Friday, December 21, 2012

Fic: Gifts to Give Goth Girls

Gifts to Give Goth Girls

He'd been preparing since the night of the horror that was Thanksgiving with his family; that is to say, staring into his plate of apple pie, he'd thought that he should think about what sorts of Christmas presents she might like, but he hadn't got much farther. With four days to go, and the Mayan apocalypse nigh, he thought maybe an LED lamp or Swiss Army-type tool. Practical, in case the end of the world did occur, and besides, the electricity in her apartment had just been shut off for the second time this year and it was quite gloomy after five o'clock.

Of course, when she broke up with him for giving her such stupid presents, she would have a lovely weapon with which to gouge, slice, nick and ram him to death. Perhaps a pashmere scarf: not pashmina, nor cashmere, but soft, and it came in black.

And the lamp, he decided at the last second.

So armed, he met her at the coffee shop down the street. They've never discussed exchanging presents, and he thought how clever of him to give her something this night: all the pressure off, really, and he could show her that he knew a little something about her particular subculture by wishing her a happy Saturnalia. Already seated, she rolled her eyes and responded that she wasn't Pagan, idiot.

He handed her the box with the scarf, and watched as she gleefully ripped the Jack Skellington paper off and took it out and fingered it. It was only a scarf, he saw now. Impersonal, made in China, and fringed. Fringed. What Goth girl wanted knotted fringe?

He gave her the second box. Showed her how the lamp worked. The grumpy barista shielded his eyes, spilled steamed milk on his hand, and made noises to his fellow employees that he was sure meant, "Uncool, dude. Uncool."

It was a disaster.

Except that she rose from her seat, black tunic flowing over black leggings, put on her puffy silver coat, and led him out the door, back to her apartment.

The bright white of the LEDs suited her. Washed in their light, her pale skin turned a luminous blue-white. They wriggled underneath seven layers of comforters, and the only thing she wore was the scarf, which she took off halfway through and wrapped around his neck.

If the world did end, he decided, that would be just fine. She kissed his shoulder with lips much pinker than usual and snuggled into him, the ancient radiator clanking into life like a grumpy barista. It was a non-holiday, faux apocalyptic miracle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


when you saw the first snow I almost cried I had been listening to the honey in your voice as if it were the only thing I could hear and that was more than I could bear

everything is gray not white not white at all except for what I see and what you see there is a hollowness between the snowflakes so cling to each one climb up to the next don't fall don't fall or you will end up in the gray like all the rest

we are climbing and the clouds are gray where snowflakes come from still your voice is sweet almost a trap i have put the trap around my own leg like this see how I do it? please watch please know that I am bleeding here in the sky with your voice

every snowflake is the same

the first snow is not as important as the last

when will you look

when will you

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Maker: Short Animated Film

The Maker:

A very short film that has won numerous awards, The Maker is haunting, beautiful, and slightly heartrending. And no, you do not know where it is going. Exactly.

Via Art of Darkness

Now if you'll excuse me, this is a Sunday for leftover turkey soup in the crock pot (yay!), staying in pj's, and an extended-version LotR marathon. And then maybe some Wii Sports. Because everything else today will turn me into a candidate for soup.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Science of Folly

The Science of Folly

War's end, and only a cat braves the molten fields of A—. It picks its paws delicately, quickly, so the burnished turf doesn't singe them.

The lead mouse in my pocket heats in my hand. How long before we are all three-eyed, or dead, or worse? Evolution will careen off-track from here, bowling us over, mowing us down and lifting us to satellite heights of deformity.

Born an angel, touched with prognostication demonic and utterly precise, I count: three years. Twelve weeks. The first flush of warped toddlers emerges, suckling on grossly infected teats.

If I spin the mouse six times in the air, the genome finishes. An abrupt last gasp. Nature – true nature – will take its course. The planet may yet be green again. If I let the mouse drop, well... Armies will rise like none ever seen, ever imagined.

The cat has crossed, and jumps atop rubble, stopping to lick its poor paws. I offer the wary creature the mouse. It declines.

Such intelligence doesn't deserve to witness what is to come. I break its neck after dropping the mouse.

