"My big toe, here."
"Shooting pain up your ankle?"
"How'd you know?"
"Sounds like Missile Toe to me."
"#Mistletoe? Doc, this ain't no time to be festive."
"You're right. We have to chop it."
"Just kidding. It's gout."
Jolly Good Fellow
Once beloved by many as a saint and jolly good #fellow, Kris Kringle was anything but good.
It was a nefarious plot: the earth soon crawled with sycophantic fanatics allowing him access to their homes.
He'd take over the world, one hearth at a time.
When we're away, our smart house plays. It cranks up the heat, unlocks all the outer doors, and blasts the neighborhood with Nikki Minaj and Justin Timberlake. The #celebrations have wrecked our electric bill.
But what kind of sitter do you get a smart house?
Heart of Darkness
She knew every word in the book by heart but was #ignorant of its meaning. So although she held the book out, its pages spread wide like a mouth to swallow the beast, the beast only laughed. The book had no power. Its light could never penetrate its heart of darkness.
The drones cornered us. Their wings flashed like swords, and they buzzed at us, crying, "#BOM-BIN-ATE! BOM-BIN-ATE!"
A man leapt out of nowhere, brandished a sort of deluminator. The drones balked and swarmed away.
"That's fantastic!" I said.
He frowned. "That's my line."
Get a Life
All through school her peers told her she had no life. She thought this meant to get one. She knew she'd have to take it, and one day she hunkered down in the bushes to do so.
Now she had a life and a body!
She didn't quite know what to do with the second thing.
Elia was wholly unable to #enjoy his early breakfast. Just as he'd taken the first bite, a large man materialized right in front of the hearth.
"You're a heard fella to find," the man said.
So Elia did what any sane person would do. He beat the man with his chair.
Black and White
Marta was a #solitary figure in her family, a rainbow, a field of wildflowers, a firework exploding her hues across the dull, austere canvas of the world.
She saw color everywhere, but she daren't say so at home; her mother and father could see only black and white.
Light or Dark?
"#Light or dark?" she asked.
It was the only question anyone cared about at Super Kid Training Academy, and Shawn was sick of it. Light or Dark? Good or Evil? Alliance or Rebellion? He'd had enough.
Shawn scowled up at her. "Giblets," he said, and she scooped them out of the bird onto his plate.
The State Advisors coming for Ebenezer Scrog would discuss his #past, present, and future. He knew they were just a bunch of hippie bleeding hearts, and he jumped into his time machine.
By the next Sunday, Scrog was greedily counting coins.
He sure dodged that bullet.
This Might Be My Fault
Sometimes I make bad decisions. Like taking the boat out despite a storm watch. And mooring on the nearest island instead of going home.
Sometimes bad things happen to me. Like finding my boat in splinters next day.
My #expectation of rescue is not great.
Her #promise ring was a hypnotic opal set between two glittering rubies: beautiful and horrible.
At every moment, the rubies flashed, warning her to speak to no man, reminding her of the man who promised, with hand clenching her throat, that he'd kill her if she did.
The Moving-On Center
"Welcome to the Moving-On Center. Your time of death?"
"I'd say I gave up the ghost at--"
"--That's deathism, sir. Try 'gave up the game.'"
"Can I say, "Deader than a doornail?'"
"Try 'more dormant than a doornail.'"
". . . If I kill myself again, will you go away?"
Sasha gave his package to the clerk.
"When do you need it delivered?
"What services do you have?"
"We have #Slow, Molasses, Tortoise, and Amazon at Christmas."
"Don't you have any rush services?"
"On planet Dally, we don't rush."
The Black Cat
Thunder rattles the windows and Jake huddles inside a makeshift fort on the floor.
Lightning #illuminates the wall behind his nightstand and he sees something new: a hieroglyph of a cat. It's familiar, foreboding. Something he learned in school. Something wicked.
"Here's your room, sir. We strive for your ultimate #comfort. King bed, Jacuzzi, 1500 channels, and all-inclusive meals."
"That's very nice, but where the trampoline at?"
"We . . .don't have a trampoline?"
"Outrageous! You're supposed to anticipate my every need!"
