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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Katrina said...

Caitlyn Sweeney would rather have each of her body hairs plucked—one by one—by a blind man wielding a pair of rusty pliers. Really, what could be worse than flying? Being mauled by lions would be, she figured, though fortunately she’d never had to experience that. Bungee jumping with a cord that had most recently been used by an obese elephant would probably be worse. Definitely cage diving with great whites. That one she knew from experience.

Cindy said...

In the basement, rising like moldy stalagmites, were my mother’s towering and always-growing piles of magazines. They were years’ old, but she was sure she’d read them someday. Her father had had the same compulsion. When he died, my aunt had to rent a Dumpster to haul away all the mildewed piles of 20-year-old Wall Street Journals that he had stored in my grandparents’ basement for eventual perusing. My father once admitted that he would systematically, without my mother’s knowledge, throw out an 8- to 10-magazine stack from the very bottom of the pile, like a secret game of Jenga. I think it was the only sense of control he ever felt.

Susan said...

A statue of the Blessed Virgin flew by me. I ducked and fell against the kitchen counter. It bounced off the cabinet over my head and broke in two. Mary's head fell into my cleavage. The rest of her body hit the floor at my feet.

Terry said...

His breathe smelled like 'death'. You know that dank, earth-wormy type stench that's caused from flesh sitting in water too long? He drew up from the edge of the coffin box, and opened his semi-toothless maw and uttered something about not living forever. I'll never forget it. Then we turned the wormy soil into the hole with a spade shovel while somebody mumbled a Catholic prayer similar last rites. You know, 'ashes to ashes' type stuff you hear at regular funerals, not at midnight gatherings where you are burying somebody like your favorite parakeet in a shoebox at the corner of the yard.

J M Green said...

Ever since the letter came Alex Hunter has been living in a state of panic. At least once a night she bolted upright in bed, bug-eyed and short of breath. Such times it was as though God’s heavy boot was bearing down on her chest in a move worthy of the World Wrestling Federation. Or maybe it wasn’t even God but some New Age force that was to blame for her current bout of insomnia. Then again, maybe it was just this wretched futon.

The Prof. said...

Hello. Outside of my family, you are my only friends. My wife and kids laugh at my social skills; I do, too. I’m a loner, but when the pangs of loneliness start knocking around, I come to you. You’re such a good listener. That’s something I’ve always valued. I lived in a cave once, waiting to die. It all started in Mammoth.

J M Green said...

When Mister Hamilton stood at the front of the class that day and told us this trip would change our lives, none of us could possibly know how right he was. Least of all himself. Stroking his newly acquired stubble, he studied our faces like so many teachers before him. For a glimmer of recognition. For a modicum of hope. We were, after all, the faces of the future. His future. Did this certainty strike fear – or faith – into his heart? What went through his mind at that exact moment, I'll never know. Penny for your thoughts, Mister H.... We made an unlikely bunch, for sure. The usual acne-ridden mix of angst tangled up in an ungainly desire to please. Runt puppies, every last one of us. Unversed in the ways of the world, and why shouldn't we be? Most of us had never set foot outside the small Illinois town we called home.

Rachel Menard said...

I awoke with a gasp and sat straight up in bed. My room was dark, and I was shivering in a cold sweat. I sighed with relief when I realized it was all just a horrible nightmare. I brushed the sweat soaked strands of hair from my face and reached over to the nightstand to find my glasses.
There was no nightstand.
I pawed around in the dark as I plotted my revenge on my horrid brother for breaking into my room and moving the furniture on me. It was good, that I could admit, but weren’t we a little old for pranks?

Adrian said...

It was a land torn and bleeding. Lava bubbled and chewed at the base of the great rock spires, swirled around them like currents of heated blood. Slabs of ice slid from the high peaks, to crumple and hiss into nothing. There were no roads, only winding trails of black ice that threaded among the shattered rocks. The weakest of the Seven Mages, Attun, limped along one of these trails, bloody foot prints sizzling and popping until the ice leached away their heat. He kept a wary watch on the sky, having been ambushed once already.

Larry Hodges said...

_What have I done?_ The thought raced through Toby Platt's mind over and over as he stood in the shadows of the Twin Towers in Lower Manhattan as the live orchestra played _Hail to the Chief_. He was sick of the song. He was sick of the cold, misty weather. Above all, he was sick of Corbin Dubois, the president-elect of Earth, the man he'd put in office.

Donna Hatch said...

Anticipation raced through Lady Eleanor’s veins. Across the drawing room from where she sat, open French doors beckoned her toward the cool night. Soon she would spend a few stolen moments alone with the man she loved. True, it was a tender, new love, but more broad and sweeping than she’d dreamed. Before she’d met Tristin Barrett, she’d imagined this kind of love but daren’t hope she’d find it. And now that Eleanor had found him, she knew he was worth any risk. Even her parents’ wrath.

emilymurdoch said...

I said I’d never eat one of my horses and I meant it, but after two hours of angry tears that dragged me through the Kubler-Ross lady’s five stages of grief at least six times from beginning to end (not to mention a long string of expletives shouted at the top of my lungs, some being words I’ve never uttered out loud in all of my sheltered seventeen years of life) my situation hasn’t changed one bit; no miracles have appeared, nor has any food, which puts me right back at square one: having to make what is hands-down one of the worst decisions of my life. I guess that’s what happens when the world ends, and you have a little sister to feed.

JPB said...

Ruth flipped her hair behind her neck and let the hot water drum against her face until it hid the bleach smell of the communal shower room. After massaging her eye she decided the bruise wasn’t serious, but tomorrow was a workday: she’d need thick makeup. Dorothy, her office supervisor, had an exalted opinion of executive-branch secretarial decorum and she didn’t need to know about Ruth’s other life. Or what it was like to fight to the death with a six-foot-three crazy woman.

Kristine Overbrook said...

“Do we absolutely have to kill the men?"

priya said...

"All my stories start at the middle," Ajji said, her eyebrows stitching themselves into a knot in the middle of her forehead, voice gathering heat as she spoke. "We don't have the luxury of the 'once upon a time', the way it is with your convent school and all your English tales, no, no, no. All our stories are connected and where one ends and the other begins, who can say? We'd have to go back to the Pralaya and the churning of the ocean for the beginning. So if you want me to start at the beginning each time, we would never get to anything important, like Rama or Sita, let alone Ahalya." She picked up the wide loop of her white saree and pulled it tighter over her head, as if sweeping up all those jostling interconnected tales, missing ends and beginnings back into order. Then, noticing the interest on our faces with some irritation, she continued, "Ahalya, Ahalya... who knows what her story was before she turned into stone? Why should you care? All that matters is that when Rama's foot touched her, she was liberated from stone. If so much as the dust of Rama's foot touches you, you are forgiven, reborn. No matter what the sin. That is the lesson that you girls should learn. Instead, you ask all these unnecessary questions about meaningless things." Ajji marched off into the kitchen, footsteps heavy and indignant.

Lisa R said...

It was a blitz attack. Cowardly. He hit me over the head Ted Bundy-style with the baseball bat I kept next to my bedroom door. I was asleep. I never even heard him. The next thing I knew, I was tied to a chair in my dimly lit dining room. I woke suddenly to a high-pitched keening. He was shooting me up with something. My left forearm pricked and burned. My head felt heavy, achy. My eyelids weighed a ton each but I lifted them and looked at him. He smiled. A cranked-out, toothy smile, his wide lips peeling back from his teeth. He held up an empty syringe. “Crank, bitch,” he sneered.

Kathryn said...

I knew right away that Elodie loved lingerie. I could tell by the shoes: cherry suede. Soft leather rabbit-ear tie-up. Pointed toe, yielding to a sinuous heel that curved inward before curving outward. Sturdy and snappy. The perfect shoe for la directrice de la garderie, a day-care supervisor.

Amber Lough said...

Kamal cursed, beating at the door and yelling after the man in the crown who had locked him in. The second the angry word slipped from between his lips, I was sucked away from my cool, cozy bed at the bottom of the palace well and stuffed into one of his slippers. Yawning, I crawled out and stretched, lengthening into the shape and stature of a human girl. An invisible, human girl.

FantasticFiction said...

“Don’t be sorry Tiya. I love you. I’m just glad to see your face again, your eyes…It’s all that matters.” Vitiosus stroked her cheek, gently pulling her in for a kiss. His skin was so cold against hers unlike she remembered, so cold like he was slipping away from her. As their lips connected Vitiosus experienced a state of serenity, like she was all he had ever wanted. He was far from perfect but she loved him and that was all that mattered.

paulreali said...

She came from the sky like an angel. She came toward him, falling, emerging from the clouds as if one of God’s messengers, as if sent to warn him, to intercept him, to stop him from making that next mistake. Standing at her funeral three days later, David Isabella remembers watching her fall, wanting to know what it was she came to tell him.

Katy said...

We pulled up to our new home on a quiet April afternoon, without rain but also lacking any real sun. A transitional day, which seemed appropriate. I drove a rental car, loaded with the barest of essential possessions − casual clothes, a few books, the kitchen items I considered indispensable. And, in a plastic crate with thin metal bars, my dog, a beagle I had named Bogart. Bogart groaned softly − always carsick, and we’d been driving for nearly three hours from the airport. His head rolled to the side as he panted miserably, the rest of his body curled lazily into a loose ball. I owed a lot to this dog -- without the immediacy of caring for him, I still didn't have much faith in myself to get out of bed.

Lauren d. said...

It was a Thursday afternoon in late September. Outside the sun was shining, a not uncommon occurrence for that time of year in downtown San Francisco but not a given either. And I, Greenlee Sykes, was being made to suffer through yet another weekly report back meeting in the windowless conference room where the Bank U.S. audit team had been relegated. Should you ever work for a company that’s being audited, don’t take pity on the company; pity the auditors who have without a doubt been stashed away in some badly lit back room that has little to no air circulation, suffers from the “oh, I’m sorry I guess there’s just an analog line here” limitation and also acts as the company mausoleum for rejected chairs that can no longer be raised or reclined but somehow manage to get lower and lower with time. You may not even know that this room exists, but it does. Find it and you’ll find the audit team. Don’t worry about saying hello. We actually like to be ignored.

Falen said...

It was, of course, quite funny. Not in a “ha ha” sort of way but more like an Alanis Morisette “rain on your wedding day” way. Or at least that’s the way he saw it, standing there, engrossed in his thoughts. Because Geoff knew Tara had been prepared to say yes to his proposal; she had slipped the ring onto her finger, after all. But of course, none of that mattered now. He was left single, and she was still dead.
Actually, the more he thought about it, the more he realized it wasn’t that funny at all.

