Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, October 12, 2009

The 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge

Fun fact: The person who thought of the last contest we had (Be an Agent for a Day), is now a client of mine: hello Jim Duncan! Also, the person who won the contest before that (The 2nd Semi-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge), is also now a client: hello Natalie Whipple!

We've also had three finalists, Stuart Neville, Terry DeHart, and Victoria Schwab go on to be published/soon-to-be-published authors respectively.

In other words: NO PRESSURE.

(Bonus fun fact: I didn't actually call the inaugural first paragraph challenge "stupendously ultimate," it was actually "largely indispensable," which throws into doubt whether this could properly be called the "third sort-of-annual." We'll just agree to forget that part, hmm?)

Now then!

It is time. Time to test your paragraph against... other first paragraphs. Time to see if your sentences can wage successful word combat in order to defeat other sentences and emerge victorious on a field of battle.

Oh, and there are prizes. Let's start there.

The GRAND PRIZE STUPENDOUSLY ULTIMATE WINNER will receive....

1) Their choice of a partial critique, query critique, or phone consultation

2) A very-sought-after galley of THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard, which will be published by Viking in January:



3) A signed THE SECRET YEAR bookmark

4) The envy of their rivals

5) The pride of a job well done

6) I think you get the picture

The STUPENDOUSLY ULTIMATE FINALISTS will receive....

a) Query critiques

b) A signed THE SECRET YEAR bookmark (assuming you live in a place that is reached in a reasonably affordable fashion by the postal service no offense forraners)

c) Pride. Lots of pride.

On to the rules!!

I) This is a for-fun contest that I conduct in the free time. Rules may be adjusted without notice, as I see fit, in ways in which you might find capricious, arbitrary, and in a possibly not fully comprehensible fashion. Complainants will be sent to the Magister, and trust me, you don't want to get sent to the Magister (who's been watching True Blood? This guy)

II) Ya hear? Angst = prohibited.

III) Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. Do not e-mail me your submission. The deadline for entry is THURSDAY 4pm Pacific time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced on Friday, at which time you will exercise your democratic rights to choose a stupendously ultimate winner.

IV) You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may.

V) Spreading word about the contest is strongly encouraged.

VI) I will be sole judge. Unless I chicken out.

VII) I am not imposing a word count on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is overly long may lose points in the judge's eyes. Use your own discretion.

VIII) Please remember that the paragraph needs to be a paragraph, not multiple paragraphs masquerading as one paragraph.

That is all.

And now I shall retreat to my stupendously ultimate bunker.

UPDATE: CONTEST IS CLOSED!! Thank you so much to everyone who entered.






2650 comments:

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Precision said...

Planet Kwinteesential is located dab smack in the middle off the celluloid B quadrant which itself is to the left of the Negosi Nebula. Perhaps it is an interesting planet. Perhaps it isn’t. Nonetheless, it is round. It would be weird if it weren’t.

Ayodele said...

My ears were popping from the cabin pressure and all I could think of, was if it was that bad in first class as well, if Amanda’s ears were popping like crazy as well, if her genius shielded her sufficiently from the laws of physics and the vulnerability of carbon based life forms like ours. That genius which she so skillfully waved aside with a practiced air of modesty just hours ago at the book festival in the sand strewn concrete jungle fantasy land called Dubai, leaving the journalist who had asked her about her recent genius award, and other gawking fans sighing at her beauty while I battled with my camera and tripod trying to get a good position to film from. Oscar Wilde had said it, beauty is a form of genius, I was not deluded at all about what strand of genius they were all making noise about. Take Oga Muftau for example, he recognized my own genius as a film maker sufficiently to commission me to make a documentary on his most prized author but not enough to put me on first class with her….tufiakwa….my time will come, but the hostesses on this flight are geniuses too, walahi! An Arab mammy water in the sexy Emirates uniform sways down the aisle and when I ask for another bottle of red wine, she smiles like a temptress and I forget Amanda for a moment….

Q said...

Before I entered the Hall, before I even started running, I knew I would be too late. Every instinct told me this was so, but I was not about to let that stop me. Something like desperation pushed me as I ran through wall after wall, as I fell through ten stories of city, as I paused between each floor to catch myself on the solid granite. I was lucky that at this time of night, most people were asleep and would not notice the gray-cloaked woman sliding through their houses. The last thing I needed was more complication.

Ralene said...

His shadowed form slithered from the liquid fire. Traveling in between rugged stone, he pushed forward until the vast sky opened above. Freedom. Axriel hovered over the sacred mountaintop for the first time in ten years. The resounding calm of the night surrounded him, beckoning him from the caves of hell.

Erica B said...

The sun was setting, its rays dappling through the windows of Lisa’s Honda Civic as we drove along the bay. I stared out at Emmons Avenue, looking for the kids who always hung out in front of Bay Pizza or on the steps of the Safeway after dinner, even on a school night. Normally Lauren and I wouldn’t go out on a Thursday, even if we had already done our homework. Normally we stayed home watching TV. But tonight was different. Tonight our mom was with us, holding her cigarette out the window in the front seat next to her best friend Lisa, and tonight we were going to see the quilt.

Portia said...

Six faces turned as I stepped into the diner. My skin prickled. So much for small town friendliness. I was one of them, although they didn’t know it yet. But they wouldn’t welcome me, even when they knew my name. After all, I was the daughter of a murderer.

gigi said...

People toss some of the nicest stuff. Like this pretty little wood carved bowl Mom and me rescued from a trash bin over on Elizabeth Street last week. Only nicked in one teeny spot and you can't even tell no more 'cause Mom painted a tropical red flower right smack on top. Good as new, see? Better, actually, since now it's not just a bowl. It's art. Should fetch at least a five-spot. ‘Specially with that cruise ship out there gliding closer, inflating on the horizon like a giant parade balloon.

Joansz said...

Richard the Third awakened, his right arm numb and pinned to his side. He gazed at the cause of his discomfort and smiled. His son slept in the adjoining seat, head pressed against his biceps. He reached over and brushed Edward’s light-brown hair away from his face. The fine texture and color reminded him of Anne, his queen, whom he had buried so long ago.

bonotex said...

I wasn’t sure how long I lay on the floor, curled in a way to most would’ve looked broken. My cheek became hot and itchy as it rested against the rough loops of carpet. With my knees bent toward my chest, my back ached. I didn’t want to move though. My earlier jagged sobs had subsided to slow and even waves of breath. Concentrating on the rhythm of the quiet house, I welcomed the monotony of sounds not usually heard in my ignorant busy life. The tick of the clock in the kitchen and the tap of the ceiling fan chain as it swayed around in a circle.

Lacy said...

Downtown Blue Pines was quiet on a weekday afternoon in April, with only a few post-ski-season tourists browsing the shop windows, their feet clomping along the wooden sidewalks. I tried not to make eye contact with any of them as I walked past; the last thing I wanted was to be stuck for twenty minutes giving directions to the nearest Starbucks, which, by the way, is almost half an hour away by car. Luckily, I can turn the sulky local teenager vibe on strong when I need to, stare at my feet, hide behind a curtain of hair and make sure the wires from my headphones are clearly visible. Usually works better than a sign saying, “Do not feed the leopard.”

AstonWest said...

A slap echoed off the dark stone walls. Pain raced through Kasey’s face as three torches along the back wall reached toward the vaulted ceiling. Landing on all fours, she jerked her head back around, her chest heaving under the black body suit. Anger flowed through every pore in her body as the wild flames cast an eerie red halo around the crown prince. His wide eyes glared down. “You won’t fail us again.”

Jenn said...

When I first saw her again after all those years, she was perched on the edge of a stone fountain and she was glowing. The sight of her made me forget to breathe.

frohock said...

Lucian listened for the noise that had awakened him. He sat on the edge of his bed and pushed his hands through his heavy black hair. His palms were wet with sweat. The only sound was the crackling of the hearth fire. The blaze saturated the room with heat, but Catarina forbade opening windows. His twin sister was always cold.

JEM said...
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Kat O'Keeffe said...

I met him in a hospital on the day I nearly died. He almost died that day, too, but that's where the similarities ended. He carved the word 'free' into his wrist with a jagged piece of glass. I was hit by a train. My car was stopped on the railroad track and I just sat there and watched it chug along, ever closer. Just in time I pushed the gas pedal and shot forward to avoid the train smashing into the driver side door. The trunk was not so lucky, and I was sent careening into the street where the car flipped. Twice. Aside from a dislocated shoulder and a few cuts and bruises I was fine. My main problem was that nobody believed I wasn't trying to kill myself too.

Ken said...

They lowered the body down on a wet rope, into the skiff that bucked on the rough waves of the harbor. Isaac Carey watched it from the gunwale of the Westinshire Bell, soaked and cold like the others. Those on the two skiffs turned pale faces up, reached out hands to pull the body into the first skiff, stretching to keep it from plunging into the chop. As the rope slackened, Isaac gathered up his nerve, tindered by the dread that hadn't faded since the height of the storm that even now shrouded the open sea beyond the harbor's mouth. The crewman tossed the end of the rope to the skiff below with a curse. Oars came out and the two small boats moved out from the side of the Bell. As the passengers hunched to the wind and started rowing to the dark shore, the crew watched in silence, unconcerned with what black fate awaited them, only relieved to have them off the ship. Isaac wasn’t so certain. Now or never, he thought. He stepped up onto the gunwale and faces of the crew turned to him. As his boot heel began to slip on the slick wood, he pushed off, windmilling his arms as he plunged toward the frigid harbor, trusting desperately in his instincts.

Kara said...
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domynoe said...

Silence spread in a widening pool around the lyanthry woman as she and her companions entered the Rising Moons Inn. Although settled between the two nations of Ehlarayn and Serayn, and one of the few places their people could be expected to make an appearance, even here in Windhome they were as common as rose blossoms in the middle of the snow season. But only the lyanthry had the woman's delicate, almost frail figure, tapered ears, and the metallic sheen embedded in her nails and dusted her hair and skin.

Wanda said...

My people are from South Carolina. Both of my parents grew up in Greenville, SC and among them had 16 siblings so I have a bevy of relatives most who have stayed in and around Greenville. They are a colorful bunch, ex-cons, divorcees, circus performers, hobos, magicians, Christians, and all around a fun crowd. Mostly tee-totallers or drunks with big asses and big hearts. We are the most popular among reality television. You can always count on seeing a South Carolinian on Project Runway, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Big Brother, America’s Got Talent, American Idol. Why is that? South Carolina lets her people be.