Life of Crime
The ex-con had been #fettered to a great many things in his life, but this was the first time he'd been chained to his desk, obscured by mountains of paperwork and an overflowing inbox.
It was enough to drive anyone to a life of crime.
When he asked for her help alone down by the crick, Bobby-Sue saw her dreams coming true. Tristan took a gander at her, his eyes real sincere in the #moonlight.
Her heart swooped, then like a shot plunked down through her tootsies as he said, "I'm in love w' yer sister."
My brother come back after he died.
He come as a dog. I know cause he had Bobby's #particular eyes. He even had the tag to prove it. It said "Bobby Cooper-Smith" right on it in shiny metal.
'Course he didn't have no tag when he were a boy, but ev'ybody knew him then.
He knew she knew he loved her.
It was in the shine of the shoes he bought her, the #crispness of the dresses he had delivered for her. But The Ex talked trash, said he was a crap dad, that she couldn't possibly know if he never came to see her.
But he knew she knew.
The #nobody was confused, worried to the bone he'd never find his way home. He wandered helplessly, worrying everywhere he went, dropping an ear, a claw, a leg, everything but his mouth.
Travelers beware: one whiff of his breath and you'll start wandering too.
Zelda's Memory Box
Zelda's memory box held more than just #mementos, it held gateways to past years lived, where she not only saw her mother, her brothers again, but heard them, breathed them in and held them once more.
The more time she spent in the past, the more the present disappeared.
She has a smile of steel, #impenetrable kindness.
She doesn't break as they laugh at her hair or leave strands of it in the toilet, or as she watches the drip-drip of her I.V.
She knows what they don't: the color of their skin doesn't name them, only their hearts do.
Ralph sits in his favorite chair, tracking Alice like prey.
Alice crosses to the other side of the room.
His look of #longing doesn't change. She knows he only sees her as a meal ticket. His tongue lolls from his mouth and she sighs.
Someone had to give him kibble.
I went down 22 times today. Splat. #Dead. My user's a noob, you see.
And I'm nettled--that ish hurts. Ever been electrified? Blown up? Them are significant ouchies.
Today I rather declare: I'm getting outta this joint, and Imma punch that noob user in his noob face.
Poor, poor Plonk; he was a faerie who couldn't #fly.
Pixie dust didn't cut it. Happy thoughts were for the birds. And he couldn't calculate wind speed to save his life.
Silly faerie, everyone knows you have to believe in yourself before you can fly.
How to Bait a Unicorn
What attracts a unicorn? You might say it's the sound of children's laughter, or the scent of a maiden's hair--but you'd be wrong-o; this ain't no fantasy land.
Bait that #trap with a slab of steak and those bloodthirsty beasts'll come running!
And bring a drop cloth.
At the Toddler #Tavern they drown their sorrows in a cup of warm milk and forget about the baby gates, car seats, and cribs.
Life's no cakewalk when you're an infant, especially since you can't have cake.
Fernando was late, and she had to leave; her husband would be home soon.
But what was that #tapping sound? She looked around the room. Nothing moved.
There it was again. She opened the motel room door, stuck her head outside--
--Fernando lay in a pool of blood at her feet.
They say Ireland's seal folk fled to Atlantis for #sanctuary, that they know the secret to the enchantment that keeps the sunken city lost. They say, if your ship drifts over the city at night, you can hear the lilt of their hornpipes below the waves.
🠟 The Selchie Trail 🠝 The Selchie Trail
The red thread connecting lovers is more like commercial-grade #rope. Fate doesn't care that her plaything hurts, that when lovers tug, the thread rubs welts into their skin, or drags them into the stinking bog.
But there is another life; ties can be severed with a knife.
Stranger from Home
His family welcomed him with joy--and foreign smiles. From the moment he entered the gate they studied this curious man, asked where he hailed from. He sat alone across the table from them at dinner--like a stranger, a #pilgrim to his own home.
What had happened to them?
Once upon a time I had a #pen like a sword and it scratched the hell out of my paper.
Whether it's fat-shaming or beatings behind the bleachers, problems just melt away at #Peerless Social Trauma Associates. Clients don't even mind the facility's in an old factory that smells like burnt hair.
They think it's a counseling center.
