Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Sands of Al-Haasra

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Everything Flows" in Mirror Shards.

The moonlight illuminated the swirling sand as winds blew across Al-Haasra. Intellectually, Mehmet knew that other princes stood watch just as he did on the neighboring signal towers. Emotionally, he felt abandoned as the night hid the others. Mehmet fingered the leather pouch of white phosphorus tied to his belt. Perhaps, nothing would happen tonight. He glanced up at the full moon overhead and prayed for Ra's rays to rise.

A star shot across the heavens and when Mehmet looked back at the sand he saw a man-shaped figure lurch across the dunes. Mehmet's hands shook as he tossed phosphorus on the open coals and white flame shot upwards from the brazier. The Impundulu's black eyes, inset in the impossibly smooth pale skin, matched his black robe and Mehmet looked away before the beauty of the creature bedazzled him.

This tower had a laminate shooter and Mehmet grabbed the nozzle and pointed it at the Impundulu. The water shot out in a single smooth stream that reflected the moonlight and its glassy surface. The Impundulu blinked away leaving nothing more than a black feather as the water hit. His fingers gripped the hose as he dragged it with him walking the circumference of the top of the tower. He was alone. A lightning bolt flashed on the horizon.

Mehmet heard flapping wings over the winds of the desert. He pointed the nozzle at the moon and searched for the Impundulu's bird form. He tripped over the hose and fell on the stones. He rolled and lost hold of the hose. The black-and-white bird landed on the tower's parapet. The black eyes watched him as the body morphed into a pale-skinned man.

Mehmet scrambled for the hose.


The Impundulu's silver voice stopped Mehmet, he looked down at the sand that pooled across the stone floor.

"Look at me."

Mehmet looked at the black eyes as the sound of the wind died away. "Don't kill me."

"That is written, or not." The Impundulu jumped down from the parapet and landed next to Mehmet as his robe swirled around him. He reached down and lifted Mehmet to his feet. "You will come with me." He tossed something into the fire and the flames died.


"It does not matter whether you travel with me or I capture your will for a time. Choose."

Mehmet looked at the desert. "I'll live?"

"For the moment, it is written."

"I will come," said Mehmet.

Friday, February 26, 2010

100 Yards

A response to Suzanne Young's "Friday Funkday" in Flashy Fiction.

There was a time when I wouldn't have cared why she was here, I just would have been happy to see her. But now... now she needed a damn good reason.

"You'd better start talking or I'm gone," I said, looking back at my car.

She smiled and said, "Is that any way to talk to someone who's about to save your life?"

She'd always been cryptic and I found it endearing once, but not any longer. I turned to go. Even a reverse commute back into the city ran into traffic over the Bay Bridge.

"Wait..." she said and looked down at her watch, "four seconds. About one football field or twenty car lengths. I'll be here later if you change your mind."

I wasn't likely to change my mind. I slipped behind the wheel and tried not to think about her. Would it have been better to stay and deal with her nonsense so that I didn't spend the drive back remembering the way we'd been. As I slowed through the FastTrak lane, I realized I still thought about her. Only a few cars lined up at the metering lights and I jabbed the seek button. Mostly talk radio, I finally found Shawn Mullins's Lullaby and I sang along as I accelerated.

The bass line of the song sounded offkey. Perhaps, that was why he'd been a one-hit wonder. I heard a crack of thunder and I looked around. The skies were blue. Red tail lights. I slammed on my brakes and looked to the lanes to either side of me but they were full of breaking cars. I missed the car in front of me and we all came to a complete stop.

After fifteen minutes, I scanned the radio for any news. I didn't hear anything. I got out of my car and asked the man leaning on the door of his truck with the advertisement Jake's Construction, "What happened?"

"Bridge collapsed, just before Treasure Island."

I looked up at the hill of Treasure Island and walked between the lanes. There were other people squeezing forward as well, but no one spoke. I looked down at the edge and saw the tip of a car's roof still above water.

