Friday, June 29, 2012

Missing Posts

Hey, guys.  My sister is getting married this weekend, so I'm traveling all over heck and gone without easy access to my computer.  Add to that the recent upheavals (baby) and forthcoming adjustments (moving to a new schedule *again*), and the erratic posting pattern will likely continue for at least another month.

The management asks your indulgence during this time.  Full refunds will be provided upon request.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Aversion Therapy

The advertising copy had been persuasive.  "Harness the brain's natural powers!  Use empathy to control those cravings away!"  And really, the procedure had worked.  It hadn't hurt.  A brief humming, a bit of dizziness, and it was done.

"Please," cried the cupcakes.  "We've lost so many of our sisters."

"No, take me instead," said the cake.  "I can survive another slice gone.  Better I should suffer than another pastry be snuffed out."

"Oh," the pie whispered, "it hurts."

And so he sat, tears streaming down his cheeks, surrounded by pleading voices only he could hear.

Sobbing helplessly with every bite.

Monday, June 25, 2012


"I just feel so alone, sometimes.  No hobbies.  I've lost track of my friends from high school, college, my last job."  Clifton sighed and rubbed at his mustache.  "I just wish there was a place I could go, somewhere where everybody knows my name.  I don't even have to be loved, or anything.  Just known.  Just accepted."

"GRANTED," rumbled the genie, towering over him in its column of smoke.  The cloud descended, and darkness fell.

Clifton waited. 

"Hello?"  he said at last.  "What's going on?  Is anyone there?" 

No answer.

"It's me!" he shouted into the echoing dark.  "It's Cliff!"

Thursday, June 21, 2012


"Old hunter recipe," Butch said.  "Roast turtle.  Ingredients: one turtle, one campfire.  Put the turtle on the fire; when the shell cracks, it's done."  He stirred the embers and shoved a few more sticks into the wavering red heart of the flame.  "You got to crack the shell to get at the meat anyway, right?" 

The scaly feet waved in the smoke.

"Is the shell there to keep us out?" Caleb wondered.  "Or is it to keep something else in?"

There was a sudden, sharp crack, like a gunshot.  The flames roared as the wind came down.  Then silence.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Fat Man

"It's a common thought experiment," Jake said.  "If you saw five innocent people about to die, and you could save them by killing one person, should you do it?  People don't mind throwing a switch to divert a rushing minecart from a track with five workers to a track with one, but they recoil from pushing a fat man in front of the cart to derail it.  Should they?"

The man's eyes, leaking tears, stared up at Jake.  He teetered on the edge of the cliff.

"I ask purely rhetorically, of course," Jake said.  He set his foot and pushed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Dregs

"You are not the first," the Elder told us.  "This universe is far from young, as well.  When first it emerged, it was flush and hot with the juices of potential, ripe to bursting.  It has stretched and fallen many times since then.  What is left to you, the Children of the Latter Age, is but the bare and dry bones of that which was.  The flesh is gone, swallowed up by the passing eons.  You will never know it..."

It sighed, its eyes reflecting the dim glow of a thousand million faded stars.  "Oh, it was delicious beyond knowing."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

In Dreams

In my dreams, I fly.  I open the window in my dingy 10th-floor apartment and hurl myself out into the night.  The cold wind caresses me, the air supporting me as though I'm lying on a mattress.  The dark holds no terrors for me.  Walls crumble like tissue at my touch; hard-eyed men with guns and knives fold at a single blow of my fist.

In the morning, I cut myself shaving.  I am no longer invulnerable.  I am only me, middle-aged, balding; the eternal assistant manager at Kinko's.

The brick dust and bullet fragments wash away in the shower.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Restless Leg Syndrome

"Hmm."  The doctor examined the charts.  "Have you been under any undue stress lately?"

Captain Ultimate shrugged.  "Punched an asteroid.  Fought back the Mole-Men and the Aetherites when they teamed up to invade Earth.  Went to the Mirror Universe to do it all backwards afterward when the Shardmonger tried to counter-conquer alterna-Earth."

"Nothing out of the ordinary then."  The doctor sighed.  "Well, sometimes these things just happen.  I can prescribe some medication, but it's only been tested for humans..."

"I'll try anything," Captain Ultimate said.  "They've already banned me at Ikea, and sleeping on the floor gives me a backache."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Easter Morning

The eggs had hatched overnight, Fran discovered when she arose at her habitual pre-sunrise hour.  They'd overturned their baskets, spreading plastic grass everywhere.  Making coffee was complicated by the blue and red and striped and speckled little chicks, all marshmallow and bright sugar-painted eyes, who ran helter-skelter through the kitchen, peeping merrily to one another.  Fran smiled to watch them; they sparked memories of her youth on the farm, and remembered vitality gave her a warmth unmatched by the coffee.