S.E.L. said...

The assassin had a name and a past, but he'd shed both long ago like a snake does his skin. Now, he was so focused on the mission that he could barely remember either. All he needed to know was that he was in charge of Sector Three – the eastern seaboard from Montreal to New York City – and it was infested with pests civilian officials called ‘deserters.’ For five years, he exterminated the vermin that overran Sector Two -- Russia, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. He used a crumbling flat in St. Petersburg as a safe house, its walls still plastered with Soviet-era issues of Pravda instead of wallpaper. For the past year, he lived in an old brownstone on a quiet tree-lined street in Brooklyn, but tonight, he was on campus in old Montreal, loading his army-issue bolt-action sniper rifle with hollow-tipped bullets. The assassin didn't call his targets 'deserters' for that gave them too much cachet. In war, traitorous scum like them were summarily executed. As far as the assassin was concerned, they were at war. Exterminating them wasn't really killing, and he wasn't really a killer.

Beth Yarnall said...

I almost looked up; expecting a black cloud to be hovering above my head because sitting in my styling chair waiting for me was my first client of the day… the one, the only Reina Duarte. I’d pictured this moment a thousand times in my mind.I always looked gorgeous, of course. I imagined my hair long, thick, and a glorious shade seldom found in nature. I would be skinny, not in a Kate Moss/Olson Twins kind of way, but a toned, tanned, I-can-afford-my-own-personal-trainer-don’t-you-hate-me kind of way. On my arm would be a man who could make Angelina Jolie cry with envy. And to drive the I’m-better-than-you point home with her, the salon I owned would be the most exclusive, celebrity trafficked salon this side of the West Coast.
That was the dream anyway.

school_of_tyrannus said...

Demas was thirteen when his parents sent him away. It was a lazy Saturday, the day after he had been to see the Illuminary. He woke at dawn, fully expecting to get half a dozen more hours of sleep. His room was glowing with faint blue light coming from the stained glass windows that decorated the east end of his room. He knew it was early morning for the windows had been custom made by Rudley, the renowned glass-maker, as a time-keeper. Blue was an early morning color which Demas rarely saw since school did not start until purple lit up his room.

Emailman said...

Charlotte brushed her shoulder-length, golden blonde hair away from her face, tucking it behind her ear as the gentle sea breeze tried to blow it back. She gazed through pale-blue eyes at a ship out at sea, wondering if it could be a pirate ship. If they came ashore there would be little chance of escape as the beach stretched beyond her vision in either direction. She spotted a smaller boat rowing towards her. What should I do? Is there enough time to save my little sister? Beth looked oblivious to the danger, chasing after a feather that blew away in the wind. By the time she reached her, they would be in clear view, and escape would be impossible. Maybe I should save myself. At least one of us might survive. No. She couldn't possibly leave Beth to the mercy of those murderous pirates.

Michelle said...

(Nathan, you are seriously a superhero of some sort for doing this!)

----

Enna skimmed over crimson rocks and sand, hair fluttering in the turning pages. A familiar voice trailed behind her in the distance, no more noticeable than a spritz of long-forgotten perfume in the fog. All of her senses focused on her companions and their darkly cloaked quarry.

SammyStewart said...

“Kayla!” Shouted Oliver over the roar of the tide. “Get a move on!” My parents couldn't have picked a worse day to move into our ramshackle beach house. There was an army of dark clouds moving in over the angry waves, which were growing higher by the minute. I licked my lips and tried to stop thinking about the taste that lingered on my tongue. The air tasted different here in a way that I couldn't put into words.

Kara said...

There are days when I would rather contract a flesh-eating fungus than work at Bodkin’s Delicatessen- like today. I had just started cleaning up the remnants of an egg attack on the storefront when I spotted someone across the street, ripping a FOR SALE sign out of the brick house’s front lawn. Even though it was broad daylight, he was really going at it, flinging dirt and torn grass everywhere. My eyes bulged with panic as I realized it was my older brother Evan. During my twenty-one years on earth so far, Evan had been a tremendous rectal itch. Lately, he was a full-blown hemorrhoid.

jmartinlibrarian said...

Wren Goodloe didn’t ask for a graduation party. She asked for a car. What she got was an apocalypse. The bassist for The Hot Licks passed out by the tapas bar. Rapper L’il Farouk’s bodyguard punched the DJ and Pajama Relay made her ears bleed during their thirty minute set. All she wanted was a mini cooper.

Nithska said...

Pristina stood on the ship's bridge with her daughters and stared upon the roiling waters obscuring the face of Shanama. Cancer, sixteen standard, and Toro, eight, shifted in disinterest and unease respectively. She rubbed the lobe of Toro's ear and the girl leaned into her mother. They'd been up for several hours past bedtime getting ready. Toro's eyes were puffy and both girls had grown weary of each other. Cancer huffed and sighed with clock-like regularity, shifting from hip to hip in boredom. The first mate's boy pretended not to watch them from his post.

Joann said...
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Corey Wright said...

I can hear them behind me, their heavy footsteps crashing through the forest. They startle birds and animals, the creatures numbering me among them as we race for cover. Trees blur as I duck between them, but their voices and laughter still find me. The noise burns my ears, my heart screaming for me to run faster. They are the wolves and we are their prey; if they catch us, we’re as good as dead.

Daniel Allen said...

“Your wayne on urth is ovur, dark one!”

Tree branches strike each other with skill and speed unexpected from their wielders. The crunch of late autumn leaves crackle underneath small feet shuffling forward and back, each vying for an advantage in their confrontation.

“Nevur! My powur is undee-tyable!”

Pam Hullin said...

I was so busy cursing fate in general, and my current circumstances more specifically, that I didn’t notice the stray breeze. It was only when the field daisies curled over my head that I sat up to enjoy the movement of air over my skin. A faint warm scent set my nose twitching. Flinging the shrivelled rabbit carcass aside, I scrambled to my feet.

Death By Children said...

This morning I woke up dead.

GreatJaneDoe said...

Susan didn’t mean to snoop around in her son’s things. She was looking for whiteout for an error she made on that Friday morning’s crossword when she came across two greeting cards in the top drawer of Freddy’s desk. They had obviously been chosen by a girl for both had cute and cuddly images of bears, flowers and loopy writing across the covers. One said, “Thank You to a Special Person” and the other simply, “I love you.” Forgetting the whiteout altogether, Susan stood frozen before the open drawer. For a split second she wished the cards were instead, packets of cigarettes, which Freddy told her he had quit some years ago, though Susan often felt she could detect a bitter smoky scent each time he came in from somewhere. She didn’t have to look at the envelopes beneath each card to know whom they were from. Freddy’s on and off and now undefined relationship with a girl he’d met at graduate school had plagued Susan for nearly a year now, but she kept quiet. She let Freddy make his mistakes and prayed silently that he would learn from them, but in two weeks the girl, Karrie, would be coming to stay at Susan’s home in California for an undefined period of time. Two weeks to go but the girl’s already here, Susan thought grimly. Karrie was sitting right there in her son’s desk.

Brodi Ashton said...

It’s too soon, I thought.
But, really, I’d been gone for one hundred years. Everything about my old life would be too soon. Especially high school. Senior year. The halls of Jackson High looked the same, and I reminded myself that above ground – far above the tunnels - only a few months had passed during my absence. School would be a waste of time, in one respect, considering I would never graduate. But I needed be here, to glimpse, for a moment, the life I had before. The year I should’ve had. To see Jack one last time. To stockpile memories that would nourish me for the next century. I could do this without hurting him again.

JEM said...

The story of Little Bit Jones is not for the faint of heart. Hers is not a story of rags to riches, nor is it a heart-warming tale of triumph over evil, not that she would condone such babyish drivel. No, the story of Little Bit is one of caution, a grim tale the upper crust would tell their children as they ventured out into the world for the first time, a warning against the perils of a life on the streets. To Little Bit, though, it was just her life. A technical orphan by the age of nine, Little Bit had been cast to the fates by her mother, a prostitute, and her father, a drunken immigrant who worked on the docks and didn’t bother to come home most nights. She was their thirteenth child, born under the devil’s number as her mother frequently reminded her, and had been a superstition for them from the start. Even if they could have had the funds to put food in her mouth, which they didn’t, that smart mouth so frequently landed her in trouble that they gave up on feeding and sheltering her all together. The freedom was a welcome relief to the rantings of her mother and the drunken fumblings of her father, who often mistook her for one of her mother’s coworkers.

Genevieve said...

He has always been there. That fact is as important to me as my own heartbeat. We have wound through each other's lives since the beginning, and time will end for one of us when the other is gone.

Nita said...

A decade after my father’s illness, my mother told me how she first became concerned about his health. “Your father took a nap.”

Jennifer said...

Aimée had no warning that he was coming, but she should have. In her experience, such an event never remained secret for long, and that she had not been told was all the more hurtful. Perhaps the others were afraid that she would run away to the Bayou Saint-Jean or some similar place, and that they would be punished for her behavior. But even so, her sister Désirée certainly knew what was coming and did not choose to tell her, though she had ceased to confide in Aimée in several months.

Marva said...

Katya lay on her stomach, elbows bent, hands propping up her head as she read “101 Spells for Household Maintenance.” She had trouble focusing on the runes and vaguely wondered whether the last spell for unclogging drains called for a plumber or a plunger. Her eyelids kept drooping and, just when she almost fell asleep, Teddy, her bunny familiar, nudged her nose with his.

Here I'll go by: Ash. Elizabeth said...

Hi Nathan! Glad to finally participate in one of your contests! Here's my latest YA WIP!

A scowl spread over my face before Mom had even said a word, a scowl that grew worse once she launched into the story. I swear, if I didn’t believe her incapable of having the imagination for revenge against men--and her bland clothing choices proved she really didn’t have an imagination--I would have thought she was lying. See, I had always been fortunate enough to never witness Mom in her work attire. The bat-like wings and black robe would have led to me voluntarily checking in at the local psychiatric ward.

SAVanVleck said...

Alex’s favorite time was the safety of a dark night. Day or night, he stayed outside as much as he could because; to be anywhere out of their reach was preferable. On this bitter night, he sat in the dust and grit on the concrete cellar floor and watched snowflakes float past a crack in the boarded up window.

Authoress said...