DKRyan said...

As she jotted down her shopping list, Joy thanked her lucky stars that her second husband had been a research fellow in chemistry. Her third had been one, too, before he'd been caught smuggling inventory off the premises to sell on the sly. Both marriages had been dissolved to her satisfaction, but her latest - number five, or "Howard" - was proving to be the stain that wouldn't come out. It seemed that proper dissolution of some bonds required patience, protection, and an expertise with industrial-strength solvents. Now, thought Joy, where can I get a decent pair of rubber gloves?

Pan Historia said...

Idle hands are the Devil's tools. It’s a true enough saying for so often when I have had occasion to have idle hands I have turned them to card play. I know now the evil that games of chance can create within the unwary, but as a young man I spent many a day and night at cards, learning what was to become my trade. It seemed a pleasant enough pastime, and better than a hard row to hoe, as my father would have me tend. My hands were calloused enough from holding the reins on a spirited team. Only time and history will tell whether or not it was good fortune that I experienced on this particular day when I sat down to play a hand of cards in John Shanssey’s salon because it was not a few silver dollars that I won but a friendship. At this remove I would guess that it misfortune was the hand that I was dealt, and yet the knowing of Doc Holliday was something I still find hard to be sorry for. I would like to say that friendship lasted a lifetime, but only the memory of it has lasted a lifetime. Of course I hardly knew this at the time.

yachicka said...

“Are we there yet?” has to be about the stupidest question in the known universe. It’s particularly stupid when it’s asked from the back of a minivan soaring through farmland at 82.5 miles per hour.

Josh said...

As soon as Ben pushed his squeaking janitorial cart into the college library, his right arm started aching. Not a good sign. It meant the beast was close and on the defensive.

jamievee said...

She knew she was reaching a wonderful old age whenever she decided to raise her frail body from the double bed in the morning. Not that her body didn’t respond but it did so in a slow deliberate way, letting her know she was no longer in charge of her daily routine and she didn’t have much to say about it. And routine it was. She got up when she had slept out the night or when her cat decided to cry for his morning meal which consisted of fresh water and a handful of shaved meatloaf or chopped chicken. Most nights he placed his tabby body right beside her feet and waited for her to stir at least once before his now scratchy meow sounded in rhythm with her breathing. He was a wonderful friend of hers. He watched her every move from one of his various sleeping spots and always noticed when she changed her routine or mood. He seemed to record her every move, positioning every word neatly in some book he was planning and had already mentally published.

LGSmith said...

Okay, Nathan, if you're undaunted, so am I.


The scent of ether, that sweet emissary of lost causes, mingled with the musty damp of the hall as I rushed toward the makeshift infirmary. Guards flanked me on either side but held back as I ducked through the heavy white curtains used to wall off the dying. Dozens of bodies, limbs askew or bellies flayed open, lay strewn across the stone floor. Those conscious looked up as I entered, grimacing from wounds I had never known. I like to think it was compassion that impelled me to cross the length of the floor, to hold a hand here or whisper a word of encouragement there. But once I had met all eyes willing to meet mine, I pressed on toward the private room in the back where the gods played knucklebones with my future.

Allen said...

I was a stranger in my own mind; lost in the fog of missing details that used to orient me to the world. Telling the difference between existence and some cosmic reality was impossible. Overwhelmed by the lack of clear focus, nothing helped me find my place; what beach or why I was there. I wondered if death had already devoured me. Perhaps in a moment of incoherence, I had already slipped into the ever after.

The Blogger Girlz said...

I followed him through the dense underbrush until he came to a stop at a clearing. I crouched behind a tree, waiting expectantly. Michael had his back to me, as he stood in the middle of the clearing, standing completely and utterly still. He stood that way for what felt like forever, periodically moving his head slightly to the left and then to the right, like an animal searching for his prey, as if he was trying to sense something...or someone.

-Breeann

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Chickens never excited me. Sure, I liked them on my plate, especially Kung Pao Chicken from Chen's Chinese. But real, live chickens? I couldn't have cared less about them. Not until the summer that changed my life.

adsistla said...

Natena tugged at her long necklace, drawing her Petal out from hiding. Her clenched fist warmed it as the chain coiled about her hand. A hint of sandalwood was the only warning she had that Des had appeared, behind her, as usual. Lord Desmond the Fourteenth of the House of Jesinine lounged against the window sill, or at least pretended to. Natena wasn't quite sure how the dynamics of a noncorporeal body worked. She forced her teeth to unclench. Conversations with Des typically left her with a massively aching jaw, especially since he'd died.

mrmurph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendan said...

The thing that sucked the most about your parents dying, she thought, was everything. Everything pretty much sucked the big one.

Morgan Xavier said...

The assassin watched her, his eyes vigilant as they stalked her still form, ignoring all of the chaos as the chaos danced around him. Were he claustrophobic, this would have been a personal hell--breathing in sweat and smoke and second-hand air--but as luck would have it, hell was a perfect host for the occasion. The noise, the confusion, the uninhibited sinfulness of revelry; it was everything he hated and everything he needed.

Kristi Faith said...

Audra swung her long legs out of the lumpy, old bed and stumbled to the bathroom. A crapulous mess stared at her from the cracked mirror. Blonde hair hung from her head, limp from a night on the Strip and matted with hairspray. Normally dazzling green eyes looked out from under heavy lids and dark sunken sockets. She pressed on her cheekbones, hoping it was the lighting that made her look so gray. "What are you doing to yourself?" she muttered.

lindacassidylewis said...

No one else dined alone. Meredith sat at her usual corner table by the window, watching the heavy-laden clouds and wishing she had waited until tomorrow to spray her roses for mites. Sighing, she turned back to her scallops Provençal, but within seconds, a murmur to her left caused her to glance up again. The sound had come from the three younger women across the room staring wide-eyed toward the restaurant entrance. She followed their gaze. They watched a man—a darkly handsome, exotic man—as the host led him through the dining room. The shock of recognition nearly choked her.

mrmurph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

The knife is sharp. It's sharp. You can hold it next to your ear and hear its sharpness. It's so sharp you can cut yourself just thinking about it. Carlos is good at knives.

Anonymous said...

First, just give me a moment…I want to make certain spell check is turned on. No one in our family is a good speller, but we have many fine mathematicians, so you can’t call us a stupid lot. A little inbred here and there, but definitely not dumb. Just remember, our area of expertise is not spelling. Which might be irritating to you grammaritarians who pride yourself on perfect prose. If this describes you, you might want to step out right now because I can tell you, “You ain’t gonna find no good grammar here. Double negatives are big in this house.” If you decide to leave, be sure not to let the door hit you on your way out.

Ebyss said...

Isaac was standing in the cramped kitchen that barely had enough room for a sink and counters much less the out-of-date appliances when he heard the soft jingling of keys outside the front door. He closed his lids and inhaled. Chest expanding, the bitter sweet aroma of burnt wood and flesh filled his senses. His eyes opened. After years of searching, he’d found her.

mrmurph said...

From a novel about foster kids for young adults:

Dale Vose stared out the window into the McDonald’s parking lot. He took another small bite from his hamburger. The bag of french fries lay untouched and cold on the plastic tray, and his root beer had long since lost its fizz. Mickey D’s was Dale’s favorite restaurant, but they hadn’t really come to eat and he wasn’t very hungry anyway. Eating just passed the time until the real purpose for their visit got underway.

Ink said...

The arm protruded from the dirt. Everson could see it. Just before the shoulder it vanished into the earth. The churned soil of the grave had dried in the sun, the once-black loam now a dusty gray though the arm remained pale and clean. It was thin, though not without a little flesh on it, a faded musculature. Smooth skin and a fine hand, long fingered, the wrinkled lines in the flesh simple and ordered. Everson watched the arm carefully, wondering if it would wave.

MBA Jenna said...

Sam needed another word for “relationship;” the slide she was buffing already said “strategic partnership,” “vendor alliance,” and “customer connection.” The thesaurus offered “accord,” “bond” and “interpenetration.” She didn’t think the Executive Management Team would appreciate the last one, though it made her smile before it made her sigh.

wickerman said...

A brisk wind kissed Chiann’s face as she stood at the edge of jagged cliff, her bare feet precariously close to the edge. The air was cool and tasted of salt. The roar of the ocean filled the emptiness about her as huge waves crashed against the rocks below, a relentless hammer of blue and white against the black anvil of stone. Chiann raised her hands to the wind and breathed in the salty air, losing herself in the thunder of the waves. She closed her eyes and cleared her mind in preparation.

Gina Hooten Popp said...

First, just give me a moment…I want to make certain spell check is turned on. No one in our family is a good speller, but we have many fine mathematicians, so you can’t call us a stupid lot. A little inbred here and there, but definitely not dumb. Just remember, our area of expertise is not spelling. Which might be irritating to you grammaritarians who pride yourself on perfect prose. If this describes you, you might want to step out right now because I can tell you, “You ain’t gonna find no good grammar here. Double negatives are big in this house.” If you decide to leave, be sure not to let the door hit you on your way out.

TNGardner said...

Like a storm front the bulky shadow rolled in, slowly, preempting another unpleasant intrusion. Seconds in the distance the carefully placed boot-steps -- much softer than would be expected of a man his size -- drew larger echoes from the deep corridor as they neared the dimmed crew lounge. It was Rex. Always identifiable by the one squeaking heal of the one leather boot which didn't quite fit. But no one commented. It was a tired story that barely caught a grin, and seemed to only provoke the tightly bound Rex...further. Not a wise idea. Regardless whether or not the mission was almost to another of its glorious ends.

anitanolan said...

Lisa Marie Presley and I have a lot in common. Maybe it's not obvious, since she's older than my mother and has been married to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage, among others, and I, at the age of thirteen, have been married to no one. But we both have Elvis for a dad.

Raynbow said...

My papa used to say, “Once a twister’s comes through your life, you rebuild stronger, so next time, it don’t all get swept away.” That’s what I had to do after the twister came through and tore me up into little bitty pieces. Only, my tornado didn’t come through as a twisting funnel of wind, it came as a huge old Cadillac driving drunk and dangerous. Now I’ve had two whole years to rebuild my walls, to make me stronger and mightier than before. So nothing can ever again blaze through my very soul, like that Pat Hollander and his Cadillac did.

skottk said...

