January 2015

26 January 2015

Writing Prompt #19: Unexpected Reunion



The GTO started sputtering when Jack was ten miles out from Bakersfield. At five miles, it died. After he pushed it to the side of the road he lit a cigarette and looked around. Up ahead he saw an old Vanagon. Curious, he grabbed his empty gas can and a short rubber hose, and started hiking.

No cars. Figures. Not that he’d want to deal with anyone right now. Probably for the best.

He checked the Vanagon doors. Locked. He pulled out his trusty sparkplug and shattered the driver’s side window- and quickly tried to force the stench of beer and sweat out of his nose. Great, some homeless guy’s shelter, he thought. He looked around, no keys, so he stripped the steering column and hotwired it. The Vanagon refused to turn over. Jack coughed a laugh—the idiot seized the engine. But, the battery worked and it looked like he had a decent amount of gas. He decided he’ll top off the gallon and bring the car back and finish tapping this thing.

Jack hates sucking out gas. He’s good at it, but the fumes take forever to leave your mouth. Not the best time to light up a cigarette either- seeing his buddy Toby lose his face is a lesson you never forget.

He filled up the can and then rifled quickly though the Van for anything else. Nothing worth taking. That was that, he headed back to his ride.

After going back and getting the GTO, he emptied the Van’s tank and took off towards Bakersfield. Not one living soul drove by.

The taste in Jack’s mouth was really bothering him, spitting didn’t help. As he drove up he saw an old truckstop diner. No one will bother him there, and maybe he can wash up, too. He pulled in and quickly strode inside catching a quick glimpse of who was in there- two old truckers, some dirty kid and a strung out stripper on the counter phone, and the cook in the back washing some dishes.

Oh good, some shower stalls that take two dollars to open. No point in trying to outsmart this. He reluctantly paid and took a fast shower. He shaved quickly, leaving a Van Dyke.

Ten minutes later the scene hadn’t changed. He walked to the back booth and a skinny waitress he hadn’t seen before stumbled up with a pot. Her fake eyelashes looked like spiders resting on her cheeks.
“Coffee?” She yawned.
“Yes, ma’am.” Jack replied.
“You from Texas?” She smiled.
“Louisiana. Baton Rouge.”
Just then the greasy young kid looked back at him. He looked straight back- to which the kid turned away.
“Long way from home. Get you anything to eat, sugah?”
“I could go for a burger and fries.”
“Comin’ right up.”

Jack pulled out his beaten copy of Louis L’amour’s Shalako. It passed the time and provides good cover. The waitress came back with his order.
“Here you go, doll.” She looked at the book, “Hey, I’ve seen that movie.”
“Yeah, it’s a good one.”
“Can I get you anything else.”
“Actually,” Jack pulled out a letter, “Can you tell me how to get to Sutton Street?”

The stripper, turned around and eyed him.
“Jack?” She asked.

Jack looked up and his heart jumped out of his chest. “April?”

Before he could get up, April had knocked over the waitress and came after him with a steak knife.

21 January 2015

Writing Prompt #18: Haystack Landing



Carver’s head throbbed as if an entire stampede had run over it. No more drinking. Ever. He then reached for his flask and finished off his Jim Beam.

As he sat up with a juicy belch, he rubbed his jaw and wiped the sleep from his eyes. The sheep called in the distance, and a few hens clucked around his feet. At least he landed in a haystack… but he had no clue where the haystack was. He looked around and spotted his motored bi-glider. P.B.'s not going to be happy, but everything seemed to be in order.

“’Bout time you woke up, Mister.” A young woman’s voice called behind him. Carver turned around to see blonde curls framing the most watery blue eyes he had ever seen. The rest of her weren’t bad, neither—except for the shotgun she pointed at him.

“Look, I’m sorry, Miss…?” No response. “I’m sorry, ma’am. If there’s any damage, I’ll pay for it.”
“Oh, you’ll pay! You’ll pay alright!” The woman screeched as she took aim and cocked the shotgun.

19 January 2015

Writing Prompt #17: Desert Dead



Lt. Montano wasn’t in the mood for games. Thirty-three hours of coffee and a gas station hot dog has barely been his fill. He would have give up his pension for a cot and two years of sleep. That wasn’t going to happen, not today at least. Good thing Oliver was driving out to the scene… maybe he could just rest his eyes for a minute.

“Lieutenant!” Oliver was standing outside the passenger door. Montano’s eyes snapped open and looked over at the rookie. “We’re here, sir.”

“Good.” He gets out and stretches, and puts on his sunglasses. The desert sun was especially bright today, only 7:30am and it would soon be soaring into triple digits. As he walked over, stepping over the scrub and a rattler that surprised him, he approached the crime scene. He ducked under the police tape and walked up to the victim’s half eaten corpse. He’d seen worse out here, but the fact that she was so young made his blood run cold.

The medical examiner pulled out the needle from the cavity by her liver. He jots down some notes on a clipboard, pushed up his glasses and stood up. Jates has been around since Montano’s dad was on the force, a permanent fixure, one of the best.