My phone buzzed and I looked at the text message. "100 yards".

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Split Watermelons

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Always Follow Safety Protocols" in Mirror Shards.

Ross Mullins entered the UCDavis greenhouse amidst dark green leaves that towered off the pots on the tables and reached over his head into the rafters. The plants wove around the lights and left shadows that crisscrossed the floor. Incompetent University cops couldn't deal with a dead body on their turf. So this was the second death in as many weeks that didn't mean they needed to call in the FBI. It was a waste of time and Ross wasn't surprised that the campus cops couldn't even be bothered to accompany him to the body.

Ross shouldered his way through broad leaves that were larger than his upper arms. He stepped over a thick green vine that draped down a table and slunk into the shadows below another table. The humid air smelled of bamboo that reminded Ross of Vietnam.

The light grew brighter ahead and Ross discovered that the light came from an empty table where nothing grew. A man, Professor Brooks according to the campus cops, sprawled on the floor before the table. A slit in his skull stretched from ear to ear and his blood pooled across the floor.

Ross saw a watermelon, slightly larger than Professor Brooks's head, that had fallen just outside the pooled blood and its outer rind was split in two and the red fruit and seeds splattered across the floor. The watermelon was still attached to its vine which stretched away to one of the faraway tables.

The cops had said that Brooks and his colleagues were researching a new strain of self-sufficient vegetables. Ross squatted down by Professor Brooks body and the watermelon. Professor Brooks couldn't have just fallen. It took more than a simple fall to break someone's skull open like that. But premeditated murder by a watermelon? It just didn't make sense, thought Ross.

He put his finger in the crack of the watermelon's rind and noticed that the red flesh was dry. The watermelon had cracked open prior to Brooks' death.


Ross stood and turned. He couldn't see the path where he had entered. Three watermelons scraped along the floor using the leafs to leverage themselves forward. Ross backed away from the trio. The leaves behind him wrapped themselves over him. He felt cool tendrils prickling through his dress shirt.

Ross drew his revolver and shot the three watermelons and pink innards splashed across the floor. The susurration of the plants increased and Ross pushed his way through the leaves as they grabbed at him. His shirt ripped. The plants began to grow thorns and he raced through them and blood dripped down his arm. He saw the door and ran for it and tripped just before he arrived but his momentum carried him to the door where he crashed against the glass side and rolled out into the cool night. Ross wobbled when he stood and weaved towards his car where he slumped in the seat before calling the campus police.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Wonderland Police Department

A response to RJ Clarken's "Monday Morals" in Flashy Fiction.

Someone pounded on the door and Bill dabbed at his eyes. Lizards weren't supposed to cry even if a girl had broken his heart. A Bull Terrier, dressed in a navy blue uniform, had one paw raised to pound the door again and a WPD badge on the other paw. The maw of a Kerry Blue peered over the Bull Terrier's shoulder.

"Hi, I'm Officer Wilkins. Are you Bill?" Bill nodded. "Do you work for the White Rabbit?" Bill nodded again. What does this have to do with the White Rabbit? "We have some questions for you, do you mind if we come in?"

"Come in. I'm not in trouble am I?"

"Oh no, nothing like that. We're with the Moral Division of the WPD. Everything has a moral, it's our job to find it."

Bill showed them to the living room and opened the shades. Wadded tissues littered the couch and Bill pushed them to the corner. He motioned for them to sit and sat in a recliner across from them.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking would you like some coffee?"

"No. Can't drink while we are on duty. HQ radioed that Sarah dumped you."

"What," said Bill. Sarah had only called this morning.

"Sorry, I know it's personal but we're responsible for sniffing out any morals we can out of your situation. Duchess's orders."

"How do you know already?"

"News travels fast in Wonderland. So did you mistreat Miss Sarah?" Bill shook his head. "Did you woo her with chocolate, tell her funny stories, and sweep her off her feet?" Bill nodded.

"He's a lizard, maybe he brought cold feet to bed," said the Kerry Blue Terrier.

