Monday, December 28, 2015
Monday, December 21, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Sunday, November 22, 2015
“Is this ethical?”
Jimmy spun around and faced his former dorm mate and current CEO. “These people know the tradeoff for using a free app. We get the data. We get the insights.” Jimmy turned back to the pair of computer screens. “If you wanted to raise an ethics flag on any of this, you could have done it before any of those rounds of venture capital.”
“You’re right. I relent,” Bryant sighed and sat on the stool to get a closer eye on the dataset. “Any good stuff in here?”
“I broke it down into people’s consumption by weight and goal weight.” Jimmy scrolled through screens and screens of charts, raw data and pivot tables comprised of March’s total data from their calorie tracker application. Now that he was in charge of their little company, Bryant didn’t get to play with the data as much would have liked. He was stuck working with selling their insight to food companies. The ads in their App were pennies compared to the shopping habits living in this data set.
Jimmy was pointing to the screen, “Guess what the number one food a three hundred pound person eats that a hundred and eighty pound person doesn’t.”
A lone spike form a bar graph caught Bryant’s attention more than learning more about Jimmy’s facts. “What’s this creeping on the edge here?”
“Oh that’s just Rhode Island.”
“The whole state?”
“No. I sort by Rhode Island for a laugh. We only have one user there so it’s fun to see what that one guy is eating. I even know his name. Mr. Jefferson.” Jimmy grabbed the mouse to navigate through the spreadsheet. “Here, I’ll set back to a nationwide look.”
Bryant gently brushed his partner’s hand from the mouse. “But look at his month over month. What’s that category header?”
Jimmy leaned forward. “Assorted meat.”
“Just look at it go up like that,” Bryant said, tracing his finger up the curve to the apex of the spike.
“Only one percent of our users even use that category. Could be a typo.”
Bryant took to the mouse and started routing through the information on this lone user. “No it’s the same entry over a number of days. Hmmm. A total outlier.”
“What else is he eating?” Jimmy seized the mouse back to answer his own question. “Some condiments.”
“That’s like two hundred eighty-eight thousand calories in like a week.”
“Dude was hungry.”
“No this is something different,” Bryant determined, furiously typing in his smart phone. Searching for something. “What’s city does that guy live in?”
“Call the police in Rhode Island.”
“Did this guy steal a bar-b-que stand or something?”
“No. It’s worse,” Bryan said, holding out his phone. Jimmy skimmed the article from the Woonsocket Call, the local newspaper. QUESTIONS REMAIN: WHERE’S KIMBERLY JEFFERSON? Apparently the Kimberly in question had disappeared in the past month leaving only three fingers behind.
Bryant lowered his head. “I think we have a cannibal. A cannibal counting his calories.”
Saturday, November 21, 2015
The vine was very basic, yet Bernardo took painstaking efforts to draw every feature of the specimen in his journal. On his trips throughout the Pacific in the last decade, he’d had the chance to draw and catalog the flora of dozens of islands. His work had been collected in Universities and studied by young botanists and scholars. Yet here he was, home at last, drawing this vine just like he had as a child. This plain green leaf whose only claim of prominence was that it grew out of the long-picked skull of the artist’s father.
Bernardo considered drawing his father’s skull in addition to the vine. Or the knife sticking from the rib cage. Just where Bernardo had placed it all those years ago when father refused to let his son leave the plantation. He shrugged off the thought. The plants deserved documented for future generation’s study. His father did not.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
In the mold, the bullets were lined up side to side, tip to tip. Like the ships that father told him about. The ones that brought him here. Hardly space to breath, no space to move. The ammunition was identical to the hundreds of others Justin’d made this week alone. The plantation seemed to have a never-ending supply of metal to scrap.
With the setting sun, the makeshift metalworks looked like the fires he’d been using to melt down the remains of Master’s house. Justin was pleased he’d been able to overproduce these bullets for the quartermaster’s weekly pick-up. Not that he would avoid another whipping, but that they would be used by Master’s sons in the field of battle. Would they know their ammunition was made from the ruins of their inheritance? Would they know that each bullet was guaranteed to misfire and destroy the gun because of the strategic changes Justin had made to the mold?
