Friday, December 23, 2011

Everything -- An anthology of short stories

A few months ago I was asked to join an anthology project by a few folks on Google+ (If you're not there, why not? It is amazing!). I submitted a couple of stories and I got the announcement today that they're now online. Thanks to Natalie and Pat for getting this off the ground and published. You're the greatest!

I have two stories, a murder mystery and one about a girl with a spider phobia. The other stories are great too! At just 99 cents it is an eBook everyone can afford to buy.

http://www.amazon.com/Everything-ebook/dp/B006P60RQK/

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Regrets

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. My family used to be like all those happy families. Then Grandpa came to live with us. He was in a wheelchair and couldn’t go upstairs. Dad had to convert his den into a bedroom for Grandpa and expand the bathroom so it had a special shower in it.

I was only 10 at the time and I really didn’t want to spend much time downstairs when he was out of his room. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him but there was something about the way he looked at me that made me self conscious.

Mom and Dad didn’t usually leave me alone with him but one night Dad called and said he needed a ride home. “You can stay with Grandpa,” Mom said.

“Okay,” I had replied then turned back to the show I was watching.

“Jenna! I dropped my book,” he called about 10 minutes after mom left. I jumped off the couch and went to his room. His chair was next to the bed and the book was on the floor almost under the bed. I bent over to pick it up, forgetting that I was wearing my school uniform.

I felt a hand on my butt. It caressed the cheek then a finger slid under the fabric between my legs. I froze. The finger slid inside me and I could hear Grandpa’s zipper. Then I heard moaning behind me.

“Oh god yes!” he cried out then slid the finger out.

“Here … here’s your book,” I said and put it on the bed then ran out of the room.

Several minutes later Grandpa came out of his room. “If say anything, I’ll tell them about how you broke your mother’s vase.”

Grandpa’s book fell under his bed whenever my parents were out of the house for the next year. It was the same thing every time. I never said anything about it; I didn’t want to get grounded.

Then, one morning, Dad went into Grandpa’s room. He was dead. During the night his breathing machine had come unplugged. There was an inquiry by the police but it was declared an accident.

We never became a happy family again. But I didn’t mind. The look on Grandpa’s face when I unplugged his breathing machine gave me something to smile about every day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crossing Over

Detective Jan Hanson stepped into the old house and flipped on the lights. The bulbs in the chandelier flickered then there were several loud pops as they exploded from old age. The foyer fell dark. “Crap!” she said then fumbled for the flashlight in her jacket pocket.

She turned it on and light flooded the small room. There was a coat rack next to the door with a small table and mirror above it. Jan glanced into the mirror. The image of a woman appeared over her shoulder for a second then was gone. When Jan turned around there was nothing to see.

“Who … who’s there?” she called out. There was no reply. Suddenly a door slammed shut upstairs.

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

There was still no reply. Jan suddenly wished she hadn’t decided to go exploring the old house on her own. She didn’t believe in ghosts and was sure there was a perfectly good explanation as she climbed the stairs.

With each step she climbed there was an echo of her footsteps. Jan paused halfway up and turned around quickly, nothing was there. “You watched too much Scooby Doo as a kid, there’s nothing there,” she told herself and continued up the stairs, ignoring the echo.

Jan looked down the hall to the left, all the doors were open. She looked down the hall to the right, and the second door on the left was closed. The floorboards behind her creaked and she turned but nothing was there. She took several deep breaths then walked towards the door.

As Jan neared it she could hear the soft refrain of Braham’s Lullaby being sung from within the closed room. She paused outside the door, her hand reaching out to the door but not quite touching it. Suddenly it turned and swung open.

She screamed and fell back against the opposite doorway then looked into the room to see the cradle was slowly rocking back and forth.

“Who … who’s in there?” she called out.

“Shhh! You’ll wake the baby!” a woman’s voice scolded then the song resumed.

Jan stood up and quietly stepped into the room. As she neared the cradle she could see a young baby wrapped up in sheets. It matched the description of the baby that had been snatched just before dusk from a nearby park. The police department had gotten several calls about a baby crying in the house and she had been sent to investigate..

“Isn’t he lovely?” a voice asked. The woman Jan had seen in the mirror earlier appeared next to the cradle. “He’s just like my James.”

“He’s not yours,” Jan replied.

“Yes he is,” the woman said frantically. The baby started crying again. “See what you’ve done?”

“Please let me take the baby back to his mother and father,” Jan said as she watched the baby seemingly levitate as the spirit picked it up.

“No, he’s mine!”

“What happened to James?” Jan asked as her negotiating skills kicked in.

“They … they took him away. Said I was unfit to care for him. They said I killed him. But I didn’t. I’m a good mother. See?” the spirit said in a desperate voice as she clung to the baby.

“How did you die?”

“After they took the baby … my baby … my husband beat me then tied me to the cradle to punish me for James and tarnishing his career,” she answered. She was sobbing and squeezing the baby who was crying in protest. “He left me here to die.”

“You’re hurting the baby,” Jan said reaching out towards the child. “Please, loosen your hold on the baby.”

The ghost woman stared at Jan then eased her hold. The baby’s crying stopped and the spirit looked at Jan.

“If you give me the baby, I will bring you back a baby you can keep,” Jan bargained.

“You’ll bring back James?” the ghost asked hopefully.

“I promise,” Jan answered and held out her hands towards the baby. The woman hesitated then allowed the Jan to take the baby. “Thank you. I have to take the baby home now. I will return tomorrow with your baby.”

The spirit was gone. Jan smiled at the baby then headed out of the house to return him to his rightful parents.

The next day, she went downtown to the doll boutique. She bought a boy doll with a voice box. It could be programmed to cry at certain intervals and even could say ‘momma’ and ‘I love you.’ Jan returned to the house and went back to the room with the cradle.

She switched the doll on and it started to cry. The ghost woman appeared and looked down at the life-like doll. “He’s beautiful,” she said.

“No more taking babies from the park, ya hear?”

“I promise,” the ghost replied.

Jan smiled and turned to leave the room as the ghost started to rock the cradle and sing to her baby. When she got to the door, the woman paused her singing and whispered, “Thank you.”

After that day, the baby kidnappings from the park stopped. The ghost, who had gotten what she needed to pass over, was gone and the old house fell silent.

Several weeks later, Jan, who had finally found the woman’s identity, stopped by her grave. She placed a bouquet of baby’s breath and blue cornflowers next to the grave marker.

“Rest in peace,” she said then got in her police car and headed to the next call.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Family Matters

The residue on the driveway could only mean one thing: humans.

Nature sighed and dialed her brother. “Luci, we have that … that parasite again,” she said. Her disgust towards the creatures that had infested her yard was undeniable.

“I’ll be over as soon as I can. The “Master of the Universe” is on my ass to rid his nebulas of Martians,” he replied sarcastically. “Dad can really have a God complex sometimes.”

Nature snickered. “See ya later bro and don’t forget to bring your pitchfork, I’ve been itching to try that lightning feature on the new model, it has been too quiet along the Atlantic coast.”

(From a story prompt to use residue, parasite and master in a story 250 words or less.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Miracle

The echoes of the woman’s screams reverberated through the bathroom. She held onto the sink with her left hand and lifted her skirt with the other as she squatted over a puddle of water. She was breathing funny as her body was wracked with a wave of contractions.

From my hole in the wall I could see a dark mass begin to show between her legs. The woman was gasping for air when the contractions stopped briefly. She let out another bellow when the next contraction hit.

She seemed to be oblivious to the building shaking or the walls crumbling around her as the buildings near them were destroyed by bombs. I could safely watch from my little space in the wall.

More of the baby’s head appeared between the woman’s legs as she screamed again then grunted as she bore down. “Get thee the fuck out of me!” the woman cursed, gripping the sink harder as more contractions hit. “Ye are gunna be thee death of me.”

There was a sudden splash as the baby landed in the woman’s bodily fluids on the cold tile floor. The baby started to cry and wave its arms around. Exhausted, the woman fell back on the floor and hit her head against the wall, knocking her unconscious.

The baby’s cries filled the small room as it shivered in the puddle. It was covered with blood and other goo. I leaned out of my hole to sniff the air then pulled back. It was quite unpleasant. The baby’s cries were overpowered by the sounds of a bomb hitting the building. The walls and ceiling crashed down on the woman, killing her as the light fixture punctured her heart.

Moments later, an older man appeared in the door. “Susan? Oh my god!” he sobbed. He quickly moved the debris from on top of her. He leaned over her, checking for a pulse. The baby, who’d been quiet, cried again. The man turned his head and stared at him for several seconds then quickly moved to pick the baby up.

He pulled his Swiss Army knife out of his pocket and cut the umbilical cord. Holding the baby in one arm, he cleared out the sink so he could clean him then dried him gently with paper towels. He looked for something to wrap the baby in.

The building shook as another bomb landed in the street and the man hunched over the baby to protect him. He looked down at the woman and he ripped off the skirt portion of her dress. It was dirty and torn but it would have to do.

