Sunday, January 13, 2013


A faint crackle of distant thunder came from somewhere in the northwestern Wilderness. TG (pronounced teej) leaned against the dorm seemingly not to notice. Taking one last drag off of his hand-rolled Bugler cigarette, he pushed himself away from the building. Fixing his gold-plated sunglasses with one hand, a pair said to have been given to him by “the King” himself, he pinched out the tiny cherry with his other hand. Without turning around, he threw the butt behind him, and popped his collar just as it swished cleanly into a nearby garbage can. The roller party later tonight actually had him kind of excited, something that was rare for him anymore, but that was still a long way away. Right now he had much more important business. If his source was right, and she always was, the most interesting “fresh meat” he was ever going to meet would be showing up nearby soon.
            TG’s mind wandered to his time as a freshman, recalling the acne, the glasses, and the girls . . . he shivered recalling his deep, dark, unfortunate past. That was many, many moons ago and he had buried that green boy a long time ago. The man in the red velour suit had quite literately all the confidence in the world. Maybe it was his overly long tenure in Professor Brewenstein’s oenology class, maybe it was his short stint as a roadie for Jefferson Aeroplane, maybe it was the girls . . . not that it mattered. As he stood facing the woods in the direction of the thunder, a bewildered young man stumbled out of the woods. Wearing overly tight jeans (no flair, hmm), strange kicks, and slight tendrils of smoke coming from his hair, TG knew in an instant this was his “fresh meat.”
            “Where am I?” the newcomer asked. Then drooped to all fours, puking violently.
            “That’s right buddy, better out than in” TG comforted him. “Release the evil. ‘Beer before liquor, never sicker.’ Didn’t you learn that as an undergrad?” As he heaved, yet half nodded, TG knew then that this “meat” was definitely going to be different.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Along the dark, twisting path the thief moved with the swiftness of a shadow fleeing the light. Not a sound did he make, not a pebble did he disturb. His strides found each mark while moving him deftly over rocky nodes and blood-thirsty brambles. On switchbacks and bends he seemed to flit from point to point using shortcuts long forgotten. The bright glow of the nearly full moon only made the trip faster still. In these conditions even a novice wouldn’t need a lantern; for a master woodsman like himself it might as well have been a bright sunny day. This did little to dispel the sounds around him though.
Every now and then faint sounds could be heard from the left, from behind, then up above. These were things whose pace could eclipse his own. None dared approach though, they only sought first pickings should he leave remains. Even fell creatures had sense enough to hold back from a larger predator. Like jackals trailing lions they knew better than to approach too close to the ‘hunter’. And a hunter he was, but not this time, though had they come at him he would have swiftly ended them. Time was something he could not get anymore of, and anyone who took more time from him would feel his harsh and instant wrath.
The forest broke and he came to a gigantic field of wild oats, a vast flood plain seasonally watered by the river swelling with melting snows. He saw several large shapes just on the edge of his field of vision. He was surrounded, but they were only stalking. The feeling of menace seemed to be coming from elsewhere. Changing directions toward the river, the beasts kept their distance from the bank but maintained watch from the tree line.
‘So the waters hold secret dangers as well…’ he half muttered as he hazarded a glance at the inky black surface. Instantly he stopped, little puffs of dust swirling at his heels. The beasts half snarled as they tumbled into each other, desperate to stay back in the shadows. He stared motionless at the water, at the reflection of the moon and stars—and then watched as the reflected lights briefly vanish as strange shadows flew overhead. The hunter bats had caught up with him. Keeping his gaze down he pulled out a short paper-covered cylinder with a long, thin stick attached. Crouching slowly, he pushed one end of the stick into the soft river bank and lit the paper on fire. Quickly the tiny blaze flared then burned out only to erupt in an ear piercing shriek of sparks and golden flame a second later. Moments later the loud splash of disoriented bats flying into the river was quickly accompanied by the louder splashing of some river denizens late night snacking.
If the bats had already found him then the rest of his pursuers wouldn’t be too far behind. Pulling a small onyx figurine inlaid with peridot eyes he whispered, “To never dream again.” The eyes flared with green flames and black smoke issued forth, coalescing into a vaguely equine shape. Green flames licked at the places where its hooves stomped and the corners of its eyes and mouth. It stomped, snorted short green flares, and then turned to faced its summoner. Grabbing what would pass for a mane—had it not been the same shadow stuff the rest of the mount was made of—he swung himself onto the steed in one easy motion.