"No, I always warmed them in the last light of the sun before crawling into bed," said Bill.

"Well, think lizard. We don't have all day to unearth this moral," growled the Kerry Blue.

"Does it really matter, my heart is broken."

"I've got it," said Wilkins. "Self-pitying lizards make poor lovers."

"Pretty weak --"

"Yeah, but have you got a better idea? We've got a dozen more morals to dig up before hydrant and donuts."

"Quality these days. Okay."

"Hope you get over her soon," said Wilkins. "Don't worry about us, we'll let ourselves out."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saving the Gnats

A response to Robin Aurelian's Bait in the Jan/Feb issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Yeshua stared through the screen door at the skies as liquid dye spilled across the heavens. Gnat Faeries buzzed in the last rays of the sun and he prayed for them. He ignored his mother's admonitions and unlatched the screen door to walk among humanity's enemies. What did it profit a boy to gain the whole world and forfeit his evenings.

Hundreds of the hungry devils swarmed around him landing on every open patch of skin. They came angry crashing into him while they used the hairs on their legs to hold on until sated and flew away with their malicious grins sliding into contentment. The narcotics in their saliva left him woozy. Yeshua fell into the grass. The Gnat Faeries that hadn't fed circled him looking for a juicy target on Yeshua. He felt one with the grass and saw jagged circles and round squares pulse in the air above him.

Yeshua heard a scream, a weak thing, barely audible over the hungry murmurs of the faeries. He floated on a sea of stars and then a black cloud hissed and and engulfed him. He coughed.

"Oh my Yeshua, what did I do?" His mother's voice sounded far away or underwater. Yeshua's eyes watered and he blinked. "You're still alive. You know we can't go out after dark. You came out here. Why?"

Yeshua's tongue was thick. "They were hungry and so I gave them food." The sea of stars tugged at him. His mother's voice grew distant until he couldn't hear it over the lapping of the waves that felt cool against his feverish skin.

He would be first. He prayed that his mother would see the changes in the gnats as they became little Yeshuas.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Mentor

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Warden" in Mirror Shards and also to Suzanne Young's "Friday Funday" in Flashy Fiction.

Ananda had led me along the holy path and now he sat under the weeping willow on the cliff's precipice. Clouds shrouded the river valley.

"Banu, please sit here with me," said Ananda.

Wispy branches of the willow tree dropped below me and I saw the edge of the pitted black rock I sat upon. Beyond the world was gray. Ananda was quiet his eyes closed as he looked into the mist. I knew what was expected. To close my eyes and see the stream waters washing past me and to open my soul. I was scared. The words flickered within me like the conflagration of a forest fire. Their forked levinfire writ with characters that glowed in red. If I let them loose, if I made one mistake, the world might be unrecognizable. The mist tasted of mildew.

"Banu, you still sit here on the Jade Peak." Ananda had opened his eyes. The black pupils were large and I could get lost there. "Join me in the stream."

My throat was tight and I could hear my breath scratch as I sucked for air. "But, I'm scared."

"Of what?"

I opened my mouth wide and a tendril of levin white escaped out and lit the mist.

"Those are a gift --"

"A gift?"

"Yes, a gift of the words of creation. Not everyone has them. You have two choices: either to surf the stream and mold the world with your words, or to let the words die. Which will it be?"

I closed my eyes and stepped into the stream. Out of the mist I built a river valley and a fishermen's village.

"Yes, that's it."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dog Poo Wars

A response to Heather Hansen's "Word of the Day" in Flashy Fiction.

White blossoms tinged with pinkish purple dotted Red's ornamental plums. Suture's tail wagged, she was being patient, and Red opened the screen door and she bounded across the yard. Pink light reflected off the bottom of the clouds and Red stood under the plum trees as small petals caught in his hair. The light was on in Mr. Hendrick's greenhouse. How could anyone spend all their time playing in the dirt. Besides, carrots were peasant food. Suture crouched in Mr. Hendrick's yard.