I watched the man wrap the baby up then he paused to look at the woman. “Rest in peace love. I’ll take care of ye wee one,” he said then disappeared out the door.

With the show over, I ducked back into my hole and scurried along the walls to see if there was any food left behind in the office.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Another writing prompt: the first sentence of Twilight

My mother drove me to the airport with the windows rolled down. I don’t know why. Maybe she thought it would get rid of the foulness between us. I really didn’t care either. The wind blowing past my right ear blocked out most of her bitching, which was a bonus.

“Are you listening to me?” she demanded as she turned the wheel sharply to take the ramp for the airport entrance.

“As much as always,” I answered as I silently prayed she wouldn’t kill me with her horrific driving.

“You’re just like your father,” she hissed.

“No. I’m not. He lived with your toxic personality for 30 years and it ended up killing him. I’m not going to let that happen to me,” I replied.

“I am not responsible for your father’s pathetic suicide!”

“Of course not, you’re not responsible for anything,” I replied as she slammed on the brakes in front of the United terminal. I picked up my duffle bag and got out of the car. “I’d tell you to have a good life but I’d be lying and you taught me better than that. Good-bye mother.”

“You wiseass sonovabitch,” she ranted as she leaned across the seat to grab me. I stepped back then laughed as she forgot her foot was on the brake and she slammed into the stretch limo parked in front of her. I headed into the airport as the driver got out and started screaming at her in Russian.

“John, darling! Wait! Help me!” she called out as the automatic doors opened. When I didn’t stop I heard her switch gears and could hear her trying to explain it wasn’t her fault and blamed the accident on me.

I kept walking and didn’t turn back.

That was 15 years ago; I could remember it as if it had happened yesterday. I hadn’t seen or talked to her since. When her doctor called to tell me she had died alone in her home I smiled and felt the world get a little bit brighter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From a Writing Prompt

The small boys came early to the hanging. Their ma said they shouldn’t be there, they was too young but that wasn’t going to stop them.

“I think that’s going to be the way I die,” Billy said as he stared at the noose.

“Whys that?” Johnny asked.

“I jess has a feeling about it when I looks up there.”

“Your ma taught you right. Yous wouldn’t steal or kill.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Billy said.

The prisoner, who was accused of raping a young woman, was brought to the platform. Even as they put the noose around his neck he swore his innocence. At high noon he was dead.

* * * * *

Billy looked down from the hangman’s box and saw two small boys, neither of them older than he’d been at his first hanging. Like the man that day, he was pleading his innocence as they put the noose around his neck.

He saw Johnny on the outskirts of the crowd. Billy yelled, “I didn’t do it Johnny. You know I couldn’t a done it.”

Johnny shook his head then turned and walked away. Billy died inside as he felt the noose tighten then the floor dropped.

Writing Prompts:Why Some Are Better Than Others

I've been a member of a micro/flash fiction writing group on Yahoo! for probably close to a year now. The moderator offers up one word writing prompts that can be written in any genre, style, etc. up to 1,000 words (sometimes slightly longer works are allowed) but the prompt word, or its o. It is very open ended and can lead to some interesting takes. Some or all reply with their offerings then whomever feels like it, offers a critique of the stories. Literary writing is not welcomed.

On Google+, I've found a fellow writer offering up writing prompts. In the ones I've worked on there has been a premise to what you're supposed to be writing, with a word count limit. The prompts are fairly detailed, but yet open-ended at the same time. Today's, which I'll be posting in a few, was the first line of a Ken Follet book. The people who have posted each had a different take on the line. There is no critique per se, but the others let you know their reactions to the stories. Literary writing is welcomed.

Between the two, I have found myself being much more driven to write using the more detailed prompts. There are more rules and requirements but it really focuses my thoughts as I'm writing. I am going to be leaving the first group as I want to write more literary style stuff. I have learned much from them but it is time to spread my wings and see where else I can learn more.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Mother’s Love

The lights flickered as John and Cindy started to argue. The louder they got, the more the lights flickered. Suddenly they went out.

“You’ve upset the baby!” Cindy accused then ran up the stairs to the nursery.

She rocked the cradle as she sang a lullaby. The lights flickered back on then came on again. Cindy looked down at the cradle and placed a blanket on the mattress. “Good night Annie. I love you,” she whispered then carefully walked out of the room.

As she headed down the stairs she heard the garage door opening and heard John’s car pulling out of the driveway. On the kitchen table there was a note. “Dear Cindy, I can’t take it anymore. I’ll be at my mom’s house. I’ll see you at Annie’s funeral. John”

Cindy rested her head in her hands as she started to cry. She wasn’t surprised he fled. Caring for a ghostly child who would never age was not something everyone could handle. The lights flickered again.

She dried her tears then threw the note in the trash and went back up to the nursery. She pulled the rocking chair next to the cradle and started to rock it again.

“Don’t worry Annie, Mommy’s here. I’ll always be here.”

Promises Kept

Brian sat down to watch the movie of the week with the rest of his comrades. After a long week of fighting cannibals, he needed to relax.

The intro for the movie started—a Columbia Pictures production. Brian started to get an uneasy feeling as the music started. He had a flashback to 2010, just before the cannibals started their war against the rest of humanity.

He was sitting in a movie theater with his girlfriend. She had insisted they go see the new Kevin O’Donnell movie—SALT. He hated everything about the movie. As they were leaving, he swore he’d rather be eaten with a spork than watch it again.

Brian’s thoughts returned to the present as the movie started and Angelina Jolie’s character flashed across the screen. It was SALT. “Can we watch anything else?” he begged.

“There is nothing else,” John replied. “Just suck it up and deal.”

“I can’t sit through that again,” Brian said as he jumped up. He grabbed a spork from the table and slipped out of the safe house. He’d barely gotten to the edge of the woods when he was spotted by a group of cannibals.

They rushed at him and knocked him down. “Use this,” Brian urged as he held up the spork. The one next to his head took it and used it to rip his eye out. Brian screamed. He passed out as the cannibal reached into the empty socket with the spork to pull out some brains.

His comrades found what was left of him the next day. They buried him in a shallow grave. On the marker John wrote: RIP Brian. SALT free since 8/20/2035.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Buyer's Remorse

I feel so unsure. When I’d bought the antique mirror, I was sure about it. But now that it’s in my bedroom, I’m having second thoughts.

I look into the aged mirror. I see a reflection of who I was during a dark time in my life. I’d taken the evil path, forsaking all who had loved me. Behind me I see her—my one true love.

“Come to me,” she whispers.

“I’ve too much living to do.”

She exposes her body and soul, beckoning to me. I resist, at first, then slowly step closer, wanting to feel her body against mine once more. I need to feel her forgiveness.

Cautiously, I step into the mirror, reaching for her as she dissipates into the darkness. I feel the heat from the molten lava surrounding me and the echoing moans of despair.

“Soul collection time,” says the Devil. “Welcome to Hell.”

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Marriage Saver

“Jim, try this,” Bob said as he handed his friend a mushroom he’d bought online at CannibalMarketplace.com.

Jim took a bite and looked surprised. “It tastes just like human!”

“They grow them in special green houses. Dead people are put in these special spore suits made in Japan and instead of decomposing in a box they grow these mushrooms.”

“Now maybe Mary will stop chewing my ass for not eating enough vegetables,” Jim said as he gingerly patted her favorite place to nibble on his ass.

“Take a few home,” Bob said. He handed Jim a handful of the mushrooms and a business card.

“You may have just saved my marriage.”

“That’s what friends are for!” Bob said. “Now let’s eat before this heart gets cold.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Story Published!

My story Phobic Consequences has been published. A short horror story about spiders and a young girl's fear of them. You can read it here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing

Molly hung her purse on the coat rack and kicked off her shoes. She hadn’t been drinking but she felt giddy like she’d had a few wine coolers. Her eyes were bright and she couldn’t stop smiling as she made her way into the living room and plopped on the couch.

“What is this feeling?” She hadn’t felt like this since before her mother had died years ago. This sudden flood of happiness had caught her off guard. As she thought about her life for the last few weeks, Molly realized it made sense.

She’d finally come to terms with being a lesbian after more than 18 years of wrestling with the decision and made the first move forward. Her decision to get a college degree after more than 20 years since her high school graduation had been a good one, too. She loved her new classes and was doing well.

Then today, they had spent the day with her daughter’s boyfriend and his extended family at a backyard party. Being around all those fun people including them as if they were family had definitely contributed. A successful trip to the store to get new sneakers and flip-flops for her teenage daughter was the cherry on top of her happy sundae.

“So this is what it feels like. I like it,” she said aloud. Molly smiled then stood up and got ready for bed—brushing her teeth and taking her medicine. She was at peace with herself for the first time ever and she fell into a deep sleep.

When her daughter went to wake her the next morning, she discovered her mother was dead. On the pillow next to her head was a note.

“I experienced true happiness and it was too much to bear. I’m sorry. Love, Mom”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trapped at the Zoo

10-year-old Sandy loved animals. She had a dog, two cats, a rabbit and a tank full of fish. Every day she would spend hours taking care of them and they loved her. Sandy planned on becoming a vet when she grew up.