“Take the river, head south, we’ll make better time that way.” Rearing up on its haunches and giving a sepulchral cry, the mount moved with unearthly speed and grace, going from road to bank to river as if it were all solid stone. Little green fires marked their journey in a fleeting trail, gone moments after their birth. The surface stayed calm otherwise, not even the river monsters tempting the nightmare’s hooves. On the bank, a pack of scavengers sat and howled plaintively at the moon.
As he sat hunkered down against the nightmare’s back he wondered if he would make it in time. Not in time to avoid capture, but in time to deliver his package before there was no one to deliver it to.

He arrived at the castle just as the first hints of the coming dawn were painting the dark night sky. There were no sentries to stop him at the gate—there hadn’t been any sentries for a long time now—nor any signs of life elsewhere within the outer walls. Reaching the central keep he bounded off his mount in a swift motion giving a quick double clap as he landed. His mount lost all definition of form and quickly dissipated like steam from a kettle. Before the last of the black mist dispersed he had already placed the onyx figurine back within his satchel and taken three strides toward the keep entrance.
Deftly he navigated his way through the maze of lightless passageways as he worked his way upward to the room that housed his charge. There she lay, just as he had left her, motionless as the cold stone floor. A gnarled crone of a woman knelt beside her, waving esoteric holy symbols and offering forgotten litanies to longer forgotten gods. She looked up at his approach.
“So you have returned. Successful I hope?”
“I wouldn’t have otherwise,” he said as he pulled forth a small vial.
The old woman’s eyes grew large as saucers, her jaw going slack and a small stream of drool falling from her lips.
“Give it here. I just want to look,” she said. The lustfulness of her gaze was unmistakable. He tucked it back within his tunic.
“So the stories are true after all? Who would have thought these few drops of this panacea could even tempt the most venerable of our matrons.”
He watched as the old woman shook her head, trying to regain her composure. When she looked at him again, her face returned to its normal wizened state.
“I cry your pardon m’lord,” she said with a slight bow “The power of the fairies blood is too much for these old eyes. I have seen too much, lived too long. The youthful innocence you possess has long left this battered frame of mine.”
“Nonsense Grand Matron, I am not immune to its powers either.” He made his way to the other side of the bed and gazed down upon his bride. “It is only my great love for her that overrides the foul temptations this elixir inspires. I would have gone to any lengths to claim it.”
“And so you have.” A worried expression crossed her face. “Speaking of which, what of your pursuers m’lord?”
“Even if they are at the gate it matters not, they must retreat once the sun comes up. I doubt they were able to keep pace though…” he drifted off, thinking of his flight from the temple.
“Do not underestimate the patrons of the Dark One, they have their own brand of craftiness.”
“Aye, and I have my own. Quickly now, the sun is almost up, what do we need to do?” He gazed down at his beloved, her face frozen in time. She looked as if she might wake at the slightest noise. She looked as if she were merely sleeping.
The curse laid upon her had been anything but a simple sleep spell. All the potions, salves, and unctions, none of them had caused any sort of response. All of the chants, sutras, and prayers, all had been countlessly repeated in vain. All of the charms, talismans, and fetishes, all called forth no response from her. The fairies’ blood was the absolute last hope, a panacea among panaceas.
“Pour it into her mouth, a few drops should suffice. After that we wait.”
He did as instructed, then waited. Time itself seemed to come to a halt.
Moments later the princess’ eyes fluttered awake.
“Where am I?” the young girl asked innocently.
“It’s a miracle!” the crone howled.
He looked at her and smiled softly, the tension draining away from his body. He knelt beside her, held her hand, and gently stroked her head.
“You’re home my beloved, you’re home.”
As recognition filled her mind so did color fill her face. She sat up and embraced him.
Despite her small frame he was impressed at the strength of her embrace. He brought his arms up, hesitated, then tenderly retuned her embrace. He had almost accepted a fate where this embrace would have never come to pass. From that he felt slight pangs of guilt and regret despite his current joy. Perhaps having sensed his inner turmoil she tightened her grasp.
“I know that I can always depend on you. As long as I have faith in you there should be no doubt in your heart.”
“Yes, your high—” but was suddenly pushed away.
