Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Threshold

ThresholdSándor remembered the sting of the wasp, white hot pain exploding from just above his thumbnail, as he'd picked a spring beauty for his mother in the yard. Then, when he was a little older, the sickening bubbling of hot oil spilled across his knee; the way the skin had peeled off, as well as the scar that had eventually formed but never quite smoothed over his violated nerve endings. 

He recalled the mind-jarring disbelief with which he'd watched his hand separate from his wrist, late one night during a fourth graveyard shift in a row; the terrible fire and nails that had shot right through his arm and torso and head immediately afterward. Sometimes he could still feel that one, waking up lost seventeen years later in sweat-drenched sheets.

He remembered other agonies, too, but chose not to think about those. They weren't the kind that time or painkillers could heal, so were better left behind locked doors, deep down in the safe corners of his mind.

She didn't -- couldn't -- know about those.

A bare foot nudged his ankle. "What's wrong?"

Glancing at Melanie, he was once again startled by how beautiful she looked. "Nothing, babe."

"Liar." She made a face and pinched his Achilles tendon with her abnormally strong toes.

"Ouch," he yelped, kicking her foot away playfully. "I'm telling you, as soon as we spin back to normal grav, you should try hanging upside-down from the chin-up bar with those things. I bet you could do it, too, monkey girl."

"Could not." She slapped his knee, eyes smiling.

The scanner made a gutteral choking noise. Finished, finally.

"Okay, let's see what we've got." Melanie stretched, then touched a series of combos, toggling through the data lists until she got to the one she wanted. She stared open-mouthed at it for several seconds. "Shit," she said.

Sándor closed his eyes and shook his head. "Damnit."


Neither of them spoke for a long time. Even the scanner remained silent, as if fearfully aware of having been the bringer of bad news.

Sándor drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. "You remember that thing they told us in basic? How sooner or later we'll all reach a point, a threshold, that will truly test our mettle?"

"Yeah I remember."

"Well." Sándor pursed his lips. "I think I'm getting there."

"Me too. But we'll find one."

"What's the point? We've looked everywhere already."

"Yeah, well, it's find one or die."

"Fuck," he breathed.


Melanie crossed her arms comically and pinched his heal again with her toes. "Hey! Mettle, remember?"

Friday, September 26, 2014

That One Pretty Thing

With the advent of the new Generation "A," the line between child and parent is becoming disturbingly blurred. Something has gone terribly wrong with nature; it's almost as if humanity is broken. The question is, will we make it through this alive?

This is my latest dark sci-fi short story. I'd even go so far as to call it horror.... In any case, readers beware; it's definitely not for the faint of heart. 

Click here or the image to the right to purchase an electronic version from Amazon.com for US$0.99 :-)


To get a free Kindle reading app for your computer, iPad, phone, or other device, click here.




Monday, September 08, 2014

South

SouthThe first slabs to go were usually the most spectacular, so nesters from all five valleys tended to get there early to claim the best of the available viewing perches. The unavailable ones, of course, had already been reserved; their haughty occupants would fly in at their leisure, arriving just in time for the midday games to begin and often later than that.

Spotting an empty stretch of branch between a nester family and a pair of hunters, Sye'sral tucked her wings and dove. Just as she broke momentum and her talons came in contact with the deeply scarred wood, a third hunter swooped up from below, roaring territorially right in front of her. Talons scrabbling for purchase and wings flapping violently, they glared at each other for several heartbeats.

"Buzz off," one of the other hunters hissed.

The newcomer's nostrils flared, inhaling Sye'sral's scent. Suddenly the snarl froze on his face. Sye'sral narrowed her eyes at him and turned to go.

"Wait!" he mewed, moving aside while batting at her with his paw in a gesture of sundued apology.

"Oh, you smell that I'm 'in season' and suddenly there's room on the branch for both of us, is that it?" Sye'sral smirked and let go of the branch. Typical, she thought, as she dropped in a wide arc and glided over to the other side of the Greatree.

She landed on a mostly empty branch this time and made herself comfortable, preening while craning her neck to glance at the gaming sphere. The view here was quite terrible, but at least no horny males were trying to shove her off the branch.

A nearby cub yowled at his sister and copped a gruff paw on the nose from their mum. Sye'sral smiled, settled on her haunches, and reveled in the warmth from the sun. It was a beautiful day for it, if she closed her eyes and pretended she wasn't actually here to kill someone.

The trouble was that whenever she left her eyes shut for any length of time these days, that annoying pull would come back, as if emboldened by the darkness. It had been getting stronger over the past month or so; it would sometimes even manifest in her dreams. There it was like a vague rope or vine, always dragging at her from the same direction:

South, it seemed to command, in a whisper formed from neither lips nor words. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Blend

Blend
"Blend" was first published in January of 2013 in
Mustang's Monster Corral. Thanks Mustang!
Travis Wilfreit sat slumped with legs pretzeled, his backbone grinding against the hard stones of the painted wall. On the opposite side of the gym, beautiful Claire Bertrand stood giggling with her friend Bethany. The sound drew a gruff bark from the PE teacher, and the two girls went back to pretending to do their stretches.

