Awakenings

By on Jan 30, 2015 in Writings | 0 comments

This story is based on the Flash Fiction Challenge posted Fridays on writer Chuck Wendig’s blog.  The idea was to pick three ideas randomly from three lists and work them into a 1000 word story.  My random three were Poison, A Comic Book, and Resurrection.   “Aww, man,” Tommy said, slamming his copy of Micro Man #1 to the floor.  Tommy Wilson sat cross-legged in the middle of his bedroom floor across from his best friend, Todd Tipperly.  Strewn about them were a half dozen comics they had purchased to celebrate the end of 7th grade and beginning of summer freedom.  The first five comics they picked were easy, eagerly grabbing up the next issue of old favorites: Spiderman, the Avengers, and other members of the Marvel Universe.  Micro Man #1 had been an impulse buy.  Tommy had been drawn to the cover art and, in the end, he couldn’t resist passing over his go-to’s for this promising newcomer.  But now that he was looking from the purple-blue tips of his ink-stained fingers to the comic laying at his feet, he was kicking himself for getting sucked in by the flashy cover.  Rookie mistake. “What?” Todd asked from around a mouth full of Flaming Hot Cheetos. “Look,” Tommy said, holding up his stained fingers. “The ink rubbed right off.  This comic sucks.” Todd snorted, sending out a spray of bright-orange crumbs.  “I told you we should have gotten Iron Man.  Micro Man.  You’re such an asshole.” “Whatever,” Tommy said, but he felt like an asshole.  He reached down and chucked the defective comic in the general vicinity of the garbage can.  “Give me some Cheetos,” he said, ripping the bag from his friend’s hands. He gave one last sour glance at Micro Man #1 before picking up Spiderman with a grunt. His irritation might have been lessened a bit if he had known he wasn’t the only Little League aged kid tossing away a comic in disgust, fingers stained. Misery loves company, after all. Micro Man #1 had been an instant success, selling out the initial run of 100 comics in the first couple hours of school letting out.  Milo Franklin, proprietor of Action Comics in the small town of New Haven, had to go to the back room four times to grab out more copies of the instant hit before giving up and just bringing out the whole lot of them.  Milo had no idea that each had the same defect, the ink seemingly falling off the pages with the lightest of touches.  The man who sold him the box of comics had seemed nice enough, albeit it a little creepy.  After a look into the man’s dark, sunken eyes, however, he had agreed to push the new comic without argument. .     .    . That night, Tommy Wilson and ninety-nine other early adopters of the budding Micro Man franchise slept fitfully, their temperatures creeping up with each passing hour.  Tommy had scrubbed hard at his fingers that night before bed, but they had held onto that purple tint.  He insisted that he hadn’t been messing with Sharpies, that it was all due to this stupid comic, but his mom had just giving him “The Look.” Tommy had sighed and given up. But his mother would have been relieved to know that the ink stain was no longer an issue.  His fingers, now clenched into tight fists as he shivered under his covers, had returned to the pinkish-hue as the ink absorbed into his skin, seeping into his veins and mingling with his blood.  It now coursed through his body, touching each organ, each corner of his body. One by one his organs began to slow, losing integrity until they sputtered to a stop.  Neither Tommy or any of the other ninety-nine adolescents woke during this process, no more than they would have awoken during any fever-dream.  Eventually, however, the fitful tossing and turning came to an end as their hearts gave out, the nightmare over. Tommy’s last breath came as the alarm clock on his bedside table turned to midnight. The clock read 12:03 when Tommy’s eyes snapped open, his dark brown eyes now a milky white.  Slowly a grin spread across his face.  He levered up, pushing away his covers, and swung his legs over the side of the bed and onto the floor.  A tingle passed through his body and out to the edge of his limbs.  He flexed his hands, feeling a surge of power.  Yes, this felt good. He glided silently down the hall past his parents’ room and headed out the front door into the warm night air. .   .   . As Tommy approached the baseball diamond where he and his friends played every Sunday, he saw other boys his age streaming in as well – some he knew and some he didn’t- each similarly pajama-clad. Each with the same milky-white eyes.  Each wearing the same shit-eating grin. They came from left, center, and right field, converging on home plate where a man stood.  He stood a full head taller than the boys, his body lean and his white hair pulled back into a pony tail. Sunken eyes gleamed from behind hollow cheeks.  He held up his arms for silence as the boys crowded in, jostling for position, and the boys quieted their rustling and stood in polite silence. “My boys,” the man...

