“The Muses Don’t Like Mocha”

The two dead men materialized in the coffee shop in the pause between moments. It wasn’t their first visit here, nor their second, nor their hundredth. Not because this is where history changed, though it was. Been there, done that, saved the world, tried the mocha.


They were here because of her.

Corner table. Mousy brown hair. Laptop covered with activism stickers sitting mere inches from her nose as she typed, furiously, as if there were too many words and not enough fingers.

The rest of the place was busy, but not this corner. It was as if she emitted an aura of repulsion – people walking past the table took a step away without thinking about it. Sound even seemed to dissipate quicker, something the men noticed as they pushed through the aura and sat down at the table. Maybe it was even dimmer.

She kept typing for a few seconds, then slowly registered the interlopers and stopped, a grimace twisting her face.

Straightening her back, she fixed them with a cold stare. “Gentlemen, if you are hoping to find some company for the evening, that’s not why I’m here. I have an important –“

“Important book to write.”

“We know.”

“That’s why we’re here. Well, again. We tried this before.”

“Before? What before? Tried what?”

The dead men looked at each other, then back to her.

“Look, do you want to live? I mean, past tonight?”


#ThursThreads, week 481


“How I Learned I Wasn’t Afraid of Heights”

It wasn’t a question of whether or not I’d die that night. Between the poison, the curse, and the score of women with crossbows surrounding the lean-to, the only mysteries were when it’d happen and how.

I sure wished I’d had a way of getting Marilee out, though. She hadn’t asked to get stuck with me tracking her brother through the mountains. She hadn’t asked for him to hook up with a witch who cursed me when I slit his throat while she rode him. And she sure as hell hadn’t asked me to cook her dinner when I had a fire and she didn’t and the snow started to fall. How was I to know that the purple berries that grew on the flutterbushes here were poison when the red ones back home were an aphrodisiac?

What can I say? Marilee had one hell of an ass.

And one hell of a mind. She just smirked at me while I ate. Then she told me why I was the one feeling fluish and she wasn’t lifting her skirt.

Aw, hell. Every man dies sometime, right?

But then I heard the yelling outside. And I knew that Lane and her band wouldn’t care that Marilee wasn’t really with me, and that she’d watched me kill myself. Well, except for the actually dying part.

Of course, the thing that surprised me most the whole damn night was when Marilee sprouted wings.

And glowed.

Turned out that dying wasn’t on the agenda.

250 words


ThursThreads, week 469


Spitting dirt, I wiped my face and grimaced. This wasn’t the first time I’d woken up with a faceful of mud, but this time was different. I didn’t belong on the ground, I belonged under it. 

Then I heard that laugh. 

“You thought you could escape from me that easily?”

I spat a chunk of grass and worms in her direction. It matched her soul. “Easily? Do you have any idea how much work it took for me to get that fool to kill me?”

“That was your fault. You’re the one that convinced him that your very existence was the key to his remaining on the throne.”

I climbed the rest of the way out of my grave and looked at what should have been the hole in my chest. She’d learned a new trick. “That was before ‘Til death do you part.’”

“Quit whining. We’re parted, okay? Your oath has been fulfilled, you are a free man before queens and gods.” She reached out a hand to help me up. 

“Why am I back then?” And why did the touch of her hand on mine get me so excited? Hadn’t I learned that lesson the hard way?

“Because He’s back. And that oath binds you from beyond the veil.”


#ThursThreads, week 468 – 9th anniversary!


“Past is Prologue”

Before the door slides fully open, the memories flood in. The smell is the trigger – it takes me back, and in an instant I’m 12 again. Lonely and afraid, on a world that wasn’t my own. Home wasn’t safe, so I ran to the first escape hatch. In my case, it was the cargo spaceport with lax security.

The same instinct that made me run was my shield in my new life. I knew which predators would just take what they wanted and leave and which would demand more than I could give. I knew who in the “ask no questions” labor market would give me tools to climb the ladder and who would kick me when I was down.

It turned out the skills I built in this dark place were exactly the ones I needed for a life in politics. After all, the mob and the Senate were pretty much the same thing. Not that I stopped at something as prosaic as having a seat at the table. Soon, I had the only seat.

I was running again now, but this time there’d be no escape hatch. I’d done too much to too many people. My instincts kicked in before the assassins showed up, and I had just enough friends left to get me back here.

The place I’d hid when I first arrived was still here, though I no longer fit in such a small space. I curled up outside and fell asleep, dreaming of home.

250 words


#ThursThreads, week 466


Anniversary Dance

The tears stung his eyes as he looked into the setting sun and waited. The darkness would bring the passing of one year and the beginning of the next. Not that it made much of a difference, one second was much like another.

The gods knew he would never be a prince, not after what he’d done, but a man? Could he just be a man, like so many he passed on his journey?

