23 December 2009

"Weak Hands" #Fridayflash

Sinew and bone will not show through gentle kid-gloves, nor will they express the sensibility of a brethren savior; the one that gripped tight enough to cling desperately to a shimmering thread of meaning something.

White knuckles clasped over a sweat-smeared steering wheel, clad in worn leather. To brush away the slick and bitter ice that has formed around the corners of life. To punch a proof of existence into surreality. To point out the mistakes borne by a misspoken word.

Weak hands can't hold on to what was not meant to be.

To embrace the child that never was.

To caress a cheek or a cup of coffee—low, fresh, and steaming between the fingers.

The bird.

A thumbs-up.

Certain polite applause to display approval of a despondent recital.

Pallid palms-up alongside the white stripe of a faded love.

Inspired by Chevelle's song,"Panic-Prone"

18 December 2009

"Ablaze" #Fridayflash

Daniel met me for lunch, after we were assigned desks. His eyebrow shot up as he scanned the titles of my CDs. I plugged in my little stereo under my desk, stood, and dusted off my hands.

'What kind of music do you like?” He said, “I'm trying to get into this younger generation of music.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “You can't be a day over twenty-five.”

He chuckled gently. “Thank you for that,” he said and thumbed through the selection of music.

“Well if you're not twenty-five and happy with the compliment, I'd have to guess that you're older.”

“A bit yes,” he said and laughed again.

“Aussie or English?” I asked, curious.

“I'm more than peckish. You can ask me over sandwiches.”

There were others in the cafeteria, but no males aside from the two teen boys from Orientation. Daniel sat in his seat, radiating sunshine, and the women were drawn by it. I rolled my eyes and took a gaping bite out of my roast beef sandwich.

“Daniel, our team is having a meeting at ten,” one plump woman said as she waddled by. I watched her undress him with her piggish eyes. I sighed through my nose and she jerked her hawkish nose at me, narrowing her gaze to pinpoint lasers.

You're not on our team,” she growled and stalked off.

“That's right Claire, I was going to tell you, I was picked for the other Admin team.”

“Customer?” I mumbled around a full mouth. He nodded and laughed again. He laughed a lot.

“Ah,” I said with a shrug, “I think I'll prefer Client Admin anyway.”

He nodded quickly and folded his used plastic wrap into a square, to deposit it in the recycling bin. I watched this with interest. A man with manners. No wonder the women loved him.

I came to call his team of overly round, ugly, lonely women, his hens.

“Does that make me the cock?” he asked one afternoon as we stood outside the back doors. I smoked, he didn't. He stood there with his hands in his pockets and watched the teen boys walk around the narrow edge of the fountain, holding their arms out for balance.

“I remember being that young,” he said, and I studied him to determine just what was wrong with him. He had wild chestnut hair, those ice-blue eyes. Big hands. My artist's eye appreciated their astounding grace. His fingers were slender and exquisite, like a concert pianist's.

“So how old are you anyway?” I asked. It was abrupt of me but he merely shrugged.

“I'll be thirty-two in August,” he said, his eyes meeting mine. “And you?”

I snorted. “Just turned twenty-three. Looks like neither of us is exactly our age huh?”

We shared gentle laughter. I opened my purse and pulled out a square sleeve.

“Here, before I forget,” I said. I had to smuggle the damned thing out of the house to avoid Ed's questions. He always assumed that I was seeing someone, on top of his other nonsense.

“What's this?' Daniel asked, taking it from me and turning it over.

“You asked about recent music.”

“I asked you what you liked.”

“You asked both,” I said, scowling in exasperation. “I made you a disc.”

His eyebrows pulled together and he looked from the envelope to me. His face erupted in a brilliant smile. I was tempted to look away, it was that grateful.

“Yeah, you're welcome. But if you're wanting the kids' stuff, best to ask Tweedledee and Tweedledum,” I said jerking my head in the fountain's direction. One of the teens almost fell in, but got his pants leg wet. I could hear him cursing from where I stood.

“No, I believe I'll stick with your material first,” he said and shook his head at the explicit language filtering over to us through waves of evening breeze. The sun set in that moment, setting the sky ablaze in a kaleidescope of vibrant hues.

We stood there, marveling at the display in our own separate way, Daniel rubbing his chin, me just standing there slack-jawed. My boyfriend and I never did anything remotely as compatible. I smiled, in spite of myself. It was a small comfort, and I realized that Daniel and I had potential to be good friends.