It was spring and her parents took her to the zoo on opening day so she could see all the baby animals. Sandy ran from one exhibit to the next. “Oh Mom! They’re so wonderful,” Sandy said.

At the lion exhibit, Sandy stopped and stared at the young lions. They were so cute and huggable. She just needed to pet one. When her parents weren’t looking she sneaked away to look for the entrance.

Sandy found the door and slipped inside. It didn’t take her long to get outside and find the cubs that were napping in the sun. She gently ran her hand over the head of the one closest to her and giggled when it licked her with its tongue.

She was so engrossed in the cubs that she didn’t hear the screams from the people around the enclosure. Sandy looked up when she heard her mother’s scream, “Help my daughter!”

The lion trainers entered the lion exhibit with tranquilizer guns. Their only hope was to shoot the lionesses before they realized what was happening. One was napping in the sun and they were able to shoot her easily. The other, however, had been roused by the screams from the bystanders.

The lioness saw Sandy and let out a roar then bounded towards her. The trainers shot at her three times and missed with each shot. Sandy saw the lioness coming towards her and tried to run away but the animal was too fast.

The lioness pinned the girl to the ground then ripped out her throat. Sandy died instantly. The cubs gathered around Sandy’s body and started tearing her apart. The trainers had reloaded and easily shot the lioness as they ate and they were able to remove the cubs and lock them. Very little of the young girl remained.

The parents approached the zookeeper. “You can allow them to finish eating her and leave her carcass there as a warning to other children,” her father said.

“You don’t want to be able to bury her?” the zookeeper asked.

“There’s so little left, it wouldn’t be worth buying a casket,” Sandy’s mother said. “Besides, it is an appropriate punishment for her behavior.”

“Do you want to say good-bye to your daughter while the lions are still knocked out?” the zookeeper asked.

“No, we’re good,” her father said. They looked towards Sandy’s half-eaten body for a moment then headed towards the entrance.

Sandy raced after them. “Wait! Don’t leave without me!” she called out. They couldn’t hear her and kept walking.

When she got to the entrance to the zoo, Sandy ran into a barrier she that wasn’t able to pass through. She was stuck inside the zoo. Sandy was sad then started to smile as she realized that being stuck in the zoo meant she would always be able to be near the animals. Her dreams come true!

Sandy raced to the sheep pen. As she got close, they started bleating loudly and ran away from her. She went to the horses; they ran away from her too. The same thing happened with every animal. They were all afraid of her.

As Sandy sat on a bench outside the lion enclosure, she started crying as her mother’s words came back to her. “An appropriate punishment,” she’d said.

Her punishment was to be forever trapped in the zoo and unable to pet the animals because she was a ghost. Sandy said aloud, “I have the meanest parents ever.”

© June 14, 2011

Life Goes On

"Is that your new son?" Janice asked, pointing at the new picture on the wall.

"Yes, we adopted Timmy from Earth," Margo said as she served Martian coffee and grug bug bread to her friend. "There were so many Earthlings stranded after World War III destroyed everything. It is the least we could do."

"Have the twins tried to eat him yet?"

"Hannah did."

"That's terrible!" Janice said.

"Timmy wasn't happy about it but we gave him a space horse as a gift to help him be more forgiving. They’ve left him alone since."

"You're so brave. I don't think I could do it."

“They’re quite clean and friendly, at least the ones we’ve had.”

They looked out the kitchen window to see what the kids were doing in the backyard. Jenna had Timmy’s hand in her mouth and Hannah had half his foot chewed off.

Margo ran out the door yelling, “Put him down!”

By the time she got to them, Timmy was in shock from the loss of blood and she couldn’t tear her daughters away. She gave up and let them finish.

“That’s the third one this month,” Margo said after she returned to the kitchen.

“My goodness!” Janice said.

“You know how preteen Martian girls are. They can be a blood thirsty lot,” said Margo. “I’ll have to go back down to the agency next week and see if we can get another.”

The oven timer dinged and Margo pulled a baked zumbia out of the oven. She sliced the snakehead open to see if it was done. “Perfect,” she said and put it on the table. Margo and Janice quietly ate their lunch.

When the girls were done, they came inside. Their clothes were blood-soaked and the blood covered their hands and face. “We’re sorry for eating Timmy,” they said in unison. “We only meant to nibble.”

“You’re forgiven,” Margo said. “Now, go upstairs and take a shower then get ready to go to the mall.”

© June 14, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Father’s Gift

“Don’t do this,” he pleaded as she covered his body with webbing.

“The children need to be fed.”

“They need a father!”

“What greater gift can you give than to be their nourishment?” she asked as she bit his lip and filled his body with venom. His insides liquefied as she finished and hung him from the ceiling.

When the contractions started she laid down and soon delivered a large sac filled with spider eggs. She moved it next to the cocoon.

When she returned a week later their children covered his body, hungrily eating from him. “Thank you father!”

© 2006

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Timing

“Time to make the doughnuts,” said the man on the commercial. As a diabetic with a gluten allergy, doughnuts were something Bob couldn’t eat. Commercials like that had always frustrated him, especially when there was a new one every day.

Bob decided to take matters into his own hands. He drove across town to the studio and waited for the doughnut man to leave after filming another frustration-filled commercial.

“Time to bury the doughnut man,” Bob said and shot him.

© June 9, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hidden Costs of Kids

Four-year-old Sara woke in the middle of the night with intense stomach pains. When her parents got to her room, she was bent in half and holding her stomach. She was inconsolable as her parents rushed her to the emergency room.

The doctor examined Sara’s stomach carefully. He watched it swell and ripple under the skin. The only time he'd seen anything like it before was when he tripped over a dead animal with maggots under its skin when he was a kid.

"What is it?" Sara's mom asked.

"I'm not sure," he answered then ordered an ultrasound. The technician arrived with a portable ultrasound machine and ran the probe over Sara's stomach. He stared at the monitor with a stunned look.

“Doc, look at this,” he said.

"Has Sara eaten anything unusual recently?" the doctor asked as he watched the monitor.

"No, not that I'm aware of," her mother answered. "Why?"

"Look at the monitor," the doctor replied.

Sara's parents looked at the monitor. There were several small shrimp-like things swimming around her stomach.

"What is that?" her father asked as Sara's mother leaned in closer. Her face lit up as she realized what they were looking at.

"Sara did you eat the sea monkey kit?" she asked. Sara started to shake her head no then nodded her head.

"Oh Sara!" her mother gasped.

"Let's step outside," the doctor said. When they were in the hallway, he said, "I’m not sure what to do. They should not have survived in her stomach. The acid should have destroyed the eggs and they never should have hatched, much less be growing."

"We need to destroy them," Sara's father said.

"Doctor! Come quick!" the nurse called. They ran back into the room. Sara's stomach was expanding and she was puking from the pain.

"Mommy, it hurts!" Sara's mother held her daughter close.

"It is a long shot but maybe if we hit them with a massive dose of radiation we can destroy them in one hit," the doctor said.

"What’s the downside?"

"She might lose her hair and the usual side effects to getting radiation," the doctor answered.

Sara puked again and her cries cut through her father. "Do it," he said.

The doctor nodded his head then disappeared to set up the radiation treatment. The radiation therapy nurse arrived a short time later and wheeled Sara to the nuclear medicine center.

"Please wait here," the nurse said. Sara's mother and father kissed Sara. Her parents were weeping helplessly as Sara disappeared into the radiation room. As they waited, they paced back and forth. Five minutes turned to 10 minutes, which turned to 20 minutes.

Suddenly they heard Sara screaming then the sound of equipment being smashed in the treatment room. Sara's father ran to the door and bumped into the nurse as she staggered out of the room. Her head was bleeding profusely and she was holding her ribs.

She slammed the alarm on the wall outside the room and the hospital was filled with flashing red lights and warning sirens. Sara's father tried to push past the nurse but she fought against him. "You can’t go in there!” she said. “It's a monster!"

He stopped when he saw the huge sea monkey. It was thrashing around the room trying to detach from Sara's body. It emitted a high-pitch scream of frustration.

The waiting room filled with security guards and hospital other personnel.

“What’s the emergency?” Fred, one of the guards, asked. Before anyone could answer, the mutant sea monkey screamed again then slithered towards the door, dragging Sara’s body with it.

“Holy crap!” Fred said. He pulled his gun and started to shoot the monster.

“Don’t shoot my baby!” Sara’s mom yelled as the guard emptied his gun. The bullets didn’t phase the monster and it continued towards them.

“Everyone out! Now!” Fred said. “Bob, get everyone cleared out of here. John, give me your gun then call for back up.”

John handed Fred his gun then ran down the hall to use the phone and dialed 911. While he talked to the dispatcher, Fred emptied the gun’s bullets into the creature. It still kept coming towards him, though its screams of frustration were now from anger as the pain ticked it off.

“Bring heavy duty guns,” John told the dispatcher. “Our bullets aren’t slowing it down at all.”

