Monday, December 29, 2014

866. The first battle of Hazel Street

You've never seen people so desperate - or so angry.
The two sides clashed under the few street lights still shining.
Where blood pooled, it was black as oil.
This was the new normal.

Monday, December 8, 2014

865. I'm pretty sure Alec Baldwin owes me fifty dollars

Fame: that most important and honest of modern measurements.
I want to live in that world, to breathe that rarefied air.
That's why I loaned Alec Baldwin fifty dollars.
Either him, or a man on the street who looked a little like him and spoke with sufficient gravitas.

Friday, December 5, 2014

864. Variations on the word no

"Maybe we'll make love this weekend?" I asked over the folded edge of the newspaper.
"Maybe," she said.
She was digging at the edge of a grapefruit with a spoon.
"Maybe," she said again with a segment of grapefruit in her mouth.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

863. Mean City

When I was a boy, my sainted mother owned a pair of brass knuckles.
I can still remember them - the texture - when she'd press them against my face.
"Nobody likes a crybaby," she'd say.
The metal bites against my knuckles as I ball them up into a fist.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

862. We're the face of the revolution, darling

The fire blazed hot, hot, hot against the face of the girl with the pigtails.
She could feel the heat of her burning home right down to her insides.
When she smoothed the pleats of her dress, bits of ash scattered to the wind.
Her legs swung absently, clanging against the robot's metal shoulder as they lumbered toward the city.

Monday, November 24, 2014

861. We're all buckled up, you and me

The girl beside me at the coffee shop was arty - if I'm using that right.
She carried a backpack like the one I'd owned in sixth grade.
It was green with several buckles.
I tried to strike up a conversation about the bag, but it didn't work.

Monday, November 3, 2014

860. The difference between saying it and meaning it

All hail the noble white lie.
These artful fallacies, these tasteful frauds are keepers of the peace.
They are the single civilizing force that keep all of us in friendly relations.
Because at the end of the day, there's nothing so dangerous as an honest man - like this one.

Friday, October 31, 2014

859. What we find

There was a single Cheerio under the refrigerator.
It was standing on its edge - if you can believe that.
He'd been laying on the floor for hours, staring through it like a window.
There were no answers on the other side.

Monday, September 22, 2014

858. Main Street Shibboleth

The town where I grew up had its own radio station - mostly Top 40 stuff.
When I grew up, I moved away.
Certain songs - Tubthumping, for example - were like lighthouses, welcoming me home on infrequent visits.
The station plays country music now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

857. Pop rocks

The planet was uninhabited.
Its surface alternated between rivers of fire and giant rocks.
And yet, it was cool enough for humans.
The landing crew had hiked about three miles when the rocks started to explode.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

856. The story of everything

"This is the story of everything," he said to the two boys.
"Everything has a beginning."
He reached out an patted each of them on the head.
Looking at them fondly, he continued, "And everything has an end."

Monday, May 5, 2014

855. Strikes out

He performed poorly at the plate.
To drown his sorrows, he went to a bar where he drew no interest from the female patrons.
Deflated, he walked home.
As he walked, he worked himself into such a state that he punched a wall and broke his hand.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

854. Confidence men

He was on top - for once.
For years, he'd been waiting for his chance.
Now, with her obvious enthusiasm, he took it.
He, was a roadie for Mr. Big.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

853. I'm a bad bad, bad bad man

I need to tell you something.
It won't be easy.
I did something I shouldn't have.
Come with me - and bring a shovel.

Friday, May 2, 2014

852. The shadow of the carving knife

The knife traced an arc; something obscure but mathematical.
It cut deep.
The knife came away wet.
The crowd gasped.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

851. Budget parameters

The sun was stinking hot.
It bounced off the water in ugly ways in all directions.
The yellow of the life raft baked.
He sat cross-legged considering three saltine crackers.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

850. Constellation

There was a legend about the changing constellation.
They said it was the story of a man who became a bear.
And they believed it.
Ten thousand light years and ten thousand years away, someone was desperately trying to send a warning.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

849. North of something

Supplies were low.
Three days earlier, they ate one of the pack horses.
It was desperate.
Then they passed over the edge of the map.