“Jates.” Montano steps up behind him.
“Lieutenant. She’s been dead about eight hours. I’m surprised the coyotes didn’t finish her off.”
“Probably the campers that spotted her. Any identification?”
Jates shook his head and starts cleaning up his kit.
“No. But she has the same carving on her chest”
Montano looked around and noticed the tire tracks that lead off back to the road.
“Oliver- get some plaster on these tracks… you know the drill.” He turned around to see Jates sitting on his kit, cleaning his glasses.
“This is the sixth one in as many days, Ramon.”

Montano puts his hat back on and headed back to the SUV.

17 January 2015

Writing Prompt #16: Double Double Cross



Ice-cold water woke me, allowing me the pleasure of feeling the axe that pierced my brain. Oh, it’s not an axe? Just where that bastard managed to have me hit the corner of the Goose’s radio when he rolled the plane, you say? That’s right… ouch. A musky blindfold blocked out most of what I could see, but I could feel my chest was strapped to a chair with a thick belt and wrists were bound behind my back. I was surprised that my legs weren’t secured, All in all, it felt like a hasty job.

Another bucket of the Himalaya’s finest ice cold spring hit me full on in the face. This time I shivered and was wide awake. “Where am I?!” I coughed. I started working at my bonds immediately.

A fist grabbed my hair and yanked my head back. It was Meang.
“You've become a thorn in my side, Yankee! I should have slit your throat when I had the chance!”
I coughed and spat. “If there’s mouthwash is in those crates, help yourself to it.”
I could see Meang’s silhouette raise a hand to backhand me when a bark came from behind him. He shuffled backwards to the wall. Still working at the ropes, I managed to loosen them a bit more.

Lithe fingers danced across my shoulders. A long leg came over and stradled my lap and luscious lips plunged down onto mine.

“Meang, I sure hope that wasn’t you.” I snorted.
The blinding overhead lamp light burnt my eyes as the blindfold was ripped from my head. She had locks of long blond hair, the tip of her tongue on her top lip twisted into a wicked smile, sultry eyes beckoning down on me.
“I should have known,” I huffed. “Grace Harlow. You and your cronies dealing arms now?”
She slapped me good across the kisser. Then she plunged another kiss, only to follow it up with another slap hard enough for me to see stars.
Grace squeezed my cheeks with one hand, and came in very close.
With a rhythmic beat, she tapped on my nose. “You. Cause. Me. So. Much. Trouble. Carver. It’s getting to be that a girl can’t have fun with you sniffing around.”
“Listen honey,” Time to turn on the ol’ charm, “I don’t care what you do with those peashooters. Just let me and my buddy go and we’ll gladly get out of your hair.”
“That won’t be necessary,” a gruff voice came out behind me. I turned and looked.
“Reggie!” I couldn’t believe my eyes! Then… I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“Aww… Regg, tell me you aren’t in with this rabble.”
“Sorry, Carver.” Reggie hobbled on a crutch and sat down on a crate. “Business is still business.”
"Greed is greed." I countered.
Grace was still on my lap when my bonds fell. I grabbed her and threw her into a strangle hold.
“Untie me!”
“Reggie!” Grace coughed.
“I’ll brake her neck! I mean it!” I screamed.
Reggie and Meang laughed. He gestured for them to leave. Just as Reggie was out the door he turned.
“Go ahead. She’s given us what we need.”
“You!” Grace wheezed a grunt. With a blow of a kiss, Reggie closed the heavy steel door with a lock. With that, the crate Reggie was standing against fell open, and a sleeping Siberian Tiger began to stir.
I let Grace go.
“Untie me! Untie me!”
With a snap to attention, the Siberian looked up and glared at us with hungry eyes.

16 January 2015

Writing Prompt #15: Ceres Gambit



Sweat, spice, and cold damp rock assaulted Tula’a nose when she and her boss, Brock, stepped out of the Ravenclaw’s airlock. A low hum of voices came from below, Tula’a peered down over the walk way onto the merchants who swarmed like ants around ramshackle stands, desperately trying to hawk their wares. 
Brock pointed at them, “It’s mid-wake down in the Bazaar. Everybody’s scramblin’ to sell. More are scramblin’ to lift—so keep a feel on your belt items.”

The buzz and flashing colors of the Bazaar was dizzying.
 “You sure know how to pick them, Brock.” Tula’a gagged as she put her nose into the crook of her elbow.
“The juicy warrants are in maggot-holes like this one. I’m certain they passed this way.” Brock’s confidence waned, “But first thing’s first—let’s get to the dock master and see if Zeb’s ship is still here.”

After a quick discussion with Ceres’ dock master, primed by a handful of rupees, they headed down to the quiet lower docks. They managed to find Zeb’s ship in the dark catacomb structure.
“Funny. The dock master forgot to mention the magnetic impound.” Tula’a noticed. She then rubbed her hand across the side of Zeb’s ship and looked at her palm. “Heh. Mold. This tub’s been sittin’ for a long while.”
“No doubt Zeb was down on his luck, but sitting that long is unusual for him.” Brock rubbed his jaw. Then something twitched out of the corner of his eye and he yanked out his blaster.
“Down!” Brock barked as he dove on Tula’a, pushing them both behind a crate. A blaster bolt sent a chunk of molten metal and sparks right where they were standing. Brock stuck his blaster up and fired blindly, only to hear footsteps running away. Brock jumped out and started trailing.
 “Stay here! This might not be Zeb!”
“Brock! Wait!”
Tula’a watched Brock disappear past the corridor. She then slumped back to the floor with a huff. Just as she pulled out her blaster to check the safety, she noticed a limp hand out from behind a crate.

