Nathan Bransford, Author


Monday, February 4, 2013

The 5th Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge!

UPDATE: TIME'S UP! COMMENTS CLOSED!

It's the grandaddy of them all. The big kahuna. The 32 oz porterhouse with a side of awesome.

It's our FIFTH Sort-of-Annual um don't point out that the last one was two years ago oops too late Stupendously First Paragraph Challenge!!!

Do you have the best paragraph of them all? Will you make Charles Dickens wish he ditched "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" for your paragraph when he wrote A Tale of Two Cities?

Let's see.

First and most importantly: ALL THE PRIZES.

The ultimate grand prize winner of the SUFPC will win:

1) The opportunity to have a partial manuscript considered by my wildly awesome agent Catherine Drayton of InkWell. Who does Catherine represent, you might ask? Why, only authors such as Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), John Flanagan (The Ranger's Apprentice series), Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush Hush), and many more amazing writers. This is a rather excellent prize. You don't even have to write a query letter!

2) All the finalists will win a query critique from me trust me I've still got my query-revising skillz. Said critique is redeemable at any time.

3) All the finalists in the USA (sorry non-USAers, international postage is bananas) will win a signed copy of my new novel, last in the Jacob Wonderbar trilogy, in stores and available online on Thursday, Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp!! Please check this bad boy out I swear you'll love it and you won't even get eaten by a dinosaur:


The Jacob Wonderbar trilogy:

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow
Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe
Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp

4) All finalists and winners win the pride of knowing that you are in some truly fantastic company. Let's review the now-published authors who were finalists in writing contests on this blog before they became famous and fancy published authors:

Stuart Neville! Victoria Schwab! Terry DeHart! Michelle Hodkin! Michelle Davidson Argyle! Joshua McCune! Natalie Whipple! Josin L. McQuein! Jeanne Ryan! Peter Cooper! Travis Erwin!

Are we missing anyone? I sometimes forget THERE ARE SO MANY.

There may also be honorable mentions. You may win the lottery during the time you are entering this contest. Who can say really?

So! Here's how this works. Please read these rules very carefully:

a) This is a for-fun contest. Rules may be adjusted without notice, as I see fit, but this one will always be here: Please don't take this contest overly seriously. This is for fun. Yes, the grand prize is awesome and I would have willingly picked a fight with Mike Tyson to have had my manuscript considered by Catherine Drayton without ever having to write a query, but please don't let that detract from the fact that this contest is for-fun.

b) Please post the first paragraph of any work-in-progress in the comments section of THIS POST. If you are reading this post via e-mail you must click through to enter. Please do not e-mail me your submission it will not count.

c) The deadline for entry is this THURSDAY 7pm Eastern time, at which point entries will be closed. Finalists will be announced... sometime between Friday and the year 2078. When the finalists are announced this suddenly becomes a democracy and you get to vote on the stupendously ultimate winner.

d) Please please check and double-check your entry before posting. If you spot an error in your post after entering: please do not re-post your entry. I go through the entries sequentially and the repeated deja vu repeated deja vu of reading the same entry over and over again makes my head spin. I'm not worried about typos. You shouldn't be either.

e) You may enter once, once you may enter, and enter once you may. If you post anonymously please be sure and leave your name (no cheating on this one).

f) Spreading the word about the contest is very much encouraged. The more the merrier, and the greater your pride when you crush them all.

g) I will be the sole judge of the finalists. You the people will be the sole judge of the ultimate winner.

h) There is no word count limit on the paragraphs. However, a paragraph that is overly long or feels like more than a paragraph may lose points. It should be a paragraph, not multiple paragraphs masquerading as one paragraph. Use your own discretion.

i) You must be at least 14 years old and less than 178 years old to enter. No exceptions.

j) I'm on the Twitter! And the Facebook! And the Google+! And the Instagram! It is there I will be posting contest updates. Okay maybe not Instagram but pretty pictures!

That is all.

GOOD LUCK. May the best paragraph win and let us all have a grand old time.






869 comments:

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Kathy H. said...

My mother never came down the stairs in calm or civilized fashion. She bounced, she bounded, and she was usually shouting my name before she was halfway down. Considering that I spent most of my nights trolling the internet for the more interesting subspecies of porn when I wasn’t playing video games, her early-morning cheeriness was about twelve degrees below bearable. Especially when—as it had, lately—it seemed forced.

Michael Sirois said...

For a man who was 8,000 years old, give or take a few hundred, Henry Kaufman moved remarkably well, but today he knelt with some difficulty by the deep but narrow hole he had dug at the base of a levee wall by the Industrial Canal. As he lowered the tube of C-4 into the ground, his right pants leg shifted, revealing a calf muscle which conformed to the jagged shape of the bones in his right leg, the muscle as gnarled as the branches of bristlecone pines. The misshapen leg was from his first severe injury, from the first time someone tried to kill him.

Katie L. Carroll said...

School was the one thing I was better at than my best friend, Andy. He kicked my butt in football, his favorite sport and one I had quit playing last year. He spanked me in gym soccer, even though I played on a competitive team and he didn’t. Baseball at the park, pick-up street hockey, backyard badminton. Name your sport, he was better. It wasn’t just sports either. Andy always won when we played video games, card games, and most board games—except Scrabble, but he never wanted to play that. I would’ve really hated the guy if he hadn’t been my best friend since…well, since Andy’s family moved to the neighborhood when we were babies.

Kristan Hoffman said...

I crouched at the edge of the jungle, hidden within shadows and shrubs. Ahead of me, a wide road cut through the mountains, winding its way north to Spring City. For over an hour I had gouged holes into that dark, unyielding asphalt. Planted metal spikes into the road one by one, like flower bulbs. They had bloomed slowly under the cloudy winter sky, but now there was a full row of jagged points gleaming in the moonlight. A garden of beasts eager for their meal.

Morgan Malone said...

Right before my fiftieth birthday, I asked my husband if he minded if I had sex with another man. He didn’t answer me, so I persisted.
“Listen, I’m almost 50 years old, I know. Who would want me? I’ve had two kids and a hysterectomy. I’ve got stretch marks, scars and cellulite. And I know I need to lose at least 50 pounds.” No response. “It’s been a long dry spell, you know. Almost 15 years. I think I’m entitled to at least one more orgasm that does not come from something powered by a 9-volt battery.” Still nothing. “Okay, then, I take your silence to mean I am on my own in this. You don’t have an opinion one way or the other. Right?”

Robert Chazz Chute said...

When numerous alphabet agencies hunt you, it is best to keep a low profile. Rule #1: Avoid the limelight’s burn. Rules #2 and #3 are to eschew drama’s sting and duck trauma’s pain. However, you’re bleeding from the left temple, the cop on the floor is face-down dead, sirens scream in the distance (but coming fast) and the bad guy has a gun — your SIG Sauer P220 — aimed at your forehead. Worse? This is not at all how you’d planned to tear up Hollywood. It’s apparent you have failed, again, to observe the rules of The Divine Assassin’s Handbook.

L Ann Hillanbrand said...

Without realizing it, Mara had spent an entire afternoon in the comforts of the sunlit sanctuary, looking once again for solace. She had sought a pew set behind one of the large, oak support beams, in hopes to stay hidden from any counseling pastors and their shallow words of comfort. "Words - there are no words - there are no answers" Mara thought bitterly. Exhausted, between her outbursts of sobs and quiet moments of hopelessness, she rested her head on the pew and fell into a light sleep. In the course of her repose, the evening hours loomed and the diminishing light shining through the stained-glass windows moved slowly across the vaulted room; a shadow engulfed the sanctuary's large suspended cross. Another day, amongst many, was lost to Mara's misery.

Vish G said...

“I don’t know how to love him!” She warbled the song from the Broadway musical, breezy, but not quite carrying the tune, as the two of them skipped along, one behind the other, occasionally pushing aside the low branches that overhung the trail from the log cabin to the lake. She led the way and so did not see his smile, wide and playfully impish, but grim at the corners of his lips. You don’t know how to love me?

Tim Canny said...

Poor penmanship has its advantages. Especially if, like me, you're a kid with "anger" and "impulse control" issues. Like when mom found DEAR GOD, I WISH YOU WERE DEAD! violently scrawled in one of my notebooks. Heartbroken over my crisis of faith she sent me to talk to Father U, the religious director at school. I have no idea what the U is for. Ulysses, maybe?. At school we call him FU for short but not to his face because he is a priest and also because he coaches the wrestling team, is kinda jacked, and rumor is he's an ex-Marine. But anyway, I didn't write GOD, I wrote GDD, which is what I call the GOD DAMN (retarded) DOG my sister the basket-case college-dropout dumped on us six months ago that I've had to feed and walk and wash and who also, very inconveniently, showed up dead in the front yard next to a bloody baseball bat about a week ago. So, yeah, poor penmanship saves the day!

Anonymous said...

Hope. It is as sweet as the smell of distant land. Round and full it soars in lazy circles high above like a gull on the wind. Hope alights on his upturned face as though it were sunshine; reaches out before him like the deep sea. Ancaeus sucks the taste off his lips and smiles—giddy, a delighted boy, a drunken man. The polished and waxed wood of his ship knows his touch, the rub of his feet, and the pull of his hands as he climbs to the prow. He walks along the narrow point of it, out over the water. Ocean spray wets his kilt, washes his feet. Wind and waves blow hair from his face. He holds the ropes and feels the sail swell with speed. Out across the Aegean, Ancaeus scans for the land he longs for, the smallest sliver of an island interrupting the mirror of sea and sky rushing out before him.

Anonymous said...

Watching the front end of an enormous truck barreling straight toward her, Leslie Matthews feared for her life. Her fingers dug into the cracked, black vinyl seat behind the taxi driver as she braced for impact. Some part of her brain suggested yelling a warning might be a good idea. The words didn’t make it out of her mouth though. They got stuck in her throat and ended in a feeble squeak. She held her breath, couldn’t move.

Lara Wells-Coburn

Heather Russell said...

Wow. I'm the Anonymous writer of "Hope.." who has obviously hit the wrong button!

Sandra said...

“Let go! Seanna, it’s done. Stop! You’re KILLING him!” Laney’s words were frantic, almost unrecognizable through the feral screams reverberating inside my skull. The vileness of stealing a man’s soul was not nearly as torturous as the act of restoring it. Never would I have believed giving back, performing a good deed, would cause such horrid feelings. That is, until the very moment I made an attempt to release Dr. Dallon’s essence. Even more excruciating pain followed when I tried to inhale him back.

Heather Russell said...

Simone sits in front of her computer speachless. Angel Makers just broke the one hundred mark in sales. Simone checks the numbers again and takes a long pull from her hot coffee. She hardly registers the new texture of her burned buds. All she sees are the numbers, big numbers. This last order is a huge: 365 custom garters, plus garters for the bride and her twelve maids. Some crazy chick in Pennsylvania is inviting 365 girl guests to her wedding: one for every day of wedded bliss in the year. Simone will have to reign this bride in. Pulling up a convo tab she sets in to write the first of what is sure to be a long chain of messages. She labels it “Ballistic Bride” and begins.

Rhen Wilson said...

Lyndon Harker entered his apartment to find the living room covered with mounds of paper. Shredded paper to be exact. A dozen tiny heaps of ripped up, cut up, and obliterated stationery were scattered about the apartment. Mostly old newspapers and magazines. His home looked like a mole field.

LLBurkhart said...

******

I don’t remember much, I was six years old. But I do remember my mother yelling from the kitchen for me to put on my shoes and jacket. I’d just woken up from my nap and although the clock's little hand was on the three like it usually was, it was dark outside.

******

Laurie Litwin said...

Not very many people know Thomas Jefferson invented the coat hanger. Or that Ulysses S. Grant got a twenty dollar speeding ticket for riding his horse too fast down a busy Washington street. Lucky for me, my photographic memory and talent and love of useless trivia is exactly what landed me a spot in the Jeopardy kid's tournament of champions this summer. I didn't make it past the first round, though. I froze every stinking time the red light on top of the camera flashed on. Stupid nerves.

Sarah Ahiers said...

When I was seven, I told my mother I wanted to be a courtesan. I didn’t know what it meant, but they wore dresses and beautiful makeup and half masks. My oldest brother Rafeo said they spent their nights at balls and parties entertaining the nobles. I believed him. I believed in that life of beauty and luxury instead of blood and death.

Sara-Marissa said...

For most people, the day after Thanksgiving was the biggest shopping day of the year. But for as long as Candice Frost could remember, it was known as the day Christmas caught the flu and threw up on her house. For the past sixteen years the day was commemorated by it being covered in countless strands of brightly colored lights, a plastic Santa Clause being pulled by eight (not so tiny) reindeer, and a giant nativity had given the privilege of gracing the front yard.