The Milk Bar
The Milk Bar sold only #organic milk in a thousand exotic varieties: goat, yak, almond, walrus, you name it.
"Surprise me," Andrew said, laying money on the counter.
Then the bottled appeared with a picture of a man. The label read: "Just like Mom used to make!"
Old #Neptune was fated on his date,
Took the girl to his ship on a whim,
Tried pinching her hide,
Fell over the side,
And drowned 'cause that dummy can't swim.
The Squonk hated everything. Overcast days filled him with #misery. Sunny days were worse. He traipsed the forest, dreading the pitter-patter of little feet. The concept of candy confused him, and he hated carnivals.
He did, however, appreciate a well-crafted concerto.
The Lion of London
"Best ivory in the Serengeti, mate," the Lion said, showing the man his wares.
"I'll take it!"
"Wicked! You won't regret this, chum."
"Where are you from again?"
"Er . . . Kenya, 'course."
Luna's Liberty Bus
Luna's #Liberty Bus smelled like freedom and pee. For 150 Euros, Jira had no choice where they'd dump her. But that's the price you pay for an ill-advised Earth invasion, Jira thought, taking her damp seat.
She only hoped she'd be dropped at Jupiter and not Oblivion.
It had been a month since the accident, and the #hole in her heart was growing. It started the size of the locket she'd got from Mom on her sixth birthday and grown to a black gravity.
Soon her hole-heart would pull her in, to another dimension where she'd see Mom again.
Death was bad, but she knew #unhatching was worse. It would be unbirth, her mind shrinking with her body.
As they marched her toward the Hatchery doors, she flicked wildly through her mind's note cards, as if the memories she had were more important than even her life.
Liam approached one of the trees lining the hallway and plucked from it not a leaf, but a green teardrop-shaped ball. The teardrop molded into a squishy #globe in his hand. He lobbed the globe through the shimmering portal in the wall, and it painted a picture of home.
Thoughts of her kept him up at night, so he sent a #fleet to destroy her. Every thought she'd given, every promise, he wrote down and floated to her in the mail.
As the onslaught of unwanted gifts sailed back, the thought of her smoldering lulled him to sleep.
When teachers and classmates are "Wishing you the best in your #endeavors" it means a different thing than when your father says it.
You'd do anything for him to reopen the front door, to invite you off that creaky porch, wide with opportunity.
Every day a river of rotting people flowed through his #dispensary. He stood on a platform behind this counter like a display case.Their wasted eyes fixated on his vibrant hands awaiting the balm he conveyed.
They needed his help, but he did not feel worthy.
"Come closer," the fortune teller said, so he leaned over the #crystal ball.
"I see a desert!" she intoned. "Miles of sand dunes. I see a decision! A ridge with two caves--"
"That's my nose!"
She shrieked with nervous laughter.
"Please, I forget to turn it on."
It hadn't been her #crown that had run aground, but she felt as if she were the one who'd drowned.
She approached the fresh mound, not making a sound, wishing she were the one beneath the ground.
He'd #crafted his masterpiece, and soon everyone would wear it.
Famous for his varied and exotic perfumes, he now perfected only one: with hints of lavender, blue eyes, and compassion--it was everything his wife had been.
And soon, her smell would surround him again.
Novels are Absorbent
It is little known that novels are absorbent. "Absorb" can mean "engross" or "suck out of reality into a fantasy realm." Neal had it coming as he shunned the Fiction section in favor of the Biographies. He disappeared from the aisle, and a new #chapter of his life began.
Jerry peered over the lip into the dark #cavern that beckoned him. He perversely imagined wedging a rope between two teeth, repelling past the tongue, and spelunking into the larynx.
They said he jumped down their throats for not flossing. They were lucky he had no rope.
Ava and I thought our #castles would last forever. We wore sunglasses and built our sandcastles with turrets, flags, and even princes.
But waves crept up behind us, demolished Ava's castle, and now mine barely stands beside the soggy lump of hers, my turrets crumbling.
The Dark White Witch
Jenna was a white witch, but the Tantali twins broke her when they stole her car keys--how would she get to the apothecary?
She called down #cascades of curses, flagellated them with her flying broomstick, totally flying off the handle.
A white witch, but not very bright.