Brock was in full gallop behind the interloper. He wasn’t going to let this deadbeat get the best of him. As he rounded the corner he tripped into a full stop, nearly knocking down a merchant that was carrying a stack of kitchen pots. He was back on the opposite end of the Bazaar. He strained to look over the sea of bobbing heads, but his quarry vanished.
“Tula’a’s right, this place reeks.” He muttered. He pulled back his sleeve and spoke into his wristcomm. “Tula’a? You there, chica?”
“Yep. Loud and clear. You get him?” Tula’a’s voice crackled through the tiny speaker.
“Lost him in the crowd.”
“I think you better come back here. I found something.”

Brock and Tula’a stood over Zeb’s body.
“Those don’t look like blast wounds.” Tula’a mused.
“They’re not. They’re bites.”
“Bites?!”
“Yeah,” Brock rubbed his jaw, “We interrupted feeding time.”

15 January 2015

Writing Prompt #14: Soul Toll



Warning: Strong Language
 
Tens of thousands of fans hopped in unison like the waves of a boiling ocean. The roar of their screams was deafening, the worship these four received would have made many kings and prophets writhe with jealousy.

The lights went low, and a lone spotlight shown down onto a lone figure. His voice was mesmerizing- an outstretched hand landed on the chorus, he knew he had them- his fans, his adoring fans. He could have any one of them, all he had to do was pick them out of the crowd.

His eyes brushed the crowd as he crooned with Izzy’s riff. The tempo fired up and he was whipping them up into a frenzy. Sweat and pheromones frothed at his orgiastic thumping and moaning- again, he looked out at the crowd, squealing girls, screaming guys. They were all in love with him. Except one. She stood there, staring with a dead look in her eyes.

He couldn’t blame her. Maybe he was too much. But her stare was a little unnerving.

He went across the stage but all he could do was see her out of the corner of his eye. He repeated a verse- Izzy and Groanman looked at each other and kept playing Izzy walked over to him to see what’s what.

He kept singing. Damn it. Why is she looking at him this way? It’s pissing him off.

Izzy’s guitar solo.

He walked over to security and told them to get rid of that girl.

“What girl, sir?”

“HER!” he pointed, but she was gone. Well, fucking good.

A wave of nausea overtook him and he barfed right on the security muscle. A few of the stage managers ran over, as well as his agent. He vomited again- this time it’s bloody. He looked down, chunks of something, sharp pain.

The stage hand carried him to his dressing room. He thanked the favor by punching him in the face when he stumbled in.

“Don’t fucking touch me! Leave me alone!”

He scrambled to the toilet and vomited again. It’s worse. His tooth fell out.

He ran some water in the sink. He looked in the mirror. It’s her.

When the news covered his death the next day, the band’s spokesman said that a lethal cocktail of alcohol and prescription medication was accidentally ingested on an empty stomach. When a reporter piped up asking of this had to do with the unseemly rumors of his role in the rape and murder of a young 15 year old girl last year in Omaha, they immediately shut down the press conference. In the back, the expressionless girl starred back at the band.

14 January 2015

Writing Prompt #13: Wrong Road



Jack’s lower back had been bothering him for the last hundred miles, and the car was getting low on gas. Luckily, Rowley’s Junction was just up ahead. He recalled there was an old mom-n-pop gas and market out here; of course it’s been twenty years since he’s taken this road.

And it was still there. Jack eased the old Pontiac GTO up to the pump. He looked around and saw three other cars. Busy day for the Junction Watering Hole.

Jack walked inside and saw a middle aged man at the checkout, a strung out young couple, and Old Man Terry himself at the register. Jack grabbed some jerky, beans, spam, rice, and a fountain drink. He scoped out the joint and spotted saw an old camera in the corner of the store. It looked like the old cctv type, you can’t see any details on those things. The only other “surveillance” device he had was one of those big dome shaped mirrors in the other corner. Jack instinctively brushed his elbow against his left side, checking if his Colt .45 was still under his denim jacket.
The young couple waited until the other guy left. They both glanced in Jack’s direction to see if he was done, which he wasn’t. They made the move to go up. Jack finished and followed.
Jack glanced and saw the handle of a snub .38 tucked in the waistline back of Buzz-cut's camo shorts, just peeking past the dingy wife-beater.
“Anything else for you folks?” Old man Terry asked.
“Pack of unfiltered 100s,” Buzz-cut said. His purple dyed girlfriend kept looking around, avoiding Jack’s eyes but trying to ascertain his profession. Jack mused at her paranoid side-glance.
Ol’ Terry rung it up and Buzz-cut handed him a crumpled twenty. Right then Jack choked back a strong inclination to grimace. Terry’s no slouch, and he—
“Got something else?” Terry pushed the twenty back after looking at it through the light. Jack mentally shook his head. Called it.
“Whadya mean?” Buzz-cut asked.
“The twenty- it’s fake. I need real tender.”
The girl piped up, “It’s real, asswipe.”
“Hey now, you can talk nice and pay me or you can get out of my store.”
“Call the cops then!” She said after she smiled at her beau. He snickered.
“Okay, I will.” Ol’ Terry picked up the phone and immediately the kids started stammering.
“I don’t want the cops to come. Come on Jeanine, let’s blow this joint.”
Jack was with Buzz-cut on that one. He’d pay for their damn stuff just to avoid that, but he realized that would bring unwanted attention to himself. Stay anonymous, stay quiet.
Jeanine began to shake with indecision, and Ol’ Terry gestured to Jack.
“Look, lemme check this gentleman out first, then we’ll figure it out.”