He saw them as they went about their lives, eating a meal or building a house or sitting with a family, and he wondered if they’d accept him as one of their own. If he opened a bottle of wine or pushed a cart of stone up a narrow, twisted path, could he spend an hour, a day, a week as one of them?

Probably. Likely. The people he passed had trusting smiles and hearty laughs. He thought they’d welcome him with the proverbial open arms if he approached them as one of them. As just a man.
But what if they knew what he’d done? What if he told his tale in its entirety – not just the good parts filled with caring and kindness. But the other parts, the ones that defined him? The ones with betrayal and anger and dismay?

What would they say then?

Better not to ask. He set his pack on his back and walked on, not a prince, not a man, but an outcast, just like everyone else.

248 words


#ThursThreads, week 447

The sky had gone from grey to purple-black as we’d sat on the bench, but neither one of us had spoken yet. Sometimes there’s too many words, and sometimes there’s too few, and sometimes both are true at the same time. I wanted to tell her everything, but I didn’t know how to start. I watched the breath leave my mouth in clouds and tried not to cry.

“Do you know who it is?” I’d never heard her voice that flat, as if she’d had to turn herself into an automaton to speak without screaming.

“Well, uh, I do now.” I paused. “I didn’t at the time.”

“How could you not have known? Didn’t it matter at all? Or were you so desperate that you just leapt at the first one who happened by?” I would have been relieved to have heard anger in her voice, but the automaton still had control.

“No. Yes. It…it wasn’t like that.” How could I explain in a way that she would understand? That I’d known what I was doing, and why I shouldn’t, and still did it anyway? That something as simple as a glance meant that nothing else mattered? That even though it was a choice, it wasn’t?

Her questions hung in the air like a barrier between us. I had to tell her, I had to say something. But what could I say that would make a difference?

Eventually, she got up and walked away. There was nothing more to say.


FireIceFlash, week 19/19


It took twenty lifetimes to build, did the shrine. Each life, as I grew weaker, I knew I would be reborn to continue the work, and I never felt any sense of loss. One day I would cease breathing, the angels would come and resurrect me, and the next I would be a young woman, born with the intimate knowledge of what the work required. The angels didn’t need to understand my purpose to know why they helped me, only that it was in their nature to do so. That I was the only human within a hundred thousand light years mattered not at all. That they had never visited Earth even less so. I knew why I toiled, what my purpose was, why I had been created. And so, one bright morning under twin suns as I neared the end of my final lifetime, it was complete. The light was fading from my eyes, but not before I saw the portal open. Not before the first angel drew her scimitar. Not before I heard the first screams.


#FireIceFlash, week 18/19


“Seeing Beyond the Veil”

The old man knew he was dying, but still he smiled. He’d seen his wife go, two of his children, and one of his grandchildren.

Pain wracked his body, but still he smiled. It would be over shortly.

The light in his eyes grew dimmer each day, but still he smiled. He saw something no one else could see.

They’d be coming for him soon, as they had for the others.

He smiled as he thought of home, and the stars.

81 words
ice dragon – interstellar voyager


#FireIceFriday, week 16/19


The bones rattled over the flagstones, bouncing and tumbling until they came to rest. Joli raced over to take a look and raised her arms in triumph. “Double kata! Yes!”

Mok unfolded his limbs from where he sat on the stoop and strode slowly over to where she stood. Towering over her, he took in her face, the bones on the ground, and the clamoring onrush of spectators behind him without reaction. As he waited without speaking, the tumult around him shifted from excitement, to unease, to silence. When even the birds ceased their chirping, he spoke.

“Joli, you have won our little game. Per our agreement, I shall release your child from my dungeons. Is there anything you wish to say before my compensation is collected?”


“Of course. You did not think I would give up such a valuable asset because you rolled a particular combination on the bones without something in it for myself, did you?”


“It matters not.” Mok placed a hand on her forehead and murmured words she did not understand.

“What have you done?”

“You will understand, one day. Take your daughter and go. Pray I do not see you again.”


#FireIceFlash, week 15/19


“For Unto Us”

They call to me.

The longer they’ve been dead, the louder their voices are. In a graveyard like this one, marked with primitive stones weathered beyond sharing any information, it’s deafening.

Hear me. A woman who died of an infection in her foot.

Hear me. A child who had been beaten by an abusive father.

Hear me. A village leader who’d died in her sleep after more than ninety years.

Trying to pick out one voice in the chorus while my brain was pounding required a dizzying effort, but I’d come here for a reason, and I couldn’t leave until I’d found them.

The dead didn’t leave this plane, they stayed trapped in a world where they couldn’t go anywhere or do anything except call out in agony to the rare living beings that can hear them.

I wasn’t drawn to the unjustly dead, the murdered or the tortured or those who suffered through an excruciating end. They were everywhere, and their pain could never be alleviated.

The one I was looking for was growing near. They were the most unique of all the dead.

The reborn.