She Danced the Calypso
A snowman had a better chance of relaxing in hell than Frank had of dating Nina. She danced the #calypso, and he liked country. She loved to travel, and he was afraid of airplanes. She ate Moroccan food, and he was just too white bread--the man worked at Subway.
Drunk on Depression
The leader of the people was addicted to #bottled emotions. Before and after work, he got drunk on Depression, intoxicated on Indecision, and passed out on Passion.
One day he consumed Confidence but left Caution on the counter. It was not his best political speech.
When old #aurora with her iris-purple fingers rose once more, Alice awoke. But not to the sounds of birds chirping, but to something mewing. And the ground she lay on was not grass or dirt or rock.
And then it dawned on her: this was the dawn of a different planet.
He stood in front of this big, imposing house. The #windows, like his parents, clouded over to reason, and the door shut tight against discussion. How many arguments had been fought and lost here? How, like his youth, the house had groaned and faded.
She had now finally #obtained her dream body. Sick of diet and exercise, she'd found another way. When she saw the body walking out from a yoga studio, she knew she had to have it.
Taking the body was easy; keeping it fresh for the experiment--that was hard.
It started with a #nudge in the dairy aisle. Her arm tingled, then burned, then blazed. It sent an electrical pulse to her brain, starting a projector of memories from school bullies to bad drivers, and she decided:
She would nudge North Korea and nuke the world.
King of Hearts
He is a king with all cards on the table, and for that some criticize him:
"He must be a liar! Distorter! Politician!"
He laughs with his people, prays and #sobs with them. Finally, a king with a heart--this, their king of hearts.
Betsy #denounced distractions in her class and dealt with perpetrators with a blow to the head that made their eyes bobble. Soon her heavy-handedness pitched a pupil to the floor, smashing its porcelain face. Her parents finally decided dolls were not good toys for Betsy.
Jim's wasted hands tried to #restore the damage he'd done in their home. He filled the fist-sized holes in the wall, replaced the carpet speckled with blood where his children used to play, wrote pages of letters in crooked cursive. But hearts were no so easy to mend.
Jack Didn't Love Her
The signs were #obvious; Jack didn't love her anymore. In fact, he'd moved on to her nephew. He never came to bed with her anymore. He never looked at her at mealtimes. And worst of all, he'd leap onto her nephew's knees and stare at her from his lap with his yellow, apathetic eyes.
The Museum of Life
The museum of her life was her favorite diversion. She spent hours at each exhibit, marveling at The Day of Her Birth, poring over the placards at Her High School Years, and #wallowing in Her Years of Solitude. She visited others' museums too; her own was never enough.
Eric's parents were #engineers. When, on her deathbed, his mother told him, "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" he decided to become one too. Now, all his time is spent in the lab, searching for the opposite reaction to Death.
When Hector arrived in the town of Tetchy, Tennessee, to peddle his teeth-whitening elixir, he had a nasty case of #hiccups.
"All HIC organic!" he hawked. "How about this HIC gentleman? HIC Sir? Some HIC elixir?"
Hector couldn't flee fast enough.
Stellan had won each of the trophy wives on his mantel with his glittering fortune--and a little alchemy. After each wedding, his wives had shown themselves for what they really were--gold diggers--so he gave them what they wanted, and dipped them all in burnished gold.
Rob's life was different since he died.
As he decomposed, he pondered the old platitudes such as "stop and smell the roses" (he wished he had a nose), and "#gutless," he thought, looking down through his empty ribs.
Silas and the Troll
Silas was crossing the #narrow bridge when his horse spooked. A grotesque troll scrabbled out from below. The horse reared, dumping Silas, and the troll charged them, snatched Silas's hat from the planks, and said, "Oi, sir! You oughta be more careful!"
Ironically, Herbert Dumpty had an #irrational fear of heights. The doc told him to face his fear, so he began visiting increasingly high places--a porch, a stage, a tree--until one day as he sat on a wall, a bird flew at him and he died of a heart attack.
Rachel knows how to get a boy, and she wants Joey. The target wants attention, but also to work for it, so you insult him, then smile; flirt with other boys, then give him your apple; thereby #tacitly declaring your love.
Naturally Joey is dating Suzie by the weekend.