Lying on her back in a fountain as bullets whanged through the roof girders high overhead, Audrey looked up at the balcony she'd fallen from and thought, Tough mall for zombies. Her head throbbed with the pumps' burbling roar, and water slopped into her nose and mouth, bitter from the fake blood on her chin. Spluttering and coughing, she twisted onto her side, her palms sliding over the pennies that coated the round black tiles at the bottom of the fountain. Her legs were no help at all.

Vinny said...

I stood on the roof above the Shell gas station, watching Armageddon come to the small town I grew up in. To make matters worse I had a trigonometry test tomorrow that was going to kick my ass if I didn’t study; if there even is a tomorrow for me. I drew in a long deep breath and all at once the pain of the transformation squeezed my spine as the change began. In my wolf form I was stronger, faster and more alert, all things I needed to survive the zombie horde below and catch up to my girlfriend, Tzgane. Hopefully I can control myself enough to keep from ripping her to pieces on sight. That reminded me of something my grandfather once told me, “Falling in love was crazy. Falling in love with your mortal enemy, well that’s just stupid crazy.”

Jesaka Long said...

The Texas panhandle was so flat I could see cars as they drove alongside the train tracks two blocks away. A small brown vehicle caught my eye as it turned onto our street. I had never seen this little hatchback with a wide tan stripe along the side. It slowed down as it neared our house, and I figured it was someone here to visit Mimi and Papa. Instead, it sped up and cruised down the street.

Tamara said...

"Stop Crying! Stop right now!" I commanded myself.With red blood shot eyes and a tear trickling down my cheek. I could barely see my reflection through the mirror. A sigh escaped my lips and it echoed in the white tiled room. Good thing the restroom was empty, but I still had to figure out a way out; and do it without anyone recognizing me.

arun said...

Bryce didn’t jump. Though traces of adrenalin whispered through his body and he yearned to be in motion. It wasn’t time.

Cat Rambo said...

My name is Christabelle Smith and I'm the long foretold Champion of Faerie. Maybe. But right now, as we stumble through a forest, snow crunching underfoot, bitter cold air snatching at our lungs, pursued by evil trees, my friends -- each of whom might be the Champion instead of me -- and I are running for our lives.

Smallgood said...

Having grown accustomed to lazy, sprawling Indian summers of the South that continued to dole out sweltering heat even as crusty leaves began to blanket the ground, everyone was surprised by an undeniable autumn morning on the last day of August. The air was dominated by a lingering mist, clinging to buildings, shrouding structures in a mysterious airy gauze. Fog in the valleys-- womb for the ancient sloping mountain ranges, was serpentine, slithering around every distinguishable element, such as trees and homes and scarily enough roads, so that Spencer felt as if she was walking through a living dream. The weather breathed a thrill of change into the Friday morning.

Shokena said...

Xakuna watched them both as the most eerie silence he had ever experienced in his life fell over the room. They waited. He really didn’t want to be here and he wouldn’t have been if his brother were still alive. He preferred his errant reputation, always up to mischief somewhere in the peripheries. Being younger and half-foreign even, he had been granted a vast amount of leeway. That system had suited him well.

Nancy Lee badger said...

The North Sea’s brackish waves battered the island’s ragged coastline and crashed against Blair’s legs. She staggered for a moment, tangled in the wet hem of her servant’s frock. The force of the water pushed against her like a troublesome bully. She fell to one knee, onto the uninhabited island’s pebble-strewn sand. Forced to drop her collection of driftwood, she fought the power of the receding current until she regained her balance and righted herself.

Darkspires said...

The twin suns rose over carmine cliffs to Azriel's east, their red glow casting long shadows in the valley below. She liked the quiet of dawn more for the absence of people than the colors. Light caught on one of the surveillance vids slowly rotating above the hacienda, giving the lens a baleful red eye.

Jana said...

Casey Vhannon glared out the rear window of her parents’ Jeep as her dad turned down Lakeshore Drive toward their cottage. She’d expected Bridgepoint to be hopping. It was a long weekend after all. The pier should have been crowded with boats, Maxwell’s convenience store overflowing with people buying hotdogs and last-minute fireworks. Instead, all she could spot in the town were weeds. Weeds, where people should have been.

elancross said...

Sam Saunier was sitting in French class, third row back, first desk on the left of the small classroom in Kitsilano Secondary. It was much too hot for April and the air was thick and wet on his skin. His dirty blond hair was sticking oddly to the side of his face and he could feel patches of sweat growing over his gray Westbeach T-shirt--a discomfort that was greatly intensified by the fact that every single student in the room had turned in their seat to gawk at him.

KJHwrite said...

The crescent moon rested its elbow on the shoulder of the world and tipped its sallow face to the distant horizon, as if to dispatch the endless night. But the new day was unmoved, and it would not hasten its Morning along. At the moment, Dawn loitered somewhere over Western Europe and Africa, soaking parts of the Atlantic in its twilight glow. Night over Ohio grew that much darker. Shelby Lynn Cartwright tucked her robe tightly about her, nervously fingering the loose button and reminding herself once again to find her mother’s sewing box from the moldy boxes in the attic and fix it once and for all before the button was lost. On each of the past several nights, more of the moon’s scarred surface had opened itself up to her, and each circuit of the clock had pushed away at the shadow that spilled across its pallid cheeks. The lunar terminator, the line between the moon’s day and the night cast there by the Earth, divided Mare Crisium, the Sea of Crises, exactly in half. In four days, Tranquility.

Kellie said...

By the time I turn 16, the gunman has been dating one of my best friends, Janet, for over two years. Six weeks before they hook up, I kiss him in the back seat of a Camaro while parked at the dump waiting for bears. He wants to do more, but I go home. A few phone calls and chance meetings, but we never get close again. It was one night, a couple of hours, nothing more. He seems like a nice guy. I like him. And when he starts dating my friend, I'm happy for her. He brings her roses and little gifts for no reason. Their song is "I Just Called to Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder . . . because that's what he does, just calls to tell her he loves her. It's serious. He gives her a promise ring. They talk about getting married after high school. He seems like the perfect boyfriend.

lisanneharris said...

"Let go!" A rough hand clamped over her mouth; an arm circled her waist. Joanna thrashed wildly and kicked harder. Her foot met with a chair--not the man she’d aimed for. A second pair of hands attempted to corral her legs. Panic crawled up her spine. The bedside lamp hit the floor, glass shards skittered across the polished wood, oil fumes permeated the air. She dug her teeth into the hand over her mouth, gaining a moment to cry out. "Why?"

Karin said...

The little girl watched as her parents covered the windows in blankets. She did not understand why they were so quiet, but she made no sound. Outside she heard shouts and pounding on doors. Somewhere a woman was softly crying, crying like she was holding her pillow to her face and letting her pain run out of her. But the small room seemed safe and warm, swaddled in dim light, safe from the threat of fires and hidden from the whispered horrors that rustled in places not really that far away from Kiev.

rosalind said...

There are two pieces of mail on the kitchen table. One is my end-of-the-year report card, and the other is a Notice of Hearing from the Immigration Court telling Papi and me to show up for our deportation hearing. Straight A's is old news, but "demonstrate your ability to lawfully reside in the United States of America" is uncharted territory.

whereimbloggingfrom said...

I wasn't yet old enough to be a client of Notify, Inc, but apparently I was old enough to be an employee. Notify only catered to those over 18 because of, as the brochure stated, the 'grave nature of the decision.' (Yes, it said 'grave'. I would have shot the copywriter, personally.) The company headquarters were small but sleek, moneyed. I walked up to the front desk, where a well-combed young man sat. Behind him, embossed on the wall, was the Notify pitch: Seize life by the horns. Know when you'll die.

Jacquelyn said...

Ferrah’s heels pounded into the pavement as she quickly darted off to the Clark and Fullerton ‘L’ stop. Off in the distance she heard the train approaching and quickly waved her train pass at the turn style. Breathlessly, she made a mad dash up the steps and slid into the closing doors of the brown line. She found an empty seat and sat down on the hard plastic to catch her breath. As she calmed down, Ferrah leaned back in her chair to enjoy the ride. Peering out of the window, she watched the world go on around her as train snaked through the city to her destination: The Loop.

The Virtual Victorian said...

I’d been to Wilton’s hall before. I would have been seven or eight at the time and somehow Aunt Cissy persuaded Mama to allow me a trip to the pantomime. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves it was, and as we rushed off to climb in a cab, Mama called after us down the front steps, “You just watch that child...there’ll be forty thieves in the audience!”

Gavin Stevens said...

The thing is, we were safe: safe from war or invasion, having just been triumphant against the Germans and the Japanese, although the specter of communism loomed indistinctly large; safe from privation and Depression, since the war years had fueled a general recovery, although my family, relatively speaking, was poor and of no social consequence; safe from crime and disorder, because Roland was physically isolated and, other than social strata based largely upon relative wealth, mostly homogenized, although “juvenile delinquency” was much upon parental minds and frequently discussed; safe from the tyranny of rank racial discrimination, since Roland was almost completely White (I remember no Black or Asian faces from this era, and only the occasional migrant, Hispanic farm worker), although the occasional hate leaflet periodically arrived in the mailboxes of our small Jewish community. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to and unappreciated by us, we were also safe from differences of opinion or intellectual debate of any serious sort because, being so rock solidly safe, we were absolutely certain of our position, our moral imperative, our physical well-being and our governmental genius.

JJ said...

Jeanette McCarthy didn’t believe in ghosts even though she could see them. She thought she was just crazy, which is why she called me, Talia Constantine, paranormal consultant. I didn't have psychic visions, and I sure as hell didn't read palms. I'm a vampire. Jeanette wasn't aware of this, and I intended to keep it that way.

The Virtual Victorian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It is said that in death, all things become clear; Ensei Tankado now knew it was true. As he clutched his chest and fell to the ground in pain, he realized the horror of his mistake.

Becky said...

When she ended up climbing from her window sill to the first branch she could reach, Imogen Meyer felt no guilt. She’d never much liked living by the rules. Sure, it wasn’t the easiest exit route from her new home, but she didn’t fancy running into her new family, which she undoubtedly would if she took the traditional way out. Besides, she reckoned she needed the practice; it wouldn’t be long before the Kingsleys were doing her head in – she could tell.

Colleen Corcoran said...

