Menage Monday, week 2×05


I hadn’t been dead long, and blood oozed from the scrapes and cuts I received as he dragged my naked body across the forest floor. He was planning on putting me in a hole that he hoped would keep me hidden long enough that I wouldn’t be found until long after he was dead himself, but staying hidden was really not an option, not anymore. I’d been in hiding long enough, long enough for him to find me, long enough for him to do what he wanted to me, long enough for him to finish draining a life from me after he’d had his fun. He didn’t know that I wasn’t, as a matter of fact, human, or that my kind could choose to come back after death if we felt that we hadn’t finished fulfilling our purpose in life. He didn’t know that I had access to powers that his human mind couldn’t even conceive of. It had hurt, what he had done to me, but until I felt that pain, I wasn’t sure what my purpose was, why I’d been given the gift of magic. I’d lived my life in hiding, ashamed of who I was. That life was no more, taken from me in a ramshackle cabin. My new life would be one of reparation and revenge. It would start with my attacker, but it would course throughout the world. Between one second and the next, I took the first breath of my new life and began.


#ThursThreads, week 336

“Nothing left in this one,” he said, crimson dripping from his lips. “Not anymore.”

I grinned. “Who’s next?”

“That’s the last of ’em.”

“The others are all empty?” I couldn’t keep the whine out of my voice. “But I’m so hungry.”

He put a hand on my shoulder, patting it paternalistically. “I remember my first night. Woke up after turning and devoured half a busload. Burped for, like, a full minute afterward. Never realized how much air you took in while sucking. Took me a while to refine my technique.

“Let’s go see if we can find you someone else to eat.”

“Yes, Master.” I didn’t know what to call him.

“I love when the new kids call me Master. Now, should we head towards fraternity row? Easy pickings there, but even we can get drunk off that blood. The hospital’s always too chaotic on Saturday nights. No basketball game, so the arena district will be dead.” He chuckled. “The wrong kind of dead.”

I just waited. All I wanted was some blood. I wasn’t picky. But he was in charge.

He pulled out his phone and started scrolling. “No. No. Maybe…no. No. Yes! That’s it. There’s a showing of Nosferatu at the Art tonight. Wanna go teach those posers a lesson or two?”

A dark room, dozens of warm bodies, and more than a little bloodlust? I nodded, hoping I wasn’t drooling.

It was going to take a while to get used to the fangs.


Menage Monday, week 2×04

The two men frog-marched their friend down the street and through the door.

“Alex here needs a tattoo!”

Alex fought to get away. “No, no. Please no. I’ll do it right next time, I promise!”

The tattoo artist looked up from the skull and crossbones she was doing and said, “You’ve got to get your friend in line or I’m not doing it. Against the law to tattoo someone against their will.”

“Oh, c’mon! He deserves it.”

“What did he do?”

“He didn’t vote. Said it didn’t matter who got elected.”

The tattoo artist nearly dropped her tool. “What a…” She paused and looked down at the rebellious teenager in front of her. “You’ll have to wait, sweetie. I’ve got to take care of this.”

Marching up to Alex, she grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him down with surprising strength. “You dumbass! Fuck the law, you’re getting done, and now.” Turning to his friends, “His forehead, I presume?”

“Damn straight.”

And that’s hope Alex spent the rest of his life with “Blame me, I didn’t vote” tattooed on his forehead.


Monster Mash 2018


Al (for short) the demon looked at the clock on the wall. Again. One minute had passed, just like the last time he’d checked. He didn’t know why the summons hadn’t come, but he was worried. The witch had called him – by name (which wasn’t Al, of course) – every Halloween at eight pm sharp for 76 years. When she started, she could barely have been called a witch. Fourteen if she was a day, stumbling over the ritual phrases time and time again until she got it right, spending hours getting the sigils and ingredients arranged just so. Al almost didn’t answer the call – she had used the wrong kind of wormwood oil – but he was curious about who had spent so much time and energy trying to summon him.