16 December 2009

Featured poem, "For M"

I might continue this trend, of featuring brilliance as time allows. This poem is not by me, but I am so very proud of her I must share it. - CC

by Christina Vincent

You leave me at a loss for words, which,
for me,
is bad business. You see,
words are all I know. Words
are how I know you. Still,
the memory of fire and solid darkness
leaves me shaking. Shivering.
So cold. You burn
so very cold.
Glowing as gold in a vault underground,
buried deep,
deep below
our feet, where
the sun cannot shine, and
the wind cannot
touch. Movement,
still and resonating. Your movement is
the toll of a bell to call the gods, the
thrum of a dying heart as it bleeds
onto the parched grave dust beneath.
What sorts of trees grow in
blood-soaked graveyard soil? What sort of
fruit would those trees bear?
A pomegranate, so
thick and juicy red, the seeds to settle
in the pit of one’s stomach to anchor
to Persephone, and you can
never go back again. A muse,
a demon, a lover sweet and deadly, a monster
of such exquisite beauty, wrapped in
shimmering gilded robes of poetry and caresses.
One bite, one slit, one
and everything is blackness. Everything is stars,
and everything sinks into arms
like stone.
A precious, feral gift. A dreaming
of a time not of this world
spoken in a language long dead
with tongues that know dialects
we’ve never heard.
We used to throw ourselves on slabs of rock and beg
for a taste of your voice, for your sweetened
devil’s breath in our ear
with whispers,
soft whispers
that tempt madness from dark corners.
A precious thing
as thick as blood
and slick as ice
that burns and bites like hellfire swathed
in empty darkness where nightmares whisper.
A muse.
Fuel another fevered dream
and let these tiny shivering hands
offer up another piece
of that twisted silver dreamscape
that holds stories together.

11 December 2009

"Tidal" #Fridayflash

The war is over, yet there's an explosion in my head. It’s a deep resonance among the chop-chop-chop of helicopter blades, and shouts of the profane and the dead. I move a muscle—I’m toast. I must stay alive. I will lie here forever if that is what it takes to survive.

Low bended grasses and broken reeds anticipate the crash and clamor of the next land-mine. I crawl on a belly full of MRE and rough-roasted coffee, M16A2 my shield and savior. The war is through, and I want to sound-off the cadence of a lonely soldier, but my mouth has lost all flavor.

I stare through the patterned walls over to the Other Side, where gruesome guard dogs snap frothing jaws and wag ragged tails. A place where sinking ships form a trail of strewn carcasses, like crustacean skeletons at low tide. There’s a rule to not skip, just patter over the xylophone bones as fast as I can before the bottom falls through and the pit gapes wide.

There’s a slow beeping in my ear, and somewhere next to my arm, a cool wire constantly feeding me the ocean.

I stand blanched on the severed shore and shake my head in slow motion at a memory. A spark of reasoning, wedged somewhere between my first kiss in the park and the last cigarette before my flight.

I let go my tidal breath and manage a weak smile as the wave inside washes darker than night.

Inspired by Chevelle's song, "Bend the Bracket."

Photo credit: RAYWAL65 from morguefile.com

27 November 2009

"Black" #Fridayflash

He’s a black man. Not dark as in brown-skinned, but black-souled. I can always tell just how they’ll taste with one little peek. Green makes for a crisp experience. Red makes me seethe with unexplained fury. Blue makes me smile and think of Sarah. The colors mean many things, and not many are pure black. When they are, my instructions from high up are damned clear: No redemption. No recycling. No anything. Just poof.

Black souls aren’t good for a fucking thing aside from deletion.

I follow him out the back screen door of the café, a paper folded under his arm, a To-Go cup full of Margaret’s Joe. Black coffee.

I slip my sleeve back from my watch. Five minutes and completely on schedule.

It’ll be a damned good favor to the world to take this one out. Cleaning up, balancing things out, but I tell you, when it’s an innocent…it chokes me up still.

My fault really; I got a little bit of heart left. It’s supposed to not be there anymore but sometimes, I can hear it beating. Maybe one or two thumps. Maybe ten. My guts tighten when I have to cut that thread on a kid. Or a sweet old lady. Death isn’t supposed to care about these things, but I do.

The dark man skirts around my car without as much as a glance. I smirk. The evil ones never can see very well. My car is special. She killed me a long time ago. I can’t explain how or why in five minutes.