Monday, April 28, 2014

848. Bug

It started off like the stomach flu.
But, it wasn't.
Something was growing inside him.
Something evil was coming.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

847. Backpack

He carried a blue backpack everywhere.
It was old fashioned, like a rucksack.
Inside it was a tiny man.
The man gave him orders.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

846. Four-part harmony

"What does this look like kid, a fucking barbershop quartet?"
"Except for the masks, yeah, kinda."
"Kid's a real smartass."
"Get this, smartass: We're a barbershop quartet, that robs banks."

Friday, April 25, 2014

845. And jive

His alter ego woke moments later.
There was mayhem on his mind.
He pulled on the ragged suit from behind the radiator.
Then he made for the streets looking for a crowd.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

844. Heckle

He crawled into bed after a long day.
There was a tired raggedness in his bones lately he couldn't shake.
His eyes closed of their own accord.
He fell asleep dreaming of crowds and fire.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

843. If you go out to the western wall

The experiment's purpose was to understand our primitive selves.
Top scientists subjected fifty average citizens to years of tests and procedures.
Now, their descendants roam the countryside in bloodthirsty packs.
We've had a report that parts of the western wall have caved into the river - so be careful out there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

842. To the nub

If she was a flakier person, she'd blame the universe.
But she wasn't.
Instead, it was just life.
She wasn't asking for a lot - just for things to be a tiny bit easier.

Monday, April 21, 2014

841. At the center

The maze is different for every runner.
For some, the center holds their heart's desire but is impossible to reach.
Others find every path leads to their worst nightmares.
In the end, the maze gets everyone.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

840. Wayne

Wayne smoked as he waited for his bus.
It wasn't a bad gig really.
The mall paid him $100 each weekend for four weekends a year.
It was the ears he hated.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

839. Three

She lived in a shabby apartment in a rough neighbourhood.
Her budget was tiny so she spent a lot of time looking out the window, people watching.
She watched a man - a cop - chase a woman in a trench coat down her street.
That's when the earthquake happened.

Friday, April 18, 2014

838. Two

She was a master thief.
Her crime spree was nearly complete.
The final piece was safe in her pocket as she hurried down the street.
That's when the earthquake happened.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

837. One

He was the quintessential beat cop; square jawed with a bulldog's brain.
The thief was a scant three blocks ahead now.
He'd been trailing her for months.
That's when the earthquake happened.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

836. How big is the Universe?

Even with advancements in technology, the trip to the edge of the Universe and back had taken thousands of years.
For the astronaut, it had seemed like weeks.
When he returned to Earth, everything had changed.
For instance, he'd mutated into a six foot lizard.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

835. Prime suspect

It was the jilted lover.
It was the mayor's assistant.
It was the former astronaut and hero.
To be quite frank, he had no fucking clue who killed Susan.

Monday, April 14, 2014

834. Giant expectations

My mother was a giant; a giantess to be precise.
That's what my father told me.
She left.
I like to think that when she's done having giant adventures out there, she'll be home.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

833. Reverse alphabetical

As a boy, he developed a coded language in case of spies, Prussians, and fifth columnists.
He met a girl who devised the same code - independently.
They despised each other immediately.
The two of them were married when he was seventeen and she was sixteen.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

832. Pirates

The old ship was full of scoundrels.
It groaned as it fought against the current.
A bark from the captain sparked a flurry of activity among the crew.
The ship trailed water as it rose into the sky.

Friday, April 11, 2014

831. The village and the volcano

Crust and mantle had pushed its way up through the water.
The villagers gathered on the beach to investigate.
Overnight, a mountain grew up in their midst.
The mountain smoked ominously.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

830. Hardscrabble

Hardscrabble is an old word.
It was a word for western places where people scratched out their whole lives.
The new hardscrabble places are rundown strip malls where inter-city buses idle.
You can still find people scratching out a life - if you care to look.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

829. Horses are hard to come by

They walked together, man and a girl.
He carried a rucksack and she dragged a bundle like a hobo.
They'd been walking for a week; maybe a month.
They crested a ridge and saw an abandoned ranch.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

828. Monster art

The giant beast ripped the city's largest skyscraper from its moorings.
It dragged the building out to the seashore.
The monster used the skyscraper's antenna tower to tear at the beach for hours.
Then the beast disappeared, leaving only beautiful, mysterious symbols behind in the sand.

