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Cecilia FliesFive stories high doesn’t sound like very much until you’re standing on a plank extended out over a swimming pool so small and so flimsy even toddlers give it a wary eyeball.
“I don’t like this, I don’t like this, I don’t like this,” Cecilia repeated to herself as she took that last step to the end of the board. “No, no, no, crap, crap, this is bad. What am I doing?”
Down below, a couple hundred people sat in the stands around the center platform. Their heads leaned back, gazing at the tiny ballerina balancing precariously above. Cecilia only looked for one person in the crowd.
There! A glimmer of glitter, silver and white, the unmistakable sequins of her friend and guardian angel, Lina. Cecilia couldn’t see her face, but she imagined her as she always was, book of spells on her lap, reading the familiar words.
It was Lina who made Cecilia fly. Lina who made the tiny ballerina a star, so much so that she had become the face on
Deal With It“There,” Philip said, and stuck the tip of the pick axe in the dirt.
“Are you done? Took long enough.”
“Oh, pipe down, Mack, I did what I needed to do.”
“All you had to do was kill him, dude, I think this is a little excessive.”
The younger man turned his head as Philip kicked body parts into three separate holes, then picked up the hoe and helped fill them without looking.
“Well, I can’t sleep at night if I know somebody I killed could come back.”
Mack stopped the hoe and looked up at Philip in shock. “You mean, you do this because you’re afraid of…of zombies?”
“It’s not likely, but the fact is, it could happen. Not gonna take my chances. When you’ve killed as many people as I have, kid, you have to find some way to deal with the ghosts in your head.”
“All right, whatever, but I really hate your coping skills.”
Happy AccidentsSometimes I wake up in the morning, blink against the blue light coming in the window, and forget for just a second that the rest of the world is dead.
When I was a kid, I read stories about how some of the best inventions and discoveries resulted from accidents. “Happy accidents,” my mom called them. I grew up hoping that one day I would be a scientist, and “accident” into something incredible. I achieved my goal—I’m not unhappy and it was something incredible.
Three months ago, I walked into my lab like I do every day, coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other, ready to work. An hour later, the entire lab went up in a puff of green smoke. I managed to make it to my safety bunker before the explosion went off, but by the time it was safe to emerge, the damage had been done.
I stayed in the bunker a month, waiting for my detector to tell me that it was safe to exit. When it still hadn’t gone off after a month and my food supplies were running
StrangersLauren laid on her bed, scrolling through stories on some paranormal website her sister raved about. Standard fare, really—ghosts, demons, nearly-there-but-not-quite photos, clearly faked photos, curses, unexplained deaths—nothing to make Lauren so much as lift an eyebrow.
She clicked on one story labeled “The Stranger” and skimmed through it. “Yada, yada, cursed because she was unbearably nasty, morality tale, etcetera, etcetera,” she said as she glanced through it, then closed her laptop with a sharp click.
Sighing, Lauren slid off the bed and grabbed her coat, heading down stairs and out the door. Seriously, rotting her brain believing that crap, she thought, and pulled her coat closer to fend off the chilly drizzle.
Five blocks to their favorite ice cream place; she met her sister there every week, and she hated it. She would have to pass at least three homeless people only to listen to her sister talk for an hour. At least she could get t
ChupaSheila crawled out of bed, eyes barely open, and slammed her hand against the alarm clock. After a trip to the bathroom and a half-hearted glance in the mirror, she shuffled her way to the kitchen.
Then, just as she had every morning for the past fifteen years, she poured herself a cup of coffee and thought, for the millionth time, what would I do without coffee on a timer? Then leaned against the sink, letting the aroma work its way into her system, and watched out the kitchen window.
This habit resulted from the hummingbird feeders her mom had put up before she died, and out of respect for her mom and, she had to admit, some personal interest, she kept them filled during the warmer months. Most mornings, a few hummingbirds would zip around the feeders, and she would start her day with them, marveling at their speed.
As she watched, two hummingbirds came up to the feeders, a blue and a green, and a territorial fight broke out, one chasing the other in huge arcs around the feede
Becoming a ManThe day my mother brought home a brand new book for my brother, I knew something had happened. He was too young to know, though. “Aces!” he yelled, grinning, when she put it in his hands.
I didn’t look at him; I looked at her. The joy of the gift didn’t mask the sorrow in her eyes. The deep wrinkles branched out from the corner of her eyes like leafless winter branches, and the exhaustion etched in the lines on her forehead read loud and clear.
Somehow I knew, without a word. I waited until she walked into the kitchen and followed her. “He died, didn’t he?”
She let out a shaky breath and started putting the other things she’d brought home away. “I can’t hide anything from you, can I?”
“Late last night.” She set down a magazine, and I glanced at the back cover. Ham in a can. I wondered what it tasted like for a second before I remembered what we were discussing.
“So what now?”
Permanent Relocation“Well, here we are, floating in a tin can in the middle of space.” The stocky blonde with short hair shoved her bag under the sparse bed in the room.
“Funny, I thought it would feel different,” said the brunette behind her.
