Monday, May 28, 2012

Aphids Aren't The Worst

Previous post was an attempt to collect my links in one place and organize them, as part of my Clean Up Your Fucking Internet weekend. It's all part of a plan! So sorry if you clicked and ended up shaking your head in confusion.

Here's a tragedy for you: When I was a teenager, I started a small rose garden. It was in honor of my mother, who loved roses and had planted them all over our former property. After she died, my father remarried and we moved, and none of the rose bushes were dug up and brought with us. To this day, when I go back home, I still drive by our old house and stop to look at her roses. They are incredibly beautiful.

That's not the tragic part. Here it is: There were six rosebushes in varying colors at the new house. When I was eighteen and had graduated from high school, I got sick of my father's totalitarian, despotic ways (hey, I was a teen and pissed off, as eighteen year olds are wont to do). So I did what any dissatisfied, grumpy with the establishment teen does: I put all my shit in two big garbage bags and moved out. I worried about who would take care of the rose bushes, but hey, I had to go.

When my dad and stepmother found out, they were pretty dissatisfied and pissed off, too. My dad took it stone-faced and silently angry.

My dear stepmother mowed down all the rosebushes.

 My sister told me, and she provided updates; basically, that the roses never grew back and that I wasn't welcome at the house anymore.

I still see them in my mind's eyes. Two rows, three bushes each, like a little grave plot.

Okay, so that's a bit much, but you get how I feel about that event.

It's been more than twenty years, and I still get pissed off when I think about it.

Now today, I'm going to have myself a mojito and sit outside and look at the first rose I've planted at our house. It's bright yellow, which I like, and it'll go good with the lavender. I've got a lot of that.

I'm not sure how you heal the past, and I'm more inclined to think it's like a shiny scar. Which is not a bad thing.

Enjoy your day or evening, wherever you are, friends.

Published Works


Deadly Chaps: Letters From The Egg Carton (Pushcart Prize nominated)

Short Fiction:

101 Fiction: Only (microfic)

                    Renaissance (microfic)
                   Interlude (microfic)

                   Hijo (microfic)

                   Stages (microfic)

                  Chicken (microfic)

                  Jump (microfic)

                  Flight (microfic)

                  'Aumakua (microfic)


Alban Lake Publishing, Bloodbond: In the Northern Territories -- werewolves!

Chris Allinotte's 9 Days of Madness: Recording  

Chris Allinotte's 10 Days of Madness: The Embalmer 

A Fly in Amber: On the River 

A Minor Magazine: Snakeskin 

A Twist of Noir: Daughter of Peaches (microfic)


Cast Macabre: The Tiger Machine (audiocast)
                     Also available to read here


Corner Club Press (originally, now defunct), DA: The Husband (short story, speculative fiction--Sudoku, drumming, and, er, friendliness)

DA: An October Birth (a Daily Deviation winner in October 2014; horror)

Eaten Alive: Gangrene (microfic)


                    The Bumpy Road (short story)

Erin Cole's 13 Days of Madness: Oddity (microfic)

Golden Visions Magazine: The Librarian's Assistant (flashfic, fantasy)
              "The Librarian's Assistant" was also a Daily Deviation on Deviant Art and winner of the          
              "Picture is Worth a Thousand Words" contest

Jake's Monthly -- Endgame Extravaganza: The Pellet (fantasy, origin myth)

Lily Child's February Femmes Fatales: The Devil Wants a Word 
              This story later appeared at LSQ here.


Luna Station Quarterly: "Fox-Boy" and others here (microfic/drabbles, speculative fiction)
                                         The Devil Wants a Word
                                         Minotaur (fantasy, short story)

MiCrow #4: Spaces 

Misanthrope Press: Etched Offerings anthology: The Black Oak (pagan, fantasy) 

Nontrue: Take Her By The Heel (semi-autobiographical, NSFW) 

Powder Burn Flash: And I Know (noir) 

Ramshackle Review: Loom (flashfic, fantasy) (BEAVERS) 

Sleep.snort.fuck: At Sea (nsfw)

                          Composure (nsfw)

The Lorelei Signal: Instrument of Fate (fantasy, short story) 
             Also available at Mystic Signals here 