For years Glen had told everyone that Kyra Sedgwick was his first cousin. It was the perfect cover-up. He couldn't be suspected of murder with the Closer for a #cousin.
He needed that cover-up now--his nosy shrink hadn't believed him about the Closer.
Walter went for his afternoon walk with Anabelle despite the neighbors' staring and muttering. They'd been #eccentric that way lately, probably unused to an older couple being so affectionate.
Walter wrapped his arm round Annabelle as his single shadow trailed behind.
Lamp of Truth
Didi didn't always appreciate her father's gifts from around the galaxy.
Once, he gave her the #Lamp of Truth. Only one like it in the system. Shed its light and nothing would stay hidden long.
She found it exceptionally useful when playing hide and seek.
Everyone could see Jane loved solitude. It was her pleasure to avoid conversation, her #ecstasy to ignore the world, her nose pressed in a book. What they didn't see were her covert glances over the cover at a world in which she longed, but was too afraid, to join.
Doctor, lawyer, engineer. It was a game his parents made him play.
When other ideas #surfaced, like rabid garden pests, he'd whack 'em back down with his mind mallet. Later, he failed out of medical school and conceded: maybe he'd played too many games.
They always complained about Emmaline: her parents, her teachers, employers. The said her brain was too #static. Then she discovered ecstasy and became ecstatic. When they complained of her hyperactivity she discovered heroin and became dead.
They stopped complaining.
Cool to Captive
When Romilda brought us #imitation eye-of-newt, I knew something was up, but no one listened. They were all, "we finally have a pretty witch in our sisterhood!"
And where did pretty get them? From cool to captive: a one-way ticket to the Care of Unwanted Witchery Ward.
Sloth the Sinner
Sloth and human sat together.
"Nobody likes me," the sloth sighed.
"Nonsense," the human countered. "People love you."
"How can they if they know what I am? You don't know how it feels being told you're sinful by virtue of being you."
"Don't I?" said the human.
Robo-Dad came equipped with the latest developments. He had pre-programmed phrases, like "put on your shoes" and "you're such a disappointment." He even came complete with a hairy back, gas outtake, and a fuzzy #navel within arms reach at all times.
When his optometrist said he had bad #eyes, Sig asked to buy new ones. When his girlfriend said his heart was black, he thought black was bad fashion. When his mother asked, from the other side of the glass, if he had no shame, he concluded money might not be everything.
He had no conscience, but he did have a punk rock band. They followed him everywhere, crooning his failures. For years he earned enough for a #venal arrangement: they could only play his achievements. But then he was fired, and he again faced the music of failure.
Initially Vlad liked his housekeeper but lately felt misunderstood. Like when Andrei cleaned the dust from the hallway mirrors. Today, to Vlad's extreme irritation, he'd found him cooking with garlic.
It was nice while it lasted, but he'd be having breakfast in tonight.
The Salmon and the Sloth
"I don't like your #lassitude," said the salmon to her husband.
"It's a medical condition," replied the sloth.
"It's a bad attitude," the salmon shot back to the sloth.
Don't ask me how the relationship worked--I'm baffled to this day.
Anyway, she left him.
Tara prances into the room with a #zebra-print skirt, cheetah-print stilettos, and legs like a flamingo.
Troy wants Tara like an alcoholic wants a keg. He compares her style with his conservative haircut and muted blue shirt. Time to get an elephant gun.
Their senior year is filled with nervous laughter, surreptitious glances, and excuses.
At graduation, they breathlessly hug and their cheeks brush together, flushing.
Later, their nights are filled with memories, regret, and nightmares of missed #opportunities.
We Don't Relish Relish
Mr Heinz chewed with revulsion. "Hot dogs are bad enough without this--what do you call this?"
"Sweet pickle paste," said the scientist. "We don't #relish the idea--"
A look of gold curled onto Mr Heinz's face. Maybe they could market this nasty condiment after all.
My son was a showman from the day he was born, tap-dancing down the sidewalk, making his schoolmates' lunches disappear. His best disappearing act was his admittance to the hospital, a grand #finale after which he never returned to the stage.
They were hard to catch, the Thankful Three. Every heist, their victims applauded the robbers as the three danced away singing their #thanks. No one would incriminate celebrities.
