Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Flight Attendants: Cycle 1

I tried distilling a much longer story down to it's main conflict. The long version may come back in my new collection.

Flight Attendants: Cycle 1

The sound of the fingernail clippings bouncing down the suction hose on their way the fission reactor were as satisfying today as they were when their mission started five hundred Earth day cycles ago. The shaved hairs didn’t make noise, but those nails ricocheting off the walls of the vacuum were delightful.

Twenty fingers and toes done. Smooth face and scalp. Francis closed the chamber and floated over to the next waiting pilgrim.

“We need to talk about this.”

Francis ignored her, which was surprisingly easy considering they were the only two people conscious on the spacecraft. They’d grown to be mutually amiable the way they would have it stranded on a desert island. The chamber door hissed open and presented the next pilgrim in need of a trim.

“Francis, this is important. We can’t wait another cycle.”

Yes they could. Even with the impending collapse of the Earth within itself, the planet’s best engineers had thought through everything in their race to jettison a representative sample of humans to the closest inhabitable planet. They had to have considered whatever it was Estelle was so worried about.

“At lease let me get through my shift.”

He had five more pilgrims to clean. The suspended animation chambers were great at keeping their occupants alive with the lowest amount of oxygen and nutrition possible, but they hadn’t found a way around the hair issue. It didn’t stop growing and clogged the machinery. That’s where Francis and Ester came in. They would run first shift for the initial fifty years of the mission, trimming the hair and nails of the 1,008 remaining humans from Earth.

When their shift was up they would wake up the next pair of custodians for the remainder of their journey. Esther and Francis would clock out, so to speak. There was only enough oxygen to go around.


“Four more Esther.”

She floated over to him and he finally turned to her. A bead of water lifted up from her eyelash.

“Francis, I’m pregnant.”

He froze. “No, the engineers. . . we’re sterilized. . . I.”

“I’m pregnant.”

“But, the oxygen.”

“I know.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Flash! Vol. 2 Now Available

The end of the world in five minutes or less! Three dozen fictions of bad people and bad decisions across the galaxy or maybe just on their lunch break. I've boiled down the short story format to it's essence and offer science fiction, horror, and criminal misdeeds in these bite sized tales.

Just like Vol. 1, I'm making this new collection FREE to download on NoiseTrade. ENJOY!

And of course if you would rather purchase directly. Flash! Vol. 2 is also available on Amazon and Kobo.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An Afternoon In the Arena at the Duval County Fair - Angry Hourglass

This week's Angry Hourglass Submission!

An Afternoon In the Arena at the Duval County Fair

The beast towered over him. Silent. Guymon  hadn’t thought about spiders having vocal chords before this moment. It made sense. If they didn’t have any means of making noise before The Process, they wouldn’t have any afterwards.

“Don’t hurt him Papa,” Carla shouted from the crowd. His daughter sounded just like she did in the basement when determining that the creepy crawlies in the window sill was a just a daddy long legs. She had no heart for other spiders, but daddy long legs always earned her sympathy. “Their mouths are so tiny they can’t even bite people. Just other bugs,” she would educate him.

“OK, Carla. I promise I’ll never kill any daddy long legs.”

Twenty feet above him though the spiders’ mandibles looked like they could exposed Guymon’s skull with the efficiency of a can opener.

The rain-rusted loud speakers buzzed from the four corners of the dirt arena. “And here comes hometown hero Guymon Mallerno. Let’s see he’s a match for Big Daddy!” The crowd cheered. If it was for the once-defensive end of the Reagan High Growlers or the double decker sized spider threatening to eviscerate him, it didn’t matter. The noise of the drunken mob agitated the arachnid.

The promise of The Process had bankrupted the nation. A chemical reaction that could instantly expand organic materials held unlimited promise. Produce and livestock could be exponentially enlarged to feed everyone and reduce the farmland needed. All government resources were steered immediately to the full scale roll-out of The Process by executive order.