Perhaps it is the distorted expression of a more primal existence – climbing, running, swimming – something of the nomadic. Or maybe some sort of existential desire to connect. It may be a useless, vestigial impulse; a quest for spiritual awakening through danger, discomfort, and speed. Or a defiant gesture to the natural world that is both nihilistic and naive. Hedonism. Art. Overachievement. Simplicity.

Kira Peikoff said...

Dr. Arianna Drake stepped into the deserted hallway, listening. It was 7:30 a.m.--still too early for the man to arrive. No matter what her dread, their appointment could not be adjusted or canceled, even if a patient went into labor before her eyes.

Jess Anastasi said...

2512
Trident Quadrant, Ariel Galaxy, Planet X-702

Seeing an angel was never a good omen, let alone seven of the damn things. It was enough to send a girl fleeing for the safety of her Terra-Roamer shuttle. Tori paused the flora-forming program on her hand-comp and took a step back, closer to the thick trunk of the tree she’d grown a moment ago. Six warrior angles and one scribe angel. Geezus, her crew hadn’t even finished terra-forming this planet for colonization yet and already the angles had taken up post here.

Zoe said...

The sun’s descent towards the western horizon was slow, inching closer to the brink, ready to fall beneath the ocean for night's rest. On the edge of a cliff stood a young woman; her arms wrapped around her shivering body, clutching a shawl around her shoulders. Long trestles of fiery red hair whipped and snapped in the harsh westerly wind.

Viet said...

The moment before the earthquake hits, Ted has a premonition.

Christian Darby said...

This past weekend we suffered a death in the family. Well, at least that’s what my daughter Margaret cried. She’s eleven and on Friday found a caterpillar in the road. “He was just on the edge, Dad, by the grass,” she explained. “I rescued him from getting run over and we’re going to keep him until he turns into a butterfly.” This was after school and she had wrangled two of her sisters, Leah and Gabrielle, into helping. They spent the rest of the day arranging a cage including sticks, leaves, and berries foraged from our yard. “We’re making him comfortable,” they said. “This way he’ll turn into a butterfly faster for us.” Then they turned back to feeding him, which to me looked more like force-feeding.

Braver said...

Vince pulled himself across a rocky beach as ocean waves crested in breaths. His left arm was broken, lying limp next to his body. The first strands of morning twilight lit his path towards the base. When he reached the stone he sat up and turned his wrist over. The bone bulged out of his arm, but it hadn’t broken through the skin. His hand groped over the ground. His fingers found a piece of driftwood covered in dirt and sand. The small grains lodged themselves in his lips when he placed it in his mouth. Three strong breaths pumped adrenaline into his veins. With one quick motion he jerked his arm straight. The grit of the bone-sliding friction vibrated through his teeth as the stick was turned to mulch.

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Someone should have noticed the stop sign.

lizannewrites said...

Climbing up the hill is hard enough when it’s hot and you feel like a human waterfall, sweat pouring down your face, neck and back. What’s worse is having to carry my suitcase and camp gear all because my mother made me miss the shuttle. I could have taken the bus with the other kids but no, my mother wanted to make it special and take me. It was “special” if you think being last is special.

Jalisa said...

My 20th birthday was really sucking so far. I didn’t get any sleep the night before, because I was up all night, cradling this newly turned wolf named Emma. Sweet girl, but she’d tried to eat her brother Gary—I mean, just hauled off and tried to eat her twin. So, instead of staying at home for the night, awkward and scared, she’d stayed with me. When she first arrived at my house around 10:30 pm, I put her in the shower because her 30 Seconds to Mars t-shirt and green jeans were soaked in Gary’s blood. I put her in fresh clothes, parked her ass in my room and lectured her on the no-no’s of being a werewolf.

dan powell said...

I went with Mum to stay with Grandad when he was dying. That's when he gave me the book. It was near enough the summer holidays so Mum didn't mind me missing school. Grandad wanted to die in his own house and Mum wanted to help him. We left dad at home as he had to work and we took the train to Grandad's.

Robin said...

A night without a date or lover was rare for Holly Bernstein, and when she heard the phone ring, she ran down the hall to answer. Unfortunately it was her mother.

orr1 said...

She moved in shutters, whispering to the flowing shapes that filled her world. Men did not hold the door, mothers did not show-off babies, did not smile. Dogs ran. She slept in a cardboard box lined with purple Easter grass salvaged from the dumpster behind Ray’s Super Foods. A large blue tarp, strung between two trees, mostly kept out the rain. John, down at the gas station, wondered if she bathed twice in her life. Like the Stapelia flower, which opens it's strange bloom to the fly, she burst in putrid waves on the people of North Vernon.

Lillian Ross said...

The cool, crisp, piquant sent of salt and sea clouds my senses. A brisk breeze tugs at my soul reminding me of a mirrored deep blue reflection of silent solace. Yet my feet remain unmoved my body stead fast as I gaze into the future of an oncoming storm. I shall stand at the edge of the storm and feel the raindrops reveling in its scrumptious refreshing relief. I bare the weight of abyssal waves as they press against my soul. On the edge of uncertainty, I press forward, Enveloping my soul in the bliss of cool refreshing ebb of ocean. The uprising swell of a turbulent storm Proceeding

Andrew Pontellier said...

Dawn had long since faded into a hot summer day as Servilias Almasia wiped the sweat from his forehead, hustling to keep up with the legionnaires around him. He plucked at the blue stole signifying his status as a legate, wishing he had left it back at camp for the day’s march. The swathe of blue about his neck might make him stand out as a target, and instead of having thousands of men to hide behind, he had a scant hundred. Thankfully, he had Cassandros at his side, a fellow legate and the best swordsman in the imperial army. Having his blade nearby was reassuring with such a small escort—at least until Cassandros turned off the trail, fell to his knees, and vomited noisily onto a tree stump.

Summer Foovay said...

I am a predator. A human predator. Like any predator, I serve a purpose. I stalk around the edges of the herd and I pick off the weak, the inadequate, the ill, the oldest, and the youngest. Those not fit to survive. You should thank me. If I and my kind were allowed to do our work in peace, the human race, inferior prey beasts that you are, would be better off for our presence.

Confessor said...

Ordinarily Jenna would have been excited over the idea of being in the presence of several hot and sweaty uniformed men. But as her fantasy met reality and she found herself sitting nervously at her dinning room table surrounded by men wearing S.W.A.T. gear, toting enough ammo to fell an entire heard of elephants, she was willing to bet this wasn’t the type of situation where anyone would be getting off.

Anonymous said...

The screen door popped off its hinges with enough force to wrap around an oak tree on the front lawn like dull gray wrapping paper around an oddly shaped package. The front porch splintered into toothpicks. Every window and door facing the driveway popped inward. A stream of splintered wood, shattered glass, and shredded bushes poured down forever like grisly solid raindrops. Her only protection, the large and very heavy body that lay on top of her.

Joan

bluetopaz said...

Not long ago I saw him. It happened by accident. On my way to the cleaners, I passed by the fancy new coffee shop on Market Street. Alone at a table by the window, one man read a newspaper. No one I knew, just a stranger with features almost too strong to be considered handsome. As I walked by, he looked up and we exchanged glances. What was it about his eyes? When I looked into them, I felt like I’d been hit in the stomach.

jenny2write said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilana said...

My name is Jonathan Freedman. I once loved a girl named Linnaea Swift, loved her very much. I tried to support her. And when I could no longer support her, I tried to save her. It did not work out.

Lillian Ross said...

The cool, crisp, piquant sent of salt and sea clouds my senses. A brisk breeze tugs at my soul reminding me of a mirrored deep blue reflection of silent solace. Yet my feet remain unmoved my body stead fast as I gaze into the future of an oncoming storm. I shall stand at the edge of the storm and feel the raindrops reveling in its scrumptious refreshing relief. I bare the weight of abyssal waves as they press against my soul. On the edge of uncertainty, I press forward, Enveloping my soul in the bliss of cool refreshing ebb of ocean. The uprising swell of a turbulent storm Proceeding

iJon said...

The street led to a locked gate where metal signs prohibited unauthorized access. Leyik pressed his fingers between the steel links of the fence and climbed over a section where barbed wire was removed with lock cutters. This part of the city was long abandoned. Acres of factories and warehouses were left to be slowly digested by nature. A few patches of grass sparsely grew out of the ground and vines entangled anything that was stable enough to support their weight.

J Landels said...

When I was six I first saw my future in a dream. It was only once that future became past that I recognized myself as the woman I’d seen. Now memory and vision have intermingled, and I can no longer tell which is which. The truth, I suppose, lies somewhere in between.

jenny2write said...

When I was eight, I found out about sperm banks. I was kneeling on the floor in my large and well appointed playroom and playing with my car collection, with my widescreen TV chattering in the background. All of a sudden I realised a boy of about my age was saying on the TV that he’d never really known his dad. Even at eight years old, I cared about not having a dad. So I pricked up my ears and started to listen, and soon learned that the boy’s dad consisted of some white stuff in a small glass jar. “I really, honestly feel he should be more,” complained the boy, who had dark hair and a sulky face.

Ailetoile said...

One look at the essay that had just been handed back to him was all Arin Kostelny needed to confirm that he had somehow managed to screw up yet again. He’d thought that he was done with his spectacular academic failures when he entered college, yet there it was: the first term paper of his final semester of college and the entire first page was as pristine as the moment he had handed it in. A surreptitious glance at his neighbor’s paper showed him that the professor had not hesitated to attack that paper with red ink, yet page after page of Arin’s paper revealed nary a mark.

Anonymous said...

When I was ready he stripped off his clothes. I thought, if he’s changed his plans there’s nothing I can do now. I’d tied up my feet with pieces of nylon rope that we’d collected together from torn lobster nets washed in by the tide. It felt odd doing that with him, intimate, as though we were choosing the strands to make a friendship bracelet. Then he placed my hands together in front of me, like a plea or prayer, and bound them too. He walked behind me, naked, and crouched down on the sand. I was cold by now and could feel the exact place on my skin where his warm breath reached it. He put his finger on my neck and ran it up and over my scalp. ‘Get those filthy ideas out of your head,’ he said. ‘I’m not interested in you. I just need to keep my clothes dry for when I get back.’ For a moment then I did think: you’re coming back, and I wasn’t. It made me want to lash out at him, but he scooped me up in his arms, carried me down the beach and, like a bride over the threshold, into the sea.

Jolene said...

Nathan climbed in the bubble bath, put on some Elvis, lined up the Twinkies, fired up the Kindle, poured the Visine on his eyeballs, and said, "LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMMMMBLE!"

