Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bird Watcher

“Shh! Listen!”

Hank waited obediently. The sounds of the forest echoed in the gathering twilight. “I don’t hear anything,” he said.

“The woodpecker,” said Jeb, his face intent.

“Oh,” said Hank. “You take up bird-watching?”

“Remember what happened at the site today?” said Jeb, seemingly changing the subject.

Hank gave Jeb a strange look. “Of course. Mechanical failure. Two days with no work, which sucks.”

Jeb snatched up his notebook and began scribbling. “There’s going to be more failures. Soon.”

“How do you know?”

Jeb held up the page, where he had transcribed a series of letters. “It’s Morse Code.”


He’d ignored the signs. He was putting that part of his life behind him. Away with mysticism. Away with supernatural rubbish. No more kowtowing in the name of an archaic and misbegotten faith.

And so he’d paid no attention. The roosters had crowed three times; he set his alarm clock earlier so they didn’t awaken him. The hound cried in the woods; he installed a fence. News of hurricanes and earthquakes in far-off countries were easily ignored.

Thus, he was unprepared when he looked up at the night sky and saw the moon disappearing slowly into the vast, fanged maw…

Friday, May 29, 2009


There was a flash and a distant rumble. “Get down,” Maron hissed, tugging at Alec’s shirttail.

“What’s happening?”

“Just get away from the window,” Maron said.

Lightning flashed. The tree on the corner burst into flames. There was a roaring from overhead, like a jet-liner landing. Alec sobbed with fear.

“It’s okay,” Maron said. “As long as we stay quiet. It won’t last long.”

An enormous sandal-clad foot crushed a car on the street outside. Thunder rolled as the bearded figure drew another lightning bolt from the quiver on his back.

“I hate when Mom and Dad fight,” Alec whispered.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Every Child Needs One

Steve held the box in his hands. “Hours of fun!” it promised. The doll grinned up at him from behind its cellophane window.

A scruffy man in a ragged coat sidled up and began shoveling the pink boxes into a shopping cart. He stared at Steve. “You gonna buy that one?” he asked.

Steve edged away. “I was thinking about it for my niece. ‘Hours of fun,’ and all.”

The man laughed humorlessly. “Truth in advertising! A few hours of joy. It doesn’t last. And when it stops…” Tears welled up in his eyes. “It’s worse than anything,” he whispered.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rain, Rain

Wherever he went, it rained. It became somewhat incongruous when all around him the city was lit in bright sunlight while he slouched along in his own personal gloom. His hair was always soaked. His shoes squished when he walked. Even inside a building, the light dimmed as the cloud waited outside like a lost puppy.

The girl at the counter placed his burger platter in front of him. “Was she beautiful?” she asked.

He looked at her in startlement. “She is beautiful,” he said, pointing to the delicate raindrops that traced his name down the outside of the window.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunrise by the Crossroads

Jerry and Sam, in their orange reflective jackets, were establishing the perimeter, sprinkling scented oil from their paper coffee cups. Their chant could be heard over the crackle of the radio and the rush of traffic. “…the painted lines, the rules confine…”

“We shouldn’t even have to refresh the hex yet,” Carlie griped. “Last month’s spell would’ve held fine against normal traffic.”

“Lotsa powerful spirits bound to cars these days.”

“Fuckin’ Ford,” said the foreman. “Everyone knows bull demons are hard as hell to keep under control, but they just had to have the biggest, studliest cars on the market.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

And Likewise an End

“Every story has a beginning,” he said. The farm was humble, from the tumbledown shack to the tottering barn. A handful of chickens, two bone-thin pigs, and an elderly cow were all the livestock that graced its grounds. He grimaced. It was time to get to work.

“Every…” he muttered, slopping the pigs. “…story…” he sighed, milking the cow. “…has a beginning,” he growled, gathering the meager eggs.

He waited for many years. The farm limped on, never prospering. He looked out on the barren fields and tugged at his white beard, wondering when his beginning would ever find him.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Creatures of Night, Brought to Light

“What's this one?”

“The pride of our collection, ma'am! Read that plaque.”


“Yes, indeed! The dark prince of the night! The scourge of mankind! The bloodsucking fiend who haunts your nightmares!”

The vampire pulled a sour expression, sitting on his high-backed chair.

“Back, nightmare! Avaunt!” cried the zookeeper, drawing his stun-gun. “You shall not harm these innocent people!”

“You're being melodramatic, Derrick,” sighed the vampire.

Derrick smiled cruelly. “The people paid for a show, Count. I think you've got a stake in this.”