Well four.

The dark man pauses at the corner to light a cigarette. I want one as well. I can smell his smoke and his coffee and I miss life. It pisses me off. I want to take him early.

A bus passes by, just like the script. The dark man crosses the street, and I follow. I glance back at the car. Her headlights are dim but getting brighter. An orange jack-o-lantern gaze. She’s alive but doesn’t breathe. I stopped asking why and just take the when.

Three minutes. He’s boring me. I wish I’d catch him doing one last wicked thing, so it wouldn’t feel like wasting time.

He strolls into the alley. He’ll probably start seeing me here in a few. People always react uniquely because I look different to each one. He stops midway and leans back against the brick. Convinced he’s still alone, he lets out a rapid-fire raunchy fart. I laugh, and then he looks right at me.

A spot spreads on the front of his grey slacks and a trickle of his urine pools beneath him. I reach for him, wrinkling my nose. He no longer smells like good coffee and cigarettes. He smells like the dying. His heart struggles against tightened arteries. A vein pulses in his forehead and his eyes bulge.

The black form inside him comes loose and wisps around his body sliding down the wall, the coffee overturned in urine, the cigarette extinguished.

Yellow and brown. I stare at the colors and miss his getaway.

The misty shape whirls, unaffected by the alley-breeze like me. He’s in my reach, but my hand closes around nothing.

A couple strolls by the alley’s exit. The girl is pregnant. The dark form flows seamlessly into her distended belly.

A pigeon is startled from sleep by my howl.

12 November 2009

"Half-Past-Huh?" #Fridayflash

The boss never said that the train would be exactly on time, but by the time my knees ached and begged for relief, it was half-past-midnight. Almost from ridiculous habit, I glanced down the silent tracks once more. The moonlight did not pass through the yellowed sodium-lights pissing all over the boarding station deck. I tugged at my tie and sat the briefcase down. The itinerary screamed the time expected in loud red numbers:

11:45 P.M.

It was now tomorrow, and there was no train. The sky rumbled in disagreement with itself, and forks of weak lightning fingered out along the clouds’ underbelly. A curtain of rain dropped like it was poured out of a bucket.

Far away, I heard the unmistakable whistle of the steam engine. A slight chuggachugga, like it was working uphill. I plucked up the case again, gripping the leather-covered handle tight. It was supposed to be cuffed to my wrist, but I’d forgotten the damn things at the motel. The combination locks gleamed on other side. I smiled, confident again, and stepped out into the rain.

The train churned the engine and the wheels worked furiously in the slick tracks. Around the corner, and then the cyclopean headlamp. It burned brighter as the beast neared, the ground beneath the platform shaking in response. As it approached, I could see the heavy dent in the boiler tank. The crushed smokestack. Smoke curled out from random holes in the thing and it came to a screeching, shuddering full stop several hundred meters past the boarding dock.

A woman screamed; I didn’t even know she was standing there. I eyed her standing there with her hands covering her mouth, and followed her terrified gaze.

Draped over the coal car, and half of the next two passenger cars, was a black shape, oily and writhing like a coiled snake, but it wasn’t one of those.

A great slotted eye the size of a dinner plate stared out at us, as my mind scrambled to piece together the entirety of the monster wrapped around and tethered to the partially-destroyed locomotive: A big, black, Giant Squid.

There was the torpedic head, the cat-golden eye, with about a dozen shredded and oozing tentacles hung over the machine. It squirmed, clearly uncomfortable or dying, maybe both.

The train station attendant left his post, (having no tickets to sell) and approached the platform, mouth agape. I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. We had to remain calm, even if there was a cephalopod crushing the (11:45 P.M.) train. I cleared my throat.

“What about the passengers aboard?” I shook my head and started to put the briefcase down, then thought better of it. The rain smacked me on my cheeks as I neared the train and looked up. One tentacle lifted, waved and fell back to the tangled mess with a heavy plop. I climbed up into the mangled car and had a peek in. The interior was dark, but blessedly free of bodies. Overhead, the groan of overburdened metal and splintered wood framing encouraged me to vacate immediately.

“Right, well look at it. It appears to be dying,” I said as I hopped down to the platform.

The woman tore her gaze from the animal and stared at me like I had tentacles of my own. “Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“What would the police do?”

The attendant pulled a worn handkerchief from his overalls pocket, paisley-deep red, and blotted his whiskered chin.