Monday, April 7, 2014

827. Division

The next morning, the town was completely cut off from the outside world by deep chasms cut in the dirt.
Sin, said some.
Science, claimed others.
And yet, there they were, cut off from the outside world.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

826. Dishwater

Her reflection in the dishwater looked haggard.
She'd been washing the same plate for what had to be five minutes.
Wearily, she put the plate in the drying rack.
When she looked back in the water, there were eyes staring back at her.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

825. Yesterday

What if there was a phone that could call the past?
Would you use it?
Who would you call?
That phone there, the old-fashioned one on the table, pick it up.

Friday, April 4, 2014

824. Charlatan

Cheap copies; the whole lot of them.
They were all trinkets designed to ape the mystical.
The cops confiscated them when the dragged the forger woman in from her street corner.
Arrayed across the detective's desk, they seemed sad somehow.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

823. Freeze frame

Terry's job was to review the overnight security tapes each morning.
Usually, it involved fast forwarding through twelve hours of nothing.
Today was different.
Today, he was treated to two hours of choreographed dance numbers between guerrilla performance artists and mannequins.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

822. Dryer than what?

Between the two of them, they wore three pieces of clothing.
She checked her watch.
It was 7:15.
They were late and the dryer was broken.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

821. Fitz

Fitz.
Fitzy.
F-Bomb.
No one knew his real name.

Monday, March 31, 2014

820. Trench coat story

It began in a factory with thousands of copies.
It was bought by a business man who moonlighted as a vigilante.
It was found by a man down on his luck and gave warmth against the winter.
It ended in an alley amid the rot.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

819. The blood of serpents

The land outside the city is barren and dirty.
The men who live there are dirty too and they covet.
They sharpen their crude blades against the rocks as they turn an eye to the city.
A light shines on her still, so all is not  lost - not today.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

818. Jostled

The sea of people was as wide as Noah's ocean.
Everywhere she turned were more people.
The humanity was so dense, it stole her breath.
She stood gasping, waiting for the waves to part.

Friday, March 28, 2014

817. Giant Squid

When the water was anything but black, it was midnight blue.
The deep dark depths were nothing but death and pressure and constant hunting.
Occasionally shapes would pass overhead - whispers of a world outside the water.
Then came the cruel net pulling upward, upward.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

816. Remind me where we keep the blankets

The house was built in 1968.
They were its third owners.
Even though they loved its charms, they had a few upgrades in mind.
For instance, no one had told them about the wormhole in the linen closet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

815. Landmark

Carol commuted to and from work every day along a rolling country road.
On her way home, she'd wait for a certain view of the old church.
From that vantage point, it seemed like the only building in town.
Then, one day, it was.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

814. The quality of being stubborn

The branches of the two old trees met above the centre of the street.
The winter weather had been unkind to them.
Someday, they'd succumb to their wounds and fall together.
Today wouldn't be that day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

813. We get to choose

I don't know what's beyond this fence.
No one's crossed through the gate in thirty years.
I can't tell you what's out there.
What do you say we go find out?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

812. Bone music

Then there is that old song.
The hip bone connected to the back bone.
In this version, my hand is connected to your knee bone.
And we are connected to each other.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

811. Dare

You know those parties.
The ones where dares and things happen.
It was one of those.
Guys were lining up to do the one-piece lycra fitting challenge.

Friday, March 21, 2014

810. Naked

She stood naked on stage - metaphorically speaking.
At that moment, she was as alone as any person could be.
Like a thousand stinging nettles, their words pricked and scratched at her skin.
They hated her performance, but she didn't care.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

809. T-shirts

He had over a thousand t-shirts - vintage, ironic, and nerdy.
They were kept carefully cataloged in a specially built, climate controlled closet.
Each day, he would wander the aisles, listening to the shirts.
That's when the theory came to him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

808. Open for business

They'd spent their savings - down to the last dime.
It was perfect but, like many restaurants, theirs wouldn't last.
The night before they were to open, a freak tectonic shift left their restaurant atop a giant mountain.
In the year before they closed, they were visited by just two hardy climbers from New Zealand.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

807. Text to speech

At first, messages were relayed verbatim.
Then, they were edited for grammar.
Little by little, messages sent and messages received grew further apart.
Eventually, the car assumed control.

