In the world of bird watching competition can be intense, sometimes even deadly, sometimes even magical. There are birds you can’t see unless you devote your life to seeing them, and a few are in this short story with an aesthetic best described as ‘birdwatchingpunk’.
The Field Guide to Fantasy Birding
(for enthusiasts only)
NAME: boreal chickadee (Poecile hudsonicus)
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: a four to six inch bird which may weigh as much as an ounce. Gray wings and a brown streak across the head are the most common features, but the easiest way to identify it is by its white face with gray patches at the sides. It also has short wings and a short dark bill.
DIET: feeds mostly on seeds and insects by probing in bark and across the forest floor. It favors wood beetle larvae most highly.
RANGE: Maine, Vermont, Alaska, Canada, and New York. Migration happens quickly, with hundreds of miles traveled in just a few days.
BEHAVIOR: not picky when it comes to choosing a mate, though they will often mate for life. Boreal chickadees rarely build their own nests, instead choosing to occupy the abandoned efforts of other birds like the woodpecker. Only one egg is laid, its size surprising given the diminutive creatures that produced it.
To nearly every person who looked at the amateurishly-produced paper it was just a page out of a field guide, a work in progress at best, something to keep an old lonely man busy. Even his family members would not have recognized it for what it was, because they, even the widower’s children, didn’t recognize him for what he was. Continue reading
In this thriller/horror short story the Snake War Museum is just one of many, an opportunity for Claire to confront history. It’s just her, the collection, and the audio guide… at least until the she hears her own name in the headphones…
If a museum does its job well, its physical location in the world is inconsequential. The best place for the George Washington museum might be his birthplace, Westmoreland County, Virginia, but the best museum would be the one that had his actual shoes, his actual buttons, his actual tools, his actual quills and inks, wherever they were, even if the collection was accidentally shipped to, say, Ulverstone, Tasmania. Continue reading
Quarantined? Isolated? What a perfect time to read a horror short story. Everett finds himself trapped underground, prisoner of a most peculiar family, missing their sanity as well as a few other pieces…
Eyelids of an Aristocrat
This account exists, in various lengths, a hundred times over, and the world over at that too. I suspect this will be the longest version of it, and the most difficult to stuff in a bottle or box, but I’m going to bury it the deepest as well. It brings me joy to imagine the sense of reward of reading it to be directly proportional to the effort put in to acquire it. Continue reading
I Thought it was the Cat
Demoted for a raise. Strange I know, but it’s the only way to put it. They wanted me out of the building after the ‘softball incident’. I won’t go into detail about it other than to say they’re all sore losers.
It was mutual. I get an extra five K a year and I use it to pay the price of being near all our distribution centers on the East coast. Being equidistant from three truck stops in the middle of nowhere puts you, you guessed it, in the forgotten rusty storage shed of nowhere’s overgrown backyard.
No partner. Had one, but they also didn’t care for my gloating after the softball incident. So when I got there, town called Cracklebranch, my roommates were a pair of suitcases. Got a tiny house on the cheap. Couldn’t hear anything at night. No crickets. No birds in the morning either. Continue reading
Author’s Note: With this story I was going for a ‘Dolly Parton meets Phantom of the Paradise’ vibe, so hopefully that comes across.
Dog and Pony Show
Voice 1: Alright Miss, I think we’re ready for a trial run. Can I take you through it one more time?
Voice 2: Sure thing Sugar. Continue reading
Author’s Note: This story is closely based on a nightmare I had, written up the following night and only modified enough to make some amount of sense.
At sixty-three it was the oldest thing out there, living or inanimate. The house behind it was only forty-two. Everything older was off in the dark trees, grumbling, bundling up for the whipping wind of the late November night. The device was ready for anything, having weathered plenty of Cayuga winters already. Continue reading
It is notoriously difficult to hear, the voice of creation. The mind naturally listens for it at all the wrong times. It expects to hear god singing when a flower blooms, or when a child is born, or when lovers embrace. The mind looks out when it must look in. The voice of creation comes from within man. It is when her or his creations are born that it can be heard. Continue reading
Breeeeeeek, breek, breek. Sort of like a cicada, but according to the box it was supposed to be a tree frog. I hadn’t liked tree frogs in about six years, but when Mom said she was going to keep my room just as it was after I left she sure meant it. So I was being woken up by a plastic golden alarm clock shaped like a frog. It breeeked in my face and flashed the lights behind its purple eyes.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and winced when my feet hit the floor. Pain. Docs said my leg should be one hundred percent by now. Liars. They wanted me to get hurt again; it’s just more money in their pocket. Miss the family doctor. Think he was a real family doctor… like a cousin removed a handful of times or something. You need your blood mixed with theirs to get them to really care. Continue reading
Author’s Note: This short story is a continuation of my Justice Backers novellas, about a team of crowdfunded superheroes. If you wish to read this and fully understand what is going on, I would recommend checking those out first. They can be found in the novellas tab; here’s a link to the beginning of the first one. Okay, commencing with the actual story…
Conferencepod.com Private Chatroom #8024430
Herocious: Is everybody in here? Can we get a roll call?
TheFastestFood: In the house.
Herocious: So we’re just missing Advocate? Is she here? Continue reading
EVERY KERNEL A WEAPON OF INCREDIBLE POWER!
The world rejoiced when Dr. Kimberly Goldenrod invented Mannapop, her patented genetically-tinkered super corn that could grow in the harshest environments. World hunger was all but solved as her genius took root across the globe and fed a generation. Its kernels were as big as beach balls… and flavorful too! The delicious miracle so distracted everyone that they didn’t notice it growing in every corner, every empty lot, every forest, and even between the kelp on the ocean floor. Continue reading