Allan Evans said...

John le Carre once said that history keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But I can tell you with complete certainty that I have a secret that history will never know.

Aaron Wyckoff said...

I gazed east, down the state route and past fields of nearly-grown corn. Eleven miles away sat James Madison High School. For all fourteen years of my life, it was the high school, the one towards which I was inexorably moving year by year until this August, just days from now, when I would finally arrive. And I was never going to see the inside of it.

Gavin Tonks said...

Gavin Tonks wrote
Tysoe and the world of dreams - The Chilam Balam

Every story has a beginning some beginnings are longer than others, but how do they end? – That is why we follow them

“Please Sir, out of the way,” I shouted as nicely as I could as I exploded down the passageway toward the lecture room.

I had Bayard’s lecture notes and copies of the priceless manuscripts in my bag, slung across my back. Various creatures milled around in the marble lined passage. My shouting cleared a path for me to clatter down. Bayard, my boss a large bay horse gifted with speech, was always early for lectures. He tended to get impatient if I cut my arrival too fine, which was about to happen again.

bend said...

Not only was the opening of Hell brighter that day but also the fires that arose made it so hot that even God was seen strolling the grounds nude.

Samantha Gale said...

Bright blue tights sagged down my legs, making them look more elephantine than lizard-like. Over a long-sleeved turquoise thermal – who buys turquoise anything? – I wore a hideous blue and green spotted t-shirt. The worst piece of the outfit was a tie between a pair of shimmery blue soccer shorts – I had quit before the first practice had finished – and a blue latex swimming cap. I looked more like a psych-ward escapee than a superhero.

Marcia said...

The last thing I expected to hear my favorite pastor say: "Don't panic, but I've been arrested."
I almost dropped the phone. And I did panic, but only for a few seconds. Then I took several long deep breaths and tried to concentrate on what my husband was telling me. "Call Larry Crawley," he was saying. Right. That made sense and I desperately needed one shred of information that didn't seem to have come from the twilight zone. Larry wasn't a lawyer, but I knew he would know someone who would be able to help. I called him immediately after hanging up, left a message in his voice mail and then prayed all the way to the police station, my mind swirling with possibilities, none of them comforting.

Annaliese said...

Sarah Conner was the last person Dylan’s mother would want him to talk to. Anyone could see that she was trouble. Even though the Zenith had declared that a woman’s long hair was the only beauty she needed, Sarah’s dark hair was chopped off at her shoulders, and she wore a silver bracelet on each wrist. But Dylan knew more than that – he was sure that she was part of the high school’s underground resistance movement. He couldn’t afford to get involved in such illegal activity, but he had to know if the rumor was true: if she was Lightning Born, like him.

Scott Springer said...

Most people don’t know this about me, but I have a spaceship. Normally, people don’t have spaceships, especially ninth grade boys. Not even these days. But I do. It’s a small round ladybug looking thing with two seats. It’s a super-compact that’s shaped like a college girl’s hatchback, but don’t call it a chic-car because it’s a rocket ship. I hide it in a barn. I hide it because spaceships mean trouble. You don’t want to get caught by the Air Force. And you sure don’t want to get caught by those aliens. Most people don’t know I have a spaceship, but Brandon does. That’s because Brandon has been my best friend since forever.

woofenstein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fran Padilla said...

I wasn’t supposed to be home when they showed up at our apartment. But I hadn’t left for school because I overslept. And I overslept because I took a sleeping pill the night before. And the reason I took the pill in the first place—well, I guess that’s where it opens to multiple interpretations.

Kate Langton said...

A small steamer trunk arrived at the tradesman’s entrance of my London residence in Bedford Park on the morning of May 20th in 1887. As all luggage from my recent transatlantic crossing on the Great Morning Star had already turned up the week before, I told the Cunard shipping officer that I firmly believed his delivery to be a mistake. He protested, pointed to the sticker fixed to the wooden trunk, and raised an uncivil eyebrow. His condescending silence said it all: he was English, I was Italian. Quality or not, I was still a foreigner and therefore naturally stupid and unwelcome. I pressed one arm against the puffed overskirt of my day dress and leaned down to take a closer look at the sticker. It was then that I recognized young Pandora’s Southwark's quirky handwriting—each ‘e’ written as a reversed number three—the very same as every ‘e’ in the address she had written on the back of the calling card she'd offered me during our passage from New York to Liverpool. I frowned. There was only one conclusion to be made: Miss Southwark had deliberately crossed off her address and written in mine on her trunk. But why?

Jane | @janelebak said...

Amber’s work boots crunched over the charred carpet as she moved through what used to be a dining room. She swung her flashlight beam along the length of the wood beams supporting the ceiling, flinching at the damage. "I hope that’ll hold."

Christine Jarmola said...

The time had finally arrived and my choice was made. Surprisingly it wasn’t a difficult choice at all. It was like Ruth had said, “When destiny comes there is no decision.” So with a simple touch, I whispered the words softly, yet felt them course through my whole being. “Be healed.”

Iliadfan said...

Dinner was a hunk of rough bread and a mushy stir of cabbage and beets, with a side of icy silence. I poked the limp mess with my spoon, wondering which would be harder to force past my lips – the food, or the apology my mother was obviously expecting.

lotusgirl said...

Bullet slumped against the burned out reaper. Its iron body was still warm, and Bullet pressed himself into it to fight off the chill rising up his back. His brother, Kenner, tramped back and forth in front of a ramshackle shed fully engulfed in flames. It was a beautiful sight: the shifting inferno piercing the night, orange and red fury cut with low pockets of blue, haloing Kenner’s pacing figure. Bullet was an artist.

http://ericksongypsycaravan.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/friedrichshafen/ said...

A few minutes after noon on May 9, 1978 a man entered a phone booth at Rome’s Termini train station and dropped two telephone tokens into the slot.  Outside the station, noisy Vespas, Lambrettas, and bicycles were zipping through traffic, swerving around taxis, buses, and cars dropping off passengers.  Uniformed police and armed carabinieri roamed Termini, eyeing pickpockets, people selling black market cigarettes from boxes strapped around their necks, zombie like heroin addicts begging for coins, and hustlers from Naples enticing people to play ‘gioco delle tre carte’ (three card Monte).  

H.B. Bolton said...

“Not again.” Evan cringed as Vince, the resident bully, swaggered toward yet another freshman. A sly grin spread across Vince's face, and with practiced precision, he upended the boy's lunch tray. Meatloaf landed on the top of the boy's head, mashed potatoes flung into his hair, and low-fat milk splashed down the front of his shirt. "Oh, so sorry. Let me help you with that," Vince said, as he used his fingertip to swipe and flick a dollop of potato from the boy's nose into his face.

S.P. Bowers said...

It was a testament to the deceased that so many people came to the funeral. The whole town had turned out. Did they have enough food at home to feed everyone when they came back to gossip and gorge themselves at the farm? A small part of her realized that most of the people were truly sad to see him go and they would bring gifts of food and mourn his passing. But Rachael was feeling uncharitable. All she could think of was that grandda was dead and that grandmother’s heart was breaking. So was her own.

Denise Aggen said...

I nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Check it out http://sorandomdenise.blogspot.com/

Todd Zuniga said...

Delia walks over to the couch where I’m sitting, asks me, “Seriously, why’d you manslaughter your baby?” I tell her she already knows I don’t know. “Huh,” she considers as she crosses her arms. Her hair a tangle of grey curls. Maybe, maybe-not Delia has room to judge: she manslaughtered her mother, who was eighty-three.

Gerardo Delgadillo said...

Mozart’s Lacrimosa plays in the air, a composition sung by angels for angels. I close my eyes and listen to the masterful piece. It makes me happy, but it also makes people panic.

katherineinthailand said...

When he received his orders to kill the princess, he was glad. Although he did not relish the added weight of another death on his conscience, he knew that this was one that would rest lightly: why, indeed, the greater weight would have been to let her and her kind continue in their arrogant oppression. The princess, he had come to see, was a metaphor for all that was wrong with their country: spoiled and shallow and unhappy, too stupid to see the cause of her own unhappiness. It was the duty of a fisherman to dispose of the rotten fish before he brought his wares to market; he did not weep for the discarded ones, but rejoiced in the fish that were left, firm and untainted.

Dave said...

The first to sense something was up were the flowers. They burst from their beds on the cold March morning in an array of color that took everyone's breath away. For a full week before the school's annual trip to the Thorgbottom Chocolate Factory, the people of Rabbit Hole, New York pulled over in front of Reginald Mead Elementary to admire the unseasonable display. The unexpected attention made head groundsman Gus Charles predictably ornery. Every time one of the teachers would compliment him on his green thumb, he'd grumble a defiant rebuke and storm away. He had no idea why flowers were suddenly popping up out of ground still cold with frost. It wasn't natural. The last thing he needed was some vigilante gardening group fussing with the school's landscaping.

Angela Velez said...

Samson Gregory awoke one morning to find that his pet cockroach was gone. Sometime during the night, he had abandoned his customized toaster oven; and struck out on his own. Samson would have to conduct his search alone, and quickly. If anyone else discovered that Kafka had gained his freedom, his life would not be worth a rolled up newspaper. His life was not worth much more than that on his home planet of Skeezix, either.

Irene Pozoukidis said...

Sudden steps on the paved driveway behind her made Nora wish to be as tiny as the ladybug climbing her shoe. It was barely visible—camouflaged by her red sneaker—but Nora watched it move as she crouched down behind an over-sized mailbox. And just as she was about to try and count the spots on its shiny back, the ladybug's wings separated. It almost seemed to Nora as if she was about to be let in on some kind of secret. She let out a breath of disappointment when the tiny thing just flew away and left her there all alone. And only then did Nora remember that she did, in fact, have company.

Victoria Snelling said...

"Mey, do you think I'm an unreasonable man?" Henrik Stakkis pushed away the papers on his desk. Every detail of Tarrasque business was on them and he spent all his days studying the numbers and watching the growth of his empire. Today was no different to any other except he couldn't concentrate on the reports in front of him. Something had to be done. Meyrem stopped wandering around the room, put his hands on his hips, and rolled his eyes.
"This is about the girl, yes, my friend?" Mey said.

Jennifer said...

Nothing but cold mist is keeping Mama and me company tonight. We wait at the door of Captain Reynolds’ house, head of our Section’s Vigilmen. Mama is in her usual good mood. She gets that way when she’s delivering one of her constructions. I am in my usual sour mood. Drug from our warm flat, here I stand around, while Mama makes a fool of herself fawning over some great person or other. She is always telling me that these are necessary evils of our survival, but I think she secretly enjoys displaying her smarts and her inventions.

MaryAnn Pope said...

Lilly’s eyes searched the base of the maple tree for the source of the new, intriguing scent. The autumn leaves were thick, the whole forest was coated in them, and it took her a moment to see him, almost completely submerged in the orange and yellow. His tan, flushed face was framed by a mess of brown hair. His eyes were closed and the leaves covering his chest rose and fell rhythmically. He was breathing, not drawing in breath to speak, but really breathing, like pushing-air-past-pulmonary-capillaries-to-oxygenate-blood breathing. Just like the animals in the forest. Only he wasn’t an animal, he was like her.

MaryAnn Pope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl W said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Moyrid said...

Emily looked at her team-to-be. Their faces were smeared with dirt. Zak eyes were bulging like a gazelle’s waiting for an arrow. The sickly glow from their nanocomputers lit up the limestone walls and bounced off the golden artifacts, making them look like Halloween zombies. The stale sandy air was tinged with the smell of the fresh grains that had been stored for the pharaoh’s afterlife. At least they might find something to eat if they couldn’t find a way out. Although, with a larger than life statue of the pharaoh glaring down at them, it would take a lot of guts to risk a curse by poking through his provisions.

Cheryl W said...

Time is a funny thing. People often discover this quite young. You can be in time, on time, buy time, waste time, but you can never trust time. Even though some folks will claim time’s on their side, or their ally is time, or they have time, time doesn’t know them from any other of the trillion souls that live and breathe upon the earth. Time is oblivious to us and likes it that way, thank you very much. “Time,” as most people know it, is purely a manmade manifestation of numbers on a watch or shadows on a sundial, even radioactive isotopes oscillating rain or shine, but Time itself is as elusive as the future to a dying man. We desperately seek to control it, manipulate it and force trains to run to it, but as we never understand from whence the universe came or where it’s going, we’re lost in contemplation of Time’s vagaries. For instance: the past can be as alive to a person as the present, seeming to exist as one within the eye of the observer, just as Einstein posited. To those who insist upon it, time - the present and the past - can be experienced simultaneously. Bartholomew Lewis was just such a man.