Monday, March 17, 2014

806. A watched pot

They say a watched pot never boils.
So he watched.
And watched.
And watched until the end.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

805. Adventure...and panthers

It was just five friends out for a walk.
In nature, they were walking in nature.
There was walking and laughing and carrying on.
They never even saw the panthers coming.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

804. Farewell Bessie

It was time to trade in their old car.
They went through it, cleaning out cds and shopping bags.
The trunk was strewn with eight years of detritus.
For some reason, they also found an avocado.

Friday, March 14, 2014

803. Oomph

Oomph.
Oomph.
Oomph.
They were punching him in the stomach again.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

802. Wink

The upstairs hallway was lined on both sides with pictures.
She walked past little memories, all stitched together in a way that approximated a life.
She hardly noticed them because she knew them by heart.
Then a picture of her Aunt Peg winked at her.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

801. Buried

An accent pillow lay on the side of the highway.
Whatever colour it had once been, it was brown now.
Passing vehicles gave it little notice.
In a few hours, it was covered by accumulating snow.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

800. Heat

It was warm.
But it was a good warm.
People were talking - and drinking.
There was afterglow.

Monday, March 10, 2014

799. Miscalculation

"Your fuel light is on," he said.
"It's just a test drive," she replied.
And so they went.
She was describing how many cds the cd player held when their rescuer arrived.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

798. Better

The next day was a little better.
So was the next.
It went on and on and on like that until he stopped counting.
After awhile, things didn't seem quite so bad anymore.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

797. Particle Physics

The universe is made up of particles.
Sure, there are the regular sort: Quarks, Leptons, Gluons - the whole damn mess of creation.
But, there are other sorts: Luck, Hope, Joy - that stuff matters too.
It was the second sort she was trying to attract.

Friday, March 7, 2014

796. Crush

She could feel the crushing depths of the sea closing in on her.
As she sank, she could feel her body collapsing under the pressure.
It occurred to her that she was dreaming.
She opened her eyes to find a cat, anxious for breakfast, sitting on her chest.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

795. Clarity

The window was dark as soot.
Two heads were visible - one from either side.
They were looking.
They were looking for somewhere that sold windshield washer fluid.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

794. Springhill

The town dissolved before their eyes.
It wasn't that hard really.
All it took was a single council vote.
The rest of it was handled by municipal functionaries.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

793. The More You Know

Jesse's on caffeine pills.
Carlton bought a gun.
Someone tried pot.
Oh the humanity. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

792. Fish monocle

She was confused.
Was it a monocle made of fish or made for fish?
The suggestion box had been up a week.
This was the only suggestion.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

791. Taste tester

The advertisement was tiny - not more than a square inch or so.
It's content was bizarre.
It sought a taste tester - for a waste water treatment facility.
No qualifications were required.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

790. Shrinking

Vegetables were neatly arranged in pyramids on the counter.
It had taken no time at all.
In a weird way, he was proud of it.
He'd been on a diet for - watch check - four hours.

Friday, February 28, 2014

789. Tests of Manhood

Two men sit across from one another at a table.
There is a faded plate in front of each of them.
On each plate is a giant raw onion.
These two men are going to eat raw onion until one of them capitulates.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

788. Marginal improvements

Each year, there is a specific allotment of superpowers to be doled out.
The nature and potency of these powers are decided by lottery.
Marian has drawn the last number.
Her power is a profound skill at alphabetizing LaserDiscs.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

787. Fill

His left hit the snare; his right the cymbal.
Both feet walloped a bass drum.
He sat at the lights waiting for a green - lost in a song in his head.
Music'll do that to you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

786. Hammettville

Everyone spoke in clipped tones - threats and accusations.
On streets, in the shops, they eyed one another suspiciously.
Shootouts were not uncommon.
The man who tended to the "Welcome to Hammettville" sign was constantly adjusting the population numbers.

