Glassy eyes, gaping mouths, matted fur… Sports mascots are supposed to be fun, but if you see them in the wrong light you can feel a jolt of fear. What if they weren’t just a joke? What if they were as alive as anything else, with their own instincts and hungers?
(reading time: 1 hour, 7 minutes)
The Kleinbury High Spinners were up three games that season so far, so morale had improved in the neighborhood. Perhaps enough that he could return uneventfully, which was what Kevin Woods tried that Saturday afternoon. He was never the biggest football fan, more of a baseball guy as he always told people, but his son Matt was on the team. Continue reading
(reading time: 5 minutes)
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: 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.
(reading time: 12 minutes)
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
Author’s Note: This story was written live on stream with the audience bidding tokens (earned while watching) to determine the path of the story. The underlined phrases in the choice of three were the winning pathways. Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d ever like to participate in our interactive fiction.
Raw Man Reverse Siren Stone Skipper
The raw man walked out of his cave to scavenge for his morning breakfast. It wouldn’t be too difficult, for, just as it was every morning, the food was strewn about his home in messy clumps. He had heard it land, nasty rain, the night before. He was at the point now where the sound was soothing enough to help him get to sleep. Lots of splats and splurts meant he would eat well the next day. Continue reading
A crab boat mostly. That’s what they were. Year in year out, through cold rain and driving cold rain. They brought up the crabs with nets, with chains, with cages, with hooks and bait. The things would scrabble against the metal and wood relentlessly, for the waters they fished were so relentlessly rainy that the crabs thought they were still under water.
It was raining again that day, and each drop had a sharp snowflake inside. Botir was on deck, manning the chains. He was an old man, he’d lost track of just how old, but his hands were still mighty leather. A tentacled horror could try to pull one of their lines and steal their catch, but Botir would yank it up to the deck, harpoon it, and eat out its eyes so it stopped struggling. Continue reading
Jeremy’s can hit the water with a splash smaller than he would’ve liked. Its bubbling green contents leaked out into the lake water. He leaned over the edge of the kayak and watched the guppies that had scattered on impact.
“You shouldn’t litter,” Stephanie chided him, pulling her pale blonde hair back into a ponytail in case Jeremy tried to get the bigger splash he’d sought.
“Who says I’m littering?” he replied. “The can’s in there… but maybe I’ll fish it out. It’s only littering if I leave it there.” The guppies did not go to the bobbing can, perhaps scared away by Jeremy’s snaggle-toothed grin. Continue reading
(reading time: 41 minutes)
The Legend of Broadside Barnaby
Old Thresher the card shark. Remember him? I bested his challenge more than a hundred times over and it were way past due for him to give up the location of Broadside Barnaby. He were the last name left. With him collected the Manifest would be complete, everyone accounted for in myth, and I could have my pa back. My family could have the eventual peace that I worked so hard to disrupt. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 2 minutes)
That were the story I told my pocket twister. It weren’t the most heartening, but I think confiding in him gave him some strength. He shook off most of that water and started looking more like his old self and less like a cloud constipated with rain.
Now you know whose soul I were collecting all them names for. I knew Pa weren’t at peace. He were still kept from Heaven and Hell in the ropes of Knot-eye, and the only way to get him back or get him to my mother were to obey the will of the Laudgod and eventually be rewarded. I had to be the man he told me to be, to conquer and dominate the West so thoroughly that nothing could stop me. Continue reading
(reading time: 50 minutes)
The Tangent of Sara’s Sewing Spiders
I told you about my mother’s dress shop. I didn’t tell you it were driven out of business by the peculiarest of competitors. My mother, bless her glorious soul in Heaven, were even kind enough to bring the woman who owned the venture a pie as a welcoming gift. Sure it were blackberry pie, not her finest pie by miles, but you can’t expect saintly behavior from a shrewd businesswoman such as her. Continue reading
(reading time: 1 hour, 2 minutes)
A Beast Fights
The tables for the feast had buckets crafted into them because bergfolk celebrations often devolved into dancing right where you ate; this way they could not be kicked aside. The buckets were filled to the brim with all sorts of strange refreshments: spiced green cleansing water, warm red oystie sauce, pure blue toil water, and a foaming drink called scrub-throat that kept its bubbles for days. The bergfolk swished them about in their mouths and noses, sometimes holding one nostril closed so they could blast a fountain of it out the other. Alast watched as a woman gladly opened her mouth to accept a jet of cleansing water fired from a neighboring nostril. It might’ve been rude not to join, but Alast couldn’t bring himself to do it; he let any liquid that came his way splash across his shirt instead. Continue reading