Sunday, October 18, 2015
“We can’t have two young men with beards on stage,” Reverend James had sighed upon seeing Marcus’ unshaven face at rehearsals. “Some of our congregation are aged and can’t see. We need to be able to tell the difference between the Devil and our Lord and Savior from the back pews. Do we have to have this conversation every year?”
Evelyn was tired of hearing about Henry’s beard at church every year. “He looks just like Jesus,” she’d overhear. And, “Oh my, it’s like he walked right out of the bible,” they’d say. Completely ignoring that the man had the acting ability of a mannequin and paraphrased most of his lines despite them being clearly laid out for him, in red no less.
Her son Marcus could grow facial hair twice as full and twice as fast, yet he never got the admiration of the congregation like Glenda’s child in the Easter Passion play. Nobody walked up to the two of them in the social hall after the play. The devil never got thanked. The children and adults all gathered around Henry, while Glenda winked at them from her son’s side. Evelyn always pretended to look just beyond her rival, to avoid giving her the satisfaction of accepting her acknowledgement. She knew the beard wasn’t the reason Henry got to play Jesus each year over the past decade, it was his mother’s deep contributions to the offering plate.
Marcus ignored his mother’s continued complaints at the dinner table and honed his role year over year. His sinister presence on the makeshift pulpit stage commanded the audience more than Henry ever did. “All these things I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me,” he sneered. It was all Evelyn could do not to clap in the moment he delivered the line. In that moment she forgot about the clippers she’s been secreting in her lap with the intention of finally evening the playing field with Glenda. In her whole life she had never imagined rooting for the devil, until she learned her son played the part so well.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2015
The birdbath next to the gazeebo would have to do. In fact, Beatrice could think of no better place for her work under the moonlight than the garden where her daughter had first laid eyes on this new suitor. Not that James has met her gaze with kindness. Gentle Priscilla was every bit as reviled as her mother and twice as dour. Yet when her daughter came to her, set on making this man her own, what’s an old witch to do?
As she dropped the dried herbs, locks of hair, leathered animal skins into the stone basin, she moondreamed of being the mother of the bride at the inevitable wedding. The whole village would talk about the young aristocrat who’d inexplicably given his heart to the crone’s offspring for lifetimes to come. Setting the contents of the birdbath ablaze, Beatrice practiced smiling, wanting to meet the wedding guests with the toothiest grimace her ramshackle mouth could contort.
Confirming the last steps of her recipe, she tucked the parchment back into her satchel. She poured the soured milk, vial of blood into the ash and started making a poultice. She knew better then to attempt this recipe by heart. The last time she endeavored to craft love potion for her daughter by memory, she’d only been able to produce a highly effective poison.
Friday, October 2, 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
- Frankenstein's Creation stopped, defeated. Efforts with the Monster Truck would never birth the progeny his second-hand heart desired.
- Amos tossed his latest trophy in the laundry bin atop the others. The basket was overflowing with pilfered wigs. He almost had enough.
- Otis limped to the bookie counter to place his bet. 10th time had to be the charm. One more loss and they would move on to his fingers.
- Officer Nim poked the wet pink mass with his shoe. It even smelled like 200lbs of chewed bubblegum. Was it performance art or homicide?
- Another clump of hair came off in her hands. The pills worked. At this rate she'd assimilate with the aliens before all of her friends.
- How did this severed toe fall from its silver platter at last nights soiree? Nosferatu had no qualms about breaking the 5 second rule.
- He shook the remaining gelatin-x5 from his hands. Descending the water tower, he hoped everyone would enjoy the world's largest jiggler.
- The blood on the glass wiped clean. He pushed the screen on his iPhone and felt the pressure again. Something inside was touching back.
- It was work grandfather had started. A photo a day of the bronze statue. Viewing the decades in sequence was proof that it was alive.
- He guessed the odds of finding his bag in the landfill. 1:1M. Better odds than the winning lotto ticket he mistakenly tossed last night.
- The #PHL police were skeptical. The @AmTourister was identical to the one he'd checked at #LAX. Except for the stolen Picassos inside.