“I’m thinking calamari.”

22 October 2009

"Bad Rap" #Fridayflash

Trying something a little bit different this Friday. Thanks for all your support. It's nice.

They said that once I pulled off this one I'd be done. There'd be no takebacks. No insane demands or stacks of attacks. They said that once I held my end, it'd be done. Turn in my gun. Leaves more time for family and fun. I got a little one.

So I thought. It'd only begun.

How was I to know how it'd all go? The blood on my hands. Shovel in the sand. Body bag and a can. Running on the lam. Is that what they called it, or was it manhunt? I'm thinking maybe the latter. Dogs on a leash, looking to put my head on a platter. Bounty set at six thousand. Is that all I'm worth for real?

I don't just steal. I kill. Killed, let me get that straight. Had to put food on my dinner plate. I got hooked on the kickbacks, and the tricks and the other assorted bits that came with it.

The car's done stopped. Hoping it might be the cops. Laying on my side. They said we gonna take a little ride.

I killed that man, just like they wanted. Now I'm fucked. Just some sort of shit luck that I'd be caught. Strapped with tape. Put in a trunk, probably on the way to some distant deep lake. Concrete shoes to sleep with the fish tonight. Ain't that some shit? All because I let myself keep getting away with it. Or maybe it was they, Them. We. It doesn't matter now. All that matters is exactly how they plan to put me out of it forever. Take and drown me, shoot me or whatever.

Still waiting for them to open the trunk, I gotta pee. Hoping that they'll not see anything wrong with a last stand of dignity. I doubt those fuckers would allow that little bit. I think they just want to see me choke on it. Smell like shit. Get on with it.


Every damn minute I'm in here it's freaking me the hell out. I was hoping that one of those roughnecks would give my kicks the benefit of the doubt. But no luck. This trunk is tight and locked, and oh wait it's moving again, but the engine isn't even on. Something's just a little wrong.

I hear it coming through. Gonna be bad I bet. A whole lot of wet. It feels a little cold too, since they wouldn't let me keep my damn coat.

Holy shit. Cars don't float.

postnote: Received a tweet afterwards from @DanFaust:

danfaust @shadowsinstone Thanks. I liked your post, too. Reminded me a little of this book.

Please take the time to check out the book he is referring to if you enjoyed my work. I support good writers. I'll also do the same.

15 October 2009

"Red" #Fridayflash

I know I toyed with the idea of zombies again. Next week. My head is so very sore and tired, but I cannot let Friday sneak up on me. Please accept this as an appeasement until the pain goes away...

I cleared away the debris so that you could breathe here in my space. I know you like to be able to stretch your legs from time to time. Are the bindings too tight?

Would you like some water?

What if I held you close to me? Would that stop you from shaking?

You sing so pretty. So trilling. Will you sing for me?

The sun is out. Birds fly overhead. I tried to show you, but you wouldn’t look. I won't be able to take the jar outside later. The blue is fading, but I can’t make it stay. Clouds are forming. It made me sad.

You wouldn’t talk to me. I held you and you squirmed and screamed. It was really loud. I just wanted to hold you. You’re so nice and quiet now.

I like it when you aren’t sweating so much better. So cool now. I washed the rest of your makeup away, and the red.

So much red.

Can you hear me? I tried to play piano for you, but you wouldn’t dance. Even after I took away the scratchy rope. Does it still bother you?

Will you just talk to me?

It didn’t hurt as much as you made it out to be. Just the wet is pain, just a little. Just the red.

It’s getting dark now. I’m going to hold you like I said I would. I’m going to sing as long as I can.

Until I fall asleep like you.

So now that you've read this...did you catch the subtle clues? What exactly did the narrator do to this person?

01 October 2009

"Sandstorm" #Fridayflash

The sand shivered under the pin-pricked night sky just outside of the city. Beside a hulking transport, a thief dozed lightly, his snores drifting over his mustache and music like off-key music. His son Fadre whispered in dreams and turned in his dusty bedroll.

Again a slight tremor—a trickle—of earth's backbone and in its midst, an instant sinkhole. A spiny ridge appeared, dull and black; stark against the mediocre bland of the sand rushing to meet it. Somewhere, a pillar in the process of toppling over on the weeded and cracked temple floor gave its Swan Song.

