#MenageMonday, week 48

Winner, Honorable Mention!


Even the granite was worn out, she thought. Each footfall rang throughout the valley as her boots crushed gravel into pieces of sand. They’d come to this place, where the signs had always been easiest to read, and the elders had sent her off alone to answer the only question that mattered anymore. In truth, she saw nothing here she hadn’t seen everywhere else, but how could she tell them that?

It had never been that hard, seeing the future, and she’d always wondered why everyone else couldn’t see what had always been so obvious to her. But the days of billions of humans were long gone, and the dozens of faces awaiting her return to camp were all that remained.

She had walked much longer than necessary, looking for the right thing to say. They’d ask her what the signs said of the future, and she would tell them “Nothing.” Let them think her gift had failed and castigate her as weak, she thought. They’d all be still as the stones over which she walked long before anyone would know she had told them the truth.

188 words



#MenageMonday, week 47

Winner, Honorable Mention!


Who woulda thought that Fox News would be the ones who broke the biggest story in human history? One minute it was “Obama to criminalize being white” and the next it was “Heaven Breaking Apart.” Between the news scrolling across the bottom of the screen and the ads at the top, I watched as St. Peter threw open the pearly gates to show god’s crumbling empire – clouds bumping into each other, angels molting, and the souls of all who were yet to be born crystalizing into matter, passing out of the celestial sphere and covering the earth in special snowflakes.

It wasn’t long before every two-bit saint was trying to make his or her way in this new world, and unfortunately for most, they didn’t have much in the way of marketable skills. Being a monk in 1522 doesn’t help you navigate the information superhighway. I could see that it was really starting to go downhill when I saw the ad on Craiglist. “For Sale: one soul, never used.” Clearly, I wasn’t going to be able to sit this one out forever. I didn’t invent the cosmic soul blizzard, I just have the best snow shovel.


Visual Dare #22 – Scattered

Okay, I know this is supposed to be 100 words, and this is 835. You edit it. I don’t want to.

Happy Birthday, Angela! (Late, sure. Breaking the rules, sure. Here anyway. 😉 )

The bedside light wasn’t bright, but like all things, it seemed unnecessarily harsh to her. She rolled over and tried to pull the covers over her head, but they wouldn’t move. He knew her too well, and had grabbed on tight before flipping the switch. “What?”

Her voice was flat, emotionless. She’d spent her anger already, lashing out at fate for months, and didn’t even cry anymore. Though she ate and dressed and went to her new job, it was like living with a dead thing. It broke his heart to see what she was becoming, but he knew that heartbreak led to resentment, and resentment led to bad decisions. He’d already felt his heart leap at the smile of a woman at work, and understood that it was time. He had to help her save herself or one day it would all be over.

“C’mon. I’ve got something to show you. On the roof.”

“I hate the roof. Blacktop and tar. Smog. Nothing grows there. Nothing would want to grow there.”

“I know. Get up.” Getting out of bed was the last thing she wanted to do, but she knew he wouldn’t stop. She couldn’t bear to hear the gentleness in his tone, or see the ache in his eyes. What hurt her the most was not that she was broken, but that her weaknesses were going to consume him before they were done. She’d had a dream that he’d met someone else, someone who hadn’t been shunned by life itself, and alongside her fear was hope. Maybe his life wouldn’t end just because of her.

She slipped out of bed and put on her slippers, ignoring his outstretched hand. Shuffling down the hall to the door of their basement apartment, she was gripped by a sudden panic. Would he push her off the roof? Had he finally had too much? And what if he did, would that really be so bad?

The elevator in this building reeked of mildew and dust, and creaked as it took them up to the top floor. They walked out to the door marked “Roof Access,” and he paused.

“Close your eyes. Please.” Oh, god. He was. He was going to kill her up here. She trembled as she took his hand and followed him out into the cold. The tears flowed easily now. Maybe it was all for the best. The blacktop was broken and uneven, but his hand was steady and led her carefully to his chosen spot.

“I…” He paused. She could hear the trepidation in his voice. She wanted to reassure him, to let him know that she was okay with this, but couldn’t make the words come. So she waited. When he started again, his voice was stronger. “I know. You don’t think I understand, but I do. It’s why I married you. I’ve never known anyone as connected to life, to living things, the way you were. You weren’t just a farmer, or a horticulturalist. You didn’t plant seeds and watch them grow, they became part of you. And then the doctor said that the reason you were in such horrific pain  was that you’d become allergic to pollen and that the only way to keep you alive was to take you away to a place you’d never have to see a flower again. So we moved here, but I knew that part of you never did, not really. It’s buried back on the farm, in that garden you loved so much. That couldn’t work, not in the long run. You without a garden isn’t you.