"Hey, clean up after your dog," yelled Mr. Hendrick as he charged out of the greenhouse.

Red waved his hand and called, "Here, Suture." Mr. Hendrick's face became blotchy. "It's your yard," said Red. The screen door banged shut behind Red and Suture.


Red stood barefoot on the warm cement porch and rubbed his eyes. The sun was bright compared to his dim office. The mail should be here now. Red stepped on something on the edge of his porch. Not sharp, but it hurt his bare foot. He crouched down, there was a line of carrot chimeras along the edge of Red's porch. Gnarled orange roots that stood upright as they braced upon bulbous misshapen side roots like misshaped arms and legs. Red rolled his eyes before sweeping the carrots off his porch and fetched his mail.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Merging Essence of Mount Huashan

Scene seed from The Economist's "The World This Week":

Tan Zuoren, an activist who had conducted an investigation into the role played by shabby construction in deaths from the earthquake in Sichuan province in China in 2008, was sentenced to five years in jail for "inciting subversion".

Scene also inspired by:

In software development, Subversion (SVN) is a version-control system initiated in 1999 by CollabNet Inc. Developers use Subversion to maintain current and historical versions of files such as source code, web pages, and documentation.

Lui Meifeng looked at her image in the mirror. Her primary branch had gained weight, she could see it in the unsightly bulge that should have been tight abs. She should merge some of the muscles that her 2038.0618 branch was building on its trek to Cloud Terrace Peak on Mount Huashen, but it was too early and Meifeng didn't want to go through the extra effort of merging twice.

Meifeng sat in the CollabNet contoured chair and plugged the metal coaxial cable into the back of her head. She traced the stock and raw material bids that ran through the trading network. The yuan had been on a tear this week and the other traders were selling rapidly trying to preserve their wins. She sniffed blood. Her data feeds were some of the best and the yuan wasn't going to drop yet.

The day flew by, trading always went that way, and Meifeng doubled her principal's stake. Before unplugging, Meifeng checked her branch's progress. Meifeng slammed her fist down. Why was CollabNet showing her branch as a dead-end? She zoomed in to the final moments of her branch's life.

Memories flooded in and wind whipped Meifeng's cheeks as she fell down Ca'er Precipice where tufts of small green-leafed bushes grew on gray cliffs just out of reach of Meifeng's hands. She could taste her bodies fear. Meifeng called up the Personal Version Control System and rolled back fight minutes.

Meifeng was on the side of the cliff balanced on two narrow wooden boards. She shuffled her feet perpendicular to the cliff face, never crossing her legs. Below her the ground dropped away and a ribbon of river reflected the sky in the flat valley.

It was more than the wind, a push on her shoulder and her weight tipped too far forward. Her arms windmilled as she tried to regain her balance. She kept her hands out reaching for the person who'd pushed her. No avail, she began falling and saw a face on the edge of the cliff. Meifeng paused the PVCS and zoomed in on the face. She didn't recognize him.

Meifeng merged the pertinent memories of branch 2038.0618, ensuring that she got the man's face, but didn't retain the memories of the fall. Why would someone assassinate her branch?


Background: subversion, a revision control system for software, allows developers to check their code into repository. This is usually done with several branches that allows developers to check riskier, or more developmental code, on a branch that not everyone is using.

Image © - Unbiased Travel Reviews and Guides

Saturday, February 13, 2010


A response to Deb Markanton's "Saturday Spiller" in Flashy Fiction.

Tallulah stood beside the bed looking down at her sleeping body. She'd been trying for the last ten minutes to wake her sorry self up. Finally. Vacant green eyes appeared and her lips curled in a lazy smile that morphed into rictus.

"I wouldn't be too pleased about the new day just yet," Tallulah said. "Look at what you've done."

Her body looked down at her wrists and the bloody gashes that stood out against her pale flesh like exclamation points. The blood had run out and soaked the bed and even splashed upon the weathered hardwood floor leaving maroon drops that were drying brown. She couldn't even commit a suicide cleanly. She urged her body -- she couldn't keep thinking of that as her body -- to stand and it lurched upright and the blood, half coagulated, fell away from her body like blood red Nickelodeon slime.