An island was the worst place to live if you were afraid of the water. Of course, Jane Rondish had never told anyone about that, about her ocean-fear. No one seemed to notice when she hung back on the beach, never allowing anything past her knees to get wet. And during the last two months, Jane had used every excuse she could think of to avoid joining Oliver and Darren on their watery excursions, most of which were expressly forbidden.

Skeptic said...

I was the baby of the family for the first fifteen years of my life. Then our household was infected by this horrible virus. She's eleven months old now, and her name is Madison – Maddy I call her, mostly because Daddy hates that nickname. Mom says it's cute. I wasn't going for cute.

pattyjansen said...

The pump that sucked the water from the river was the farm’s heart. Daddy always said so. That Mother would ask Tom to turn it on made him feel important, scared almost.
It was not that he didn’t know how to turn on the pump. He had watched Daddy do it many times. Sometimes Daddy had let him pull the string that made the motor go put-put-put-put and blow a cloud of black smoke in your face. Sometimes, Daddy had let him open the valves. _Watch out for snakes,_ Daddy would say, because snakes liked to hide under the pipes, where it was cool and moist.

Scott said...

Weird. One minute you’re thanking God for His blessing on your life and your family and two hours later you’re standing behind your best friend kissing his cheek with the barrel of a pistol. The Ruger P85 semiautomatic pistol is a handsome gun: rectangular like most semi-9s you see on the cop shows, but beefier. Manly and shorter-barreled. The lower half is pewter gray, the top is matte silver. Like the only piece of jewelry Steve wears—his wedding ring. Like the ring, the gun fits his hand well. Better than he expected. Like the ring.

AM Riley said...

“It’s really not necessary.” Agnes sounded bored. Through the phone, Stefan heard the click of a cigarette lighter, a long inhale, and could evoke from memory the cloud of smoke around nicotine stained fingers, as Agnes studied her shiny pink acrylics. “I’m sure they won’t care.”

mheffernan said...

There was never a sadder sight than the one in the town of Abbadon. After nearly a hundred years of dictatorship, the city had started to fall into ruins and only the presentable buildings that existed were places no normal citizen could travel freely. Worse so, the town square - a normally pleasant place - was a light with a hundred torches that illuminated the gallows where men and women were having their lives stolen by a rope noose. There were screams of pain, pleas for help and tears of fear but nothing was done to aid these people.

Miss Aspirant said...

From the time he was a child, Mikhail Grigorevich Ivanov never felt whole. He always sensed that he'd forgotten something important and searching for the ever-elusive object became a constant obsession. This was of little consequence during the first few years of his life when he was still too young to leave the apartment, but once he was old enough to use the door on his own, this tendency to wander became a problem. While Babka sat nodding in her comfortable recliner, the television droning in the background, Misha would turn the doorknob and slip outside the apartment, down the stairs, and onto the street. Wearing only his pajamas and slippers, he’d sneak along the snow-encrusted sidewalks to the back alley behind the apartment building, and stick in hand, he’d poke in the drains and through overturned trash bins to his heart’s content, searching for something to fill the hole he felt inside.

lora96 said...

Sleeping, she saw the valley as she remembered it from her childhood. Behind the flutter of her dark eyelashes lay the secluded hollow dotted with tidy cottages, scrupulously tended spring vegetables sprouting in orderly rows in each dooryard. Fluffy chicks cheeped indignantly as she scattered corn for them. Bright geraniums bloomed beside her as she sat on her mother’s fresh scrubbed doorstep gulping cool buttermilk from her heavy mug. Best of all, the fields behind the village were a vast silvery sweep of lavender rippling in a summer breeze, a haze of honeybees hanging low over the blossoms. Creamy white butterflies flitting across the fields sometimes came near enough to light on her chubby, outstretched hand.

NickerNotes said...

I moan softly as Nick’s warm lips move down my throat to the little hollow above my collar bone. At least I think it’s Nick. Could be Kevin. It’s really dark out here and I’ve had a lot to drink. He smells nice, anyway.

Len said...

Ten minutes before midnight

Dancer Stonemason stares at the gun pointed at his chest. He takes a deep breath, lets it out slowly, considers his options. They’re not good. The kid looks like he means business. Anita had said her husband was a soldier so he probably knows how to use that gun. Even on his best days, and he hasn’t had any best days in a long time, Dancer doesn’t figure to outrun a bullet. Anita stands beside him, her new silicone breasts barely covered by the hurriedly cinched bathrobe. Her cheeks are flushed and her platinum hair is damp with sweat. She smells of sex.

Anonymous said...

They come for me with long needles and cold hands. They run after me but I’m faster. I laugh as I go. The halls all look the same and I laugh harder. The joke’s on me. It’s a maze with no way out and no way in. How did I get in? I don't remember. I see the exit but I know it is an illusion, a mirage, it must be, there is no escape, there is never an escape, it’s all fanciful dreams and half formed hopes, it looks like water but tastes like sand, – it looks like an exit, it bears its name but it’s not, it’s all lies, it’s trying to trick me but I will not fall for it, I am not so naïve!

ami | 40daystochange said...

I remember the first day. The Father said Be, and I was. The light of the new sun dazzled my eyes, it exposed me, and I slithered and scrambled into the grasses to hide. But the fragrance of the Garden drew me out, pulled me back to the center, back among the new creatures shuffling, huffing, creeping and peeping in anticipation. There, in the center of the Garden, the Father welcomed each creature, blessing it and bidding it to live its life. There, in the midst of all that was new, I stretched my body as high as I could reach, anxious to hear the Father’s words for me. And there, among all the living things, the Father looked at me and called me the most cunning of all. His recognition gave me such pleasure, I collapsed, trembling and rattling in my coils. I was the most cunning! But my delight would be short-lived.

Bradley John Dunn said...

There are three things every good director needs to know. First, you must have a story to tell. Second, always be brilliant, and third you must speak with an honesty that almost kills you, I swear to Christ Lucian, it has to almost kill you.

Dave said...

They come for me with long needles and cold hands. They run after me but I’m faster. I laugh as I go. The halls all look the same and I laugh harder. The joke’s on me. It’s a maze with no way out and no way in. How did I get in? I don't remember. I see the exit but I know it is an illusion, a mirage, it must be, there is no escape, there is never an escape, it’s all fanciful dreams and half formed hopes, it looks like water but tastes like sand, – it looks like an exit, it bears its name but it’s not, it’s all lies, it’s trying to trick me but I will not fall for it, I am not so naïve!

Buffy Andrews said...

From humorous middle grade: Freaky Frank

I have a secret. I know things. Lots of things. About people. Like I know that my math teacher, Mr. Bugg, is going to pick his nose and wipe a boogie on the back of his yellow smiley face tie when he turns around to write on the board. And I know that Lacey, who sits next to me, is hoping that Jon, who sits behind me, asks her to our eighth-grade school dance. And that she really, really, really hopes that the pimple she popped and powdered before class doesn’t look like a giant apple on the tip of her nose. And that Jon doesn’t see said giant apple pimple when she accidentally-on-purpose bumps into him while leaving class.
See what I mean? I know tons of things. Freaky Frank. That’s me, all right.

Tom Bradley Jr. said...

Edna Nerdberger was on her deathbed in Needles, California, which meant Donny Calamari had to act fast before the old bat kicked off, and before his asshole brother, Frankie, got home from Las Vegas.

Ken Baker said...

Mom gripped my arm with her good hand, digging her nails into my flesh. I winced, trying to think of when I last trimmed her nails. It didn’t matter. I’d have to trim them again soon or next time she’d be drawing blood.

PatEsden said...

The warrior lived on the top of the cliff, as he had for nearly seven hundred years. On nights when fog fingered up from the lake, he followed it through the tangled grapevines and damp cedars, past the abandoned greenhouse and cold frames, their glass tops smashed and tumbled in, to the overgrown gardens, the terraces and into the house on Avery Hill.

DanP said...

The last shot echoed from the crossroads and reverberated beyond the Belgian hills before fading slowly like a hushed sonic wave signaling something afar. It echoed with a seeming hesitation, booming from the nearby pine forests and resounding across the hillsides in cold air. The wavering thunder took several seconds to fade, seeming to pull the world along into a new silence, cold, lonely and dying in a whimper.

KJ Bain said...

“I’ve got a puzzle for you, Mica.” Dr. Li lifted his eyes from the dead body as he watched the tall dark haired woman walk through the bedroom door.

Dave Barrett said...

The only thing he could think about was his gear. Would someone pack up his guitar along with his bag of stage toys and bring them back to the burbs?
He had been fixated on a certain piece of linoleum tile for the past few minutes but then his gaze followed the tile seam until it disappeared under the hospital bed. It was then he was forced to lift his eyes and look at his father’s body.

Kristen said...

It was the fourth day of June, and my living room was covered in blood yet again. The last time, it had taken more than six weeks for the cleaning crew to announce it satisfactory, and the emotional damage lasted much longer than that. Now, my boyfriend’s blood was all over the rug, the furniture, even the walls. He was dead for about four hours, bleeding all over the place the whole time. Don’t worry – he’s fine now. But my brand new couch sure isn’t.

Katie said...

Morgon was a healer.
He had been born with a gift in his fingers and magic in his eyes. His father was a wizard, which all could see, but no one knew who his father had been.

Jil said...

How I do love them, those two down there splashing and laughing in our own tropical lagoon. Hard to believe that only five years ago I would have been happy to see them destroyed with the rest of civilization, myself included. Happy? No, the word wasn't in my vocabulary in those days, not even in that perverted sense. And the one who was me? She's a complete stranger - fading ever further into the past- yet I must never forget. None of us must. We promised.

H. Scott Hunt said...

Orvis Milton Wright was born huge.
I was six years old when Mama had him on September 30, 1938 – exactly three months after Action Comics introduced Superman; exactly a month before Orson Welles broadcast his dramatization of “War of the Worlds;” and exactly four months before Daddy had declared he was going to become his own businessman.

popsicledeath said...

The road was icy, so no surprise when the slick, narrow tires of his road bike flew out from under him. He understood being suddenly prone with an alarming thwack, the shck shck shck of a helmet-half skidding beside him. He acknowledged the road under his shoulder as he slid, the sensation of fire as his cycling jersey finally gave way to bare skin. All of that made sense. What startled him was his body stopped, but part of him kept sliding. It was hardly noticeable at first, the ground ushering beneath him no faster than the natural rotation of the Earth, taking him farther and farther away from his physical form, and the pain, until he could no longer feel either.

MACS said...