Jack put his items on the counter and ol’ Terry kept his attention on the kids as they paced back and forth, arguing what to do next. Jack glanced down and saw the very corner of a shotgun butt behind the counter.
 “Need gas?” He asked Jack, but kept his eyes on the delinquents.
“No thanks.”
“Alright.” It came to eight dollars.
Jack pulled out a one-dollar bill and handed it to Ol’ Terry, who was intensely watching the kids, rang it out and gave him change for a ten.
Jack piped up, “Sorry, I gave you a twenty.”
Ol’ Terry looked at Jack in surprise and quickly pulled out change for a twenty.
“Sorry about that, sir. You have a good day.”

Jack smiled a nod, and resisted the urge to run out. He fired up the old GTO, and took off. Just as he got to the onramp, he heard gunshots. Indifferent, he casually pulled out onto the highway.

“Guess I’ll get twelve dollars worth of gas in the next town.” He muttered as he looked at his gauge.

13 January 2015

Writing Prompt #12: Summer Glory



Of all his friends, Denny was the fastest on his bike. Not only could he out-pedal anyone at Oak Hills Elementary, he could take on any jump in the field behind the abandoned gravel pit. That place was a world of its own- there were miles and miles of bike trails and hills, and groves of trees and a creek. So many days were spent where the boys re-enacted scenes from their favorite adventure movies, camped out and pondered the Milky Way, planned raids on the Fulton sisters’ house down the street, made a jump ramp over by the old gravel pit, and fished for carp in the old creek.

Good times.

Summer time was the best. Travis’ dad had just finished a contractor project and brought home some reclaimed wood. The gang feverishly dragged as much as they could to the grove on their wagons and bikes. Using rope, half pounded and bent nails, and a prayer, they managed to erect some semblance of a house in a large and twisted old Oak tree. Despite it’s ramshackle construct, it was fairly sturdy.

They managed to get the assembly about fifteen feet off the ground. Only Arno had a hard time walking across it—he was about three times as large as the others—with three times the appetite. Swing ropes and a draw bridge completed the monstrosity.

When the Southend neighborhood kids caught wind of what the Oak Hills boys were doing, they were determined to take it. Without warning, a lazy Saturday afternoon erupted into the most vicious dirt clod war all of Rock River had ever seen; it was the day when Denny’s highly admired BMX skills were put through their trial by fire and he became legend.

During the thick of the fight, the Oak Hills boys were holed up in the rickety fort. They had the high ground, but they were out numbered, and their supplies- and their bikes were down below. Eric had brought his brother’s airsoft guns so they could pick off the pheasants that stalked the area, but when the first wave came, he barely had enough time to kick the chest down into the lower embankment and cover it with some scrap wood and tree branches. If they could get them, they would outgun those scrappy Southend kids—but they needed a diversion.

That’s when Denny piped up.

“Alright! These guys are stupid. If I can get down to my bike and take off, they’ll come after me. That’ll give you guys a chance to get the pellet guns!” Denny felt brilliant, as if the fate of the free world rested on his shoulders.

“You’re crazy! They’ll kill you when they catch up!” Arno blurted.

“Dude, I can out run them! You just get the rifles and be ready when I get back.”

With that, the gang gathered as many dirt clods as they could that had landed in their vicinity, and at the count of three launched a furious counter attack giving Denny enough time to slide down the rope and take off on his bike.

“Hey losers!” Denny taunted as he tore away.

It was beautiful. He took a jump and pedaled through the groves. As he suspected, the Southend kids all took off after him. Denny circled around, flew over the old water main, through the thicket, and around the bumpy trails. Two of the boys had turned off and re-appeared right in front of him—that surprised him. He turned off and slid to the side almost falling into the old gravel pit. He got up- scraped shin. His wide eyes darted around. Cornered! But adrenaline pushed his bike and he lost no time staying ahead- though they covered the trails back out to the main dirt road.Then he realized- he was by the jump ramp!

The others laughed thinking he was trapped. Denny swerved his bike, rounded a jump and on full huffed up the board ramp up over the edge of the pit and used his momentum to jump over the embankment and over their heads—all of them stopped and craned their necks in a state of shock.