Kevin Harmon said...

I awoke to the sound of gunfire. Not the kind of random gunfire one can hear on any given Saturday night in the city. No, this was rhythmic. Mechanized, even. Living in this part of the world I'd heard it many times before, of course, but have never gotten used to it. It was the sound of the morning executions.

Jeff DeCoursey said...

Mackey’s been dead fifty years, but I can still smell the sweat on his jersey. If that wasn’t bad enough, they make me wear his gym shorts, too. At least those aren’t crusted in blood. As I listen to the chants from my teammates, I stick a finger through the hole in the jersey, and stretch out what’s left of the faded gray thirteen—Mackey’s number. Every year, some unlucky bastard has to put it on. This year it’s me.

M. E. Reid said...

Hours of ear-piercing screams stopped. The abrupt silence held everyone spellbound, despite the medical team having performed dozens of these procedures with labor and delivery always that grueling. Nevertheless, the end continued to affect the staff because of constraints on interference. Prior endeavors to anesthetize the hosts had detrimental effects on the altered gene structure of the fetus, and subsequent team directives mandated the staff refrain from intervention. A moot dictate, since sustaining the life of the engineered fetus during the gestation period required multiple intravenous therapies. The complexity of drugs used, diminished the life expectancy of the mother, so easing the host’s pain wouldn't alter the outcome. As the quiet lingered, the staff surrounding the woman’s inert body stared down at a serene childish face, the smooth pale skin glistening with the perspiration of her efforts. She had taken her last breath.

Anonymous said...

The nineteenth of August began as an in-between day. Wonderland catered to extremes, but for the staff the daylight hours slipped through the cracks. While the punters walked a road paved with polarities we hunkered down in ennui, hiding our envy beneath greasepaint and tired slapstick - a charade of prosthetics and latex. So the days became in-between months, and before we knew it we’d racked up a year of neither the good nor the bad, but the perpetually ugly.

Safe to say, my five year plan needed a little work.

- Katie Sloane

Charli Armstrong said...

This was disgusting and embarrassing.

“You still in there, Georgie?” Moira called as she knocked on the bathroom door.
“Yes,” Georgie moaned, which made her stomach lurch in that horrible way that makes you shudder and almost gag. She closed her eyes and her mouth tight and squeezed herself into a tighter ball on the floor. She hated being sick. That was more disgusting and embarrassing than what was happening to her now.

Anonymous said...

I had almost given up on ever finding them again - until today... When I opened this great tome of a diary to record the event, I laughed out loud as I thumbed through the spider-like scrawl of my past countless entries, the words often indecipherable, interspersed with blotches of black ink where the quill had failed to keep pace with my outpourings. The rantings of an old fool grown sour from too much looking and too little seeing. I had allowed myself to become immersed in the murk of the world and its dramas. The endless cacophony of the cities that I searched had made my gait slow and painful. My fingers had begun to bend inwards from clenching them in soundless frustration. I stretch them now before me and feel the energy return. My quill glides and the words dance in my head the way they once did when my purpose was clear.

P. ROSSOUW

jongibbs said...

5671Someone screamed in my ear. A heavy object hit the floor beside me as I sat up in bed, not exactly awake, but no longer asleep. It took a moment to realize the scream I heard was my own.

Elaine Stock said...

Sometimes you have to do what you’re told. Other times, not. I’ve always been one of those good girls, listening to everyone, well, mainly her. My heart and head are so full of her nonsense. I can’t take her anymore. And I won’t. It hurts too much.

Michelle Warren said...

No one has ever returned from Nocturna. The entrance, an enormous square pit sits carved into the earth before me. Stone stairs wrap in zigzags around its border and sink into the earth. When I peek over the edge, looking to find the bottom, a sickly tingle tickles my feet and shoots up my calves. The nervous flutters pool in my belly, leaving me ill and light-headed. Though time is running out, I step back one pace to compose myself and grasp the straps of my parachute.

Eden said...

I tried to kill myself the night my father died. Maybe he kicked it from the sheer shock of seeing me bleeding out on the bathroom floor. But more than likely, he’d already taken his swan-dive down the stairs when mom found me. It’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation and I’ll probably never know.

Helena said...

It was aliens that killed my family’s prize bull.
I knew this the moment I found Gladiator lying dead a quarter of a mile from the nearest fence, on the wrong side of that fence, and with the gate locked and nearly rusted shut anyway. I knew this because Dad and I spent half a day walking along barbed wire barriers, and not so much as one strand of the three layers was damaged or missing from one fence post to the next. I knew this because there was no way that bull could’ve gotten under or in between those wires, and he didn’t clear them because at one full ton Gladiator couldn’t jump over his own turds.

Ger Glodek said...

When I look back at my family five years ago, I picture the Grade 2 art project we did on symmetry, where we each got half a face split down the middle from forehead to chin. It could be a person, a lion, anything with a face. If you got the right half, you pasted it onto white paper and drew the left. Mine was a blue parakeet. But that is not what I see when I look back. I see Aiden’s drawing, a drawing that infuriated the sub, Miss Rogers. She gave him the left half an orangutan with its hand pressed on top of its head, orange fur poking up between dark, leathery fingers. He took ages to pick up his pencil, unfazed by Miss Rogers’ sighs as she paced past our table of four. When he finished, she snatched it up. His two halves didn’t even connect. The zig-zag line he drew between them was a few centimeters wide. The new side wasn’t an orangutan at all, but a man with a mustache raising his arm and pointing a gun down at the head of the animal side. Miss Rogers ordered Aiden to the time-out corner. “We don’t do weapons in school. You know that. I’ll be sending a note home to your parents,” she said, having no clue that his dad was in prison and his mother lived in a nursing home on the south shore of Nova Scotia, about an hour away. I knew, because he showed me a picture once. His mother had hair the colour of that orangutan. She was staring at a lawn while Aiden leaned over the armrest of her wheelchair, trying to show her something on a sheet of paper. So, yeah, it’s Aiden’s drawing with the disconnected halves I see when I think back on my family. That jagged dark line like a bleak column of zeds.

Miriam Joy said...

The girl I loved had been dead for two years. The latest, I should say—I’d had as little choice with her as I had with the others, a long line of condemned humans stretching back as far as I could remember. But this one had hurt, more than I would have expected after all this time. I’d heal. I knew that. But I also knew that the moment I glued my broken heart back together the Dagda and his laws would come along to rip it to shreds again.

Dave Symonds said...

I’ve done it before. Always alone and from the confines of my room with the door shut and the shades pulled down, but at this point I’m an expert. I remember the first time it happened. I got all panicky because it made me feel like a freak and I hate when weirdness sticks its nose where it doesn’t belong. Plus, my dad got super pissed. I tried to tell him Bill Walton did it, but it’s not really something you can blame on the dog.

Ronni Arno Blaisdell said...

My legs were throbbing, my hands were filthy, and my knees were raw. I had no food, no soap, and no idea what I was going to do. I tried to think of something that would calm me down. I thought of Oliver. I pictured how his eyes sparkled like sunlight hitting the ocean when he was excited, which was hardly ever. I pictured how his blonde hair fell in his face when he was thinking intently, which was almost always. I thought about four-leaf clovers, and how Oliver told me what the four leaves symbolized. I thought about hope and luck and faith and love, and how at that moment, lying on a straw bed in a cell in a dungeon in another world, those were the only things that could save me.

City Gal, Country Gal said...

"Jobie, get out of bed. Right. This. Minute." I had a dream last night that my teeth fell out. I was in front of Mrs. Allen's Creative Writing class reading a poem I had written about T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when I felt something hard and loose in my mouth. “Dare I? Dare I?…”/ I watched as my tooth traveled toward the linoleum. Then another one fell. I tried to hold them in with my hand but they slipped through my fingers. "....RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE.” I remember reading somewhere that people who dream their teeth are falling out are afraid that their youth is slipping away from them.

Chris Bailey said...

I would have given Mom a good-bye hug, but StepThad’s arm rested across her shoulder. Like the two of them were glued together. Double hug or nothing.

L Strong said...

It was bad enough our new high school’s colors were orange and black, its mascot was a raven, and it was dedicated on October 31st, but when Mr. McKay discovered the body of a student on the third floor landing, there was just no way our town’s new school was going to escape the nickname Halloween High.

Darkwriter said...

Vasiliev Bershadensky stood by the penthouse window overlooking Central Park, New York City. Outside a spring storm was brewing, and the sky grew dark with large purple clouds. Down below people moved along the sidewalk while cars blew their horns and trucks unloaded groceries to high-priced restaurants. It was a typical day in the city. Far above on the twenty-second floor, Vasiliev pressed his forehead to the glass, his hand gripping the report from the detective. He let the paper fall to the floor.

David Arnold said...

Before the BREAKING NEWS, before my old mom decided she wanted to tear my dad limb from limb, before I moved with Dad and Kathy into the smallest house in Hometown Heights, which constantly reeks of sanitizer, denial, and day-old tacos -- so before all that -- Monday was my favorite day of the week. Mom and I would hop in her Chevy Malibu, crank up Elvis, and roll down to Evergreen Asian Diner, proud purveyors of the best Kung Pao chicken this side of the Great Wall. At least that’s what the billboard said.

R.S. Gregory said...

Johnny Brisco woke to a tangle of sheets damp with misbehavior, a throbbing headache and half a boner. At his age he thought, two out of three wasn’t bad.

David List said...

In the western foothills of a mountain range not quite high enough to see any part of the world that mattered, Darke stood motionless amongst the trees, a crude pine arrow drawn in an old bow. The knuckle of his right thumb pressed against his cheekbone and his right eye narrowed to a pin. Eighty yards down the hill an elk considered a stream. It was a young bull, its antlers not quite three feet across.
“Slow down, friend. Relax,” Darke said.

Andrew said...

I never believed in magic until I met Sukesh. Don't get me wrong, I was skeptical at first just as you would have been. And the fact that he won me over despite my air of skepticism is what makes this story so glorious. Sukesh surmounted my false paradigm, and he did it in a greasy cruise ship bar with only a handful of people around to witness it. He was an unassuming Indian man with a chubby face and soft but intense eyes behind which it always seemed that the robotic gears of his brain were grinding--working methodically to remember, to deceive, to delight. When he pulled off the trick the right corner of his mouth would tick upwards against his will almost as if he too couldn't believe he had successfully hidden the card between the volunteer's wrist and watch without his notice.

Erica said...

Choosing a table in the cafeteria is torture. Today I sit by Leonard, mostly because instead of hitting me he just squirms, snaps four fresh rubber bands onto his braces and leaves. I dig out the lunch my grandmother packed and see the note scribbled on the outside of the paper bag. In lipstick: Love you, Titus. Show those rocket ships who’s boss!

Maria G. Swan said...

Maria Grazia Swan

The stench of death permeated the air.
Morning rain didn’t wash it away. Afternoon sun didn’t singe it away. It hovered, unaffected by the chirping of birds, the scurrying of spooked lizards or the skittering of pebbles under Mina’s shoes

Bamboo Grovers said...

The lab stank. Not just your usual funky science smells, either. Jeb tried breathing through his mouth, but even then he could taste the stench on his tongue. Rotting rugby socks. He’d never actually smelled rotting rugby socks, but figured it would be similar.

ADominiqueSmith said...

The lightning struck Bree, hurtling her into wet grass. Electricity surged through her body. The last thing she saw before her vision went black was the illuminated treetops of the pines lining the field.

userpractice@sbcglobal.net said...

Charlie Casey just stared at the framed record. Eyeing the treasured 45 RPM was a longtime standing ritual of his that he did just before leaving to make a paycheck. The record, hung inside his home office, always worked its magic—getting his anger built up. During the last few years, he especially leaned on it for inspiration since the job of killing had begun to bore him.

-Cath said...

If you died today, what would the things you left behind say about you?
I think about this every single day. Not that I plan on dying anytime soon. But because I'm the caretaker of Annie's things. I'm the one who snuck around and snatched up everything I could before the vultures descended.

Flame O' Fire said...

Beneath a crystal chandelier, the professor’s wife rose to make a toast. “I have known my husband for twenty-one years,” she said. Her bare shoulders gleamed in the condensed starlight. The professor reached for a cup of water – but his arm was made of stone. “Oh,” the professor said. A waiter stopped, dangling a pair of tongs. “And every day is still a surprise,” said the professor's wife. A champagne cork popped. The professor collapsed in his chair. The diners applauded. The emergency room was empty, except for the skateboarder with a broken wrist, who watched curiously as the professor received the pharmaceutical jolt which recalled his soul from the other world. From that entire evening, the professor remembered only one thing: a thick syringe, raised to the light, emblazoned with the trademark of a grinning fox.