Fred and John joined the group that had formed at the end of the hallway. “Get everyone outside,” Fred ordered as the sea monkey slithered towards them. The monster had grown and barely fit in the hallway. Its head smashed through the ceiling tiles and its appendages scraped along the walls.

The 10-member police department SWAT team arrived with submachine guns and shotguns. They formed a barrier between the monster and the main part of the hospital then opened fire on it. The sound of the weapons firing was deafening as it bounced off the walls and smoke filled the corridor.

When the smoke cleared, blood was splattered everywhere and the sea monkey was dead, its seven-foot long body riddled with dozens of bullet holes. The National Guard was called in to remove the monster. They used chain saws to cut it into movable pieces, which were dispatched to a secret military laboratory for examination.

Sara’s body was taken to the hospital morgue for an autopsy. The final report was inconclusive on how the mutant sea monkey had been able to live and grow in her stomach. A week later, they buried their daughter. When they got home from the cemetery, a process server was waiting for them—the hospital was suing them for damages.

After two hours of deliberation, the jury found them guilty. The judge ordered all their assets be sold then their salaries garnished until the debt was paid. The judge dismissed the courtroom. On the way back to his chambers he commented to the bailiff, “No one warns you about the hidden costs of having a kid.”

© June 3, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Probing Tale

Dan ran into the bathroom and slammed the door, quickly locking it. With only one way into the room, he was sure he was safe from the aliens. Dan didn’t know why, but they always showed up when he slept in the nude. He sat on the toilet, his gun aimed at the door.

He felt a tickle on his butt cheeks then heard a small splash. Before Dan could react, the anal probe was inserted.

"Dammit! Not again!” he said. The last time they’d gotten him in bed as he slept in the nude.

Dan writhed in pain as nanobots shot out of the probe and escaped through the thin membrane into his bloodstream. They headed towards his brain. He gripped the sink and tried to move away but the probe dug into the tissue causing him more pain so he sat back down and didn’t try to move again.

The nanobots attached to his brain and started downloading his knowledge and memories. When they were done, he could feel them detaching and slipping back into the bloodstream. As they neared the probe they were sucked out. Dan could feel his innards being pulled downward with the suction.

He screamed in pain. “Please stop!”

They pulled the probe, full of the nanobots and his stool, out of his anus and it disappeared back down the pipes to the sewer.

Dan fell to the floor. He hurt more than he’d ever hurt before. Even passing a kidney stone two years ago had been less painful. Dan was sure death would be preferable and took his gun then shot himself in the head. The aliens outside the door broke in and teleported his body to the spaceship for dry-freeze storage.

Meanwhile, the aliens in the sewers flushed away the extraneous stuff and put the nanobots into a test tube labeled with Dan’s name. They teleported back to their spaceship then took the test tube to the laboratory where a robot named Dan II, which had been created with Dan’s DNA, waited. They loaded the nanobots into the robot and they formed a brain inside the head.

The aliens entered some codes into the computer and wirelessly transmitted the start-up sequence to the robot. Dan II’s eyes flickered open and he looked around. “Who are you and where is my house?” he said as he stood up then moved away from the aliens.

“We are not here to hurt you, we want to help earthlings,” the alien said.

“What do we need help with?”

“Overpopulation and not enough food for everyone,” the alien answered.

“How?”

“We have provided you with the information and it will be activated after you awake tomorrow.”

“What if I won’t do it?” Dan II asked.

“You have no choice; you cost too much to make for this to fail. We are going to power you down now. When you awake you’ll have no memory of this.”

Dan II tried to protest but it was too late; the shut down sequence had been sent to his body. They moved his lifeless body to the transport chamber and closed it, then sent Dan II to Dan’s house.

The aliens undressed him and put him into bed before teleporting back to the spaceship. The start-up sequence was sent along with the codes for the plans to fix the Earth’s woes. Dan II slept through all of it.

Dan II woke up when his alarm clock went off. He sat up then looked around. Everything looked normal but he couldn’t shake a feeling that something had happened last night. He chalked it up to drinking too much then went downstairs. Dan II started making coffee when the plans to fix the overpopulation and food shortage loaded into his head.

“That’s brilliant,” he said aloud.

He called work and quit then went to the bank to get a loan. When he got there, he discovered that he had received a huge boost to his bank account that morning that would more than cover the costs for the project.

Dan II built several storage silos on some land he bought out in the country. Next, he built a factory with a machine that could turn any living creature into highly nutritious compost that when used by farmers to grow more and better crops.

The aliens, who had been monitoring the progress, teleported a dozen poor and homeless people to Dan II’s factory to test it out. He ran them through it then tested the compost. It was better than anything on the market.

The next day he sent samples out to farmers in the area. They were impressed by the nearly instant difference and ordered tons of the compost. Every night after that the aliens teleported hundreds of poor and homeless people to the factory then Dan II shipped the compost out.

The news was filled with reports of missing people and the sudden boom in farmer’s crops, which eased both the overpopulation and the food shortage. The subsequent effect was a higher quality of life for all Earthlings. No one made a connection to Dan II and the aliens were pleased with their plan.

All was going well until Dan II bumped his head and the nanobots were temporarily dislodged. When they started working again, his knowledge of right and wrong had been restored and he could no longer kill humans and turn them into compost. In fact, he was going to turn himself into the police the next day for the murders he had committed.

The aliens couldn’t have the truth about Dan II’s technology discovered. That night the aliens teleported Dan’s dead body back to the house then teleported Dan II back to the spaceship and powered him down. When the aliens returned home, they reported their findings: “The human conscience is more powerful than our programming. We must remove it and free will before we can move forward with the plans to purify the Earthlings’ DNA for our consumption.”

© June 1, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surprise Endings

Omar installed the bomb in the trunk of his car. He set the detonator in the glove box then headed to the town center.

“If you die, love continues. Protect your family,” said the radio spokesman.

Omar saw an insurance agency and stopped to talk to an agent. Omar left knowing, regardless of the cost, his large family would be taken care of.

He stopped at a traffic light and was rear-ended. His life passed before his eyes as he braced for the explosion then died from a heart attack.

© May 31, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Snack

Carrie laughed as she ran ahead of the group. She’d been warned to stay with tour but she hadn’t been listening. She never listened.

Just as she was out of sight a giant stepped out onto the path. Carrie ran into his big toe.

The giant squatted to get a better look then picked her up. “You’ll make a yummy snack.”

She screamed as the giant put her in his shirt pocket. No one heard her as the giant continued on his way. Carrie was never seen again.

Moral: Listen to your tour guide.

© July 12, 2006

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Twitter fiction

I focused the lens on my target. She was beautiful but oblivious as I waited for an embarrassing moment. Ahh, the life of the paparazzi.

I blew out the candles and made a wish. I smiled as a zombie hoard attacked my family. The inheritance I got was the perfect birthday gift.

I sat on the privy, the gun aimed at the door. I'd be safe here. I felt a tickle then the probe. "Argh!" There's no escaping damned aliens.

"We're free!" cried the guppies. They swam into the deep water, oblivious to the turtle until he lunged at them from under the rock. "Nom!"

Dan circled X-70. He realized how the planet was named: it was like stepping into a disco filled with green-skinned aliens during the 1970s.

He stalks me in my dreams. Trying to bribe me with all the things I want so I'll stay. But I can't; I'm not ready. Death will have to wait.

Torrential rain falls, flooding the window sill. As I close it, I see the open car window. I run out, keys in hand. Soaked, I utter, "FML."

The groom ran off with the pastor. Stranded and devastated, she destroyed the flowers and the wedding cake then hung herself with her veil.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Missing Scones

Sue started brewing a pot of coffee then opened the cookie jar to get a chocolate scone she’d made the night before. Instead, she found $150. “What the heck? Bob, did you eat the scones?” Sue asked. He shook his head. “Do you know where this money came from?”

“The scone fairy?”

“Very funny,” she replied.

That night she made a double batch of chocolate scones. The next morning, they were all gone and $300 was in their place. They didn’t know what to think.

“Make more tonight,” Bob said when he called her at work later. “I’ll set up a hidden video camera and we’ll solve this mystery.”

When they got up, the triple batch was gone and there was $600 in the jar. They watched the video—the chocolate scones disappeared then were replaced with money but there was no one visible on the tape.

They left four batches of chocolate scones on the counter that night. In the morning, they found $900 and a note.

“Thanks for making those amazing chocolate scones. As a rare delicacy on Zarflart, we could have both been rich. Too bad you were greedy and saturated the market. Sincerely, Hyzar”

© May 24, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Fishy Tale

"What's in the cooler?" the border guard asked.

"Fish I caught," John answered as he opened the container. The pungent smell of fish filled the small room.

"Close it up," the guard said holding his nose. The drug dogs whimpered at the overwhelming smell. The guard waved him through. John loaded the cooler back into his truck then drove across the border into Texas. By the time he reached Dallas, the fish had defrosted.

