Sunday, November 30, 2014


The skin sloughed off Amir's arm. One layer and then another, slipping to the floor in fleshy tangles. He gave an exasperated sigh, pulled at the bits that clung erratically, refusing to budge without a fight.

So Amir fought before turning his attention to his other arm, tugging here, twisting there, layers of skin occupying the space around his ankle. He then worked up, peeling his chest, pulling at his pectorals, the same motion for the same result. There he laid on the ground, a doppelganger of discarded flesh. Only one piece was missing, but it was an important distinction.

"I hate shedding," muttered Amir.

Then he reached for his face.

I've been busy with the holidays and writing, dammit, so here's a quick 'lil somethin'. I didn't ever proofread it. I'll probably be goddamned ashamed later.

Right now I'm pretty good, though.

I'm about to go back over the outline of the cyberpunk book. Strengthen some character arcs, give it a little more strength. Hopefully that'll make the writing a little easier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


The worst thing about humanity is that we're all-too-human.

We laugh, we cry, we love and we hate. Oh, how we hate. Different religions and races, sects and classes, political parties and football teams. The Green Bay Packers hate the Chicago Bears for a game that happened nearly a century ago, while the Bears despise the Packers for their dogged push to victory. Of course the North hates the inbred and ignorant South, while the South hates the highfalutin North with the white-hot intensity only a civil war could only inspire. 'Round and 'round hate goes, stopping for a span of what amounts to seconds in a very ancient world.

Even our neighbors aren't exempt from our ire.

So how did Cassandra even have a chance?

She was a small girl, smaller than most, slight of limb, and short of leg. Her grin was lop-sided, her eyes slightly askew, a child that most people might call slow. "She missed her milestones," her mother would say sadly, much to her shame and the secret excitement of parents whose children were on track. The child was not loved, but pitied, a glass doll who might be precious and protected, but certainly was never cradled. Yet her eyes sparkled, full of that bit of magic always so rare in humanity:


She started with her parents, gentle words and sweet assurances, a doting nature that seemed to empathize with their disappointment. They would cry, and she would soothe, the little mother to towering children. Her soft hands would smooth away their worries, one by one. Slowly they forgot the disappointment of her birth.

Her life more than made up for it. Next came the neighborhood children, full of taunts and jeers, laughter over the slightest of differences. They slung stones and words, the former drawing blood, but the latter making the real wounds. And yet she would still approach them, offering her crooked smile, an opening salvo of sweet words.

"Go away!" Henry would scream, the biggest of the children, and their leader for that very reason. Cassandra never listened, enduring the stones that would shortly follow.

"What happened to you?" her mother would ask, dabbing at cuts, gently doting bruises. Cassandra would simply scratch at the scabs, her brown eyes shining.

"I was jes' playin'," she would reply.

The children were playing on that day, too. Hop-scotch in the street, crudely erected lines on an asphalt backdrop. How they would jump, one foot, two, and back to one again, testing the balance that they were just starting to discover.

As always Cassandra sat on the sidelines, watching, but not participating, an unwelcome, but persistent, presence. Nearly everyone watched the board, the newest player dancing their way across the asphalt for their delight. Only Cassandra watched the street, filled with the instinct more common in mother hens than children of her age.

She was the first to see the car.

It swerved around the corner, a squeal of rubber on the road. It jerked to one side before falling back flat to the street, the sharp turn doing little to stop its speed. The children laughed, and then gasped, as the car approached faster and faster. They couldn't see the brown package in the driver's hand, nor the dull look in her eyes. All they could see was the half-ton of Detroit steel hurtling towards them. They screamed and scattered, leaving the jumper, the previous apple of their eye, to the street.

Henry turned. If he had been older, he would claim he knew the taste of fear then. The tickling of bile at the back of his throat, the stale taste of breath between his teeth. Yet he was a child, and he thought as one. Terror surged through his head. His legs locked and, for the first time in his life, being big did absolutely nothing for him. It was simply him and the car, and things were working in the car's favor.

Then Henry felt a pair of slight arms wrap around his torso, squeezing, shoving. "Go!" shouted a voice. It was so sweet, so insistent that the boy could only obey. His knees bent, his feet surged forward, and he was free. Away from the car, away from the road, occupying the safety of the sidewalk.

That's when he heard the crunch. A small body disappeared underneath the car. The vehicle didn't stop. It didn't even slow. It simply ran its course and then it was gone, another squeal around another corner. Cassandra had been the only one who wasn't playing in the street.

Now she was the only one left in it, a happy little smile lining her face.

I've been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman. Say what you will, but he has some ability when it comes to short stories. I wanted to try something more than my usual fare. I think that this is lacking, somehow. Perhaps I just don't have what it takes to write contemporary. Maybe my works just need the element of strange and unusual to give them some sort of strength.

Still, I think the above was a noble attempt if nothing else.

I need to get to proofreading my book, again. I've learned an excellent method in doing it: read to yourself. It takes more time, but you more easily find poor sentence construction, stilted flow, misspellings, and ideas that simply don't work. I shouldn't have dismissed the suggestion in the first place.

Well, my ignorance is my regret.

Monday, November 3, 2014


When did it begin?

Some might say it was the public education system. Chaotic and cruel, it was a struggling beast without the funds or heart for rehabilitation. Others would look to homes, broken as they had come to be, offering no respite from a big, mean world. These would claim the gun lobby, others the lack of personal responsibility, a back and forth that never saw an end.

A select few might say that it was simply because of a world cruel enough to produce lead.

Whatever the reasons, wherever the start, Chuck had a gun.

That was bad for everyone. It was a beautiful piece, long and silver, shining like a star when held to the sun. He kissed it once, twice, trying to impart a heavy heart on such a slim barrel. The bullets would carry his hurt. His hurt and a little more, anyway, powered by a little extra umph courtesy of gunpowder.

Chuck stopped in front of the door. Just beyond it was all the hurt and pain, a childhood of torment, an adolescence of screams. It was a homecoming long delayed. He took one deep breath, two just to be sure. It was time to make his entrance. He knew just the way.

Chuck raised the gun to the sky.

I liked the beat of that. So much I'm not going to edit it. It might be positively awful afterwards, but goddammit, I like the movement too much to ruin the afterglow. Seriously, to be finished with it like this is simply heaven.

Have you noticed I put guns in a lot of my short stories? I don't care for the damned things, but they've got a power in imagery, I must admit. There's just something about someone with a lost cause, and a gun to back it up.


I probably incriminated myself, right there.