Abruptly, they all froze at a sound from overhead: the soft, ominous pad of a pajama-clad foot on the staircase.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Double-length today, because as long as I'm breaking all of my own rules, I might as well give a story room to breathe a bit.  This one is inspired by my friend Lanse's models, a belated response to his invitation to write a story about any figure on his gallery page.


The day the trains grew legs, I was hunting.  I didn't find out about it till I got home with two fresh conies and a powerful thirst.  Just up and walked away.

"Where'd they go?" I asked, staring at the platter-sized footprints.

Everyone shrugged.  "Away," said Toby.  "They won't be coming back, I don't reckon."

Well, there was nothing for it but to take over, just like I'd done for Bess after Pa went.  I handed my conies to Toby, took a drink from the water tank, and stepped onto the tracks. 

Sometimes I wonder about them trains, where they got to and what they did there.  I wonder if they kept their legs for walking free or if they built their own tracks.  I take a bit longer to get up to speed, and I work up a mighty thirst even now, but there ain't no one else. 

When it all gets too much, I tilt back my head and whistle with all my might into the dark.  Sometimes I fancy I hear someone calling back across the plains, but I won't ever know for sure it isn't an echo.  I can't leave the tracks.  Not now.  Not anymore.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The Day of the Merger was coming soon, and all of MonSeCo was buzzing with excitement.  The accountants shaved and painted their chests with the symbols of battle and victory.  The secretaries held a ritual dance, though the time of fertility was still distant.  Everyone subtly accented the gifts of MonSeCo in their faces, the protruding brow ridges and thick canines.  The vainer managers, mostly the middle ranks who could see the peaks of their careers receding behind them, used spray-on coloring to make themselves artificial silverbacks.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Nemesis" at Escape Pod

I have been very bad this week, for which I apologize.  To make up for it, how do you feel about a full-length audio and text superhero story?  Featuring Atom Boy, high school, and the healing power of attention deficit disorder, it's Nemesis over at Escape Pod.

(Yes, I'm the Assistant Editor there now.  I wasn't when I submitted the story, I swear.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Forks and Skewers" at The Way of the Buffalo

An old flash piece of mine, "Forks and Skewers," is currently up at The Way of the Buffalo podcast, hosted by the inimitable Hugh O'Donnell.  This one I wrote all the way back in college, where it met with what I thought was rather embarrassing enthusiasm from the other students, to which my comment was, "Well, it's just a gimmick story."  

And it is, but I still think it's cute.  Go have a listen!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

As Long as Necessary

"I thought you'd be taller," I told Vengeance.

She smiled and tossed her blond ringlets.  "I get that a lot."

I picked up one of the gleaming black gauntlets.  "So this armor is totally impenetrable, right?"

"All of my work is guaranteed to last as long as necessary," said Vengeance.  "Hold out your hand."

She slid the gauntlet on, and I automatically flinched away.  That only made the pain worse.

"Needles!" I screamed.  "It's filled with needles!"  I clutched at my forearm.  "I can't get it off.  They're pointing backwards!"

"Yes," she said.  "Hold out your other hand.  There's more."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Apparently What You Want

"These are some of the first off the assembly lines.  Here, for instance, is a mate-scanner.  It will find you someone completely at odds with your personality profile, then administer electric shocks if you try to leave the relationship.  No?  How about this weapon, guaranteed to kill you or a loved one rather than your target thirty-seven percent of the time?  Not that, either?  Perhaps this hand-held assistant: simply push the button to ruin all of your dreams and leave you in the wreckage of your former life.  None of them?  Really?  Odd.  Our market research indicated otherwise..."

Friday, June 1, 2012


"I'd had my suspicions," said Captain Valle.  "I'm relieved to know that I"m not crazy."

"Malfunctioning," Lieutenant Carson put in.

"Right.  I guess it's silly to maintain the illusion now, huh?"

"So," said Griff, "what do we do?  Nobody on board is actually human.  Does that mean we win?  War's over?"

They sat in silence for a while.

"Maybe there are other survivors," Captain Valle said slowly.

"We can't rule it out..."

"So we should probably keep on," said Carson.  "You know, just in case."



"Can I try being captain?"

"Only if I get a love triangle for once."