Her hair was even more colorful than usual today. The deep azure of the past two weeks was now streaked with crimson on one side and snow white on the other.

"Hey check it out, I think stutter-magic's got a hardon, heh."

"Oh shit, ha, I think you're right!"

"Careful there Wilfreit, you w-w-wouldn't w-want to accide-de-dentally kno-kno-knock her up! We'd have to call up the CDC to come quarantine your o-o-offspring!"

Travis did his best to ignore the group of asshole morons guffawing and pointing at him from a few yards away. He stared at the floor between his legs, but his heart was pounding and hot blood was rushing up his neck into his cheeks; he was sure she had heard the comment from across the gym. Already he was beginning to feel the onset of that dream-like lightness in his chest, the sensation that always preceded one of his flip-outs.

Abruptly he got up and marched left along the wall, wending his way around clumps of slobbering vacant-eyed teenaged bodies until he reached the arched doorway leading to Gym B. As he passed through, he could feel the PE teacher's eyes on the back of his head, but he knew the man wouldn't say anything. Not to him; not now.

The big empty vastness of Gym B opened up before him. Travis moved left along the dividing wall until he reached the middle. The lack of people made it better here, but the feeling had not yet subsided. Find a distraction, and focus on it. Read a book or even just stare at something until you come down. He sat down and stared at the floor for a long time.

Something was wrong. Travis went through his mental exercises over and over, focusing on the floorboards in all their detail: the way the overhead lights gleamed in their lacquer, the narrow grime-filled cracks between the old planks, the very grain of the wood itself. He stared and stared, but the feeling wouldn't go away; if anything, it was getting worse.

A girl's laugh rang out from Gym A on the other side of the wall behind him. Travis put his hands over his ears and hunched his face closer to the floorboards. All he wanted was to disappear. To escape this place; to escape the feeling. But it continued to rise in him.

Desperate, he squinted his eyes until the boards blurred. That was better. He did it some more, and began to pretend he was actually inside the grain of the wood.

He could feel the fibers around him; he could even sense the pressures still holding the flesh of the long dead tree together. There was a funny odor, of oak and lacquer and glue. Travis smiled; it was cool and dark in here, and the light-chested feeling had begun to leave him. He lifted his head and looked around.

It was not exactly sight, but he could *see* through the wood all the way to the end of the board, where it met the painted stone blocks of the wall. How awesome it would be if he could be inside the stone, too, he thought. And so he tried moving, and was delighted to discover that he was able to travel along the grain of the wood unhindered.

As Travis blended from wood into stone, he *stood* and looked back. He could *see* everything in the big empty room behind him, but there was no sign of his body. It was gone; he was actually here.

Free, Travis *laughed* out loud. He laughed even louder when he peered from his hiding place in the wall into Gym A and saw the spooked faces of his PE class, backing away from the wall. This is real, he marveled.

"HAHAHA!!!" he bellowed. Everyone, including the PE teacher, scattered for the exit in a screaming panic.

Travis smiled. Taking a long, deep breath, he exulted in the musty old smell of the stone surrounding him, permeating him. He now knew, without a doubt in his mind, what he had to do. Who he was.

He would teach them, and they would be sorry. He would teach them all.

But right now, he had a whole new world to explore. Feeling suddenly full of energy, he dove, hurtling through stone and wood and metal, blending deeper and deeper, faster and faster. Travis laughed the whole way down.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

You Were There

You Were ThereYou were there when our father would have done anything to keep from tearing her heart to pieces, had he known what was happening. She, who had been his lover, his wife, his boys' mother; his companion, his best friend. She, who watched his mind wilt and blur until it was less than a shadow of its glorious former self.

You were there when the great storm left the hills stretched smooth beneath a skin of ice, glimmering so brightly in the afternoon sun that we had to squint. How loud the frozen wood cracked and groaned beneath our axes as we laughed and swung, racing to outdo each other's pile.

You were there when I abandoned you, whisked off to the far side of the world by adventure and love and destiny. I still remember what you taught me: Holding my palm up against the night sky, I shift my focus from the silhouetted fingers to the shining stars in-between, and can clearly see that some are nearer than others.

You were there when the giant Mooncrusher threatened to swallow the world. The stories we heard as children all spoke of courage and valor, but none of those so-called heroes could hold a candle to how you stood your ground and struck the enemy down, blow by blow by blow.


You were there when I spoke to you yesterday, just before dawn, in a dream. You are still here. You will always be here. And I will always be there.