I’m so pissed! How could he be such a pr**k? I trusted him completely. Marc-Antoine split five days ago and my prepaid week at the youth hostel is almost up. I am so screwed! When he comes back I’m going to kill him. What if he never does? I feel my chest squeeze with fear and hurt. Oh, no. I can’t think that way. But I can’t, like, sit and wait for him either. What a relief I’m in England. I’m glad I’m not in Portugal or Croatia or Godknowswhere. Then how would I find a job? As it is, it’s not going very well.

(Sorry for asterix's. I don't remember what your rules are wrt foul language. Don't want to offend.)

culturalwarrior said...

It wasn't even 7 am when I checked the microwave. But they had stolen my baby. Again.

Shreds said...

I had a bookcafe in Iowa, in an old brick building on the corner of Alfred and Main. This was three blocks from the intersection where Highway 173 (known in town as Main Street) crosses Highway 44 and becomes M66 (also known as Bluebird Avenue.) Your map may not have Kimballton on it, so it will help to know that it lies napping in the triangle formed by Harlan, Atlantic, and Audubon; each of these towns is thirteen to eighteen minutes away, in daylight and good weather. To orient you further, Kimballton is located in Audubon County, ten miles north of Interstate 80 and about halfway between Omaha and Des Moines, a little closer to New York than to Los Angeles.

Arik Durfee said...

“Chill Like Jesus”

Did I think I was like the real Jesus or somethin’? Not at all. I mean, sure, we got the same first name and everything, but just look at me. I’m, like, the biggest dealer in West Central. Actually, the last few years, I been the only dealer. I mean, that’s one way you could look at it. So, no, it ain’t like I was goin’ around tellin’ everybody I was, like, some kind of Christ-Number-Two or somethin’. But now, all the sudden, like, I’m seein’ all these similarities, and it’s kinda freakin’ me out, you know?

Deidra said...

When they brought her in, my first thought was that they had the wrong inmate. I didn’t recognize her. Then she saw me and her face lit up. I’ve often wondered what my own face looked like in that moment. Did she see shock? Disbelief? Or did she see the guilt that was tearing me apart? The truth is that, even once I realized that it was her, I still didn’t recognize her. The honey blonde hair of her youth had turned dark and mousy. It looked like straw. Her bare face was rough and wrinkled. She had aged so much since the last time I saw her. How long had it been? Ten years? Twelve? I couldn’t remember.

Kim McDougall said...

“Not listening. Not listening.” Chanting kept the prisoner’s head solid. Without it, bits of memory spat from his ears and seeped out his nose. The whisperer didn’t care if he chanted, screamed or wept. He continued his slippery diatribe. Outside the wind whined of a dying winter. Spring made no difference to the prisoner except the damp stones beneath his feet would be warmer. And there would be fewer rats to eat. Pants, once the sturdy fabric of a farrier, hung in shreds around his knees. Sucking on the end of his tangled beard no longer stilled the constant ache in his belly. “Not listening. Not listening. Not listening.” The chant no longer worked either. The whispers latched on like a tick. He crouched in his filth and listened.

Cindy said...

Darkness was in the night. It was I, skimming across the rain-slicked streets and Anger, present though not visible, anticipating the culmination of our efforts. And there was the human, jittery and unkempt, weaving around gas pumps to survey the store. I trailed behind and whispered depressing nonsense that resounded in his soul. His hand twitched on the gun in his pocket.

mkcbunny said...

With my brother and sisters, I was born. Our mother dropped us in the shade, where we could not be seen, where we would not be eaten. She dug for us a bed of earth under a bush of thorns. Many hours our mother left us alone, crying. When she returned, she brought us only her teats, and we drank from them, knowing no other food until the night she died.

Nancy said...

Respectable women stay home and spin wool. So say the traditions of Rome. By that definition, I have never had any aptitude for respectability. As a child, I delighted in escaping my nursemaids and running through the neighborhood streets until I knew them as well as the passageways of our own house. As I grew older, I continued to indulge this passion whenever I could, although my parents tried their best to suppress this unwomanly trait of mine. At age fourteen, they said (and said it repeatedly), it would be a disgrace to the family if I were seen traipsing about alone, without a proper escort.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Robyn got the idea during the best man's speech. It came as a surprise because she didn't think she was the type of woman who proposed to a man, and certainly not in front of people. A tiny voice deep down warned that Mark wouldn't like it, but now she couldn't think of anything else. She decided she would stand as soon as the rather comprehensive best man finished his toast, which would give her legs time to stop trembling.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Laurel sits indian style, facing the head of her bed and trying to focus on Cafe Terrace at Night. She counts the tables first, and then, the stars. A sliver of early morning sun sneaks around her bedroom curtains and Laurel contemplates whether or not she should muster a scowl. Dust bunnies cling to the cheap plastic frame, but illuminated, seem to glisten a bit. She cocks her head as she makes eye contact with her own reflection in the print, a makeshift mirror. Her hair is tousled and sticking up in every direction like twigs in a windy tree.

Jessica said...

The prisoners had no idea the war was over until they woke up one morning to find the camp silent. No sleepy-eyed soldiers shuffling through the mud. No one bellowing for roll call. No guards at the gate. The Germans seemed to have vanished.

Sharon Mayhew said...

One by one, fifty-six children climbed out of the coal-black train that rolled into Leek. Every family was expected to do their part for the war effort. Daddy fought in France. Grandfather was in the Home Guard protecting the beaches along the English Channel. Grandmother worked in the Stannards Mill on Buxton Road sewing parachutes for the soldiers. Mummy and I wanted to do our part too. Mummy said we could take in one evacuee.

skywalker said...
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lettersfromlordship said...

We interrupt this regularly scheduled posting of first paragraphs for just a moment -- to say that Nathan's readers are pretty amazing writers. One after another of these tiny teasing bits of books is provocative and funny and interesting enough that I would pick many of them up and then read the next paragraph and the next, and...

I don't envy the judge. This is some good stuff!

You guys rock.

ashleyludwig said...

She couldn’t breathe. The sloop taunted and slapped at the surface.
Below, the ghost-crew of the La Doña Suerte called her by name, reached for her with skeletal hands. She’d discovered their watery grave, and now she’d spend eternity in their midst…
Clutching for the boat launch, she slipped, fighting for hold with the tips of her fingers. Her limbs, stone-heavy, she struggled for a hold just as a bony hand grabbed her ankle and dragged her down for the last time.

Susan said...

I love numbers. Take my birthday, for example—4-9-49. That’s April 9th, 1949 in case you’re not a number person. It doesn’t look as lucky when you write out the month and year, but trust me, having your lucky number turn up year after year for ten years, another lucky number, on your very own birthday is statistically significant, according to the World Book Encyclopedia, S volume under Statistics (I already knew what significant means). I just added the part about my birth date because everybody knows, even Bobby McInturf, who calls me four eyes and can’t even add two and two, that a double forty-nine on the one day a year you celebrate being born is lucky. Actually, double lucky. Statistically significantly double lucky. You see what I mean.

Disgruntled Bear said...

Someone was watching me, and that person meant to do me harm. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head, a too-warm, embarrassed feeling, and I walked faster. I needed to find other people. I would be safe if there were potential witnesses around, but few people spend time outside on suburban cul-de-sacs in New Jersey bedroom communities. I pulled my bag in close and started to run, cutting across lawns in the fading, late-afternoon light. If I could just get out to the main road, there would be other cars. I could flag one down or even step out into traffic and cause a scene. I would be safe if other people could see me. I didn't make it.

Tulafel said...

The car rolled to a stop just inches from the curb where I stood. Its exhaust bounced from the thick layer of ice glazing the pavement and curled up toward the streetlights. I lowered my head and peered through the passenger window. The driver was young. He didn’t look like a freak or a murderer. Not that I cared.

Jane Susan MacCarter said...

I must be drowning, I conclude with a curious detachment. But somehow I’m not frightened. Not just yet. What I really feel is confusion—yes, and annoyance and astonishment, too—as I struggle amid bubbles that billow, then gurgle, then roar in my ears, like I’m under water. Only I’m not. (How could I be?) The bubbles are green and orange. The ominous orbs roil about me, too close. I flail—ineffectually—as if struggling amid an atmosphere of green-and-orange Jell-o.

Lorri said...

The large crowd that lined the city sidewalk pressed against the steel, police barricades.Several officers, some on foot and others mounted on horses, paced up and down the streams of people, checking for stragglers who may have escaped from the clearly defined maze. The air was heavy and warm which was not unusual for late summer in New York. It was one of life’s great ironies - the weekend that marked the end of summer activities and a return to the drudgery of work and school was usually accompanied by gloriously, sunny weather. Labor Day – the grand reminder that life was not a perpetual picnic. Get off your ass and go back to work.

Prue Batten said...

The ink burned into the paper, the message darkening indelibly as the air settled on the ink-gall. She had slit the bamboo pen into a needle-fine sliver in order to write as discretely, as secretly as possible. In the silence of deep night the scratching of pen over paper reverberated around the room, so loud she thought the Master or his wife would wake. But the young woman persisted − thin angular letters, short words, with no sign of the begging desperation that drove her to do something that could end in her death if she were discovered. Simple words: Nico, farthest north by northwest.
She lay the pen down on a bamboo tray and removed the tiny saucer of ink, pouring it through the smallest gap in the floorboards in a corner of the room. She moved as if she were a shade from the Other side, a fox spirit perhaps.

Moi said...

Not all the lights dotting the night were stars. King Rhoald stood at the crest of the hill, frowning at that knowledge. Vast numbers of enemy campfires swept from the base of the mountains to his left and into the valley before him. Far more vast than his own meager forces scattered on the hillside around him.

Richard Lewis said...
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Tracey H. Kitts said...

My next door neighbor was the hottest thing on two legs. No, really. You should see him. There is no way to accurately describe a man like this. He’s around six foot three with short, shaggy brown hair and a body that could cause heart failure. I didn’t know anything about him except the way watching him each morning made me feel. Our small, sleepy little community was what I’d always categorized as “dead.” That is until three weeks ago when he moved into town. The house next door to me had been vacant for two years. No one was murdered there or anything sensational. The real estate market was poor and no one had been interested. Most people didn’t want to live in the middle of nowhere. There were two kinds of people here: the kind who were born here and the kind looking to escape from something. I was born here.

Rachel Fenton said...