Fadre awoke, his dark pupils obsidian discs in the growing white as he slowly rose, showing his teeth. The dimple in the desert was growing wider and discernible even at this distance. Red thundered behind his vision as his heart dumped spiked-lightning adrenalin into his blood as the ground quaked.

The low vibration echoed through the ground to brush the soles of his feet as he stood peering out into that moonless darkness, where sense rather than sight told him that the sand was going down. More stones met their final fate to fall from the heights where hands placed them so many eras ago. The black center of the sandy dahlia lifted higher, curved like an angry whip mid-lash. Black horns encrusted with glittering jewels followed this spine, and the boy staggered backwards, his small mouth wide open in an “o”, but soon dissolved into resolve and he took off running towards the desert, his arms pistoning at his sides, his lungs compressing and filling with hot, disturbed air.

The jeweled crown opened a cat's eye to peer out onto the world and the boy stumbled in shock, falling to one knee scraping against the jagged grit of the desert floor.

A black, segmented tongue, and the ridge beyond crawled and slithered with shimmers, inky and iridescent, bedecked in scales, each as large as a soldier's shield and the rest of the body was working free of the sand from which it seemed to have been born. A sinuous tail thrust up through the desertscape, primeval and strange.

A gigantic sail broke free, shooting out to block out the stars and Fadre looked up, mouth still open as sand rained down from it: deep, dark and veined, with hints of visceral red pulsating in raised veins branched out across the under surface.

With a sonic scream, which felt like noise, amidst the blast of superheated air, the beast rose from its sandy grave: wings unfurled, then folded, then lifted head overhead. A mere claw on this creature was the size of a transport for ten of his father's men. Its proud, arched neck undulated as it surveyed its surroundings and drove its wings down in one powerful swing, stirring up the desert winds and sands, first driving Fadre back as he clung to the ground, then tossing him like a rag-doll past where his father was just now stirring, just in time to witness the approaching sandstorm.

25 September 2009

"The Cadillac" #Fridayflash

The Cadillac
By Carrie Clevenger

It was the fourth of June, when the driver of that Cadillac darkened my doorstep. His hat lay squared even with his ears, squashed down over his eyebrows. He carried some sort of little metal case, complete with shiny hasps, but it wasn’t him or his dress that got me. It was his car. That grey Cadillac was something else.

It perched at the curb like a metal bird of prey, scowling at me through the thin screen door. I wanted to shut it out. To close the curtains and go down in the cellar. I got lost in that grey, the color of baked, aged concrete. That grey was as deep a color as anyone ever saw, the shade of a manhole cover in winter. I shrugged off a shiver. The sun didn’t sparkle off it. It didn’t cast a shadow either. It just hunkered down, casually nosing the lawn and the beginnings of prickly weeds that little Johnny’d forgotten to come by and trim.

He said his name was John Wilson, but I suspected he was lying. He glanced past my shoulder, already leaning into the door, that crazy car of his seeming to reinforce the fact that he just wanted to use the phone. He offered me a quarter for the trouble, and against my better intuitions, I let him in, wiping my hands on a towel and loosening my tie. I felt choked up but kept the front door open so I could eye that Cadillac as if it would suddenly threaten the neighborhood kids.

John Wilson attached some strange-lookin’ device, dialed a number, muttered for a few minutes into the receiver, and hung up, letting the handset hit the cradle with a smart snap. I figured he’d made a long distance call, what with all that spinning the rotary dial, round and round. I would’ve let him know that wasn’t how we did things in my house, but I suspected he wouldn’t have cared one bit. No sir. The fact was, I was about to unzip my mouth and say something, but that’s when I noticed the Cadillac. It wasn’t grey anymore.

Nope, the car had now taken on a nice slick lipstick-red job. I staggered backwards and spun around to inquire about all this creepy-williness, positioned to make a good excuse to get this man out of my house and take his big mean car along with him.

John turned around in my kitchen, admiring the copper-bottomed pots and pans as he lit a cigarette. In my kitchen. I didn’t smoke. Neither should he, but by that time I was spooked. I eyed the crucifix hanging in the near shadows in the hallway, and mumbled a thanks to the Lord if he’d just watch over me one more time, thank you, Amen. John Wilson continued to savor that smoke and formed perfect rings on each exhale.

“Hey,” I started to say, but then I looked back at the Cadillac. It grinned grass-green back at me.