Officer Watts knew they were still just thieves, but everyone else refused the truth.
Ben stood before the #poster on the wall, gum in his hair and spitballs drying on his neck. The kids on the poster winked at him, and his heart ached that he didn't have friends like these. He leaned against the poster and believed, stepped through and joined his friends.
Whenever Evan visited his dad, he saw the itty-bitty elephant reposed in the corner too. Evan didn't need its snickering to know what that meant. But by golly, it was up to Dad to talk about it, not Evan.
So Evan always fell asleep to the echo of the elephant's laugh.
Adrian's idea of a wild ride was drinking his milk #tepid. Then Serena tumbled into his life like a lit match onto a heap of gunpowder. The ensuing conflagration blasted them to their wedding in Papua New Guinea, where they kissed at the mouth of an erupting volcano.
Calvin considered the Beatitudes more like platitudes. So he scornfully called them The #Pulchritudes because the sound "pulch" was anything but pretty.
The irony was his superficial thinking. He saw the words but never considered the attitude.
No Good Men
Vicki decided there were no good men in the world; not one. So she began making her own. When the first three versions failed, she began giving them #alpha-numeric names. Their ability to recall letters and numbers was impeccable. Birthdays and anniversaries, not so much.
Everyone told Vicki she was paranoid and liable to #lose her mind. She couldn't risk that, so she plopped her brain into a clear solution under a bell jar where she could keep watch over it. That way, it wouldn't get carried away, and no one could run away with it either.
There once lived a warrior who had no lips. They called him the #winsome warrior. For on those he conquered, he left a sign--a grinning gash set into their foreheads--and he left his conquests smiling in his stead.
You'd think Elle a no-good clock-smashing vandal, but she had reasons. The clocks would say, "tick tick!" and she'd pummel them, #syncopating their ticking till they ticked no more. But knowing Elle, you'd know she was justified, for the clocks reminded her of her mother.
As a mathematician, Jared loved how, when Mina frowned, her lips #osculated perfectly into two graceful downward arcs. Oh how he wanted to osculate those tender curvatures.
Yet sadly, if he told her that, she would likely tell him to osculate her posterior.
Next Slide . . .
Your husband of five years cheats.
You divorce and become depressed.
You lose your job.
Home alone, you realize: he was never your identity.
You go back to school and get your dream job.
Next slide . . .
Greg's always been hypochondriacal. Once, in third grade, he refused to take classes with the other students inside the classroom, afraid someone might sneeze and he would inhale #measly molecules. So they sat outside. And that's how he learned he was allergic to grass.
Epstein Uncertainty Principle
Jay Epstein knew that girls eventually separate from their girl-pack and can be found alone; the problem was predicting when this might occur He dubbed this phenomenon the Epstein #Uncertainty Principle.
This was exactly the reason he had no girlfriend.
Laura didn't think it strange to have had quadruplets at the age of thirty-eight. She didn't even think it strange that they refused the same types of food. But when they began to cry in unison, a robotic, #synchronized chanting, that's when she began to fear them.
Elektra could never keep her boyfriends. She wrapped them up in a #wiry embrace. Her affection left stinging imprints on them. When she tried to be clever, she was acerbic instead.
She decided to stop looking. Stop looking and wait for him who would ground her instead.
Everyday, Grant spent more time studying the ants marching up the candy store facade than he did inside the store. Other boys called him a #simpleton, but he didn't care. One day he would join the army, become a hero, and save them all; even the ones who laughed at him.
The day Bob magically transformed into a clothes dryer in front of his poker buddies, his wife, Mary, was not surprised. There seemed no better depiction of his #character at these times than this: he was loud, full of hot air, and yet, as Mary saw him, a real square.
Whenever he hit me, he did it with my remote #control clenched tight in his fist, only brave enough when he was sure I'd comply. The world thinks me a sheep, but I tell you this because I'm a predator who bode her time, waiting for the day he'd punch with an empty fist.
She cared for her manuscript like for a child, with a #strategy of nurturing. First she imbued it with every strand of her DNA. then she groomed it, scrubbing away the extra words that muddied it. When it was ready, she taught it a vocabulary all its own. And then it stood without her and was ready to enter the world.