“In court is one thing but this is my chamber and you are my dearest, my betrothed. Call me by my name like I have told you or I won’t forgive you this time.”
He smiled, finally assured that she had fully recovered. “Yes, Prin—”
“No titles either!”
“Yes, Clavelle.” She beamed at this and embraced him once more.
They may have stayed that way indefinitely had not a cough from the Grand Matron disrupted the lover’s spell. Clavelle turned to see the smiling, time-worn face she had spent so much time around.
“Grand Matron!” She released Chevren and threw her arms around the old woman. “How I’ve missed your lessons. It seems like it has been forever since we’ve…well, anything.”
“In a way it has dearie, in a way it has.”
Releasing her, Clavelle looked back at Chevren, then around the room. She suddenly realized they were the only three in the room. A sudden grumble in her stomach and the low rays in the window by her bed told her that it must be morning.
“Where is my page? Is he fetching breakfast? And what of Elsie, my chambermaid? Is she attending to the morning linens?” She caught a furtive glance between Chevren and the Matron. Both seemed to be hiding something. “Just how long have I been sleeping? It seemed like I was dreaming for days. I had all sorts of crazy, fantastic dreams. There was this giant city, far larger than any I have ever seen. It was round as a wheel and it towered above the ocean overlooking straight white cliffs all around. Then there was this dream of a frightful beast of a girl locked in some dungeon somewhere. I think I remember seeing her lashed and tortured. She would also stare at the moon silently, as if waiting for something. Then there was this bumpkin of a girl with the look of a scullery maid. She was attacked by an enormous bear. It was twice the height of a horse. It chased her up a tree but gave up after she vanished. The last dream I had was the worst of all. There was a boy, he reminded me of that one page. It was so vivid it still gives me shivers to think about it. Seeing him standing there over the corpse of a some man being held by a woman. Their faces looked similar so maybe they were family. All I really remember was the blood. There was so much of it, it seemed to be pouring from the old man’s chest.” She stopped as she noticed both members of her audience growing visibly paler. “Will someone please say something? And where is my breakfast? Chevren, answer me. Now.”
“Yes, m’la—”
“Yes, Clavelle.”
“Where is my page?”
“Six days ago had been Roger’s, your page, last day of service. He was coming of age and wanted me to take him as my squire so he might become a knight. The following morning his father was murdered, done in by an assassin’s blade. I know, I arrived shortly after the villain had fled.”
Clavelle stared at him puzzled, feeling that there was something missing from the story. Before she could ask Chevren continued with the story.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Zamir had to hurry. Saban and Loran were waiting anxiously for the results of his father’s work. Part artist, part mad scientist, his father’s skills and expertise were sought after by many.
            Their current partners were different.
            In the past, Zamir’s father had come to the aid of many. No matter how much success he brought to others' plans, he almost never seemed to have his kindness reciprocated.
            Saban and Loran were different though. Unlike many others, they had already seen much of the world despite their young years.
            Saban’s Mother had been a translator as part of a diplomatic envoy. As a result, Saban had spent many of his younger years as they playmate of diplomats’ children from all over the world. Loran on the other hand had a much different upbringing. His parents had become American citizens. He had shown an early aptitude for biology, so his parents had wished him to be a doctor. Instead, Loran joined the military after graduation and then went to college with different pursuits in mind.
            In the end, it was circumstance that brought both men back to the village of their forefathers. They had both quickly formed strong ties with Zamir’s father and had made ambitious dreams for their futures.
            And now, all of those plans rested on Zamir’s shoulders.
            Despite Saban’s savvy and Loran’s technical knowledge, none of it could have come together without Zamir’s father’s practical skills. His father also had access to facilities neither of the others did.
            Zamir thought about all of this as he sped on a beat-up old dirt bike down an ancient hillside foot trail. One false move and he would be over a cliff and tumbling down into the rocky gorge.
            The path eventually widened as it met with others until it became more of a dirt road. At the bottom of the gorge it crossed a narrow wooden bridge and headed up and over the last ridge before town.
            As Zamir crested the last hill he saw a haggard looking fellow at the edge of town. It was Loran jumping up and down wildly.
            Zamir came to a stop in front of him, his bike still idling. The older man wore an anxious face yet held out his hand in greeting.
            “Well?” asked Loran.
            Zamir just nodded.