“Welcome home, ladies,” said the tall, severe woman who showed them to their room. “Dinner’s in an hour, and we don’t wait.”
When the door was closed, the blonde laid down on the bed. “What’s your name again?”
“Stephanie, but I like Stevie better.”
“All right. Nice to meet you, Stevie.” Pearl pulled out her things, putting them in the small dresser beside her bed. There wasn’t much—some clothes, toiletries, a few books, and some pictures. Stevie noticed that she shoved these under the clothes. The curvy brunette sat on the bed when she finished and looked at the blonde across. “So why are you here?”
“Had to get
BoomI ran for my shotgun as soon as I heard the blast. No way I was going to get caught off guard, no sir. Another one followed the first, insistent, and with the sound of crackling that could only mean shrapnel.
Great, and I’m in my pajamas. I loaded the shotgun and walked with a purpose through the living room. The patriotic music from the July 4th concert still played from my radio—fitting, I realized, and I stood taller.
The last notes of America, The Beautiful rung out loud and true as I opened the door. As soon as I stepped outside, light and sound assaulted every sense. I refused to waver, and I shook my gun and yelled, “Come and get it, you pansies!”
The booming intensified, and I raised my gun. I might not be able to see my attackers, but if I shot in their general direction, I could provide covering fire for our boys. Good thing I brought extra rounds.
I leveled my gun at the tree line, knowing that whoever lead the charge of those exp
Helper“Forget the car, Gene, it’s gone.”
“Cars don’t just get gone, Marsha.”
“Yeah, well, people don’t just get gone either, do they?” the blonde looked out into the woods. “But twenty years in this business and I’ve gotten plenty of people just gone.”
“You’ve been doing this for that long?”
Marsha looked up at him in perplexed amusement. “You mean the gray roots and the wrinkles on my hands don’t give it away? I’m touched.” She turned and started walking back down the highway, muttering to herself. The short, stocky guy behind her hesitated, then followed.
“Why do you do it?” he asked as he fell into stride with her.
“Sometimes people need to go. Someone’s gotta help ‘em.” Gene nodded silently, and the two walked on for a while until Marsha turned down a small path into the woods at the edge of the highway.
“Well, I appreci
Final WishesFirst letter:
Love, I have to tell you this. I know you won't believe me, because I don't believe it myself, but I have to tell you.
Remember when we were both kids, wishing on stars? I remember our first night – we were lying on the hill staring up at the sky, and then we held hands and together we wished that we'd be together forever and marry and have a kid who could change the world, and we held hands and then – this hurts to write, I'm sorry, I miss you so much
but, well –
it came true, didn't it? We married. And you're still with me, more or less, even if I can't see you and all you can see is these bloody letters, and – and our little girl can change the world.
She wished for a cat last night, love. I wish I could have told her no. We can't take care of one. But she didn't ask me, did she? She asked the stars.
I can tell you which star she asked, too. The centerpiece of Orion's belt is missing. And in her room, I can't even walk, there's not any su
Fall of ManI remember thinking: if this were a story, it would be alright. Even tragedies have meaning when someone else holds the pen. But this is not a story. Unless it is.
There was me cradling you in the wreckage of a building; and in the distance, the sounds of running and screaming and alarms of ambulances, everyone calling for help, and there, another building collapsing.
A snowflake fell on your forehead and for a moment it seemed more important than the blood, more important than bombs falling from the sky, the war that had begun. Blocks away perhaps a television was somehow still on, perhaps it screamed propaganda. All I knew was you had no reason to be punished.
People can’t run with broken legs, and you also had a broken arm, and when I heard another woman scream for her beloved to come back to life, I knew you would die.
I should have remembered what you whispered to me, but the planes above were too loud. If I had heard your last word
Flying Dreams“I don’t know why I love you.
I just…can’t stop thinking of you.”
said old Mr. squirrel slowly caressing
the nut in his bed beside him.
He pulled the glasses from face and set them down
on the nightstand beside him
letting out a sigh. A picture of himself
and another sitting beside him.
He rolled back over and kissed the nut
falling into a deep sleep.
Mr. Squirrel dreamed of flying,
just as his cousins could.
Flying from tree to tree.
Like an overextended wonderful leap.
Safe from danger. Safe from the predators below.
A dog snapping and growling. He paid it no notice.
He was free and happy sailing through the trees.
Through the clouds. He could reach out
with his paws and touch them.
SO soft and fluffy
just like her…
He awoke from his dream startled.
It took him a second to catch his breath,
and he played with his graying beard hairs.
He had been much younger in the dream. So much younger.
“It’s a dream my sweet. Nothing more then a drea
Ageing Superhero (FFM 24)Nathan always imagined he’d go out in a gunfight, cape fluttering; a hero’s death in the pursuit of peace. Turns out, he was only right about the “gun” part.
* * *
Mr Cuddles weaves around Nathan’s ankles. He’s purring loudly, and shedding fur all over Nathan’s slightly-too-tight bodysuit, but Nathan’s attention is fixed on the tinny voice coming from his mobile.