Sylvie Morgan Flatow said...

After the rain stops, he takes her out for Italian ices. Inside the bakery there are two girls that are not even playing the part of Italian girl teenagers. They are just doing it. Only halfway decent at the jobs they have been given, one girl with powdered sugar on her too-tight jeans says to the other: I don't even think he was playin'. It is all neither here nor there. He looks at his lemon ice and then gives it a quick lick off the side. She takes pleasure in watching him enjoy something simple. The sky looks like sherbet that has been violently stirred and as they walk down the street, saying nothing, just feeling, hopefully knowing, that nothing is better than any of this, the rain begins all over again. They do not lose their pace even though her body says run.

Bridget said...

Stopping in the crowded common toilet in the Amsterdam train station, after a twelve day ship voyage from New York, Brooke waited her turn for the one dripping sink and mirror. Her fellow traveler’s quickly made room for her as if upon seeing this natural beauty they realized their attempts at freshness were futile. Splashing water on her rosy cheeks and smoothing the front of her new tweed skirt she rested her hand on her stomach – an orgy of nervous energy – before passing into the narrow hall buzzing with passengers and train-hops. Finding her third class compartment she took her seat between a handsome backpacker and an elderly woman and settled in for the last leg of her journey.

Angie Handley said...

Leto sucked up the atmosphere along Cisco Boulevard as if it had been a childhood haunt. Stims always made him feel as if every detail, every nuance was important. In his job it often was, and he was on his game tonight alright. Every darkened alley looked sultry and inviting, every neon-lit dive looked like a stompin' joint and even the bouncers looked friendly. The ripped up tarmac cushioned his steps and the smoggy twilight air filled his lungs with fire.

J.L. Shannon said...

When I arrived at work, five o’clock sharp as I did every morning, the manila envelope on my desk wasn’t unusual. I picked it up; ready to toss it aside but the return address caught my eye, enticing me to investigate. The newspaper clipping of her obituary didn’t surprise me but I was saddened, nonetheless. A petite elderly woman piloting a derelict RV across country in an attempt to outrun life’s taunts, tragedies and complications, tends to make a lasting impression on a person.

Josh Man said...

Choice, free will, as humans we pride ourselves on having these things. We get to make our own decisions, make our own mistakes, and while it might be easier to think that everything we do is destined, and it would certainly be easier to not have to take responsibility for our own mistakes, the fact remains that we are a free people. The choice in how we live is ours. Except for Thomas Millikin. He doesn't have a choice. He alone among everyone in every universe will live the same life. And in every one of those universes he will die. It is his destiny, the only person in all the world, or in fact all the worlds, who has one. And I am the one who has to let him know about it.

wealhtheow said...

Gray toiled in the hot afternoon sun, on his knees among the rhododendrons, for what might have been a month. Beautiful though Callender Hall's gardens might be, he was beginning to conceive a passionate hatred of them, and of flowering shrubs in particular. Bewildered and far from all he knew, sweaty and desperately thirsty -- eyes stinging, knees stiff, hands scratched and sore -- he had rarely felt so thoroughly miserable.

Penny said...

When Will told me he had a son, I pictured a heavy, pockmarked, greasy-haired teenager in a floor-length, black trench coat. “He's too smart for his own good,” conjured “that guy” sitting in the back of the calculus class, smirking at a teacher's error, pontificating about the importance of science and mathematics in the modern world. I had prepared myself for a socially awkward kid, and I had convinced myself to try to like him, for Will's sake. Not once had it occurred to me that James might be older. It should have been clear to me then that James never would be who I expected.

John Askins said...

Around lunchtime that day we were in the Guadalajara. We were always in the Guadalajara, so no news there. The monkey was leaping around in the rafters screaming at whatever monkeys scream at. The only good thing about that monkey was he didn’t shit on the customers. Why would you have a monkey in a bar at all? But if you had to have one, better he was potty trained, I guess. He was potty trained, too. You’d go to the men’s room and there he’d be in the stall with his teeth bared at you. But he knew how to flush, so it wasn’t that bad. And he stayed out of the ladies’. Maybe he’d heard Jane when she said, “If that little bastard ever comes in while I’m in there, he’s not coming out again.”

Caroline Starr Rose said...

“It’s for the best,” Mama says,
Yanking to braid my hair,
Trying to make something of what’s left.
“For the best,
You packing up and moving to the Oblingers’ soddy.”
Mama’s brush tugs.
Though the air is still,
My eyes sting.

For the best,
Like when the Wright baby died,
Not three weeks old —
One less child to clothe.

Lula O said...

There’s a certain time of evening in early summer as the sun dips under the horizon that the birds in my backyard, like little black and white magicians, disappear. First, I’m hypnotized by the flowery songs of males looking for temporary girlfriends (and failing at it I might add), and the sound of the light breeze bending and concaving under their fluttering wings while they fly loopy, masculine figure-eights in the air. Then, as I rest my chin on the palm of the hand cupping my face, my laced-up boots dangling out the side of my windowsill tap to the same beat as their puffed up heads bobbing up and down to the tune of "Pick me! Pick me!" on the knobby branches of a nearby elm. I go to move some stray loose hairs that have fallen like a curtain closing across the front of my eyes, and when I can see again, in a blink, they’re gone, a vanishing mirage in this sweltering heat and I wonder if they were ever there at all. I’d pay a hard earned penny to be able to do that. Especially today.

Les Edgerton said...

One day I found a volume of poetry by Robert Frost in the prison library at Pendleton and checked it out. Back in my cell, I read: "Home is the place where, when you want to go there, they have to take you in." When I made parole, I called my mom to tell her my good news. I found out that my dad had never read Robert Frost.

Diane said...

Some days having wings is a bitch.
Especially when a smelly assed goblin is holding me by them in front of his mouth like a French fry, threatening to eat me if he isn’t given a get away car in ten minutes.
I looked out the broken shop window at my coworkers; members of the Supernatural Task Force, waiting for their brilliant surprise attack to begin.

Courtney Leigh said...

I stared at the brown eyes in my reflection. They did not blink. They did not shed a tear. Only the tiniest quiver of bottom lip revealed that a deep, electric current of emotion coursed through my body and through my soul. Cold fingers tightened around a tiny white vial. I lifted it to my lips.

Christie C. said...

It wasn't wise, I know, but I couldn't resist taking just a second to scan over the table. It was lovely; tall candles now teetering, white linen and everything hand-painted, very nice indeed. Then, as my eye came back to the man face planted into his prime rib, I cocked my head slightly to get a better look at the crimson red swirling beautifully into the au jus. Shame. I jabbed the revolver into my waist and left.

Yttar said...

Pai Saphyr knew something bad was going to happen that night at tae kwon do. She just knew it. It wasn't something she could explain; it wasn't something she understood. Pai shouldn't have gone to tae kwon do that night, but she couldn't stay away.

Bethany Mattingly said...

The darkness embraced the common black car, traveling much higher than the advised limit for the pavement it was crossing, began to lift and give way as the morning of a new day arose. The slow spread of dawn, reflected on the windshield went unnoticed by the young lady occupying the driver’s seat. Disheveled hair, reddened eyes and smeared make-up betrayed the teen’s all night drive and suggested a history that would explain the slow but steady stream of tears making tracks down her tan cheeks.

Irk said...

Picture this: me, all lanky arms and lean, strong legs, standing easy with my weight shifted ever-so-slightly forward, casual but always ready to attack. I'm wearing faded black jeans with all my pockets sewn in. Dust still rests in the creases of my leather boots. I have my hat stowed away somewhere, but with the bandana tied loose around my neck I still manage to practically spell "gunslinger" with the buttons on the front of my dark blue shirt. Carrying my guns out would complete the effect, but I've stowed them. They tend to speak with their own voices, and that might just give me away.

Sarah Erber said...

*Note - My first part of my novel starts with dialog, so I'm using the First paragraph after the dialog.*

Delilah flipped her black hair over her shoulders and smirked at her aunt’s scolding. It never failed. Whenever they took a trip, it always ended up in a fight along the way. She hated her cousin for pointing out her flaw. The real reason for her excitement stemmed from her popularity at her old high school. Ever since the accident, people would stare at her strangely. Whisper secrets behind her back. Pity her existence. Like they could ever understand what it’s like to come back from the dead. Alone. Unwanted. Dipping her hand into her coffin-shaped bag, she pulled out a piece of gum.

Les Edgerton said...

One day I found a volume of poetry by Robert Frost in the prison library at Pendleton and checked it out. Back in my cell, I read: "Home is the place where, when you want to go there, they have to take you in." When I made parole, I called my mom to tell her my good news. I found out that my dad had never read Robert Frost, at least not that poem.

ciarla said...

A soft mouth, a hard head and a bulging bank account: everything a woman dreamed of. Just one snag. He was already married to my sister.

n.r. lahti said...

All sleep quiet as I cut the street. I know this dark well. It is a good dark. As all things wind down, and as all things keep still, I cloud myself within an early winter’s discontent. I know the beginning; it is yours to uncomprehend, but I can show you. It is shown us all if we look. I keep walking. Walking. Walking. I see the daytime’s things of beauty in their natural state; that darkened state that is now around me. Nothing is quite as clear in the dark, and that is true beauty. Nothing in the dark is fixed, as noting in the light can flux. To see both the fix and flux is a love often pushed away. It is all in front of me. It is an offwall fall and an empty cup that is broken; it is, and that is that. These buildings around me are at ease. My breath is beginning to show. Slow I step, and fast I think. These late night moments are my happy hunting ground. Brevity is a beautiful curse. My sneakers are starting to wear; I’ve worn them a while. Simple things boggle my tired brain right now, but I am always true. As truly I roam, so truly I will sleep, and these things seem not worthy to you. You are wrong though. Worth is to all things, to all events, and to all nothing mores. I live. Live I a bleak banishment, but not so bleak as yours. I am a choice. What are you?

Charlie Eve said...

He had, on occasion, seen other Snow Fairies, with their bright bursts of wild, tumbledown hair and bubbly, carefree demeanor. Luella was different. He felt drawn to her. Falling flat against the rough of a bigalow tree, he waited. Foster spent the last three years, coming here to see her, at the dawn of each day. He longed to be near her, even if only for a moment. He memorized her every curve, every speck of snow dust sprinkled across her pink cheeks. Long branches of ivory bone and feathers fanned out from between her shoulder blades. Each wing -tip dipped in topaz. Her velvety soft hair reflected the warm glow of candle light flickering throughout, as if kissed by a thousand stars. With her body, wrapped in ivory, she moved softly with a dancer’s grace. And just as the last rays of sunlight lifted into the horizon, she would be gone. Luella’s fairy way blanketed her from his ever curious eyes, once again.