Not So Wicked
One moment she sat whipping up jam, and the next, a boy called Hansel stood outside her gingerbread hut with a #chainsaw. His eyes sparkled as he took in the chocolate shutters. What was a poor witch to do? She did the only thing she could do, and now, she sits on trial.
She left him because his house was a disaster area. Snack crumbs crusted the computer desk, stacks of neglected mail trailed across every surface. She didn't know he tucked every movie ticket, birthday card, and love letter in his nightstand, which he dusted twice a week.
It was a dark day in which we brought Arthur home. Sure, the first day in his new tank, he was king of his castle. But not for long. Our son, Lance, deposed Arthur from his throne, and the fish was left gasping on the floor, mouth pulsing in a #mime's silent scream.
Brad props his feet up on a sagging cardboard box, a bottle in his hand and scenes of destruction on the tv. It is the #anniversary of 9/11--and his father's overdose. One man, dying to die while thousands others fought to live. Father-of-the-Year 2001 and every year after.
A #sensation like deja vu rippled through Sophie as she passed the cat on the couch. She turned, and a tingle crept up her spine. The cat was not there; only a shadow. This should have been familiar. She had been in this spot hundreds of times. the problem was, the cat would never be here again.
Stephen blushed as Mimi gave him her note. Then he read it and blanched.
"True or #False (Circle One), " it said. "You like me and want to get married and have babies with me."
It was an existential crisis. Were all decisions in life this hard?
Once, there was a sea #lull: a big, blue creature with beady eyes of obsidian. Sea lulls were the patrons of sailors, warding away the towering swells and bearing men safely across the oceans. They were a docile race. Until one day, a lull stopped lulling.
The aboriginals of planet Zyron barely tolerated the planet's sweltering climate. It was not good for their health--or their jewelry. The plastic rings enclosing their necks, like #ferrules, were pretty and functional. Until the heat melted them, and then, heads rolled.
Which Way You Goin'?
When Eddie died, he awoke in an elevator. A bellhop stood in the corner, his face like a Phoenix and tail like a whip.
"Am I dead?"
"How'd you guess? Which way you goin'?"
"I have a #choice?"
"We all do, in life," the man squawked. "If you can decide before time's up."
Became Like Nothing
It wasn't hard to make the ghosts #disappear, once she knew what they wanted. It hadn't been the usual unfinished business or homicidal intent; they had liked the challenge of trying to make her crack.
So she ignored them, and they faded. They became like nothing.
Jan's margin for error was #narrowing. If she didn't act fast, the bear would notice Max. Jan threw herself at the momma-bear, flailing her arms and screaming.
Years later, all Max remembered was his mother tempting the maw of the giant bear. He had never forgiven her.
Karen was walking her normal route to work when it happened. When the #wolf-whistles came, immediately her hands folded into her armpits, and she flapped her elbows like great featherless wings.
As it turns out, she got more than her money's worth at the hypnotist show.
Give Me a Try
Thomas lies observing the stars above. And he sees it--a pair of eyes blink and reappear. A rumbling voice sends a chill down his spine, yet it's smooth, like warm honey.
"I see you're enjoying the heavens I made," it said. "Maybe you should give me a try."
Time to Get a Leash
Whenever Darren was near, Maria's heart refused to #obey the laws of physics. First, it leapt from her chest. Then, instead of splatting to the ground, it floated over to him. Once, he swatted at it.
Her heart wasn't safe.
Time to get it a leash, she thought.
In March, they booked the #cathedral,
In May, they ordered the cake.
By July they were dead,
But the plans didn't end,
Now they kiss with cold lips at the altar.
Everyone shuffles silently past one another, zombie-like and silent. Everyone in the world.
News channels are nothing but dead air.
Today, the global #internet has crashed, Everyone knows, but they don't talk about it, because they can't check the internet to be sure.
#Nine little evergreen trees she planted, nine little trees in a row. One for each of her girls. The trees would last longer than the girls had, she thought. And she tipped her can up, drowning their roots as she'd drowned the girls too.
The darkness was blinding. He groped for the wall, found a door. He pounded it once, twice. #Nine times. He cried out at the top of his voice. The air hung tense, anticipating his tenth try. He sat back, defeated, he would not try a tenth. Because there would follow another silence, this one ringing, dreadful, and final.