The problem was that ten months after enlargement, the cells broke down. Killing anything that had become gigantic. And anyone that had consumed Process-treated items. The only thing that The Process didn’t destroy were arachnids, leaving the nation stuck with thousands of the giant monstrosities. Not wanting to miss any opportunity to placate what was left of the masses, the beasts were put into service entertaining them.

Guymon didn’t care about this history though. It didn’t matter in this moment. He seized the spiders leg and started to lift before the creature could react. He wouldn’t be able to keep his daughter’s promise today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Titanium and Supplication - Angry Hourglass @LadyHazmat

A prequel of sorts to a story in Guns, Gods & Robots. This is my weekly Angry Hourglass entry.

Titanium and Supplication

“Sorry I’m kind of in the middle of nowhere. . . OK I’ll try that. . . Thanks.”

Bisim slid the phone back into his cargo pocket and approached his lifeless travel companion.
Reaching behind the solar panel his pinky finger found the recessed toggle the Taladez operator had just told him existed. The face plate on the Tyson.2 flash white then offered the text: SOLAR BYPASS NUCLEAR AUXILARY INITIATED. BATTERY LIFE 93 HOURS. REBOOTING. ENJOY.

Of course his Tyson.2 would breakdown at the most important part of this whole deployment to Wat Arun. The robots were made for rain, snow, heat, but the constant cloud cover over the past four days had been too much for the machine to overcome. Bisim sat down on a low temple wall hoping to get a few rounds of Popping Penguins in on his phone while the machine started up.

The monk, Bisim’s contact at the temple, spent the robot’s reboot time examining the automaton. The small man looked especially interested in Tyson’s articulated hands.

“Why am I setting this up here?”Bisim asked the bald man.

“You don’t know?”

“I mean, I know the purpose. But why here? This is the temple of sunrises right?”

“Young man, someone’s setting sun is another’s sunrise.”

Bisim rolled his eyes. The monk sounded just like the rest of the holy men he’d been working with since taking this internship. He thought the stereotype of these divine thinkers would have been debunked. The more Tyson.2 deployments he worked through the more the stereotypes were reinforced.

The machine clicked and picked itself up like a time-lapse of a mushroom springing into existence. “Wonderful,” the monk declared.  As soon Tyson’2 faceplate was illuminated Bisim dialed the first of what would be a lifetime of clients to use the robot’s services. An old man in a dark room popped onto the screen.

“The incense,” Bisim prompted the monk. The diminutive man handed the robot a bindle of the perfumed sticks. Tyson.2 lit them with a butane fingertip. The robot lifted the incense to its forehead and in unison, recited prayers and last rites with the dying man on the screen.


This is from an October Flash competition I didn't finish in time. Always a fan of banished pilgrims.


Each time it happened Joseph had to travel deeper into the woods to find the right stone: soft enough to chisel yet durable enough to withstand the harsh rain and wind of their new frontier claim. Wood didn’t work for the grave markers as it quickly took to rot and fell apart after two seasons. This afternoon he happened across a large block of limestone that would make a fine marker.
After dragging it back home, he took to hammering the boy’s name in to it. What did she decide again? Ezekiel? “That’s the one,” he sniffed.

He wouldn’t want to check in on Maria just yet. She was still in a tempest after delivering the child into the world on a Thursday and, if past experience were to hold true, she’d be pouring over her astral charts to determine where she made her mistake. And start plotting out their next attempt at a Sabbath born child.

A small row of grave markers cataloged their other attempts to fulfill his wife’s efforts to summon a proper demon into their plane. Maria had a lifetime of revenge to extract. Starting with all of those folks in Cow Ford who chased her out of town. They would soon learn what kind of heretic she truly was.

At first, Joseph secretly welcomed the banishment. It allowed him to live a quiet life and offer his wife a chance to study her arts, no matter how dark they were. Over time though, his heart ached more with each new gravestone he made. He’d already outlived his father, yet was denied fatherhood himself. He’d given up on his wife long ago, and only stayed to protect any more of their offspring from her ongoing vindictive acts of procreation.