The Molotov Cocktail: How Did She Look I Must Know 

The NOT, as guest writer: The Bee and the Moth 

The NOT's Dog Days of Summer: Bottle Rocket (drabble, Special Jury Award winner) 

Three-Lobe Burning Eye: Judith of the Lions (apocalyptic fic w/ special guests, zombie lions)

Thrillers, Killers, 'n' Chillers: Under the Boardwalk 

Title Goes Here, Issue 7: Itch (horror, short story) 

Xeroversary: In a Purple Sky (flash fic, fantasy, YA)


You can find more of my work scattered throughout this blog, or at my Deviant Art account, which has many of my Prediction entries, including winners such as One Night.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"One Night" -- winner of the last Prediction; and "Instrument of Fate" lives on

Mystic Signals, featuring my short story, "Instrument of Fate," is available at Amazon:

Thank you to editor Carol Hightshoe; the issue is beautiful.

"Instrument of Fate" is not only one of the short stories dearest to my heart (maybe the most dear), but it started as a bit of fun over at Lily's Friday Prediction. How many ways has the Prediction affected everyone who participated? It's impossible to know.

And this week, the last time ever at Lily's place, I had the great honor of my "bit of fun" being selected as the winner. Congratulations to Aidan and asuqi as well.

Here it is...

One Night

Young moon fell to the green shore and immediately impersonated a shell. Beneath the waves, glistening like pearl, her elegant shape drew a traveler.

Pulled from the cold sea, water ran in rivulets along her curving spine. Warm fingers traced ancient bone, delving inside to feel the smoothness, while drops fell upon the blue-veined wrist. Moon sighed.

When the traveler peered inside, she was captured within the spiral, her spirit a lonesome helix in the shell.

Moon fell to her new knees and shoveled sand with trembling hands, burying the shell. Until the tides' reveal, she would be free.


When people comment on the Mythos behind a short piece, I struggle not to add it to my growing list of short stories/novellas. But... but... there is something there, in the stars and planets and moons and suns, able to steal our souls. For a bit.

And lastly (as she deliberately turns a blind eye to exploration of that idea), a bit of Mythos in my new flashfic, Scribe, written for a contest. Dragons and a small, ancient race. I do think of backgrounds for all shorter pieces. For example, why are there no mentions of mothers or children in The Scribe? ;)

This post makes me seem prolific. I like that. Even if it's not exactly true.

Dream on, fellow egrets.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Scribe: flash fiction

An ancient race on a small planet, where 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.

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.


Written for the Fantasy Authors Guild "1000" contest. Info here. Comments welcome.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Manglefoot vs. The Beast -- flash fic

For weeks, a robin hopped around our backyard. He flew short, low distances, into the lilac, atop the woodpile. Mostly he hung around the feeder. He had an odd hop, complete with wing that stretched out to balance him. One day, I got a good look with my binoculars. His right leg hung by a thread, the useless part dragging like the end of a ragged fishing line. I called him Manglefoot. He could still hunt earthworms, head cocked, listening, and then yanking them from the ground.

I haven't seen Manglefoot in a week now. I worry. There aren't too many stray cats in the neighborhood, and my yard is fenced. But still. I know it's not good news for a disabled wild thing. Maybe this is the end of his story:

Manglefoot vs. The Beast

The garage roof was far too peaked for a secure perch, but with puffed red chest, Manglefoot made his stand.

Then again, he thought as he tumbled gracelessly to the ground below, one could always make one's stand from a cracked patio paver.

Menace and furry heaved its frothy-jawed bulk at him; a blur of black and white fur that was only, humiliatingly, eight weeks old. Manglefoot opened his beak and screeched before thrusting with his patented earthworm-slaying stab, guaranteed to nail the largest, fattest worm or the eye of the evilest pup.

Perhaps, he mused, he shouldn't have sipped so much dandelion dew that morning. For his always-accurate, never-miss stab plonked the pup's delicate nose, with howling results. Chubby pink belly pitched back and forth as the beast cried.

"Oh, stop your moaning," said Manglefoot. "It's just a peck."

The pup stopped, whimpering, and trembled piteously. Manglefoot sighed. He was the one without a leg, damn it! Still, he hopped over and tapped the pup's head with a wing.

"There, there. It's all right now. Stop crying. Chin up. That's it. Er, good little monster."