            Loran dropped to his knees and threw his hands into the air.
            “Praise be to Allah!” he shouted, tears running down his face. “I knew those were the right microbes, I knew it!”
            “I have to go,” started Zamir. “Is Saban at the place?”
            Loran just nodded.
            A few moments later, Zamir arrived at his destination. As he turned the bike off and parked it, he shook his head. The old, abandoned restaurant looked just like he had remembered it. He pushed his way past the loudly tinkling beaded curtain, his eyes taking a minute to adjust to the darkness with in.
            Inside, half a dozen surly men sat sipping dark liquid from glasses. A man in the middle wearing fine white clothing and a thick moustache stared him down intensely, then spoke.
            “Well?” he asked.
            “It’s ready, Saban . . .” Zamir answered, trailing off.
            The small crowd erupted in cheers.
            Saban picked the youth up under his arms and twirled him around.
            “We are saved!” Saban shouted. “With Zamir’s father’s cheese, made from the samples Loran took, I will be able to restore a piece of our Albanian heritage. We will have fresh Byrek again!” 

Thursday, January 10, 2013


To his left Garbonz Franklin saw several flying daggers targeting his torso. To his right was a refrigerator sized shambling long-limbed monstrosity from beyond the void of time and space. In front of him a colossal festering quagmire of jet colored amoebic protoplasm which had battered down the front door and filled the front foyer. Above him strange insect-like creatures with multi-hued cauliflower heads buzzed and droned and flashed in macabre and arcane rhythms. Behind him and up the stairs lay his only clear path. His companions had left him behind, thinking to make him fodder to ilk beyond the ken of sane men. Little did they know he had planned the opposite for them. Staring at the clock on the wall, its hands frozen in time by his will, he thought he could do a lot in the next 93 seconds of time he had.
            With a wave of his left hand he drew strange arcane patterns that he had learned from the strange men of a certain foreign land. The men whose clothes no one made nor knew the material from which they were sown or the techniques which produced no seams. As he completes the sign a two meter long rift appears in the fabric of time as he pulls forth an infinite spell staff—

            “HOLD THE PHONE!!! STOP THE MUSIC!” Mike yelled as he stood up and waved his hand like a pro-sport official calling a penalty. His face was red and he was breathing heavily as he stared across the basement table.
            “What?” said Kevin. Looking down he rolled some dice then ran his finger along the back of his gamemaster screen. “Garbonz uses his staff and calls forth a—”
            “What part of stop wasn’t clear? This is exactly why I say we need to rotate who is our GM. With you it might as well be ‘God Master’ instead of gamemaster.” Mike was starting to sweat now, his breathing becoming labored. He fumbled around in his pocket and pulled out his inhaler. Two puffs later and he felt the welcomed sensation of full lungs of oxygen. He really hated that his mom always made him carry his inhaler but he was glad he had it now. “Dammit Kevin! Do you see what you’ve done? I haven’t had an asthma attack in almost two years—and the last time it was because I had a sinus infection!”
            “Why are you so upset,” Kevin asked with a disturbingly legitimate innocence.
             “GRRRR! I…I can’t even get upset.” Mike threw up his hands and looked over at Paul. “You try explaining it, I don’t want to get upset again.” With that he sat down, resting his elbows on the table and his head in his hands.
            “You see Kevin, the thing… we think that, um…”Paul looked across the table at Kevin, then to his right to Steve who just shrugged, made a motion across his neck, and pointed to himself. Guess it was just him. “Um you kinda cheat when you are GM.”
            There was silence for several minutes as Kevin looked around, a series of expressions crossing his face. He then started talking again.
            “Garbonz summons forth fiery minions from the star—”
            “Next week at my house?” asked Mike.
            “Deal,” said Paul, with Steve nodding silently in agreement.
And Kevin kept talking.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


One by one, Felix cracked his knuckles. He then did a few slow head rolls by a few slow shoulder rolls. Then, using his desk and chair as braces, turned to the left until his back cracked. He then repeated in the opposite direction.
            It was time to get down to business.
            Apparently, while volleyball was the national sport, cricket was actually the most popular spectator game. Felix then read on about how British colonization had influenced the spread of cricket across the country. He also read about how in the last two decades they had become an outright international powerhouse in the sport.