- The suitcases were tiny. Matchbox-sized. Tiny clothes were inside. Alongside tiny knives. Whoever brought these was planning to stay.
- Saving the tangerine for a year finally paid off. Kentucky slid the withered fruit perfectly into the tube.
- The #Lollapalooza crowd's booing pierced the band's earplugs. A career-long commitment to lip sync on stage had finally been found out
- Opening the box was an awkward reunion. Although the toupee was made of his own hair clippings from 20 years ago it didn't look right.
- Picking his teeth with the rib bone, Louis had few regrets. He'd let his starvation make the decision to eat the dodo.
- He shook the Polaroid waiting for the image. He had captured the bigfoot's shadow. Pausing the VHS at the exact spot again was unlikely.
- The Wizard's TV remote had worked. Unfortunately for the apprentice unpausing the chaos he'd created would only delay the punishment
- Ms. Deagle screamed realizing her motorized lift was paused by the cats' paws on the strange post the small green carolers had delivered.
- The sunlight above was dim enough to read the gauge on his faulty Scuba tank. Doomed, he paused to question if he still had his receipt.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
After loving his work on Numbers 16:32 and Popular Mechanics for Young Widows, I reached out to @1ndika and gave him my mockup of what I'd like along with some early guidance from Cover Critics.
@1ndika sent this back my way with his own ideas for color scheme in line with our first two collaborations.
I liked this, but wanted to try out the tear away concept and add some more pop colors into the mix. The stories aren't all horror, so I thought we need to lighten it up.You can also see I made a title change as I was continuing to assemble the collection.
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Sleight of Hand
The woman in the second row screamed and broke the tension in the room. The small audience in the theater got louder watching the man in the glass tank struggle against the chains wrapping his wrists and ankles. “Flash” Terry had told the audience he would be out of his bindings and open the padlock from the inside of the tank in under two minutes. The stopwatch clutched in Byson’s hand revealed that the magician on stage had been submerged for three minutes so far.
Byron yawned. Terry could easily hold his breath for four minutes. That was what Byron ‘The Gentleman Mystic” did in his own version of this act. The very one Terry had stolen and was attempting to recreate on stage. The audience burst into applause as the man in the tank loosed his arms and started pulling at his feet. He’d surely be freed soon.
Terry had no love for the craft of illusion, only a passion for the stage. The audiences Byron once thought appreciative of his decades training his hands, reflexes and mental dexterity quickly dwindled, preferring Terry’s penchant for theatrics, crass humor and lesser versions of other illusionist’s acts.
Four minutes in and Terry’s feet were free. Inside the tank, he was twisting the key he’d concealed in his gums into the lock. Now able-bodied men were being asked to come on stage to attempt to smash the tank open. Byron doubted that would help. Terry had copied Byron’s design for the chamber down to the last detail. The clear box was impenetrable. The key would be Terry’s only salvation. Unfortunately, the key in the tank was worthless. The one Terry needed was now in Byron’s hand and the old magician had decided this would be the thief’s final performance.
Friday, September 25, 2015
Friday, September 18, 2015
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015
Friday, September 4, 2015
Monday, July 20, 2015
A Son’s Letter from Ft. Breach (1862)
My Dear Mother,
Once more I resume my pen to write you a few lines, it was with pleasure that I learned that you had had such a pleasant time at the salt water.
I write not to tell you of an act of bravery performed by myself but of an act of defiance. It is best you hear of it from your loving son than from Gen. McLean’s emissaries. The young man delivering this note was finely paid so feel no need to further reimburse him. If he requests more, he reveals himself to be the duplicitous sneak I suspected him to be. Alas, in my situation, I could find no other willing party to transit this letter.
To explain the charges against me. . . More hard fighting had been going on across the Virginia shores, there we escape again and again while others fall. Receiving a light head injury from a fall after a row with some yellow livered sympathizers I was placed on powder room duty. Was alone with our entire heavy artillery while my brothers-in-arms marched South.
I had taken to the comfort of a large bottle of whiskey in my solitude at the fort. Always a curious sort, you know this from my childhood travails, I set to discover what would and would not fit into our largest cannon “Northern Glory.” Many things did not fit, but one unusual item did. The masthead remaining from a sunken merchant vessel. A trophy of sorts from an afternoon of shelling the ships on the ocean.