Unknown said...

The night the police came to talk about the incident with the gun, Eli was upstairs in his bedroom whittling a spoon from a cottonwood branch he’d found in the backyard. As he peeled the bark off revealing the white wood underneath, Eli remembered the first time he had used the knife to trim asparagus shoots in his mother’s garden. His 8 year-old hands had trembled with its weight and sharpness until his mother put her hand on his to show him how to shave the tough outer leaves without damaging the soft white part underneath. That was the summer before she left, four years ago, but who was counting? Time could be measured by the knife’s elk antler handle which now fit perfectly in his hand.

Unknown said...

The night the police came to talk about the incident with the gun, Eli was upstairs in his bedroom whittling a spoon from a cottonwood branch he’d found in the backyard. As he peeled the bark off revealing the white wood underneath, Eli remembered the first time he had used the knife to trim asparagus shoots in his mother’s garden. His 8 year-old hands had trembled with its weight and sharpness until his mother put her hand on his to show him how to shave the tough outer leaves without damaging the soft white part underneath. That was the summer before she left, four years ago, but who was counting? Time could be measured by the knife’s elk antler handle which now fit perfectly in his hand.

Robert A Poarch said...

Dunbar Jones knew it was wrong to hurt a book. That didn’t stop him from desperately wanting to hurl the cookbook on the kitchen counter across the room and smash it against the wall. The thirteen-and-a-half-year-old boy wasn’t sure of the title because the book was written in French, and Dunbar couldn’t read French. That wasn’t the problem. The cookbook spoke English. The problem was the book’s thick, haughty French accent.

kathy zappa said...

My Grandfather died of spontaneous human combustion. I just wanted to state that immediately so it won’t come as a shock later. Combustion happens.

Denise Willson said...

In 1816 the madman of a tiny town in Bulgaria invented a machine to take him from point A to B without moving a muscle. An ugly thing - the machine, not the man - all wires and a big 'ol wooden crate filled with who-knows-what. But it worked. The most discerning thing about it was the mess of wires and mud-laced string that wrapped around the head; it resembled a crown. Befitting, seeing that this ingenious contraption would soon be prized by King and Country. The madman called it a GOT: the Gift of Travel.
And I, for one, no longer consider it a gift.

ryter222 dking said...

The eerie blue fog permeated the planet, but not a soul panicked. At least, not at first. Why bother? Scientists had sufficiently explained the strange phenomenon away like usual. Something about excessive ash in the atmosphere from a series of explosive volcanic eruptions and sea smoke that supposedly gave the foggy mist a radiant blue tinge. It was a matter of weeks before we found out the truth. A truth that surpassed any form of scientific gobbledygook. An unfathomable reason why in a short period of time we lost almost everything because in reality, the blue fog was only the beginning. I say we lost almost everything because we still had each other, but for how long?

Carol said...

Leo stood rigid at the redwood rail of the balcony, his hand curled around the ring. The beach was empty, the sea calm. Larreta was as perfect as always, but his chance for happiness had died with Bobby when she walked into the time rift three weeks ago. The ring burned in his palm. He didn’t have to look to remember every detail of the gold link band with the single blue stone—a polished oval azurite, common on Larreta, but precious for what it represented. Could it be only a month ago that Bobby had given it to him to celebrate their three-month anniversary? He had given her a necklace, and she had given him the ring, both with the same stone, to mark their decision to join their lives together. Over. All of it. Leo lifted his arm high, and sent the ring sailing down, past the lower deck and onto the beach where it disappeared into the soft white sand.

Mike said...

Eric Black paused in the hazy glare of a streetlight just long enough to light a cigarette and release the safety on the handgun in his pocket. He continued walking along the sidewalk, his black trench coat cinched at the waist and his military-issue HRT boots slowly sounding off his pace with a steady ga-gump ga-gump ga-gump. The rotten stink of garbage and the bitter stench of body odor hung in the air. A brief summer shower had died down to a trickle, leaving behind a fetid sauna instead of the relief the storm clouds had promised. The smoke from Eric's breath lingered as he turned the corner.

Anonymous said...

"It's not that I'm leaving you again..." He said very serious. "It's that you have to leave here...leave everyone and everything in order to be with me again."

"What!?" I cried out, choking on the burning fear in my throat.

"The four centuries end now. Our mortal path changes today..."

The hiccups were prevailing my trembling body as I recalled the god awful morning I woke up to find his dead body next to mine.

"You have to die...Like I did..."

By Kara Ferguson

Ashley Northup said...

When she's three, Katelyn Black runs away from home. She will absolutely not eat that cabbage, and she will not go to bed. Instead, she grabs a handkerchief and wraps up her valuables (a plastic gemstone and a teddy bear,) and climbs out of her window. Her elbow scratches against a bush's branch on the fall down, and the cut begins to bleed an angry red. Tears well up in her eyes, but she presses on. Wounds are to be expected on adventures. She mastered walking two years ago, and uses that expert knowledge to waddle her way down the street. It isn't late, but no one is out to see her on her journey except for one dog still tied to his chain in the otherwise drowsy suburbia.

Rick Zubrycki said...

Oceana saw the bunyip but the bunyip did not see her. The bunyip was eating. To be exact, the bunyip was eating Jetervus Betrude’s unceremoniously removed head, which was fine with Oceana because Jetervus Betrude was the nastiest boy in Mount Azron, never happy unless he was making someone else miserable; he was the yank on the underwear, the elbow to the head, the punch in the nose. In short, Jetervus Betrude fully deserved to have his brains eaten by a bunyip or any other creature predisposed to munching on that soft gray lumpish tissue scattered with bits of shattered skull fragments in a kind of grotesque crunchy casserole.

Rick Zubrycki said...

Oceana saw the bunyip but the bunyip did not see her. The bunyip was eating. To be exact, the bunyip was eating Jetervus Betrude’s unceremoniously removed head, which was fine with Oceana because Jetervus Betrude was the nastiest boy in Mount Azron, never happy unless he was making someone else miserable; he was the yank on the underwear, the elbow to the head, the punch in the nose. In short, Jetervus Betrude fully deserved to have his brains eaten by a bunyip or any other creature predisposed to munching on that soft gray lumpish tissue scattered with bits of shattered skull fragments in a kind of grotesque crunchy casserole.

ginab said...

Catherine Dobson had to accept the prophetic glow of the low oil warning light appear on her dashboard. A cracked engine casing or oil was leaking into the radiator. Could have been a fluke like a fuse gone haywire or if she shut the car off then turned it back on after counting to ten the light wouldn’t reappear. Could be it was something more vague that required she kept track of things. She feared a breakdown leading to a wreck. Hated sirens. The worst accident she had ever been in in the old Escort was from a misfire on the fourth cylinder in the thick of Memorial Day weekend traffic. She was lucky she “buttered a curb” as the tow truck driver put it. “Quick thinking got you out of a real jam,” he added, and “no significant damage either, I can’t see any, ‘cept you might wanna have a mechanic take a look at it”.

ginab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne Lee said...

I suppose some of my friends might call my birthday present wonderful. Others would say it was stupid for a girl my age to receive a fancy dollhouse for my ninth birthday. Now, before we go any further, I have to let you know something. The dollhouse is not the gift I asked grandma to get me. Let's get that straight right away. I wanted a puppy. I had dreamed of having a puppy for like…well forever! And I knew right where to get one.

Jay Peterson said...

In the land of Greenwood, in a time before this, a very peculiar thing happened on an otherwise very ordinary day. The music stopped.

Ashley S said...

My life has come to a screeching halt exactly twice. The first time was the day my mom died. The second was today when my dreams of the future, a Yale education and a prestigious med school, imploded and came crashing down around me like a demolished Las Vegas hotel.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

"The first time I thought of killing him, the two of us were having chicken sandwiches at that fast food place on Marshall Street. The red and white one with the oversized rubber bird anchored to its roof."

Ashley S said...

My life has come to a screeching halt exactly twice. The first time was the day my mom died. The second was today when my dreams of the future, a Yale education and a prestigious med school, imploded and came crashing down around me like a demolished Las Vegas hotel.

Shawn McDaniel said...

I stepped off the Texas State Corrections Special Case Prisoner Transport and stood in front of my new home and my new Parole Officer. Neither impressed at first glance. Or at any number of other glances, either. Ashpole, Texas seemed to consist of nothing but hard-pan and scrub-brush as far as the eye could see, which wasn't that far because of the scouring wind that blew grit and trash non-stop. A few buildings here and there gave your eyes relief from the mind-numbing brown nothingness that surrounded you, if ramshackle and boarded up businesses could be considered a relief. The building I stood in front of was so dilapidated and wind-blown that it looked like a caricature of itself. I read the sand-blasted signage on its roof and frowned. It proclaimed that I stood before the Last Stand Trailer Park and Parolee Community. I shot a quick look over at my new PO. Short. Stocky. Unkempt gray hair and beard. His left eye was the gray of storm clouds. I assumed the right one would have been as well, if the eye-patch covering it didn't suggest that it no longer resided in its socket. He grinned, lips pulled back to reveal very large, very square teeth. "I know what you're thinking," he said. "You're thinking 'Shouldn't that say Last Chance Trailer Park?' I'd allow how it should, if I were in any way concerned with saving your soul." His grin grew larger. "Sadly for you, I'm not so much concerned with your soul as I am concerned with keeping the world from ending. Again."

~sarah said...

Twelve-year-old Fergus O’Leary, eyes closed, laying in bed, could hear the whoosh whooshing of the German zeppelins as they hovered over his family’s rural Irish farm. He felt the air around him vibrating with impending explosions. He nodded, calm and ready. Today was the day. He would finally become a hero like his oldest brother Garret.

“Fergus,” his mum called up the stairs. “No more day dreaming. I’ve found your other boot. Time to round up the sheep.”

- Sarah R. Parker

Mike Alose said...

My father Titus wasn't a doctor like the kind you'd see for any illness or broken bone, but he sure smelled like one. And that smell stays with you same as any other. Don't believe me? What time of day do you associate with bacon frying in a pan, or the way the color yellow brings back memories of cramped buses filled with slimy seats and nervous children? No, my dad wasn't a doctor like any you'd imagine in the usual way. He was Strange Oak's Medical Examiner, and giving a voice to the dead was what I think he was born to do. He looked at all them dead folks with a certain reverence and curiosity, always coming home with stories about how his newest arrivals, zipped up and tucked away in freezers, met their unfortunate ends. Even then, he always smelled the same, like tongue depressors and rubbing alcohol, at least until that poor woman was found dragged to death down the road from our ranch. Dad smelled different in the days after he’d examined her body. I didn't have a name for it then, but I do now. It was fear.

Miranda Hardy said...

Death lurked within the black depth a few feet from Syeda. She clung to the wooden pole with her weakened arms, blinking away the stinging salt as the waves pounded the troubled ship. A tanned satyr screamed with his last breath as he slid overboard, losing his grip on the edge.

Jeanne said...

Momma sees the mosquito fog truck as soon as we pull out of the Safeway parking lot. Shifting the car into gear, she pops the clutch and scoots out into the street. "Caroline," she orders. "Hold on to those eggs and don't let them break. We've got to beat that damn thing home." She grips the wheel, fingers clenched white, muttering, "Damn, damn." Then, with a quick glance in my direction: "Pardon my French."

Renita Pizzitola said...

She’d labeled me fragile.
Fragile implied something easily broken, an inaccurate description. I wasn't fragile. I was destroyed, damaged, irreparable. I didn't need to be handled with care. I needed to be discarded as the hopeless shell of a human I’d become.

Nour said...

Daniele Forrester did not belong in Walden Lane -- just like the man in a tattered overcoat standing at the end of her street. She knew that Mrs. Walters would frown at the state of his coat and that Mrs. Lincoln would be horrified by his long, scraggly, orange hair. In fact, she expected them to gather their army of 'upstanding ladies' and drive him out of their precious town. Yet, none of them seemed to notice the man. They were all watching her, as she passed by them on her way to school. As usual, the whispers started, increasing in volume with every step she took. On cue, Mrs. Wright pulled her children away, as Daniele passed by them, and told them to stay away from her. Mrs. Graham followed suit and grumbled about letting the crazy folk mix with the normal people. At that remark, Daniele looked at the strange, disheveled man once more. He was staring directly at her, just as oblivious of the townspeople as they were of him. His eyes seemed to glow, as she neared him.

