2014

Every New Year’s I come to this site and state loudly, “This is the year, baby!”  The year I take writing seriously, the year I blog more regularly, the year I actually use my office for more than just a place I put my Doctor Who action figures.

So…

This is the year, Baby!

 

Next post in 2015!

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A Thousand Waking Moments

            

Again with the challenge from Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLEMINDS. 

You will pick two genres from this list of sub-genres I give you. You will mash up those two genres into a piece of flash fiction, ~1000 words long. Easy like Sunday morning.

Here, then, is the list:

Southern Gothic

Cyberpunk

Sword & Sorcery

Femslash

Black Comedy

Picaresque

 

 

With a start, Glory awoke, flushed and dripping with sweat.  She tossed aside the bed clothes to find the mattress was soaking wet.

                The nightmare seemed so real, her hands were still shaking.  The attackers were masked and so angry.

                Glory felt as though she was supposed to be somewhere else.  Her stomach told her she was supposed to be eating.

              She made her way to the lift, gave two sharp tugs on the descend pulley.  She idly shuffled her feet as the gear work platform grinded to life and lowered her towards the kitchens.  Outside the window of the glass lift, Glory could see her cousin Bromhold’s Gearwing brigade going through maneuvers.  They were forming an attack pattern.  Glory frowned as she watched them head over the castle walls towards the Mountains of the Dragon.  She strained to keep them in view.

                Black dots on a sky of red.

                Glory tried to maintain her genteel breeding and not break into a ravenous run when the lift stopped at her desired floor.  The guards were as always polite and lowered their sparkspears in deference as she shuffled by.  Their mumbled, “Your Highness” still had a hint of shame to it.  Her brother the Heir Apparent had been killed over a year ago; you would think they would be able to get over it.

                Mebold the Cook was not in the kitchen, when Glory arrived so she helped herself to some fruit and started walking toward the dining hall.  She heard her father before they saw each other and quickly hid herself in a Maidwalk, a small door way that lead to secret passages that hid the servants from the eyes of her King Father.

                “How goes the front Reginald?”  Her Father’s booming voice was in complete Monarch bellows today.

                “Not good, my liege.  And if you want to get a report from the front you can look out the window.  The enemy is camped within a day’s ride.”  Reginald was Lord Cog, chief war advisor.  “Our last sortie was a disaster; two full score of clockkights are dead.  Probably eaten.”

                “Two SCORE!”

                “Yes, Your Majesty.”

                “How did this happen?  Did you not consult the Oracle Engine?  The Number Warlocks said the calculations were perfect.”

                “Yes your Majesty, but again I stress, we are mistaken to trust the machines to strategy.”

                “I tire of this argument, Reginald.”  Glory winced.  Her Lord Father was most unpleasant when tired.

                “With respect, Your Majesty, the difference engine works on variables that we are used to.  Your empire has grown tenfold since our mastery of the Oracle.  The Number Warlocks are true pioneers, but we are not facing a familiar threat.  The enemy has a true wizard leading them.  And they fight with primitive weapons.  Swords, spears, and mounted horse.  Our pistoleers and magazines cannot hold the line.”

                Glory heard her Father curse, loudly, and throw a glass against a wall.  “My army has conquered the Five Nations of Umpuntu.  The Steppes of Kron and the Hegemony.  A few peasants who fight with sticks and swords against bullets and our flying Gearwings?  These are excuses for your leadership my Lord Cog.”

                “I beg forgiveness, Your Greatness, but I come with other news.”

                “Changing the subject Reginald?  This better be good.”

                “The Witch King Morgaz has settled fifty Orlock legions inside the Basilisk Forest.  Rumors are spreading that the Wizard has control of the Dragon.  All this power is within a day of this castle.  Our supplies are falling short and our men bleed.”

                “Get to the point!”

                “I have received terms from the Wizard.”

                “Terms!”  Glory’s Father’s rage was unintelligible.

                “My Liege, not terms of conquest.  Terms of Peace!”  Reginald screamed the last words to get the message over her Father’s bellowing.

                “Peace?  PEACE?”

                “Yes, Morgaz will retreat to the other side of the Mountain of the Dragon and never step foot under the shadow of the Ticking Tower, your family’s ancestral home.”

                “What will it cost us?”

                “My liege, it will cost us Glory.”

                Glory’s gasp was so loud, louder than it would seem as silence had settled in after Reginald’s last words.

                “GLORY! Get in here.”  Her Father knew she was listening and will most probably beat her, or send her to study.  Glory hoped it was a beating.

                “Yes my honorable Father?”  The curtsey was half textbook, half sarcastic.

                “How much did you hear?”

                “I hear that to save our land and peoples I am to be given to the Witch King Morgaz.”

                “Y-yes, My Lady,” Reginald always stammered when Glory looked at him.  “The Witch King will take you to bride and hostage to ensure we will not act against him.

