Paused Fire

My pager went off.  Both our faces forgot what emotions they were supposed to be expressing and sunk.  Our perfect moment shattered by that obnoxious beeping.  Why did it have to be now?  Why did whatever maniac who was blowing up whichever politician pick now?  It’s as if our moment was his countdown.  Drop to one knee… 3.  Open the blue velvet box with the paused water ring that cost me four months’ pay… 2.  Ask her, “Will you marry me?”… 1.  Boom.  Pause.

50 hours until crystallization Continue reading

A Long Wait for Meatballs

I’ve got a couple short stories to tell you… well not exactly short.  They were short for me, just a few minutes or hours; they were painfully long for everyone else, sometimes days and sometimes years.

You can have the legal details first.  Legally, my name is Clarence Under.  I was born black to white parents, which my father was pretty upset about.  He left for a while but eventually came back.  Legally, I’m married to a fantastic woman named Alberta.  She co-owns a garden supply shop with one of her chatty friends.  (I think all the plants there do well because she’s always talking at them… I heard that makes plants grow) Alberta’s second job is worrying because, legally, I’m a police officer. Continue reading

Bookworm

There came a time when knowledge turned invisible and raced across the globe.  It ran to those who searched for it and was displayed almost offensively.  It was called the internet.

Deep under a house, blankets of dust, like permanent foggy twilight, obscured a glass jar.  The shadow inside wanted out so badly that it tackled the side and cracked the glass.  It wanted out because it sensed, no, smelled, the knowledge flying in the air.  The internet called to it like a cartoon pie’s scent trail that tickled everyone’s noses.  That one crack… was its last bit of energy.  It was too dry now.  It shrank, it shriveled, it cracked, and, finally, it fell into a death-like sleep.  Not death though, for the jar had no expiration date. Continue reading

Head Chef at Cave Gouch

Gouch’s territory was quite large for a male his age.  Usually, a varclid’s range shriveled and curled inwards with their body, but Gouch’s body was still as strong as a steam engine, which allowed him to maintain a domain with ten miles of pristine rocky coastline, a wetland of forty square miles, and a patch of dense forest around three square miles.  With all that land to himself, it wasn’t inconceivable that a human might occasionally stumble in. Continue reading

The Hollowcry

“A sleeping traveler is merely cargo.”

The quote roused Tawny from her nap.  She rubbed her eyes, forgetting her hands were coated in soil.  After a solid twenty seconds she’d removed all the sleep and dirt and been able to survey her surroundings.  She was glad to see they were exactly as she had left them.  More than two hundred shakespore plants crowded her with their huge hanging flowers.  The petals were bright orange and yellow and they hung so low because they hadn’t heard anything stimulating since the beginning of the journey almost two weeks ago. Continue reading

Pron

A thousand links rested silently in the gray air.  This world was past dust, so the only sign of the field’s age was its stillness.  A thousand benches in a thousand styles: Victorian, art deco, 1990’s mail order catalogue, ferris wheel car, smooth bubbles meant to evoke the physical future that never happened…  Each one draped in heavy cables with frayed ends, like serpents with heads blasted to smithereens by lightning.  Without the cables the links could go nowhere.  Without the links the nearby town, the nearby pit as the civilized net would call it, was completely isolated.  The town became a pitiful little world that curled in on itself; culture became masturbation and love became a dream with no minds big enough to dream it. Continue reading

Timeless

The saddle topped the newest gross of garbage funneled out of Fernico’s mansion like a flake of chocolate grated onto red velvet cake.  Dogwood reached down and pulled the red chunks of a destroyed carpet off it.  When held up in the day’s dying light, the saddle’s rare markings betrayed its true purpose.  The ordinary brown leather gave way to a pewter rim imprinted with inward facing blue triangles, designed to trap a certain type of magic like bear trap teeth.  A ghost saddle, he thought.  Should fetch at least four gold and six silver. Continue reading

Panic in the Mumgrass

“Stampede!” a voice shouted.  Hundreds of others joined in calling out the word and took off running.  The herd’s countless hooves pounded the mumgrass they were grazing on moments before into a thick choppy pulp.  Calves called to their mothers in the confusion, unsure where to run.  One of the older beasts tripped and rolled onto its side; a second later it was trampled to death by its distracted kin.

The calls to flee took a moment to reach the back of the herd, since this group of Brohoov was over six hundred strong.  When it did, the herd’s leader, Dodarka, growled to himself, Not again!  He was forced to join in as the horns of those behind him pushed and shoved forward.  It didn’t matter how much authority he carried as TrailCutter, it would take an act of god to stop a stampede before it ran its course.  That meant an hour of running until everyone’s legs burned and their breath came in great gasps of mist that shot from their wide nostrils like jets of volcanic gas.  It meant everyone would need a little more food to recover their strength.  It meant innocent dead, crushed in the storm surge of stupid fear. Continue reading

Born-again Birth Defect

Humans walked a dark Earth for thousands of years.  They were ravaged by disease, the teeth of great shadow beasts, and the cogs of their own societal machinery.  When their suffering was sufficient it moved Honweh, almighty god, to reveal himself.  He descended to the plane of man and brought with him astonishing gifts to prove his divinity: magnetism to pull the metals of the Earth, coalfire and steam to drive winter’s bite away, trapped lightning to immolate the dark predators and the nightmares, mirrors so man could see his own soul, and plastic to coat the works of man and starve out the diseases that dwelled on Earth’s moist surfaces.

Honweh also brought with him his great justice that organized the races and creeds of humanity.  All were united in worship of him.  Honweh guided this adoration like an artist guiding a paintbrush and built incredible cities of bronze, brass, and lead.  As his concern for the humans grew, Honweh made the decision to move his Ancyclopedrae, his book of immutable records, to Earth along with his other belongings, making Earth his home.

And so he remains, ruling the kingdom of man with kindness, wisdom, and discipline.

-First Summation, Honweh’s Glory Continue reading