R.A. Martin said...

The afternoon sun baked the cracked pavement in front of Jefferson Middle School, lighting a match to the already frayed nerves of twelve-year-old Judy Sparks. At the end of a long, winding driveway lined by a few old oak trees and patchy bits of wilting grass, Judy sat and waited impatiently for her mother. The middle school was deserted—every wing of the wide one-story building sat locked and quiet, the parking lot was empty, everyone had gone home. Everyone, that is, except for her and Grub Darnell. And, unfortunately, she sat downwind of him.

Noel E. Olson said...

I think I just burned my eyebrows off. I grit my teeth and squint one eye open, just in time to see my jar of glaze chemicals roll through the shed door. A hot trail of sparks leads outside, smoldering and threatening to burn holes in the floor. Epic! How did ceramics glaze ignite and blow out of my hands like that? Oh good, I still have hands. Time to stomp those little fires out now before my shed totally catches on fire—wait, my ceramics shed is on fire!

Tricia Fressola Idrobo said...

Velu knew tonight would seal his reputation one way or the other. It was his time to take the Dare, and he planned to pull it off in a way no one would forget.

Meredith Towbin said...


Travis prayed Ma wasn’t dead. With flashlight in hand, he focused on the circle of light burning into the cornstalks in front of him. He scanned its contents, looking for any movement. When he was sure there was none, his hand jerked the flashlight a few inches to the right, concentrating the giant circle onto another segment of the harvested field. It was so quiet out here that it wouldn’t be difficult to hear her. She might call for him. Any sound from her would help, even a moan. He hoped he’d hear his name and not the moan. He funneled all of his concentration into what he heard, but the more he noticed the silence, the less silent it became. Cricket calls and the snap of dry cornstalks underneath his feet cut through the air.

Dren said...

“I know the contract said dead or alive, Kane, but did you really have to cut off his head?”
Kane Ashwanti scowled toward the shadows of the alley. Decapitation wasn't Plan A but after enduring four hours in that god-awful nightclub chasing his prey, payback was a bitch and its name was Plan B. He watched as a familiar form stepped into the dim light from a nearby doorway lamppost.

Kara Dee said...

This is not a book. If this purchase was made by someone who likes “books,” for the purpose of escaping reality, then that person should walk away right now. The following story is reality, it’s a “I woke up in pine needles, the glue stick saved my life, and I used to put my favorite comic strip in the lining of my waistband” reality. I hate social media because it’s necessary but so many ignorant people use it to ruin lives. The philosophical thought life is dying right before my eyes and no one thinks about the repercussions of the written word. Everyone posts their thoughts as if their first thought is the one that is important; when, in all truth, it’s the first thought that births the thoughts that truly matter to create revolutionary change. My story is the solution, and it starts as follows:

Rena J. Traxel said...

There is a saying in Everafter, guilty until proven innocent. If you’re unfortunate enough to be accused of a crime everything you’ve done, or said, or been will be scrutinized, pulled apart and left in pieces. All in the name of proving what they already know to be true—guilty as charged. You’ll forever be branded as the leper; the outcast; the criminal, whether you committed the crime or not. Even if— by some miracle— you manage to prove your innocence, it won’t matter. The damage is done. Your reputation ruined. My slip into leper status started the weekend before the new school year.

gingermc said...

One day, about a month ago, I made two mistakes. Two unconscious mistakes within a 24-hour period that turned what could have been a pothole in my life into a bottomless pit. Harmless errors that can’t really be called errors, since they are things that most of us do as essential parts of our day, every day, without a second thought.

Sarah said...

The murder trial shocked the good people of Decker County, Texas, as much as had the tragedy itself, and Maryann Chapman was no exception. As the mother of two young boys, her heart ached for the Jones children and their grieving mother. At first, everyone assumed it had been an accident. In the weeks before the fire and the trial, the question of guilt or innocence dominated daily conversation in homes for miles around the fire’s epicenter. Journalists from across the country poured into the small town, feeding on the unfolding drama. Neighbors offered eyewitness statements and gossip to reporters and investigators, but their conflicting stories added more confusion than clarity. Maryann avidly followed the local news coverage, which centered on two disturbing facts: the children had burned to death, and their father was on trial for his life.

Chris Carney said...

Never sleep with your sister, especially one with the marauding libido of a rock star and a propensity for easy insults. Advice noted, rule made. Except that right now, and for the foreseeable future, Jemima couldn’t see any alternative. Three nights ago Circe had marched through the front door and into the only bedroom, locking the door behind her without a word. Who knew it was with the intention of never coming out again? At least, she hadn’t appeared yet, and until she did, Jemima and Roxy would be forced to share the fold-out futon with the horizontal iron bar across the small of their backs, making both of them even crabbier and more sorry for themselves than usual. If that was even possible.

Chris Carney said...

Never sleep with your sister, especially one with the marauding libido of a rock star and a propensity for easy insults. Advice noted, rule made. Except that right now, and for the foreseeable future, Jemima couldn’t see any alternative. Three nights ago Circe had marched through the front door and into the only bedroom, locking the door behind her without a word. Who knew it was with the intention of never coming out again? At least, she hadn’t appeared yet, and until she did, Jemima and Roxy would be forced to share the fold-out futon with the horizontal iron bar across the small of their backs, making both of them even crabbier and more sorry for themselves than usual. If that was even possible.

Monica Furness said...

At the start of each school year, my teachers would pass out lists of extracurricular activities and try to convince us to “get involved.” I read the list carefully each year, but I never signed up for anything. Nothing spoke to me, and unlike my peers, who threw themselves at any activity that could give them an edge when applying for college, I didn’t see the point in wasting my time with shit like debate club or badminton when I couldn’t throw my heart and soul into it. It wasn’t until my boarding school decided to ban fifty books from campus that I decided to “get involved.” I created my own activity – running an underground library. Who wanted to be president of student council when you could be the head of an illegal book smuggling ring?

JustWriteCat said...

Michael should have positioned himself closer. He scanned the three lanes of traffic, not losing sight of the minivan caught between a Greyhound and a hybrid electric car. The cars heading north on the one-way street were at a standstill, a result of a stalled garbage truck a quarter of a mile up the road. The minivan idled in the middle of the intersection, its windows up, one of its occupants lost in what was taking place inside the car.

Marcia Mickelson said...

I can never run for president. Girls who were born in Honduras can’t be president. It’s not that I actually want to be president, but there’s something about being told you can’t do something just because of where you’re from. Running for president is the least of my worries at the moment. Thinking about getting into a good college trumps any incidental thoughts of running for high office. But even before thinking about college, comes the mundane task of deciding what to make for dinner tonight.

Jared X said...

The security line, a quarter-mile-long stretch of humanity two and three deep, snaked along the twelve-foot-high concrete wall, disappearing around the corner. Many in the queue leaned or sat against the wall, competing for shreds of its tiny midday shadow, each waiting to run the gauntlet of x-ray machines and gloved, wand-wielding guards for entry into Northeast Wilson Park. Those within view of the gate took turns wondering aloud how the steady advance of people past the checkpoint could produce so little forward progress farther down the line. The usual sunny-day throng of bicyclists, joggers, dog-walkers, supervisors of young children, couples on blankets, and players of organized sports packed the paths and fields of the Park’s other three quadrants. Camera drones, indistinguishable from remote control helicopters available in a toy store, silently hovered at regular intervals along an invisible grid twenty feet above the ground, drawing concern only when a ball or Frisbee flew nearby, causing a brief breathless hush among the responsible parties. Alone in the line, scratching at the sweat on his neck, Reid stood directly beneath a drone, trying in vain to forget it was there.

Vicki Rawding said...

A dust cloud belched as the boy bit the dirt. His bike gouged the grass beside him, tires still spinning. Jeering at him a few yards back stood two bigger, rough-looking boys in baggy T-shirts and sagging jersey shorts. About 30 yards back, Dillon crouched by his bike in the shadow of pines, praying the boys hadn’t seen him. A motor buzz cut through the jeers. Taunters jerked around, cursed, shot the finger, split. Spitting gravel at the runners, a motor scooter burned a circle and stopped. Unfolding long legs out of the dirt, the boy stood pale and freckled and tall. He knocked the dirt from his helmet and shook out dirt from a shock of dark red hair. “You okay?” The scooter rider took off a black and pink helmet, and shook out long, dark wavy curls.

Amy Kinzer said...

Range Benson was my only friend lucky enough not to live in the Sunset Mobile Home Park. Instead his family lived in a farmhouse littered with rusting cars, surrounded by a tall metal fence, with a big sign out front that read “Beware of Dog”. Never mind the dog was a Yorki with one eye and a bark like a parakeet hit by a dump truck. The sign was to scare people away from the trailer they kept out back of their property. Range’s dad wired the trailer for electricity and told everyone he was turning it into a workshop. We took over the trailer when it turned out Range’s dad didn’t like to work.

Nate Wilson said...

At 4:17 PM on a Tuesday, Sean Greyson lost his fingers. They said he'd lose his mind next—or his lunch—but what the hell did they know? They'd been fluttering about him all afternoon like a gaggle of mother hens, explaining and re-explaining every last part of the procedure and what might go wrong along the way. Like he might have a psychotic break or some shit. Please. The Army had put him through far worse than this, and he'd never cracked. Never would crack. What'd they think he was, a Marine? Fuckin' pansy-ass scientists.

Kelly Duff said...

Sherri Cassidy was lying flat on the couch, on her back, with her arms raised over her head. Naked except for a pair of powder pink satin panties trimmed with black lace and a small pink bow in the center of the waist band. She looked completely relaxed by the small smile on her lips. Her violet-shaded eyelids were shut. Her long, tan legs were draped over the suede arm rest, one sandal still strapped to her foot, the other dangling by her recently painted toes. Her hands twitched slightly. Her full breasts, thanks to the best plastic surgeon in Chicago, rose with each slow breath. Sweat beading on her forehead rippled under the breeze of the ceiling fan as her blonde hair stuck to the side of her face. A closer look, at what otherwise would appear to be a young girl having just achieved some sort of sexual euphoria, would prove that she was, in fact, overdosing. The heroin was coursing through her bloodstream and her lips were already turning blue. Her breathing getting shallower with each minute, as the camera on the table in front of her recorded her death.

Stephanie Bittner said...

The shovel slammed into the man's shoulder, tore through his crisply ironed shirt and the edge of his waistcoat, and left a welt the size of Rebecca's fist on his exposed skin. Simon dropped the sack in his hand and staggered back, clutching his arm where the flat had hit it. The bag rolled into the ditch at the bottom of the hill. "It was a sincerely meant offer!" he cried.

Amber D. said...

"No!" Amarande's silent scream reverberated through her entire body causing her already white knuckled grasp to tighten on the note. Her eyes flittered over the few perfect pen strokes staring at her from the page trying to discern any clues from the curt words. "A missive will follow." No name, not even an initial. Nothin else was included; only those cryptic black words stark against the textured parchment. She felt a twinge of panic building as she folded and returned it to the thick envelope. "They only ever come after...." She attempted to shake away the unpleasant thought before it could fully form. Her fingers traced absently over the intricate broken was seal, so familiar, yet so rarely seen. "For more than ten generations they have only ever come after...CALIAN!"

amberd75(at)gmail.com

Just Jan said...

The calendar proclaimed it Good Friday, but there was nothing good about that day. The weather was typical for New England--unsure if it should rain or snow, it did neither. Instead, dingy clouds swirled over the treetops, sending thin offshoots to settle in the nooks and crannies of the lawn. I sat staring at my telephone, and it stared back, unaware of the mood of the day. It took no responsibility for its actions and offered no apologies. It had no remorse.

Anil Goel said...

It was an eerie sound. A faint hum, just above the water. Gregg couldn't spot anything that seemed to match the sound as far as his naked eye could see. But it was escalating rapidly; almost much more audible now; it seemed to be moving towards them. He reached for his binoculars. "What's up, Mate?" Andy wouldn't hear a whale shattering their hull when he slept. Gregg turned and just shook his head distractedly at the sleepy eyed kid who had come up behind him. He lifted his binoculars and started to turn back to face the water. "What?" He stopped halfway, as he caught the expression on Andy's face. Then it hit him. The engines were off. The hum. It was too close. Shit. He turned...and shook like a leaf in a gale...the binoculars fell from his hand and hit the deck hard... Rolling on the floor and vibrating in harmony with his shiver...

darragh said...