            Felix then got up and went to the bathroom. He somehow managed to come back with a bowl of chips and a glass of soda. After watching a few videos of the Cricket World Cup, he brought the bowl and glass back down to the kitchen.
            At the computer again, he steeled his resolve.
            Felix started reading about how Ceylon tea was considered amongst the finest in the world. He read on about how the rust blight had killed off the previously prosperous coffee growing empires.
            Once again he did some stretching, this time yawning as he did.
            This time Felix read about how Buddhism was the predominant religion. Apparently it was more popular there then Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity combined. He also learned that conflicts between various Buddhist sects had long been a cause of various incidents of internal strife within the country.
            Exasperated, Felix dropped his head onto the table.
            There was a knock at his doorway.
            He looked up to see his mother standing there.
            “How’s the school project coming along?” she asked. “Can I see your re-design of the Sri Lankan flag?”
            “I’m working on it,” Felix replied. “I’m working on it.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Rua sighed. The last of the holidays were past, which meant it was finally time for the decorations to come down.
            It also meant that winter break would soon be over.
            She was lost in thought, staring out at the ocean through the front window. Rua jumped with a shriek as her brother plopped a large empty tote down behind her.
            “Tane, you jerk,” she scolded.
            “What?” Tane laughed at her. “You should have seen your face just now.”
            “You wanna see stars?” Rua asked with a raised fist.
            “Whoa now,” he said with his hands held up defensively.
            “Sorry,” she started, and dropped her fist. “I was thinking about mom. . .”
            “Yeah . . .”
            They stood for a long moment in the silence of the house.
            “Rarotonga isn’t the same as Aitutaki,” Rua started, “there’s more tourists than anything. Plus just so many people.”
            Tane looked at her, then started laughing heartily.
            “You want to go to Auckland for grad school, and you think Rarotonga has too many people?” Tane said with a smile.
            “Well . . .,” Rua replied.
            “Listen,” Tane said “Where is our father right now?”
            “On his ship somewhere . . .”
            “Right!” Tane exclaimed as he put an arm around his sister. “Do you think he spends all those months at sea just so you can doubt yourself.”
            Rua put her head down to hide her red face and grin.
            “You’re THE top student in all the islands,” Tane said. “Have at least a little confidence.”
            “Sorry,” Rua said.
            “No, but you will be if you give up so soon. You’ve just started school, have some confidence,” Tane said.
            Rua looked up, thin streams covering her face. Before she could say another word, Tane tightened his arm around her and started to give her a noogie. Rua quickly pushed her way out of his arm, laughing.
            “Get back here!” Tane yelled, laughing himself.
            Rua ran out of the room, out the front door, and down the beach. Tane chased close behind her. Both of the were laughing the whole way.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Rudy looked at the clock. Five minutes until two o’clock.
            Five minutes until it all began.
            When he had signed up for this assignment, this was not what he had been expecting. Having graduated with an electrical engineering degree, he had originally hoped to find work in a lab.
            Instead, Rudy found himself the lead technician in a manufacturing plant.
            The position itself was not much of an issue. While unglorious, it paid very and allowed him more than a little free time to pursue his own interest.
            The problem was the nature of what was being manufactured.
            Originally, he was told that the company produced ‘customized modular mechanical systems for a variety of government applications’ and Rudy had just accepted it.
            Once he had been familiarized with the controls and protocols, he had been left mostly to his own devices. It was during this time that he started to more rigorously examine the production manuals. It didn’t take him very long to figure out what exactly the ‘customized modular mechanical systems’ exactly were, and it horrified him when he did.
            They were building firing pins.
            When he had found out, it made him sick to his stomach.
            Rudy didn’t consider himself a coward, but he had always held to pacifistic ideals. A descendant of Quaker settlers, Rudy had always taken the ‘love thy neighbor’ credo very seriously. The idea of helping to bring about the end of not just a one, or tens or hundreds or even thousands—but to help bring about the end of tens of thousands of lives was simply too much for him to bear.
            The clock struck two. It was time to start the start up procedures of the manufacturing lines. It was time to monitor the power levels in the furnaces. It was time to check and double check and triple check all morning procedures.
            But Rudy, instead, chose a different course of action. He had been mulling it over, but now his mind was made up.
            Rudy put on his hat and coat. He grabbed his briefcase and walked over to the emergency shutdown controls. He threw them all.