“I couldn’t live like that anymore. And you sure can’t.” He moved around behind her, put his hands on her hips, and guided her up a step. She heard him take a deep breath. “Open your eyes.”

She thought she’d see the street so many floors below her, and reflexively reached out to balance herself. But there was no street. There was a garden, although not a garden like any she’d ever seen before. It was intricate, and lovely, and full of so much life that it took her by surprise when she realized nothing in this garden was organic. The soil was gravel and asphalt, crumbled and broken and somehow loamy. And the flowers. Cans. Wire. Broken-down bits of machinery. He must have spent weeks and weeks up here, she knew. For the first time, she didn’t see this as the detritus of death, but arranged like this, there was a beauty that she hadn’t believed could exist in such a place.

The center of the garden was his masterpiece. He’d collected hundreds of shoes, in colors across the rainbow and arranged them in explosions of color no botanical garden could boast. And in bringing this rooftop to life, he’d restored hers to her. She turned to him and embraced him fiercely. He gently kissed the top of her head, and she could feel the dampness from the tears running down his cheeks.

“Happy birthday.”


#MenageMonday, week 46

Jennifer pulled the CRV into the driveway and turned off the engine. As had become habit lately, she looked out the window, scanning the skies before opening the door. Nothing. She still had a few more minutes.

Walking around to the tailgate, she raised it up and was reaching in to grab the plastic bags when a movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention. It wasn’t coming from above, but rather from across the street, her neighbor Bernice peeking out from her boarded up (but apparently not nailed shut) windows. Jennifer felt that same pang of regret she did every day coming home, stocking up her underground shelter. She knew Bernice would never survive, not shielded by plywood, duct tape, and prayers, but there was only so many lives one room could support, and she’d only be condemning everyone in there to a slow death.

Sighing, she grabbed the last bundle of Diet Dew, closed the door, and went down the stairs. Behind her, she could her Bernice screaming. “They’re here!” Resisting the urge to see what the invasion ships looked like, Jennifer ran down the steps and hit the autolock. Time to get this apocalypse started.


Visual Dare #21 – Odd Couple

“This is the worst party ever, Mr. Jangles.”

“I know, Squawky.”

“You told me there would be lots of chicks here.”

“I did.”

“I was totally gonna get some tail tonight.”

“I’m sure you were.”

“And you were going to score yourself a nice p-”

“Don’t even say it! Show some class, fer heaven’s sake. Sometimes, I wonder why I haven’t eaten you.”

“You know I’m right. This whole place is full of stiffs.”

“Not everyone’s as cool as you are, Squawky.”

And that was the last time Mr. Jangles and Squawky went to a mixer at Memories Forever Taxidermy.


#MenageMonday, week 45

They’d waited millennia for conditions to be right. Not being able to move or interact with another living being not of their own kind made it especially challenging, and the thrill of finding out they were telepathic paled once they realized how each of their companions’ brands of evil sickened them. If it wasn’t for their desire to feed on living flesh, they each thought at one point or another, the first thing they’d do given the chance, would be to kill each other.

Tonight was definitely the night. The archaeologists had found the old legends, and some of them saw the stories for what they were – knowledge of how to harness power. Power that was more fundamental to the nature of existence than electricity or nuclear fusion, power that could rend a man’s soul from his body or make a distant star explode as an act of will. Those who understood the secrets kept their insights to themselves, but told edited versions of the stories to the masses, allowing them to learn the spells without attracting undue attention.

The Acolytes of Truth, as they asked to be known, had themselves waited generations for this night. They knew the exact second of moonrise, for it was at that moment they would reveal themselves to the world. A blue moon in February was a particularly rare occurrence, and none of them would be alive the next time the heavens aligned in their favor.

Placed in the gardens of a park just outside the city by an unwitting landscaper on the lookout for something unique to set apart her flowerbeds, the demons, trapped in metal exoskeletons for so many years, began to quiver. The time had come.

Raising their heads, the demons looked at the moon and felt her life-giving warmth. As one, they smelled the heat of living beings and moved to begin The Feed. The Acolytes were the first to be eaten, as it turned out the ability to release evil did not protect one from it. But they were far from the last, and soon the blue moon presided over a world of red.


Visual Dare #20 – Cascade

Though no water had flowed through the aqueduct for time beyond counting, the granite waterways were intact, sturdy as the day the first stones had been laid by beings long since vanished into the stars. The sun filled more and more of the sky, its deep red light casting shadows like bloodstains on the remnants of lost civilizations. The sky flickered, and flashed, as the sun announced to all who would look that its work was done. Its farewell gift to this world was a rush of plasma over granite, echoing days of yore as it consumed the world entire.