The vampire's lip curled. “I hate you.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A New Lifestyle

There was a susurration of wings and an irritated cooing as the flock rippled into the air. They settled back a few feet away and resumed pecking at the ground. Three of the larger pigeons had claimed half of a bagel from a nearby garbage can and guarded it zealously.

“Hey,” said a brown pigeon.

“Howdy,” said the newcomer, a common gray.

“So why'd you bring the human?”

“Oh, him?” The pigeon looked over his shoulder. “He's a new guy. I'm showing him the ropes.”

The man waved. “I've got nowhere else to go.”


He captured a raven, which pleased him. Ravens were wise and knew many secrets. He split the creature's tongue to give it the power of speech. Then he waited for it to gain its voice. It never spoke.

He tried pleading. He offered it gifts. He cursed and threatened. Nothing worked.

He neared the end of his life. The sullen bird ruffled its feathers as he lay dying. It cleared its throat. Weak as he was, he lifted himself up to hear the words of the raven.

The raven met his eager gaze. “Asshole,” it said as he died.


Wow. So I was traveling for longer than I thought, and when I checked, I hadn't actually updated for Thursday, either. Mea culpa! I will fix this immediately.


“What's that noise?” Frank the orderly pulled open the viewing slot. “And where did you get that jacket?”

The inmate blinked wide blue eyes. “It was my uncle's, before he died.”

“That's not what I meant,” Frank snapped. “How did you get in here?”

“I show them the truth,” said the inmate sadly, “but they never understand.” He glanced up. “Perhaps I could show you?”

Frank shook his head, but it was too late. When they found him, he was babbling softly to himself, wearing a leather jacket over his white uniform.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


She turned on every lamp in the house, flooding the rooms with light. Only the basement was left unlit. She cracked the door, allowing light to trickle down the stairs and pool at the bottom. Her hand fumbled for the light switch.

A hand grasped her wrist. She cried out and pulled away; the dark man pulled her close to the shadowed gap.

“Do you know why you run?” he hissed. “You do not fear the unknown. That is for children. You run because, somewhere inside, you know what we do out there, in the dark, to keep you safe.”

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I have not tracked an animal in many years. The alley stinks of piss and car exhaust. It was here, according to the newspapers. An animal attack, they wrote. I know better. Our tales tell of them, the Shadows-at-Night, the Wolves-Who-Walk-Like-Men. I have spent my life hunting and slaying them.

“Old man!”

A half-dozen youths surround me. I begin to speak, to tell them I have no money, when I see the glint of their yellow eyes.

And I know. The wolves who walk like men are not the true enemy. Not compared to men who think they are wolves.

Monday, May 18, 2009


The lord sat by the pond beneath the cherry tree. The offending servant was brought before him. He, too, trembled.

“Do you see the water?” said the lord.

The servant nodded.

“It is still, yet it moves. The currents are not visible to your eyes. If you were a fish, you would know them, here, in your heart.”

“I have not the eyes of a god, Lord.”

“I will give you a gift,” said the lord. He gestured. There was a soft sigh. “I hope,” he told the new fish in the pond, “you will learn to see more clearly.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009


The mask itched abominably. He hated wearing it. He could barely remember what it was like before the mask, before he saw its hateful image in every mirror and storefront window. He remembered his own face, though. He’d never forget that. He’d promised himself.

One day, he took the mask off. He stared at it; empty eyes, half-smile, pallid coloring. He walked to the hall mirror, trembling eagerly.

His face was a pale white circle, locked in a half-smile. He glanced down. In his hands, he held his face, his old familiar face.

“What did you expect?” sneered the mask.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Fast and the Ferrous

“Quite a machine I’ve paid for,” Professor Cuthbert said. He adjusted the automatic fargoggles. “Just look at that dust cloud.”

“The only way Alberforth’s pile of scrap will best the Megaton Whirlwind is if a piece of moon-cheese breaks off, tumbles to Earth, and crushes poor Gupti in his driving harness.” Dartelby adjusted his monocle. Unlike the Professor’s bulky goggles, the Electro-Monocle’s magnification lenses were built in, lending the whole a stylish minimalism which almost made up for its lack of functionality.

“Balderdash,” sniffed the Professor. “The moon colony fixed that crumbling problem years ago. Turned out to be mice.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Happens During Vacations?

Rich slapped his forehead. “Wait, I almost forgot to confuse the centipede.”

“Do what now?”

He opened the cellar door. The entirety of the basement was filled with it. The writhing, segmented body looped around itself countless times, an infinity of slender legs rippling as the tangled mass churned. Rich grabbed a basketball from the bin. He aimed and threw. The coils surged in response.