He stopped at a deserted building in a rundown section of the city. John messaged his dealers to tell them he had fresh supplies. While he waited for them to show up, he sliced the fish open and removed more than 150 kilos of Mexican cocaine. When the dealers came by to pick up their stashes they dropped off his portion of their sales from the last supply drop.

On the way home, he dropped off the fish at the St. Mary’s Church food kitchen for Friday’s fish dinner. When John got home, he put the money in a safe hidden in his basement then went upstairs to take a shower.

He smiled as the hot water beat against his body and thought about how clever he’d been to hide the drugs in frozen fish. He was so caught up in applauding himself that he didn’t notice the Drug Enforcement Taskforce standing in the doorway.

John turned the water off then reached for his towel. “Freeze,” the lead officer said. “You’re under arrest. Pick up the towel slowly and cover yourself.”

He covered up then turned to face the police. They motioned for him to move to the bedroom and waited for him to get dressed. An officer cuffed him and read him his rights while another placed the fishy clothes into a plastic evidence bag. They led him out of the house then took him to the police station.

“How did you catch me?” John asked the two officers after he settled into a chair in the interrogation room. He was sure one of his dealers had snitched.

“The staff at the church started cutting into the fish and discovered you’d missed a brick. Their security cameras showed you coming and going with the cooler that you left there,” one officer answered.

John smacked himself in the forehead as the other officer said, “I guess what they say is true: no good deed goes unpunished.”

© May 20, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Child's Play

God looked at the universe with frustration. He had laid the planets out a dozen times and none of the configurations worked. He looked at his diagrams again then put them in a new configuration. God set them in motion, the rotations were all wrong.

"I need a break," God said. He went upstairs to get a cup of fresh coffee.

Satan, who was just three years old, sneaked into the workshop. He picked up the planets and rolled them around the room. He heard his father coming back and dumped the planets back into the universe then slipped out before he got caught.

God set his coffee down then looked at the Milky Way again. All the planets had been rearranged. "This is Satan's work," he thought.

He checked his diagrams, it was a configuration he hadn't tried yet—Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. God put it in motion. It was perfect.

He decided not to punish the little devil for playing in his workshop; after all, he had saved him days of work. Besides, God didn’t want anyone to find out his divine plan had been child’s play.

Copyright © May 15, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sweet Rewards

“Hey handsome,” Barb said as she slipped onto the bar stool next to Bill. He looked around to see whom she was talking to. “I mean you, silly.”

“I’m not rich, I’m not even a college graduate,” he replied. Bill didn’t have anything against cougars, especially beautiful ones with gorgeous bodies, but he liked to be upfront about his status in life.

“Would you like to be rich?” she asked as she pressed her firm breasts against his arm suggestively.

“Seriously?”

“The name’s Barb Collins,” she said. “Come with me.”

Bill was a geek but he knew not to argue with a beautiful woman and followed her out of the bar to her waiting limo. He climbed into the back then sat next to her. She leaned forward, poured them each a glass of white wine and handed him one.

“What … what do I have to do?” he asked nervously as the car pulled away from the curb.

“I need you to collect something for me.”

“What is it?”

“A recipe.”

Bill laughed. “You’ve gotta be kidding,” he replied. “What’s it for?”

“Mrs. Field’s Famous Neiman-Marcus Cookies.”

“That’s just a hoax,” Bill said.

“I paid $250 for the recipe and I never received it,” Barb said. “I have identified where it is. All you have to do is get it for me then I will make you rich.”

“I’ll do it,” he replied. She gave him instructions on where the recipe was kept along with the schedule of the secretary who guarded it.

“We’ll be here when you’re done. Just knock on the window.”

Bill entered the building and took the elevator to the ninth floor. He waited near the secretary’s desk, pretending to read a paper he’d picked up from someone’s cubicle. When the secretary left for her afternoon cigarette break, Bill opened the center desk drawer and pulled out the key to the filing cabinet.

He quickly found the folder with the recipe in it then pulled it out and slipped it into his pocket. Bill barely put the key back into the drawer and started walking away when the secretary returned.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

“No, I am on the wrong floor,” he said then quickly walked to the elevator. On the way to the first floor, he read the recipe and wondered what was so special about it. It looked like a regular oatmeal chocolate chip recipe to him.

The limo was still parked in front of the building. He knocked on the window and it slowly rolled down. Barb’s hand slid out and he handed her the recipe. “Perfection! Thank you so much!” she said then read the recipe. Bill cleared his throat.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten. Sell these when the market gets hot,” she said.

He read the top one. “What’s this?”

“You’ll find out in a few years. Just put them in a safe deposit box and forget about them until 2004,” she said as she handed him 10,000 shares of Google stock. “Now I must go. Thank you again, you were superb.”

Bill stepped away from the curb and watched the limo pull away. He looked down at the stack of stocks then headed home. The next day he put them in a safe deposit box at the local bank and went on with life.

* * *

Bill was reading the newspaper with his morning coffee when he read the headline, “Google Goes Public.” He remembered the stocks he’d sealed away and smiled. Barb Collins had finally made him rich. Bill just needed to wait for the stocks to reach more than $100 a share so when he sold the stocks; he’d be set for life.

On his way to the bank to collect the stocks, Bill passed a bookstore. In the front window was a book titled, “Uncovering the Truth: The Cookie Recipe Hoax,” by Barb Collins. He went inside and picked up a copy of the book.

The picture on the inside back flap was of the woman who had hired him to steal the recipe. She hadn’t changed at all over the last eight years. Bill opened the book and flipped to the dedication. “To the man who made this possible; enjoy your reward.”

He looked up and saw there was going to be a book signing by her in an hour. Bill took the book then found a comfy chair and started reading it. He was amazed at the story and that she’d even mentioned his part in obtaining the evidence she needed.

There was a commotion by the entrance when she arrived. He watched as she made her way to the table that was set up for the signing. Bill got in the back of the line and waited as more than a dozen people ahead of him got their copies signed.

She smiled up at him. “So lovely to see you again! Have you cashed in your reward yet?”

“Not yet. I think I’m going to wait for it to go to more than $100,” he answered. “I have to know. How did you do it?”

“A bit of luck being in the right place when my friend’s time machine needed to be tested,” she replied. “The rest, as they say, is history.”

© May 11, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Zombies: The Opera

Caitlin and Karen walked across the foggy stage. As they passed the cemetery, the music grew creepy and a zombie started singing, "Br-ains! Br-ains! Brrr-ains!"

The girls screamed and it chased them into an alley. "Help us please! Won’t someone save us?" the girls sang, the music growing intense. "We don't want to become zombies; we wanna grow up to be mommies!"

Jesse jumped up out of the dumpster carrying a baseball bat. The music turned heroic as he sang, "Pick on someone your own size! Or I'll turn you into mush.”

The music began to crescendo. "Br-ains! Br-ains! Brrr-ains!" sang the zombie, lunging for Karen. It was about to bite her head when James appeared at the alley entrance and shot it in the head. The zombie teetered.

"Don't forget to double tap," James sang then shot the zombie again. The orchestra played triumphant music as the girls thanked their heroes with kisses and the curtain closed. A standing ovation followed.

The next night The Zombie News ran a review: "Zombies: The Opera had a mindless plot with soulless music. If I were alive, I’d have been bored to death. Stay in your crypts, it isn’t worth the trip.”

Copyright © May 11, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Mother’s Day Visit

I stood over my mother’s plot, the flowers I’d gotten her laid on the ground at my feet. I held a faded scrap of paper and a vial the voodoo man had given me. “Shake the contents of the vial over the grave three times then recite the poem,” I read.

I shook the contents of the vial then read, “Rise from the dead, sleepy head. Its time to rise from where you have lain. Rise from the dead, sleepy head. Your loved one wants to see you again.”

The earth shook, the soil parting as my mother’s skeletal body rose from the ground. She groaned angrily as she stood up, glaring at me.

I picked up the flowers and held them out to her, my hands shaking. “Happy Mother’s Day! I love you.”

She knocked them out of my hands and lunged at me. She grabbed my shirt as she tried to pull me close, her mouth opening to take a bite from my head.

“Go back to the earth, to your endless berth!” I quickly said as I pushed her backwards. The earth opened and swallowed her then closed over her body.

“See you again next year Mom.”

© May 7, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Three Wishes

"Get your cheap wishes here! Just three for $100!" the medieval faire vendor called out.

"I bet they're not real wishes," Ben said.

"They're fairy certified!" the vendor said as he pulled out the certification for him to read.

"Prove it," Ben challenged.

"I’m sorry Sir, but no free samples," the vendor replied, walking away.

"Wait up," Ben called. "I'll buy three."

The vendor took Ben's money then handed him three tokens. "Find a wishing well and toss one coin in per wish. But be careful for what you wish for, because you might not get what you expect."

Ben put the tokens in his pocket then wandered around the world for several months looking for a wishing well. The vendor’s warning was soon gone from his thoughts.

During his travels, he’d felt alone and wanted someone to travel with. Ben didn’t want to marry just anyone though, he wanted to marry the most beautiful woman in the world. When he finally found a wishing well he threw a coin in and wished for the most beautiful woman.