Yellow water puddles nearby, and I sip, for the radiation martini will be all the rage soon. One in four will consume it. Of those, eight of ten will die. The other two – my brothers and sisters. We will all be angels, and I will no longer be alone.


Found this board on Pinterest and fell into the green abyss: Memento-Mori FYI, there are a few somewhat disturbing images, such as radiation burns. But most of it is of installations that have fallen into abandonment, first-warning radar towers, Chernobyl, and the like. 

Friday, November 9, 2012



'Twas brillig...

Alone and lonely is not a human condition only – through passing windows on the C deck, Frost could see it: In phosphorous and enameled star light, the brunt of the cosmos' joke, tumbling and dripping in a wasteland of the collective imagination.

Slithy toves, indeed, thought Frost.

"What is it?" asked Nina, peering through the clouded glass.

"Nothing," said Frost. "Isn't it beautiful?"

She nodded, and her eyes were that of a forest creature, dumb and wide. How had he once loved her so?

Hours later, in their tiny cabin, it passed through as a ghost, and in its vorpal wake, thus slept Nina, red froth and foam all around. Frost sighed, unburdened, and determined, for he had heard its silent reverberating scream.

He opened the door, mome raths skittering at his boot step. Along metal corridors he searched, calling softly, "Captain? Captain?"

And found the beamish boy at last.


The Jabberwocky is us, and we are it. 

In related news, I composed this thinking, over and over, Pigs In Spaaaaace!

Happy Friday, everyone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Judith of the Lions now at 3LBE

I am very proud to announce that "Judith of the Lions" is now up at Three-Lobed Burning Eye:

3LBE -- Issue 22
3LBE publishes some stellar spec fic, and the recent issue, with only six stories, is stunning. 

The lead story, "Ladybird," is beyond fabulous. I was hooked immediately, by the voice, the imagery, and the *outstanding* story itself. Glorious, tragic fantasy about a siren who breaks the rules in search of something else, something *more* -- something even she does not quite understand. If you only read one story (er, besides mine, of course :) ), read "Ladybird."

The rest of the collection is filled with intriguing, imaginative worlds. "Riding Atlas", about a young man's desperate desire to keep his girlfriend, even when she suggests something almost unthinkable, is horrifying and beautiful. It also made me squirm, but despite my discomfort, I had to keep reading. The collection is like that -- absolutely must-read to the finish.

And of course, my short story, "Judith of the Lions," appears as well. In the aftermath of a scientific experiment gone wrong, Judith struggles to understand her place -- and her kinship with a new breed. 

There's zombified lions, y'all.

Take a half hour and read all the stories in the new issue of 3LBE. For me, it was the best reading I've had in some time.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"The Pellet": new short story, available at Jake's Monthly

I found out about Jake's Monthly a bit too late, but managed to hop on board for two issues -- a couple months back with "In a Purple Sky" for the magical realism issue, and now, for the final issue:

Endgame Extravaganza

Welcome to the last issue of Jake's Monthly, chock full of stories from every genre. Thank you to editor Jake Johnson for including my origin myth/fantasy piece, "The Pellet." The issue is now up at Smashwords for your enjoyment, and it's FREE.

by liuyong

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


We decided to combine households but nothing in the contract said souls. So I left mine neatly wrapped in snow outside the kitchen door, and he hid his in the basement, how cliche. But when summer came and mine stood exposed, how I wished I had chosen dank and dark and spidery instead.


A OneWord for today.

It's October. A favorite month. How many wish their birthday was in this month? We made a fire last night and sat outside until our clothes and hair smelled like smoke. I imagined dragon eggs in the middle of the red-hot logs, because I'm geeky like that. 

Happy writing and haunting to you, little ghost-writers. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Only" up at 101, and Upcoming Work

It's true. I do, on occasion, write something. 

I realize my output seems slow this year, but "Only" is now available to read at John Xero's 101 Fiction:

And if a hundred words aren't enough, then just wait a short while: In the upcoming month, "The Pellet" will appear at Jake's Monthly, "Itch" at the Best of Title Goes Here, and "Judith of the Lions" at Three-Lobed Burning Eye. All are short stories with enough horror and fantasy to satisfy all but you gore-festers.