Bits of #china exploded everywhere as the silverback gorilla , Kali, flung plates at her mate's head.
"Do you think he forgot her birthday?" one zookeeper joked.
"He probably insulted her mother."
"Who gave the gorillas delicate tableware in the first place?!"
Clay pushed through the crowd, shoelaces dragging behind him. At the center, the boy's black eye was already rising. Clay stooped and offered him a hand, shaking his head defiantly at the boy's fearful stare. Their hands clasped, they rose together, titans among the crowd.
A Human Condition
Sam'd been diagnosed with a #human condition. And then she'd got the injection. She'd felt she was floating for almost a month, and then, the lights went out. She awoke from each blackout carefree, but aching, and the hurt throbbed in time with the beat of her heart.
Atlantis in Danger
King Marion's chariot leaped over the next #dune, and Atlantis seemed to pop from the sea floor before him.
The mertropolis shone, a beacon of hope. the Ancients must have the secrets to shift the tide; it was the only hope merfolk had to survive.
The attacks were strategic. State #capitals were first. They knocked them down like savage toddlers toppling towers of blocks. Next were states, then countries.
albany, utah, canada.
The subtle attack on literacy was depraved, driving eveN the beSt of us mAd.
The mist glided forward like a living thing, If honest, Ted found its movement oddly . . . familiar. Was this a trick?
He stared deep into the solid cloud. Rooted to the spot as it glided by, he caught the faintest whiff of his mother's old perfume.
Dad used to keep the demons away, but now, the demons keep him. When I reach the top #stair, I burrow my eyes into the sooty smoke below but I don't stop. He taught me never to fear the demons, and today demons will fear me.
A blue #blush bloomed in Ursa's cheeks.
"I bet you say that to all the girls," she giggled.
"No, never," Gunner said, casting a furtive glance around them. "Most Earth girls don't really have . . . antennae."
Poor Georges . . .
If only Georges hadn't strolled in the valley. If only Wind had overlooked his beauty. If only he were a less faithful husband, perhaps he would've accepted the Wind.
If Wind hadn't hurled a vengeful #mistral at him, she might not have bred the pneumonia that killed him.
Why would a cork be jammed in an #amphora? Benji tugged, and the cork popped free. In a rush of air, a figure materialized from the mouth of the jar.
"You're a genie!" Benji blurted rudely. "In an amphora?"
The genie sighed. "They said my head was too big for the lamp."
Dad says I get discombobulated sometimes. Like the time he bought a trunk-load of corn from the farmer's market. He told me corn had "silk" and that's what was hanging over the fender.
I thought he had Barbies in there or something. Man, was I dumb! Pretty stupid, right?
Nice Things Pt II
The galactic #army swarmed toward them. Emperor Gorgeton would teach the Greenies a lesson. Were it up to his wife, they'd keep hem as pets.
Sadly, honor trumped entertainment. He set his sight on the green planet, his skeletal finger poised above the big red button.
🠟 More at "Nice Things Pt 1"
When I came downstairs, I noticed a stranger sitting in the #inglenook. It was a child I had never met. Her face was pale, transparent eyes familiar. My hands seemed to creep to my belly, searching for the echo of a memory.
"I remember you," she said, "But I think you've forgotten me."
"It's only a matter of time now," the queen said, unable to suppress a wicked grin.
The king gave his wife the shadow of a wink.
The man in white smiled, and just then the wind rushed past them as he laid them next to each other in a royal #flush.
Nice Things Pt I
Empress Gorgatine studied her fingernails as her husband, the Most High Emperor, centered the particle beam on #Saturn. Her husband's temper had always been explosive.
This was why they couldn't have nice things.
🠝 More at "Nice Things Pt II"
That he had six fingers on one hand was simply a fact of life. He could tuck that in a glove if he wanted to.
That he had three arms, well, that was harder to hide.
Jump, Drag, Climb, Repeat
She jumped, feet first; dragged herself out, sopping; and climbed to the top like she never could in life.
Jump, drag, climb, #repeat.
Sinking and rising, drenching and dripping, the water never cleansing the blemishes she earned.