                “They say Morgaz is a Wizard over 7,000 years old.”

                “They say a lot of things, your Highness, some of which may be true.  P-peace, is a t-truth we must all believe in.  Though the loss we shall suffer will be most unpleasant.”

                “Reginald,” Her Father baleful eyes fell on his chief consoler.  “Why would Morgaz retreat, he is winning.”

                “I do not know, but if there is a chance I feel we must take it.”

                Later, Glory found herself being fitted for a bridal gown, a long bath, and lessons on spousal etiquette by a nun that although was about as old as Morgaz had no experience in what she was talking about.

                Glory spent the rest of the evening in her apartment surrounded by her friends, daughters of the court.  She did not pay much attention.  There was an itch on her neck and a dull headache that was growing stronger just above her left eye.  Maddening it was but not as much as the feeling that, Glory was missing something.  Somewhere she was supposed to be.

                “Married, you are so lucky, even if it is with Morgaz the Bloodless.”

                “Quiet, Diroa, you are just scaring her.”

                “Glory, how do you feel about this?”

                “Hmmm?”

                “I asked you, how do you feel about being married to that corpse?”

                Their voices were shrinking to whispers, and a great blinding light was enveloping the apartment.  It was focused through the door, a portal opening that shone the brightest light.  There was a pulse to the light that matched the throbbing above her left eye.  A compulsion pulled at her, a cloying feeling of bliss through the strange light.  Glory was supposed to be somewhere and that light seemed to be the way.

                Glory heard screaming as she succumbed.

*     *     *

                “Nametag says Gloria.”

                “What are we looking at?”

                “Shot through the skull, above the left eye.  Glancing blow to the brain, bleeds all over the place.  Probably took a few minutes to finally pass.”

                “She the teller that pulled the alarm?”

                “That’s what the bank manager said.”

                “Any personal effects, any sense of who she was?  She died a hero.”

                “Her coworker, Martha said she was leaving early to go to a dance recital for her daughter tonight.  She usually doesn’t make it, so it was going to be a surprise.”

                “Take her to the morgue.  Poor woman, we never seem to get to where we need to be”

Bayonetting Babies

Another challenge from Wendig’s terribleminds.com:

Well, really, all I ask is that you write a piece of crime fiction that features — and c’mon, this is so easy — guns as a feature. That’s like a present to you, from me. Mmmm. Guns.

You have 1000 words.

Short flash fiction. Not a vignette but a complete story.

Due by Friday, August 19th.

I’ll pick a favorite in the week after.

Post at your online space. Link back here. Direct us to your tale in the comments of this post.

Crime + Guns = Awesome.

Get to work.

               

               He hated this more than anything, but after a year of making this bullshit trek to the Eastvale, Tom had to admit that maybe it worked.  Still, he took the last deep breath to calm himself before he entered the doors of the psychologist’s office.

                Doctor Carter seemed bored at the start of the session.  Idly brushing lint off of his pants.  Tom sat in the corner of the couch.

                “So, Tom…last week we spoke about some…uh…anxiety you were having about your granddaughter…”

                “Yes,” Tom swallowed hard, anxiety was an understatement.  Soul crippling, piss your pants fear would be closer to the mark.  “Yes, my granddaughter made me anxious.”

                “Made?  As in past tense?  Are you feeling better about the speech?”  Brush, brush, brush.

                “I actually did it on Thursday.”

                “Really?”  Carter stopped fidgeting and looked at Tom.  “Let me first say that I am very proud of your progress.  I truly did not see that coming.  How did it go?  How long did you speak?  What did you talk about?”  Carter leaned closer to the couch, his eyes wide with eagerness.

                “Uh…I guess it was about an hour and I mainly talked about Cu Chi.  I suppose it went well enough they asked me back.”

                “Tell me all the details about Thursday.”

***

                The lecture hall at West Desert University was nearly empty.  About thirty college aged kids sat randomly throughout the four hundred seat room.  Tom’s granddaughter was sitting behind a small table next to the lectern with an older woman.  Tom was not impressed by her looks at all.  No tits to speak of and eyes that made her look like the word “man” was as filthy as the word “cunt.”

                Tom’s granddaughter rose and went to the lectern, “Thank you everyone who showed up for tonight’s WDU History Alive Club special event.  For those of you attending from Helen Maynor’s class please stay until after so that I can sign your attendance slips.”  Tom sees several rolling eyes.

                “ Viet Nam.  One of the most controversial conflicts in this nation’s history.  A proxy war deemed unnecessary by the younger generation, and the only salvation from Sino-Russian conquest by the older generations.  Communism was an evil that infected most of the United States policies at the time.

