Thursday, December 31, 2009

Imagine All the People

That morning, Burt had ignored them tying his shoelaces together and stealing his keys. He aimed for them on the road. It was silly, of course, trying to run over imaginary blue men the size of dolls, but it eased his burden to try.

Muller came by, dropping off a report. Burt noticed his eyes dart down to the desk, where the blue men were converting a stapler to a catapult. Burt goggled. “You see them!” he cried.

“Who?” said Muller, stricken.

“Wait,” said Jenkins from the next cube. “You two see them, too? I thought it was just me!”

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Story of His Life

"Hello," said Marivel.

The paper man turned his blank white face toward her. He raised his pencil and drew in a smile. Marivel waited. The paper man sketched in a pair of raised eyebrows.

"Can't you talk?"

With a rustle, he erased his questioning brows and drew a frown.

"What are you writing?"

Rustle... scribble... angry now. He shooed her away.

Marivel tried to lean in and see. The paper man pushed at her, but he was made of paper. He crinkled beneath her.

"Ha!" cried Marivel, reaching triumphantly. She froze then at the unmistakable sound of tearing paper.

Neither moved.

A World of Rocking Chairs

"Fetch my blade!" cried Prince Sarib.

The weapon clattered to the tiled floor. Sarib hissed and leapt down after it. It spun several times before he managed to hook one paw through the handgrip. He stalked three-legged for the door.

"Perhaps," suggested his majordomo, "a duel is not the ideal solution? In your current condition?"

"I may be an ensorcelled cat," Sarib spat, "but that man is a flea-bitten dog who dares touch my sister. I shall teach him a lesson regardless!"

Sarib stood in place, shedding angrily. "Well?" he said. "Aren't you going to open the door for me?"

The Last Desperate Stand

Se-Rok-La, the Blade That Thirsts, lay shattered on the ground. The hand that had wielded it rested nearby. The rest of the hero was not in evidence, at least in the immediate area. Crimson splashes on the ground suggested, to the inquisitive mind, the disposition of the other remains.

The princess and the wizard huddled in the base of a shattered tower. The princess was sobbing loudly.

"Impossible," growled the wizard. "I refuse to accept this. There has to be another way!"

A shadow fell over their hiding place, horned and terrible. "No," said the Demon King, "there really doesn't."

Keeping Up With the Jonezzezz

It's super-story day as I catch up with the three days of holiday traveling I did. Whee!


Chad and Lisa watched the new house crumble in the breeze. It was made of sand, though patterned like brick. They were so busy staring out the side window that the doorbell startled them.

The form outside was nominally female, clad in an apron, rubber gloves, and full-face gas-mask. She bulged oddly, as though made of clay that was constantly being reworked.

"Yes?" said Lisa.

The woman's voice was a layered buzzing, strangely resonant. "Borrowzz... zzugar?" Her hand came up, clinging to a dirty measuring cup. Several ants fell out of her sleeve.

Lisa glanced at Chad. Chad nodded urgently.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Matter of Degrees

“Nothing!” Doctor Geisteskrank threw the alembic across the room. “Truly, this must be my greatest moment of failure yet!”

“What about the crossbred gerbil-cobras?” said Bartlett, heading for the broom closet.

“Feistier than intended, yes, but-“

“Or that perpetual motion machine that you hooked up to your blender?”

“Probably nearing the Earth’s core, admittedly-“

“The time you built a robot powered by human despair!” said Bartlett. “No way that could go wrong, right?”

“It was such a ubiquitous power source! At least those projects did something, even if it was not intended.”

“You fail a lot, is all I’m saying.”

Friday, December 25, 2009

Someone Comes, Someone Goes

Donny was sweeping dust at the Wall of Faces when he noticed something strange.

“Hey, Mitch!” he yelled. “C’mere and take a look at this!” He pointed. “Ain’t that a new one?”

Mitch put down his mop and came over to peer at the writhing marble, the carved features contorting in silent screams.

“Don’t recognize him,” Mitch said at length.

“No one’s missing, though.”

“That ain’t right. Someone comes in, someone goes out. That’s the rule.”

Mitch shrugged. “Maybe they’re expanding operations.”

“Figure we’ll find out, soon as the new guy gets in,” said Donny. He glanced up at the firelit ceiling and the saw-toothed trapdoor.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

Naughty and nice isn’t the half of it.