The Moment: A Halloween Story

By on Oct 31, 2014 in Writings | 0 comments

I’ve spent the last thirteen years a head in a jar.  A brain, awaiting a body, encased in a skull, suspended in a liquid contained in a jar. I’ve had water in my ears for over a decade. I think back on it sometimes, back to the exact moment when fate turned on me.  I was all set to get a body.  The storms raged all around, flashes of light flooding the room with each crack of thunder. All the while, I waited patiently, perched on my shelf.  I waited for my call.  For my moment.  And then it came!  “Fetch the brain,” the master commanded.  His minion, the lumpy-backed misanthrope, approached, his right leg dragging the left.  My heart leapt as he came closer (I speak metaphorically, of course, as I have no heart.  But thrice did I raise my eyebrows, such was my excitement).  My time had come.  The hunchback drew closer; I attempted to draw his eye.  But much to my shock and dismay, he hobbled right past my shelf, through the doorway, and out into the rain. I couldn’t speak out, such was my shock (and also I had no lungs with which to force air past the frayed remains of my vocal chords).  I can still remember clear is if it were yesterday, the master saying after five or ten minutes had passed: “Now where did that damn fool go?”  Forget him, I mouthed, unable to vocalize my anguish.  Just take me.  I wish to live again!  I wish to walk.  To fornicate. To visit a haberdashery (for while my head remains perfectly suited for hats, I have no means of placing them on my head).  I long to eat kippers in oil.  I long to hold a woman in a firm yet gentle embrace, touching my nose to hers, our eyes locked in a knowing gaze.  Maybe I nibble her chin, just a bit.  I long to scale a mountain, not just because it’s there, but because it’s there and really, really tall. I wish to drink a fine Bordeaux paired neatly with a plate of chevre. I’d like to visit the Americas; I hear they have a good thing going over there.  And while over there I’d like to purchase a monkey.  And no, I know what you’re thinking, but I’m referring to a literal monkey. I’ve always wanted a pet monkey. I long for many things; I have many wishes.  But most of all, I wish for life. It was perhaps a full forty-five minutes before the great oaf returned from his search.  As he entered, he reached into his coat pocket, producing a a slightly flattened lump of grey matter.  Picking a half dozen pieces of lint from the surface of the brain, he handed it over to his master who snatched at it greedily. As I watched the crazed scientist lower the brain into the open skull, tears spilled from my eyes, mingling with the surrounding fluid.  I wept for the dances I would not dance, the steps I would not take.  The gentle-yet-vigorous love I would not make, possibly with twins (although based on the scars and protruding bolts on my would-be body, twins might have been a bit of a stretch.  To be honest, that body is a bit of a train wreck).  I wept for the life I had lost; the life that would never be mine. The brain in place, the master and his servant waited patiently, their eyes to the sky.  And then, in an instant, the room filled with a blinding light  and the wires connecting the body to the heavens glowed red, brighter and brighter until the wires themselves evaporated into the night.  A beat, and then the body released a low, throaty groan.  And then silence.  For the next several minutes the thunderstorm drew quiet, perhaps out of respect for those of us listening for a sign of life.  But the body was still.  The master scuttled about, eyes bulging, touching the body here and there, searching for a pulse.  The hunchback merely stood off to the side, scratching his chin. Frantically, the master adjusted dials, threw switches; all the while never taking his eyes off the corpse before him.  After packing a lifetime’s worth of desperate efforts into a single five minute span, the master stopped; his shoulders slumped.  A low moan escaped his lips as he threw his arms across the dead man’s broad chest, weeping softly into the lapel of the dead man’s jacket. The brain, I thought to myself, it had been defective!  I was going to get a second chance and this time the master would surely not once again leave the task of finding a brain to an underling.  I just knew there’s no way the master would take a chance and pass up a brilliant brain such as mine.  I allowed the excitement to wash over me, bubbling up from brain stem to cerebral cortex.  Yes, again, I allowed my hopes to rise prematurely. And premature it was, because in the next moment I saw it.  I saw it before the master.  I saw it before the hunchback.  And just as quickly as hope had flared up within me, it was snuffed out as the monster’s left hand curled into a tight fist and then slowly unclenched.  Unquestionably, a movement of life. And so...

Elephant

By on Feb 14, 2013 in Writings | 0 comments

The elephant in the room was literally an elephant in the room.  Which, granted, sounds hilarious and witty when put on a postcard, but is much less funny when you’re sharing an elephant-sized room with an actual elephant. When Tracy ran away to join the circus (a cliche in its own right), she expected hardship.  She expected to work her way up from the bottom.  But she did not expect to be sleeping next to 30 pounds of elephant shit.  And the piles of shit weren’t even the worst smelling aspect of her living quarters.  A bed of hay, largely ignored by the clowns who came to shovel dung every week, rotted, choking the room with methane gas. Webs of mold – black and grey, yellow and red – bonded individual strands of hay together, turning it into a cushy-yet-terrifying mattress. Tracy expected to move up the ranks eventually.  She knew she had talent.  But for now she spent her nights with an elephant and her days smelling like shit and rotting vegetation.  But despite it all, more often than not, she could be found smiling.  For, while she more of less constantly smelled like a fart, at least she wasn’t still living at...