                “Today, Viet Nam is considered a mistake.  A black eye on the military, the White House, and the surviving soldiers.  Tonight, my grandfather, Sergeant Tomas Black of the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, survivor of what is called “the Devil’s Half Acre.”  The applause was sparse.

                To the kids Tom felt he must look like a joke. When he was their age he was five foot six and chubby.  Now at sixty-three he had lost the baby fat and three inches of height.  He lost those things because of old age.  The three missing fingers, left ear, and glass eye came from the war.

                Tom started out slow.  Tiny drips of information, high school, the draft, boot camp, all the boring bullshit that most movies cut out because it is agonizing.  Tom felt it was important though.  He was blind in a sense, a butterball fuck thrown into Tigerland, by the time he arrived in the Shit his body was hardened but his man still dripping with the fat of youth.

                It wasn’t until he joined the Tunnel Rats when he felt he became a soldier.  “They built the Cu Chi HQ out there because it was the only clear spot to get supplies in an out during monsoon, but soon after they built it they got attacked inside the perimeters.  Turns out the Cu Chi land was honeycombed with over 200 miles of tunnels.  The commanders couldn’t send most troops down in the tunnel because the Viet Cong were short bastards.  So they came to me and some other guys all under 5’6”.  They gave us a pistol and a flashlight and the orders to clear.

                “I did maybe sixty drops into that hell.  The tunnels were bent back every 100 meters or so.  Every step forward was another step into ambush alley.  Most of us died.  But we were all short Napoleons that lived for the next dive.

                “My last mission was simple, find the radio console.  The VC dropped land mines around the shaft that killed five of us and took my ear.  I rounded the corner and took shrapnel near my eye.  I laid under the bodies of my squad for three days before more Rats came down and pulled me out.”

                Tom continued with details, stark, real.  His granddaughter beamed with pride.  This is what her organization was about.  Seeing the survivors of history speak truth.  Tom’s hands were shaking nonstop.

***

                “So how did that make you feel?”  Brush, brush, brush.

                “Like a fucking kid.”  Tom wiped away tears.

                “Interesting, speaking to a room of people is frightening, when jumping down into a Viet Cong tunnel is…”  A soft digital beep sounded through the room.  “I’m sorry Tom, that’s our time this week.”

                “I have to go to work anyway.”

***

                Tom stood in the corner of the bank, smiling at the pretty girls and sizing up any man that walked in.  That’s what you do when you are barely five foot and carry a pistol.  The gun the security agency gave him was shit.  A snub nose revolver barely long enough to get the muzzle flash away from your knuckles.  He longed for Romana, that sleek cobalt 9mm that was his only true companion while he crawled around in VC tunnels.  All for freedom.

                Movies, Tom felt were bullshit; he could tell within an instant if an actor had ever held a gun before.  You can tell someone told them how to place their hands and how to duck walk, but they always lacked the familiarity one has with their weapon.  When Tom had Romana, his entire fucking body swaggered.  His dick was in his hand and all the pretty bitches were getting some.

                The four guys who busted through the bank door were holding their dicks.  They filed in fast which each covering an angle through the door.  Short guy first, gun straight ahead, second guy over the left shoulder of the lead, third guy over the right shoulder of the guy in front of him, and the fourth covering the rear.

                They all had military issue M4’s, Desert Eagles strapped to their legs, and bullet proof vests.

                Professionals.

                As Tom fumbled for his shit gun, a bullshit Asian dick, he had a smile on his face.  At least it wasn’t some horseshit gangbang amateur.

                The third soldier spotted him and shot Tom four times, once in the thigh, moving up and putting two in his chest, one in the face.

Tell Me a Story

Written for Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge.  Mention a unicorn anywhere.

 

 

Hello, are you awake?  Good.  I’m afraid my associate has a distinct lack of a light touch.  Ugh, that’s going to bruise.

I know, I know, this is very confusing.  Let me guess, “Where am I?”  That’s usually the first question, followed by another much more important, “Why me?”

Why me?  Might be the most important question in the world.  Well we’ll get to that one later.

Where am I?  You are in a warehouse with the words “Jenkins Cannery” on top of a red roof.  The outside veneer is more of slate gray siding.  We are next to the Tuna Bee distribution center and the Baby Acres Warehouse.  They are blue and I guess “steel” colored respectively.

The road we are on is Industrial Drive.  If you were to take it East you will meet with Franklin which will take you to the 70.  Highway 70 East towards Harmerville is home.

Hold on, there’s more.

Outside the door there is a forest green ’96 Pontiac Grand-Am.  There is slightly less than a half tank.  The keys are in the center console.  Careful, a wind storm hit the driver’s door when I was going to Taco Bell one day and jackknifed the door open.  I had to pry it out of the quarter panel with a screwdriver.  It makes a god damn awful racket when you open the door.  What else?