Examine the patterns. The color of the ribbon. The fractals hidden within drawings of jolly reindeer. Even the nature of the toys.

Everything contains a message. Or perhaps it is a message, all of it, a code so intricate that it cannot be perceived. We are ants attempting to view the globe entire.

It is hard, to know everything. Even now, the red-clothed form twitches in a trance, eyelids flickering. He will begin his work again, soon, and we are no closer to an answer. Is the message even meant for us?


A part of Advent Ghosts blog event.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sustainable Anthropophagy

“…and then he asked what they’d feet the rats on, and they said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. We feed the cats to the rats, and get the skins for free!’”

“That story doesn’t make a lick of sense, Lincoln.”

“It came to mind, that’s all. I always think of it when it’s my turn.”

“Get on with it. Knife’s not getting any sharper.”

“Meat for the pot, Lincoln.”

“Look, it’s my damned arm, okay?”

“And it was my leg yesterday.”

“And my shoulder the day before. The nanites’ll grow it back in a week. Just get on with it; I’m half-starved.”

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The First Step to Acceptance is Understanding

“I used to be afraid of them,” Vitari said. “Something in the mind just… recoils. Too many legs, moving too many directions.” He scratched at his ear. “They’re not like us. They’re alien. We can’t understand how that kind of brain can work, and so we fear them.”

Mari kept her back to the wall, watching wide-eyed.

“You have to open to the possibility. Once you understand them, the fear goes away. I know you’ll see. You only have to let them in.”

His eyelid twitched, then bulged, as something with too many legs began to push its way out…

Monday, December 21, 2009


The battle raged for a night and a day. Five men were killed. The phoenix, glorious and deadly, spread its flames with abandon. The dragon, though twisted and loathsome, moved with cunning dexterity.

Then the Debate Floor doors slammed open. An aged man strode in, clad in the rags of a business suit and bearing a battered briefcase. “This villainy must cease!” he cried. “Sancho! The injunction!” He held out a hand.

A bolt of phoenix-fire incinerated him on the spot, moments before the dragon’s jaws closed upon his blackened body.

Everyone agreed it had been a most profitable debate.


For reference.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Debate Floor

“The Senator from Arizona is out of line!” said Chairman Gordon.

“I demand the right to speak,” growled Senator Krantz.

“I invoke Rule 714-point-3,” said Gordon. He rose, his hand rising to the shimmering talisman at his neck.

“So be it.” Krantz narrowed his eyes and stepped from behind the podium. With a sharp gesture, he snapped the ruby off of his tiepin. It flared with crimson light, and the phoenix burst forth in a gout of flame.

Gordon clutched his viridian stone and the winged saurian form of his own guardian emerged, hissing. “Let us now debate!” he cried.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Captain Jennings gave the alien a level stare. "Tell him my government objects most strongly." He glanced at the interpreter.

The interpreter sighed. "Most strongly?"

Jennings nodded.

The interpreter flung his hands up, then snaked down in a sinuous dance. He lifted one leg and emitted a high-pitched squeal of flatulence, face a mask of concentration as he modulated the tone. The alien watched intently, scent-pores dilating. Then it opened its toothless mouth. A fleshy, viridian tongue flicked out and slapped the interpreter twice.

"He's willing to negotiate concessions," said the interpreter, dripping pungent slime. "And he complimented my accent."

New Wave

“What are you guys doing?”

Zini was lying on the floor with a book across her face. Syd rested her chin on the coffee table, staring fixedly at an immobile snowglobe. Kev had his face pressed into the corner and his hands cupped at his ears.

“Oh, hi, Sam,” said Logan. He was kneeling by the couch, one ear against the upholstered arm. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” said Sam warily. “You?”

“Just listening, man.”

Sam looked around. “Uh-huh.”

“Aren’t you listening to anything?”

“My iPod, when I jog.”

Logan actually sneered. “Man, get with the times. There’s music in everything.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Infinite Possibilities

Dodd stumbled. The portal hissed closed behind him, water on a hot skillet.

He clenched his fingers, felt smooth sand. He stood.

“Where am I?” he said. An indigo sky filled with arcing lights shimmered overhead. An old fisherman sat on the beach.

“You’re in the endless world of thought,” the old man said, twitching his rod. “The lights of all the minds that are, were, and will be shine over us. Anything is possible here.”

