Monday Mixer, week 1


My first post in the new Monday Mixer contest, run by @Klingorengi

Enter, if you dare!

The sand was wet, and hard under his feet. He crested the dune, steeling himself against the tears he thought would come, but stayed dormant. The seashore was always her favorite place, and he hadn’t known how to come back. In his head, he’d composed detailed arguments trying to justify his absence. He imagined her across from him, at the corner table in Jonathan Livingston Albatross, her favorite cafe, listening to him go on about some topic or another. She’d sip her tea, and nod at all the right places, and then when he was done, she’d pause, smile, and call him pedantic. They’d argue, with passion but no anger, and later in bed, she’d call him pedantic again, during another moment of passion. The tears came now, and he cried out into the wind.

She cried with him, and set her wings for the long flight out to sea.


Visual Dare #27 – Up

“I don’t understand, Papa. Why do we have to tear him down?”

“Because that’s our place, son. I know you like him, but he’s not one of us. For every one of them that gets up, there’s one fewer spot for us. Don’t you see? It’s for you. Someday, your kids.”

The boy thought on that. “It seems mean. Momma said being mean is wrong.”

“What’s wrong is when one of them becomes prideful and thinks he’s above us. It’s not right. It’d be mean to let him stay there.”

“Okay, Papa. I guess you’re right. I’ll vote for Romney.”


#MenageMonday, week 52 – the last one!

Winner, Judge’s Pet!


He looked over at her, his face screwed into his best attempt at a soulful expression. “I’m glad you are here with me, Sam. Here, at the end of all things.”

She paused for a moment, and then guffawed, reaching out to slap his arm. “You dork! You…are a complete bastard! You’ve been saving that up since the night we met, haven’t you?” Her grin belied her angry words. “And keep your eyes on the road, you psycho. This is our last day on Earth, let’s not spend it in a ditch.”

“As… you… wish… I am glad, though.”

“I know.” She sighed. “It still doesn’t seem real, y’know? It can’t all be coming to an end, can it?”

“I ran the numbers myself. The asteroid’s too big, and we’re too in its way. It’s going to hit southeast of Kyoto at 9:17. The impact…” He knew when he was lecturing, and this wasn’t the time. “Yeah. I know what you mean. I wanted to spend forever with you. I just didn’t know that forever was only twenty years.”

She reached out and took his hand, both resting on the stick shift. He’d always loved how they could just sit silently together, but not tonight. He had so many things to say, and he hated that he wouldn’t be able to tell her everything. So he started babbling.

“I guess this is called a Kurama fire festival. Some of the lab guys are from Japan, and they set this up out in the canyon. It’s supposed to help our souls pass from this world. With seven billion of us going at once, we need all the help we could get. They’ve timed the biggest fires to start at impact. We’ll have a few more hours, but it’ll be dead Earth spinning.”

“That is a singularly ugly phrase. You’re going to use it twenty times tonight, aren’t you?”


She saw a sign up ahead, the first one they’d passed for miles. “Hey, stop a minute. I need to pee.”

“At a gun store?”

“NRA freaks have bladders too.” She smiled. “Maybe it’s about time I learned to shoot a gun, don’t you think? I mean, I can’t imagine they’ll be obsessive about background checks tonight.”

“Probably not. Get me one too – that Zombie Max sounds pretty sweet for an apocalypse gun.”

She pulled the handle and turned to step out of the car. It was hard watching her go. Too much was unsaid. “Hey, Sam?”

“What? I gotta go, you know me.”

“I do. I just wanted to say…yes.”

“Yes, what?”

“Yes, I have been waiting to use that line since the night we met. You were so beautiful, and I’d been drinking, and it was everything I could do not to start quoting Tolkien at you. I am such a dork. I…”

“Yes you are. But you’re mine.” She paused. “Just swing over there by that bush. Who needs a gun when I’ve got you and fire and forever?”


#5MinuteFiction, week 122

October third was a Friday that year, which made Halloween a Friday. I’ve always been good at remembering that kind of thing, since the third was my birthday. I was going to a “Bones and Cones” party – the hostess was odd, but everyone had to bring some sort of meat to share and an ice cream dish, homemade preferred.

The skeleton outside the front door didn’t scare me off when I arrived, covered with Rocky Road, Pistachio, and cherry sauce as it was.

By cherry sauce, I mean blood, of course. I told you she was odd.


Visual Dare #26 – Eclipse

Another story that does not meet the 100 word guidelines. Sorry. But it wanted me to write it.

“Father, why do the winds blow?”

The King of the Air was gifted with four beautiful daughters. Such was his esteem for them that he would grant no man the boon of their hands in marriage if he could not prove himself to be an honest and true man. He brought all of his daughters to his throne room and gave each of them a special mirror.

“To my most constant daughter, the West Wind, whom I see every morning, I give this mirror. In it, a man will see his reflection as he would in a pool of water, unaltered by ripple or wave.”

“To my youngest daughter, the South Wind, I give this mirror. In it, a man will not see himself, but as you are warm and sweet and the harbinger of summer, he will see himself as those who love him see him.”

“To my eldest daughter, the North Wind, I give this mirror. In it, a man will not see himself, but as you are cold and bring about the death that is winter, he will see himself as his enemies see him.”