            He then calmly walked out the door, down the hall, and to the time clock. By the time he was punching out alarms and shouts could be heard from all over the building.
            Rudy simply headed out the door and never looked back. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Frank was tired and wanted to go home. After this one last call, his rounds would be over.             Being a locksmith may not have been glorious work, but it was something he was definitely proud of.
            Today, however, had been going especially long. Accidentally dropping and breaking his glasses after lunch wasn’t helping it go much faster.
            He checked the work order again. 
            “Here it is,” he said to himself as he parked the van, “681 Butler Street.”
            Frank turned off the van, grabbed his tools, and headed for the front door.
            A woman wearing a long coat was standing in front, holding a bag of groceries in one hand. In her other hand was a cell phone into which she was talking hostilely to the person on the other end.
            Or so Frank assumed. She was speaking in Spanish, or possibly Portuguese or Italian. All three were languages he couldn’t speak. Being a poker fan, he decided to play the odds.
            “Me abray porta,” Frank said in his best possible Spanish.
            The woman froze and stared at him. At a lanky six-foot-six, Frank was used to this sort of reaction.
            He tried repeating himself to no avail. Giving up, he pulled out his tools and started working on the door.
            As soon as he started she resumed her conversation. A moment later she hung up, then started yelling even more hysterically into the phone.
            Frank just rolled his eyes and continued on his work.
            Just as he was working on the last tumbler, he heard sirens off in the distance. It didn’t surprise him in this part of town. As he finally got the lock to pop, he heard the noises coming very close.
            He was reaching down to open the door when the police car screeched to a halt out front. Instantly, the officers were out of the car, weapons drawn.
            “Police!” one of the officers shouted. “Drop your tools! Put your hands—Frank?” the officer who was shouting suddenly asked. Both officers lowered their weapons.
            “Joey?” Frank asked. “That you?”
            “Yeah,” the officer started. “We got a call about a break-in. And here we find you.”
            “Me?” Frank said in astonishment. “But I’m on a call here. Look, let me show you the work order.”
            Slowly, he reached into his pocket, and handed the officer his work order.
            Joey looked it over, then started laughing. He showed it to the other officer, who in turn started chuckling.
            “Where you supposed to be at again?” Joey asked. “And don’t you wear glasses?”
            “681 Butler Street,” Frank said. “And I broke my glasses this afternoon. Now what’s going on.”
            Joey just shook his head. Meanwhile, his partner started speaking to the woman in Spanish, who looked at Frank, then started laughing as well.
            “Ya know, Frank,” began Joey, “It’s a good thing we know you. And maybe you should carry a back up pair of specs.”
            “What are you talking about?” Frank said.
            “This order is for 537 Butler street,” said Joey.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


As he sat on his throne, surveying his kingdom, the warm sun climbed over the horizon, melting the morning frost wherever its rays touched. A prisoner of a fate not his own, he still knew himself to be king.
            The years had been long, and the times had been harsh, but his status had remained unchanged. Regardless of events, he was still a ruler.
            His subjects had remained with him through it all. Unmovable, they were destined to be with him until the end.
            He reminisced about days long past. He thought of the times of his youth, of traveling the country with his most loyal retainers. They were young and powerful and unchallenged wherever they went. Adoration and admirations were always the greetings they had been met with. Those days seemed to stretch on forever.
            Then abruptly they ended.
            No longer did he roam the countryside. No longer was he praised or adored.
            A trapped monarchy of a trapped people was what he had become.
            These days to seem seemed to continue without end.
            Then abruptly they too ceased.
            This time the end came with a low rumble and quake. It arrived in the form of mighty behemoths. In less than a day, the king and all of his retinue were whisked away to a far away place.
            They arrived in darkness but soon found themselves bathed in light.
            Then the assault came.
            They were attacked in various ways. They were torn asunder. Nothing more than skeletons, the end seemed to have finally arrived.
            And then the miracle happened.
            Slowly, carefully, piece by piece, the king and his subjects found themselves returned. But they were not merely returned to how they had been. Instead, they were completely reborn. It was as if the hands of time themselves had been turned back.
            Once again they found themselves roaming the country side. Time had changed the landscape drastically, but some things never change. There was still the praise and respect from the time long ago.

            As the toll booth operator handed the driver his change, he whistled in appreciation.
            “That’s sure a beautiful old Caddy you got there,” he said.