Tallulah coaxed the body into her bathroom. It stumbled against her desk chair and fumbled to the floor, but the bloodless legs didn't show any bruises.

"Tallulah, what are you doing up there. I don't want you missing the bus again," yelled her mother from downstairs. Wasn't death supposed to have released her from mother's constant carping.

Tallulah bit her lip as she stood behind her body -- no, the body -- and helped it to dab itself clean with a wet cloth. She then directed it to pull out white medical gauze and wrap it around the wounds on the body's wrists. The body's dexterity was shot to hell and the bandages weren't tight, but that didn't matter. No one at school should notice, they never did pay any attention to her. She urged the body down the stairs to breakfast and wondered how she was going to get herself out of this mess.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Jared's Diamond Fish

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Alone on the Diamond Sea" in Mirror Shards.

Jared watched the sun rise over the coastal mountains as the wind splashed spray from the waves across his face in bursts of foam. He held the fishnet, half of it still dragging behind the skiff, and watched the pink and oranges flicker across the edges of the clouds on the horizon. It would be a hot punishing day later, but it was perfect now. Jared pulled the fishnet into the boat. One of the fish, golden scales like the sun, stood out from all the other silvery anchovies. Jared picked it up and almost dropped it when the fish winked at him.

"Hey, throw me back," said the fish. Jerry did drop the fish this time and it flopped on the floor of the boat. The fish's pectoral and tail fins flapped and the fish skittered across the bottom of the boat until it hit the sloping side, but it didn't have to enough strength to get out of the boat.

"Hey buddy, --"

"It's Jared." Fishes didn't talk. Had Jared had too much wine last night?

"Hey Jared, throw me back into the sea."

"What. How can a fish talk?"

The fish stood up on its pelvic fins and wiggled its dorsal as its gills pulsed. "I've got a mouth just like you. Has breathing air damaged your brain?" Jared didn't answer the fish. The fish's dorsal fin grew limp and the fish said, "I'll tell you what, if you throw me back, your net will capture diamonds for every fish you would've caught."

Jared imagined a chest full of diamonds and his hands digging and letting them fall like a stone waterfall. "Okay, you have a deal." Jared picked up the fish.

"Careful, you oaf. Don't bend my pecs that way."

Jared swung the fish underhand and it arced into the sea. Jared definitely needed to lay off the drink.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jerk Exterminator

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Backseat Driver" in Mirror Shards.

Dan struggled to control the car as the dark van barreled past in the other lane. A teenaged boy in the drivers seat peered at Dan before cutting back into Dan's lane and forcing Dan to veer onto the dirt shoulder to avoid the van. The shoulder's stones sprayed and the dings of pebbles echoed as they bounced off the Volvo and scratched its paint. Dan glared at the vehicle and mumbled, "Asshole."

"Daddy swore," said Becky from the back seat. "Mommy says swearing's unladylike."

"Mommy's right," said Dan taking a deep breath.

"Why can daddies swear?"

"We can swear only under extenuating circumstances. I hope you don't grow up to be a teenager like those jerks in the van ahead of us."

A huge Roc, its wings thirty feet across, dived out of the sky. The Roc's claws were bigger than the van and the talons swung back as the Roc lifted the van off the ground.

"Becky, what are you doing?" asked Dan.


Dan looked over his shoulders and saw his daughter's smug smile. "Becky!"

"But, I'm a jerk exterminator," said Becky.

"Put them down now."



"But, dad."

"You may have great power, but no daughter of mine is going to be a tyrant."

The roc lowered the van, which squealed black smoke from the tires when it landed on the road.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A God's God

A response to Dana Goodyear's New Yorker article: "Kid Goth". She quotes Neil Gaiman as saying if he had not been a writer, he would've wanted to design religions.