"The Pellet" and "Judith of the Lions" were both nearly a year in the making. I'm very pleased with the quality of the stories, and have figured out that writing slowly and not rushing the words onto the page, along with constant editing, creates the best possible work -- by me. I can't speak for anyone else; some out there turn out brilliance in minutes.

In the meantime, I've got two other short stories that are in the final stages (which could mean another three months, LOL!). And there's the on-going book, which feels like it's already been written, but that's just because it's been in my head for a year now. 

Writing bios is hard work. None of mine are factual, by the way. Take them with a grain of salt.

See ya around the zombie pit.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Only" at 101 Fiction

Today Only appears at 101 Fiction. Thank you, editor John Xero.

If you happen to like a hundred melancholic words with your tea, then sip away.


 by Simon Walker

I try to remember this. For even if I look put together and serene, I am in the midst of turmoil. If the invisible ghosts of our psyche would dissipate in summer sun, all at once, the world would turn more slowly, and none of us would be in danger of falling off.

If you're fighting a hard battle today, may you persevere, may you be victorious, may you fill your mouth with sweet things.



Monday, September 3, 2012

Whether The Elk Knows

On Monday, two little children are switched at birth. The pretty Swedish one goes on to be a film star, a dancer, lover to directors and collector of rocks. The smooth ones, gray and striated. She carries them in her pocket, bits of the outside when she is lying on the couch, unable to get up.

The other one is mud, this girl, holding this or that boy in her arms for a moment, stamping through wooded trails, thinking of all the pine needles and fallen black leaves that go beneath her feet. Of things beyond her vision that chase her through the woods.

They both think of places, worlds where they can zip off their skin and be real. There are four-leaf clovers more real than them! A headless horse who runs alone on beaches and up mountains! They're drinking coffee and debating with themselves the necessary nature of sexual energy; all the while, they can watch stars lifting hairs from their arms, and the moon tweedle-dum in a perfectly blue sky.

Both girls remember building rockets. It was easy, then. The soon-to-be film star drew it over an electrical outlet, in red crayon, shooting up a white wall. For which she was punished. Or wished she was punished. Mud girl stuck a stick in the dirt, wrapped limp weeds around it.

An elk hunt is occurring in one part of the world, and in the other, an art fair. Both are the same, and involve knives and early morning, when the world is black and still and resting in deep, heavy breaths. They look out windows, watching men leave, and drink coffee. They build their rockets again. This time with finesse, with dancing moves that are too complicated to reproduce here. With fingers caked with mud. The outside world, the forest, is inside them, and it's the perfect place to jump off.

Dawn wraps them in a shawl, sorts them out, replaces them with little human children who are still crawling. Now they have found their mechanical inner selves, the alien gears of who they are. One holds it all to her, spins in luxurious convolutions through the sky.

The other girl falls back to earth, called by a dying elk who is the voice of a husband.

She falls back to earth, falls, falls, falls.

Stars explode and on Tuesday, two little children are switched at birth.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fantasy Flash Fic: The Scribe

The Scribe: Once, we all rode dragons...

The Scribe

In a thousand years, we will not remember these days. What Calla said to Mor, what secret loves were stamped upon trees.

What will be remembered is the scent of daffodils in damp spring ground, the fire of the ship as it burned through the atmosphere and tore pockets of earth. The particular pang of losing our last dragon.

Everyone will say they were there; how they'll remember it! The little dragon, stunted and jewel green, mewling as the Other Men dug it out of its bern and broke its neck. It was placed in a bag and taken back to their ship. No one will remember how we crouched, frightened, with our useless amulets and half-formed prayers in the heaps of our houses. They'll all recollect marching against the interlopers, the dragon thieves. They all bore weapons, but were struck down. Some died. Who? No one recalls.

It is the peculiar trait of our people that stories alone are passed along through the centuries; audible and embellished, whispered and shouted and turned into dance. But never written. A piece of the soul is taken with each written word, it is said, and our souls belong to the dragons.

Who do they belong to, now that the last dragon is dead and carted off to the world of the Other Men?