Mary Ann Evans. A lone figure. One face against a background moving so fast it appears static. In a flip book of her own making she is a stick figure. She has never been here before, but from the scenery and the pictures she's seen, she thinks she has. Each frame holds a moment, a piece of the past, to make a cinema of her thoughts. Mountains and tussock land bleed colour, paint themselves behind the glass, before her. It could have gone on. She could have lived and died and never known that this place existed for her. White rooms were blank canvass against her mother's art. It wasn't what was there that roused her suspicions, but what was omitted. Before her discovery she might have existed in perpetuity devoid of colour. Scene after scene replays, inter-cut with landscape; the view, like photography, like Eve's paintings, works on a principle of thirds, and now and then, Mary is reminded that everything is behind glass.

Karrie said...

Cody Bayles stuck his head out the passenger side window and tried to forget that he had to pee. Asking his brother to pull over would be like asking him to break up with his girlfriend--it wasn't going to happen. The wheels of the '98 Mustang ate the road while the flat land of western Nebraska streaked past him in a monotounous
sea of green. He couldn't hold it anymore. Pulling his shoulders back in, he looked over at Josh. "I gotta go. Now!"

susanamai said...

Lenny and Renzo are crossing the street in this mildly sketchy neighborhood, strolling around and minding nobody’s business. Whenever a lady passes their way they purposely bump into her, and if she gets upset and starts hating they say sorry, sorry lady, before cussing her under their breaths as she walks her old ass self off the block. But that’s only if she’s ugly. If she’s pretty then they ogle and say hey girl, making smooch smooches with their lips, asking her up to their nonexistent places. But before you assume they’re delinquents or welfare junkies, understand that Lenny and Renzo are prep school kids, born and bred with leather jackets from Diesel and self-ripped polos from Lacoste. Remember that these boys aren’t from your neighborhood ghetto, no, they’re hanging out on the East Side, somewhere near York Ave and 91st street, right around the bend from the FDR drive. They’re pretty cool kids. Renzo likes to don his Dior sunglasses whenever the weather’s overcast. Lenny wears ball-constricting pants. It’s winter and the two boys refrain from wearing the gloves that mommy bought them.

Richard Lewis said...
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John M. said...

A whisper from an ironwood, the sigh of an elm, a hemlock’s gentle murmur; the same faint message was repeated again and again. Go on.

Coffee Wench said...

I haven't slept since Lilah Dean died, but I've never felt more awake. Everything's hard-edged and a touch too bright, too loud. I haven't been to school since that night either, but now the bus lurches to a halt and everyone who can't-drive, can't-afford-a-car, can't-be-bothered staggers off. I consider staying on, circling around town all day instead of facing the hundreds of kids who suddenly know my name. But school is Healthy and Socially Normative and I only have three weeks until graduation. I should go, will go, am going, hopping down to the curb with the doors hissing shut just shy of my heels. Ssseeeya, they say. Can't turn back now. The brakes sigh/squeal, the motor roars, and my getaway vehicle is gone.

Lisa T. said...

The smell of blood wafted on the cool breeze catching the predator’s attention. He lifted his face to the dark sky to inhale its tantalizing aroma. Mouth watering, his footsteps muffled by the damp ground beneath his paws, the beast began to walk toward the scent of its prey. All around him the sounds of the wood echoed loudly within his sensitive ears.

Wayne said...

The last thing I wanted to do on a beautiful fall day is help someone I hate rob dead people, but there I was, done for the day, double parked in Midtown Manhattan, waiting for a parking space, and fall was in the air. It was sweet and cold and it brought the camouflage of early darkness which enveloping the sins and sinners of Hell’s Kitchen. I put the car in drive, and checked my rearview mirror. “I gotta get this cab back soon,” I said, “or it’s going to cost me some serious money.” What I really wanted was to get rid of George Kelly.

Allan Evans said...

I’ve been called a cold bitter man. Personally, I think I just drink too much lemonade. As a police officer, I see and experience a lot—most of it alarmingly bad. It’s difficult to take in all the crime, poverty and suffering and not let it affect you. There are days I pray for spontaneous combustion. Don’t get me wrong, fighting for truth and justice is the only job I would ever want. What else could I do that allows me to drive fast and carry a powerful handgun?

harrison said...

The beast sleeps. Let the beast sleep. He rests his head in the jaws of the crocodile embedded at the base of the brain. A pillow made of feathers you don’t want to ruffle. An ancient remnant, devilishly wired, capable of committing vile and vicious acts. Evil’s cradle, gently rocking, adrift in the primordial fluids from which we all crawled. It can awaken at any moment. Just the slightest nudge or hint of hatred, cruelty or weakness will have it open its menacing eyes, salivating, scheming how to take an act of discourtesy to a level of debauchery. A poisonous chemical, one that only the cerebral nub can generate surges throughout the body, or the city, forcing its brute strength over reason; drooling over decency. It sleeps in us all, more soundly in some than in others. As a cop, I think I can spot it a mile away.

Publius said...

Most people believe Birmingham is called the Magic City because it sprang up overnight like magic. Very few people realize that it sprang up overnight because of magic. Anyone not equipped with a little magic doesn’t stand a chance.

Jeffrey Ainis said...

[non-fiction]

He was a polite young man, but he arrived in the company of a known terrorist. The travelers were dragged from their car and questioned separately. It was a remote region of Kashmir, a region of high security. After twelve hours of questioning, dawn had begun to break, and the Indian guards were instructed to escort the young man to his execution.

Ciara Blount said...

A week after Danny alienated two-thirds of his fan base and made his agent cry, he asked his cousins to fly in from Atlanta to rehabilitate his self-worth. "As long as you're paying," Aaron had said sympathetically. Geoff agreed to go as long as he got the chance to sneak into a rehab clinic. Danny agreed to both terms.

Ian said...

"This world bores me, Flense. I need new blood." His words echoed through the near dark of the large hall, as the Old God slouched back on his obsidian throne. The movement made a harsh sound, as the stone of his skin ground upon the obsidian seat.

ladyn said...

Tense muscles flinched as another black bag on a gurney wheeled past. This wasn’t my first crime scene, nor would it be my last. Experience didn’t make it any easier when kids were involved, however. The scent of spilled motor oil and hot metal competed for my brain’s attention but even they couldn’t hide the cooper taste of blood in the air. Not from my heightened senses. With a body count already at nineteen and likely to increase, once the spells twined around the bus were breached, a heaviness drenched the air, weighing shoulders and emotions down alike. The one survivor we’d found had to be induced into a coma to safely transport to the LDS Children’s Hospital.

nkrell said...

The two young men stood at attention in the large room. The light from the windows was practically blinding them, but that is how it was supposed to be. Except for their clothes, there were no other colors visible in the room; no yellows, blues, greens or purples. No colors, no tricks, no illusions. There was no darkness. There was only light, and it was strong. Children can tell the difference between light and darkness as soon as they enter the world. Grown-ups forget the disparity because they see too much of both. Although these two were no longer children, they had not forgotten the distinction.

Botanist said...

'Hope springs eternal,' the ancient saying goes, but hope is a poor foundation to stake your life on.

Jamey Stegmaier said...

“In 10 minutes a man I’ve never met will walk through that door to give me a message that I’ve never seen. You’ll find that same phrase written by my hand 20 years ago on a scrap of paper inside this envelope. I swear on this bottle of whiskey that this message, this note I wrote 20 years ago, is worth over 90 billion American dollars and at least two broken hearts.”

Ashley C. said...

Believe it or not, the odd dry taste of someone's guilt caught in the back of my throat. Not what I had foreseen--or welcomed, really--on game night. I took a few deep breaths, and the hot rush that erupted inside of me steadily tapered off to something bitter. Eyes wide and wounded, I awaited the inevitable. . .a dead body to surface in the thick band of surrounding people.

(This is a Young Adult Murder Mystery with a twist)

--AEC Warren, RI

Robena Grant said...

The heat hit like a ball of flame. It started in her chest, captured her breath, and left her body trembling and damp. Dena Roman forced herself to take slow, deep breaths, while she searched the covers for the remote control. Had she heard wrong, imagined the whole thing? It had only been the late-night news highlights, the teasers.

J.J. Bennett said...

Mumbling undecipherable words, Blake White sat on a rock and glared at a surfer suiting up. His teeth chattered looking out towards the vast open water colored sea; the crisp air chilled him to the bone, causing him to catch his breath. Soaring high into the sky, the foreboding redwood mountains of California framed the sea like pinnacles of temple spires. The elevations breathtaking to behold; few knew of this scenic spot. But to those who lived in Shelter Cove, clearly it was the most beautiful and dangerous beach on earth.

Liberal Cowgirl said...

The Son of Estelle Ivy Stepped Up. Gently, one by one, he put his items down on the drug-store counter in front of three-time employee of the month George Myer. Fresh breath mints. Old Spice Cologne. A box of note-cards trimmed in gold. One tightly rolled astrology scroll. It all moved the kind of slow and easy you don’t see much of anymore. Nobody even noticed the girl in line, doing her best to get the attention of somebody. She had realized if you pour a red knit dress over a standard body and stack it all on top of a pair of black vinyl high-heeled boots, men would surely notice. But not here today, at least not the son of Estelle Ivy. This day was all about something else. This day he would see his son for the first time since he got sprung.

Alexis Fleming said...

Oh my God, he’s going to kill them! The thought knifed through Lori’s brain as Joel lifted the Remington bolt-action .30-06 to his shoulder and sighted through the high-powered scope. A momentary flash of black bounded through the undergrowth, closely followed by a second. There one moment. Gone the next. The barrel of the rifle tracked the movement. Joel’s finger took up the slack on the trigger.

kellyethan said...

I think I killed my father. The doctors tell me different, but they lie. When I close my eyes, I see blood. It glitters in the dark like a thousand stars. It coats my thoughts. I scrub myself every morning, just to make sure the red hasn’t stained my skin. They said I didn’t hurt him. But I see his eyes. Dark blue, almost black. Boring into my skull. Piercing my soul. If I didn’t kill him, shouldn’t I have saved him? Did I mention I hate the dark? That’s the other thing I dream about. Blackness, nothingness. The absence of light. Not a warm welcoming blanket like all the books say. But hard, jagged pressure, slicing at me.

Suzannah said...

I was re-born amongst pines, crystalline with snow, in the heart of the boreal glory. I was re-born on the plains of a solid lake that spreads forever. A haze of snowflakes stirred where the wind scratched its surface. I made prints as I went. Left my mark as I traced the vast canvas. A very cold place.

Jennifer M. Donahue said...