Denny landed hard jolted his spine, but he managed clear the pit and stay on course. He’d feel that later, but it was better than getting his butt kicked by those boys.

Denny rounded again and came up on the backside of the grove. Just as the boys came riding up, the rest of the Oak Hills boys jumped out from behind the trees and sprayed painful paint pellets on the unsuspecting Southenders. They turned and rode off.

The Oak Hills boys cheered jumped for joy! They screamed and hollered. They grabbed Denny and hoisted him up on their shoulders.

It was the best day of Denny’s life, and rounded the top five after his marriage and the birth of his son.

12 January 2015

Writing Prompt #11: Retired Permanently


Abe had just spent twenty minutes making the marble floor sparkling. He was proud of his work, even though no one else noticed. He placed the caution sign out and moseyed on over to the vending machine—a relic from a time before Abe can even recount—the damn thing had been there before he even started.

He always mused about it. It was like an old friend, keeping him company, offering him his favorite chocolate bar when he took a break. That, along with the old plant which stood for over twenty years… yeah, he’d miss them all after his shift tonight.

His boss, Gordon, was working late tonight. He liked Gordon, too. Not as much as the old vending machine, because Gordon liked to yell when Abe forgot to put away his bucket or fill the towels in the men’s bathroom on the third floor. He couldn’t help it. If he left his access badge in his car, he wouldn’t be able to have time to take his break. It’s okay. The new kid had been managing to pick up his slack. After all, he was retiring… only four more hours to his shift and then he could pick up his pension starting next week. Not sure what he’s going to do. Maybe old widow Donaldson would like to go dancing. Maybe he’ll learn golf. Nah, seems boring.

As Abe was putting the mop bucket back into the closet, the alarm sounded. He had never in all his years seen it go crazy like that. The lights shut down and the red emergency lights came up. Weird. Oh well, it’s loud, maybe he’ll call it a night now, he only has five more minutes anyway.

Gordon came running around the corner and ran full on into Abe. Gordon’s papers went flying everywhere.
“Goddamn it, Abe! Get up! Run!” Abe had never seen Gordon move so fast. He was kind of fat and old, not as old as he was, but up there in the years.

The door exploded into a shower of shrapnel and rock- it was hideous- it’s heavily veined muscles boiling under it’s sparsly haired skin- it’s fangs were razor sharp- it’s eyes- it had none… but it turned and looked at Abe and smiled.

Abe never knew what hit him. The hellspawn ripped him apart as it galloped through the lobby, spraying blood and feces all over Abe’s freshly mopped floor.

11 January 2015

Writing Prompt #10: On The Run




A bright spring day, and the sweet fragrant blossoms were welcome after leaving the thick air of Chicago. Relaxation, it seems, would have to wait as the St. Louis line slowed and lurched to a stop. Tenny Alverson looked out to see Federal Marshals mounted on horseback, rifles at the ready. Damned telegraph.

There wasn’t a moment to lose. She got up, excused herself from the wretchedly droll conversation with the aged Professor Meyers, and quickly made for the baggage car. A conductor stepped in front of her as she reached out to open the passage door.

“May I help you, Miss?”

“Oh, quite.  I have medicine for my ailing father in the baggage car.”

“Describe the luggage to me ma’am, I would be happy to—“

The sensation was like electric shock. He looked down to see an ivory handled dagger hilt protruding from his chest. Surprise in his eyes turned to watery confusion when he looked at her angelic face. She answered his stare with a quiet shush as she gently helped him slump to the ground. He was dead before his head met the floor.

The knife screeched with complaint as it took both of her hands to pry it from his chest. She cleaned the blade on his pant leg and placed it in her corset.

The lawmen’s mad barks echoed as they boarded the train. Ten seconds later an explosion of splinters burst through the side of the freight car. Tenny had managed to get to Luke’s motored-cycle, and she flew onto the old highway.

10 January 2015

Writing Prompt #9: Autumn Melody



The leaves were beginning to turn on campus, we were well into the semester but it was far from over. I sat on the bench by the old oak, trying to figure out this stupid course. Why did I decide to fill my language credit with Mandarin? It’s taking over my damn life. Oh, yeah, because Red wanted to go to Hong Kong next summer to teach English and he conned me into going… bastard.

I caught a scent of mango when she walked past. Sweet, tropical, definitely not what you expect on a crisp Washington day. She had stopped in front of me, looking out over the campus with one of those outdated maps the student union tried to unload. Her hair was straight, her glasses hid jeweled grey eyes, a levi jacket and long flower dress fluttered in the breeze.

“Half the buildings didn’t exist when that map was printed,” I piped up. She turned around and sighed a self-depricating laugh.
“Yeah, I was coming to that realization.” She smiled.
“What are you looking for?”
“The arts building.”
“It’s over behind the sciences building, over by that fountain.” I gestured, and got up, and stuck out my hand for a handshake.
She hesitated and slowly brought up a prosthetic hook, grabbed the map out of her left hand and awkwardly stuck hers out. I quickly switched to my left hand.
“I’m Jonah.”
“Melody.” She blushed.
“Nice to meet you. You an artist?”
“Writer. My dad’s a professor here.”
“Oh- but you don’t know where the arts building is?”
“He just got the job, replacing-“
“Replacing old man Forde. Okay.”
“Yeah. You?”
“Liberal Arts… soon to be fry cook.” I sighed. She laughed.
“I’d love to walk you over there.”
“Sure, yeah.”