It was September 1979 when Pope John Paul II brought sex to Ireland. A Papal Mass might seem unlikely foreplay, but consider the evidence: one and a half million sweaty bodies packed into Phoenix Park; the surprise scrap of September sun; the mad romance of the Pope, hopping out of a helicopter like Sting himself. Not to mention the sermon. Didn’t he spell it out clearly enough? Divorce, contraception and abortion were all knocking at Ireland’s door, but we would have the double-bolt fastened. Our pious past proved our worth but it was our strapping youngsters that assured our future: an army of bright-eyed young things who’d ward off modernity with their Miraculous Medals. Wasn’t it only a matter of time before one lad would rise up from our troops of priests and bishops and assume the ultimate position? The Popemobile had barely shut its doors before the race was on to conceive the first Irish Pope and sure enough, Granny Doyle was at the top of the line: Papal-blessed holy water in her hand, a devious plan in her head, and only the slender will of my poor mother to stop her.

Ian Cusson said...

Our house is a hundred years old, which means the hallway floor is creakier than a retirement home at exercise hour. It'll be a miracle if I get to the front door without my dad hearing. I creep out of my bedroom, sliding my feet. I take maybe four steps before the floorboard groans. My right foot balanced in the air, I hold my breath like that'll somehow make me weightless.

London Crockett said...

Entering Mr. Taálix’s Book Emporium was like entering a new world. It flickered with hundreds of beeswax candles and smelled wonderfully of leather, paper, ink and…Jinxx wanted to call the scent knowledge, but of course that wasn’t a smell. Yet this room of narrow aisles was closer to a place of pure knowledge than any she’d ever seen. Once, her mother took her to the Temple Naserys to rent some grazing land. The pra’s office was lined with bookcases full of hymnals, commentaries and even a book on mathematics! But the Emporium was so full of tomes they couldn’t fit them all on the copious bookshelves; they were stacked on benches and on top of every surface available. Jinxx was sure anything anybody knew had to be in this room if you just looked for it.

Jeremy said...

"The winner of the national science fair is Mr. Fred Brown."

Linds said...

Tanzin stared at the wreck of Headmaster Swinn’s office in equal parts awe and disbelief. The Headmaster’s face twitched, his round eyes protruding and brows spasming like a dying fish. While the man technically was unable to produce a glare rendering him nothing but crispy bone and ash, Tanzin felt that he would soon join the splintered wood and smoldering remains of the warded door.

Jason Bellows said...

There was nowhere left to run. I sat on the asphalt, cold water seeped through the denim, and I tried to shrink into the gap between a cracked brick wall and the gnarled front end of a mini-van. A man stood on the sidewalk amid a wasteland of broken bodies and black blood. He wasn't one of them. I could tell he was still alive. His heavy breath showed he was still alive. His over-muscled arms bore scars and scabs in all states of healing. He casully rested a long, black sword on his shoulder. He fixed his dark gaze on me, and in a rough growl he said, "I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

Frank Ciavarello said...

The workers streaked out of the factory like raindrops on the windshield of a car at high speeds. I stood waiting for him at the top of a small hill, underneath both a tree and an umbrella, my shields against a fairly belligerent fall day. They all looked so similar, and my eyes had grown tired of examining their faces while trying to keep his unaltered in my mind. I was looking for a face I had never seen outside of the narrow bounds of a photograph, a blurry one at that, and despite what she had said, I didn’t think he resembled me in the slightest. The rain drummed down arrhythmically as my eyes fell back into the sea of faces.

www.franklywritten.com
whatiseverything@gmail.com

Frank Ciavarello said...

The workers streaked out of the factory like raindrops on the windshield of a car at high speeds. I stood waiting for him at the top of a small hill, underneath both a tree and an umbrella, my shields against a fairly belligerent fall day. They all looked so similar, and my eyes had grown tired of examining their faces while trying to keep his unaltered in my mind. I was looking for a face I had never seen outside of the narrow bounds of a photograph, a blurry one at that, and despite what she had said, I didn’t think he looked anything like me aside from the part above his eyes and below his mouth. The rain drummed arrhythmically as my eyes fell back into the sea of faces.

David Hume said...

It began outside Mirwais Nika Girls School in Kandahar last year, while I was stationed at Bagram. Indeed the naïve report I filed then gave a rather cryptic assessment of the incident. As the new boy I was sent to Kandahar, with an Afghan interpreter, to investigate the most recent Taliban attack on one of their most hated enemies — girls. It was the sort of routine file-and-forget assignment that new arrivals here are allocated.

TLsquared said...

London 1918

The wind crawled across the city bringing the scent of fish from the wharf and sulfur from the factories. Dr. Archibald carried the smell on him as he entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. With the influenza epidemic spreading through the city like water to a dying plant, patients filled every corner of the hospital. Grimm nurses raced through the halls carrying bed sheets and clipboards, avoiding Archibald’s determined steps towards his office. He sighed, reached for the knob, and prepared himself for what lay on the other side of the wooden door.

Taylor Lopez

Kirsten Alexander said...

Kirsten Alexander:

In January, Brisbane flooded. I should have recognised this as a lesson, a warning. Everything I thought I could control was uncontrollable. The shape of my city shifted, and life took on a new form, shimmery and unpredictable as petrol on a wave.

Kristin said...

Meredith held her breath as she approached the altar, staring at her father’s face and wondering what secrets were hidden behind his sparkling eyes. “He’s dead,” her mother had said, with usual dramatic flair, “and the truth died with him.” Whatever that meant. Meredith reached for the poster and grazed each of the deep dimples on his cheeks. “I will not revere him,” her mother had said. “And I will not be some widow stuck in the shadows. Don’t you dare expect me to be a widow.”

jessica brice said...

On Luka Willaby’s first day at Bonnyduke Middle School, the strangest thing happened. As soon as he walked through the double doors of the main entrance, everyone stopped talking. At the exact same time. It was as if someone had hit the pause button on the remote control, so that all the other students just stood there in the school hallway looking at him with their mouths hanging wide open in mid-sentence. Luka shifted uncomfortably. He wasn’t used to the attention. In just about every way, Luka was as average as an average twelve-year-old kid could be. He wasn’t particularly tall nor was he especially short; he wasn’t all that skinny but he certainly wasn’t chubby either. Maybe his blond hair did stick up at odd angles sometimes and he probably had a few more freckles than other kids, but not so much as to look weird.

River Byrnes said...

It stood there.
It was large and forbidding, with stark stone walls on each side. There were brambles and nettles everywhere. Everywhere, except for the area in front of it; even though there was no path, no sign of anybody ever having been there. A huge spider’s web was strung from one side to the other, a big fat spider in its centre. The wind was beginning to pick up, blowing leaves about, dancing in front of it.

Anonymous said...

If God met Beauty he would’ve never created that dumb rule about killing. In fact, he’d have done it himself. She stands like a goddess in front of our bedroom window illuminating light in a room full of darkness. The curtains are shut, and the day that slips through the cracks begs the sun to come out. No angel would ever touch her, easily fooled. It’s left up to me to kill my sister.

Colin Walker said...

Tonight Rob would kill the monster. That voice in the shadows, always ready, always cruel, would finally shut up.
He kept moving along the street, straining to look normal as he stepped from street light to street light. The funeral would be over in an hour; long enough to do what he had to and get back. No one would know. The monster hadn't bothered to attend, and nobody would expect to see him until late the next day.
He wouldn't be missed, not in time.

tammie said...

Out comes this guy from the theater. His eyes are fixed on mine and are piercing my brain clear through to the back of my head. I glance away. Did I see that or imagine it? I glance back. I would like to say that he is looking in a “Hey, baby, you are one fine example of the female sort” kind of way. But, no. He is looking in a way that suggests he is mentally speaking with his good friend, Lucifer, and currently reserving my spot in Hell. His eyes are not moving to various points of interest on my body. I do know what it is like to be checked out. This is not that. His eyes do not move, in fact, away from my eyes. I glance away. I glance back. His eyes do not move from mine. They do not look at his feet. They do not look at the young couple canoodling in the car opposite me. They do not look at the great new sign displaying movie dates and times. They, in fact, defy all rules of proper eye contact etiquette. They defy all rules, and they ignite my head into invisible flames. I feel that I should move as he marches toward me. He is coming for me. He is coming for me, and I am not prepared to die. I forget briefly that I am in a parking lot and that, perhaps, he is marching toward his car and not toward me.

Cara M. said...

Up at the stones, Cat couldn’t hear her mother screaming. There was some sort of calm in that, though not much. How could there be any calm when you knew she was screaming? Cat looked up into the wind, towards her house, strands from her mud-black hair pulling out of her braid and stinging as they lashed her face, the pages of her pre-calc textbook fanning out as a gust caught them. But there was only the sound of the breeze rumpling the tree leaves, the crack of paper in air. The screams were all inside her head.

Amy Anderson said...

After a week working the hostess station at Titans Gentlemen's Club, I lusted after the job I hadn't taken at the donut store down the street. It had been Ruby’s idea for me to take the gig at Titans. She denied it, saying, “I would not have told you to seek employment at a go-go club,” but she had told me to take a job doing something I had done in my First Life, something I had experience with so I would be comfortable and slip into the environment. And there's no way to deny that in my first week at Titans, I slid back into the pool of sex and velvet like I had never left.

Thomas M. Andersen said...

“Watch out, Asshole!” It is a short list of events that can take my focus away from the BlackBerry, even in dangerous situations like strolling the downtown streets of Indianapolis after work. I just can’t risk missing the one message that must be handled immediately, late hours be damned, to prevent the world from combusting or the boss getting pissed. Most days I would rather the world explode, but the possibility of either scenario keeps me focused on my device. Well, usually I am focused. Verbal assault is one of the allowable distractions, so I looked up from my email screen to notice I had veered away from my intended trajectory on “Monument Circle” and nearly ran into a Jimmy John’s sandwich delivery bike. Since the delivery had to be “Freaky Fast,” there was no time for the rider to stop and discuss my transgression. The cyclist, who I thought was quite large for someone getting exercise at work, had kept huffing around the circle without kicking my ass, and I had again looked down at my BlackBerry messages screen. It was now 6:08. “Fuck, I’m really late again.”

Anonymous said...

Had Daro spared half a head for politics or pagentry, she never would cut through the Strand. Most days, the Strand was a serene jewel at the heart of the city, set apart from the bustle of Estarria’s streets by three rivers that ringed the small span of sacred land. Today, every pinch of earth was occupied. Enterprising vendors and bakers had parked their handcarts along the banks of the isle, while children and elders alike pressed up against the edge of the promanade, craning their heads for a glimpse. In Estarria, a well-born young woman celebrated her eighteenth Namesday by formally inviting one of Estarria’s Eld into her skin. While the joining was sealed over rarifed wine at an aristocratic ball, today’s revel catered to a different crowd. Tumblers and acrobats, fire-twirlers and luminaries feted the ascent of another Estarrian heiress. Daro shook her head. No use being rich, if you couldn’t emblazon your daughter’s name across the darkening sky.

-- Julia

Veronica Rundell said...

Grandpa’s gold cross digs into my palm. I swallow back what breakfast I didn’t lose down the girls’ room toilet last period and assess the crowd again. Those kids who aren’t gaping open-mouthed aren’t bothering to pay attention at all. My throat burns and my mouth tastes metallic, a side-effect of skipping my anxiety medications today. Making this speech off the pills isn’t a step forward; it’s a leap. Grandpa would have been so proud.

Sherri Early said...

If the man glaring up at me was a cop, I’d cheerfully allow him to haul me off to jail. He could cuff me, even.

Jan said...

Mrs. Damone hurried down the hallway, her high heels click-clacking against the old hardwood floor. She snatched a framed photo of a smiling teenage boy from the foyer table as a can of green beans flew through the air and whizzed past her ear. She screamed, nearly dropping the picture, and bolted for the front door, ducking as a bowl of Jello salad rushed toward the side of her head. It smashed into the wall, its fruit and gelatin innards oozing to the floor like a slimy slug’s trail.

Reagan Leigh said...

Plummeting hail sends salty splashes into my face. I spit out the briny grit and wipe my eyes. My thumbs press against my forehead. The momentary shelter is no match for the ice bombs. A wave rebounds off the seawall, collects my hair and sends it coiling around my neck. Strands net my face, cutting off my air supply until I scrape them away. If the ocean doesn’t kill me, my hair will.

Ted A. said...

Every eye locked on her: the students, their professor, and the television crew. Lilith wiped her sweaty palms against her pants and swallowed past a suddenly dry throat. She wanted to run, to hide, to escape. Her khaki button down shirt, vest, and pants blended perfectly with the beige rock of the Montana dig site. In any other situation, she could have nodded along with other students and faded into the background. But their professor insisted each student have a moment or two speaking on camera. If it had only been the other graduate students, she could have almost handled it, but TV, too? That raised the bar, even if it was just the Ancient Explorer channel.