Do you know this woman? A black and white photograph with my own blurry face and tangled up hair. The sign, photocopied crooked, littered my neighborhood. Plastered on telephone poles and tacked to the big board in my coffee shop, I even stepped on a few loose copies fluttering along the city sidewalk. I wondered - should I call and claim myself as the missing, like an animal gone astray?

spwriter said...

Finn observed with casual indifference how the low-hanging fog appeared to decapitate anyone over five-foot-nine. It was thicker than diesel smoke, wet as rain and smelled like fetid tofu water. The quick-stepping lemming masses all wore the same red rubber boots, simultaneously defying the colorless day and accepting the certainty of another urban flood. Not a devastating flood. Not the kind that washes away buildings and carries waterfowl so far inland that they alter the tide of evolution. Just a little flood. The sort that migrates trash from one curb to another. They were wearing boots, after all. Not waders.

Michelle McLean said...

Well, this sucks. I lay flat on my back, staring at the mini-tornado swirling in the clear blue sky above me, my heart beating so hard it bruised against my ribcage. To be honest, being struck by lightning didn’t hurt as much as I’d imagined. Scared me half to death? Yes. Pissed me off? Oh yeah. Attack me head on and I’ll fight till I can’t swing anymore. Sneaking up on me with a lightning bolt? Now, that’s just cruel.

Laura said...

“It’s time,” Chance says to the white walls, refusing to acknowledge the face in the mirror. She places the razor directly over the vein leading up her forearm and applies pressure. She presses with everything she has and feels a satisfying pop when the blade pierces the epidermis and beyond. The blood comes fast, and she drags the razor upward, following the vein’s flow. She is reminded of the River Styx, a drawing in her English book of a small boat in a vast, black canal. A grinning skeleton in a captain’s hat manned the boat, ripples drawn in flat ovals around his submerged oar.

Sue M. said...

Houston is a sultry gal who packs a mean one-two punch. If her heat doesn’t get you, her humidity will. No one knew this better than Lorrie Winslow, who had endured thirty-nine long, hot Houston summers and chose to live there anyway.

Daniel said...

When it was all over, I was left with a shoe. A glass shoe, in fact. It was truly a masterpiece of glasswork - graceful and sloping, spattered all about with patterns and designs. In the eight months that dragged after that one fleeting night I was to become intimately familiar with that shoe.

HelenSS said...

All she wanted was a hot chocolate. Now was that too much to ask? Who knew that it would lead to murder.
“Tina, venti hot chocolate with whipped cream.” Chilled from her morning walk, Tina’s fingers ached to curl around a hot cup. Just as she picked it up. Someone knocked the drink from her hand.
“You cut the line.” A heavy-set man with a thick accent stepped in front of Tina.
“Hey what are you doing. Are you nuts?” Tina looked at the man. True she’d been cold and rushed in to order, but cut in line, no way. Someone would have spoken up before she’d ordered and paid. “I didn’t see you in front of me and why didn’t you speak up sooner. You can’t go around hitting people’s drinks out of their hand.”
“You show no respect,” the man’s face filled her field of vision as he leaned closer. “I show you what it means to disrespect me.”

Shelia Taylor said...

The cathedral was heavy with the scent of a thousand rose candles. The heat of their flames sent small trickles of sweat rolling slowly down the spine of every naked man and woman in the room. All of their eyes were fixated on the figure at the sarcophagus. He was tall with black hair and matching eyes. His pale skin was as smooth as the newly melting wax around them. Motionless and quiet, he stood before them with his six-foot wings folded behind his back. They were scared of him but in awe of the winged man. They knew he would right every wrong they had done and that he would become the new face of God.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Okay. Wow. Just WOW.

Hi Nathan. You still with us?

GhostFolk.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
addie pray said...

There is a picture hanging on my mom's bedroom wall of me at eight years old. I look just like Madeline Albright. My hair is a perfect copy of hers during the Clinton administration. My mom loves this picture. It was taken at portrait studio just down the street from the beauty shop where I got my first professional permanent wave.

Violet said...

I squeezed the trigger, the noise of the gun deafening in the confined space of the elevator. My legs trembled as I made my way over to where he lay, sprawled on the parking garage floor. Blood seeped from the four gaping holes in his chest, while his eyes stared unseeing up at me. The gun slipped from my grasp, clattered to the concrete, and landed next to the body. I reached into his coat pocket and grabbed the cell phone that he had taken from me, only moments earlier. My hands shook as I punched in the number.

abrokenlaptop said...

Her body was delicately, tenderly, and exquisitely broken.

Jo Ann said...

I was my mother’s dog. The troublemaker in the family. I made my mother cry. She claimed I told lies. Lots and lots of lies. The biggest liar ever. Made up stories, too. I had a streak of wickedness straight from my heart. She didn’t know how I had become this way. She had always been a good mother.

Jan said...

Sue looked at me and said, “I’ll be blunt. The committee doesn’t think you can do the job of Program Chair and you should step down.” She was the Director of Nursing at the college, a member of my tenure committee and she took the minutes for my meetings. I shifted on the cold plastic seat of the chair, picked up my pencil, and wrote down Sue’s words on my tablet. I wanted to remember what she said, and I always took notes during my tenure meeting. I am the Program Chair and a teacher, I write lesson plans, accreditation reports and administrative reports, It’s what I do, how I make my way in the world. I had tenure at my previous job–only took this position to cut down twenty hours a week of commute time. What would I do if I didn’t have this job? My former position already held a replacement…that would be tenured soon.

Linda Adams said...

The wind shifted over the playground, blowing magic across the assassin's senses. Delicate, like a perfume. But magic wasn't supposed to be here, and he wasn't supposed to be able to sense it.

SphinxnihpS of Aker-Ruti said...

There was nothing like the smell of frying field of goddess in the morning. Or night. Or any time. Just a wonderful scent, knowing one less source of the ruiner of my life burned just down the hill. Knowing that the last of her lived inside four-year-old seeds and a stalk I was currently using to stir up my breakfast fire. The stalk was once a lurid shade of saffron and overdressed in grey. Grey star-shapes, grey spines, grey pad leaves, and, yes, seedpods of grey. Now, the stalk was turning a lovely shade of crisp black. Getting to be my favorite color. Overall, beautiful enough to make the eyes water. Then again, that might be just her toxicity. Oddly enough, goddesses in plant-form reacted badly to being burned.

==========

Thanks for doing this again!

Jodi

Rocco said...

Brennar was dead. He had actually just died, even if he wasn’t able to either accept the fact or understand how it had happened. Something had simply pushed him aside. Out of his life, even if he still was in his body in some way.

JohnVise said...

There are few sights as pathetic as a drunken kappa. Don’t fret if you don’t know what a kappa is, I certainly didn’t the first time I saw the goofy things. It helps that they don’t get out of Japan much. Imagine a chimpanzee covered in fish scales, with a giant turtles shell on its back and a mess of lanky green hair. Atop their head, right in the center of the hair, is a depression filled with water. You heard me. They have a little pond atop their skull, making the hair look like moss that’s growing off a stagnant pool. Could I make up something that ridiculous? The first time I saw one I had the urge to put a little sailboat in the pond. To this day I have never given into my baser instincts, but the temptation was there.

Barbara Sissel said...

It was late on a Thursday afternoon in April and Livie was at the top of Peachtree Lane when she saw the car, a Mini Cooper, at the bottom of the long shallow hill where the water tended to pond after a heavy rain. It was parked off the road, on the wrong side, and the driver’s side door was pushed open into the roadside scruff. She had only moments to wonder about the trouble before she caught sight of the injured dog and the woman on her knees beside it. The woman looked up as Livie approached and her eyes, when they locked with Livie’s, were so filled with entreaty that Livie’s heart jammed and what flooded her mind was a panicked impulse to floor the accelerator and flee the scene. Of course she didn’t. She parked her SUV and got out, cutting herself off from the vaguely shameful notion that there was a part of her that could have left the woman and her dog in the road as if they were nothing.

C.L. Moyer said...

"I can't believe I have to do this every week," I said under my breath. "I swear I remember going to college." I slammed my reporter's notepad shut after scribbling notes on the latest reported "crimes" in Alder County, the sleepy spot on the north coast of Oregon I call home. "How many escaped cows does this make this year, Jack? Six? And why can't you guys put this information online? You have computers, right? I know we live in the middle of nowhere, but Jesus."

Kelley Nyrae said...
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Emily C. said...

Lexington, Virginia has its share of Civil War re-enactors, so when I caught a guy in a grey uniform looking at me, I didn’t think much of it. I smiled and kept walking. But then I suddenly felt very strange--awkward yet familiar, like that dream where you find yourself on stage and can’t remember what you’re supposed to be doing. Glancing around, I tried to figure out what was happening to me when I realized that Lisa couldn’t see him. Because he was dead.

Gaël Schmidt said...

The stranger stood on the threshold of the cave and watched the sun come up. It wasn’t a pleasant sight. The light that pierced the grey clouds to the East was harsh and bright, and turned the sky from deep blue to a dirty shade of orange that reminded him of sunrises in another country and another life. The dark, jagged peaks in the distance slowly appeared as the morning fog surrounding them dissipated, their shadows extending over the valley down below like so many fingers grasping at the sand. Soon enough, he had to shield his eyes from the light. Yet he kept on staring at the rising sun, immobile and unblinking, until his eyes were little more than two blazing spots of pain in his skull. Only then did he lower his gaze and wipe the tears that ran down his cheeks on the sleeve of his shirt. He’d watched the sun come up most every morning for years. It was a silly ritual, but one that was harmless enough that he did not feel the need to discard it like he’d discarded almost everything else in his life.

Renee Pinner said...

The sparkle in the corner of her eye almost didn’t snap Trinity out of her day dream. She was so lost in her typical fantasy about escaping small town Miller, Texas that the shimmer of lights was nearly dismissed along with the drone of Mrs. Johnson’s lecture on the finer side of Trig. Turning her head she saw a large rectangle seemingly suspended in the desk aisle closest to the window, just two rows over from her. The shape looked strangely like a door leading nowhere. It was made of thousands of shimmering iridescent lights that seemed to sway in the air. Trinity was strangely drawn to the door. Looking around she noticed that none of her classmates were paying any attention to the swaying door. In fact, it looked like none of them even saw it. But taking a second look, Trinity could still see it glittering in the classroom like a beacon to her and her alone.

Kelley Nyrae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda P. said...