Monday, February 24, 2014

785. Elements of style

As the stairs rose, the discarded articles of women's clothing grew more risque.
His first thoughts were of lust - a thousand letters to adult magazines began this way.
Then, an element of panic set in - so did plenty of horror movies.
He paused briefly at the bottom of the stairs, weighing lust and panic.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

784. Evidence

The streets were wet with evidence.
The snow banks sagged like old men.
The wind carried the insinuation of change.
Spring was coming.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

783. Modern Mysticism

Thomas straightened the crooked picture.
It went immediately askew, so he fixed it again.
Things went on this way for the entirety of a rainy Saturday afternoon.
This new Invisible Man was a dick.

Friday, February 21, 2014

782. Grant us the wisdom

She knelt alone in the family chapel.
The rough wooden pews felt familiar against her knees.
She prayed to the Virgin Mother for the same thing as always.
"Holy Mary, Mother of God," she whispered, "grant us that we might not get that which we want most."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

781. The Sandwich Artist

He left a trail of sweet honey mustard in his wake.
Each house he burgled was relieved only of the building blocks of a single sandwich.
The Sandwich Artist, they called him - a master thief.
When they caught him, his face was covered in mayonnaise.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

780. The Summer Kitchen

We rented the cottage every year for six years - or seven.
It had a tiny kitchen that faced the lake and the afternoon sun.
An old radio was permanently propped above the sink so it could find the oldies station.
I wonder if that tiny kitchen is still there, facing the lake and the afternoon sun.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

779. The blues

Little by little, her eyesight changed until she saw everything in shades of blue.
The further her condition progressed, the more she could feel the sorrows of people around her.
One day, she decided to help a little girl who was sobbing so hard she'd gone almost cobalt.
A tiny pixel of yellow appeared at the bottom edge of her vision.

Monday, February 17, 2014

778. Windsor

There were a dozen or so ties hanging on the closet door - all tied.
They all had a slightly beaten down look, like they'd been that way for a long time.
He kept them tied on purpose.
Each of them was a memory and he wasn't prepared to give them up.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

777. In Alligators

The accident on the river had been horrific.
It was a tragic end to her safari.
She should have shuffled off this mortal coil by now.
But, she could feel her parts calling from the bellies of a dozen beasts.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

776. Mates and orphans

It looked like a tiny aardvark.
They became quite attached to having the odd little beast around.
All it cost them was an occasional wool sock which it found delicious.
The tiny aardvark thing would wander here and there, eating socks and leaving tiny balls of yarn in its wake.

Friday, February 14, 2014

775. Two for one

Two identical men walked into a room.
Only one of them exited.
Two more followed them and then two more and two more and two more.
The clones were coming home.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

774. The leading edge of the universe

The four of them sat in the dark.
The only light came from the rhythmic blinking of their instruments.
Outside the ship was only spectacular, inky nothingness.
If their calculations were correct, the expanding universe would catch up to them on Tuesday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

773. The Pitch

Muriel's face was flushed with the lovechild of elation and terror.
She had intended to ask for something simple, a few thousand dollars.
But, in the moment, she'd been struck by inspiration and possessed of a silver tongue.
They said yes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

772. Timeshare

Each morning, his body felt like it had been in a boxing match.
That made little sense, given his most sedentary life.
No treatment - medical, radical, or traditional - helped.
His body was the nighttime vessel of a ghostly crime fighter.

Monday, February 10, 2014

771. Something about pitchforks

The last words he heard were something about pitchforks.
Then, it was all black.
From what he was told, the doctors did the best they could.
The nubs of metal looked like a crown of thorns.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

770. Have you come to raise the dead?

Have you come here to raise the dead?
Will you stir up the old echoes and listen to what they say?
There's nothing for you here.
It's just the long shadows of days gone by.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

769. Where do you keep the magic?

"Is this where you keep the magic?" asked the little boy.
He stood in the shop, twisting as he looked at the curiosities.
Surely, this was a place of magic.
"Here, my boy," answered the old man, pulling a tiny chest from underneath the counter.