The large wooden shark fit finely into Northern Glory. It is to my great dissatisfaction and current state of court martial that I found out the cannon was primed with powder. My lit cigarette provided the ash that provided the unwelcome flame and the wooden beast breached the fort wall quite easily.
I ask for nothing else than to remember me kindly to all inquiring family and friends, from your son,
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Obsessed with Less
The month’s list was perfect. A neat list of twenty new words on the right a longer list of fifty words on the right. Nobody ever paid attention to the longer list. The populace of Neo-Termina all wanted to see what new slang was would be added to the official lexicon list. They seemed to care less about the words that would have to be purged to make way for the new ones.
The Office of National Lexicon had been tasked with thinning out the dictionary. Over time, it would help more children pass the federal standardized testing. Walter was the only librarian not to protest, in fact he’d actually been on PTO when the order came down. All of his peers had quit citing principles and integrity before he even got back from his lake house.
He was great at his job. Walter’s first suggestion was to make the yearly change monthly. Then he just started scaling up the list of deletions monthly. With every change nobody noticed the expunged words. With the approval for his recommended addition of the hashtag to the lexicon his new words were simply variations on existing ones. Soon enough he knew he would be able to purge monthly without any need to add anything new to the language.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Rollie was fond of his favorite treat
White chocolate bars with small jerky meat
So imagine his heart speed up and tremble
When invited to tour where his treat was assembled
Their host for the day was broad smiling lady
Who looked like she’d eaten a box of treats daily
She promised to begin at the end of the tour
And let the kids gobble the treats piled on the floor
She guided the kids to the very next room
Where a burping machine made the treats they’d consumed
Chocolate in one tube, dried meat in the other
A third tube as empty, the kids would discover
When they walked ever closer to the third machine hole
their host for the day pushed them in with a pole
The witch cackled and laughed, her stomach excited
The treats Rollie loved were made for kids and by kids
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Everything in her hand trembled. Not from any fear of the prisoner laying on front of her. Like the others, he was strapped down at each limb and had his metal collar clamped to the table. The problem was the tattoo machine the state has supplied. Specifically the rear binding post that was loose and beyond repair. Each of her bones, tendons and fingertips shook after hours of operating her assigned machine on intake days.
With the tingling in her fingers fading, she returned to this hour’s canvas. She’d already completed etching in his vehicular manslaughter conviction under the older, bluer possession charges tattooed higher up on his chest. She examined the victim’s list that came in with him. She checked the clock. She only had fifteen minutes to enter all five names underneath. It would likely be incredibly painful, especially since she had to go down to his abdomen.
A yawn found its way up her throat and she bent over to start inking again. She has always wanted to be a true crime writer, but until she found a publisher willing to give her a chance this would have to do.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Scoville State Pen
Clive gave Briggs the nod and the old man poured tie first gallon of milk down the drain. Clive left Briggs to his sole task for the day to inspect the rest of his kitchen teams’ work.
Jackson and Grant carefully set serving trays at each seat in the cafeteria. Wingnut followed, counting out four saltines for each tray.
For Clive, today was better than Thanksgiving. At some point, long before he starting serving his own life sentence, they started growing ghost peppers in the prison greenhouse. The warden at the time let the inmates make hot sauce from the incendiary chilies and once a year the guards challenged the inmates to a contest to enduring drop after drop of the condiment.
The inmates, used to the hard conditions and harder diets, beat their guards year after year. It was a morale booster for the incarcerated men that didn’t have much else to look forward to outside of the structured life in prison.
Clive confirmed that Briggs was nearly done with getting rid of milk. Things would be different this year. He’d found a new way to concentrate the sauce and with his first grandson on the way thought this was the right time for a breakout.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
What he had been asked to do by his new employer was no longer spying. It was terrorism. Byron stood in the crowded market and rattled the change in his pocket. The metal-on-metal sounded muted in the lead-lined jacket and gloves.
