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Heart Patent

“Owen! You’ve got snail mail!”

“What’s that?” Owen asked, taking the envelope from his father.

“Don’t they teach you kids anything at college?”

Owen opened the envelope, and read the single sheet of paper. His father whistled from over his shoulder. “That looks official. Is it a scam?”

You are hereby ordered by the court to appear in civil hearing of copyright infringement, patent infringement, smuggling, and bootlegging of a human organ.

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Jackson’s Cat Videos

Jackson looked up from a cat video at the sound of flopping sandals on the floor he’d just cleaned. His expressionless middle-aged face bore the slightest frown. Was she management? She looked more like a tongue depressor escaped from a gardening expo than a supervisor. However, he didn’t know all the ship’s managers, so he placed his device in his pocket discretely. He picked up his mop from the floor and examined her progress. She left a trail of echoing “THOP” sounds across the hall’s tiled expanse.

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Fishie

“Fishie?” Little Evan asked over the sound of his mother flushing the toilet.

Ray stepped between Evan and Cecelia, squatting down to look into Evan’s watering eyes.

“I thought you said that Fishie went to heaven.”

Ray took a deep breath, keeping eye contact. “Evan, … Fishie, … well, he did some things… He’s gone to a bad place.”

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Unlikely Things

“Help me get convicted.”

“No.”

“You don’t feel I need to go to jail?”

Ruby groaned. “Being a defense attorney shouldn’t be this complex.”

“I will die if they put me back on that ship. How would that make you feel?” Ishmael’s plump face projected patience and interest, rather than fear and hope.

“I know you are innocent, and if I prove you are in court I’ll never forgive myself.”

“I agree. You can’t tell them what I’ve told you. You have to get me convicted.”

She threw her pile of legal documents across the room, spreading papers and breaking tablets. “I hate you! I’ll be disbarred for this! I hate you!” She glanced up to see the prison guard looking through the observation window inquisitively. Ruby discreetly wiped her eye, careful not to smear any makeup. Satisfied that he did not need to intervene, the guard disappeared from the small window.

Ishmael leaned back in his aluminum chair, crossing his arms with a broad smile. “Thank you.”

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Not a Spade

Gusting face-freezing wind displaced Sister Wendy Riley’s bonnet, pushing it nearly off her dirty brown hair. No matter how many steps Wendy made toward Zion in the Great Salt Lake Valley, the wind seemed determine to blow her back to Liverpool. The annoying and ill timed gust that finally dislodged her bonnet came as she pulled her handcart up a rise. Releasing one hand from the crossbar to fix the errant bonnet meant losing the cart and her few belongings to the hill. With hair whipping her face, she prayed the tie string kept the bonnet around her neck until she reached flat ground ahead.

Wendy stood to one side while pulling the handcart, as though her husband still might join her on his side of the cart. She turned down offers, even from the Wilson boys, to help her pull the handcart. She did not want anyone in his spot. It was silly, but a week was still too soon.

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Zombie-In-Laws

Patrick parked near his in-law’s graves. The sunset was nearly finished, and the graveyard was appropriately dark. He flashed Lilly a glittering rockstar grin—clearly visible despite the coming gloom.

“About my allowance,” he began an old discussion, keeping the grin while talking. He somehow avoided looking like he was gritting his teeth.

“Not now,” Lilly interrupted opening her car door.

“No,” Patrick grabbed Lilly’s wrist. “I need more for my research.”

“No.” Lilly pulled away but he held her wrist, bruising her again. She struggled, finally getting out of the door, pulling him half way out her car door in the process. She stomped off into the grass and granite, listening for him behind her, but not looking back.

She stopped in sight of her parents’ graves. The soil was piled to one side and the fresh sod pushed to the other side. One of Patrick’s devices stood at the head of each grave. Lilly pivoted on one foot, looking back at Patrick and the car, both hidden in the dark.

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Lacus Glass Flats

His irregular blood pump sped up in reaction to the silence. Wind should have filled the sails. Instead, they hung limp—dead. With no wind in the sails, Allen sat perfectly parallel to the cutter’s mast. Green pre-dawn starlight glinted off the reflective surface of the glass flats surrounding him and the cutter. Pre-dawn calm on the Lacus Glass Flats meant death. The cutter’s long skates made no “skitting” sound, completing the terrifying silence.

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Intervention

Most parents impose on their grown children by asking them to run to the store and buy green beans at a quarter past midnight. The dutiful adult child having just begun a restful doze is awakened by the cell they did not dare turn off, and the request is made among reminders of how much labor the parent suffered on the child’s behalf.

My father puts all these parental units to shame. You see, he’s been a widower for years, and feels the need to make up for the missing parent’s requests. So, when he makes a request it isn’t by vocalization but by outrageous, though terse, 140 character commands.

“Matt joined the crew of a space liner. Go get your brother back.” My father’s text implied the unwritten, “Or, don’t come back, either.” So here I stood, facing this close-to-light ship floating in the bay along side normal sea freighters wondering how I’d find Matt on a ship that size.

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Fiddler’s Tale

Ivy clung to thick stone walls surrounding the cottage entry. Shade from the castle’s high turreted tower gave some relief from the summer sun. An herb patch rested to the left of the entry providing a scent to the thick muggy air. Smoke curled from the cobblestone chimney defying the summer morning’s warmth.

Entertaining a fire in the cottage was unpleasant, but the baker lived in the castle. Letal and Mary lived outside the castle. Taking their cooking to the baker took a lot of time. On days when Letal entertained the king with his music, Mary took the bread out to the baker. However, with Letal home she chose to endure the heat of the fire. He was glad for it. They were still sappy newly weds, and felt near physical pain at separation.

“Letal,” Mary called from the fire’s hearth laying thick her best damsel in distress tone of voice.

“Yes, my wife?” Letal responded, enjoying the playful attitude of his wife.

“When are you going to stop adding, ‘my wife,’ to everything you say?”

“I like the sound of it. So, never, … my wife.” He smiled at her as he spoke, showing imperfect yellow teeth. However, he had all of his teeth and was proud of it. He showed his teeth whenever he smiled.

“Do you have a tune in that fiddle of yours for getting rid of flies from the kitchen?” She teased Letal, knowing he hated anyone calling his viola a fiddle.

“My viola? Yes, my wife.”

“Well play it, my husband.”

He pulled the bow across the finely tuned cords, playing a simple tune composed of three repeating notes. The tune did not sound like much. However, the flies fled for the window.

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

I barely finished writing the note, Mom, I promise I still remember your birthday. I hope you had a happy one! before Heidi joined me in good old conference room 812.

“What’s that?” Heidi interrogated as she flopped into the conference room chair next to mine. She gasp the words, like it was the last chore she could manage before succumbing to overwork and collapsing into unconsciousness. She still managed to point accusingly at the birthday card. I wanted to say, none of your business, but she had already snatched it from my lap.

“Do we need another talk about personal space, Heidi?”

“This is nice.” She examined the glitter covered front with candles and cake, then she examined the interior. “You forgot your mama’s birthday. Oooo, you really forgot her birthday. Just a tip, … putting the date of her birthday inside the card doesn’t make it any less late.”

I reached for the card, not really in the mood, but she gave me a hands-off kind of look, and moved the card just out of reach.

“I’m not done looking yet. Don’t be so grabby! Sheesh.”

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