“What the hell…hey! That car out there!” I semi-shouted, about to ponder over all the reasons why General Motors hadn’t advertised their new color-changin’ schemes, but that’s when he let me have it. I spun around to dodge the swing but metal connected with bone. I went down.

I felt my skull give way as that iron skillet sunk deep in. I remember my eyes rolling up and looking at that man with it still in his hand, a little bit of my hair stickin’ to it. He dropped the cigarette to the floor right next to my face and ground it out with his heel. I sneezed at the sulfur and brimstone odor. It wasn’t no ordinary butt. The phone rang. He picked it up. Looked down at me.

“I’m gonna use your phone again. And you gonna stop worryin' about that Caddy."

I must’ve lost consciousness at that moment, because next I woke up, I was in the trunk of a moving vehicle, more than likely that color changin’ Cadillac’s. I didn’t know where John Wilson was taking me, why he’d taken me, or if that was really his name. It didn’t matter much now, I told myself, ‘cause I was bound to be dead by mornin’ for sure. The car went on for what seemed about an hour and then we stopped.

The driver got out of the car, and I could hear his steps in loose gravel. A key in the trunk lock, and then up went the deck lid, and I found myself looking into the eyes of Death himself.

“Had to involve yourself there,” he hissed, and snatched me clear of the trunk, dropping me at his feet.

Death was wearing his blacktooth grin, but he’d somehow forgotten to remove the squashed derby. Gave him a comical appearance.

“You was all gapin’ at my car here, and well, I couldn't just let you run your mouth about it,” He said, walking around to the other side of the car. I wanted to turn my head but shards of pain shot through my temple when I tried. I grunted and shifted my weight off my bruised hip.

“I…I wouldn’t tell anyone,” I said, gasping for air. I think he’d broken a few ribs besides brained me.

“You would too! I saw you thinkin’ about those colors and what they meant. You just lying to get away!”

I never realized just what a simpleton Death really was. He was really kinda pathetic and I started laughing. I didn’t stop when he kicked me to shut me up. I think I was cracking.

“It’s all good. That phone call saved me another four hundred years of rent,” He said, and I grew quiet, interested in such a strange explanation. Or maybe he was thanking me.

“I put it on payments, but…”

He looked down on me, his empty eye sockets filling with fire.

"Yeah, I should pay you,” He said, and I felt a cold stillness enter my body.


I took off my derby as I stepped in past the squat old woman. She was nice to let me use her phone, but I could already tell she was looking at my car. I sighed as I dialed the now familiar numbers, knowing that that car would be death of many before I was done.

Somehow, the Man Upstairs must’ve thought the car a good punishment for alertin’ his Christian babies. Couldn’t cover it up. Couldn’t hide it. Damned thing was as bright as the Aurora Borealis.

It was bait, only attractin' good souls. Tasty souls. I'd become a grunt, a gatherer of spiritual essence, all that joo-joo. Made the payments on that lovely piece o' property Beezulbub was rentin' from You-Know-Who. Still, there was a certain appeal to being the apprentice to Old Splitfoot himself.

At least I know there’s a good corner in hell reserved for me.

17 September 2009

"War Zombies" #Fridayflash

That old devil moon peered over my shoulder as I leaned back against my bird, reading a naughty rag in the milky glow. I picked up smoking from the boys in England, got a tattoo visiting some old Red-light district down in Singapore and worked on not being a square.

Andy became Andrew Callahan, and I landed behind the controls of that sweet Grace, my Wildcat P-40. We bonded over whiskey sours and sweet serenades by Ella and Doris. Dean and Frankie drifted over her wings and I dozed lightly, careful not to line my cheek with marks from her rivets. The Staff Sergeant often came in and chided me soundly for staying in there with her. She didn't want to be alone, I told him. He smirked and told me to get my ass to bed.

I did just that one night and hardly put out the light in the shared bathroom when I heard sirens. Air-strike sirens. I rushed out in a towel to a flurry of activity: America's boys, all in various stages of undress and disorientation fluttered around, hollering like it was Blitzkrieg outside. Far as I knew, it could've been.

I dove onto my bunk and tore my uniform from the locker, throwing it on like automatic. We became an assembly line, handing out M1s and everybody shouting orders 'til the Staff Sergeant came in and made the orders for us.

“Gentlemen! We are under fire, and it is unknown what side they are on. I want each and every one of you to arm yourself and take them out as quickly and cleanly as possible, do you understand?”

A unanimous shout of “Yes sir!” answered him and he saluted smartly and disappeared.