Friday, February 7, 2014

768. Hostages

The farm was fifty miles from town.
That was no distance to walk at night.
He drove his spade into the ground for the hundredth time.
She'd buried his keys somewhere on the grounds.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

767. The man who takes the stairs

Behind them, stairs were disappearing with a soft 'pop'.
They raced up, three at a time.
Their only hope was to reach the top.
The man there would be waiting for them.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

766. Why don't we have two belly buttons?

Why don't we have two belly buttons?
Would a dinosaur eat pizza?
How fast would you have to flap your arms to fly?
And they drove like that, the man and the boy, for hours.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

765. Because sometimes...

The street was empty.
Then it wasn't.
People were dancing in unison with a wild and joyful abandon.
Sometimes the universe smiles at us.

Monday, February 3, 2014

764. In space

It was his second day on the alien spacecraft.
Two days ago, he'd jumped at the chance for an adventure in the far reaches of the galaxy.
Now, he needed to - Ahem - use the bathroom.
The conversation that followed - detailing the mechanics of producing energy in Earthlings - left the ship's pilot scratching its head with three insectoid hands.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

763. Young Americans

The August evening was flatter than piss on a plate.
A boy dragged a length of extension cord behind him as he climbed the fire escape.
Trailing him was a girl carrying two folding lawn chairs. 
The two of them spent the night on the roof listening to Bowie songs bounce off the sky.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

762. Mindy has stormy eyes

She stood on the shore, waves lapping at her feet.
Her hands reached out to the wide expanse of the Pacific.
She could feel the water deep down in her bones.
The waves grew more violent.

Friday, January 31, 2014

761. 30 ragged minutes

They sat across the table from one another.
Neither said a word.
She spoke first.
She had taken the money; all of it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

760. Up

Two oh six.
Three fourteen.
Four twenty-six.
It was going to be a long day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

759. Freak weather

A rabbit emerged from its warren to find the ground covered in snow - a perfect winter scene.
The rabbit was brown.
The snow was fake.
They were filming a Christmas movie in August.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

758. The next big thing

The professor pulled a pocket knife from her lab coat.
With it, she cut another notch into her lab bench.
She cupped her chin in her hands and watched the shape growing in the test tube.
This next creature would succeed where the rest failed.

Monday, January 27, 2014

757. Truth serum

He was secured at the wrists and ankles.
Despite his struggles, the syringe delivered its payload into his arm.
They started asking for answers.
Then an idea struck him - he told them a truth.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

756. I'm sorry to bother you at work

There were spiders in with the fruits and veggies.
Everything that was once frozen was melting.
The tags had been ripped off every mattress and pillow.
On the manager's desk was a note: "This is only the beginning."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

755. What happened by candlelight

The sputtering candlelight gave the aura of a church.
She crept upstairs with murder on her mind.
Peering at the crude map she'd drawn, she edged down the hall.
At the last room, she nudged the door open, knife glinting in the candlelight.

Friday, January 24, 2014

754. Spice of life

Pride is an interesting thing.
It can spur people to greatness.
It can also lead them to profound stupidity.
Like these two idiots; cramming habaneros into their faces until one of them breaks.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

753. The Olde Fashioned Soda Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

It started in 1961.
The contract with the CIA was technically a memorandum of understanding.
They would add trace amounts of a special additive to each soda.
It was part of something called: Mind Control Experiment 2015.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

752. Tumbling

Her key slid in with a familiar tension.
She flicked her wrist - the same flick that had worked a thousand times before.
This time, the key snapped in her hand.
She could feel the warmth of the house through the door's tiny window.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

751. Z

It was a deep-down-in-the-bones kind of tired.
Her pulse drummed against her eyelids as she pressed both palms to her face.
It was too much.
She hadn't slept - not one minute - since 1984.

Monday, January 20, 2014

750. State

One day it wasn't there. 
Then one day, it was.
A new island had risen off the coast of New Jersey.
The lead man on the lead dinghy was holding the Stars and Stripes to plant in the sand.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

749. Flames of rebellion

The safest spot was down by the south end of the gymnasium.
Teachers never checked there.
One by one, they drifted back behind the dumpsters.
They smoked stolen cigarettes lit with wooden matches.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

748. Asymmetry

The bathroom is freezing and smells of shit immemorial.
But, it is a place for hiding - and for hoping.
He still has little expectation of either.
In another life, he is in church bathed in the warm glow of the Father's love.