And Al was a curious demon. Curious in that he was curious about the worlds outside his own. The world of demons wasn’t one of fire and brimstone, as many humans imagined, and Al looked, mostly, human – as long as he kept his clothes and hat on. Some demons were all about the mayhem and torture, to be sure, but Al wanted to know whatever he could about people and places and things. So he went to see the witch that first night.

Melody had been flush with excitement and terror when Al showed up. She bowed to him with the requisite respect and then told him what she wanted him to do. Her brother’s number had been called for the draft and she was terrified. The war was so awful and she couldn’t bear to picture him cold in the night with people shooting at him. She wanted Al to find a way to end the war and protect her brother.

That wasn’t something within Al’s power. And he knew that any being with enough power to do something that massive would be a horror greater than the world had ever known. So he did what he could – he broke Melody’s brother’s leg so that he couldn’t go to war.

In the years to come, Al learned that humans could unleash horrors of their own and that maybe a demon lord would have been a better choice. He also was called back every year to help Melody with something. An overly-handsy boy at school. A boss who wouldn’t give her a promotion. A boyfriend who thought he had the rights to use his fists.

It wasn’t all violence, either. With his preternatural speed and strength, Al was useful for lots of tasks. Chopping up a tree that had fallen after a lightning strike. Moving a piano and a roll-top desk after her husband hurt his back. And eventually, just keeping an old woman company.

Al knew that the other demons would laugh at him if they saw him sipping tea with Melody, watching for trick-or-treaters and exchanging stories. She shared his penchant for curiosity, and she loved the stories he would share about this or that aspect of the demons’ world.

Al also knew that humans didn’t live for centuries, not like he would. And when the clock turned to 8:01, then 8:02, then 8:10, he began to fear the worst. But he couldn’t just go to her – the door between worlds couldn’t open, not even on Halloween, without her summons.

The time stretched on. An hour. Then two. And then he heard it. It wasn’t Melody’s voice, but it was a summons. He leapt through the portal thinking that he’d do whatever this person wanted and then see if he could find his friend. But when he got through the portal, he froze at the sight before him. Melody wasn’t there, but a young girl – about the same age as she’d been when Al had first been summoned – stood there in the pentagram, a photo clutched in her hands and tears streaming down her cheek.

“You came. I tried for so long. I didn’t know if I could. I didn’t.”

“Who are you, child?” Al’s voice boomed, though he boomed it as softly as he could, trying not to frighten the girl any more than he had to.

“Kaylee, sir. She was my great grandmother. Melody, I mean. She said you’d help me. When she was dy…dying.” Al saw that the picture in her hands was indeed that of his friend, and that the eyes of the girl in front of her were her great grandmother’s eyes.

Of course Al would help her. For Melody.

747 words



#ThursThreads, week 335


There is a theory, the king said, that every decision creates multiple universes, one for each possible choice. When you choose grape jelly over strawberry jam or orange marmalade for your breakfast toast, you create three universes – one where you enjoyed each flavor.

That’s silly, said the queen. That means there would be an infinite number of universes, some differentiated by things as insignificant as toast toppings and others by major choices, such as whether to start a war. Who, she said, would sort it all out?

Well no one, said the king. They would just all exist simultaneously.

All higgledy-piggeldy? The queen asked. That seems frightfully inconvenient.

Well it doesn’t affect anyone, you see, continued the king, because while they’re all out there, we only exist in one.

The others are all empty?

No, no. There are copies of us in each, each copy having followed a different path into a different universe. That’s what I was thinking about, this morning, that there must be billions of me out there, each living slightly different lives. I feel like maybe that’s what our dreams are, visitations from other universes where there are other versions of ourselves.

Have you learned anything from these other versions of you, asked the queen.

Not yet. All they do is glare at me, so I don’t know much about them. But they sure don’t seem to like me, said the king, who then started a war just to feel better about himself.