Plastic Man, my bunkmate, named for his kooky way of sitting in Mess Hall, shouldered up to me.

“You think we're gonna die?” His Creole accent shined through clearly in his fright. His doe-dark eyes were wide and then the lights went out, leaving me looking into those big googly things like he was my girl and we were parked. I rolled back from him.

A volley of shots erupted outside the high windows of the barracks and every one of us hit the floor, doing that slow crawl along the baseboards, one after another, like a big ol snake to reach the screen door that stood open in the wake of the Staff Sergeant's visit.

The sharp crack of anti-aircraft artillery. We thought better of going Out There, where it wasn't safe, but for all we knew, this whole roof would come down on our heads. I cursed and grabbed the doorsill, pulling to my feet, the whole squadron following my example.

The shots were dying down, and overheard was a criss-crossed network of planes, the stiff spotlights illuminating that broken cross on the underwing.

Flares stunned the wounded sky into semi-light long enough to see the big-creeping black zeppelin maneuvering into position.

“What are they doing with a frikin' zeppelin?”

His surprise was justified. The last zeppelin was supposed to be straight-up dismantled back five-six years ago, yet here it was, silent except for the little propellers.

“Shoot it down!” The shouts echoed throughout the camp, and I glanced skyward. It was fishy—this big, slow thing overhead and how in nine hells did it pass under radar?

The Embargo. No. “No,” I said, under my breath then ran towards the line where shells were being loaded again. The twin barrels wheeled around to face the cloud-obscuring damn thing and then, it was all over.


The massive quake of explosion shook the sky, the ground, and took out half the boys around me. I scrambled under a Jeep, backwards, like a rabbit. Dazed, I watched the landscape change from past taps to bed to a field of fire. The hydrogen in the big blimp ignited, and rained fire as the screeching-deflating balloon came crashing to the ground.

Plastic Man scurried past me, and I reached out, calling to him, but he couldn't hear. Half his face was gone. I blinked in momentary confusion, and then I saw them.

They were men. Were. Whatever era they'd been human was now over before that shuffling gait like a broken-legged dog wasn't right. Wasn't normal, as far as I could see. They fell out on the field like cockroaches, some dressed in tatters, uniforms aflame from the big attack just moments before.

They spread out, shoulders lopsided, arms dangling and attacked our boys, the ones left over. Snarling and tearing. I heard it all. I clutched my helmet and said a little prayer before grabbing my M1 to join in the fight.

The dead lay scattered and torn, leaving me looking for signs of life in faces I'd grown to care for. I called for Skip and Plastic Man and feared making any more sound. The strange soldiers dropped off by the Nazis were ambling up the hill, towards the barracks—and me.

I fell back behind a line of trucks discarded by the blast; some on their sides. A dirty boy dropped in next to me, and I caught my breath. It was Skip.

“Where are the others?” I shouted over the hellish din.

“Dead, sir,” he said, nursing his wounded arm. In the dark, I couldn't see what'd happened to it. Or him.

“What in the hell are those things?” I asked, and faced Skip, his eyes big as an owl's in the fires of the wreckage.

“Zombies, sir,” he answered solemnly. I frowned. “Zombies?”

Skip pulled a worn comic book from his back pocket, replete with poorly-inked images of walking corpses, arms outstretched, their eyes red and calling for brains in a vicious bestial snarl.

“Those are funnies, Skip,” I snapped back, but I compared the images with the real-life scene set before us, and they weren't a damn bit funny.

“Keep it,” Skip said, “And shoot them square between the eyes. You gotta destroy the brain.”

He rose slowly, and I caught a full view of his face: sallow and lined, his eyes bloodshot as hell. The injured arm he was cradling flashed into stark-reality as he put the pistol to his head.

“Better step back,” he said in a strange voice as he looked down at me. “Don't wanna get any on ya.”

“What are you doing?!” I jumped up to stop him from putting standard-issue ammunition in his skull, but he pulled the trigger. My ascent turned sideways and I twisted out of the fallout-range of his splattered brains, crawling in the grass like big maggots, seeking something else to cling to.

I glanced at the comic book he gave me, the face of a zombie printed in pink and gray leering at me from the cover. It'd become a survival manual.

11 September 2009

Flash Friday - "Rain"

Only because I plagiarize my own stuff, but it fits and so here goes:

(Written by my character M, which makes it legally mine...)