Fun!! This is YA.

I had a hairy upper lip. My freaking lip was brown and hairy. Well, that’s sexy. I moved in a little closer to the mirror to fully assess the fuzz. I pulled my lips together between my teeth and cringed as the light hit the hairs. No wonder I was single. I felt the blood rush to my cheeks as I realized what every boy heard when they met me. “Hi, my name is Claire and my hairy lip greets you." Oh, God.

Sam said...

I never thought it would end this way, after all the running, jumping, skipping, and hopping; the dancing, holding hands, driving and diving; the sitting and thinking, or the knitting and drinking; after stealing from your mom, and lying to your dad, or after the first time you took a drag, to the last time you cut yourself. Even after all those card games we played in your closet. Honestly, above all else, I never ever thought it would end this way, because the little voice in the back of my head just kept on saying, “Don’t worry, and remember: ‘Nobody dies.’” I miss you.

Peter Cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelley Nyrae said...

Abigail Thompson jumped out of her seat before the bell finished ringing. With one swoop she had her backpack over her shoulder and sped for the classroom door. Please let me get out before Stacy. Please let me get out before Stacy. The words played on repeat in her head like they did everyday during seventh period. Four out of five days a week, she didn’t make it. Still, she said that same silent prayer hoping each day might be different. Hoping Stacy Cavanaugh would find someone else to torture. No such luck.

James said...

Chip clutched the armrests so hard his fingertips had gone numb twenty minutes earlier. He glanced at his knuckles, white and straining against the worn leather of the chair and wondered if knuckles could burst. How many other condemned men had sat in this very chair while adrenaline and fear coursed through their veins like electricity? At least they hadn’t strapped him in. Yet. Perhaps they should have. He stared past the doctor and out the window at Houston’s shining towers and glass buildings that glittered bright against the May sky. His teeth ached from clenching them together, and he hoped the doctor wouldn’t notice his tightened jaw and throw a tetanus shot at him for good measure.

Stuart said...

The first thing I recalled from my childhood was standing in the dusty hallway of our house with rubber gloves anchored to my elbows and a mason jar in hand. I remembered the heavy pressure in my chest, the way it tightened like a knot in a bottle as I entered that room and heard the terrible sounds of my stepfather sleeping. It was easy to remember. After all, I’ve walked down that hallway everyday for what seems like the greater part of my life. Each step of the way I knew our stepfather would never rape us again.

Ric said...

Maggie rarely wore a suit; she wasn’t big on occasions. The one she wore today was expensively cut; it fit her perfectly, and not at all. Finally succumbing to the heat of the West Texas sun, Maggie shed her jacket and rolled up the sleeves of her tailored blouse. Everyone had finally left; she had heard the last vehicle make its way down the winding, gravel driveway just moments before. She kicked off the expensive pumps and rubbed her stockinged feet against the cool grass. She should go too. People would be waiting for her. Absent now of human voices, the meticulously manicured grounds and ancestral shade trees settled back into themselves to the appropriate accompaniment of chirps and chatters, breeze-rustled leaves, and scampering paws. Maggie sighed. It would be so easy to wrap herself up in the loss, to just lie down and quit, but she wouldn’t do that again; too many were counting on her. Maggie rested her cheek against the cool, smooth surface of the ebony coffin and closed her eyes – unable to hold on, unwilling to let go.

Jill Lynn said...

Her visions always came in sketchy shades of gray before crystallizing into colorful bursts, so it was his ash-colored eyes that appeared first. She saw a camera zoom away from those eyes, change angles and scan the crowd. Both the young and old waved and cheered; all fervently wishing to later see themselves on TV. Surely the young woman elsewhere selecting which clothes to take on a short journey would have chosen differently had she known it would be her image that would soon appear on their TVs.

David said...

To Magellan Crowne, all real truths were simple. Take Uncle Byron’s favorite line, ‘red sky in the morning; sailor take warning.’ If you lived in coastal New England, you could bet your life on it. Fishermen like Mr. Sousa did every day. Maybe it was the salt air and long hours spent gazing beyond shoreline breakers to the misty origins of all waves. Maybe it just came along with youth. Yet at seventeen and three weeks from her high school graduation, Magellan knew what she wanted. She simply just didn’t know how to get there.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Lisa leaned closer to the rearview mirror to freshen up her lip gloss and smiled at the wild gestures of the man in the car behind her. Within seconds the smile disappeared from her face and her hand froze in midair. An involuntary shudder ran up her spine. She hadn’t intended to read his lips. It was an innocent accident she regretted immediately.

ginger said...

When she opened the door, everything Kell had prepared to say went out of his head. His vision seemed to double and to darken at the edges. He put a hand on the door jamb for support. Before him stood a stranger, no taller than his shoulder and with bones as delicate as a bird’s. She was blonde, dark-eyed, deeply tanned, and beautiful as only a successful and refined woman of a certain age can be. Before him stood his… no, his father’s lover. He must not allow himself any confusion on this point.

Abby said...

My art teacher says the eyes are the window to the soul. Apparently, I don’t have one. I stared at the self-portrait lying on my desk. Dull, lifeless eyes stared back. Definitely soulless and possibly brain dead. Next thing I know, I’ll be shuffling through the streets in search of brains. I crumpled the paper and threw it against my bedroom wall. Why can I draw anyone, anything else, but I can’t draw myself? I pulled out a drawing of my mother. Maybe I could pass it off as me. Her straight, auburn hair was only slightly darker than mine, and her deep blue eyes had the same shape and color, but I knew Mr. Harper would see it for the fraud that it was.

Mindy said...

Perhaps if he had tapped a little less and taken more responsibility for his charge, the world might have remained a pretty decent place. Now, when there was nothing but birdsong, grey walls and the cramping in his joints for company, his regrets gathered in a half circle around him and waited for answers.

K Hoss said...

Detective, Second Grade Kelli Storm, sat quietly behind the wheel of the unmarked sedan, her eyes scanning the street in front of her. Her new partner, Detective, Third Grade Bill Hayes, sat next to her. This was his first assignment, and Kelli could see the man was anxious. It was a muggy August afternoon, and tomorrow was the anniversary of her Father’s murder; she wasn’t in the mood to sit and wait. She was getting impatient; Benny, her informant, was thirty minutes late. That little weasel better show or I’m going to kick his ass when I find him. She heard the flick of a lighter and looked over at her partner, who was lighting up another cigarette, and breathed a sigh of exasperation.

Steven Piziks said...

I dropped my seventh journal in the lake yesterday. I sealed it in three zip-lock bags and tossed it off the dock that sticks out behind our house. The dock is a crappy-ass piece of shit, but I like it because it flips the sky the finger 24/7. I always throw my journals into the lake when they get full. I figure three bags’ll keep them pretty safe. Maybe some archaeologist will find them someday, or maybe not. This is journal number eight.

Kaitlyne McLeod said...

"Georgie called again. Fourteen times last night. I’ll leave it to you to take care of it." As a general rule, you know you’re in for a bad day when the first thing you find on your desk is a note about a methamphetamine-addled homeless man with a grudge to bear against superheroes because they won’t help him rescue his invisible missing cat. Again.

Hardygirl said...

Pleated plaid skirts kicked and twirled in a flurry of preppy mayhem as Elizabeth slung her backpack to her feet and searched her pockets for her bus pass. She glanced back at the carpool line snaking endlessly from the shed where the students waited for their mothers to pick them up in shiny SUVs. Girly squeals and giggles chased her as she walked down the front steps of the school and out onto the sidewalk. Elizabeth Guilford was the only girl at Hamilton School for Girls who rode the city bus home.

Orange Slushie said...

You are standing on a bridge, in a crowd. The crowd is moving, but you are not. It is summer. Not your summer, not where you come from. It’s a holiday summer, an imagined one. The people of the lazy-legged crowd carry it above their collective heads like an airy parachute. The summer billows past you, an awning of rainbow light, canvas snapping into warm domes and waves.

Hamlerhead said...

AT PRECISELY HALF PAST seven, my brand new alarm clock smacks me in the puss with its robotic arm...



I hit back, hitting the snooze button. I ought to know better. If I fail to assume an upright position, inclined towards utility, within fifteen minutes; the bastard will reach over, pry my mouth open, and place a hot coal on my tongue. If by eight o'clock I still haven't risen --for any reason short of clinical death-- the alarm clock will immediately sprout legs, walk downstairs, hail a cab, go to my parent's house, and rape my stepsister. Suffice it to say, my once chronic tardiness has been cured. Oh, how technology improves man, even as man improves technology.

Stephanie said...

Sometimes I pretend that if I had never opened the door, all that followed would not have happened. The truth is that I never had that much control.

Giles said...

Nicholas Benson’s eyes grew wide as he stepped from the locomotive onto the platform at Lottown Station. Large crowds of people milled about on their way onto or off of the locomotives, apparently oblivious to the shear size of the building they occupied. High over head, the station’s great glass dome revealed a cloudy sky that threatened to pour out a few thousand gallons of rain just as soon as it became convenient. Every ten yards, or so, steel beams rose to the ceiling, with clusters of glass lights bunched together ten feet overhead, each glowing orb a different size which made the beams appear to be adorned with large, white grapes.

Emily J. Griffin said...

Henrietta Patterson, my mother, is a woman of heirs; a card-carrying, Kool-aid drinking, Emily Post fanatic. She spends her days practicing perfect posture and mastering the lost art of the hand-written letter (Say it with me now-- Barf!). Unlike me, Henrietta loves to be seen and heard-- she dresses up to go to the grocery store, visits the hair salon at least once a week, and holds fancy dinner parties at our house on regular occasions. Personally, I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a dull fork than take-part in Henrietta’s false reality. Sometimes, I dream that I'd been adopted, imagining a family full of artists and writers, brokenhearted at the thought of the little girl they had to give up; then I remember that once upon a time I wanted to be just like my mother. (I was thirteen, give me a break.)

Sissy said...

The important part of my story really begins with a Friday in October. There were strange things that had happened before then, but the big stuff, the really complicated stuff, began with a Pep Rally. Before that day I had been able to hide, to blend in, to let my twin sister Becka take the spotlight. After the Pep Rally, after Danny, my life took a drastic turn and the person who I had been at Calabasas High School ceased to exist. I wasn’t able to hide anymore. (YA)

Jenn said...