That day was the best and first day of my life. That day she stole my heart and set my soul on fire. That day was a blessing. That day was a curse. She consumed me, and when the accident took her, I'm but just a withered shadow.

09 January 2015

Writing Prompt #8: Mushroom Moonshine


Quite simply, Zeb didn’t have enough to pay the docking fees to get his crate off this backward asteroid. Prospecting this far out hasn’t gotten him squat, and he just finished off the last of his inheritance on that doltish whore.

At least he still had the old crate. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. But if he didn’t find a way to get out off of Vesta and away from Dmitri, he was sure to lose that too. Either that or his other hand, and he couldn’t afford a girlfriend.

So here sat Zeb, sipping cheap mushroom moonshine in what barely passes for a bar, 10 million miles from home.

“ZEB! Just the spacejockey I was looking for! How’s the best pilot this side of Mars doing these days?” Jonnie Murdock was like solar radiation. Constant exposure to him meant eventual death. Zeb quietly took another swig.

Jonnie plopped down into the chair opposite of Zeb, fighting a hangnail with his file. “You know, word is you're overdue on your docking fees. You do realize they won’t just let you park here forever, right?”

Zeb looked over at Jonnie with a hard sniff and leaned back. What a sight, Zeb mused, that slicked back shock of red hair was as plastic as his checkered sweater.

“Yeah, who says?”

Jonnie looked around and then leaned in close. “Look, there’s a shipment that a couple of guys want to move-“
Zeb violently shook his head.
“Here me out! Nothing illegal, just something delicate-“
“The situation or the cargo?”
“A little of both- but only cuz it’s valuable-“
Zeb moved right into Jonnie's face, “Jonnie, your little scumbag piece of shit, do you remember why I don’t trust you?”
“Aw… come on! That’s ancient history!”
“It was Monday!”
“Wait, what day is today?”
“Thursday.”
“Yeah, I see it was the day before the day before yesterday. Who keeps track of all those little details?”
With a disgusted sigh, Zeb grabbed his drink and  proceeded to walk out and Jonnie grabbed the sleeve of his coveralls.
“They’ll pay triple what you owe.”
Zeb paused. He looked down at Jonnie and studied him for a second.
“Triple? What’s the catch?”
“They’re desperate. They don’t know anybody around here. It’s the perfect set up.”

Ah. There it is. The perfect setup… but just like anything Jonnie says, there’s always double meaning. Of course, if he does nothing he’ll lose everything and wind up with a one way ticket to the surface without a suit.

And the other thing Jonnie said… they’re desperate. Yeah. Jonnie’s got a good nose for sniffing out the desperate.


08 January 2015

Writing Prompt #7: Love Lost Requiem


 
WARNING: Strong language and adult themes.

When the two men in uniform came to April’s door with that letter, she knew.

“Ma’am, we are so sorry for your…”

No. No this can’t be happening. He was JUST deployed.

Alarm clock. She wakes up and sighs. April gets out of bed slowly, takes a swig of the fifth she had from the night before, and lights a cigarette. She looks at the clock again- 6:53pm. She gets up and stumbles to the bathroom, tripping over her pants and falling against the bookshelf knocking Paul’s picture onto the floor, shattering the glass. She stumbles back and nicks her foot.

“Goddammit!” She bends over and looks at the scratch- it stings but it’s not deep. She then pulls Paul’s Marine photo out of the shards. She looks at it, strokes his cheek, and places it back onto the bookshelf.

Twenty minutes later she slightly limps out the door… she looks at her cell- and then breaks out into a sprint towards the bus stop- only to see the bus driving away in the distance. “Wait! WAIT!” Futile.

With a air-punch sigh, she pulls out her phone and dials.

“Gwen? Hi. Yeah, it’s me. Can you swing by my street and pick me up? Yeah the bus. No, just head in this direction, I’m already walking. Thanks sweetie. Bye.”

Ten minutes later she’s shotgun in Gwen’s station wagon. Gwen is putting on her eye makeup while she’s driving while April stares out the window. The rhythmic deep bass courses through April's body, still thinking about That Day.

“...And then I tell that little prick the next time he wants to do that kinky anal shit, he better offer more than a fucking twenty.” Gwen flaps between gum chomps, “I mean the nerve of that little prick, if he wants to do that he can go down to Blue Balls by the truckstop… right?”

Gwen looks over at April. “Right?”

“Huh? Oh yeah, Blue balling those pricks, real deuschbags.”

“Bitch, you ain’t listening to a word I’m saying.”

“Oh, sorry. Rough night.”

“Well, anyway, just make sure you make them buy the condoms off of you, those cheap fuckers try to recycle and it’s fucking gross. That is if you’re servicing off the clock.”

April turns to Gwen.

“Stop the car.”

“What?”

“Stop the fucking car.”

Gwen stops and April gets out. She leans down and looks at Gwen.