Dodd stared down. “And you?” he asked. “What are you doing here?”

The old man gave him a withering look. “I’m fishing,” he said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


“The question, of course, then becomes ‘How do we capture his exact likeness?’” said the shifter, smiling genially at the bustling technicians. “After all, someone once had to have done it, and with prehistorical technology, too, or the stories wouldn’t exist.” He grew a pair of donkey’s ears and waggled them.

The light flashed. The shifter smirked. “Too slow,” he said.

One of the technicians, unable to contain himself, violated protocol. “The picture is transmitted through the cable in less than one millionth of a second,” he told the shifter.

The shifter nodded. “Nothing ever stays the same for long.”

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dregs of Beauty

He was ethereally beautiful, a creature of pearl and night. The high priestess was a mere shadow of her fiery glory, compared to him.

He knelt and plucked up a flower, holding it like a wineglass. He stared at it. The watchers held their breath. This was why they had summoned him, a being of true beauty for this ugly world.

He lifted the flower to his lips, as though swallowing a liquor. When he was finished, all that was left was a withered tangle of thorns. Eyes gleaming, he turned his gaze to the crowd, drinking in their loveliness...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Falling on My Head

“It’s been kind of weird.”

“I guess we’ll get used to it eventually.”

A car splashed through a puddle on the street. “Ow, ow,” said the puddle.

“I think my toilet tried to grope me the other night.”

“The toilet?”

“Well, you know, the… inside.”

“Ah. I’m amazed you can still use it. Mine kept making retching sounds. I rented a Port-a-Potty.”

They walked in silence down the rainy street for a time. A stream of water chuckled darkly as it slithered into a storm drain.

“It’s just been weird, is all.”


“Wheeeee!” cried the raindrops as they fell.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lord of the Greenwood

“So you’re a prince?” said Brian. “What are you the prince of?”

“I rule this wood, from the first oak to the last sapling!”

Brian glanced around. “That’s about three trees.”

“Insolent!” said the Prince. He waved tiny fists. “A dark cloud the size of an apple appeared. A minuscule lightning bolt flicked out, stinging Brian’s nose. “Teach this impudent whelp a lesson, minions of the forest!”

An elderly badger struggled from its burrow. Brian rubbed his nose as the badger solemnly gummed his sneakers. Brian glanced at the self-proclaimed monarch.

“There have been some regrettable cutbacks,” the Prince allowed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


“Yup. He’s at it again.”

“At what?”

Cory pointed. “Look there, the fingertips.”

“Looks fine,” said Otis. He lifted a hand and squinted. “Wait. It’s a little dinged up. Crumpled, like.”

“That’s the sign.” Cory hefted the controller and started the lift up again. He reached out a hand to pat the pitted metal surface as they rumbled slowly past. “Don’t worry, big guy,” he said. “We’ll patch you up.”

Overhead, the streetlight eyes blazed open. The iron jaw creaked, emitting a deafening but piteous moan.

“Sounds like he’s working on another ulcer, too,” said Otis. “I hate internal surgery.”

Girl Stuff

“Widen your stance, Abigail,” Marian instructed. “You’ll tip right over if someone charged you.” She pushed on the girl’s shoulders to demonstrate. Abigail swayed like a sapling in the wind. “You’ll never defeat anyone if that’s as stable as you get.”

“Keep your blade up, and between you and whatever might be coming for you.” Marian flicked a sweaty braid out of her face and raised her own sword. “Now get ready!”

“Hey, Marcus!” cried Abigail, spotting her older sibling walking by. “You wanna practice swords with me an’ Mom?”

Marcus sneered. “Why would I wanna play with girl stuff?”

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Revolucion Will be Televised

“Ben, can you bring the toolbox over here?” 

Ben entered from the side where the front wall ought to have been.  “Que?  No comprendo que me dice.”

“Crap, it’s gone on the fritz again,” said George.  “Picking up Telemundo or something.”  He reached up and banged on the ceiling.  The garage jumped, growing fuzzy. 

“I think you fixed it,” said Ben, before tripping over the knee-high white letters that formed as he spoke. 

The laugh track cut in, rolling across them as they sat frozen in place.  “You lot shut the hell up!” snarled George. 

The laughter only grew louder.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Down to Here, Down to There

“Get a haircut,” grumbled Stockton.