Susan said...

I have small time, small money, small hands on my face, and small idea what to do next. The renter is moving in tonight. She is 24 and going blind. In a few months, she will try to commit suicide in the spare bedroom. Tonight, my 5-year-old daughter looks at me and asks, "Will we always live with people we don't know?"

Anonymous said...

1119 AD/CE
Wherein Châyne Maille, Squire to the heroic First Crusader Knight, Eusless the Brash, and only son of the Nobly titled, Krapostrator, like his counterpart in Constantinople, one whose job was to empty the Emperor’s chamber pot, to one whose authority extended over the gathering and spreading of all the dung of the stables, the cavalry, and the royal train of hunting and hawking of the late King Baldwin I of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, doth plumb the depths of his courage as he accidentally fulfills a Quest

ce3 said...

She was straddling a hickory bentwood stool in too tight jeans near a beer stained snooker table drinking whiskey straight up and puffing furiously on a Marlboro Light. Her long dark hair seemed to glisten in the foggy light and bounced freely when she laughed. But it was her eyes I remember best, bright and shinning beacons that guided me out of the dark and into the light. When I learned her name was “Sass”, I was hooked; the perfect name for the perfect woman.

LCS249 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joe said...

It was the seventh of August 1985. He walked slowly through the dark night. What was it about this place he remembered? The trees looked as if they would come alive and smother him. Panic overtook his mind. Was he alone? The sound of leaves rustling to his right made him jump back. His heart seemed as if it would pop from his chest at any moment. He clutched the book that was shoved into the belt around his waist.

LCS249 said...

Charlie wouldn’t believe me. I kept saying, “Stop worrying. We’ll be fine.” But he kept following me around the house, like an anxious dog begging for a walk. Charlie, however, had no doggie spring to his step. He dragged his feet, almost slapping his heels down as he walked. It was very annoying, especially on the hardwood floors in my parents’ house.

Josey said...

Three months before the war began, Frederick Steed boarded the Kanns to Elsai train in search of his missing baby daughter. The express hovertrain began its usual route through the south-western forests of Pan Province, heading towards the mountainous wild lands where only a few small villages lay scattered in anonymity. Six miles from Mount Grizzly, the train entered the Kanns Tunnel, which spanned nine hundred feet over Grizzly Canyon, a tourist attraction people travelled miles to see. Frederick had taken no notice of the glorious red canyon, but instead maintained a firm grip on his circ, which he used to cast rune spells, and on the handle of his backpack, where two objects were carefully stored. Glancing up at the old man on the seat opposite, who was absorbed in his newspaper, Frederick berated himself for boarding the train. He had thoughtlessly put all the passengers in danger... but an hour ago his anger at what he had discovered had overruled his sense.

Amy said...

Kate drove three hours straight before she needed to stop for gasoline and to stretch out. She focused on road signs, counted cows, played the radio too loud, whatever it took to stop thinking of Teague and what she was doing. It wasn’t the leaving part that was difficult, as she had been on the move often enough over the last two years that she no longer felt attached to any place or thing. But this was the first time she had developed an attachment to a person, however inconsequential it might have turned out to be. It had been a long time since her heart had become a part of her reality instead of locked only into her memories.
She was still crying silently to a background of Coldplay when she made the exit for the coast and for Margate.

Aetheric said...

The earth shivered under her feet as she ran, blindly, down the rough hewn stone passage. Lia's face was streaked with dirt and blood, her once white robes splattered with mud and her ritual face paint marred by tears.The rumbling thunder and crack of artillery was dulled by the rock and sent faint vibrations through the ground beneath her, but that thumping reminder of the attack outside could not blot out the scene she had witnessed a few moments before. The Ashai had murdered – the thought twisted in her chest – murdered her fellow Adepts, the men and women she had trained with her whole life, who were as close to her as her own flesh and blood, and they were coming for her as well.

Chantelle said...

Bruised feet skimmed across uneven ground, leaving behind a faint trail of yellow dust. The land here was bare and consisted solely of dunes with soft grains of burning sand. The heat from the sun was merciless as it seared down upon his frail figure. Streams of sweat mingled with fearful childish tears distorted his vision. His lungs rebelled against the warm air; his breathing came fast and ragged.

Cealarenne said...

You have to know how to win. Winning isn’t about competing and rising victorious. It’s not about understanding your opponent and knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are and making plans dependent on whatever those may be. Winning is so much more.

micktone said...

“Murderers!” shouted protesters gathered outside a ten-foot cyclone fence surrounding the construction site. A tree, alone and defiant, stood at the center of the controversy. Each branch was decorated with jewels, beads, medallions and trinkets. Old cracked photographs of people from many generations covered its bark. An ominous cloud belched out a gravel whiskey roar and darkened the sky. The wind grew fierce and ripped the photographs from the tree. Faces disappeared into the air, fluttering like snowflakes. The faded portrait of a little boy floated over the fence and landed next to Ava’s hiking boot.

JDawson said...

Laurin sprinted through the dismal alley, her heavy breathing and pounding heart blocking out the shouts from behind. She leapt over a lone beggar sprawled out across her path, almost stumbling. Damn! A quick look back proved they were gaining on her. If the bastards caught her, they would beat her to death and steal Laurin's only real possession: her mage-stone.

Madison said...

But I do want to be here, at this half-way bus station somewhere along the Oregon coast, because Morrow is escape. Spatters of rain dust the pavement as I sink on top of my duffel bag. It’s not actually a bus station. A bus schedule hangs on the streetlight, but I don’t think that counts.

Heather Zundel said...

Sand shifted in his boot, and now a splinter was in his finger. Valkonen looked down and shook it, but it remained. It itched in a painful sort of way. He rubbed it against his leg. It didn’t help. Carefully, he slid a fingernail next to it and cut a small opening, peeling back the layer of skin. Reaching in, he pulled it out. Then he bent to pick up another sack of grain. It thumped against his back, knocking the air out of him. He staggered, but didn’t drop it. Most men couldn’t handle a single sack by themselves. The others scoffed because he was at least seven years younger than them, but he didn’t care. He had trained with the greatest fighters in the country. He had lived at the palace. He could handle a sack of grain.

Michael Merriam said...

Jack Clausen found the coyote lying on the side of the gravel covered county road. The animal's fur was matted with dark blood, his body twisted at an odd angle. With every ragged breath bright red flecks coated the coyote's muzzle. The metallic tang of blood and urine filled Jack's noise, combining with the scent of sagebrush and dust in the air. Jack could see fear in its eyes as he approached; fear that this human would do something to make his inevitable end even more miserable.

Anonymous said...

The view outside the bus was a wall of solid gray. Occasionally, as he stared out the window a fence or telephone pole would become visible like an old memory that becomes clear for just a moment before retreating back into the recesses of the brain, obscure and unreachable.

Richard

Rebecca Rodriguez said...

Beyond the protective stone walls of Ravenscar castle, Gunderic stood on a low limb of an elm tree and gripped his father’s sword. He listened for the steady beat of gargoyle wings heading inland from Ravenwood Forest. They were coming, he knew.

Chad said...

There are many places where we could begin the story of Bones Malone. We could start when he was a small boy, for he had already experienced a novel’s worth of fascinating and horrible events by the time he finished elementary school. We could suppose that Bones’ story truly began on the night that a journalism student named Rachel Malone agreed, against her gut instinct, to go out with a quarterback named Percy Emerson. But the bulk of this tale is about danger and adventure and people fighting for hope in the midst of tremendous evil, so it might seem misleading to begin in a place that involves kissing. In any case, most experts on the art of storytelling advise that one should start in media res, which is a splashy way of saying “in the middle of something exciting,” so that no one will abandon ship after two sentences and seek out another story with more explosions or vampires or kissing. So let us open on a Tuesday afternoon in July when Bones Malone is 12 years and 279 days old, and his right fist is hurtling toward Tony Spezio’s jaw.

Acolin_F said...

Like many of the orphaned children in the hard life, Jane Red Cloud did not remember the grimy details of her earliest youth. Her route was probably similar to that of any orphaned youth. Sheriffs in the small towns on the range either gathered them up or drove them off. Temporary homes sheltered them until families or workshops found odd jobs for them. Begging and stealing on the streets, and performing little sexual favors for money or food, was common for small boys and girls. The life of any half way decent looking girl, even a round, dark haired, half-breed like Jane, takes some strange twists and turns.

Beth Harar said...

My Dad and I moved in with my Gram on a frigid Saturday in the middle of December. There was a layer of ice on the ground, slick and invisible. Twice I fell on my butt during the forty trips between my dad’s blue Caravan and my Gram’s house, hauling twenty pound boxes to my new room. The clean winter air only amplified the sweaty smell emanating from my body. Gross.

Dave Johnson said...

My name is Lorenzo de’ Medici. My family is the most powerful in the Republic of Florence, powerful by way of blood and darkness. My place in this story begins with both.
Marsil sat on the floor of my sleeping chambers, his back propped against the bed, blood spreading across the linen like scarlet wings sprouting from his broken body.

Cameron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nita Lou Bryant said...

Lying face mashed sideways on a grimy cockroach-brown vinyl floor sticky with unknown substances while knowing that somewhere up above you a gun in some young thug’s hand menaced your head tends to make you contemplate the choices that landed you in that situation. At least, that’s what I was doing, though it was getting me nowhere. Without moving my sorry skull an iota, I shifted my eyes as far to the right as they’d go until the tip of Harvey J. Fountain’s left ear came into view. Lying in such close proximity to a man I’d just met a mere two weeks ago—and so far didn’t even like—felt pretty creepy, but then nothing about our interactions thus far resembled anything that could remotely be called normal. I noticed his toupee had shifted and fought an urge to sneak a hand up and tug it back into position.

Cheryl Gower said...

Jarred Sinclair III sat in the back seat of a Yellow Cab. The Pakistani driver slowed his vehicle, turning onto the cobblestone drive at 15 Snowden Place and stopped in front of the brick-faced manor. Tugging at the meter flag, he looked over his shoulder and said, "Dat will be twenty-seex dollah an' eighty-seben cents." He waited. When his passenger made no response, he asked, "Is there sumpting else, sir?"