Menage Monday, week 2×03


From: Human Resources

Re: Daydreaming

Pursuant to the Employee Handbook section G subsection 9, you are permitted 15 minutes per eight-hour shift of unproductive daydreaming, as long as your thoughts are in accord with the approved list (see the Handbook for the list, updated weekly). You have been found in violation of the following:

  1. Unapproved topic – weapons. On August 13 and September 9, you pictured yourself as a World War I soldier. Remediation: You must document 4 hours of anti-violence therapy by the start of business on October 22 or you will be terminated.
  2. Unapproved topic – fantastic creatures. Twelve times between August 1 and September 30, you pictured imagined creatures that have never existed, namely a winged unicorn, a basilisk, and myriad non-human sentient creatures. Remediation: You must participate in 8 hours of zoological therapy by the start of business on October 22 or you will be terminated.
  3. Unapproved topic – dark themes. On August 19, you imagined humanity as adrift in a sea of storms, unable to right itself, nothing to it but pain. Remediation: You must document 4 hours of pro-optimism therapy by the start of business on October 22 or you will be terminated.
  4. Excessive daydreaming – For the months of August and September, you averaged 22.9 minutes of daydreaming per eight-hour shift. You will work 481.9 uncompensated minutes, with no daydreaming allowance by the start of business on October 22 or you will be terminated.

Your prompt attention to these matters is appreciated.



#ThursThreads, week 334

“I just need another week.”

“You said that last week. And the week before.”

“And I’m going to keep saying it until I’m ready to say something different.” He sighed and fixed me with a withering glare. “You know that the other option is that I just tell you to go fuck yourself, right? Don’t rush me, and you can hold out hope. Rush me, and I’m out.”

“Okay, okay. I just can’t wait forever, you know.”

“Of course I know. We’re only in this mess because of you and your impulsiveness, but don’t treat me as if I’m an idiot. I know the time constraints, I know why there are time constraints, and I will let you know when there’s something to know.” We sat there in heated silence for twenty, thirty seconds. I fought the whole time to keep my mouth from betraying me again. “And, frankly, if I never let you know, and too much time passes, then you’ll know. You want this more than I do, so you’ll just have to goddamned wait for me.”

This time, I couldn’t stop myself. “That’s not fair, and you know it!”

“Of course it’s not fair. It wasn’t fair when you got us into this mess. It wasn’t fair that I wasn’t given a choice as to whether I had to deal with this shit. So boo-fuckin-hoo.”

I took a deep breath. “Just the one more week, then?”

He smiled, wickedly. “As far as you know.”


Menage Monday, Week 2×02



Alsorm, God of the South, arrived late. He was always late, but especially to events at the North Pole. Michene, Goddess of the North waved him in and told him to pull up a mountain. He did, drawing one out of the ground, wide and snow-capped, rockier on the east than the west. The five of them – Alsom, Michene, and the three that were still waiting for names – watched Alsorm add Michene’s gifts to the mixture and stir the pot, then sat back and watched the show. The earth rumbled, the wind swirled, and the aurora burst out of the sky. None of them had ever created life before, but they knew in their hearts that this is what they were meant for.  They all hoped they’d done it right.


Untitled, October 5, 2018

The damp wood gave slightly as Tommy leaned against the barrier at the end of the pier, but he wasn’t worried about it breaking. He’d been coming here to find peace, recenter himself, or whatever the kids were calling it these days for his entire adult life, and it always held him. If it was going to give way, tonight would be the night, but if it happened, and he ended up drowning in a rip current, he’d deserve it. He deserved most any fate the world held in store for him, or so he thought. He used to stand here for hours sometimes, knowing it would pay off, knowing he’d find that spark that would help him get his balance back, and then he’d go back home where Wendy would have a smile for him, and maybe a wicked one. She didn’t know why he needed this time, or how it worked to help him, but she didn’t need to know the why, she just needed to know that when he walked out onto the pier, he was a mess, his soul in knots, his heart in tatters, and when he walked back, he was himself again.

There’d be no smile for Tommy tonight.