“Whatever, old man!” said the long-haired youth.  “You just can’t handle it.  This is what’s coming!”

Stockton shook his head and walked away.  Soon, the hair was everywhere.  Men, women, boys, girls, everyone with luxuriant locks spilling down their shoulders, their backs, even further.  Everyone (except Stockton) rejoiced in the new and exciting fashion.

Then a cat was photographed with a mop-top.  A horse sporting dreadlocks was spotted.  Everyone was mostly calm, though the question of how was raised.

Then came the day a window-washer found the first new hairs growing from the thirty-ninth story…

Saturday, December 5, 2009

There Is

Listen!  Listen!  Listen quickly, there's no time!

There is a beach, I don't know where, and on the beach a crab is crawling up the sand.  The waves come in - whoooosh! - and wash the crab out to sea.  There is wisdom here, listen!  He crawls back.

Somewhere else, an ant carries sand.  She piles her grain with the others - so many others! - and there is wisdom in this.  Listen!  A boy, a small boy, he watches, and when the anthill is complete, he jumps - crash! - and kicks it away.  The ants carry it back.

Listen, listen to me!  Won't you listen?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Giant's Marrow

It bled a little, but it had to be done.  He gave up on the cleaver early.  It was too clumsy.  The mechanical grinder was worse; it used him up so fast, besides making an awful mess.

In the end, he used a long knife to make thin slices of meat, starting from the feet and working up.  Then the bones went under the mill-wheel, one at a time, each making a handful of flour.  While his hands held out, of course.

He was no Englishman, of course.  It spoiled the taste a bit.  But he had his daily bread.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dress Codes

“Simmons, I need you to… uh…” Muller trailed off, his brows furrowing, then slowly lifting upward.

“Yes, boss?” said Simmons.

“I… uh… you… what are you wearing?”

Simmons glanced down, then back up, smiling.  “Casual Friday, sir.”  He rustled when he moved.

“That’s a bear skin.”  Muller’s tone was flat.

“Yes, sir.”

“And… burlap pants?”  He couldn’t restrain a wince.

“Yes, sir.  The code of conduct doesn’t specify any of these as contraband,” Simmons said reproachfully.

“Look, the thing with Jenkins was bad enough.  This is-“  He froze.  “Did your belt just move?”

“Garter snake, sir.  Couldn’t find my belt.”

Dead Inside

“I look at the trees, green and growing, and I see a ruin of skeletal limbs, black bark against a stark white sky.  Winter, forever.  Or, worse, just a stump.  Nothing left at all.”  He wouldn’t meet her eyes.  “It’s the same… with everything.  Inside, there’s a death, clawing its way to the surface.  Inevitable.”  His hands wrung each other, pale fish writhing in a sunless well.

“Look deeper,” she said.  She held out the bit of spongy wood she’d taken from the trunk.  The soft white bulb of a mushroom clung to its surface.  “Just a little deeper inside.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Happy birthday to me!

Yes, I'm a year older today, but seemingly no wiser (nor any closer to actually being published.)  May the Wisest Stone bless us all with his insight and general truculence in the coming holiday season. 

If any of my fan(s) knows more about migrating Mirrorshards to its own website/server, let me know.  As far as I'm concerned, the computer is the Magic Box that does stuff when I push buttons.   I'd like to be able to mirror this on its own webspace; I'd feel more like I was accomplishing actual "publishing" that way.  ;-)


The farmer found, to his dismay, that the stone which had halted his plow was rather larger than he'd thought.  His digging revealed what was almost a boulder, out of place in the soft loam of the countryside.  He nearly dropped his spade when the stone spoke.

“What are you doing?” asked the stone, in a polite but disinterested baritone.

“I'm a farmer,” the man answered.  “I tame the wilderness to bring order and plenty.”  He indicated his plow, horse, and tools.

The Wisest Stone thought a while.  “I do not feel particularly tamed,” he said.


“It is to be war,” said the young man, his eyes as dark as his hair.  “There is no other way.”

The old man turned and opened a bamboo cabinet.  He removed a laquered tray, two cups, a black teapot.  He doused the utensils in hot water and began laying them out for the ceremony.

“What are you doing?” growled the young man.  “Did you not hear?  We are at war!”

“Yes,” said the old man.  He did not look up as he lit the fire.  “And you have already lost the first battle.”