Plates are good, lights all work, as long as you drive about five over the limit you shouldn’t get pulled over.  If you do, I forged a registration in your name in the glove box.  Your wallet is over here on my work table.  See?

I know that look, you want to know why I’m telling you all this.  I’m getting to it.  Just a couple more things for the…prologue, if you will.

Your room is back there, it has a cot and a working toilet.  Your door will be locked at night but a stiff kick will bust it open, it barely even qualifies as cardboard.

At night, my associate will be keeping guard.  He has a little desk with a TV and a laptop with an internet connection.  So he’ll be engrossed with porn or the NFL network at any given time.  He will be armed with a tazer, buck knife, and a 9mm Beretta.  Now this is important, are you paying attention?

He is left handed.  That means if you see his right hand go into his coat he’s grabbing the knife, the reverse, left hand, right side of coat means bang bang.  Got me?

On my work table which is right next to the door to your room are my tools.  Lots of gnarly shit but you should focus on the Desert Eagle .50.  It will be enough to handle my associate.  Serial numbers are scraped as well as any identifiers.  I oil it every morning so I promise you it will not jam.

Now why am I telling you all this?  Your escape is all but guaranteed if you heed my directions.  The main doors are locked but after you shoot my associate you will find the keys in….  Paul, where do you keep the keys?  Left front pocket?  Thanks.

The keys are in the left front pocket.

So kick door, grab gun, shoot Paul, get keys, unlock main door, get into Pontiac, go home.  Simple enough.

But I don’t think you’ll do it.  You’re smirking.  You must one devious bad ass mother fucker, am I right?  I played right into your hands, like I’m some dipshit Bond villain giving you the goods while you are strapped down.  Damn it, man I am just dumb.

But there is that other question.  I answered, “Where am I?”  But if you bolt out of here first night, you’ll never find out, “Why me?”

Hmm?

Now I don’t see why during all of this we can’t be friendly, or even become friends.  There’s no reason to behave uncivilized towards each other.

However, I am very good at my job and I was paid $750,000 plus expenses to bring you here.  That’s an awful lot of money, and I am the very best.  Someone has a hate boner for you.

Now comes the unfortunate time where I prove to you how good I am at getting information.  This first time I won’t be asking a question.  Just applying my trade to your left inner thigh.  It will hurt.  Hurt more than anything you’ve ever experience.

You need to do something for me.  Picture in your mind the happiest day ever.  The day you got that puppy, the first time you got to second base, uh Rush live in 1978.  Whatever, just think about it hard.

Now shut your eyes and put yourself in that one shining moment, the light in the darkness…

***

She is standing there with a pout on her face, idly toying with one of her braids.  Her whole body is selling the slump in her shoulders.  Boredom, thou art defined.  The carnival is small this year, just a Ferris wheel and scrambler.  The games are the usual throw a dart, throw a ring, everyone is a winner. 

When her father glances back at her for approval, she rolls her eyes.  Thirteen years on the planet and she is not impressed any more.  It has been discovered, weighed, and assessed.  Lame.  Boring and lame.

She doesn’t see her father ring the bottle with the star, so she is taken completely by surprise when he walks to her with a big grin and even bigger purple stuffed unicorn.

She squeals and kisses him on the cheek…

***

Sorry about all of that.  How bad was it?  Where you able to focus on something?  Good, remember it you are going to need it more and more.

So, um, leave the bandage on all night.  I left some antiseptic in your room.

Tomorrow we will start for real.

Your homework tonight is to think on two words, “Why me?”

How to Lift a Curse

This is a piece I wrote over at Ficly.com.  Write a story in 1024 characters.  Harder than it seems.  Below is one of the best reviewed stories I ever wrote, in any form, and one of my favorites. 

I am cursed, have been since I was a boy.

My dad said it was because he fucked a gypsy in Peoria.

Every time I fell in love with a girl, they moved away.

Every rock star I loved, dead at 27.

Even the food I love will suddenly stop being sold at grocery stores .

Literally, I am a dead end for dreams of fulfillment. If you want to go somewhere in life, don’t let me know about it.

My dad knows all about my curse. Used to beat me every night. He told me it was my fault Twilight Zone got canceled. To hear him, I’m to blame for everything from the cancellation of Star Trek to the Kennedy assassination, both of them.

My penance has been four broken clavicles, a detached retina, internal bleeding, and a few anal fissures.

But,I’ve decided my revenge, every thing I love and idolize dies.

Dad you are my hero…
I want to be just like you…
Everything you do is right…

It’s been ten years of worship.

My wife has a restraining order against me and my son is in traction.

Yet another blog

Blogger is an unmigated mess.  I hates it I say!

So I started to respect myself again and went to tumblr.  Then I realized how limited tumblr can be as your main online hub.  More of a pilaf really.

So here I am wordpress.  I’m learning slowly.  So back off right at first.  The time for judging me will come soon.