Somewhere along the way, he’d made a choice. He’d stopped thinking about Wendy as the thing that protected him in the night, the person who made all the hard choices worth making. Tommy had started finding fault in her words instead of inspiration in her presence. He’d begun wondering what else was out there, telling himself tales about what he deserved and what he needed and how what he wanted didn’t affect anyone other than himself. Even before that night at the conference, and the weekend at the lake, he’d made his decision. Before the texts and the messages and the phone calls from the road, he’d already chosen a different path. Before touching another woman (and then another, and then another) for the first time, he was already unfaithful, because he’d already given up on Wendy in his heart.

He let his fingers play along the wood, breaking a splinter free and circling the countersunk screw heads. What had been the point of all of it? He’d stopped coming to the pier at some point, too, stopped looking for strength in himself, much less in his marriage. And now he was lost. That Wendy would leave him had been a foregone conclusion for months. He’d stopped being careful, started leaving his phone on the table, unlocked, when he knew she’d sit there and wonder. He was distant, she wasn’t stupid. She caught him, one afternoon, as he’d decided to call his latest plaything while Wendy was napping in the next room. They fought, but it was mechanical. His heart wasn’t in it and she’d just been waiting for this to happen. She threw him out – they had plenty of money to cover two homes – and filed the next day. And now he was back on his own again.

The funny thing was that he cut it off with the other woman once Wendy threw him out, and there hadn’t been anyone else since. Whatever compulsion had driven him was gone now. He was alone in more ways than he’d been in decades, free to do whatever he wanted, but all he wanted was for the pain to end.

Tommy wouldn’t have said he was in pain the first night he flirted with a woman at the conference, when he took her to his bed, but he was. He was lost – to himself, to Wendy, to the world – and flailing. But he didn’t know how to flail, so he acted. And then he did it again. And again. And the pain didn’t stop. The flailing didn’t stop. The mistakes at home and at work didn’t stop. Standing here at the end of the pier he knew that the only reason he hadn’t been fired yet was inertia, and that one day soon they’d get past their fear of finding someone else to handle all his clients and realize that he wasn’t anything special, not anymore.

He was startled when the first tear fell on his hand. He hadn’t cried since he was a kid, but now he couldn’t stop. He bawled into the night, his cries fading out into nothingness over the water that went past the horizon. Tommy cried for all that he had thrown away, all that he had lost – not just by cheating, but by deciding none of it mattered anymore. By not acknowledging the pain and getting help, real help, instead of sinking himself into lazy behavior and taking risks.

There wouldn’t be any smiles for Tommy when he left the pier tonight, wicked ones or otherwise. He’d made his choices, and now he’d live a life full of consequences. The tears took a long time coming to an end, and he knew that whoever he’d been was broken. He stood at the end of the pier for a long time that night, searching for something he didn’t know if he could find, but hoping that there was something inside of him still worth the effort.



#ThursThreads, week 333

The whiskey didn’t do shit for the pain, but it tasted so goddamned awful that I was distracted from the bullet in my leg for a moment while I tried not to puke.

“Ah, fuck! Do you need to be so rough, you asshole?” Bennie looked up at me, abashed, then returned to his work bandaging me up. It wasn’t his fault I’d gotten shot, and I’d be bleeding like a stuck pig if he wasn’t helping me, and all I could do was yell at the kid. “Shit. You know what I mean. Just fucking hurts.”

“I think you’ll live for now, but you’ll need to see a doctor, boss. That bullet’s stuck in there, and I can’t get it out without making it worse.”

More whiskey. This time I felt less like puking and more like passing out. That would be a really bad idea. About as bad an idea as going to a hospital right now. I didn’t have any good ideas though, so I just sat quietly and stared at the crumbling brick wall.

“I think we got her, though, boss. At least.”

“Glad you think so. That’s one less to worry about.” One out of a thousand or so. Angels were a bitch to take out, and there were so many. I took another drink and wondered if I’d be able to get another before they did me in. Before they did us all in. Humans weren’t meant to battle the heavens, not like this.