When I was a little mewling thing, I studied the way my finger dragged through dust. Mor said, Better you not do it at all, but if you must (perverted thing), do it on water. Let the traces disappear as soon as you make them.

Ah, but they lived in my mind. For a few years, anyway. And when I realized I could not make my mind remember everything I had ever inscribed in water, I turned back to dirt.

Deep in the woods, where wolves and bears live, I first used a stick. Then the knife of my brother, upon the bark of trees up high, so that my people would not see. For they forage, and hunt the small game. They only ever look up to see the dragons flying across the sky.

No one looks up anymore. They surround the charred bern and hold hands, and tell stories of their bravery on the day the Other Men came. I write on the trees deep in the woods, up high.

One per tree: the names of the dragons. There were five hundred. And then, more trees for us: Calla, sister to Jena. Wife of Mor. Another tree: My name, brother of Mor. Nothing else on that oak.

Five hundred of us. Our names peer at the dragon trees through the branches, a labyrinth of memory in the deep woods. After half a year, I climbed down and began again, brazenly low:

Felix, born when the crocuses were yet buds. Calla saw the steam, brought us all to see the acorn in the earth. The acorn that would grow to be a mighty dragon. His nostrils were still closed, tail wrapped tight around, a sticky mess. In a week, he was unfurled, dry as old timber, bright as the new grass.

Too small. No one mentioned it. Old Martyam was dying on the mountain, her body part and parcel of the granite and snow. Mor said, She still breathes! Only I said, It is clouds. Mor threatened to take his knife back. I shrugged, and said maybe it was steam and smoke after all.

Calla drew us back to the infant dragon. Our hopes lit like sparks, though it crawled on oddly bent legs.

We all remember when we were a great race. Everyone rode dragons; we flew all over our planet, and returned with more stories. There was even one dragon, a behemoth that could fly among the stars. Nahan rode him. Nahan, who has not been seen in half a millennium. Was there ever such a dragon? Or even a Nahan?

Perhaps, it occurs to me as I etch on a piece of cedar bark, Nahan rode away on the magnificent star-traveler and brought the Other Men. Perhaps Nahan is enslaved somewhere, along with his dragon, Gabriel. Perhaps he is not enslaved, but lives as a king. Perhaps he sold us.

Felix was to be mine. This was known. I was the only one who had lived without a dragon; the others had known them, had flown on hot, scaled backs. But for centuries, the dragons had grown smaller, so that we carried them. I didn't care that, now that my time had come, my dragon was barely larger than a squirrel. Who needed to fly? I could climb trees and taste the high winds, with Felix clinging to my back.

His wings weren't strong enough to lift him when the Other Men came and broke his neck and took him away, and I am not standing around the charred bern where he crawled.

Calla came to tell me she was going up the mountain to be with Martyam. She is ancient; they are ancient. But still beautiful. She found me with knife and birch; she saw her name but did not recognize it.

Your soul, she said.

Gone with Felix, I said, if it ever existed in the first place.

I wanted to know. Why tell me, and not her husband?

She was silent, and after a while, she asked me to teach her to write her name. Then she left. She will die with the old dragon on the mountain, or die with the corpse of her. For those are clouds, I'm sure.

Four-hundred-and-ninety-nine, where once there were a thousand. I have discovered a way of heating the blade, to make the mark deeper and more permanent. It is not like breathing fire, not exactly, but here in the deep woods, I am the first of my people to do this. We will not wither, and when the Other Men come again, I will hold up my blade and mark them like trees.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fic: Last Words for the Fickle-Hearted

Which affair broke her heart, it is not to say. There was a chain, and she danced over the links, until it broke. Which link, it only matters to one person, and he is not here to remark on the matter.

Green tea in a white cup. She stared at the bottom, at brownish leaf dust coagulating, swirling. Soon it will be cold, and she'll drink it and finish her book.

He read one or two books per year. Mostly, he wrote. And had other women. As such men do. Where he found them, she'd never understand. When were her eyes off him? The back of him was as familiar as the tea cup, as the snoring she put up with at night. For him. Because complaining women don't make sweet lovers. Or wanted lovers.