--Written to the tune of The Cult's "Rain"...


The cold gel-like sensation of the drops as they fall and disperse on my skin is indescribable, but I must endeavor to improve my vocabulary, as all who spoke first not-English. This chill and wet—a sensation I can feel, and experience, and yes, even play in.

The dusty earth cracks when parched and deprived of healing waters. The foot leaves no mark on the impressionless soil. The packed dirt. The dead earth. No vegetation grows well. Nothing moves in the stifling desert. Every creature flees and cowers under rocks and sparse, bent trees in pittance of shade.

The sky frowns, and cracks with distant rumbles and whispers of moisture.

I am there if it is dark. Lightening fingers out along the underside of the clouds, and the ceiling hangs low, almost to where one can reach up and touch and feel the dense fog they are made of.

The rain is timid at first, but gains courage and soon is as coins fall from heaven, battering the packed earth, seeping through the dusty layers to reach and fill roots that have lain in wait. They wait for the water. The rain.

I stand with my head tipped back and arms outstretched to invite the downfall. To feel the icy droplets pelt my flesh and soak my hair. My clothes grow heavy and stick to me as I am saturated. I am a tree here too, opening to this welcome gift from the skies. The heat has fled.

The air stirs cooler, freer, cleaner.

The ground sags beneath my feet. The dirt gives way and newborn creeks rage through improvised arteries to fill the dead riverbeds. The cracks fill and seal and the water begins to flow toward the sea, to give back what was given; to ensure this will happen: again and again.

A heart of mud, rock, and water. I invite it. I roll in the new mud, letting the frigid muck permeate my senses and coat me with life.

26 July 2009


This bleak
This rotten starry black
exploding beneath my closed eyelids
A dance of death; a brush with heaven
One more visit with the Other Side.

I can't sleep.
Fingers roll deeply into make-up greased grooves
and can barely make out the old typography of my face

I rise
with touseled hair tied into knots
from endless hours battling with my pillow

Dead-bone moon peeps into my window.
I close the shade;

I don't much like the invasion.

A Recurring Dream

It's dark, like night. A house, with a long kitchen bar just by the back door and a garage. A leisurely cigarette, whiling away, standing to look at the back yard that extends into black. The only light is the new moon. Little cats mew at my feet and twist their bodies into serpentine shapes around my ankles. I bend to stroke their silky coats: black ones. Marbelized patterns. Then they startle and dart off around the side of the house.

I glance up and see a shadow. A big one, slow at first as it comes from the distant nothing but clearer as it comes to me.

Panic turns the blood in my veins to ice.

I drop my cigarette half smoked and back into the door which has been ajar the whole the time. I swing the door shut. The door passes through the jam, though it's never done that before. On the outside it swings and hits the brick of the house.

I'm always surprised at this.

I am left face to face with this cat. A big black cat. Not black. Spotted. Then it dawns on me:

It's a mountain lion.

Terrified, I grab the faulty door's knob and try again. The doorjam may as well be air. Jolted with adrenaline, I attempt to quell my shaking long enough to match the door to the jam, to throw the lock in place to secure the door. The door is suspended in air. The house has disappeared.

The mountain lion moves in.

I wake.

07 July 2009

Dead Scrolls

You are the only one that makes me feel truly naked, I
burn and bleed and wink at these dead scrolls that
lie across my hood, strapped on with sinew twine.

Deepest truths are often hidden beneath pale lips and
not until something's said are they finally known
like black beetles; shining carapaces vibrating with pulse.

A life that you helped take, waste and wring out to dry
shriveled and whitened, bleached and boned,
gutted and hung
like crustacean pearls on a guitar string.

19 February 2009


The sickening, sleazy slime of decades past
a life I eliminated from my daily agenda
Journey back to where the book was open
and everything was up in the air

A beating of dark wings
outstretched beyond the landscape of my ideal imagination
a bile so villainous
I can’t abide to carry the concept of it existing
longer than a nanosecond.

The case was closed;
said-chest of poisonous deceit
drowned in the depths of self preservation
The page was turned;
the candle extinguished
to protect the eyes of the innocent.

Still, I pause here
on this dusty trail of what I’ve been doing
to look behind me and see
it’s followed me home
like a stray dog with mange.

Undead, unbarred.
Sunken red eyes to demonstrate
A hundred pounds of wasted skin
Mottled judgment or askew irony...

Fate is not always what we make it.