Kathryn said...

Glick Craggle ruffled the ticklish tentacles of the tartawaber pup. Its bright blue face erupted into an enormous grin as it woofed in reply. Finally, the creature was warming up to humans--maybe now it would get adopted. Glick breathed a sigh of relief, smiling at the familiar pet shop fragrance of freshly groomed borangbogs and spicily pungent tartawaber droppings. Working with the Edoban creatures was better than acing a galactic glide on his hover-pod, and better than passing his exam about Ancient Earth. It was certainly better than sitting at home while his dad watched boring, work-related holoprograms and his mom tried to pretend she didn't miss cooking since the Gastronomicon 3000 took over the culinary duties of the household. Yes, Glick reflected, volunteering at Planetary Pets is what kept his happiness from being sucked into a black hole.

E S Gaffney said...

Rowan Bradley was a man from nowhere and everywhere- a travelling man who was never happy with his home, even when he had one. Everyone blamed his wanderlust on his phobia of commitment. His mother was the first to diagnose her son with the affliction when she attempted to teach Rowan to write his name at the ripe old age of five. Pencil in his left hand, she watched an afternoon go by as her son perfected the lines and curves of his name. By the time dinner rolled around, Rowan declared that he had fallen into a rut. Frustrated by his lack of ability in his left hand, he switched hands and he continued well into the night forcing himself to become ambidextrous. His mother realized her son was doomed if he couldn’t even decide whether he wanted to be right-handed or left-handed. Rowan knew that he wasn’t afraid of commitment-he had dedicated his life to his carnival and the workers who were loyal to him. It was fear of becoming complacent, which kept him moving. In his mind, growing complacent meant becoming stagnant. Stagnant things rotted and died. He chose life on the road to avoid death. He was a man with a mission, death can’t catch you if you never stop moving, he thought as he glanced in his rearview mirror at the caravan of trucks following him down the road.

~ESG1123

Anna Kashina said...

I stood beside my father and watched the girl drown. She was a strong one. Her hands continued to reach out long after her face had disappeared from view. The splashing she made could have soaked a flock of wild geese to the bone. She wanted to live, but there was no escape from the waters of the Sacrifice Pool.

carla j. schooler said...

Someone is in my driveway. I see her hair, which is nearly as long as her ankle length skirt. My late afternoon snack makes an appearance in my esophagus. I don’t even have to glance down at my shorts and bare legs to know they are an abomination to her. The rules have always been made clear, but there is no time to change. I stand here frozen. A criminal caught in the act, my soul a dense weight, as I fight this ocean of shame. My mind snaps back to reality, and I’ve waited too long; she is on the front steps. Searching for a hiding place, I see the tiny space behind the front door. My heart pounds to the beat of rebellion. Pitter-patter, I am caught. Pitter-patter, who cares? Pitter-patter, I’m going to hell.

Noelle K. said...

He shimmied out of the sleeping roll, exposing his naked body to the quickly rising sun. The dry air sucked at his skin, and drained the moisture from his mouth. Nate brushed his rust-red locks out of his face, and took a sip from his canteen, noting that they’d have to fill them up soon. Leona was already dressed and sitting at a distance, running a small brush through the barrel of her rifle. Her dark hair was pulled up in a messy bun, and her lips set in a firm line as she focused on her task.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Our attic door is always padlocked, but on this late Friday afternoon, the stairs descend into the hallway like a lolling tongue from a dark mouth. Before I can climb one step, a white trash bag, and then another, lands at my feet.

3worldsofscott said...

Had the eyes of the tower guard been keener, he might have observed an intruder approaching from the parapet above with every movement malevolently calculated toward reaching the royal keep. However, this evening did not favor the sentinel below. For he knew not what hit him. With one graceful motion the mysterious infiltrator snapped the guard’s neck. The action occurred so quickly that the defender of the citadel voiced no sound. Yet a light crack from snapping bone echoed against the rocky bulwarks. The raider quietly slid the corpse in some shadow cast by a wooden crate. He stood poised to retrieve his prize a precious life or two.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa MacLellan said...

The dog was smiling at her. It was one of those mongrels that had the breed bred right out of him from generations of back alley affairs. They all looked the same: mid-sized, brown kinky fur with a curly tail and intelligent eyes. Jeannette guessed all the dumb ones had gotten run over by the locals three days after gaining their walking legs, and that was why all these mutts looked smarter than most of the people with whom they shared tiny apartments and littered roads.

Brandon said...

The Seventeenth Prime Monarch of the Known Intergalactic Society sat back and steepled his hands. Regarding his desk, constructed from the last marble taken off the earth some hundreds of years before, he sighed. A mere intern, I didn't want to ask him what was the matter. The last three months had affected the Prime Monarch substantially. His already saggy, brownish-green jowls drooped off his face like a dog's. His intense red eyes had lost their luster, their fire. His race—the Pheones—rapidly aged when their time was near, but I didn't think it'd be anything so severe.

Sam Mcmanus said...

It was that precarious moment, you know the one, when the night hasn’t yet given up the ghost, but the day has still to claim its dominance, that time when the streetlamps were on, but you had to squint to confirm those suspicions. In the gloaming, it was said, the spirits of the dead were most volatile, most visible, most like themselves, if that makes any sense. While it may have been said, however, the people on W. 42nd Street in East L.A. (I recognize the irony of the street name) were loath to speak of it, both in and out of mixed company, because of what happened the last time they spoke of it. But now I’m getting ahead of myself, and we haven’t even been properly introduced yet.

Matt M. said...

On the third day of the school year, Mr. McEwen crapped his pants. He was preparing for the day--printing handouts, reviewing lesson plans, writing journal prompts--when the need hit him and he leaned left and passed what he thought was a normal, everyday, of-the-silent-variety fart no different from thousands he’d passed over the previous twenty-nine years. But after, he felt a dampness. He patted the seat of his pants and realized this fear that rivals death and hell, the fear of shitting oneself in public. Then followed the horror-panic of having done something not undoable. Thank Goodness the students were not here yet.

Neil Larkins said...

"1963: Historians fail to record the day a handicapped teenager changed the world when all she was seeking was a little acceptance." Hmm.

starvingactivist said...

Ela was furious. the bursitis in her shoulder confirmed the weather report but she had to get the windows covered because Hank was too drunk to do it. Her joints ached as she stretched to hold the boards and nail them in place. The neighbors were packing to go to Mount Zion's basement; it had doubled as a bomb shelter during the war, but Ela was determined to ride out the storm in her own home. She rubbed her shoulder to ease the arthritic burn while she surveyed her handiwork. "Lord," she spoke, eyes to the cracked ceiling, "please bless the work of my hands and keep my family safe during Your storm. In Jesus' Name, amen." She had purposely nailed the knothole board at eye-level and shivered as she took a look; she had never seen such heavy looking, dark clouds. They had a fairly good view from their fourth floor walk-up and she could see the stress being put on the distant trees by the increasing wind. Ela turned as her hands worried at the frayed edge of her apron; "Where in the world are those girls?!" She took another look out at the clouds, which seemed to be moving closer and then stole a glance at the mantle clock. "They should have been here a while ago."

Deborah Schaumberg said...

I saw the man of my nightmares when I was six years old.
From my hiding place I watched Mama’s lace up boots pacing back and forth. Black and cream taffeta brushed my arm as she turned to answer the rapid knocking on the door. A man in a grey suit, cloak and top hat, entered the room with a cold breeze that found me under the sofa. It swirled around my legs trying to give me away.

Marcie Price said...

My eyes slowly adjusted to the surrounding darkness. Shadowy shapes came into focus. Awake already? That meant I must have been getting close. Somewhere in the back of my mind, past the familiar hum of the engine and over the consistent beep of the navigation system, a voice lingered. A female voice, unknown to me, but vaguely familiar. A sharp pain shot through my shoulder blade. My muscles were now fighting off the chemically-induced sleep. Somewhere beyond the blue glow of the dashboard, a shrill alarm screamed at me, beckoning me to come closer. I rolled from the cramped quarters and stumbled towards the controls. On the screen in front of me, amidst a sea of tiny white stars, was a glowing blue dot.

Earth.

susankoefod.com said...

The Jardin des Tuileries was deserted on a dull gray winter afternoon as the mousy, stick-thin American girl set out to cross it on her way to the Louvre. She observed that no one sat in the cold chairs by the fountains. No children ran along the paths that crisscrossed it. No one strolled slowly along, admiring its parterres. It would be several months before the famed Parisian spring was to arrive. Now all the flowerbeds were empty and colorless, except for the bright blooms of red lipstick on discarded Gauloises Bleues butts that had been planted casually here and there.

Gwen W. said...

The teenaged boy awoke groggily to an eerie chanting. The chanting was hypnotic in its cadence and the boy felt himself being lulled back to unconsciousness by its rhythms. Paralyzed by the words filling the room, he realized he was stretched out on a cold, stone table in the middle of a dimly lit cellar, surrounded by hooded figures. Blinking blearily, he watched helplessly as one figure approached him carrying a large, obsidian blade, its wickedly sharp edge flashing in light. Watching it slowly descend towards his chest, his mind suddenly kicked into gear. He threw his arm into the path of the knife and felt searing pain as his arm was sliced open from wrist to elbow. Blood spurted up at his assailant, who stepped back, surprised by the boy’s reaction. The boy seized his chance to escape. He rolled from the table and sprinted out the open door into the dark, balmy night. Clutching his injured arm to his chest, he plunged directly into the nearby lake. He heard sounds of pursuit behind him and dove towards the muddy bottom, trying to move silently among the cattails and reeds which fringed the edge of the lake like a beard.

Pamela said...

Red hair has been both feared and revered for millennia, yet the science world couldn’t figure out what caused it until 2001 when researchers discovered the MC1R gene. The first discussions were abstract; red hair was caused by a “loss of function mutation” of the MC1R gene that impacted endorphins. In ninety eight percent of humans, the gene is normal and results in blond, brunette, or black hair. The other two percent have a mutated gene and get red hair. Then dentists began noticing that their redheaded patients dreaded dental visits more than others and two new discoveries followed. First, redheads feel pain more deeply than others, including increased sensitivity to the sun. Second, redheads require more anesthesia for surgery and more pain relievers to achieve sedation or relief from pain. From the whimsical title of their medical journal article, “What’s Red Got To Do With It?”, the scientists who discovered the MC1R gene mutation believed the discovery wouldn’t be of much importance in the grand scheme of discoveries. They were wrong.

Haisam Elkewidy said...

I already learned, in ninth grade Earth Science, that the Earth rotates about some axis occasionally tilted about 15 degrees from the vertical. It’s been said to spin at a speed faster than airplanes and jets, almost rivaling the speed of sound. Yet you could never feel the Earth moving, let alone spinning on a center point like a top whirling rapidly on a desk. It’s not even a proper explanation for dizziness, and/or motion sickness for the matter. It was the reason I was essentially obliged to sleep at night, and work in the morning. It was why I could see the sun in the morning, and the moon at night. Life operated in a cycle, just because of Earth’s internal activity. Until a few decades ago, that is.

-Haisam Elkewidy (haisam99@neo.tamu.edu)

Mess In A Dress said...

Adelaide Andrews stared out the living room window and into the yard across the street where an elderly man, who she could only assume was her new neighbor, was frolicking through the sprinkler in his underwear. He was at least 80 years old and was very spry for his age. Every time the water shot up into the air, so did the man’s legs. It was as if he was involved in some kind of synchronized sprinkler event in the Olympics.

Michael B. said...

Every time I smoke crystal meth I regret it, and swear there will never be a next time.
A big hit of meth shocked my lungs and woke me from a drunken blackout. Thick clouds of smoke poured out of my mouth and nose. I must look like a fire-breathing dragon. I gazed at the dirty glass pipe in my hand then placed it in my mouth, sparked a fire from a mini torch and waved the flame from side to side beneath the blackened glass bulb. I twisted the pipe back and forth between my lips. The white powder inside heated up and melted into a clear liquid, creating a tasteless vapor that I inhaled deep into my lungs.

Rodolfo D.S. Cabael said...

Rodolfo D.S. Cabael
www.dolphcabael.com

From the debut novel - The Share in the Valley of Elah (Completed Jan. 2012, unedited & unpublished) First paragragh of chapter one - Opportunity Knocks.