Neil sat in the third-floor window overlooking St. Edward Street and Green Park. The early birds had already returned from their southern vacations even though snow lightly covered the ground. He watched as a limo arrived at the entrance to the Green Park Care Center. A swarthy man, his hair peppered gray above his white polo shirt and black slacks, opened the door for a ten-year-old boy who clambered out of the rear seat. The boys black shoes reflected the gray sky and looked like they'd never touched slush.

There was a knock on the frosted glass door with Neil's name upon it and below that, "Religions 'R' Us". Neil pushed a hand through his twisted hair that didn't make a dent in the tangled mass. The boy and the chauffeur stood outside the door and Neil waved them in, "Please, have a seat." The boy sat slumped in the wooden folding chair in front of Neil's desk and the chauffeur just stood by the door. "What can I do for you?"

The boy looked around and said, "Are you really the Neil." Neil nodded. "I thought this would have been more," the boy paused, "majestic. Can you really design a religion?"

"Does Cthulhu have tentacles?" The boy didn't answer. "Of course he does. Business has been slow is all." Neil noted the boy's Armani jacket and saw that every hair was in its place. He must've had his own hair stylist, since boys that age were never that neat. "It is quite unusual for someone your age to requisition a religion."

"Ahmed, show him the money," said the boy.

"No, that won't be necessary. So you want your own religion. Where do you stand on guilt?"

"I don't care about guilt. You can put anything in it as long as you build in lots of religious holidays."

Neil raised an eyebrow. "Lots of holidays, check. Sounds like a nosy god. Anything else?"

"No. Just make sure the holidays get me out of school and leave me free to spend the day however I desire."

"Okay, come back next week I'll see what I can manage." Ahmed and the boy left through the door. Neil rubbed his hands together, he knew that this would be a challenge. Holidays did not come at little cost to one's soul.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Guest Lecturer" in Mirror Shards.

Taku hunched over his computer and pondered the flash story. The pixelled words flowed before his eyes as he tried to whittle them down.

"Ahem," said The Wisest Stone.

Taku jumped, landed on the edge of his chair, and fell to the floor knocking some books off the bookshelf as he flailed to catch himself. The Wisest Stone's belly bulged over the upper shelf, which creaked under his weight.

"Umm... hi," said Taku. "I need to cut five more words."

"Perhaps." The Wisest Stone was silent for a moment. "You're late, I think you need to write one hundred words."

Friday, February 5, 2010

Leaving Home

A response to Suzanne Young's "Friday Funkday" in Flashy Fiction.

I held the hourglass in my hand as Callie leaned over my shoulder to look at it. "What do you think it does?" she asked.

"No idea." It was cold against my skin and I regretted ever picking it up. Without thinking, I closed my hand around it. Immediately, the world started to spin around me. I screamed out for Callie, but by the time the room stood still... I was alone.

I opened my hand and looked at the hourglass and the grains of sand that mostly filled the right side of the hourglass. A few grains had fallen into the other side. Had they been there before I grabbed the hourglass?

I sat crosslegged on the rich loam that felt moist to my touch, but it must have been sterile because I could see out to the horizon in the dim gray light and not a single plant blocked my view. The dim light was similar to the amount of light that had lit the roads when Callie and I had bicycled out to the dam last summer. Yet, here the heavens lacked moon or stars.

I set the hourglass on the ground and watched the grains of sand slide back into the bottom glass with all the others. I picked it up, closed my eyes, and hoped to feel dizzy. I opened my eyes and the dim plain still stretched before me. I slammed the hourglass to the ground so it stood upside down and leaned over it as I gripped it in both hands while I kneeled on the ground. But I was still here.

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

I scrambled to my feet and looked around, but I still didn't see anyone. "Who's there?"

"That won't get you home. I left that hourglass on your world. It's a one-way ticket to here."

"But," my eyes started to tear and I blinked them but my voice still wavered, "how do I get home?"