Friday, January 17, 2014

747. Selenography

The sound systems were identical - down to the angle of the speakers.
Instructions had been downloaded from the Internet and meticulously annotated.
Dark Side of the Moon was cued up.
As the first notes played, they synced perfectly with the other copy of Dark Side of the Moon.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

746. There is a book

There is a book that is different for every person who reads it.
Each person's story is an adventure unto itself.
Except for one woman.
For her, the book is empty.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

745. Something in the air

For the first time in a long time, there were birds in the sky.
They were just there, wheeling from thermal to thermal.
There were birds in the sky again.
And that was sort of a hopeful thing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

744. Vice

Professor Simon was writing a book on the history of smoking.
It was to be the most exhaustive study ever carried out.
She visited even the most obscure of libraries.
Unbeknownst to her, the affluent thief was always one step ahead.

Monday, January 13, 2014

743. Mittens The Harbinger

The cat was yowling incessantly but no one was listening.
It was a warning.
The space creatures were coming.
What stupid, stupid humans.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

742. Joints

The pain in his hand was worse today.
It didn't used to be like this.
He was stronger once.
We're all just tin men, rusting apart at the seams.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

741. Of note

It came from the thrift store on Main Street.
The jacket was well worn with thick sheep's wool for lining.
A faint hint of old smoke clung to it - perhaps from a pipe.
Every single pocket was stuffed with handwritten notes.

Friday, January 10, 2014

740. Really good at math

There were thirty-seven simple variables.
Those variables were the key to unlocking the wormhole at the edge of our solar system.
That discovery changed everything.
It was made by a twelve-year-old girl named Susan.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

739. In Ink

His back told the story of four years in a prison in Beirut.
The length of both arms - from shoulder to fingertip - hid scars from a lifetime of battles.
His left leg was a catalog of souls lost and remembered.
There was a bare spot above his navel that he was saving for his final adventure.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

738. Jingle Jangle

"Jingle jangle," the old woman would cackle as she shook a battered leather pouch full of rat bones and  coins.
Night after night, she'd slink through the city in service of a sinister purpose.
She was the final piece in a plot a thousand years old.
The only person who could stop her wouldn't be born for another hundred years.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

737. Buy one, get one

The card was battered from a month in his wallet.
Ordinarily, he'd have thrown it out, but his local coffee shop was offering a promotion.
He was going to get his money's worth.
With the purchase of a mere sixteen thousand and eighty medium lattes, he'd be the proud owner of a stingray farm (stingrays included).

Monday, January 6, 2014

736. This is Denver

Welcome to Denver.
We grow fruit - oranges and melons of every sort.
People skied here once, but not anymore.
This is Denver. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

735. Music in the walls

Normally, the company of the television would have drowned it out.
But, on this particular morning, I was up early reading.
The crinkly music sounded like something from a music box.
My elderly neighbour was listening to old sadness or old joy - maybe both at her age.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

734. The 31 names for God

He drew the ancient shape of the covenant in the dirt.
Taking ash from the fire, he traced lines of protection on his body.
There were many foes set against him but he was strong with the Lord.
He picked up his war hammer and faced the darkness.

Friday, January 3, 2014

733. The Second Coming of Matthew Lazarus

Life crept back to him slowly.
Then, it came all at once.
The Eternal Stakeholders weren't ready to let him rest - not yet.
He was back and he had work to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

732. 6 X 6

By the time they realized their mistake, it was too late.
Even as a dozen shovels bit into the dirt, they knew.
Six feet down, they found the stone-cold body of a six-foot woman.
The inside of the pine coffin was ragged with scratches.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

731. Wet wool

The new snow crunched underneath her boots as she walked toward the lake.
Her father's rifle banged against her shoulder with each step.
At the lakeshore, she stopped and breathed moist, warm air through her mitten.
She scanned the sky, hoping for the season's last geese.