The nearby beggar’s cup was an ideal starting point for his polonium-210 infused coins to enter the currency system. The capitalist machine would take over from there and the poisoned money would enter circulation across the country. The ensuing panic would unbalance the nation enough for his new employer to make their move.
Spying was deception as an art form. When he’d become disillusioned by his own country’s evolved tactics, the Kremlin sold him on a pure form of spy game. Now they were asking him to conduct this microscopic nuclear strike on soft targets in his own home.
Byron collapsed before he recognized he’d been shot in the throat. He looked up to see the beggar standing above him, pulling off his false beard with the hand that wasn’t holding the silenced pistol.
“Dammit Byron, why did you have to turn?”
Byron considered warning his once partner about the coins that had fallen from his pocket and into the gathering crowd, but he forgot which side he was on.
Monday, February 16, 2015
I write in fits and spurts in a lot of different locations. I started writing as a way to better use my commute time on the train. As long as I can get a seat on the upper deck, I'm good. There's a golden ratio of arm space to lap space to be had and there's less of a chance of fighting body odor in addition to writers block up here.
Lately I've been using a laptop, but I've been known to use my Gen 1 iPad and Bluetooth keyboard too.
May have to raise my book prices to keep up with the fare increases though.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
So what made the cut?
- Numbers 16:32 - Farm horror novella
- A Foothold in the Orchard - crime short
- Popular Mechanics for Young Widows - lovingly remixed novella of a complicated gift given from a recently deceased husband.
- Sangrimal - short story about celebrating your birthday at a wild west era research outpost.
- Virtuous Cycle - sci-fi novella about troubleshooting technology in the 3rd world
- Fighting Weight - short story about the perils of draft dodging
- 3rd Flight - short story about marathoning through the wastelands
Saturday, February 7, 2015
74 Degrees and Overcast
Melinda wanted to focus on all of the loved ones she would miss, or the memories she would lose, or the fact that she would never see her grandchildren again. When that didn't work, she tried to think about the accomplishments of mankind, the entire course of evolution, and the natural wonders of the world. She should have cared about these bigger things that about to vanish, but she could only think about her egg salad sandwich from lunch. She’d only wanted to savor her favorite meal one last time before the end of the world, and she’d run out of paprika.
She tried to make the sandwich without the spice, but one bite of the bland, blobular concoction made her gag. She punched the sandwich and headed outside with her umbrella. Melinda, at least needed see what she could of the asteroid before it obliterated the planet. The emergency signal recording continued to educate her that the object was the size of Texas. It’s didn't say they should seek cover. The voice was resigned to only repeat this solitary fact over and over again. She didn't mind that the world would ended on a rainy afternoon, but that sandwich was infuriating.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Saturday, January 17, 2015
The Servant's Salute
The laughing of the masses was loud enough to shake the remaining orange hairs on Gratae’s head. The noise intensified when Emperor Partho threw a broom into the arena.
The Empresses commanded her gladiator into the field. A year ago, Gratae had been the one answering her orders. One night while cleaning her chambers, she even drunkenly ordered the old man to bed her down. He had been the families’ chief custodian for two generations and would be humiliated to turn down any of their requests.
He picked up the broom and sized up the approaching champion. With two steps to go, Gratae broke the broom over his knee and drove the sharp end up into the gladiator’s exposed armpit.
The crowd was mute as the next three gladiators advanced. In the moment before they ended him, Gratae stood defiant and pointed the bloody broom at the orange-haired baby in the Empresses’ lap. A final salute from his true father.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
- Guns, Religion & Robots - This is my novella anthology that includes revisited Numbers 16:32, Popular Mechanics for Young Widows and new stories that I've been developing over 2014.
- Knuckle Justice - This is a strange little hybrid novel about karate studio instructor unjustly jailed for crimes he actually did commit.
- Rad Uncle Zip's Annotated Guide - My contribution to the pop archaeology movement that brought us the Atari ET landfill excavation. More on this soon.
- Patchwork - This chapter book is complete. I'm just working through the publication process. This is my adventure story about a pair of brothers that are sent a mysterious quilt that traps them in a time and place far away from home.
- Cartridge Compilation - I writing a variety of short fiction for another site that I'll assemble at the end of the year for online publication.