Whilst the terrible beast sniffed, Manglefoot told it stories of brave robins past, until finally, it seemed to pull itself together. The pup, who Manglefoot gathered was called "No" (humans had no creativity at all when it came to naming things), toddled off to dig up some rosebushes, and Manglefoot hopped along behind, watching fresh, moist dirt fly, replete with worms and beetles. There was some use, after all, for the beast.


Yours in sappiness,


One more thing--It's the last Prediction ever hosted by Lily Childs. Hop on over. I'll be there shortly, sharing the last sip of champagne with whoever dares to try my glass.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Flashfic: A Fair Trade

My 3WW: in which there are aliens and whiskey. 700 words.

A Fair Trade

Twelve bottles of sour apple whiskey clinked together as the Comet rolled onto the dirt beside I-62. More than a fair price for what he sought--generous, even. But Lyle Maroun's generosity was about at an end.

They materialized out of the pines like more rain. He had to squint to see them; his wipers slapped on, and the heater in the Comet went dead. Damn car. He cranked down the window, and gray fingers rested on the cracked green leather.

It sniffed. "Man is just."

The case of whiskey disappeared, and in its place, a limp bundle.

"You stink," said Lyle. "Get your fish breath out of my car."

Fine droplets of rain rolled off wrinkled skin, and like ash, the fingers melted away.

"Man is just," said the car radio. "Next time, thirteen."

Lyle snapped off the radio and cranked the window closed. Wipers off, he bumped up the heat. He twisted his neck and said over the front seat, "You'll be fine soon. Gonna get warm. Don't worry."

Reaching back, he peeled a corner of the blanket off the boy's face. It was pale, with glassy, staring green eyes. He set his mouth and reminded himself that they were always like this when they first came off the ship. The boy would be fine in twenty minutes or so.  Then there would be the matter of finding his parents. And the story.

No one ever believed a used car salesman, no matter how smoothly shaven or clad in the best suit he could find at the SA, had traded his grandpa's moonshine for a kid -- from aliens.

Well, this would be the last time. He was sick of cops at the house, of getting grounds in his coffee when he stopped at Lou's on his way to work, of teenagers driving by late at night and shouting, "Fucking pedo!" One or two of those brats had been in the back seat of his Comet, years ago. Funny how they forgot. Lyle never did.

He was sick of being penalized for being a nice guy. That's the way it had always been, only now, instead of girls and bosses and ex-wives, it was extraterrestrials. Lyle was the universe's dumping ground. No more, he told himself as the Comet rumbled back onto the road. This was the last time, damn it. Somebody else could figure out what to do about the alien infestation in Crawford County.

The kid in the back mumbled. Struggled to sit up.

"Lay down," Lyle said. "Just rest."

"My sister," said the boy. "Where's Amelia?"

"Probably home. You'll be there soon enough."

The boy sighed and fell back. "Good. I thought she was still on the ship."

His fingers froze on the wheel.

The rain was letting up. It was late September, almost too cold to be making mash. And up on the hill, the leaves were falling. The whole operation would be bared for anyone to find. They should be taking it apart, covering what they couldn't, and counting the bills from the season's profits.

But like every year for the past nine, there were none.

Thirteen, they'd said. He swore under his breath, so the kid wouldn't hear. Some guys would keep thirteen bottles of whiskey for themselves, not trade it for a little girl.

Lyle Maroun was still -- godfuckingdamnit -- a nice guy. But not that nice.

They'd get their thirteen jugs. And a whole lot more. Because Lyle had had enough. If no one else believed him, if no one else wanted to step up and do something about the creepy things in their little ship, then he would.

Besides, Grandpa Maroun had more than an illegal still.

He had enough firearms to comfortably equip a small militia.

And between the two of them, Lyle figured they could make it real clear that abducting people in Crawford County was no longer a viable plan.

He smiled, a real genuine smile and not his sales smile. And turned on the radio, with America on a Horse with No Name. Yep. He was like that guy in the desert. But he was coming out the other side now.


Written for 3 Word Wednesday, which I have sadly, like many of my former favorite writing exercises, not participated in for some time. Good to know it can still get the zombie brain juices flowing.

The words were: generous, just, penalize. I added moonshine and the Comet for fun, 'cause I do that sometimes. Seems like the more words you must use, the crazier the results.