            “Found it in an old farmer’s field. He had a fleet of them,” replied the driver. “A little t-l-c, a few new parts, and a lot of elbow grease and they’re good as the day they rolled off the assembly lines.”

Friday, January 4, 2013


Darrin breathed deeply, slowly. He could do this.
            He could do this, couldn’t he?
            For the umpteenth time, his mantra was broken.
            No matter how many times he had done it, it was always the same.
            His record was sterling. His achievements were historic. His accolades were innumerable.
            For him, personally, they were all meaningless.
            Despite Having been seemingly favored his whole life, Darrin, deep down, knew better.
            In first grade, he had won the spelling bee after threatening a few of the smartest kids in class—no one wanted to be known as a bed wetter.
            In middle school, he had stolen and hidden the bike of his baseball rival. When it was time for tryouts, the other kid never made it in time.
            In high school, before that crucial history final, had asked to go to the bathroom. While out, he pulled the alarm, ducked back in while everyone was outside, and then met up with his class after copying the answers.
            When trying out for the test pilot program, he had used so many dirty tricks, he couldn’t bare to think of them all.
            And now, here he was again, in a place he wasn’t sure he belonged.
            Darrin wasn’t sure when, but at some point, it occurred to him that most of his achievements had been obtained through deceit of some sort.
            Did that mean he wasn’t truly qualified? What if he screwed up? What if they found out? Would everything be over?
            His thoughts were cutoff as the timer he had set earlier went off.
            Darrin looked over at his co-pilot, who only nodded back in silence.
            The time for questions was over, for better or for worse, it was show time.
            “Good afternoon folks, this is your captain speaking,” he started. “On behalf of myself and the entire fight crew, I would like to welcome you on this inaugural sub-orbital flight . . .” 

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Eschiva had reached her limit quite some time ago. Although it was expected of her to manage the house, a job she did exceedingly well, she had had enough of it. Hers was a political marriage of the worst sort. While her husband had been welcoming enough, those of his house had did little to hide their disapproval of her.
            That was not what truly bothered her. Despite the cold welcome, she was fortunate that her husband was kind and genuinely affectionate towards her. That was until he married his second, third, and fourth wives.
            Now, Eschiva was little more than an afterthought.
            This too though did not really trouble her. Despite receiving less attention, she was still doted upon. Also, she was afforded many privileges and more freedom than the others.
            What was wearing her down was the monotony of it all.
            Day in, day out, the same cycle repeated itself over and over. It was like a mill stone grinding grain into meal. Slowly, she felt like Eschiva the woman was becoming little more than Eschiva the chamberlain.
            She felt that leaving was her only recourse.
            Eschiva had left the grounds with her most trusted maid on the pretext of visiting the bazaar. They were still well within the city limits when they had to stop. A small pebble had gotten into her sandal that she just couldn’t seem to work out. The more she walked, the more it irritated her.
            Not wanting to attract attention, then headed down a side street between two stalls. What Eschiva found was something completely alien to her.
            Having grown up in a privileged household, she barely had occasion to go outside. When she did, her sojourns had always been accompanied escorts, and always went along the main thoroughfares. Even after her marriage, her own time was non-existent, mostly it was spent with her own children. Outside of servants, she had no direct interaction with those of lower status than herself.
            Now, in this back alley, she was confronted with harsh reality head-on.
            A woman, dressed only in rags, sat holding a small swaddled bundle. She was crying, rocking it back and forth slowly. Across from her, a little further down, an old man in rags slept with his head tilted back, snoring loudly. From a doorway a little further down she heard the sounds of a man yelling and a woman crying out. The entire area smelled of old, stale urine.
            Eschiva started to back away, when she tripped and fell, landing hard on her bottom. She looked up to see two small sets of eyes peering from a nearby archway. The children, like the others she saw here, were dressed in loose rags. Dirty and gaunt, she couldn’t tell if they were male or female. They had a look of sadness which was completely unknown to her.
            Not waiting to regain her feet, she started making her way back towards the bazaar. Outside of the shadow of the alley and back in the sunlight of the market, Eschiva felt as if a weight had been lifted off her. As her handmaid helped her up, she suddenly realized there were tears running down her face. She quickly made up her mind.