“I’m not a whore. Tell Amos I’m done.”

“Suit yourself, but he ain’t gunna be happy.”

April smiles, and pats the door.

“I’m sorry Gwen, it’s not you.”
Gwen smiles.  “No worries, babe. You’re smarter than me.”

Gwen shifts the three on the tree and drives off.

April looks around, it’s getting dark now, and now she’s on the edge of town. What the hell was she thinking? She pulls out her cell and the battery flashing red… then suddenly dies.

She looks around- A truckstop diner. Fucking perfect. Maybe they might have an old payphone there.

07 January 2015

Writing Prompt #6: Hitting Bottom



Barry knew that the Vanagon was on its last leg. It’s been burning oil for a while and now the greasy steam whistling out of the engine was likely a blown head gasket. Still, he kept going. His dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree, and suddenly, with a spine-jarring jolt, the van stopped. His engine seized. His wheels, much like his life, was going no where. And five miles from Bakersfield of all Godforsaken places.

He looked through what was left of his life inside that damn rolling coffin. Other than a sleeping bag and The Photo, there was nothing worth keeping. Well, maybe that little gift can of assorted spices, it helps makes the canned beans taste better. He grabbed his flask and his backpack. He took one last look at himself in the rearview mirror… his beard was still scruffy and his hair was almost shoulder length. He winced—there was a clean-cut time where he had a car to match his BMW key ring, but those days are gone. Especially after she—

Put it out of your mind.

He shut the van with a slam, stopped for a second and then kicked three dents into the door. He stood back and pulled out his pack of cigarettes- two full ones left, and a half one with a lipstick stain on it. He sniffed the short one and then put it into his shirt pocket and lit one up with his solid gold, engraved lighter. He walked back toward the dusty desert town he just passed twenty minutes ago.

Luckily the sun was to his back as he was walking down the highway. His shadow, long and lean, grew longer and longer. He was pretty sure it would be dark by the time he got to the outskirts of town. He pulled out his wallet and looked to see how much cash he had. Two twenties; a ten; three fives; eight ones… great. That $73 dollars might get him two nights in a motel, and maybe two cans of food. He then pulled out the lighter, contemplated it for a second, then shook his head putting back into his pocket.

Maybe he could get a cup of coffee in the diner he saw, and maybe wash up in the bathroom… there might be someone there he can scam. Sometimes those old widows need their pipes cleaned, and he didn’t feel picky.

06 January 2015

Writing Prompt #5: Radiant Legacy



Illustration by Louis Raemaekers
There was a bitter chill in the air, unusual for a May morning in the French Quarter. Madam Lorraine’s Voodoo Hut and Place of Miraculous Items hadn’t opened yet, and Darius was getting antsy. He watched the three homeless vets out of the corner of his eye, hanging out on the corner throwing back a bottle of pink party whiskey in the alley. He was playing it cool, and so far they hadn’t paid him notice.

Finally, the familiar welcome sound of the bells on the door rang as Madam Lorraine opened the door. She glanced up at Darius’s nearly six-foot frame.

“Boy, you mama needs to feed you more.” She honked as she turned and walked back into the shop. “You ribs are pokin’ out of that ugly t-shirt you wearin’.”

Darius mustered a smile. Last thing he needed to be reminded of the last time he ate. He walked past the chamber of horrors, twisted macabre of painted skulls and shrunken heads, voodoo dolls, and jars of who-knows-what. Lorraine had already taken her stool behind the glass counter and pulled out a deck of tarot cards.

“Not today, Madam Lorraine, I ain’t got no money for my fortune.” Darius exclaimed.

She continued to shuffle the deck. “This ain’t for you honey child. I gots an appointment-“ She checked her pocket watch,  “-who be late. SO you gotta move your behind on out of here.”

Darius pulled out an item wrapped in a handkerchief, and placed it on the glass counter. He pushed it over to the old voodoo queen.

“How much can this get me?” The hunger pains hurt worse than parting with a family legacy at this point. He needed to get out of this hellhole.

She snorted and opened up the kerchief. A soft glow from the morning sun finally broke through the clouds, reflecting off of this old golden and jewel-encrusted daggar. The Royal Hapsburg Crest, worn, but fully visible glanced off the hilt. She looked up.

“Boy, where’d you get this?” She was solemnly serious now.

“It… it was my daddy’s. He told me it was very old.”

Lorraine wrapped up the knife into a newspaper and put it into a lock box and put it in the floor safe, then she pulled out a stack of Ben Franklins and put it into the kerchief he had given her. Easily three grand.

“Go. And don’t come back.” She said as she scooted him out the front door. He landed on the front welcome mat. The three old vets were gone. Darius turned and walked the other way- the last time he’d come around.

Lorraine watched Darius through her venetian blinds, until he got on a city bus and was gone. She turned and pulled out her cell phone.

“Yeah.” The man’s voice was gruff, but benevolent.

“Simon. Get over here quick. You were right, it arrived like you said it would. Like you saw it… in your dream.”