A woman appeared next to him but she wasn't beautiful. In fact, Ben thought she was very ugly. When she spoke, however, he discovered she was a beautiful person on the inside. But that’s not what he had wished for.

“I can’t marry someone so ugly,” Ben said and sent her away.

“Stupid wishing well,” he grumbled. If he were wealthy, he could get any woman he wanted to marry him and he wouldn’t have to rely on the wishing well to give him a beautiful wife. Ben threw another token into the wishing well.

“I want to be rich,” he said as the coin hit the water.

He headed to a nearby bank to check his accounts. They hadn’t changed and he was still poor. Instead, he felt a richness in his life and every new experience made him feel richer.

“Bah! This not what I wanted!” he lamented. Ben ignored the feelings and they soon faded, leaving him feeling like himself again.

Ben went back to the wishing well and thanklessly kicked it. “Stupid thing! You’ve not given me anything I wished for. I wish you’d never existed!” Ben said angrily. The last token slipped from his hand and fell into the well.

“No! I wasn’t ready!” Ben cried out as he jumped into the wishing well after the token. There was a loud splash then Ben and the wishing well disappeared. He was never heard from again.

© April 26, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

High Stakes

"All in," Anna bets, her voice emotionless, after she looks at her cards—a pair of twos. Her flesh-rotted hands push her chips across the green table.

"$127,950 to call," the dealer says.

Jeremy, Chris and Ian fold. David checks his cards—two kings.

Anna smiles at him flirtatiously and winks. A brainless zombina, she often forgot she was no longer a sex kitten.

"Call," he says, not swayed by her tactics. Anna reveals her cards; David smiles as he reveals his kings.

The dealer lays down a two, king and three on the flop then a four on the turn.

"Let's make this interesting," Anna suggests. "If I win, you let me gnaw on your brain. If you win, you can take me back to your room."

He'd always wondered what sex with a zombie would be like and with only one possible out, it was as close to a sure thing as he could get.

"You’re on," David agrees.

The dealer sets one card to the side the flips over the river card. A two.

"How did you do that?" David demands.

"Lady Luck," she answers with a smile then walks around the table to collect her winnings.

© April 23, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Splice of Life

David and Neil entered the clinic, hand in hand. They were so excited they’d found a program that would allow them to have a child with both of their DNA, a privilege that was only available to heterosexual couples until a few months ago.

“Welcome to A Splice of Life,” the receptionist greeted.

“We’d like to have our DNA spliced together,” Neil said.

“Take these cups and put your name on them then go into one of the empty rooms and fill them with your ejaculate. When you’re done, put the lid on the cup and place it in the fridge,” the nurse explained. The two men went into separate rooms and filled the cups as directed.

They were taken into an office and given a long form to fill out with every kind of DNA that could be manipulated listed. They had to choose which ones they wanted from each person to be included in the splicing. When they finished, they handed the form to the nurse.

“You’ve read the literature and understand all the possible outcomes?” the nurse asked. Even though they’d only glanced through it, they nodded their heads. “Please sign here and here.”

“We’ll call you we’re ready to impregnate the surrogate,” the nurse said when they finished.

Three weeks later, they received the call. “We’re all set. Your DNA has been spliced together carefully following your list. We have fertilized the egg from the donor and will put it into the surrogate mother on her next ovulation.”

Over the next nine months, the two men decorated the nursery and received updates on their baby, including monthly ultrasound images and health reports.

A week after the baby was due they got the call. “Congratulations, your son has been born,” the nurse told them.

They rushed to the hospital and held each other close as they looked at their son. “He has your eyes and nose,” Neil said.

“And your cheeks and mouth,” David replied.

On the way home to finish preparations for their son’s arrival, they stopped at the clinic to pay the remainder of their bill. “Thank you so much,” they said to the billing clerk. “Samuel is perfect.”

Everything was wonderful for the first few months. Two days after Samuel had turned 13 weeks old; they were playing on the floor with their son when David noticed that Samuel was missing the little toe from his left foot.

“Well, that’s odd,” said Neil. They agreed that one missing toe wasn’t that big a deal and kept playing with Samuel.

Two days later, another toe was missing and Samuel’s nose was collapsing. David and Neil started to panic. Their baby was falling apart!

They called the clinic and demanded to talk to the doctor. When he got on the phone, they explained what was happening.

“You read the literature, correct?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, of course,” Neil lied.

“Then you’re aware that DNA splicing is not a perfect science yet,” the doctor explained. “There could be some side effects like those you’re seeing. It is possible there will be many more or this could be all there will be. Only time will tell.”

For the next week, they watched as more of his body parts fell off or collapsed. His mental abilities were going in reverse. Neil called the clinic again, demanding to talk to the doctor.

“It is getting worse,” Neil said. “Is there anything you can do?”

“You have two options. You can have your son placed into our rejection program where he will be studied and contribute to the future of spliced DNA research until he dies. Or you can keep him at home and watch him deteriorate until he dies,” the doctor explained.

“We’ll get back to you,” Neil said.

Later that afternoon, Neil and David solemnly drove to the clinic with their son and entered him into the rejection program. After they signed the transfer of guardianship to the clinic, the nurse said, “Ya win some and ya lose some. That’s the chance you take when you mess with nature.”

Copyright © April 21, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Story published

My short story, "The Gift," was published a few days ago. It is a fictionalization of my late husband's last 12 hours as seen from the viewpoint of his wife. The story was written for my college short story writing class. You can find it at: www.pensonfire.com/gift.html. Here are the first few paragraphs:

Molly Simpson looked at her reflection in the mirror as she ran cold water over the thin white washcloth she was holding. Her chubby face with large bags under her eyes and gaunt skin from too many nights of not enough sleep made her look much more than 30 years old. There were hints of grey all over her short brown hair that hadn't been there six months ago. The harsh lights in the small bathroom did nothing to help her look better.

She was exhausted and she wanted nothing more than to go home to her king-size bed and fall into a deep and dreamless sleep. Instead, she was at the hospital tending to her soon-to-be ex-husband Patrick. He'd called her at work and asked her to come see him. Molly had wanted to tell him no but couldn't come up with a better excuse than "I'm too tired" so she dropped Aileen, their six year old daughter, at his mother's house after work and headed to the hospital.

When the fabric was soaked, she turned off the tap and carefully wrung it out. Molly carried the still dripping washcloth across the white tiled linoleum floor to Patrick's hospital bed, which was reclined slightly so he was able to sit up comfortably. His balding head was resting on a pillow.

"Can you turn down the heat?" Patrick motioned in frustration to the controls on the radiator under the window. "It's too damned hot in here."

"Here, maybe this will help some," Molly offered, not wanting to get into a pointless fight over heat. She used the washcloth to mop up the sweat beading on his face then gently placed it on his forehead. He sighed as it took the edge off and he seemed to relax for the first time since she walked into the large white room.

Molly evaluated his condition and wasn't happy about what she saw-he was having trouble breathing, unable to cool down, and couldn't get comfortable. The standard-issue white and blue checked hospital gown was sticking to him all over as he sweated profusely. Molly wasn't a medical professional but she'd spent enough time around hospitals and sick people to know when things were not as they should be.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Do Over

Anna sat at a table in the bakery waiting for Fred to arrive. From her seat, she could easily see both doorways so there was no way she would miss his arrival. She ran her fingers over her carefully styled hair as she caught a glimpse of herself in the window. Anna’s full breasts looked amazing under the new sweater that modestly hinted at the ample bounty below and her pants cleverly made her large stomach not look so big. She looked good and couldn't wait for Fred to see her.

Her thoughts wandered and Anna smiled as she pictured Fred's long black hair pulled back into a ponytail, his scruffy beard, slim body and dark eyes behind thin-rimmed glasses. She was sure they had connected during the writing workshops he'd led six months ago. Fred had even piqued her interest in reading again. It wasn't much of a surprise when Anna realized she was completely smitten with the much younger man.

She didn’t think she’d ever hear from him again but then she’d gotten an e-mail from him about six weeks ago. They’d e-mailed back and forth a few times then he’d asked if she would like to meet him for tea or coffee. Anna eagerly replied, saying she’d love that. She couldn’t believe she was going to be seeing him again and felt as giddy as a school girl.

Anna glanced at the clock; Fred was fifteen minutes late. She decided to give him a chance and wait a bit longer. Her heart jumped when her phone beeped announcing she had a message then sank again as she checked it—the message was from her daughter telling her she was home from school. Anna replied then read the menu boards behind the cash register to keep from thinking about Fred not being there yet.

Fifteen more minutes passed and still no Fred. He had stood her up and hadn’t even had the decency to at least text her saying he wouldn’t be there. Anna picked up her purse then walked out and got in her car. She rested her forehead against the steering wheel as the tears started to fall.

"You're such a foolish old lady," Anna said aloud. She grabbed some napkins then blew her nose and wiped away the tears. “You should have known better.”

Anna couldn’t face heading home yet. She started the car and drove to a nearby park, parking next to the pond. It was still covered with ice with several signs around the shore warning about thin ice.