The hammering of his chisel on the stone drew the Lokota. They were always watching.  They were as scared of Maria as anyone else, but they honored the agreement Joseph made with them upon first arriving in the prairie. Take and raise the newborns and Joseph would provide them with talismans needed for what seemed like an endless, formless war they continuously were fighting. What were they doing with the locks of Maria’s witched hair Joseph harvested from his wife with each Wolf Moon?

The scout’s shadow at the edge of the woods, knelt, lifted the swaddled babe and walked away. Joseph continued hammering, hoping it would hide any of the baby’s crying from Maria. As he worked the stone, the farmer catalogued the rest of his day. He’d dig the hole, put in the dead rabbit, fill it and plant the grave marker. Only then would he interrupt his wife and declare the task complete.

Today he had another task requiring a larger stone. There would be no more need for the babies, the rabbits and the truce with the Lokota. He raised his hammer again and started to scribe his wife’s name into the rock. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017



“Mom I don’t want to go to a sleep over.”

“No protesting, Diane. You’re going to have fun.”

“But I don’t want to babysit Jason.”

“Don’t worry I’m packing his Game Boy and charger. He’ll entertain himself. Now zip up so we can 


Outside was even colder than it looked. The three feet of snow had hardened into frozen crust covering the cul-de-sac and all routes to the school.  What had started as a snow day four days ago had become another reinter break with the promise of adding days back at the end of the school year. Diana should have been Forrest High decorating for the Winter Formal. Trying on her dress. Practicing looking up into Grant Banion’s eyes as they slow danced.

Now she was trudging through the snow to Rory Hive’s house for some cockamamie sleepover her mother had negotiated with Rory’s mom. She’d been friends with Rory in Elementary school, but they just grew apart. Diana got into cheerleading. Rory kind of became a dork. Mom still thought they were best friends, but then again, she also still talked to her daughter like she was a still a 5th grader.

Jason lagged behind crunching the ice building around the sewer grates. Diana would have yelled for him to catch up if the wind wasn’t promising to suck her breath out.


Rory’s mom answered the door offering two large red unwrapped lollipops. One was instantly in Jason’s mouth.

“Oh you’ve thought of everything!” Mom praised.

“It’s not my first rodeo. Now why don’t you two go up to Rory’s room. All of the kids are up there already.” The house still smelled like Diana had remembered it when she was a kid, menthol and electrical fire. Rory’s mom knelt and whispered in Diane’s ear, “Grant Banion is already up there.”

Her heart dropped into her stomach and instantly started dissolving. Why was Grant here? Under her winter outwear she had on her dumpiest outfit.

“It’s just like the Winter Formal,” Mom said, planting her hand in the small of her daughter’s back and pushing her away.

Diane’s head was swimming with embarrassment and she lost control of her body. Her hand grabbed the lollipop and feet carried her up the stairs to Rory’s room.

Jason violated the first rule of entering a teenage girl’s room when he swung the door open without knocking. Thankfully there was nothing to see. “Is there a wall charger in her?” he yelled.

Rory was sitting at the same desk they used to play MASH on. Six other kids from the neighborhood all stared back at her in silence. Diane scanned the room for Grant and found him in sitting on the beanbag chair in the far corner. Somehow he was dressed even more haphazard than she was. He had his sweater sleeves rolled up to his elbows and was scratching his forearms. The same arms that should have been holding her at the formal that evening.

 “Welcome to my party Diane.” Rory leap from her desk and showed her once-friend the small banner she’d been coloring in. POX PARTY 1988!

Confused, Diane looked up at Rory and for the first time saw all of the red dots on her skin. They were all under a film of dried lotion.

Diana swung in place to see her mom closing the door behind her. “It’s for the best honey.”