It was long before I fell in love with John’s ghost that my mom used to laugh and dance and even smile. It was before the goddamn booze entered the picture and before we lived in this tiny house on Clove Street, on the outskirts of town. We have four rooms filled with echoes and scant furniture and the deck has a lone lounge chair where mom spends most of her time. We’ve been a pocketful of years here, since just after the divorce. I hate it.

Anonymous said...

A shotgun blast boomed across the field, breaking the early morning quiet. James Carter’s head came up sharply at the sound echoing from the southwest corner of his small farm.

amber polo said...

“Thank Melville,” Liberty Cutter whispered and glanced through the crowd at the withered woman who looked as old as the long deceased Mr. Dewey. Elsie Dustbunnie’s retirement ritual would soon be over. For seven years, Liberty had counted the months, days, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds until the Director of the Shipsfeather Public Library stepped down. Elsie had run the blood-red brick Carnegie library since the doors opened. She knew where all the books were, where the town’s skeletons were buried, and who had buried them.

Bonnie Ferron said...

Murder changed me.

Dio said...

Another bone marked the ground of one more day in my cell. The right-hand corner of my first-class room was filled with bones; they reminded me daily of a precious trust I had carelessly thrown away.

Anonymous said...

It could have been the blinding stream of headlights. It could have been the freezing rain. It could have been Mara, singing loud and off-key in the passenger’s seat. But, come on – let’s cut the crap. It was the heart attack. Well, and people drive like complete morons – but, really, it was the heart attack. That’s what started it all.

-- SSM

Natalie said...

Molly gazed into the cracked bathroom mirror then turned away, loathing her reflection. When she built up the courage to look again, she groaned when she saw red and purple bruises on her neck. Some were days old, others minutes new. There were a few bite marks as well; it wasn’t uncommon for Kyle to nibble while he sucked. It strained her muscles to turn her head to see the extent of the damage, which turned out to be the entire circumference of her neck. She smelled like sex and cheap beer and looked like something out of a horror movie, a girl who’d been running from the killer for way too long.

ElanaJ said...

Good girls don’t walk with boys. Even if they’re Good boys—and Zenn was the best. He strolled next to me, all military with his hands clasped behind his back, wearing the black uniform of a Forces recruit. The green stripes on his shirtsleeves flashed in silver tech lights, probably recording everything. Probably? Who was I kidding? Those damn stripes were definitely recording everything.

paul said...

The bright early morning light sliced through the narrow dust clouded windows of Syronea’s only library, gradually fanning outwards as it stretched across the cold marbled floor. Inch by inch the light edged slowly upwards from the floor, tentatively climbing the legs of the large oak table which rested in the centre of the room. Moments later the yellow light splayed across the table, lightly skimming over the dishevelled form which lay sprawled across the table’s long sturdy body. The light seemed to rest at the head of this unkempt form - hovered for a moment, collecting into a hazy pool of shimmering colour. The colour of gold. The pool of golden colour shuddered and the light moved on.

Anonymous said...

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time to forgive. I’m supposed to forgive my four-year-old brother, Isaac, for bugging me. He sneaks into my room when he’s not invited. He touches my doll collection even though I’ve told him not to, and he hums or whistles constantly. He’s a noise machine! Mom and Dad say I have to forgive him. Well, I don’t want to!

GJBSD said...

She didn't hear the silence.

David said...

The blue eyes looked identical at rest, but the left eye had trouble keeping up with the right eye when the ten year old girl glanced around the room. She had freckles and red hair tangled into a cheerful mop.

jonathandanz said...

I rode from the ruins of Wat Rahm on a collection of flotsam amid the swift waters of the flooded Yan River. The corpses of my brothers and sisters, the Jao Naam, bobbed and swirled past with a languor not of the waking world. Amchaara, radiant and horrible, had driven her spectral host like a battering ram, breaking our sluices and weirs and dams. Her wrath had loosed the river—and the magic therein.

Peter Morin said...

When I was in politics, I played an obscene amount of golf at the fabulous Hyannisport Club. In hindsight, I now concede it was irresponsible, but I never thought it amounted to a federal crime.

Martha W said...

Aaron’s skin stung as he raced through the underbrush, away from danger. How the hell had they been found? They camped outside that small town for only a couple of days yet the demons honed in on them like the pair had worn tracking sensors around their necks. And they had killed that girl to prove a point.

Jodi said...

When the police came, they found Mylee bent over her husband’s body as if sheltering it from the rain that had just begun to fall. Her own body was covered with bruises and cuts and blood still flowed from a particularly deep gash on her arm, making thick ripples in the pool of her husband’s blood on the ground beneath them.

Bobby D. Lux said...

I’ve got to be honest with you; I haven’t had a clean place to mark in months. In fact, it’s been so long, I can’t remember the place where I was the first to make claim as my territory. When I was younger this was never a problem. The parks were clean and the streets were crowded but at least the people were moving. Now they seem to just stand around and make a mess for the rest of us. If I’m going to be honest with my complaints, I have to also be fair: they really discourage us from making our marks when we’re out on the job. It doesn’t look professional and I have to agree with them on that point. Our city has a reputation to maintain and you can’t have civil servants peeing all over the place in public.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I was having a pretty good day until Neville killed me. He walked right up to me, shoved a gun in my chest and pulled the trigger. I guess I can’t blame him. I have been pushing him away for the last eight months. It just so happens that, during that time, I developed a taste for women. I say that rather tongue in cheek, because I mean in the Jeffery Dahmer, Hannible Lecter sense.

Jodi said...

When the police came, they found Mylee bent over her husband’s body as if sheltering it from the rain that had just begun to fall. Her own body was covered with bruises and cuts and blood still flowed from a particularly deep gash on her arm, making thick ripples in the pool of her husband’s blood on the ground beneath them.

AnnieJ said...

In every life there is that pivotal moment. That split second when the choice a person makes changes who they are and where they are going for the rest of their natural lives – and maybe beyond. The day the ‘gators ate Jasper was that moment for me.

Dana said...

There is an art to pretending to be asleep. Where most people slip up is in the tension of their faces. Too many people squint, clench their jaws and look like they’re trying too hard. You have to look natural, relaxed. Eyes softly closed, mouth open just a little, breathing very regular.

Kevin said...

My mother was always losing things. She once lost my dead sister. She spent years looking for her, but by the time she had lost Deja she was far too gone to realize there’s no finding the dead. Once you lose sight of them, they are gone forever.

KFran said...

The captain interrupted my ping-pong game as I was about to claim victory. So what if I was playing against myself. They’ve found me another one. Thirteen times in forty-two years, that’s how long I’ve been waiting to go back. I used to think heaven would be a gas, nights filled with super-sonic jet packs and football games. Visions of endless ping-pong tournaments and air hockey never entered my mind. It’s dull up here, like the Archies.

GhostFolk.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BonSue Brandvik said...

Honor Macklin lay there, sliding a large pearl back and forth on the gold chain that she almost always wore around her neck. How had her life had spun out of control so quickly? Without conscious thought, her mind began to automatically assemble a list of issues that needed to be addressed. Not problems, not heartbreak… just “issues.” She lay on her massive bed alone. So obviously, the biggest issue was William Guard, her husband. Well, that wasn’t the right title anymore, was it? She tried out a few new descriptions of her relationship with William…her Ex-husband? Her Business Partner? The Rat-Bastard? With a sense of satisfaction, she reminded herself that she had elected to keep her maiden name when they got married, so no name-change was necessary at the time of their divorce. Of course, truth be told, she had not done it out of any strong sense of maintaining her individuality, but because her name would have sounded ridiculous if she had changed it to “Honor Guard”. She shivered at the thought, and again congratulated herself on the good decision. No name change; one less thing to worry about…

Christy Corp-Minamiji said...

Humans drift in the current of time, polished through erosion. Or so we believe. In reality, our choices carve the channel, direct the current. Though we may direct the process, it is the moments that shape us. A glance, a bullet, a spark, a letter pulled from a mailbox, the ring of the telephone, a bolt of lightning, these are the rocks upon which we break or change course.

Lauren said...

The funeral for Dorothy and Tom’s baby was, naturally, a solemn affair. A handful of friends and coworkers had clustered under a weeping willow, fanning themselves with the hand-drawn program. Cicadas struck up a monastic drone. A smell of smoke, the ghost of a smell really, hovered overhead. Tom’s brother, a mechanic who specialized in German imports, opened with a prayer. As a searing wind carried a small clot of clouds over the sun, the guests observed a moment of silence. Several people, not including Dorothy, cried. Dorothy's friend Lila, sweating with the effort, planted a miniature rosebush in the cracked earth in the far corner of the backyard. There was no cemetery plot and no burial, because there was no baby. Dorothy, after suffering what she later confirmed was a miscarriage, had flushed the remains down the toilet.

Pam said...

In the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Alabama, all eyes fell on the priest approaching the podium. Throughout the morning, the defense had presented a steady stream of individuals to speak on the defendant’s behalf. And now, they had called their final spokesperson.

E. Lopez said...

“Oh, shit,” where my first words there.

Until that moment, everything had been going smoothly. My team and I boarded a c-130 from Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas and arrived in Ireland. Not that we were able to play tourist. We had more important work to do. Immediately, we flew to Kuwait, were fifty soldiers crammed into three shanooks (helicopters with two blades) - each with one turret gunner to scout out the area below and headed to Iraq.

Author Guy said...

It would have been easier if his opponent had been some giant hulking brute, scaly, stinking and armored, a battle-axe in one hand and a warhammer in the other. This was worse, far worse. She was six.

GLS said...

The tequila burned my throat as I threw back another shot. It joined its predecessors, although experience told me I would see it again in the morning.

Carla Swafford said...

Olivia typed the ammunition data into the keypad on her sniper rifle and then nestled her cheek against the stock’s custom-fit pad, waiting for the information to be processed and her target to come into view. Keeping her attention on the boardwalk outside the open window, she caressed the silencer attachment and sighed. Powerful and lightweight compared to others, the rifle was her favorite and the only one of its kind. She wasn’t sure how The Circle got their hands on the prototype and she knew better than to ask. She’d used it twice in the last eleven months and had no complaints.

Anonymous said...

From AmandaLyn Donogal:

I was just outside Dog Pound, a little shithole town between nowhere and the asshole of the earth, when I pulled over. The passenger door opened. Adolf braced his front paws on the headrest and barked his warning. I looked down and shook my head. “You getting your sorry ass up into this rig, or you just gonna stand there and let the cold air in?” He wanted a welcome, and that was just what he got. It was the best I was gonna give him.

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