A hole in the middle of the pond caught her attention and she was reminded of a commercial she'd seen the night before. The character was now an angel after having fallen through the ice on his snowmobile and he was warning others not to make the mistake he had.

She stared at the hole and wondered if she could make it to it without breaking more ice. If she could, maybe the frigid water could numb the pain Anna felt. Fred standing her up was the last straw. She was tired of playing the fool and always feeling so alone.

Anna pulled out her cell phone and texted her daughter. "He didn't show. I'm going to be at the pond for a bit. I love you and I'm sorry."

She turned the phone off before she got a reply then got out of the car, leaving the keys in the ignition. Anna walked to the shore and carefully stepped onto the ice. It crackled and creaked under her weight but was thick enough to hold her. She slowly slid across the ice towards the hole.

"Hey! Can't you read? The ice isn't safe," a man called out from the shore. Anna ignored him and continued towards the hole.

A loud crack echoed around the pond and the ice split under her. Anna cried out as she lost her balance and fell into the cold water. Her body temperature rapidly dropped and she was unable to climb out of the hole. As she started to lose consciousness, she thought, “I’m free.”

Darkness enveloped Anna as she passed from the living to the dead. Her soul was salvaged by the Grim Reaper as she floated lifelessly in the water. When he got back to his office he examined Anna's 426-year-old soul.

"True enlightenment has not been reached," he declared then placed her soul in the reincarnation pile with the rest of the souls still needing to figure it out.

© March 31, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nothing Changes

Molly sat on the edge of the dock, looking down at the ice. It reminded her of the frosted glass on classroom windows at school that hid her pain and humiliation from the outside world. The 13 year old pulled her cell phone out of her backpack and typed, "I can't take the fat jokes anymore. Goodbye."

She stared at the message as tears filled her eyes. Molly selected Facebook and her parents from her contacts then clicked send. The “message sent” notification appeared and she closed the phone, setting back in her bag.

Molly took a deep breath as she slid off the dock until her feet touched the ice. She could hear it crackling under her but Molly ignored it as she slowly skated across the ice.

"The ice is too thin! Come back!" a man called from the shore. She pretended not to hear him.

There was a loud crack and the ice beneath her parted to reveal the frigid water below. Molly moved closer to the hole and her weight caused it to open wider.

More people were calling to her now and she could hear the hum of a helicopter approaching. Molly focused on the opening, ignoring their pleas.

Suddenly there was another crack and Molly cried out as she disappeared with a large splash. She froze almost instantly and her body bobbed lifelessly in the water. The rescue team in the helicopter pulled her out and rushed her to the hospital. Molly was pronounced dead on arrival.

Her hecklers laughed when they saw her in the casket. The director quickly escorted them outside. They spotted a fat girl walking down the street and started making fun of her. The director shook his head as he watched. "Nothing changes," he said then closed the door.

© March 30, 2011

Careless Parenting

It was an unseasonably warm day for March and Max took the afternoon off from work so he could take his 2-year-old daughter to the park. He sat on a bench as he watched hier walk towards the water's edge. "That's far enough," he called.

Hanna picked up a rock and threw it into the water. She laughed as the water splashed then turned to pick up a bigger rock. Hanna lost her balance and slid down the muddy embankment into the frigid water. She flailed and cried as her body temperature dropped.

Max jumped up then ran into the water. He fished her body out as a passerby called 9-1-1. By the time the ambulance got there, it was too late. Hanna was dead.

After he recovered from hypothermia, Max was arrested and tried for negligent care of a child. The jury came back with a guilty verdict. It didn't matter to him, he was already imprisoned in his mind by the unending replay of Hanna's death.

© March 30, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Dangers of Talking

"Barb uses collagen to make her lips puffy. Her boyfriend says her blow jobs are amazing," Mary said. "Do you think I should do that?"

"Only if it means you can't talk anymore," Phil replied.

"Oh you!" Mary laughed.

Phil wondered if collagen would shut her up. He bought a dose of imitation collagen online then waited for Mary to pass out from drinking. Phil injected the liquid into her lips then waited. Her lips grew bigger and bigger until her mouth closed and they blocked her nose. Mary struggled for few minutes then fell quiet.

Phil dropped the needle as if it was on fire. He hadn't wanted to kill her, just shut her up.

As he stared at Mary's dead body, he devised a plan. Phil brought the typewriter upstairs and used her stiffening fingers to type a letter saying it was her idea and absolved him of any wrongdoing then to hold the pen as he traced her signature from a cancelled check.

He called the police and reported the death. The detectives bought Phil's story completely. They even suggested that he sue the manufacturer.

Phil took their advice and a few months later, he had a settlement for $5,000,000. On the way home from court, he stopped by Barb's house. Her boyfriend was right about collagen lips, they really did feel amazing. And her mouth was too busy for idle chatter, which suited him just fine.

© March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Power of Love

Joan's husband Ben weakened with each dose of chemo. "It isn’t fair; he doesn’t deserve a life like this," she said. She knew there was only one way to save him.

She went to his lab and found his shrinking raygun. Joan raced back to the hospital, ducking into the bathroom. She tied a string to the trigger, set it for microscopic then pointed it at herself. Joan tugged the string and was soon no bigger than the diseased cells in Ben’s body.

Joan jumped into his mouth then slipped into a vein, which she took to the site of the cancer. The diseased cells quickly surrounded her but she used the strength of her love to defeat them.

When they were all destroyed, she found herself surrounded by white blood cells. They cheered then carried her to Ben’s mouth. Joan barely made it back to the bathroom before the shrinking raygun’s effects reversed.

Her husband was bright eyed and healthy looking when she came out. “It’s a miracle,” the doctors declared.

Joan smiled and held her husband’s hand. “No, it was the power of love.”

© March 2, 2011

Beauty is Skin Deep

"You have beautiful skin," Bob said to the blonde at the bar.

"Sweet talker. I’m Brandy,” she said.

“I’m entranced,” Bob replied as he ran his finger along her arm. "Can I try it on?"

"Uh, no!"

Bob frowned and dropped a roofie in her appletini. She finished the drink and started to walk away but the drug was taking effect. Bob offered to escort her home.

"415 West Main," she mumbled. He flagged a taxi and they were soon at her place. Bob helped her into the apartment.

“I don’t take no for an answer,” Bob said as he yanked her spirit out and threw it against the wall. He slithered out of his host and into her body, his spirit flowing through her.

He shoved her wilting spirit into his former host then guided the body out the door. He hailed a cab and gave the driver $100 to take his old body to the homeless shelter.

Bob went back inside, undressed and stood in front of a full-length mirror. He smiled as he ran his hand over his new host, enjoying the feeling of her skin and feminine form. “A perfect fit. I think I’ll keep it.”

© March 2, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today's Twitterfic

I clicked send, my entry was on its way. I waited nervously then the results were announced. I made the short list but didn't win the prize.

I taught myself astro-physics. I tried to teach myself quantums. Now I'm trapped in the dark matter of my mind and I'm lost in space.

The groom ran off with the pastor. Stranded and devastated, she destroyed the flowers and wedding cake then hung herself with her veil.

Adrenaline rushes through me as I e-mail my villainous resume. I anxiously await a reply until it finally arrives. Denied: Not evil enough.

© February 17, 2011

Irresistible Muffins

She threw muffins at him, screaming, “You two-timing cheater!”

He caught them and shoved them in the bag. “I'm sorry!”

“How could you? I trusted you!” she sobbed.

“You make the best blueberry muffins but her apple muffins — they're amazing,” he answered.

“I see,” she said, grabbing a butter knife. She lunged at him.

He jumped back. “Baby! I'll give up her muffins! I swear!”

She lunged at him again. The knife slid into his chest and he fell to the floor. She took back her muffins as he bled to death. “You won’t need these where you’re going.”

© February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Squirrely Ending

Screeching filled the newsroom as the squirrel frantically tried to escape from the trap. She tried everything she could think of to escape as the staff watched with pity. They were happy to get back to work after the pest controller showed up and removed the menace that had been tormenting them for weeks.

A week later, a horrific stench filled the air system and quickly dispersed throughout the office when the heat was turned up. Editors and reporters ran for the bathrooms to empty the contents of their stomachs before heading out into the cold for fresh air. The secretary called the pest controller before making her own mad dash for the ladies room.

The pest controller rushed over. He eventually traced the smell to the server room. Tucked behind a rack of computers was a nest with two half-eaten baby squirrels and a bloated one draped over its siblings. The pest controller blanched as he quickly cleared away the nest and remains.

The staff was sent home and the office was closed so the building could be aired out and squirrel-proofed. For the first time in the 200-year history of the company, no newspaper was published that day.

© February 17, 2011
________________________

This story is dedicated to the folks over at The Keene Sentinel who have been dealing with a squirrel menace. Thanks to my writing group for the prompt.

Some More Twitterfic

"How did you catch me?" the killer asked. / "Someone brought in your lost wallet and we tested it," the cop said. "A lucky break for us."

Her throat closed. She was allergic to chocolate but they were from her stalker. She started to fade away. Now they'll never get to meet.