            As the servants greeted their mistresses return, Eschiva felt a sense of comfort wash over her. With a renewed sense of self and a deep, new-found appreciation of her life, she decided that there were worse things in life than being a chamberlain.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Buster was truly Molly’s greatest treasure. In a heartbeat, maybe even quicker than that, she would give up anything and everything for him. He was her flesh and blood after all, a part of her which would persist long after she was gone.
            She had birthed him quite unceremoniously. No hospital, no doctors, not even a midwife. In fact, Molly had been all alone when she gave birth to him. She had had other children, but they were all gone. It was over so fast, there hadn’t even been time to give them names.
            But not her Buster. He alone said to the world that Molly was, in fact, a mother.
            From the time he was born, she had nursed him.
            When he got dirty, she bathed him.
            Even when he started to explore the world on his own, outside of the house, she was quick to watch over him.
            One time, he had made it almost down to the creek behind the house before she caught up with him. Always vigilant, she was the epitome of an excellent mother.
            The men would come and talk about her as if she was not even in the room, but she didn’t listen nor did she even care. Her entire world had become taking care of Buster.
            The only person that would sometimes help her was Sadie.
            Sadie was a kind and gentle sort of girl, the kind of girl that truly loved all of creation. She always had only nice words to say to Molly and Buster as well. Her very presence helped put Molly at ease. Sadie was also the only one that Molly would allow to help care for Buster.
            Often times, Sadie would bring meals for Molly. While the young mother ate, Sadie would take Buster around with her, holding him gently and caressing him. Other times, she would play with him while Molly slept.
            One time, while Molly was deep in slumber, Sadie had taken Buster outside with her. She had went around the yard with the small fellow. Eventually they wound up down by the creek. Looking for skipping stones while holding Buster in one arm turned out to be a poor decisions.
            After several minutes of a fruitless search, Sadie decided that the far bank might offer a better selection of rocks. Halfway across a makeshift bridge of large boulders, Sadie lost her balance and fell in, letting out an ear piercing cry and taking Buster with her.
            Only moments later Molly was already at the creek. She was hauling Sadie out of the water while the girl in turn held Buster tightly in her arms.
            As Sadie’s own mother came from her laundry, she quickly scolded Sadie for her recklessness.
            “I’ll tell you, Sadie,” the old woman started, “You’re damn lucky Molly is as good of a dog as she is.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Nick’s mom was famous for repeating the old adage ‘you are what you eat’, but simple life experience had taught him people were much more than that. His dad used to tout the catch phrase ‘it is what it is’ like he had invented it. Ironically, Nick felt this contained a deeper meaning than his father had ever realized.
            That still left the question though. Just what was he?
            Was he a boy? Was he a man? Was he a son? Was he a father? Was he a boyfriend? Was he a lover? Was he a friend? Was he an enemy?
            Was he a human? Was he an ape? Was he a mammal? Was he an animal? Was he a living being? Was he just a dream in someone else’s mind?
            Was he a person? Was he a collection of ideas? Was he a collection of emotions? Was he a collection of memories? Was he a bunch of chemicals in a self-sustaining reaction? Was he mortal? Was he a brain in a vat?
            As Nick sat on the swing in the little park by his house, these questions persisted ceaselessly through his head. It was night, and the air was cold, yet not painfully so. Elsewhere, all around him, people were engaged in revelries celebrating the close of one year and the coming of the next. He was alone though, both in the park and in his own mind.
            Nick only knew, for certain, that ‘he was what he was’, but this gave little comfort. Right now, going by feeling, he was nothing. He wasn’t happy, he wasn’t sad, he wasn’t angry, he was just . . .
            Once again, he had reached a mental impasse.
            The wind gusted slightly, then the first few flakes of a light flurry started to drift down.
            With a shiver, Nick realized he was cold.
            Yes, that was a good word. Cold.
            Devoid of energy, a blankness, a nothing. He imagined himself to be like the far reaches of space, past the warm embrace of our planet’s atmosphere. He was like a frozen tundra. A frigid glacier. A solitary iceberg adrift in the sea.
            As these thoughts took over Nick’s consciousness, he felt his eyelids start to grow heavy. By the time consciousness left him, he was completely unaware.
            The next morning, city maintenance workers were baffled by what they found. Someone, over the course of a solitary night, had carved a life-sized ice sculpture of a youth on a swing. Somehow, the person had managed to dress it completely in clothing, even down to boxers and socks.