Minced Meat

By on Feb 6, 2013 in Writings | 0 comments

“Yep,” Sheriff Jon Carter said, adjusting his crotch as he stepped down from his Jeep.  “That’s a dead cow.”  He nodded to the dead cow laying on its back, legs stiff, hooves pointing to the sky.  Only cartoon cows died like this. “Carter,” the rancher said, looking up at the sheriff from under the brim of his hat. “This is the second cow this week.  The cows are getting agitated and I’m none too pleased myself.” The cows were agitated; it was true.  They could barely chew their cud, they were so upset.  Each glanced around at her fellow cow, trying to ascertain who was behind it all.  They knew that when night fell, the killer would once again be out, roaming through the herd.  Her low moo the only sound the victim would hear before the killer fell on his, hooves flashing. Cow serial killers are rare; aggression isn’t in their nature.  Most cows are content to wait out their days until the slaughter comes.  The last incident was way back in 2007, The Great Holstein Massacre (of 2007, obviously), where an unfortunate farmer had come out one morning to find one cow standing in a field, covered in blood and ground chuck.  One lone cow, standing among the body parts of her sisters, calmly working at a wad of grass.  Every cow knew this story.  And now there was another, out there, in the herd, waiting for nightfall. Waiting to strike....

Still life in Brie

By on Jan 24, 2013 in Writings | 1 comment

Franklin bounced up and down on the treadmill, jogging along at a comfortable 9:45 pace.  He checked his heart rate by grasping the machine’s silver diodes;  156, right on target.  He tried to pay attention to CNN correspondent Melba Valourez as she described the latest meetings on the “fiscal cliff”, but despite his best intentions, his eyes kept drifting back to the cheese. It was just sitting there on the window sill, right in front of the treadmill immediately to his right: a wedge of brie.  No plate and no crackers, just brie.  Who brings brie into a gym, Franklin thought.  And who leaves cheese on a window sill? Any window sill, let alone a window sill at a gym. Is someone saving it for after their workout?  Franklin hazarded a quick look around.  Nobody else seemed disturbed by the presence of a soft, sweating cheese.  In fact, nobody else seemed to notice it at all.  He returned his gaze to the cheese and waited.  Waited for 300 pounds of muscle in mesh shorts and a too-tight shirt to claim the brie.  The adonis would simply scoop up the cheese in one hand and bite into it like an apple, chew noisily for a a few minutes, working the soft cheese around with his tongue, and then finally wash it down with a swig from his Nalgene bottle.  He’sdstare at Franklin as he walked away, daring him to judge.  Franklin waited nervously, sweating more than his moderate workout would suggest. Twenty minutes later, Franklin finished his run and carefully stepped off of the machine, never having had an encounter with the cheese’s owner.  With regret, Franklin turned away and headed down to the locker room.  He never learned what happened to the brie, whether it was swept up by the janitor or claimed by a patron.  But Franklin was inspired, and the next day he brought with him a wheel of cheddar, set it on the window sill, and boarded his treadmill,...

Inbound Zombies

By on Jan 19, 2013 in Writings | 1 comment

There were 41 passengers on car 3370 travelling inbound towards The Loop.  Fully 40 of them either sat or stood, hands down, staring at their smart phones as the city rolled by.  I was the only person who remained heads-up, staring at each person in turn as I stood, holding onto the overhead bar.  Nobody caught my gaze, however.  They simply stared at their devices, their only movements the occasional flick of the thumb.  As the train followed the track around a curve, each of the standing swayed in unison, first to the left and then back to the right.  They made certain to keep their phones a constant 18 inches from their eyes with a practiced ease. I turn to stare out the window.  I see two kids chasing each other, circling a plastic playground structure, mouths open in screams I can not hear.  The train moves on and we pass a raven perched on the ledge of a building.  It stares at me, unblinking.  The sky, a mix of pink, purple and blue with the setting of the sun, plays in stark contrast to the black of the raven.  Somewhere in the distance, the barking of one dog sets the neighboring dogs into a frenzy. I look back at the 40 smart phone zombies and think to myself, “My god, the outside world really is boring as hell.”  I fish my iPhone out of my left pants pocket and swipe it on.  With a flick of my thumb, my Twitter app is on and I stand, holding my phone a steady 18 inches from my face as the train makes its way through the city corridor. Ooo!  Wil Wheaton made a pumpkin bisque last night!...