Her inner nag turned on her, lacking otherwise healthy repositories for its criticism. She painted pink lips in mimicry of young girls, of photographs of herself years before she met him. A bow in the middle, a bit of careful inscribed plumpness. Swift strokes of blush on her cheeks.

If she had to do it again, she wouldn't choose a man fifteen years her junior. She'd pick one thirty years her junior, ripe and unformed and like the elms that bend in storms. Knotted ropes to keep him at his work, whether it be digging in the earth or hunched beneath some sink. But not at a typewriter. No more of those.

The tea went colder than expected, no trace of the kettle or fire. Somewhere, a train dips through the valleys in the night, deaf to the screams of wild things in the dark. Heedless of what lies over its tracks. Somewhere, a scattering of bones is about to occur, and she thinks of picking them up later, of marking the small pieces with letters and punctuation. A humorless board on which to write her own goodbye, on which to banish all her fears.

When were her eyes off him? In between the lines. In between sips of tea. She listens and looks, and sees all. And in the hush, she hears, finally, the train bellowing far off, shouting its presence to the curving hills, announcing that it is coming, at last.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fic Rec: Text Messages From A Ghost

Text Messages From a Ghost is just what you might think -- a series of text messages between a guy and the ghost in his phone. A friendship develops that is humorous, melancholy, and, in the sequel, bittersweet enough to make this girl cry. Mallory Ortberg leaves just enough unsaid, and the medium is perfect for the unraveling tale of a man and his ghost. And Julia. And that cat! And -- Look, just go read them yourself. It's short and perfect. And seriously, I cried at the end.

Ortberg also writes text message conversations between a variety of others, including du Maurier's Rebecca that is spectacularly psychotic.

Discovered via Art of Darkness, a never-ending trip into the fascinating, and superlatively creative, darker side of our world.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Being Nine Again, For Just a Moment

It's a strange thing, getting something back that you hadn't realized was even gone.

For my upcoming fortieth birthday, I wanted to find out if my Donkey, a present for my ninth birthday, could be restored. I took him to the Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier Shop in Berkley, Michigan, where I stood in line and felt silly to be a grown woman holding a rather scruffy stuffed donkey.

Donkey on his way to hospital

Janice, a lovely woman in a work apron, checked him over and said she could clean him up. And that it would take three months -- that's how long their backlog of doll repair is. She must've seen the look of absolute horror on my face, coupled with brimming tears that mortified me, because she reassured me that he'd be safe with all the other dolls in the doll hospital waiting area. Which horrified me even more because dolls, let's face it, are creepy. Shelves of them, all staring down my gentle Donkey with their glossy doll eyes? With their stiff little arms held out in front like killer robots? Sure, it'd be fine during the day, but what about at night? (which is when dolls come alive; everyone knows that)

But I had no choice. I relinquished him to Janice, who told me a story of a biker guy who lost his teddy bear companion when it came loose from the back of his Harley and went thumpa-whump-whumping down the highway and got run over by three cars -- and how she restored the bear, and how the big, burley biker dude started to cry when he saw his buddy ready to ride again.

These people should be okay, I thought. And so I left him.

I nearly screamed when I got the call from Janice yesterday that Donkey was ready. Ready! I just dropped him off two weeks ago! They knew he was special!

So special, that Janice had even taken him home to work on him. Not only did she bathe him after soaking him overnight (filthy, she said), but she repainted his eyes, restuffed him, restitched spots, and replaced his entire yarn tail and most of his mane.

B picked him up on his way home from work. When I came home, there was Donkey, waiting for me.

As silly as this sounds, I felt instantly as if I was nine again. How many times in your life do you get to truly, truly feel like a child again? What a gift.

P.S. Forgot to add how Donkey came to me. With my ninth birthday a week away, my mother told me I could pick out one present for myself, but I couldn't have it until my birthday. I knew immediately what I wanted. In the stuffed animal aisle, there was a big pile of donkeys. I chose one.

Over the years, he was my first "fandom." I would draw him, usually in Sherlock Holmes gear, with a hat and pipe and coat, and he would solve mysteries.

He's not an Eeyore, just a mass-produced donkey. But he is my Donkey.

/sappy blog post about my stuffed animal