“The head goes after motion,” Rich explained. “I try to put three knots or so in it before leaving every morning. Not sure what it is, but I think it’s better if it keeps busy.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Papercraft War

“Messy business,” sighed Officer Redcomb. He finished his folded paper bird with a flourish and tossed it into the air. It flew away, taking his report to Dispatch.

“Who could fold something like that?” asked Lowry. He gestured at the red-stained paper hilt, still quivering in the corpse’s chest. “I thought the patterns were banned.”

“It’s the Dijh-Atahls,” Redcomb growled. “Paperless bastards, flooding the market with weapon schematics. The Thousand Cuts is too good for ‘em, I say.”

Overhead, the paper claxon began to buzz.

“Air Raid!” cried Lowry. They dove for the shelter as the tri-fold planes swarmed overhead…

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Frog and the Scorpion

“There is no other way through the asteroid field,” Scorpio radioed.

Batrach thumbed the comm-switch. “Fine. Dock with us and we’ll play escort. But if your weapon ports so much as twitch, we’re spacing you.”

They were halfway through, the hardened shell repelling a dozen strikes every second, when an alert went off from the docking bay. A full-stream protonic pulse had been deflected. Batrach slammed the comm-switch. “Gotcha, maniac! We know about your Stinger Beam, Scorpio. We had special shielding installed just for it.”

“I see,” said Scorpio. “Then you leave me no choice,” he said, activating the self-destruct.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Prayers Rising Like Smoke

“What’s that?” Sammy pointed to the small pile of rocks atop the culvert.

“It’s to keep the water from flowing in the wrong places,” Mom told him. She chivvied him along. “We’ve still got to get washed up.”

Sammy knew an altar when he saw one. It looked just like the one in the illustrated children’s Bible. He veered close to the tunnel as they passed. Yes, there were black marks on the top, where the offering was burnt. And strange lines, like someone had dragged a handful of knives through the soot. Claws?

Something splashed in the watery darkness.

Monday, May 11, 2009


The bus ride is always difficult. Today, my choice was between the blob-like woman whose thigh filled the adjacent seat or the rather squirrelly bespectacled man. I decided I’d rather have my own seat.

“It’s important,” the man told me. “To keep the ends. You can’t get a tangle or a knot, long as you keep hold of the ends. I’ve got ‘em. The beginning and the end. No tangles.”

“In your power cables?”

He gave me a startled glance. “No,” he said. “Universe.” He held out his hand, and inside a jar I saw the stars flare and fade…

Sunday, May 10, 2009


After the gauges went haywire, Kit was almost relieved when the thunderbird flapped into view, lightning sparking from his wings as he landed. At least the bike’s not broken, she thought.

He had been tricked by Coyote, he said, and needed to hide. He was confident the other spirits would realize Coyote’s lies; they always did, eventually. They decided he would crash on Kit’s spare couch in the meantime. Kit smiled as she felt the strong arms around her waist, his feather cloak and beaked hood bundled in the saddlebags; it was going to be an interesting ride after all.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


“How does the radio work?”

“It’s right there,” Dan said, gesturing.

Shannon blinked. “There’s like fifty million buttons here. Why’d you have to get so many gizmos?”

“It’s perfectly simple,” Dan snapped. “Besides, this one was actually cheaper.”

“Really?” Shannon investigated the panel and pushed a button. A light came on at her feet.

“Yeah. On special, he said.”

“Can’t you turn it on for me?”

“I’m driving!”

“You don’t know how, do you?” Shannon smirked. She tried another switch. They both cried out as the laser cannon sprouted from beneath the hood and neatly bisected the car beside them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Right Tool

“For starters, this wrench has just about had it,” said Clem. He pointed. “Look here at the head; see how it’s all worn away? You got nothing to grip with, you can’t put much torque on it.”

Jerry nodded, trying to appear eager to learn. So far, his apprenticeship had not been what he’d hoped for.

“The right tool for the job,” Clem continued. “That’s what it’s about.”

He opened the boiler room. With a hiss, a massive reptilian form retreated into the shadows.

“All about the right tools,” said Clem. He reached for the scabbard strapped to his back.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Dear Occupant,

We regret to inform you this house has been selected for the 2006 Murder-Suicide Haunting. As the owner/resident, there are several steps you should take:

1) A reliable local Laundromat. Blood stains are stubborn, especially when washed with more blood.

2) Food storage issues. Items left in the house for longer than two (2) hours will be filled with writhing maggots.