"Order up!" Ty started the next meal. Jill tripped, spilling grease on Ty's back. He's home with a blistered ass, and Jill is 6 feet under.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Twitterfic

"Happy Valentine's Day!" He gave me chocolates. I yelled, "I said I wanted brains!" So I ate his brain then had the chocolates for dessert.

I sank my fangs into her neck and sucked her dry. As her lifeless body fell to the floor, I said, "Thank you for being my bloody Valentine."

Valentine's Day Contest Entry

Eternal Love
By Nancy A. Cavanaugh

Jim handed Debbie some wine. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Debbie took a sip, then spit out a ring. “What’s this?”

“Marry me?”

“Yes!”

“I love you!” he said and took a bite out of her head.

When her transformation finished, he said, “We’ll be together always and forever, my sweet zombina!”

------------------------------------

I made the top eight out of nearly 30 entries to the 50 Word Stories Happy Valentine's Day contest. I guess that's not too bad for a first try!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Twitterfic

Cupid called the temp agency. "I need 12 winged angels that are accurate archers and believe in love." The woman hung up. "Damned pranks."

I awoke rested. Next to me was a strangled hooker. There was a knock on the door. "NYPD!" Maybe a good night's sleep wasn't worth the cost.

"Zombina..." Jim begged. "You made me a #zombie!" "I wanted to be with you forever." "We're so over!" She shot Jim and ate him for dinner.

© February 11, 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011

More Glee Twitter Fanfic

“I Kissed a Girl,” Brittany said confessed with #Glee. “Did you like it?” Artie asked. “Yes, but We're Going to be Friends,” she answered.

Coach Beiste whispered, “I Need You Now.” Will wrapped his arms around her with #Glee and kissed her hungrily. She woke up, Alone Again.

“Stay,” Rachel said. “I can't, She's My Ride Home,” Finn said. Santana waved to them with #Glee. “I love you,” she sobbed. “Goodbye Rachel.”

“Here I Am,” Kurt said with #Glee. Karofsky pushed him against a locker then kissed Kurt again. “I Think I Love You.” Kurt woke screaming.

Sue watched the #Glee club with contempt. “Put Your Dreams Away,” she said as she plotted their demise. “I will not be made a fool again.”

** Read more at: http://gleetwitterfanfic.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Glee Fanfic for Twitter

I couldn't sleep last night so I sat in bed and wrote up some Twitter fanfic in anticipation of the new Glee episode on Sunday.

Rachel rushed past me with #Glee, singing “Crush.” I looked around nervously. I hope she isn't crushing on me; I don't look good in Slushee!

Artie rolled up to Brittany and pulled her on his lap with #Glee. She whispered, “I Want Your Sex.” He grinned, "Baby One More Time.”

Puck pulled Santana into the janitor closet. He smiled with #Glee as she dropped to her knees. “Babe, you're a "Teenage Dream" come true.”

Kurt invited Blaine over to practice a duet for #Glee club. Blaine fell asleep. Kurt whispered, “Sweet Dreams” then kissed him good night.

Finn acted “Like a Virgin” with Rachel. Santana laughed with #Glee when she found out. “Finn? A virgin? “Dream On”!” Now he's single again.
____________________

** Read more at: http://gleetwitterfanfic.blogspot.com

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Institution of Marriage

Rick came home late from work again smelling of perfume, wine and sex.

“You were with that trollop again,” Shaiya said tearfully.

“Don’t start with me woman,” he replied and shoved past her to say good night to their children.

When Rick returned, she was drinking whiskey straight up. “You can’t drink that while you’re nursing,” he said and knocked the glass out of her hand. It shattered on the floor, spilling the amber liquid all over the carpet.

“What do you care?”

“Shut up and clean up that glass before one of the kids comes downstairs. Then get me a beer,” Rick said as he turned on the TV.

“You made the mess, you clean it up,” Shaiya said, heading upstairs to their bedroom. He stormed up the stairs behind her.

“You will not sass me, woman,” Rick hissed, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her back down the stairs. “Clean the mess up.”

“Screw you,” Shaiya replied then spat in his face.

His breathing was ragged and his face was red with anger. He slapped her across the face with the back of his hand. Shaiya cried out and put her hands up in self-defense before he could hit her again.

“You forget your place woman,” he said then grabbed her hair again and dragged her to the couch. Rick sat down, pulling her over his lap, then peppered her ass with heavy-handed swats as she sobbed and tried to escape. He was too strong and held her in place.

When Rick finished he shoved her onto the floor and ripped away her clothes. His fury had turned to angry lust and he sexually assaulted her. When he was sated, he pulled out of her and looked at her with contempt.

“I’m going to bed. Clean that glass up or so help me woman, I will clean it up with your face,” he said then staggered up the stairs.

After he was gone, Shaiya slowly dragged herself to her feet and cleaned up the glass and whiskey then she picked up the torn clothes. Her body was weak from the assault and her face was starting to swell. She threw away the clothes then pulled an ice pack from the freezer. Shaiya placed it gingerly on her face as she returned to the living room.

She wondered how her life had gone so completely wrong. This is not what she had signed up for when she’d said “I do” 13 years ago. She laughed aloud as she thought about how so many referred to marriage as an institution. It truly was a prison with only one escape.

Shaiya’s eyes sparkled; she knew what needed to be done. It was time to extinguish the pain from her life. She put the ice pack back in the freezer then headed upstairs with the fire extinguisher.

Rick was sprawled across the bed, snoring loudly. Shaiya gently placed the hose into his mouth then pulled the pin and squeezed the lever as hard as she could. His eyes flew open as his mouth quickly filled with foam. His lungs became clogged with powder and his breathing became restricted until it finally stopped.

Shaiya stared at his prone body then whispered, “Until death do we part.”

© January 26, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Loss Prevention

“Are you sure?” Sam, a security expert, asked.

“I counted three times. There are five bags of blood missing,” Jan answered. She was in charge of the Red Cross blood bank. Blood supplies were critically low and if word got out that blood was disappearing there would be hell to pay.

“Do you have any leads?”

“None, we’re clueless.”

Sam walked through the storage room. Nothing seemed out of place and there were no traces of a break in.

“I have a theory but I’ll have to investigate overnight,” he said. Jan nodded then handed him a set of keys.

That night Sam sat alone in the dark storage room. A few hours had passed when he heard the flapping of wings then a dark figure appeared. The vampire’s body was illuminated by the glow from the exit sign.

“Damned blood sucker,” Sam thought as he watched it drink the bag of blood. He hated them more than most monsters. He closed his eyes as visions of a vampire sucking his wife Mary dry as he watched helplessly flashed before him. His eyes opened in time to see the vampire turn back into a bat and disappear into the ventilation system, the bag grasped in its claws.

He met with Jan in the morning. “You’ve got a vampire.”

“Huh? They’re not real! Are they?”

“I saw it with my own eyes,” Sam answered. “The monster comes in through the ventilation system as a bat, transforms into a human to drink the blood then takes the evidence with him when he turns back into a bat and leaves the same way it got in.”

“How do we get rid of it?”

“I’ll have to do a stake out.”

Jan hated violence but agreed to his plan. “Just get rid of it.”

Sam set up in the storage room again. While he waited for darkness to fall, he used his pocketknife to sharpen a wooden stake. A few hours passed when he heard the bat again. After it transformed, he stepped out of the shadows and stabbed the vampire in the chest with the stake.

“That’s for Mary,” he hissed as he watched it writher and die.

The next morning he showed Jan the vampire’s dead body. She blanched at the sight of it.

“I can dispose of it for you,” he offered.

“Thank you,” she said as she handed him cash for his services. Jan gagged as she watched him put the decomposing body in his trunk then drive away.

When he got home, Sam dragged the vampire’s body into the kitchen. He started skinning it then cut the meat from the bones. He divided the meat and put it in storage bags. Eating the vampire wouldn’t bring his wife back, but it was better quelling his hunger than rotting in the ground.

© January 23, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family Reunion

Jessica stared at her dad’s picture on the laptop screen. With her mom gone, he was all she had left and at 16, she wasn’t ready to be an orphan. She’d spent weeks looking for him on the Internet. When she found him on the hospital’s staff Web page, she made a plan for their paths to cross.

“Time to meet your daughter Dr. Stevens,” she said as she popped a handful of pills into her mouth and washed them down with vodka stolen from mom’s stash. Jessica dialed 9-1-1 then set the receiver on the motel room desk.

Her head grew fuzzy and she rested her head next to the phone. “Help … me,” she pleaded as the darkness enveloped her.

“Jessica? Can you hear me?” a male voice asked. He seemed a million miles away. Other voices drifted into her consciousness as she woke from a heavy sleep. Her eyes slowly fluttered open.

“Welcome back,” greeted the male voice. “You gave us quite a scare.”

It took a few seconds for her eyes to adjust to brightly lit room then Jessica smiled weakly as she looked into her dad’s eyes. “Thanks Daddy, I knew you’d save me.”

© January 22, 2011