“Look, your international days are over. You’re getting older, and I know you’ve gained a few pounds. No, don’t try to lie to me. You wear spandex, Nathan. It’s pretty unforgiving, and you no longer have a six-pack. The world events, the foreign villains, you can leave them to the newbies.”
Paying no attention to the plaintive-sounding agent, Mr Cuddles hunts, unnoticed as he follows Nathan towards the safe on the landing.
Nathan’s carrying his guns one-handed; he’s only half-listening to his age
It's Burning Down Anyway"You shouldn't play with matches," she said. "You'll hurt yourself."
I lit a cigarette - with a lighter - and remembered Annie Venter telling me that in the eighth grade as I lit matches behind the school. I had stared at her and lit the whole matchbook on fire, and then I had dropped it in the grass. She made me stomp it out.
I stood on the porch of my apartment, listening to the rain and staring out at the fog and the clouds and thinking that somewhere out there, Annie Venter was probably sleeping, not thinking about the time she told some stupid kid not to play with matches. I flicked the lighter on and off a few times to see if it would feel the same way the matches had all those years ago, but it didn't.
The smoke curled above me in the cold air, a visible metaphor for addiction as it hung off me. Everything in my life smelled like that anymore: like ashes.
I dropped the cigarette on the deck and I stared at the small red ember, letting it burn and smoke, letting it become
NebraskaHe called her Nebraska. The first time he did was in a Wal-Mart parking lot with August humidity pressing the air from their lungs. It also happened to be the first time she saw him. “Whoa there, Nebraska!” he’d said as the blue shopping cart got away from her and rolled right into him.
She apologized profusely. At least it was empty, and hadn’t got a chance to gather much speed. Besides, what the heck was he doing standing in the cart return?
“Why the heck are you standing in a cart return?” she asked him. He was tall. Lanky. He had a military haircut, and she should have known then. He was young; she likely had the long side of a decade on him. But when he smiled, everything just felt better.
He vaulted out of the pipe enclosure and held something up between his thumb and index finger. A nickle. He grinned again, and his green eyes crinkled, “I dropped it.”
“Well that explains it.”
“And now,” he said, “I ha
[TGB] Leave The Light OnIt seemed only natural that she found him.
Her paws had been weary, her mind restless - home no longer felt like home and he .... he had always had a calming presence upon her soul. His smirking blue-green eyes soothed a fire in her soul and made everything shift when she hadn't been aware it was askew in the first place.
He held her steady, whether he knew it or not and right now Arya felt like a leaf in a thunderstorm.
"Fancy seeing you again - if I didn't know any better I'd say you missed my dashing looks."
Perhaps it was in the way Arya fumbled for an appropriate response, or perhaps it was how her grass eyes misted over with unshed tears - full to the brim with emotion Arya usually kept hidden from her companion.
"Arya?" His brow furrowed slightly and he took a hesitant step forward. His firefly was strong ... for her to be so shaken ...
She wasn't sure when the tears had started, hadn't noticed their slow descent down her cheeks until Idek's nose was touchin
My Knee Hurts and I Hate David BowieThey're at it again.
I've grabbed the broom and smacked the handle against the ceiling, but the neighbours upstairs take no notice. I think about calling the police, but I hate doing that without at least talking to them. Everybody deserves that chance, I think. Still, the prospect of standing outside their door and talking to them isn't one that sits comfortably. When I think I'm going to explode if I have to listen to another second, I give in.
I power up the stairs like nobody's business, and pound on their door. I'd knock like a normal person, but if they can't hear the broom hitting their floor, they won't hear a knock, either. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the door opens and sound washes over me in a wave that's all but solid.
The figure in the doorway looks like a reject from an 80's concert. He's got a blinkin' mullet, and he sparkles... but he's got nothin' on the fella behind him. Bloody queer's wearing a dress, and more makeup than an entire row of beaut
The Cat Curls UpAnd a very good afternoon to you. You catch me looking at a catalogue of old chairs – nothing I would sell in my store, but from an aesthetics viewpoint it reminds me of some of the – things we used to think were fashionable.
Take this one for example – the infamous box seat, so popular in the early seventies for the style conscious and space conscious young person about town. Actually, the only thing they really turned out to be good for was walking into or falling off.
There was a flat I visited in the Knightsbridge area in the mid seventies, when Habitat, god rest their soul, were just starting out and making this sort of thing popular. I had thought it was empty, but after raiding the bedrooms I discovered the error of my ways – walking into the main room, I disturbed this eighteen year old girl, wearing a short sleeved white crotched top, pale blue mini skirt, white knee length socks and flat shoes, sitting on one of these box contraptions
Bling“Carry me across the threshold,” she told me. “It’s tradition.”
“Well, dear, it’s a simple question of weight ratios. A five ounce bird cannot carry a one pound coconut, after all,” I quipped.
“Are you calling me fat?”
“It’s impossible for you to be any other size, love.”
“Just what are you saying?”
I realized at this point that perhaps I hadn’t thought this through enough. “Nevermind, dear. Up you go!”
My knees shook as I lifted her, shuffled forward, then sat her down.
“Now that wasn’t so bad!”
What could be done? I was in love with a robot.
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