Life is like a game of chess. It is played by all ages. It requires imagination and the ability to think of most moves before playing them. To achieve life's goal or in the game of chess where the definite aim is to capture the king, sometimes involves sacrificing and abandoning other plans. To play a winning game, one has to be prepared or have been tutored to make the right moves in times of skirmishes that may happen any time along the way. In Dolph de Villa's case, all those preparations and turoring would have been a luxury, but then it was a milestone. In his solitude he often wondered if he had been playing the game fairly well considering that his preparations and tutoring were insufficient and inferior. could he have done better if his father were alive during the early stages of his development, if his mother didn't remarry and ended with seven children, and if there was someone to encourage him to pay more attention to school works than playing out on the street until dark?

Teri Dederer said...

Sweating, grimacing from the effort, I give one last heave against the rough, wooden oars and finally feel the row boat’s hull thud into the dock’s end. I let the oars drop from my blistered hands, and rise to my feet in order to loop the small boat’s tie around the dock post. The effort of raising my arms above my head makes my arms ache, the muscles rubbery and worn out after a day on the Karayaun Sea’s rough tides all by myself. All by myself…. Just that one thought is enough to bring salty moisture to my eyes not from the sea. Instead of giving in, I take one deep sniff meant to plug up more than my runny nose, and get back to work. I tuck the slender wooden fishing rod along the boat’s bottom, and scoop up the battered wooden pail that holds my catches. There are only four today—two of them silvery minnows no longer than my hand, a pink scuttle fish, and a tuna fish big enough for supper tonight between Hahnna and me. Setting the pail on the dock above me and ignoring the twinge of soreness it brings to my arms, I pull out the rough canvas tarp and tie it down over the row boat’s top. I’m not able to make it as taut across the surface as Papa, but it will have to do. Just like the four fish from today will have to be enough. That’s become my new mantra in the four days since Papa’s conscription.

Rainy Day said...

“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?” The faceless voice yelled at me. A woman’s voice, I think.

Anonymous said...

One of the Charlottes was missing. It wasn't the oldest Charlotte, a fancy doll that Iris’ grandmother had given her. It wasn't the newest Charlotte, a turtle that Iris won at a school fair. It wasn't the meanest Charlotte, a large grey bird that lived in a silver cage in Iris’ bedroom. And it wasn't the wisest Charlotte, a quiet lizard that liked to sit on his rock in a glass case on Iris’ desk. Iris called loudly in her backyard for the missing Charlotte, but the only one who heard her was Prunella, an old white cat who was forever grateful that she wasn't one of the Charlottes.

Jennifer M.

Anonymous said...

Hear me out: yes, I understand imaginary friends aren't all that common at fifteen and, yes, it is a bit weird, but honestly, he isn't actually imaginary! I know you can't see him, I get that, but it doesn't mean he isn't there. You know a fart stinks like shit even though you can't see it. Well, he's like a fart, only smellier and he lingers longer. His name is Dahl. Mine's Pepper Sinclair.

-Danny James-

Kastie Pavlik said...

Screams capable of driving a banshee insane filled her ears. Anguished voices coalesced and struck through her core like the tip of a blade sharp enough to shred the heavens. Moans and groans, and fearsome war cries struck in between, and the bloody spray of battle coated the air, glistening as a fine mist of sticky, crimson moisture. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bodies surrounded her--some motionless and emptied of life, and others divided into factions engaged in a violent dance of death.

musingsdevine said...

Throughout the northern reaches of Pontiac county, massive heavings of primeval bedrock lay strewn atop the earth. Some of these outcrops were large and ragged; others compressed and smooth, as though pressed down by the weight of time―like shadowy remnants of epochs never known. In Seth’s mind, the pod of outcrops that lay nearest his house became breaching whales, hurtling themselves out of the rippling skin of their mysterious, watery realm into the weightless promise of an airy open sky. The warm southerly wind fanned the whale rocks’ lichen-barnacled surfaces and licked the grassy sea that surrounded them into a vast undulating wave. The tireless dragonflies that skimmed hither and yon atop the expanse became wandering albatross whose strident cries screamed out of the steady buzz and hum of myriad insects as they performed their summer oratorio.

Cheri Mckenzie said...

Some say dreams are a way of sorting through problems that one cannot unravel in their conscious mind. Others see them as simply a natural process of the sleep cycle. I have come to believe, however, that dreams can take many forms, including glimpses of things to come. Sometimes I close my eyes and try to imagine what my life would have been like if fate hadn't turned everything upside down. For a moment I can see the future I’d always planned. Then I blink and it flutters out of sight as if on the wings of a hundred tiny hummingbirds. In the grey haze it leaves behind, my fear consumes me.

Jane Roop said...

Laura lay on her back in the kitchen between the free standing smooth topped range and the sink. Half her face was gone, blown in bits over the cupboards. A pool of dark blood congealed under her head. It wasn’t a pretty sight but it didn’t shock me. I knew someday I’d walk through Laura’s front door into mayhem. I always assumed the destruction would be caused by Melody, her daughter. But Melody didn’t have access to a gun.

Silas Champion said...

Owen clung to the crumbling stones that made up the well shaft. The girl above him wept in great wrenching sobs. He dared not move. To be discovered stealing coins from a wishing well meant a swift execution. He burned with shame. Her coin dropped down onto his hand. He shook his hand. If it did not reach the bottom it would do no good.

Jade Le Fey said...

Saturday morning
8.45am
I woke up blue. Not as in 'I woke up feeling depressed,' but in that I literally woke up with my skin the colour of a punk teenager's fuck-you-society mohawk. Blue. I woke up a few minutes ago, with my hand in front of my face. My blue hand? What happened last night? I stare intently at my fingers. Nightclub. Loud music. No, don't think about loud music, wince! Killer headache. Oh God, my hand is blue! I lift the bed cover carefully. Blue wrist. Blue arm, blue elbow – what the hell have I got myself into now? My skin is stained blue! And it smells... Not quite like the usual, faint, fresh, grapefruit body-wash. In fact, it smells a bit sour, like a stale latte left in a car on a hot day, like I haven't showered in a week. I lift the covers a tiny bit more, wincing in steely anticipation of what I might find. Oh God. There is a man next to me. He is also blue. There is a strange, blue man, lying next to me, in my bed! My eyes scrunch tightly shut, willing it all to be a terrible dream, one that I can laugh about later in the safety of sunlight and coffee. My head sinks into the silk pillow covers. Hang on... Silk pillow covers? This isn't my bed! My eyes fling open, and my heart beat is suddenly pounding in my ears. I can almost feel the arteries in my neck constricting a little as a surge of adrenaline rushes through me. Where the hell am I? Get out of here, now! I carefully lift the sheets and slide out. My bare feet hit varnish. Great. Wooden floor-boards. If you creak I will kill you, I warn them as I slip out of the bed as quietly as I can, glancing nervously at the sleeping tousled head buried under the Sponge-Bob Square-Pants duvet cover. Seriously? Sponge-Bob Square-Pants, yet silk pillow cases? Certainly a unique approach. I risk a glance down at myself, and am relieved to see that I am still wearing knickers and crop top. A crop top which I will now have to soak for half a week in stain remover, as the dull cyan smears across my torso seem to have made no distinction between flesh and cotton. The rest of my clothes are a haphazard mess on the floor, and my handbag's sprawled on its side, half under the bed. As silent as a mouse who's just woken up still drunk after a gin-soaked night, I pick my heels up by the straps try to get dressed. How come I've never noticed how noisy it is to put on jeans? The denim practically roars against my thighs as I pull the waist up over my hips and fumble with the zip. Please don't wake up, Sponge-Bob! He moves and I freeze, too scared to even breathe. I duck instinctively, and briefly consider rolling underneath the bed. Get a grip, Scarlett! I peek up and over to where Sponge-Bob has thankfully just re-settled himself. I still can't see his face, but one tanned, muscular arm is now resting on top of the covers. I can see the definition, even in his fore-arms. Well. One point to him. Pity about the minus five-hundred points for having somehow dyed me blue! Now fully-clothed, with the rest of my stuff bundled under my arm, I sneak, sneak to the door. Doors. Two doors... but which one is the way out?

Val Agnew said...

My turn at the casket was almost over. I wanted to poke her to see what dead felt like. Instead, I bent over and kissed her forehead. The aunts would love that gesture. I braced for her skin to be icy cold, but it felt smooth and dry. I said a little prayer for her because I didn’t know if she made it to heaven. I didn’t know where the souls of angry mothers go.

Cheryl Hettick said...

The tension in the London auction house could have powered a small city. Perched in an elevated desk amongst a sea of Armani suits, Chanel outfits and Prada handbags, Carolyn Kleinsma tapped her pen anxiously against a Steno pad as she propped the glossy catalog open to page ninety-eight. In her left hand, she clutched her one weapon in the battle—bidding paddle number three hundred sixteen. At twenty-eight, she was the youngest member of Cooper & Baines Acquisitions in New York and had flown more than nine hours in coach to acquire the piece that had caused such a stir in the international press. It was her last chance to prove to the company’s founder he hadn’t made a mistake in hiring her, and if she screwed this one up, she’d be kissing her career goodbye by midnight.

Jennifer Brink said...

“Stay the course!”
The harshly spoken words seemed to come out of the storm itself, echoing across the ship in a surreal tone. Grim expressions etched across the faces of the crew as they focused on keeping the ship afloat while the waves ruthlessly battered the small ship.
“Captain!”
The harsh winds recklessly carried the word which was both a statement and a question up to the raven haired beauty at the helm. On the deck, a tiny girl with fiery red hair and eyes the color of the angry waves threw an anxious look behind her. She tucked a loose piece of hair from her face before rushing up the steps to her captain’s side. The first mate earnestly spoke to the figure dressed entirely in black as the roaring winds carried her words to the sea. Brushing ocean sprayed hair out of her face the first mate pointed past the helm. Beside her, hard black eyes stared into the storm before almost imperceptibly nodding. The dark clothed captain’s face gave away no emotions as she turned the wooden wheel slightly to the left.
“Get the girls.” The calmly quiet words slid from the captain’s storm wet lips with a bone chilling smile.

Unknown said...

Jake cowered in terror before his master, known to the citizens of Quennell as Gaddis the Mad, Gaddis the Traitor, Gaddis the Evil, who would someday try once again to oust good King Osip from the throne they'd fought over when they were teenagers. Well, Jake pretended to cower in terror, because his master liked that kind of thing and because he wanted to do well and be hired full-time at the end of his internship.

Unknown said...

Sigh. "Jake cowered in terror" is mine. I signed in, but it didn't put my name on the post.

cheryl.rosbak at gmail dot com

Danielle M said...

Lucy didn’t notice the black car parked in her driveway until after her foot hit the pavement. It was too late to turn around and get back on the bus; the accordion door had already closed with a mechanical swoosh and clunk. She thought about turning around and pounding on the door, begging the driver to be let back in. She could say she’d forgotten her science book or that she had to get off at a friend’s stop instead. But the bus was already pulling away, its engine rumbling and spilling the heavy smell of diesel into the humid air. It wouldn’t matter anyway. They had already seen her.

Sharon Smith said...

Tears streamed down Abigail's face as she rocked back and forth. She heard the stairs squeak below her. "Now I lay me," she whispered, "down to sleep." It was the only prayer that she knew. Granny had taught it to her during the summers while daddy played soldier, but it didn't matter because it was coming now. She heard it lumbering up the stairs. But worst of all, she could smell it, and it made her tummy hurt something fierce. Now it was too late. Nothing could save her now. Not Granny. Not daddy. Not prayer. Not anything...

Julie H. said...

Annie Wilson, eighteen-years-old and six months pregnant, trembles in the bedroom doorway. Quentin Cleary stands next to her, a gun resting in his open palms. Like Annie, Quentin is shaking too, and he has stretched his arms out in front of him, seemingly in an effort to keep the weapon as far from his own body as possible. On the hardwood floor next to Annie’s bed, a river of blood oozes out from beneath Garrett Loren’s head. The congressman lies there motionless but still breathing, caught somewhere between life and death.

Ty Ferriswheel said...

You probably wouldn't believe me if I told you my mom kidnapped me and took me into the future because my dad was some crazy evil wizard trying to take over the world. I wouldn't have believed me either, until I was sucked into a swirling vortex and taken 900 years into the past...into a land that supposedly doesn't exist. don't think I'm crazy yet? Keep reading.The future may depend on it...


By Tyler Ferris,
tylerferris@att.net

Linda Conder said...

Heavy boots pounded along the narrow hallway of the empty art gallery. Each step thundering more urgently than the cautious man wearing them intended. Ian Devenshey struggled to find a reason for why his stomach had twisted itself into knots. Only one horrible thought occurred, and it was the very reason the round room he was headed for existed at all—to stop certain wicked creatures from entering the linked worlds.

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