3) Child safety. If you are a parent, use caution when approaching any child staring fixedly at an unusual object, particularly televisions or radios broadcasting static.

Further details are in the accompanying pamphlet, “Multi-Vital Households and You.” Please read thoroughly.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


The glittering spires quested for the sun. The workers were already out in force, sanding and grinding. They had special dispensation; anyone else who damaged the crystal would be dealt with in the harshest possible manner.

It was hot work, and they soon paused, sipping from jugs as they dangled in their harnesses. “How much longer, d’you reckon?” asked Syle.

“Three hours,” Foreman Chek estimated.

“Ugh. Trimming toenails.”

“Them’s the toenails of a god,” Chek snapped. “And they ain’t gonna stop growing. Never. Slow and steady, long as the sun shines. Think about that.”

They did, and a silence fell.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


At first, it was just glimpses. A flicker in the corner of his eye. A hand that didn’t look right. An eye that changed shape. In the end, the evidence was too overwhelming. He accepted their existence – that part wasn’t really difficult – but deciding what to do about them had been harder.

The small basement room was filled with canine muzzles, razor teeth, slit-pupiled eyes, clawed hands. “Monsters,” he’d said. “I should kill you all.” He’d prepared the means to do so. He hadn’t prepared himself.

“How did you think you recognized us?” she had said. “Like to like, brother.”

Monday, May 4, 2009

Road Rash

Jeri moaned as she stumped into the kitchen, her leg thumping loudly against the tiled floor. “It really hurts.”

“Well, what did I tell you?” said Joan. “Go to the doctor, I said.” She sniffed and chopped another carrot.

“It was just a little scrape!”

“Well, obviously it got infected, didn’t it?”

Jeri dropped into a chair and leaned over. She rolled up her pant leg and poked at the spot where pale flesh blended with the hard, pebbly black surface that extended beyond. At the toes, she could just see a hint of yellow paint. “Bad infected,” she agreed.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sitting in a Tree

“This tree is pretty amazing. You come here a lot?”

“More than I’d like,” she sighed.

“Hey, look at the bark here. It looks like a face, doesn’t it?”

“Sure, I guess. Won’t you be late for class?”

“Crap! You’re right.” He leaned in to kiss her cheek. “See you later.”

“Yes, yes, fine.”

He left, waving.

“Well, I never…” said the tree.

“Oh, come on, Mom!”

“Carrying on like a brazen hussy, right in front of me!”

“It wasn’t like that…”

“The seed has fallen far away, that’s all I know. Disgusting! When I was a dryad-“

“Aw, Mom…”

Saturday, May 2, 2009


The room was filled with shelves; the shelves with bottles. Row upon row of tiny glass containers, no more than an ounce or two apiece. Benjamin picked one up. It was filled with clear liquid, stoppered tightly. It was labeled, “Wounded Child.”

“Tears,” said Jessica. “Ingredients for my spells.”

“Spells?” gasped Benjamin. “Then you’re-“

“A witch? It’s about time you figured it out. All the years I’ve been using you…”

Benjamin couldn’t stop the tears.

“At last! The Betrayed Swain!” Jessica’s eyes gleamed as she held a bowl beneath his streaming chin. “I owe you more than you realize, lover.”

Friday, May 1, 2009


It's the start of a new month here at Mirrorshards, and that means it's time for the Wisest Stone to share his insights with us all!


“You must learn patience,” said the Wisest Stone. “I will teach you the way of it.”

“Your lessons have always served me well,” said Taku. “I will listen.”

He waited for the Wisest Stone to speak, but no words came. Taku’s feet grew weary, and he squatted. Then his knees grew weary, and he lay upon the ground. The cold winds came, and the rain, and Taku shivered and endured. When the warm season returned and the water dried, Taku spoke: “I understand. Thank you for the lesson, o Wisest Stone.”

“Oh, are you still here?” said the Wisest Stone.

Bonzo and the Boogeyman

Whoopsie! Could have sworn I already posted this, but apparently I didn't. Here it is, then. Pretend it's April 30.


They sat in the bedroom. Bonzo rested by the bed, though the bed was gone. The boogeyman crouched in the empty closet, but he kept the door open for companionship.

“Where did they go?” said Bonzo. She was thinner now, her coat shaggy. She ate rats and lizards and bugs.

“Does it matter?” asked the boogeyman. Without the children, he was fading away. Sometimes they closed the closet door and Bonzo barked wildly at it, but it wasn’t the same.

“We could go find them.”

The boogeyman considered this. “We shouldn’t have to,” he said. “They shouldn’t have left us.”