Lena Diaz said...

Kendra Gray wasn’t sure what pissed her off more – that the Neanderthal sitting on her stomach had gotten the jump on her, or that he was starting to turn her on.

Claudette said...

“It’s important to know where you’ve been in life,” mother said from the front seat of the car. She said things like this all the time. It was as if she had this lit up sign above her head reading “Important Thing” and then a number after it so you could keep track of exactly how important it was. What I did that usually worked was just cross my eyes as hard as I could to keep from saying “You already said that.”

Anonymous said...

Judith:
At seven thirty precisely, as instructed, Kitty entered Mrs Geraghty's bedroom with breakfast set out neatly on a tray. She almost dropped the lot when she saw two heads on the pillows. One was Mrs Geraghty's, the other was the black and white furry head of Oscar the terrier. He was already growling softly and broke out into wild barks as she looked round for somewhere to land the loaded tray safely. Mrs Geraghty opened one eye warily as if begrudging the morning and, producing a large black prayer-book from beneath her own pillow, swiped poor Oscar into some kind of submission.
"Quiet now! What a carry-on! Of course he's not used to strangers ion my bedroom, he isn't." She gave him another hit.Kitty noticed a glass on the dressing table and considered that the odd smell in the room was probably whiskey.

PaintWithWords said...

Any effort to still my trembling hands proved useless. I smoothed some nonexistent wrinkles from my dress and continued to lead my three friends down the forest path. Maybe it’s wasn’t a good idea to try a ritual like this them. They didn’t take Wicca as seriously as I did, but I reminded myself the coven belonged to all of us. If we were going to gather spirits, I had to accept there might be consequences if we made any mistakes. I needed to do this though, so any possible risks took a backseat. Everything should be fine as long as they followed the ritual. At least, that was what I kept telling myself.

Cameron said...

Lesson Learned: If you’ve given birth to three children, never had plastic surgery, the skin on your stomach is so white it has reflective properties, and you’re wearing a bikini in public for the first time in thirteen years, do not bring an inflatable ball to your hometown suburban beach, especially when the wind is blowing parallel to the shoreline at 45 miles an hour. It was like a scene out of 'Baywatch' with Stretch Marks.”

Nicole Zoltack said...

Valerie inspected her fangs in the mirror and muttered, “No teeth whitener in the world will remove these blood stains.”

Sempiternal said...

It’s truly humorous how things turn out. This was probably the last thing I would have wanted for myself, at least for the present. And it's not like I’ve haven't been told over and over again that things occur when you least expect them. Maybe I should have listened a little bit better, or maybe, just maybe, it could be a blessing that I decided not to.

Ely Nunez said...

So many things have died in me this morning that I have nothing left in me to give. Don’t ask me to deal with this, because I can’t. I know I’m strong, but just for today, please, just for today let me be weak. Let me sit here in silent and remember every detail, capture every moment and honor the past. I need to meet him in this dark place. I need to be in this dark place today. He is the oldest pain in my heart and he deserves these tears - the ones that you keep wiping in hopes that they don’t drown me. Let them show. I just need to remember because I don’t want to forget and because I’m not ready to accept. Acceptance could break me. I need the world to see the sadness in my eyes even if they never see the deepness of my pain. Tomorrow I will go back to being as strong as an ox and nobody will know if I’m sad or happy. But today, the world doesn’t exist.

John Haggerty said...

On the bus they shackled me next to a skinny guy with grey teeth who smelled like the street. He was jumpy as hell, the meth bugs still crawling around under his skin, and it looked like he hadn’t told the truth in years. When the driver started the engine, a thick cloud of diesel soot blew in the open windows and settled on us in a thin film, a brand new skin to go along with our brand new lives.

Mindy said...

Before Mom died, she always said, "Shantel, the extraordinary moments in our lives are unexpected, unplanned for, and absolutely wonderful." I, however, always disagreed and tried to explain to Mom that in scientific terms, the unexpected, and extraordinary moments were just not possible. "It's just energy," I explained. "Those unplanned moments are huge piles of energy that are now manifesting in the outer realm." Mom always tossed back her head and laughed. "You're such a scientist. One day, you'll know that extraordinary moments cannot be explained by your science." I thought Mom was wrong.
And then my world collided with Christopher

Micki said...

Fake tans, false eyelashes, rhinestones galore, and butt glue. I smirked as the tiara-adorned blonde with unnaturally white teeth stared back from the Miss Seven Bridges Teen pageant poster. It dominated the bulletin board filled with flyers announcing auditions for the theater department’s fall musical, poetry readings by the creative writers, ads for private vocal teachers, and reminders that parking passes were available only to juniors and seniors during homeroom. Only the banner welcoming students to Ginsburg School of the Arts dwarfed the pageant poster.

Nora MacFarlane said...

I was blindsided. Lied to. Purposefully kept in the dark. And what good did it do? In the craziest corners of my wild imagination I’d never dreamed of such possibilities. Why should I? Who wants to bring to life those kinds of nightmares? If they’d told me, I could have helped. I would have been there when they needed me. Instead, events rolled over me like a tsunami. Unexpected. Unwanted. Life would never be normal again. Not for me.

Martha (and cat) said...

It was as if the room had died somehow, leaving behind only an echo of what had been. Wendy smoothed the sheets, tucking pillows and stuffed animals back into place in unconscious habit. The bright sky blue comforter was still lying in a rumpled pile in the reading nook and she wondered, in the same numb voice that had dominated her thoughts since the accident, if Heather would remember how to read.

(from The Gate to Fenrith Lei)

MarianneHarden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LaWanica Weathers said...

It’s the lunch hour. Lily Brinkman sits on the grass, far enough away from the school to be considered an outcast. She’s a loner. By choice. There’s a difference. Big difference.

Elizabeth Lynd said...

She hunched over the kitchen table for thirty-five minutes composing the note, which meant it took Sarah exactly one minute per word to tell her husband why she was leaving out of the apparent blue. But even if she’d spent a thousand words, a million minutes, she would not have been able to translate the lost feeling of sinking deeper and deeper that had become the language of her life, nor her belief that the only way to save herself was to leave. It wasn’t a good solution, and she knew it, but she couldn’t think of anything else.

Mary said...

Two weeks and one day early, Vivian's entrance into the world was timed perfectly to benefit the family dog, and to inconvenience everyone else. It had been arranged for the dog to stay with her Aunt and Uncle, and Vivian just happened to be born on the first of three days that her Uncle was working from home. She was released from the hospital the day before her Uncle was forced back into the office, and so the dog spent the entirety of the hospital stay following her Uncle around the house. She passed the time eating his breadcrumbs (Vivian's Uncle had always been a sloppy eater) and curling up in his favorite chair, instead of locked in a cage as she would have been had Vivian decided to arrive at any other time. And thus began the paring that would be their parents' undoing.

David said...

Having found the control room Dr. Fredrick Reinhardt glanced nervously from side to side before swiping his key card in the door. I’ve got to move fast! Rehearsing his plan one last time, he sat down in the empty room at a computer terminal and logged in using his colleague’s password. This was it, the moment of truth. There is no turning back now. He took a deep breath and then typed in the launch codes.

Nyxix said...

My entry is as follows:

There’s not a person who would look a gift horse in the mouth, and see that there’s a trick behind the prize. The game of life is finally going to come to a screeching halt. I’m going to win.

Kimberly Sabatini said...

My body hit the water with an impact that knocked the breath from my lungs. I gasped for air and the current rushed in, burning my throat as I sank deeper. I was flooded with panic, spots of light exploding inside my head. Just when I thought my lungs would burst, fingers wrapped around my wrist, yanking me out of the water. As my head broke the surface it all became clear. I had died...again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jen A said...

Ruby knew she was finally going crazy the night the moon talked back. It didn’t come as a surprise—in fact, the bigger surprise was that it had taken so long. She knew she wasn’t completely crazy because she realized that hearing the moon talk to you was not normal, and really crazy people don’t realize that their hallucinations are not normal. Still, it was definitely crazy to believe you’ve heard the moon talking to you. And she definitely had. So she did the only thing a good, well-mannered Virginia girl could do. She politely said goodnight to the moon (they were having a conversation, after all), and then she went inside to call her Mama.

Arlene said...

Happy birthday? Erin Mannering just didn’t get it: Why did everyone insist on wishing her “happy birthday”? What was there for her to be so happy about? Nothing. She was now 25, stuck in a job she hated more often than not and, worse, alone. Other women spent their birthdays with the men they loved. A cozy dinner followed by some dancing and a little naughty sex — it sounded like heaven.

Phil S. said...

From the moment she saw his number flash on her phone, Lorna Alexander knew she was toast. “What up” his text read, taunting her like some killer in a second-rate slasher flick. As she calculated the thought process he must have taken to write those six letters to her, Dallas Reeves wiggled his tongue around in her ear, thereby wrecking her concentration.

Sheryl in Paso said...

Sheryl said...
It was a horribly frightening night in the rural town of Mudhole, California. A drenching downpour crashed onto the roof of a lonely little house that sat in a wooded glen. With it came a wind that whistled and howled and rattled the shutters, thunder that crackled and boomed so fiercely it shook the very foundation, and lightening bolts that zigzagged through the sky turning blackness into day. It was under these conditions that a Gt. Pyrenees dog named Gigi gave birth to a litter of eight, squirmy little white puppies. One of them was a female named Smudge, and Smudge was her favorite from the very beginning.

Lane R. said...

They’d been hanging out with us for a while now, the bears I mean. There was four of them, and they seemed to each be attached to one of us. Braden had the red one, it looked kinda bored, just sitting in Braden’s lap. Occasionally it would get up and rummage around in the fire pit, walking along the rim with its hands behind its back. Like it was waiting for something. Jimmy’s was green and sat on Jimmy’s shoulder. It always sat up straight and smiled a lot and swung its legs back and forth constantly, like it was on aderoll or something. Its favorite activity seemed to be jumping off the ledge of the porch and doing somersaults on landing. Then it climbed up onto the roof and tried to jump off from there, but Jimmy told the bear it wasn’t a good idea and so he reluctantly came back. And then there was Elvis, who was Cucci’s bear. We never really figured out why its name was Elvis, it just seemed an appropriate name for a Cucci-owned bear.

Paige said...