04 January 2015

Writing Prompt #4: The Radiant Queen



It was a forbidden passion; one that the cold countenance of the executioner’s block gates to forgiveness. Every time she passed him in the corridor, or sent for him to do the kingdom’s bidding, his severed soul ached. She would look at him with her eternal eyes—perhaps another lifetime they were united, but not this one.

“Lucien,” she sang, “Gather the Guard.”

Without question, he leaped and her bidding be done.

“Guard! Present!” Like tongues of flames spreading from the mouth of a dragon, the King’s regiment billowed into the Court and took their positions with deadly precision.

“Lucien, come closer.”

Lucien strode three steps across the chamber and fell to one knee in front of her. She glided slowly around him, and placed her hand between his shoulder blades. The room took a collective gasp as he quietly shivered.

“Rise, my most trusted Captain.” He did. She stepped in front of him, looking up.

“Come closer.” She breathed.

“My lady-“ Lucien began to protest.

“Shhh.” Her eyes met his. She glanced down and his eyes followed. She held a jewel-encrusted dagger emblazoned with The Royal Hapsburg Crest, hilt towards him.

“My last command.”

“My lady! No!” Lucien screamed a horrible whisper.

“I dreamt that our next life was radiant. Please, Luc, I beg you. The end for you would come just as quickly.” Her eyes welled.

Lucien quivered. How could he?

Lucien looked around at the confusion in the court. His Second’s eyes narrowed and reached for the hilt of his sword. Lucien turned to look back at the Queen.

“Mariana. You are my light.” He whimpered.

Tears streaked down her face.

Lucien takes the knife. 

03 January 2015

Writing Prompt #3: Betrayal Over the South Seas




Turbulance hit us hard enough that my stomach felt like it shot straight above me.

“Watch it, Meang! The crates are flying all over back here!” Reggie screeched as he wiped blood away from his forehead.

Stonefaced, Meang banked the Grumman Goose through the boiling clouds. Perspiration bulleted from his forehead as his breath continued to fog the canopy.

I unbuckled and headed to the main hold. Though we were in a tough two prop amphibian, I was rambling some Hail Mary’s to keep the cyclone from shredding us like an aluminum duck.

“C’mon,” I grunted, “let’s refasten this- the strap broke loose.”

Reggie heaved a heavy crate onto the top of the pile. Another jolt of the angry storm threw him against the bulkhead forcing him to lose his grip.  The wooden crate fell right onto his shin, shattering his leg with a gut-wrenching, pulpy crunch before it shattered against the floor.

“Good God!” He screamed. I hopped over to look and saw the abnormal angle his shin took. It started spotting red through his pant leg.

“Damn it, Reggie, hold still-“ I grabbed two of the planks and some left over rope. I had to set it quickly while he was going into shock.

“Wait- What are you doing--?!“

Reggie howled with agony as I managed to quickly set his leg.  His moaning stopped. I looked up and saw his head dangling onto his chest. I checked for a pulse, still beating.

“Sweet dreams, princess.” I huffed as I was wrapping the makeshift splint. While tying off the rope I happened to glance down and saw AK-47s all over the floor. Not good, those weren’t on the roster.

“I’m very sorry you saw those.” I looked up to see Meang twisted around in his seat and pointing a Luger at me.

I raised up my hands. “Yeah. Me too.”

Just then the plane took huge hit of turbulence- Meang jumped around and tried to pull up on the controls. Luckily, gravity threw me behind his seat. I grappled him into a choke hold with my left arm while I clawed at the Luger with my right.

The little bugger was much stronger that I anticipated. His wiry frame hid muscles like twisted steel cable. Then the clever bastard rolled the plane throwing me onto the ceiling. I’m pretty sure my head split open when it hit the corner of the radio transmitter.

Suddenly, my world went black.

02 January 2015

01 January 2015

Writing Prompt #1: G-men Calling



 “Damn it!” Simone skinned her knuckle again on the intake manifold.  She caught it good this time—oil and grease are both sticky enough, but blood is a pain in the ass.

She walks over to the parts sink and washes up. She inspects the cut. Not so bad, but it stings like a mother. She wraps gauze around it and puts a latex glove over it as she looks up at the t.v. Sports segment, it’s already half past eleven and the mosquitoes haven’t seemed to let up since the sun went down. But despite all those blasted little vampires, it’s too damn muggy to close the main bay door. She takes a swig of beer and heads back over to the ’70 Chevelle.

Headlights blind her, a newer SUV pulls up. She shields her eyes and takes another swig, then puts down the beer and picks up a very large monkey wrench.

Two very large shadows get out of the still running SUV.

“We’re closed.” Simone raises her voice over the hum of the Dodge.

One of the men approaches, wearing full dress uniform. Six-two, two-twenty-five easy- with skin as dark as charcoal.

“Simone Alvarez?” He booms.

“Who wants to know?” Clever.

“Ms. Alvarez, I’m sorry to say, but your father went missing this morning in over Karachi airspace.”

“No. He’s stationed in Germany-“

“We’ll give you ten minutes to pack some things and lock up, but you’ll need to come with us.”

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Writing prompts are a way for me to play in the sandbox of prose without becoming engaged to any large project. I'll be posting these as often as I can. Please, tell me what you think!