"I need you to do something for me. If that works out, maybe I'll send you home." He laughed and a wind swept across the desolate plain.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Babushka Killing Jars

A response to Nathaniel Lee's "Killing Jar" in Mirror Shards.

The basement stairs, weathered two by fours pocked by knots, looked like they might collapse with even Elias's scrawny ass. Billy held a mayonnaise jar, the lid in his other hand, as he stood on the threshold of the stairs and wondered whether scaring his sister was worth the probability that he might break his neck on these stairs.

"Go on," said Elias. "You aren't scared are ya?"

"Where's the light switch?"

"There isn't any lights down there. Besides, you don't want the spiders to hide away when they see the light."

"But how will we see down there?"

"A couple squat windows that are mostly covered with dirt splashed by the rain let in a little light so your eyes will adjust."

Billy stepped forward and felt the stairs shift and creak under his weight and he paused but the stairs held. He hurried down the rest of the stairs and felt spiderwebs brush across his cheek, sticky webs that stuck to his fingers. Billy wondered how long it took the spiders to create these webs, just the web would start Tess screaming.

"What are you waiting for?" asked Elias. "The best spiders are under the staircase there. Be careful."

Billy stretched over the stacks of newspapers and brown grocery bags filled with junk and looked for a spider. He thought he saw a movement, a strand of web that drifted in the air. A bulky angular body crept along the underside of the stair it's hairy legs black against the dim stairs and bubbles of saliva emanated from below the black eyes. Perfect, thought Billy. Tess got upset when Puddles, their golden retriever, slobbered on her. Billy raised the Mason jar but the spider scurried forward and the jar cracked against the bottom of the stair but the spider wasn't in the glass. Instead, it was just outside of it and it dropped down onto Billy's hand and bit him. Billy felt weird, as if he was falling from a tree and the room prismed into thousands of pictures like looking through a mirrored kaleidoscope. He heard Elias's voice as if it was far away and he was at the bottom of a deep, deep hole.

"She's poisonous," said Elias.

Billy found that he had eight hairy legs segmented and he felt awkward as he flailed his legs around. Somehow his flailing managed to turn his body and he saw dozens of Elias's coming at him each of them holding a mayonnaise jar. The mayonnaise jar merged into a single jar that fell over him and the air ruffled his hairy legs, which tickled. The jar slid along the floor and then tilted and Billy felt himself fall along the glass.

With a muffled voice Elias said, "Another creep to add to my collection. Welcome to your new home, Billy."

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Screams of Chicken Little

A response to RJ Clarken's "Monday Mayhem" in Flashy Fiction.

If it had just been a short scream and then silence, Kathy wouldn't have worried. But this was a long scream punctuated by short periods of silence when the screamer sucked air and then the scream continued higher in pitch. The classroom of students looked worried and had stopped working on their spelling assignment.

"I'm sure this is nothing to worry about," said Kathy. "Someone probably stubbed a toe. I'll find out what all the screaming is about and let you know, but you've got to finish your spelling worksheet."

The sun shone through brown tinted windows that left a dingy light on the gray tiles of the hallway. Around a corner, stood Eleanor Grouchen, one of the fourth grade teachers whose face was red from her screaming. Eleanor pointed at the door to the teacher's lounge and hopped up and down as if to punctuate her screaming which didn't cease.

Kathy entered the lounge carefully, not sure what she would find, but the orange plastic chairs, desk, and microwave were in their proper positions. Kathy left the lounge and took Eleanor's arm, "What's wrong?"

It took Eleanor several moments before she subsided in her wordless screams. "In there. Didn't you see it?"

"I saw nothing unusual in the teacher's lounge," said Kathy.

"On the ceiling," Eleanor's voice rose in a scream again but she managed to contain yourself.

Kathy walked back into the lounge and looked up and saw two cute eight-legged creatures about the size of her palm pacing the ceiling as they looked for flies.

"They're harmless, just two RoboSpiders."

Eleanor still shook as she said, "Please, will you get my lunch from the refrigerator so I can eat in my car."