The porch light was out again, but all it really did was show the moths and mosquitoes the way into her house. Between a low-hanging harvest moon and the streetlights, it wasn’t particularly dark anyway, Calla reassured herself. Parking in the garage, she took time to check out the interior as the headlights illuminated it. She waited for the automatic door to close before she got out of the car. Her house was a seventies-era L-shape with the back of the detached garage making the third side of an open courtyard. She walked through the side door, across the short walkway and up the two shallow steps to the front door with purpose, and her keys clenched in her fist, pointy side out, just like all the self-defense experts recommend. As she turned the key in the Yale lock, she thought she heard something behind her. And, for once, it couldn’t be chalked up to paranoia.

Ken said...

From her skittering mount atop the high plain guarding the sea, Caph Talitan watched the armies crowding the Corridor of Etaneepitas. It was the fall of a frigid day in the heart of the first winter in three thousand years and she shivered inside her bearskin parka, thankful for the meager protection it provided. Her horse stamped its feet impatiently and whinnied against the unfamiliar wind. For three days she had watched the soldiers massing, their battalions blotting the land along the shore and inland southward as far as the haze permitted her to see. Brown and black and white, the colors of their uniforms, as if some wicked incantation had called them forth from the muddy, snow-blown heath itself instead of the forests and cities that were their true homes. They had all come willingly, with the eagerness of children, only to discharge their tasks like the lobotomized beasts the famulati employed. Were these sentient beings? They were her kinsfolk, come to follow their fourteen-year-old general into battle. She knew the cold seeped into their bones as it did hers— worse, probably, seeing how poorly clad they were. It infuriated her, their mindless following, her reckless leading.

evemarino@optonline.net said...

My busiest day so far this week. It started with the toothpaste. Crest, mint gel, tarter control. Some people wake up only after they have their morning coffee. Me, I need my Crest. Anyway, doesn’t coffee stain your teeth? So which is stronger – the stain or the paste that gets it out? Does one brushing negate one coffee? What if you have two coffees? And what if you drink your coffee black, no milk to lessen the stain. It got me thinking, so I called Crest headquarters There’s an 800 number. I wasn’t too happy with their Customer Service people; they couldn’t give me a sensible answer. After speaking to three of them I asked to speak with the Chairman. He was busy but he’s calling me back.

K.L. Romo said...

I hear the announcement that my long-ago teen idol was found dead on his bedroom floor, and both sadness and anger attack me from all sides. Sadness at knowing my knight in his somewhat-tarnished armor, who was to rescue me from my unbearable thirteen-year-old life, is now gone. And anger when I recall why I’d needed him so badly: my faith in his ability to save me from my private suffering was the only way I’d survived that horrible summer; the summer in which my gangly, awkward being lingered in that blurry place between childhood and a woman’s world. The summer in which my days were filled with tears, shed for both the inescapable anguish I was forced to live with, and for those many terrifying nights when I woke to my stepfather standing in the darkness at the foot of my bed.

Gmenezes said...

My eyes wandered out the windows that surrounded two out of the three walls of my cubicle on the seventh floor. I had to wonder if architects added nonfunctional windows to office buildings as a cruel joke to give the illusion of freedom. Windows or not, there was no denying that I was a slave to my three walled prison eight hours a day, five days a week, twenty days a month, and two hundred and forty days a year.

Lisa Melts Her Penn said...

The island stretched long and wispy thin, a sandbar a few miles from the mainland. Dense, twisting trees filled one area in the middle, clustered cottages dotted the rest of the land down the spit. The bay swirled into a dozen pocket-sized harbors where small boats rocked against each other. The island narrowed even further at the eastern end where it dove back into the ocean. And the ocean curved seductively toward the horizon until it tipped out of view. A woman walking from ocean to bay could traverse the island in a matter of minutes. A bird could fly in less. To get there in the first place, however, took longer. And leaving again…if you could leave…longer still.

Lisa Melts Her Penn said...

The island stretched long and wispy thin, a sandbar a few miles from the mainland. Dense, twisting trees filled one area in the middle, clustered cottages dotted the rest of the land down the spit. The bay swirled into a dozen pocket-sized harbors where small boats rocked against each other. The island narrowed even further at the eastern end where it dove back into the ocean. And the ocean curved seductively toward the horizon until it tipped out of view. A woman walking from ocean to bay could traverse the island in a matter of minutes. A bird could fly in less. To get there in the first place, however, took longer. And leaving again…if you could leave…longer still.

Jordan Atkinson said...

Life had never yielded many blessing for Hossam Fahim. It appeared this day might be different. He burst into the Emergency Room of Al‘ Adwah Hospital, the glass panes vibrated as the doors bounced back from the wall, and looked around the small waiting room. Wide eyes stared back at him, sitting amongst the thick noise of heart monitors and ventilators emanating from the back room. There were only a few people there, non of whom looked like they could help him.

Cloudscudding said...

Max woke up inside his kennel, unplugged his tail from the wall, and ran an automatic systems check. Recharging his battery had taken a half-hour longer than last month. He connected to the BigDog network so that he could send an error report about the battery. The automated reply told him that his error report had been filed, and a handler would contact him if any further action was required. The last handler contact recorded in Max's memory log was three years old.

Bloggadilly said...

Enzo’s parachute never deployed, that much we knew.

Grapeshot/Odette said...

Stralsund, East Germany, June, 1990
All this cloak and dagger stuff was stupid. Bruss put on his windbreaker and stepped out of the tavern into the damp night. A murky darkness hung over the empty harbor. He left the Goldener Anker and walked toward the abandoned grain elevators, wondering if he’d nursed one too many beers as he waited for night to fall. His footsteps echoed down the wooden platform alongside the elevators. Lonely sound. Not a soul around.

Casey said...

Vowing to stop continuously shattering his battered and disfigured right hand once and for all, Colin Freeney headed out into the grey South Boston night and tried to take a cleansing walk. No more punching people, walls, car doors or refrigerators. He wanted to become a man of peace –maybe even start a family. As the familiar silver Escalade pulled up beside him though, the walk became an all out sprint.

hohoteacher said...

One flight down on the 16th floor, summer associates at Spire & Bernards clink latte glasses at the complimentary Friday Morning Café, a tribute to their week’s work. Yet I can’t hear their boisterous celebration as I normally might, lifting through the stairwell with the fragrance of hazelnut, or the furious clacking of my cubicle neighbors’ fingers against dirty keypads. Forget the buzzing of the florescent lights overhead or the hum of the hard drives. Forget Nancy, Marketing’s receptionist, chomping loudly on baby carrots in her wide yellow headband, or Trisha from recruiting who’s arranging Polaroids in a quilted toile organizer. All I can hear is the thrum of my blood rushing as I IM with Piper. This particular message is more urgent than the one I wrote a few minutes ago, as Katzman has just released its 2009 staff headshots.

Jabez said...

Call me Oatmeal. Everyone else does. A nickname was inevitable, really, once my parents cursed me with a birth-name tougher than two-dollar cube steak. Othaniel Melanchthon Scoggins – O. Mel. – Oatmeal. A toddler could say that. In fact one did, my youngest half-brother, while I was sneaking out of our sunburnt double-wide for what I hoped would be the last time.

Thradar said...

The digital stench of death coalesced about him like a dark cloak as he stepped out of the OmniCore transfer gate. Cracks of molten data laced the black skin of his face. Shifting encryption keys fought to hold together the chaos of his persona. He was late, far too late to worry about appearances. Attending birthday parties always made him happy--and today he was exceptionally happy.

Mort Celebrite said...

I’d never heard of the Tortoise Creek disappearance before. Apparently it was pretty famous, or so Sergeant Sloan told me when he first mentioned it, on one of the rare occasions he’s taken me into his confidence and spoken.

Deb said...

Some secrets were meant for sharing. Whispering a confidence to a close friend could be a bonding experience. But not all secrets can be spoken aloud. There are some matters that need to be kept in the dark—or you could die. To always be discreet takes daily concerted effort—an effort that can eventually drain a woman’s soul. And to keep secrets you need to lie. Lucy knew this better than most people. Her whole life had been a series of deliberate misinformation. From her earliest years, she’d been schooled in the fine art of deception by her father. Not out of fundamental dishonesty or a disregard for civility, but out of necessity and self-protection. Curses that can destroy your life are best kept private, or be damned.

Sarah said...

Jay tapped the button on his earbud communicator. “I’m in.” He slid the chain lock into place and padded on silent feet through the darkness of apartment 504’s tiny kitchen.

Kelly Riad said...

Two beers down and I was already drunk. The taste was awful, I cringed with each gulp, but taste was hardly the point at a party. By the time I had filled my third cup, I planted myself on the rocky shore of the lake, adding to the circle of drunken friends already sitting cross-legged, laughing and talking and playing the guitar.

Candi said...

Sitka, Alaska 2007

“You know protocol, Burke. Stay in the damn boat.”
“That man’s going to drown, Captain. To hell with protocol!” Coast Guard Lieutenant Abby Burke screamed to be heard over the helicopter hovering above their small rescue boat. “Requesting permission to dive.”
“Denied.” Rain coursed over Sam Jordan’s hardened features. He held tight to the safety handle as the swells smashed into the raft with relentless force. “Stay on.”

Chassily Wakefield said...

Aelgar lounged against the rough stone wall of the ale house, surrounded by easy prey. He lowered his head to conceal his roaming eyes and scanned the crowd filling the marketplace, his nostrils flared wide with the scent of unwashed bodies, roasting meats and horse dung. He imagined dispatching one loathsome creature or the next as he dug under his nails with the tip of an ornate dagger, but the veritable ease of the sport was off-putting. The foolish peasants and occasional lordling hustled safely past, unknowing.

Anonymous said...

When I got the text message I knew it was going to be bad news. My boyfriend Jake is never late. Punctuality is like a virtue to him. And I appreciate punctuality. In fact it’s one of the things that first attracted me to him. Jake holds the all-time record at Chesterfield High for most consecutive days without a single tardy, which is way more impressive than his record time in the 40-yard dash. A ton of guys can run fast. But it takes special determination to get to school on time.
----

Karyn Lewis

Horserider said...

This isn’t what I expected death to be like. When I stood on the windowsill and watched the ground rush towards my face, it felt like I was flying. Now I just feel broken. Screams and sirens make my head ache, but I can’t move to cover my ears. Someone is touching me. Telling me it will be okay. A poke in my arm and the concerned murmurs of the paramedics. And then nothing.

Jarucia said...

Malovias rose from the brown, cracked-leather chair and paused. “You know what to do, my pet. We must move quickly before the Council of Elders discovers what we know.”

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