“To my most reclusive daughter, the East Wind, whom I see on the rarest of occasions, I give this mirror. In it, a man will not see himself, but he will see himself as he is in his noblest dreams.”

He then bid each of his daughters to travel the world, letting each man gaze into her mirror as he will. “When you find the man who sees the same image in each of your mirrors, you will know you have found a man honest and true enough to bind your lives to. I will grant him my blessings, and he will be the new King of the Air, ruling with you by his side.”

And so the winds we feel each day are the passing of the King’s daughters continuing their search. Since no man can meet the King’s impossible task, his rule will last forever, and his daughters will belong to no man but him.

That, my son, is why the winds blow.


Behind the Curtain Flash Fiction Contest, #btcurtain

“Sixty seconds to heliopause, Commander.”

“Thank you.” She clicked off her headset and took a moment to breathe. The viewscreens showed nothing special about the virtually empty space ahead, but in less than a minute, she’d join a group of explorers schoolchildren would learn about for generations. Just as she’d marveled at Magellan and Armstrong, they’d hear stories of the first person to leave the solar system. The seven other people on the Witten deserved their own accolades, of course, but history didn’t play out that way.

They’d come a long way since that day four years ago when the President introduced them to the world. “At long last, mankind will pierce the curtain of night and we will take our place amongst the stars.” Poetic words, as come from the lips of all politicians, but she had never been able to get that imagery out of her mind. As a child, she’d always been the one to peek behind curtains, around corners, through windows, driven by her curiosity to make seen what had been hidden. This journey was the ultimate trip into the unknown, and as the timer ticked to zero, she grinned, feeling like the luckiest eight year old ever.

Until the screams.

The ship lurched forward, which it wasn’t supposed to be able to do while the Boost was engaged, bouncing about like an airplane encountering turbulence. But there wasn’t supposed to be anything out here to cause turbulence! Her equilibrium lost, her stomach emptied. She quailed at the sight of her vomit mixing with the blood of her second-in-command, his head cracked open when it bounced off the ceiling, and struggled to bring the ship back under her control.

It went on forever, until it stopped.

She’d practiced assessing chaotic situations for years as part of command training, and she rapidly absorbed the horrors surrounding her. Only one of her crew was still living, barely. She unstrapped from her seat, unable to let him die alone, without comfort. For an instant, his eyes cleared, and she saw his terror, as if reflected from her own. He struggled to speak the last words she’d hear anyone say.

“They’re all gone.”

As he died, it was her turn to scream.

It wasn’t until ten long years passed, and the return trip to Earth, that she learned the truth. She was behind the curtain, and she truly was alone.

400 words


#MenageMonday, week 50

Winner, Honorable Mention!


The sea was calm now, but not quiescent. Having won the most recent battle so thoroughly, it knew that it could wait, gathering its strength, until we forgot its power and rebuilt, and it could tell us again the folly of our ways. The sturdiest structures of man, monuments to hubris and dreams, had been no match for the tsunami, and neither had been the lies on which I’d lived my life.

I was alone on the beach today. I had no life to rebuild, not like the rest of them. My name, my job, my feelings – all had been a myth, designed for one goal. She didn’t understand, of course. She couldn’t have understood why, when the wave was bearing down on us, my concern wasn’t for her, or for our children. Why I rushed to an abandoned factory in an old beach town, ignoring her frantic calls and texts. It wasn’t how I’d have chosen to break the news to her that she had married someone not of her world, but the Portal had to be protected, and even my magic was no match for the sea.


Visual Dare #25 – Forgotten?

When last she saw it, the Earth was shrinking as she moved further and faster than anyone before. She knew they’d be returning to a very different planet than they’d left. Transmissions from Earth were impossible under the Boost Drive, and the effects of time dilation meant that over 250 years had passed down there, while ship time hadn’t cracked ten. She hadn’t known that, out of the eight who had set out on the Witten, she’d the only one seeing this image. Or that at some point in the last quarter-millennium, the entire human race would have moved on.


Visual Dare #24 – Frustrated

“Hey, buster! Watch where you put your hands! That’s prime quality beef you’re molesting.”

“I’m not exactly living the dream back here, missy. You know, if you hadn’t gotten us stuck in this reality, we wouldn’t have to try to get you onto this stupid cable car.”

“And if you knew the difference between a newt and a salamander, I wouldn’t be the cover girl for Milkcow Monthly!”

“How are you going to drive this thing, even if we do get you on? The controls hoof-compatible?”

“I do have some tricks left up my sleeve. You just watch and see.”


#MenageMonday, week 49

The Feast of St. Tormund was a raucous one, but this year’s festivities had been especially lively. The queen had just given birth to a son, and the king was celebrating as all men do, boasting of the conquests he would make in the name of the new prince. He and his men had been more than a little drunk when his boat had set off, however, and the only conquests he’d made before returning to home were a collection of tiny sculls the massive warship had run through while leaving port.

Surrounding the ship, the men pointed at the royal crest, a gargantuan skull cleaved in two by a bloody axe, which was now surrounded by bits of sail and wood from the craft which had, until recently, been training vessels for the kingdom. A lesser king would have taken out his embarrassment on others, but as the smirks turned to guffaws, and the guffaws to belly laughs, he joined in. Years later, belly full of ale, he was the one to tell the story of how he became King Scull Splitter. “What can I do,” he was heard to say, “let my greatest triumph go untold?”